Basic Info

Stephen Harvill
Contributor Status:
Native AdVice
Initial Contribution Date:

Career Info

Primary Industry:
Coaching / Training, Writing
Personal Career Headline:
Creative Ventures President & CEO

My Native AdVert

Career Snapshot:

I started my consulting company 35 years ago as a vehicle to launch and apply my ideas. During those years we have had the honor of working with some of the most prestigious companies in the world including Apple, Zappos, Morgan Stanley, and FritoLay to name a few. We have created eight unique strategies whose applications span markets and industries. I am also the author of the Amazon Best Selling book, The 21 Secrets of Million Dollar Sellers, which has been translated into a dozen different languages and was named one of the top 100 sales books of all time.

Native AdMission Statement (AKA Personal Brand Pitch):

Great ideas need to lead to great strategies and great strategies need to DIRECTLY impact a company’s goals. My company creates that formula – idea to strategy to impact. We have 35 years of success working with Fortune 100 companies around that simple formula. We do this through SEVEN core strategic programs that we present and teach. We also consult in the application of these strategies to the operations of our clients.

My Native AdVice

How did you get into the industry?:

I come from an education in science and applied the ideas of simplicity to our business right out of the gate. Those ideas resonated with companies and I grew the business based on our client accomplishments and word of mouth. Dynamic ideas coupled with a creative and engaging delivery model gave us early success. Keeping OUR model simple we deliver value in three areas, presentations, education (workshops) and application (consulting).

Emerging industry trends?:

More and more companies are recognizing the value in implementing training aimed at key skill sets. This allows their primary resource, their people, the opportunity to grow, acquire new abilities and push their organizations forward. We are a valuable resource to our clients with new ideas gained through the work we do in over a dozen industries. The only way a company gets better is to make sure their people get better. Training and on-going education will continue to drive talent, recruitment, and retention.

Industry opportunities and challenges?:

Talented people remain the most valuable resource in business and the market for that talent is getting more competitive. Companies are increasing their commitment to GROWTH as a retention and recruiting advantage. Employees grow their job opportunities by increasing and honing their skill sets. This mindset led to the creation of a $90 billion dollar industry. Within that huge number, the unique and powerful design and delivery of learning programs creates the opportunity to become trusted partners. In order to access the ever changing set of learning content, companies of all sizes are looking to partner with companies that can bring fresh perspective, engaging and dynamic content delivery ,and custom modifications to meet their learning needs. This creates a HUGE opportunity within this field.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?:

After college I was lucky to land in the ski resort design business and soon discovered the high levels of complexity around the various elements of design, construction and management. I offered a simplified version of one aspect of the business and that success launched Creative Ventures. Complexity if the single greatest barrier to success. It leads to an overall lack of engagement around ideas, strategies, and projects. I learned how to simplify even the most complex models and applied that commitment to simplification to Creative Ventures. My vision for the company was small. Yes, small was my primary strategy. I wanted a low overhead model that allowed us the luxury of choosing only the projects we wanted to pursue. The freedom of scale creates a staggering level of opportunity IF you understand how to be successful and small. It has been a great formula for over 35 years.

What's next for the Business in the near future?:

We are shifting all of our introduction materials to custom 60 second videos. This is a huge shift requiring our video gang to simplify our seven strategies to fit the view time. Any client requesting information on any of our strategy programs will now have a simple video to show the impact and application of the idea. This is being developed simultaneously with a complete revision of our web site. A big push will continue around the success of my book – THE 21 SECRETS OF MILLION DOLLAR SELLERS, that will feature a European book tour starting in October. We launched a blog series around the ideas and research from the book that didn’t make the print edition.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business? Greatest Accomplishment?:

In our field LEVERAGE is a key initiative. We often begin our introduction to any client or industry with large stage productions featuring dynamic visuals, interactive exercises and stagecraft designed to make an idea understandable and fun! We then need to create a stronger push to leverage that success to generate additional business. It has been a rather informal process that needs a much stronger level of focus.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?):

Deciding what success looked like. Entrepreneurs are famous for burning the candle at both ends. Never ending work days and mountains of stress was not a life I was looking for. I wanted to leverage my ideas to create great impact for my clients. I wanted to choose the projects I wanted and say NO to, those that didn’t interest me. This meant I needed to keep the operational expenses very low. I wanted to enjoy our success and find the right people to help in that shared the goal. I chose freedom over growth. This choice probably has limited the financial success we could have had, but it always gave us the most precious of resources, TIME.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?:

We want to be the best thing about any project we engage in. If we are doing a keynote address, we want to be the highest rated speaker. We start at the end of a project by asking; “tell me what the most successful outcome of this project looks like.” From there we start the architecture of designing to THEIR most successful outcome. This has been the hallmark of our success. At the end of the project, the client is better than they were at the start and that creates the building blocks for the next project. We are process driven and focus on the bigger picture than a single engagement.

How do you motivate others?:

Motivation is NEVER a goal. Motivation is a self-driven psychological element. It’s intrinsic. You can’t really motivate anyone to do anything. You can inspire the way someone thinks and that inspiration may result in creating the motivation to change something. Inspire an idea, create something new in a thinking model, and it can lead to motivation, but motivation is not the goal, engagement in an idea IS.

Career advice to those in your industry?:

The key question is how do you create separation and differentiation in an industry headed to $100 billion a year? It is about two core elements; first, you have to have content, content that businesses can find value in. Second you have to create a unique delivery model. How do you transfer your content to participants so that they can connect to it?

My Native AdVantage

What do you do best?:

The discipline of being able to create a new idea, a perspective around a problem, solution, or skill set needs to be learned and my background in science has provided just that. I can take an original or existing idea and take an organization through the three part IDEA JOURNEY. This is a simple process that creates enrollment and begins with “I get it”, moves to “I value it”, and ends with “I can apply it in the context of what I do”.

What makes you the best version of yourself?:

Preparation in everything. We are a visual organization and utilize sketchnoting and storyboards as a key part of our internal processes. By taking an idea through a series of visual machinations we see the idea from a variety of angles and can discover opportunities to modify or shift directions.

What are your aspirations? (Personal and Business):

We want to be a valued partner for every company we work with. A valued partner transgresses single engagements and develops deep relationships. From a personal side, I am a surprisingly private person and love time with my family. I love being outside and have been an athlete since I was eight.

Biggest Success?:

We have stood the test of time. When you are an idea company, nothing speaks to the value of what you create like time. This is our 35th year and we continue to push barriers, discover new methods and open new relationships.

Most Challenging Moment?:

The post 9/11 business climate. Everyone was “cocooning” , drawing all their resources into protective mode. To have survived a business environment where fear of an uncertain future was driving everything was a major accomplishment.


“The world is filled with obvious things which nobody, by chance, ever observes. Be open to see everything.” Sherlock Holmes

Favorite People/Role Models?:

I have a strange combination here. I am attracted to scientists that can make hugely complex ideas understandable to everyone. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox and Brian Green, the late Carl Sagan fit that bill. I am also a musician and find singer/songwriters that can combine melody with a clever story to be fantastic. Bob Dylan once said to have a great song “all you need are three chords and the truth”.

Favorite Places/Destinations?:

I have been traveling since I was 10 years old and have been to so many places that I have trouble remembering. I love Hawaii (I grew up surfing), Monterey and San Francisco CA. I love Stowe VT and Sun Valley ID. I like London, but shy away from international travel as it just tires me out.

Favorite Products/Objects?:

I lead a very simple life, so I don’t have a lot of stuff. I have a 35 year old Washburn (American version) acoustic guitar that I love. I love divers watches and have a Reactor Griffen watch I wear all the time. I love my Apple products.

Current Passions?:

This is a problem for me as I have a full menu of passions. I read a couple books a week, one fiction and one non-fiction. My wife (the love of my life) and I took up golf a couple of years ago and I love playing. I have been a tennis player since I was 8 and still try to play three times a week. I have been to the movies every Saturday since I was ten. It is one of my favorite things. Of course, I am passionate about Creative Ventures and spend some time every day on it.

What Else To Know

Tell Us More:

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Get THE ONE CRITICAL THING done.

Thought of the Day: Opportunity is often disguised as work and risk.

Action of the Day: Know that everyday has a work stopping point.

Deed of the Day: All ex-surfers know, if it’s not fun, forget about it.

Tip of the Day: Know your most productive time and reserve it for your most important work.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

I live in Austin, TX. Austin has live music EVERYWHERE, a great food culture, a huge energy created around the University of Texas, there is something you can do or see EVERYDAY.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

I’m not a great cook, but I do make the BEST French Toast in the WORLD! I love breakfast and collect the best breakfast restaurants in every city I go to. The Portage Bay Café in Seattle and First Awakenings in Monterey are a couple of my favorites. In Austin, where BBQ is a religion, I love Blacks BBQ!

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Finishing my morning workout.

10:00 AM – Finishing the ONE CRITICAL THING for the day.

12:00 PM – I don’t eat lunch.

7:00 PM – Relaxing with my wife and probably streaming one of our favorite shows.

11:00 PM – My day starts at 4:00 AM, so at 11:00 PM I have probably been asleep for 90 minutes to an hour.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

There are two; I love my Peet’s Coffee in the morning and I drink a mixture of club soda and cranberry juice with lime by the gallons.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

YouTube is my most used app as I garner ideas from thought leaders and I’m not really an Instagram guy.

What should everyone try at least once?

Surfing or skiing. Both are elemental experiences and so connected with nature that they are seamless.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

A great book or movie

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