Creativity: A Key Skill Your Student Needs to Succeed in Today’s Economy

I wrote a previous post about the three C’s — the three skills your student needs to succeed in today’s economy.  ‘Collaborative, Communicative and Creative,’ according IBM’s 2012 CEO study of 1700 business leaders, are the most important personal characteristics for employees to succeed in today’s economy.  Thought leaders in education agree.

In this post, I’ll share what farsighted parents can do to develop their children’s creativity.

Fortunately, children are naturally creative. Crayons, toys, blocks, dolls, trees, bikes, water, tape, scissors — all can fuel a child’s imagination.  The real challenge for parents is helping their children not loose their creativity.  Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Tape, cardboard, scissors and a 9–year old imagination helped Caine Monroy build an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad’s Los Angeles auto parts store. Caine spent his summer building the imaginative contraption and invited customers in his dad’s shop and passerby’s to play.  Unfortunately, Caine didn’t have a single customer all summer.  Had Nirvan Mullick, (@nirvan) a local film maker not stopped by the shop to buy a part for his car, Caine’s story may never had been told and Caine’s creativity may have waned.

Caine's Arcade  (cainesarcade.com)

Caine’s Arcade (cainesarcade.com)


The creative film maker saw something of himself in the creative 9–year old and wanted to encourage him.  He played Caine’s arcade games and was amazed by Caine’s enthusiasm and creativity. When Nirvan discovered he was Caine’s only customer all summer, he decided to invite some friends to come out and play. Dozens of friends and a local TV news show came to play Caine’s Arcade and gave Caine ‘the best day of his life.’  Watch Caine’s story below (if you can’t see the video below, click here).

The film went viral and Caine and his cardboard arcade became famous. Notoriety and generous fans contributed $250,000 to Caine’s college scholarship. Caine, with Mullick’s help, encouraged over 200 communities of children in 40 countries to exercise their creativity and build their own cardboard creations. Read more about the movement here.

Here are four lessons from Caine’s story that can help farsighted parents develop creativity in their children:

  1. Help your child be a ‘maker’ rather than a ‘consumer.’  Caine’s father gave him the opportunity to build his arcade in his auto parts shop.  Encourage your children to make a game rather than just play one.  Play a sport rather than just watching one.
  2. Protect your child’s heart. Caine didn’t have his first customer until the end of the summer. Before the film was made, Caine stopped wearing his ‘Caine’s Arcade’ T-shirt to school because his school friends didn’t believe he had an arcade. Kids can be cruel.  By the end of the summer, Caine’s dad must have encouraged him more than once to ‘not give up.’  Stepping out and creating something new takes great courage at any age.  Teach your children to be brave in the face of failure and criticism and love them when they do.
  3. Invite other creatives and encouragers into the life of your children. It took a creative film maker to recognize Caine’s creative heart. Coaches, good teachers, older students and friends in different vocations can all inspire and encourage.
  4. Help your child use her creative voice to positively impact others. Caine’s story inspired over 200 communities of children around the world to build their own cardboard creations, many children sending videos back to Caine thanking him. (Watch the follow-up film). Caine’s true audience wasn’t his arcade customers, his dad or even Mullick, the film maker. Caine’s true audience was the world’s children whom he inspired to build their own creations. Help your children positively impact others and you’ll help them find their true audience.  A visit to a homeless shelter with your children is a great way to give your child an opportunity to impact others.

Read the first post in this series: “Three skills your student needs to succeed in today’s economy: The Three C’s’

The next post in the series: “Collaboration: A Key Skill your Student Needs on her Resume

Question:  What are ways your children are exercising their creativity and how can you help?  Please share your thoughts here

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.