How To Fill A Blank Slate

how do you fill a blank slate

There is nothing more invigorating than the opportunity to start anew with a clean slate and a blank canvas. That moment the creative spirit dreams and yearns for most, is when the mind is engulfed with endless possibilities, the heart is filled with hopeful wonder, and the soul is electric with vibrant energy.

That same moment is also the most intimidating.

Staring alone at wide open nothingness, not knowing where to start amidst the swirl of ideas, the fear of misstep, and the sound of the ever-ticking clock can be both daunting and paralyzing. What starts as a dream can quickly become the fuel for a nightmare!

I write this first blog entry as the new Innovation Director at Upstream 360, and I am currently swirling with that excitement, fear, hope, and intimidation of the blank canvas. Just two months ago, I chose to jump out of the comfort zone of my 17-year career in R&D and Marketing at Procter & Gamble and into this brave, new landscape. A big part of this new role is to build off of Upstream 360’s already impressive capabilities for ideation, conceptualization, and production and to help write some new and exciting pages into the stories of our company, our partners, and our clients. Invigorating for sure… even with that small dash of intimidation!

Taking this blank canvas and turning it into a masterpiece is at the heart of what Upstream 360 does each and every day.  A team might come to us trying to discover a new insight or to escape an old way of thinking… and we help chart the course to some new and exciting ideas. Sometimes organizations may already have their cubicles filled with shards of ideas and sparks of inspiration… and we help transform those into visual and compelling new concepts. Or maybe there is a breakthrough technology invented in the labs that is amazing but seemingly impossible to explain… so we help find the words for the “wow” and produce a video for the launch. The magic of what Upstream 360 brings to its clients and partners is that ability to take the chaos, no matter what stage of the innovation process a team is in, and transform it into clarity.

Writing this first blog entry represents the filling of the first of many blank pages over the coming weeks and months. Mark Smith (our Chief Creative Officer) and I will be crafting bi-weekly entries to share some stories, laughs, parables, and case studies to discover some new nuggets of insight along the way. These entries will go wherever the muse takes us, and will likely see many diversions through science fiction, jaw-dropping puns, and current events (which are often now stranger than science fiction), all with the goal of providing a spark of insight and generating conversation. We would be honored if you follow us on this crazy ride, and help us to paint this new canvas together. Onward and upward!

Note: I originally published this blog at


  1. Hey Mike!

    You’re probably already aware, but a whole batch of your blog posts arrived in my inbox in the last 24 hrs. I had just thought a week ago I hadn’t heard anything from you/your blog recently, so it was a good thing, but just wanted you to know. 😊

    How’s the new gig going? Are you having fun outside of P&G??

    I made a shift in September and now work for the YouVersion Bible App. It’s a part of the church that I’ve been at for the past 12+ years, but a whole new direction on a whole different team. I’m loving it so far. I’m leading the effort to do a better job at making the app “feel” native to people all over the world. It’s exciting, but involves a lot more travel than the past role.

    Anyway, it was a great to hear from you again, and hope you’re well!

    Talk to you later.

    Jeff Moore
    Director of Global Impact
    YouVersion – The Bible App

    From: Agents of CHANGE
    Reply-To: Agents of CHANGE
    Date: Monday, February 19, 2018 at 7:44 AM
    To: Jeff Moore
    Subject: [New post] How To Fill A Blank Slate

    mikethomas317 posted: ” There is nothing more invigorating than the opportunity to start anew with a clean slate and a blank canvas. That moment the creative spirit dreams and yearns for most, is when the mind is engulfed with endless possibilities, the heart is filled with ho”


    • Yes… I didn’t mean to bombard the blog-o-sphere with new entries, but have inadvertently done so. Thanks for the reminder otherwise the 6 more in the queue might also have made their way out today. 🙂

      The post-corporate world adventure has been a good one. A whole new world of independence and creativity have come from breaking lots of chains that accompanied my P&G role. It was a necessary leap of faith that has left me much more open to what might come next.

      Congrats to you on the new role! I use that app predominantly for the study plans, and also for the verse of the day. I find myself immersed heavily in spurts and then absent from the app for periods of time as well. That is more a function of my attention span than anything, but have enjoyed it when I am “on”. I can imagine that it is an energizing and exhausting challenge designing the message for those around the world while staying grounded in life at home. I wish you luck on that adventure and where it takes you!

      Thanks for the note and it is great to hear from you. Hopefully our paths will cross in our travels some time soon. Take care!


  2. Good to hear from you Mike. Hope all is well. Take care.

    Beauty R&D | Global Hair Care Shampoo Design | • 513.626.1056
    Procter&Gamble | SWIC HB2C | 11511 Reed Hartman Hwy | Cincinnati, OH 45241-2421


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