In the midst of a dreary day, we watched the Cake Boss marathon on TLC last Sunday. The reality TV program was fun and illustrated all kinds of extreme creativity lessons:

Shatter conventional definitions - The show is about cakes. But until Sunday, it never occurred to me a cake could be made from rice crispie treats, wood, screws, and PVC pipe. But look inside "star" Buddy Valestro's "cakes," and you may find any of those and more. If he stuck with traditional cake recipes instead of creative ones, he'd never be the "Cake Boss."

Construct a creative team that's better than you - Buddy appears to have command of many skills critical to making incredible cakes. Yet it's clear he surrounds himself with specialized, creative people who have stronger talents than he does in focused areas equally essential to creating the kinds of extreme cakes he's known for.

Your distinctive talents work all over the place - Why be just a baker? Carpentry, painting, and pottery skills were all used to create innovative cakes shaped like teapots, motorcycles, boats, and mannequins.

The impossible = amazing creativity - In one special episode, the challenge was to create a full-size NASCAR race car shaped cake. Two separate locations were used to make all the cakes for the more than 12,000 pound final creation. 12,000 pounds? That's nearly 4 times how much a real race car weighs! That's extreme creativity!

Creativity doesn't mean glossing over details - For an apple farm, the bakery had to make its first ever apple cake. While the apple grower appreciated the cake's taste, what really excited him was the cake's appearance - edible mini-pumpkins, apples, and a "working" tree swing.

Yell, laugh, and cry - Buddy's family bakery is an emotional place. They wear their emotions on their sleeves; it's all part of the intensively creative, deadline-driven process.

Shut up and fix disasters - Since it's a reality show, disasters are a must. The front end of the NASCAR cake fell-off. A cake for a drag queen's holiday show was too big to fit through any door to the theater. So what do you do? Throw more rice crispie treats at the NASCAR and get the holiday show audience to come outside to get their cake. No harm, no foul.

Put these extreme creative lessons to work, and cook up some creativity for yourself! - Mike Brown

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