Creating Your Future With the Power of Connectivity

Photo by Michael Competielle

Our universe is invisibly connected, mapped pathways wired with varying options made by our own interactions in a linear timeline.

Have you ever walked up to a complete stranger in a place of commonality and began a conversation? Uncertain of your similarities besides being in the same place at the same time? Have you had a conversation that exposed your connections, curious why you’d never met or crossed paths before?

Yesterday I was at an outdoor art show in a native farmland landscape. Walking amongst beautiful stone sculptures placed throughout wide open fields and meadows, I walked into a barn and began talking to a sculptor.

Our connection was made almost immediately with common friends and interests. We talked about his amazing work, his mold making and casting process. As we talked he mentioned he had a bell out in a far meadow in which you could ring in the large quiet clearing.

I began to explain to him my interests in bells and plans of traveling the world to record them.

We began to discuss various other artists at the event and how he had visited Japan on various occasions. During one trip he had traveled to Kyoto and visited the Chion-in temple which houses the largest temple bell in Japan. Weighing 74 tons, hanging from a massive wooden structure, the bell is wrung by up to 25 men pulling back a horizontal log suspended from the temples structure.

My new friend told me his Japanese wife helped to interpret a story told by a Monk explaining how Albert Einstein on his only trip to Japan had not only visited but allegedly had climbed up into the bell and had the monks ring the bell. Einstein’s theory was that based on the construction, and physics the bells interior would be void of sound.

My friend was uncertain if Einstein’s theory had been proven and the outcome however the story made another connection in my world. With a strong connection to Princeton University and my introduction to nature field recording, audio ecology and my latest sounds of interest, noise pollution the Einstein connection fuels my narrative.


Walking into most situations and my entire world has become smaller and smaller as my experiences and expressiveness has increased. My travels bring me to places and people that continue to open up my horizon.

The first new vinyl record I ever had was a Star Wars themed compilation which included other space themed songs. My favorite song on the album was Rocket Man and I wanted to go to outer space. My second album I borrowed from my father and never returned… David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

On and off for many years David Bowie would resurface into my life, in his albums, working and touring with my favored Trent Reznor and acting as my beloved favorite inventor Nikola Tesla in The Prestige.

With every Bowie sighting and his explorations, my curiosity and interests have expanded. Stepping away from my comfort zone and finding my inner minds eye, I’ve created more designs, creations and thoughts than ever before.

“I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations. If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting” David Bowie

David Bowie
Photo by Michael Competielle

On January 8th 2016 I headed into my favorite record shop in Princeton to pickup a copy of David’s latest album Blackstar. I also purchased a David Bowie magazine highlights interesting aspects of his career.

My wife and I listened to Blackstar and struggled to understand the album. Still immersed in Bowie I pulled out all my Bowie vinyl and we spend the entire weekend listening to nothing but his work. While listening I began to read the new Bowie magazine and that inspired me to reread Bowie: The Man Who Feel to Earth.

I never felt more connected to David than I did that weekend, as I fell asleep reading the novel.

On Monday morning I awoke early and was checking my iPhone as I read to my horror that David had died. I slapped myself lightly in the face to verify I was truly awake and reading the truth.

I began to cry saddened that Earth had lost our Starman. As I revisited Blackstar and rewatched the video the narrative became clear. Bowie was preparing for his death and transcending into another World.


How is all this connected? I’m uncertain however what I can certainly say that when I’m feeling safe, I always step towards discomfort and find my way. It’s clear to me that inspiration came from David and his belief. David’s work with musician Brian Eno on the Berlin Trilogy lead me to study Eno’s style and creation of ambient music.

As I’ve become fearless of creative risk and reaching out into the dark unknown I’ve taken on the challenge of creative writing. Uncertain of my qualifications or abilities, I was reassured today by one of my hero’s, who shared my article on being creative and taking risks.

Photo By Michael Competielle

My World has never been more connected and tomorrow I’ll try to create experimental sound effects with the human voice ala John Cage.

https://medium.com/@mcompetielle/creating-your-future-with-the-power-of-connectivity-dcfc75a42e9d?source=friends_link&sk=30353484687c626b7d4ce15958664468

Creative Ways to Be Creative

Tools to expand your creativity

Photo by Michael Competielle

Recently I finished a creative writing project. The actual project was to record a new original sound effect per day for 1 month. I purchased a new 4K GoPro on a Gorillapod so my audio creations had a visual element to add to the sounds.

With a growing passion for expanding my Sound Design library and field recording while owning a media production company I felt the project would create a nice new library of fresh and original sounds.

And what happened….nothing. Why?

Lack of inspiration. Being I create original sound effects for film and video content the visuals requiring sounds already existed. Door squeaks, engine roars, environmental ambiences the sound bites I’d create were placed to visuals on a screen.

So how did I get motivated for the new project?

Writing Haiku….huh? Yes you heard me. Writing Haiku… 100 of them.

Well how did I create the inspiration for my Haiku? Cellphone pictures. Over 14,000 of them. Were those images that good? Nope most of the sucked but I only needed 100.

Early in the project the images I used were generally nature inspired. Very simple and safe for what were essentially traditional Haiku but then the situation changed. I quickly bored of standard nature photographs and instead photographed and wrote Haiku that were riskier and more creative. Suddenly my mind was seeing Haiku in just about everything. Architecture, Fireworks and slabs of meat.

The daily task of photographing topics for my creative writing opened the floodgates of my free expressive thinking. Safe and common concepts quickly bored me as I felt I needed to expand my expressiveness.

While photographing I’d have ideas for sound recording, film scripts and art projects. Writing to an image allowed me to look deeper into the photograph and detail what I thought or how I felt. My vocabulary expanded as I’d struggle to find synonyms with the appropriate syllables.

Always multitasking or realistically multi-projecting, my Haiku helped with my creativity in other projects as well. Hearing sounds in my Haiku and my photography my mind heard the sounds and I just moved forward to create more.


Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences,” ambient music pioneer Brian Eno wrote in his diary.

Brian Eno is a musician, record producer, visual artist and philosopher. With deep roots in electronic music with Roxy Music and David Bowie and as the the creator of Ambient Music, Brian often expanded his creative process by visualizing music.

With solo records titled Ambient 1: Music For Airports, Music for Films and Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks Brian writes textural music.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Enter the Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt Oblique Strategies cards.

Peter Schmidt was a pioneering multimedia artist and painter who created a box of 55 sentences printed on original unused artwork called “The Thoughts Behind the Thoughts”

Eno was friends with Schmidt and a few years later created his own handwritten inspirational cards named the “Oblique Strategies.”

Seeing similarities in the cards Eno and Schmidt decided to release a joint box set of cards also sold as the “Oblique Strategies

The cards are used as a written constraint used with a creative process. Many are believed to be for writing music however the reality is they can be used for any creative endeavors.

Examples are as follows:

  • A Line Has Two Sides
  • Into the Impossible
  • Turn it Upside Down
  • Retrace Your Steps
  • Switch Instruments

Visualize your next project and grab an Oblique Strategies card as inspiration. Use it for photography, a song or new product design.


IDEO is a global design and consulting firm that specializes in the practice of Design Thinking in product design, branding, hospitality, furniture, toy and automotive industries.

Originally founded in the late 1970’s specializing in product design an early client was Steve Jobs of Apple needing assistance in the design of the first computer mouse.

Over the course of the past 40 years IDEO’s principals have been utilized in almost every industry. Firmly based on the Design Thinking process which IDEO believes should be also used for Human-Centered Design to solve the World’s issues and a concept they teach and give away for free.

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.

— TIM BROWN, EXECUTIVE CHAIR OF IDEO

Photo by Michael Competielle

Enter IDEO’s Method Cards

IDEO’s Method Cards were developed for practicing and aspiring designers looking to expand on their designs and process.

Broken up into 4 categories:

  • Learn
  • Look
  • Ask
  • Try

These cards can help expand on creative thinking by using Design Thinking theory to expand on project or product problems and further development.

With written directions on each card such as “Look-Rapid Ethnography” or “Ask-Cognitive Maps” these cards help teams expand product developments.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Read…Read…Read….

Werner Herzog

In the Werner Herzog Masterclass he teaches filmmakers the importance of reading. He recommended a book The Peregrine which is a story of a falcon. By understanding the perspective of the falcon it changes your perspective on a situation or event and expands your thought process. Understanding and explaining from another perspective can bring new life to a story.

While Werner doesn’t recommend film school or even traditional filmmaking concepts, he does recommend the importance of learning to be an engaging storyteller. With a belief that the world is revealed to those who travel Herzog recommends you travel, meet different people and learn.

“I’d like to add that when I travel by foot, I don’t do it as a backpacker where you take all your household items with you — your tent, your sleeping bag, your cooking utensils,” Herzog wrote. “I travel without any luggage.”

My lessons in expanding my creativity have been helpful and life changing. Try some of these techniques to expand your creativity and creative process. And most of all have some fun.

https://medium.com/swlh/creative-ways-to-be-creative-984f73a324a4?source=friends_link&sk=7f681b2db9dcefce71ef70442787eeac

Creative Writing and Finding Your Voice

Photo by Michael Competielle

Without a doubt I’m a storyteller. Everywhere I travel I’ll find a purposeful narrative from my experiences. With the quality of the gift to gab as well as an artful eye, my stories can be witty and engaging yet often long winded and tiresome.

With a narrative history storytelling style I’ll always start with a pre-story illustrating the stage of the story to give the listener perspective. I alway analyze the listeners reaction and modify the story as needed to maintain engagement. Facial expressions and body language along with the listeners interjectionS are clues their connecting to the story.

Some people nod their heads up and down like a bobble head while I can see in their eyes…. I’ve lost them.

Creative writing is a bit different as I’m uncertain to whom I’m writing and what the faceless reaction is. Talking into a soundless abyss if I’m not writing for myself I’ll wind up lost. Lately I’ve been using the percentage of articles read or reader engagement as my metrics to determine my small audiences comprehension and connection.

Attempting to engage a mass audience and formulating my story to suit the masses leaves me angry and incomplete.

Lately my personal challenge is to write an article per day. The idea of writing a coherent engaging article based on any semblance of reality besides my own interpretation requires quite a bit of thought and research. Telling stories for me is actually really easy and so for the most part I’ll write first person narratives.

To motivate myself and get my creative juices flowing I’ll flip thru the 15k photos I have on my cell to determine my daily topic. Finding an inspiring image starts my imagination and internal voice to flow. The sentences formulate quickly into paragraphs as the storyline unfolds.

Thinking like a screenwriter for a film I’ll use the image as a springboard to enter into creative nirvana. With a limited writing skillset I begin the text with basic information such as where I am and why. Proper grammar is less important than getting my point across clearly.

Sitting here naked, vulnerable and alone with my thoughts I start to write without fear nor remorse as I honestly attempt to articulate the situations I’m experiencing and hoping it can be felt as I write.

Armed with only an iPad or my laptop, I write how inspired I am by this thing called life.

Originally I was attempting to wake up early in the morning and begin to write. Issue I was having was I’d awaken refreshed, cheerful and ready to embrace my day. My writing was nothing more than bubblegum words stuck together exposing my early morning meditative state of unrealistic world happiness. Sentences of boring text lacking the abrasive grit of my actual voice I decided to write later in the day after I’d encountered the irregularities and stress encountered throughout my day. Struggling to make it thru without tainting the meat in my head I call my brain.

As reality sinks in often quickly, the days phone calls and emails can change my emotions, it’s then I find I can articulate my most honest emotional thoughts.

Deep concentrated breathing helps me snap back into my own conscious state of calm. Brushing off the uncontrollable frustrations I turn to creative writing to release me tensions.

Rules are made to be broken or at least modified and as it’s generally my modus operandi to bend the rules daily I decided my creative writing should follow a series of rules. Most of which I’ll probably break.

  • Honesty. Don’t say it or write if it’s not honest
  • Write for myself and tell stories I’d enjoy to share
  • Use original photography and my “inside voice”
  • Publish or post daily

Medium has been a great format for publishing my literary works. With a wide range of topics and a high amount followers in many of the publications I decided to post everything on the site.

The double edged sword was when my second article was published and I began to receive an increase in followers and likes. My email feed began to fill with articles on becoming a better writer, where to buy stock images and social media marketing.

In order and to maintain my status as a writer in a publication I recognized I needed to increase the quality of my articles by using catchy titles with trigger words and stock photography.

I’m unwilling to compromise my artistic style and so I write using the honest wisdom of my inner voice.

Michael Competielle

https://medium.com/@mcompetielle/creative-writing-and-finding-your-voice-f009fcddd08b?source=friends_link&sk=4149cfa865b4bc2ab42053cf5deb896b

Developing a Creative Writing Flow

In the past few months I’ve made a conscious effort to reengage my minds creative thought process. I’ve developed some interesting yearend goals and try my best to keep on track. Unlike the gym membership that I hardly use or the book I may buy in an often feeble attempt to force myself to follow through and finish reading it, my new found creative outlet has been writing. And as of late “Flow” just sort of happens as topics and ideas appear in my mind and like a group of eager schoolchildren volunteering for a fun task those ideas jump up waving their hands saying “oh pick me pick me.”

As a fun challenge to my daily routine and a fusing of creative expressiveness I’ve decided to write 100 blog articles accompanied with original photography. For now I’m sticking with basic first person narrative accounts of a culmination of thoughts and concepts that will hopefully lead me down a path of a more enriching and mindful existence.

Earlier this year I felt like I was stuck in a rut as my mind was struggling to find a more immersive path. At the time I was expanding my foray into environmental field recording hoping to find a quiet location to record within an unadulterated natural habitat. With future plans to head out on a jungle expedition I decided to start locally at a nature preserve to test my equipment, clothing and technique.

The experience was enriching yet frustrating as I quickly experienced what is notably a systemic natural issue… noise pollution. Lawn mowers, cars, planes and people making substantial amounts of ruckus that essentially spoiled my field recordings.

As a side note I’ve recorded audio in various formats for over 30 years and noise has always been an issue. So much so I’ve found myself often recording and coveting noise (if I can record the noise cleanly and without additional pollutants.)

As my wife and I hiked through the muddy game preserve seeking a quiet place to record we examined the stunning landscape of forest and meadows and stumbled upon an interactive kiosk in a field. A clever weathered wooden structure with blocks of carved wood suspended on rods. Each block a unique word carved into each long side to allow a passerby to write a Haiku in a meadow. I was so inspired by the design and unique concept I thought to create my own similar designs for my own yard.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Inspired by the meadow Haiku and feeling creative I began researching Haiku and stumbled upon Courtney Symons 100 Days of Haiku article and the challenge was on. Armed with limited knowledge of Haiku and knowing I would never last 100 days I looked for a writing partner. Having someone to bounce ideas and concepts off of as well as encourage you to keep going we collectively completed 100 Haiku each placed onto 100 original photographs.

My perspective of daily activities changed as I challenged myself daily to find an inspiring and fitting photograph in which I would create an original haiku. After 100 days and lucky to have traveled and photographed New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida and Boston and using older photographs I had taken in Pittsburgh and Costa Rica I had what I believed to be the an engaging collection of original Haiku I’m planning to self publish into a coffee table photography book. The project subsequently the foundation behind the 100 days of blogging/ articles based on Seth Godin’s- Make Something Everyday podcast.

Being a Libra my life is all about balance which I juggle with on a daily basis. of foremost importance is making my wife’s morning breakfast with an Almond Milk Latte, followed by spending quality time walking my dogs. I attempt to be mindful during these daily activities however as of late I’m burning the toast and forgot to replenish the Dave’s Killer 21 grain bread that we love. Caught up in my creative process the ideas and writings next stop following as my most creative times are doing mindless activities such as washing the dishes.

My day job keeps my brain pumping as I answer hundred’s of technical questions and coordinate the design and execution of a vast amount of projects. Evenings I’m often working on sound design and editing for my production and post production company.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Next week I’ll begin an intense Design Thinking course thru IDEO. My mind is in 100% immersion with creating, designing and executing. Ideas popping into my head and channeled to my future endeavors be it articles, Brand Designs or scripts for Film.

My Mind is constantly in Flow….

Michael Competielle

https://medium.com/@mcompetielle/developing-a-creative-writing-flow-edecb747667d?source=friends_link&sk=5c2dae48a0e06ce439527a544295a6d9

Creative Writing And Finding Your Lane

Photo by Michael Competielle

When I was in grade school I struggled with writing so much that I was sent to a writing specialist and ultimately it was requested I be held back in the second grade. Possibly it was because of my early start into school as a September baby as I had just made the cutoff date. Or maybe I in actuality suffered from a learning disability that would require me to learn differently. Regardless I daily was removed from my otherwise mundane classroom to spend quality time with my tutor.

My recollection of her was an attractive, nurturing and patient teacher. She would greet me with a warm hug and a genuine smile as she’d ask me to read a book like Clifford the Big Red Dog. I would buzz through the words with ease reading to her as if I was the teacher and she was my student, hanging on my every word and only occasionally fixing my pronunciation. Seemed I didn’t struggle with reading comprehension or grammar but actually had difficulties in writing an essay citing what I had just read.

Blankly I’d stare at the page of penmanship paper where often the only thing I’d written was my name and the date along the top followed by “The book Clifford the Big Red Dog is about…”

If the paper was actually an old monochrome computer I’d be starring at a blinking cursor. What do I write next? I didn’t have a fucking clue. Lost in the details of an entire book and forced to write a simple summary of the most elementary book was a stressful struggle. I’d ask if I could sharpen my pencil or go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. Stall tactics until the hour long tutoring session would end while I figured there was always tomorrow right?

My tutor was nurturing and patient as she’d allow me the curtesy of wasting her valuable time. And when I ran out of juvenile stunts of misdirection she’d warmly say “okay Michael now can you please write what you just read?”

Hell no I couldn’t. What do I write first and what was most important? Setting, plot, adjectives and capitalization… screw this I’m out.

My tutor would take a paper and place it into a file folder and put it away. She would than look into my eyes and with the sweetest voice say “okay you win again. Tell me the story about Clifford the Big Red Dog” and holy shit I did. Every last fucking detail from Clifford’s size and hair and reactions. No problems there as I would talk and talk and talk.

And then my tutor would take back out the blank essay paper and say “alright now write exactly what you just said.” I’d love to tell you that I did and it was perfect which I’m doubting is the truth however what I do recall is my first academic rush as I pencil to paper wrote and wrote and wrote.

Thinking back I remember those big fat pencil erasers that I would burn through as I corrected my less than stellar penmanship. It was on that day I found my narrative writing technique which is still the only way I know how to write.

I spent the next year with my tutor reading and writing essays. My memories not sharp enough to remember the content or any additional details except how I learned to write.

My remaining years as a “student” were a shit show spending most of my time in the principals office and subsequently in detention or suspension for not following the rules. To this day I feel that rules are for other people as I generally just do everything that I want. It’s doubtful that my writing style has improved much since my year with my tutor however I’ve stuck with my style and won’t change for anything.

Recently I’ve been following the marketing guru Seth Godin’s expert advice to write a blog a day. These can be based on random thoughts or philosophical ideas that you want to just get out there. I’m confident that my writing with improve exponentially as I continue to write and let that storytelling voice be heard.

Seldom have I found a situation where I’ve nothing to say and it’s been a very long time since I’ve stared at a blank page. Creative writing has expanded my thoughts and mind and is a dopamine rush. I become anxious to complete my thoughts and hit the publish button. It’s of paramount importance I continue to follow my own unwritten rules to be honest and forthcoming as I expose my thoughts and experiences in an abridged but unadulterated style.

As a creative designer and artist I struggle to stay on topic as my interests vary widely. This certainly is a compelling argument for my certain failure to ever become a successful author as I’d guess I’ll struggle finding a fan base with quite as diverse and quite frankly wild amount of passions and interests. However I’ll trudge on not losing site of my objective. To find my voice and share my thoughts.

One day I’ll pull back out the letters of correspondence my father typed back and forth to the school board requesting and subsequently denying my specialized education to find out why I do is what works. Possibly there is an answer in there that’ll help me stay in my lane but until then…. I’m just going to keep on hitting publish.

Michael Competielle

https://medium.com/@mcompetielle/creative-writing-and-finding-your-lane-10d4fe18935?source=friends_link&sk=74dfbd8d1fc172647eb6f334ee6ed140