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Iva Jankovic
June 19, 2015

Meet Patricia Cotton

Have you heard of Patricia Cotton? If you haven’t: you should, because she’s awesome! Patricia is an expert in change management, innovation and creative leadership. She used to work as a successful corporate marketing executive, but nowadays she works as a change agent, a lecturer and as founder of the company ‘Upside Down Thinking’. Hey Patricia, nice to meet you!

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am 31 year-old Brazilian, who has learnt to love Rio (the city where I was born and raised) by leaving it. I am deeply curious about other cultures and ways of living, which is one of the reasons why I chose Berlin as a second town. I am driven mainly by my not very realistic ideals, my obsessive and random curiosity and experiential learning process. I LOVE cinema & traveling, and also have a deep connection with music, astrology, psychology and the ones I love.

I have always strived to discover who I am and mainly how can I become my best possible self. It may sound like a cliché, but my story of change is related to that.

You worked as a marketing executive for years and was very successful doing so. What got you interested in change management?

For many years, I had what one can consider a “successful life”: precocious career growth, financial recognition, nice house etc. In this path, I signed up for the executive MBA of the Berlin School of Creative Leadership.

Initially, I wanted to learn more quickly and effectively about business and innovation, in order to boost my career. However, since life is fortunately bigger than my plans, this experience was a massive turning point and led me afterwards to give up on my executive fast-track.

So by travelling and studying in a deeper way, being inspired by global creative leaders and cities, I’ve concluded that I was missing a touch of madness in my life, since I’ve spent the past years simply fulfilling a pre-designed role in society, family, peer group, etc.

After several months of experiencing an intense personal and professional crisis, I decided to quit my job and invest all my savings on a global journey to explore the topic of change and what it means for organizations and leaders. I’ve also promoted an exciting yet painful self-change experiment, testing new forms of living and working.

What basically got me interested in change was observing how the human emotions are usually disregarded in this process and how vital they are in the path from the known to the unkown.

You did a research on new perspectives of change and how to embrace change. What were your primary research methods and what would you say were your most important findings?

I had three main research methods. The official academic ones were interviewing 10 top CEOs from different industries and backgrounds and also reading literature on change management, resilience, psychology, business transformation etc. The unofficial yet very effective method of research was promoting a self-change experiment and observing carefully all the stages, doubts, barriers and rewards related to the self-transformation process.

My most important findings were related to the power of courage and of acknowledging what life is calling you/your organization to do. Once the audacious moves that must be done are perceived, it’s vital to plan, be disciplined and also take stakeholders into serious consideration.

Changing requires persistence and consistency over time and it must serve a vision that is free from the voices of fear, judgement and cynicism.

At betahaus | Berlin you’re going to give a course titled ‘Creative Transformation’. What is creative transformation and what characterizes it?

I would define Creative Transformation as a change approach that considers pragmatism (means and metrics) as well as the power of intuition and emotions (diagnosing and reflecting) in order to reach more creative, adaptive and sustainable solutions for the future that wants to be born.

Why is it essential for people to implement creative transformation in their (daily?) work and personal life?

In a complex and fast paced society, the impulse is to be “connected” with ongoing and rapid changes, moving faster and working harder. Contemporary issues, however, require deep reflection and holistic, instead of reactive and linear solutions.

Would you say such approaches are spiritual?

Well, I think it depends on your beliefs and on how you want to name it. This “deeper place”, which is our natural source of ideas and renewal, can also be perceived as intuition, collective unconscious, divine inner light etc.

What skills, knowledge or insight do you believe participants will gain from attending your course?

I think this depends on how open the various participants will be. I believe that my course takeaways can vary a lot, since I’m much more interested in provoking good reflections and critical thinking than in delivering pre-determined answers. My goal is to foster what Theory-U considers change premises: having an open mind, open heart and open will.

What book or article have you read lately and could you recommend to us?

‘Aleph’, from the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. I’ve learnt a lot from that book and was specially touched by the message "go and reconquer your kingdom, which has grown corrupted by routine". This is what I think change is about.

Do you want to learn more about changing your ways of thinking and your habits, about breaking your routines and living and working with more depth and creativity? Come and join Patricia’s course in betahaus. More information about other upcoming events, here

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