The Medici Effect: Embracing Collaboration

by Bethany Joy



Hey there! In a world that values fresh ideas and innovative solutions, collaboration and diversity of thought have become essential ingredients for success. Have you ever heard of “The Medici Effect”? It’s a fascinating concept introduced by Johannes Frans Johansson in his book, and it highlights the power of collaboration among diverse individuals or fields to spark creativity and drive innovation. Since we are talking about how to create ideas in our series on Design Thinking, let’s dive into Johansson’s six rules of innovation and explore how we can apply them in our everyday lives, from our homes to our workplaces. We have empathized, defined our problems, and now we are in the ideation stage!



The Value in Diversity


The Medici Effect, beautifully described by Johannes Frans Johansson in his book, highlights the remarkable results that arise when people from different backgrounds and disciplines come together. Take, for example, the collaboration that led to the creation of solar panels inspired by the incredible efficiency of leaves in nature. It’s a perfect illustration of how diverse perspectives can spark game-changing innovations. So, let’s see how we can apply the six rules of innovation to foster collaboration and unleash our collective creative genius. These six rules were initially from this article on



All New Ideas Are Combinations of Existing Ideas


We’ve all experienced conflicts and disagreements, especially when living with someone who has a different approach to tasks like cleaning. But here’s an opportunity for growth! By combining our ideas and values, we can find unique solutions that bridge the gap between our perspectives. Try engaging in a value quiz or an open conversation to understand each other’s preferences. Perhaps you can compromise, finding a way to keep the kitchen clean while still allowing for a spontaneous approach. Remember, collaboration is all about exploring new ways to solve problems and creating a harmonious living environment.



Not All Idea Combinations Are Created Equal


Differences shouldn’t be viewed as obstacles; they should be embraced as opportunities. The real magic happens when we mix loosely linked ideas, like observing how children solve problems without being bound by conventional rules. By welcoming diverse perspectives and learning from people of different ages and backgrounds, we open ourselves up to fresh insights and unconventional solutions. Let’s break free from the confines of our comfort zones and discover innovative approaches inspired by the unexpected.



More Ideas Lead to Better Ideas


Innovation thrives in an environment where ideas flow freely. As leaders or individuals, we can create spaces that encourage idea generation and circulation. One effective way to do this is through informal interviews. Take the time to sit down with others, ask thought-provoking questions, and genuinely listen to their experiences and thought processes. By fostering collaboration, we create a culture of continuous improvement and innovation, where every idea has the potential to contribute to something extraordinary.



Plan for Mistakes and Failures


Failure is not the end; it’s an essential part of the innovation journey. Just as children stumble and fall while learning to eat, we need to embrace the lessons that come with making mistakes. By acknowledging and learning from failures, we cultivate resilience, understanding, and the ability to adapt. So, let’s create spaces where mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth and where innovative ideas can thrive. Let’s extend patience when our friends, family, and children experiment and it doesn’t go as planned. We all make mistakes- it’s part of the process.



Stick to Your Passions


It’s the Best Chance for Success: Passion fuels innovation. It’s what drives us to explore new ways of combining our interests and finding solutions to complex problems. Whether it’s photography, fine art, mental health, or technology, our passions bring excitement and dedication to our endeavors. By staying true to our passions, we maintain the motivation to persevere through failures and embrace collaboration with others who share our enthusiasm. Together, we can accomplish remarkable things.


By embracing the Medici Effect and applying Johansson’s six rules for innovation, we can unlock our collective potential for collaboration and ideation- This isn’t just for professional settings it’s for our most important relationships, our toughest conversations and bridging the gap to growth when we are struggling to see things from others perspective.


References used:


Your Creativity is Powerful

by Bethany Joy



In our podcast journey exploring Design Thinking, we have delved into various aspects of problem-solving, but one recurring theme remains the significance of a growth mindset. In a rapidly changing world, the ability to think flexibly becomes crucial for survival. However, as responsibilities increase, the process of dreaming and ideating can become more challenging. It’s natural to seek comfort and avoid disappointment, frustration, and pain. Yet, it’s essential to recognize that pushing through discomfort and embracing challenges builds resilience and makes us stronger individuals. In this series, we have already covered self-compassion and defining problems while overcoming procrastination. Now, it’s time to reignite our dreams and creative potential.


Creativity as a Learned Skill

Recently, I stumbled upon an article that resonated deeply with me. It highlighted an important fact applicable to all creative individuals, especially those in the design field: waiting for inspiration to strike is not always feasible. Contrary to popular belief, creativity is not solely reliant on inspiration or raw talent. The core message of our podcast is that creativity is a skill that can be learned and cultivated over time.


So, how can we nurture our own ideas and enhance our ideation skills? Let’s explore two valuable practices:


Make Room for Imagination

Imagination is a powerful tool that allows us to envision new possibilities. While it’s crucial to identify potential problems, we mustn’t solely focus on them. It’s equally important to make space for positive and playful imagination. In today’s interconnected world, we often overlook our unique perspectives. Although group brainstorming sessions are well-intentioned, they can be influenced by biases that limit the effectiveness of idea generation. Remember, you have the ability to bring fresh, unique solutions to your life. Allow yourself to think unconventionally, embrace limitless possibilities, and tap into the power of your imagination.



Stop Judging Start Writing

Judgment is a part of our daily lives, but when it comes to generating ideas, we must grant ourselves the freedom to withhold judgment from our initial thoughts. The next time you encounter a problem, take a moment to start writing and let your ideas flow onto paper. Don’t worry about perfection or whether the ideas seem real or strange. Sometimes, the journey to truly brilliant ideas begins with expressing the not-so-great ones. Remember, there’s no race to have perfect ideas—give yourself permission to explore and experiment without judgment.


Unleash Your Creativity

Design thinking and the ideation process hold incredible potential for problem-solving and unleashing our creative potential. By cultivating our imagination and embracing a non-judgmental mindset, we can foster innovation and develop unique solutions. Let’s dream big and work towards making the world a more creative and problem-solving place.


I hope this gives you some ideas on how to gather the strength to keep moving this year. Remember that when you feel like everything is going wrong you can still choose to be kind. You can choose to be hopeful and fight for the better. Happy Mid-year! Let’s continue doing what we dream of. If you want some cute encouragement to check out the affirmations below!




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Beat the Mid-Year Blues

by Bethany Joy



How are those new year’s resolutions going for you?

It’s June and let’s be honest with ourselves. We set BIG new year’s goals back in January and before we knew it we were halfway through the year. It can be frustrating to set out to have the “Best Year EVER!” and then look at the unused gym membership, unchecked list of to-dos, and unexpected craziness life has thrown our way and get discouraged. Here are some ways to rethink the 2nd half of your year to inspire you to keep going! Life is tough but so are you.


Redefine What Success Looks Like

Setting ambitious goals is great. Pushing yourself to be the best is not a bad thing. However, in the design world, you have to do more than set a goal. You need to test it and evaluate if it’s working. This is a great time to re-evaluate your goals. If you want the vision in your head to become reality you need to be realistic about your ability to achieve it. For example, if you plan on traveling more this year but so far you have only traveled to the store take a step back and ask why? Are you spending your time on what you believe is important? Are you in a temporarily tough situation? Do you need to adjust the timeline? Spend some time reviewing what you have actually accomplished versus what you want. It may be time to re-prioritize your energy to what matters.



Own Your Environment

We all have responsibilities to take care of. It could be our families, jobs, or our home. Bills have to be paid and we don’t always get to choose what that looks like. What we can choose is to set our environment up for success. In a busy season, it’s normal to have things out of place including routines, our homes, and our schedules. Halfway through the year is a great time to stop and reset your environment to emphasize your values! Values in this case simply mean how you approach life. If you value adventure approach your day looking for it. Can you make cooking breakfast an adventure? Can you explore new ways to get your work done? If you value rest, how can you approach your day in a restful manner? Can you build in extra breaks even if they are only mental? Can you prioritize a 5-minute walk? The way you present yourself and craft your environment is up to you. Shout out to my therapist for this advice!



Cut Your Losses

Ego will cost you more than you ever wanted. Sometimes our goals are grounded in ego, grounded in proving others wrong, proving we don’t need help, or proving we are perfect. Take note: Are your goals for this year rooted in pleasing others, proving others or pride to avoid shame? When we spend energy on ideas or goals that don’t work because we can’t let go of our plans or admit that we got it wrong we lose more time. Sometimes the most effective thing you can do is realize what you are doing is not working and pivot. Sometimes I tell myself “plot twist” or ” The plot thickens” because it can be hard to let go of effort, time, or energy invested into a plan that has failed. Failure isn’t the end, it’s the beginning of learning.


Small Steps Equal Big Changes

Okay. This may seem cliche, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. If you have fallen off of your new year’s resolutions now is the time to check and see if you have fallen prey to chasing “States of Being” I talk about this in my podcast from the book The Personal M.B.A. A state of being is when a goal is to “Be Happy” “Be Successful” or “Be at Peace” which will not help you actually reach your goal. Instead, define what each means and put them into actionable steps. If “Be Happy” means working less and having the income to go on vacation, spend your energy examining what it would take to make that a reality. Get it on paper and get it with dates. Get that desire into action and start creating a path toward it. Imagine there are no barriers and dream up how you can achieve your goals. It may not be exactly what you imagine but don’t underestimate the encouraging power of small steps.


Encouragement is Like Dynamite

Encouragement comes in small packages. When everything seems to be falling apart, it can feel like you need a miracle for circumstances to turn around. In my life when I make one small positive change, I feel incredibly better. It may not take as much as you think to be able to see things are getting better. Give yourself encouragement by recognizing what is going well. When you have a bad morning believe that your day can turn around tomorrow. If you went off the line on your New Year’s Resolutions there are still 6 months to make it happen. Don’t throw away the baby with the bath water. One thing going wrong doesn’t ensure EVERYTHING is ruined! (This is for me to be honest).



I hope this gives you some ideas on how to gather the strength to keep moving this year. Remember that when you feel like everything is going wrong you can still choose to be kind. You can choose to be hopeful and fight for the better. Happy Mid-year! Let’s continue doing what we dream of. If you want some cute encouragement to check out the affirmations below!




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4 Ways to Re-engage Your Creative Thinking

Celebrating Your Originality



Last Friday I launched the 1st episode of my podcast the creativity cure. We talked about how to celebrate your originality. I focused on how we should embrace our unique perspective in life and cultivate it to bring joy, creative problem-solving, and a sense of freedom. You can listen to my podcast here to get the full recap. Below I expand on the practical ways I re-engaged creativity in my life.



Ask people what they notice about you.

Ask people what they notice about you. If you haven’t done this exercise it’s a great way to get perspective. When I asked a trusted friend to give me feedback on what they noticed about me it was surprisingly refreshing because they mentioned things I wouldn’t have noticed. Feedback is the tool that businesses, apps, websites, designers, and artists use to ensure they are communicating clearly with the intended party. In our personal lives, we can use feedback to understand what we communicate to the outside world. You may not realize that you give great advice or have an eye for detail. Hearing someone mention this will help you recognize ways you are unique and talented.


Journal Your Joy

When you find something that sparks life in you write it down. I started doing this when I had so many ideas my brain was scattered. By tracking my thoughts I was able to narrow down some consistent patterns in what excites me. Creativity involves being unconventional and that means our creative expression can be unconventional. Even if it seems mundane to you if you enjoy it write it down and think about why. The more you clarify what it is you enjoy creating the better you become at finding ways to express this at home or at work.



Remember Your Childhood

Adulting is hard. It’s work and life can be tough. When we are kids we may have been freer to think about how big and exciting life could be. Revisiting what you enjoyed is a great exercise to access that part of yourself. I know there were activities I simply forgot I loved. Finding ways to bring back my love for lighting in photography and music and dance became a way to bring joy back to my current life even with all the busyness.



Finding Time to Play

Finally to reengage your creativity find a way to facilitate uninhibited exploration. That’s how I define play. I don’t want to make it narrow but our brains thrive when we give space to challenge ourselves to think outside of the box. Play comes in all shapes and sizes but I do think it’s important that it’s not a stressful thing. Play for me is making up websites just to see what I can do. It can be writing or cooking it could even be how you create your workout. Play is a necessity and when life is tough a moment of creativity can inspire hope that things can be better. Play is important because we engage with pushing what’s possible. When we can freely think through our problems looking for solutions instead of focusing on limitations we open the door to new solutions and possibilities. Our ability to play is connected to this.


Hopefully, these are helpful tips but I am only one person so I would love to hear what has worked for you! Email me here or at Also, commission a portrait with me to collaborate on a creative art piece! Booking is open for 2023.






What My Photography Was Like 5 Years Ago

Starting A Business While In College

When you don’t drink coffee.


I don’t know what I was thinking but I re-started my side business while in college probably from fumes of pure excitement. Formally I started Bethany J. photography in high school when a family friend hired me for Christmas photos. If you want to see the work I did back then and a cringe bathroom selfie of me in high school click here. I wanted to grow my business but I wasn’t sure how to go about it.  Have you ever been scared to ask people for money before because that is exactly how it felt at first? I decided to offer free sessions wherever I could in order to build my portfolio which was full of fine artwork. I think I had some imposter syndrome and didn’t feel official enough to actually charge anyone for my work. What I didn’t anticipate was how hard it would be to create family photography while also trying to create more in-depth work in school. I think any creative has been there if they have ever done both meaningful art and fun client work.  I don’t have a formula on how to do it but I can share my experience so you can get to know me a bit more. I have a big rebrand announcement coming and wanted to do this blog post so you can “grow up” with me and understand where I have been and where I am going. Stay tuned for next week’s launch of the new brand!


Getting real-world experience

Check out some of the work I created with my first clients. While I had worked on more artistic fine art photography learning to communicate with people for family and professional portraits was a new skill that involved learning to direct people on how to pose, and working with various lighting situations. 



Developing My Voice

While starting to shoot clients I was also in school learning to develop my voice visually. College is where I learned how to be purposeful with the techniques I had been taught as well as how to tell a story. Here are a few projects I think show my thinking over time by exploring self-portraits, costumes, and dramatic lighting.

Fairy Knots

This project was about my natural hair. I cut my hair in high school and remember being so nervous to have short hair. I learned a lot about myself having to accept my hair as it was. 


One thing I can reflect on is that during this period of my life, the growth really showed in my technique. I was able to bring that back to my clients. Here are a few samples of the work that I did with some great people!


What I look forward to is bringing back some of my passion when it comes from the fine art side of my practice while continuing to use the vibrancy and warmth that I brought to my client portraits. I also look forward to taking the time to make portraits with even more detail and thought. I hope if you are working on your own skills or craft that you choose not to give up. Everything takes practice and time. It took years for me to get to where I am and I still have room left to grow. I like to always say enjoy the journey the destination will come. I would love to hear about what your work looked like 5 years ago! Find me on Instagram @bethanyjphotography or email me by clicking the contact button. Also, stay tuned for my podcast The Creative Cure, and more information about my rebrand launch!








What My Photography Was Like 10 Years Ago

Let’s Go Back

Yes, this is me in high school!


It has been 10 years since the first time I picked up a camera. I am surprised I stuck with photography this long considering how many other hobbies I’ve lost along the way. I made purses, sold cards, and even did Avon for a bit, and T-shirts! If you haven’t heard I have BIG news coming in February about how I am changing my business. I thought that one way to help everyone make sense of what is coming would be to look at how I started. I want to bring you into my circle here to help you understand how I built along the way. I have done a general blog on this before but this is a bit more in-depth covering 2014-2015. This blog is the first in this series and it’s looking at my work from when I was 15 and had just started photography class at school. I think it’s cool to share because if you are a teen out there please know you can grow your skills into a business even at that age. I also think some of you art lovers might appreciate it. So let’s go. I had way too much fun going through these. 



Portraits From the Start

From the start, I was in love with portraits! I started with portraits of people on the street and pictures of buildings. I was really scared of people getting mad so I would try and do portraits in stealth mode. I had to build the confidence to ask people for a picture. 


Projects I Still Love

There were some projects or moments that I will never forget. They sparked my love for photography and made me some friends I still have today!

These two portraits were my first studio work. One was a study of the lighting of a Joni Mitchell portrait. The second was a project on making my little brother look like an adult for a project on irony. I remember being so excited because I got the light to do what it was supposed to! This was a win in understanding how to make drama come alive in portraits.




The exploration of this time was so much fun. I teamed up with the Baltimore City Mayor’s photographer and shot the back-to-school giveaway. I started messing with color developing the style that I have now. Shout out to all of my family members who involuntarily posed for me! 




I started developing my warm and vibrant style in high school thanks to my friends and family modeling for me.




One project that I absolutely loved was Uniquely Human. A project where my friend Rebekah and I collaborated with our class to create a single portrait from 20 faces making universal emotional expressions. 





I look back at this and I am so proud of myself and all of the people I met along the way. I had fun just playing, exploring, and connecting with people. Can anyone relate to having a moment of courage when it comes to chasing your dreams? Lately, I have been doing a major rehaul of Bethany J. Photography and looked over all of the stuff I did ten years ago. It makes me excited to dive back into making art again. I tend to remember the fear and nervousness I felt when I would make work and constantly wonder if it was any good. I think looking at the images and remembering that all of that stress did pay off gives me some bravery to make new things again. I kinda wonder what Bethany back then would think of me now. On that note, that’s all I got for this blog. Next time I am gonna get a bit into art school and my first client work. What would you tell yourself 10 years ago? Drop it in a comment below or DM me @bethanyjphotography everywhere.


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