Creativity Is The Key To Conquering A Crisis

creativity is the key

When disaster strikes and a crisis thrusts itself upon your otherwise pleasant day, will you be ready to conquer it with creativity?

This past week was, well, interesting. Let me rephrase that– this past week was almost disastrous on a few occasions. Had it not been for my creative instinct, it would have been a complete disaster. However, by the grace of God and the creativity he’s given me, I managed to conquer the crisis’ that were thrust upon me.

A perfect example


It began Sunday afternoon. I had just published a new tutorial over at GPlusTuts and was getting ready to take the rest of the day to, uh… rest.  I posted the link to my Google+ circles and was preparing to get some good conversation within the comments as usual.

Boy was I in for a surprise.

A few commenters began informing me that when they went to click on the link, their browser was warning them that the site had been flagged as malware.

Malware? What? Surely their browsers must be mistaken. I assured them they should just go try again.

Well, sure enough, more and more comments began to come in and before I knew it, the site was blocked by Google.

In case you didn’t know, I co-founded this site with my good friend James Brooks. We have big plans for it to become the number 1 source for Google+ tips, tricks, and tutorials. So this malware attack was quite a crisis for us.

How we responded to this crisis would make or break us. I chose to respond creatively.

Instead of saying, “How can we fix this immediately?” and burying our heads in solutions, I responded with “How can we make the most of this?

That simple switch in my thinking forced me to engage the creative side of my brain instead of the protocol/fix-it/logic side of my brain. It allowed me to take the situation by the horns and make it work for us, rather than against us.

It allowed me to come up with a great strategy in delivering more value to our subscribers, and even gain a few more! Furthermore, I came up with a great rendition of the old adage, “When life hands you lemons…“:

When life hands you lemons, squeeze them suckers into a blender with some Red Bull and ice then make something awesome out of it!

Instead of letting the fact that our site was being blocked stop our ability to deliver value, we decided to deliver the value right to our subscribers inbox with our newsletter. This crisis was going to propel our dedication to delivering value by innovating how we do it.

All in all, it was a success. People were receptive with the action that we took, and we got some great responses from it.


I’m happy to say that our site has been cleaned of all malware, and is back in business thanks to my fellow co-founder James getting things done! While I handled the creative response strategy, he handled the behind-the-scenes cleanup.

Let your creativity conquer

The lesson I hope you take from this is that your creativity is the key to conquering any crisis that comes your way. The next time you’re faced with adversity, let your creativity take the situation by the horns and use it to your advantage.

When was the last time you were faced with a crisis? How did you go about handling it?

Dustin W. Stout Avatar

36 responses to “Creativity Is The Key To Conquering A Crisis”

  1. DustinWStout Avatar

    We’re not entirely sure how the malware got in, but it is definitely fixed now. We’ve moved to an entirely different hosting provider and a fresh WordPress install.

  2. Loren Pinilis Avatar

    That’s a crazy story. What – did you get hacked? How’d the malware get on there?

  3. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Yup, it is lovely. I, too, have had to clean it up at work and other places. Many hours spent cleaning up that mess.

  4. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    I certainly hope everything smooths out because I updated mine but didn’t see any issues when I did my last post. Thankfully if I run into trouble I have rockstar tech support a text away 🙂

  5. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    That would be the lovely pop up that I had to clean from several machines, 1 on more than 1 If people would only use a little common sense these guys would not have half the fun they do.

  6. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    I’m not sure David. Seeing a lot of the attacks now, they are infecting systems with a fake antivirus software. Their computers then alert them that they are infected with hundreds of viruses and they need to pay to have them removed at a cost of $50-$100. If even a small percentage bite, they’ve made a ton of money.

    And I’m sure there are those that do it for the enjoyment of causing havoc.

  7. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Okay, I think you may be right. The next greatest place then?

  8. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    Oh no..the best place was under the grandstands, playing hotwheels getting filthy dirty as the cars went screaming by. Dodging the spilled beers and empty peanut shells as they fell through the cracks. Then running up the stairs as they called my dad’s races so I could watch him play chicken with 3000lb stock cars in the figure8 races. 🙂

  9. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    I have to disagree…I think most of the attackers do it for the joy of creating havok. I’m not sure what exactly happened on GplusTuts because my browser told me not to go there but most hackers are like those little kids who started rumors just to see people panic. They do it because they can and in the end they take joy in others sorrow. The fact that people couldn’t get to the site meant they didn’t make any money. Now…I know there are those out there who do profit from some of those scams, viruses and malware but it’s usually the idiot friend of the hacker who is the brains behind the scam because the hacker himself like I said is all about the fact he can do it. Does it show that I have had to clean my share of family members computers who have clicked on the “YOUR COMPUTER COULD BE AT RISK” banner….LOL

  10. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    Actually the inkury the caused the bad back was the catalyst for my coming to Christ. It began a change in my life that allowed me to see the awesome things that God had planned for me in my life and even though I could do without the pain, I take it as a reminder of what Christ did for US on the cross and a small price to pay for the changes He has done.

  11. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    It seems like a waste to us as it reduces productivity and causes headaches. Yet to the attackers, they are, most likely, making a good living off of the attacks.

  12. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    That sounds like it would be a great place for a young boy. Bet it was a blast.

  13. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Sorry to hear about the bad back.

    You’re right. At least with the knowledge you have, you are less likely to be taken by a dishonest mechanic.

  14. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    I’m not sure rough is the word to describe it. But God was/is good and provided a way through.

    In some aspects it strengthened our marriage and in others it hurt it.

    It made my wife feel like she HAD to stay at her job, which was not a good working environment. After I regained full-time employment, she felt she had to stay due to loyalty and the fact that they helped pay the bills. That put a lot of stress on the marriage.

    I think it strengthened the marriage by showing us that we can make it through difficult times. If we’re short on cash, we can still make it. If we’re stressed, we can still make it. We just need to pull up our bootsraps and march on.

  15. Rob Still Avatar
  16. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    Ugh…Imagine what these people could do with the talent God gave them. Such a waste.

  17. DustinWStout Avatar

    Do you have the Support license? Because if you don’t you’ll wanna grab that and brace yourself for Standard Theme 3.0 coming in January… it’s going to be a game-changer.

  18. DustinWStout Avatar

    Yea… it happens though. :/

  19. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr


  20. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    It comes from years of crawling around the garage floor as my dad worked on his race cars.

  21. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    I use to be able to do a lot but with a bad back it’s gettng a lot harder. At least I still know enough to keep from getting taken when I do need to take a car to a mechanic or when a friend needs help.

  22. Rob Still Avatar

    Hey way to make the best of a bad situation.

    Just yesterday I updated WordPress to Version 3.3, but that took out the image loader, you click on the find files button and nothing happens. After chasing this for a while, it made me scream and cuss, cause I was trying to get a post finished and up fast.

    Anywho, I figured out a work-around, but still have to fix the problem, which I think requires updating my version of Standard Theme 2.5.4. That is another set of technical difficulties ….

  23. Brandon Avatar


  24. Brandon Avatar

    yeah…i was wondering that

  25. DustinWStout Avatar

    Oh man… good for you. I’ve had issues before and when I turned to the developer forums, I found nothing but more frustration! lol

  26. DustinWStout Avatar

    No rhyme or reason. Just some desolate soul searching for significance in destruction. lol

  27. DustinWStout Avatar

    Yea, that’s brilliant ingenuity! I wish I knew cars like that lol!

  28. DustinWStout Avatar

    Wow, that’s rough Joe! But praise God for getting you through it! Do you feel like that short (in retrospect) trial strengthened your marriage?

  29. Brandon Avatar


  30. Brandon Avatar

    Good to know that things are back to somewhat normal…

    That’s rough about the malware though!

  31. Louis Tullo Avatar
    Louis Tullo

    First of all, love this – “When life hands you lemons, squeeze them suckers into a blender with some Red Bull and ice then make something awesome out of it!”

    Second, last time I had a crisis I was having issues with the beta program of iTunes Match. I knew the error I was getting could be remedied and I scoured the forums online to find a solution. Sure enough I found the components tied into the module and was able to figure out a fix myself from that, which I made sure to share with others in the Apple Developer forums. It was a great lesson in using the tools at your disposal and being willing to take risks. It also affirmed the benefits of sharing knowledge with others. 🙂

  32. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    By the way…did you ever figure out why you were attacked?

  33. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    I saw this drama unfold when I checked in earlier in the week and thought you rocked it. Kudos for the solution. Also glad to see things are up and running again.

    My creativity tends to be mechanical. When something goes wrong in the physical world I can usually figure a way to make things work short term until a long term solution is found. Great example: I drive an old Ford F250 pick up that has seen it’s share of miles and needs an engine rebuild. Well, that’s not in the budget…LOL. But because one cylinder is a little worse than the rest it tends to foil out the spark plug about every 5 or 6 months and the engine starts to missfire. Well, I just put a new plug in that cylinder about every 4 months and she runs golden until I can afford the rebuild she needs. 🙂

  34. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    That would be interesting to know. Though there probably was no rhyme or reason behind it.

  35. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    That is an awesome skill to have. Bet you are able to save a lot of money in repair bills.

  36. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Sorry to hear about the attack on your site. It is disappointing that others are trying to destroy the hard work of others. But glad to hear you found a creative and beneficial solution.

    My wife and I had a crisis shortly after we were married. We both had jobs that paid the bills and left some money for extras. However, about a year into our marriage I lost my job. This knocked us down to one meager income and me without a full time job for a year and a half or two.

    I had to strap on the thinking cap and created a couple of solutions that helped us.

    1. Create work for myself: I started a computer repair business that, while not performing well, led into my current position in the IT department of a company.

    2. Find things to sell: Looking towards eBay and what people were buying, I searched and found items that I could sell. It provided a nice buffer to our bills.

    While I didn’t do everything right in the crisis, these two items helped us keep our heads above water and eventually led me to a great job.

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