Interview with Vivi Stutz

Author, Fitness Professional, Marriage & Family Therapist


I am here with the multi-talented Vivi Stutz, whose new book, Body Sculpting for Bombshells: Fast and Easy Fitness for Loving Your Body and Feeling Desirable, is an inspiration to women of all ages.

I want to know how she keeps her various interests — writing fiction and nonfiction, working as a personal fitness trainer and a psychotherapist — moving forward and how she comes up with her creative ideas.

Q. Vivi, your own life story reads like a novel. What were the biggest influences in shaping you as a creative thinker and problem solver?

A. What has shaped me most is what you call “my life story reading like a novel.”

I am driven by insatiable curiosity which I learned from my father who is a scientist, and a ferocious appetite for real life experiences. There is so much to learn, explore and experience in this infinite universe we are living in. I regret knowing that I can never learn and experience everything, and that time is finite.

I am in a constant process of discovery, which leads me to learn new skills, earn degrees, take classes, engage in volunteer activities, travel or even move continents. I worked as an actress, musician, singer, dancer, personal trainer, psychotherapist and as a writer.

Different professional pursuits teach me new skills, which in return develop inner qualities through interaction with new people in different fields. I think that the more we experience in life, the more we have the potential to grow as human beings. Growth requires an inner dialogue of reflection, as every new pursuit or experience brings “problems” or “challenges” that require creativity and problem solving.

I view challenges as learning opportunities, and I embrace conflict as a natural part of life. The more experiences I have, the more conflict and challenge comes with it – but the process is enriching and very exciting.

For example, I moved from West Germany to East Germany after the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and I moved from East Germany to the United States in 1996. I had no reason for moving other than being attracted to the possibility of adventure.

Moving from West to East Germany was like time travel. I lived in the center of Potsdam with no amenities such as running water. I had a wash bowl and a water container in my room, used a bathroom across the street, and paid a bath house to take showers. My boyfriend left me for the inconvenience I posed; I merely thought it was interesting to give up comforts we take for granted to see what defines other people’s lives.

There were several bombed out WW II ruins in my street in Potsdam, never rebuilt during communism. Since my parents grew up in the last years of WW II, I was humbled to see the rubble and ruins they lived among as children.

The adventure of moving to the United States was rather taxing but also full of exciting challenge; I was on a student visa, spoke little English and had no work permit, so I worked in Venice Beach Youth Hostels as a cleaning woman for room and board. At the same time, I attended an acting school in Hollywood, where privileged students from Bevery Hills had no appreciation for socializing with someone who didn’t even own a car! I was socially ostracized, but in my own mind, I was marveling at the richness of my experience.

The first few years were not easy; due to the language barrier I sometimes ended up in bad company. I was beat up by bikers, homeless and sleeping in someone’s car, worked under the table as a waitress, was cheated out of my pay and had a nervous breakdown from stress. Eventually I acculturated, got married, learned English and attended college and university.

Q. What are the connections between your various areas of endeavor, such as fitness training and psychotherapy, the books you write, and your interest in trans-generational World War II trauma?

A. I write about my experiences and discoveries, drawn from a process of intrapersonal reflection.

I earned several personal training certificates because I struggled with my weight as a dancer and was disqualified from the profession. Once I learned how to reduce my weight, keep it off and be in better shape in my forties than I was in my twenties, I was bursting with information and wrote about it. “Bodysculpting for Bombshells” is a summary of two decades in the fitness industry.

My desire to earn a Master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology and a Master’s degree in Psychology and Marriage/Family therapy emerged from a similar personal interest. WW II left emotional scars in those who experienced it, and the scars are passed on across generations. I sought psychotherapy for myself as soon as I was situated in the United States to extricate myself from this emotional wreckage. I earned two degrees to be able to heal myself and others.

My interest in war trauma stems from my own experiences in therapy. I discovered that traumatic family events haunted me in vivid imagery, even though I didn’t know of the events until a year ago.

My novels (soon to be published) are metaphorical stories of intrapersonal reflection. I reflected on marriage and relationship: the difference between love and need, why we shy away from what we want the most, how to honor ourselves and our inner knowing of direction.

Q. With so many interests, how do you decide where to put your time so that you feel most effective?

A. I do best when I meditate in the morning and engage in inner listening. Sometimes I use free-form writing, a process designed to give voice to unconscious material and bring it into awareness to sort it out.

When I follow my inner direction, or the direction of what I feel most strongly about, I am able to identify the most relevant task and complete it. However, I sometimes get overwhelmed and feel ineffective.

I don’t know if being multi-passionate is a strength or a weakness. I doubt it’s the most effective course of action but for the afflicted, there is no painless alternative.

Q. Do you have any special techniques to inspire creative thinking and imaginative ideas?

A. Meditation, inner listening, free-form writing and “giving voice” to various inner aspects.

I think that creativity is the desire to express our full potential. It’s as if there is something within ourselves that wants to be expressed. The creative process is an act of paying attention and receiving, then giving birth to the idea.

When I don’t feel creative or I have no driving ideas, I am out of touch with myself and my inner voice. I know I need to disconnect from all “doing,” shift from “doing” to “being,” and spend time cultivating the relationship with myself.

Q. What habits do you have and find most useful for keeping on track with your various projects?

A. Meditation and various psychotherapeutic techniques are most useful to me. Once I know what I want to do, I write down my goal and the action-steps to achieve it. If I don’t know how to achieve my goal, I engage in research until I decide on a course of action.

Following through on a goal and achieving it is mostly a matter of knowing which steps to take. Clarity and intention are necessary to obtain inner cooperation and commitment.

Then there is the attitude of life long learning. I expect to make mistakes and learn through the process. It enables to me learn from experience instead of beating myself up if I don’t get everything perfect the first time around.

I made a lot of mistakes publishing “Bodysculpting for Bombshells,” and I could do much better promoting the book. I see these mistakes as learning opportunities, not as failure.

What sabotages us most in any creative endeavor is fear of failure and perfectionism; the fear of getting it wrong. Well, we’ll get it wrong, most likely. We can’t achieve mastery if we can’t be students, because students make mistakes in the learning process.

Q. As a writer, how do you store all your research and ideas? Do you have any special technique or software?

A. You’ll hate this, but I prefer to keep a notebook and write by hand. I keep electronic files for research and sources, but for creative brainstorming, I prefer the organic process of handwriting. It’s a psychotherapist’s quirk. When giving voice to unconscious ideas, the handwriting process is thought to be more effective than typing.

However, once I get back to my research-based book project on war trauma, I would do well listening to you and using Evernote.

Q. If you were to give a workshop on how to generate creative thinking and fresh ideas, what would be the key points? And how would you get them across?

A. I would start the workshop with a day of therapeutic processing, either in group therapy format or partner work, giving voice to each participant’s intrapersonal parts that deny or invalidate creative ideas.

The goal would be to clear participants of limiting beliefs such as “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not creative enough,” “My ideas are not original enough,” “I will be laughed at.” I would track the limiting beliefs: where they came from, what their core belief is. I would then facilitate reframing the limiting beliefs into self-affirming statements.

The next day would consist of creative brainstorming. In a supportive and emotionally safe environment, participants would playfully try out ideas. This could be done by role play, creative writing or verbalizing.

The third day would consist of choosing a creative project, creating a time line and identifying precise action-steps.

You can learn more about Vivi Stutz and contact her through her websites: and

Interview with Derek Doepker

Best-selling Author, Fitness Expert, Motivational Speaker, Coach, Musician & Entrepreneur

DDheadshotI am here with best-selling author, fitness expert, motivational speaker, coach, musician and all around talented guy, entrepreneur Derek Doepker, to find out how he creates his books and courses, keeps up his writing, fitness regime, music, and coaching. From personal experience I know Derek has the ability to simplify things and help a client get focused and stay motivated. I want to know how he keeps all his pie plates spinning and keeps coming up with new ideas.

Q. Derek, we met through your book, Kindle Bestseller Secrets: 10 Tricks Bestselling Non-Fiction Authors Use To Dominate KindleYou have published 10 books, are involved in fitness training and coaching, are a professional musician, a writing and publishing coach and probably other things. How do you manage all this?

A. Most of my attention is focused on one major project at a time.  For instance, when writing a book, that becomes the biggest project for me for a few months on end where I’ll invest a few hours, typically early in the morning, on my writing.  Then other projects are managed later in the day.

The biggest key for me is developing habits.  Maintaining my fitness doesn’t take much thought because I’ve been doing it for over ten years.  It’s just a part of my daily routine.

Once you create a habit and systems that take the conscious thought out of something, it frees up your mental energy to expand and grow into new areas.

Q. Do you have any special technique to get your creative thinking in gear and come up with imaginative ideas?

A. Abe Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

The “axe sharpening” process for unleashing creativity for me takes the form of getting myself into a great emotional state.  I’ll spend a few minutes listening to uplifting music, dancing, and possibly pacing around my apartment.  I’ve heard of studies that show walking enhances creativity.  Some people find being out in nature helps as well.  By managing my physical state and environment, this helps me enter into a more creative state.

Q. How do you deal with writer’s block, or doesn’t that happen to you?

A. As most creatives would say, the creative process requires separating editing from creating.  If I start deciding which ideas are good or bad right off the bat, this shuts down creativity.

My brainstorming process allows for any and all ideas to flow freely, and if anything my “problem” is having too many ideas from which I have to distill down the best ideas.

Q. Do you have any techniques for getting ideas flowing again on those days when the well seems to have run dry?

A. When I do run out of things to talk about, the simplest fix is to look for inspiration.  Reading something will almost always inspire something I can write about.  Listening to music will almost always inspire some type of music I can create.

Q. What did you learn from your first career choice, when you wanted to become a rock star, that helped you with creating a path to success?

A. A big lesson I learned with music is that learning is practicing.  It’s not a matter of reading books or taking courses alone, but rather studying just enough to sit down and start implementing what I’ve learned into my practice routine.

I’ve seen many people try to create a career in writing for instance, and they start studying all these writing and marketing techniques, but they don’t do anything with it because they don’t have it “all figured out.”

More information actually leads to overwhelm and stops them from taking action.  This is especially true with fitness as well when people are searching for the perfect diet or workout routine instead of applying what they already know.

Q. What did you learn about problem solving and creative thinking when you were growing up?

A. I don’t believe most people need to be taught creative thinking as we’re hard-wired to be creative as kids.  What happens is we get taught to stay within a box and shut down our creativity.  My learning came from unlearning the things taught in school, such as there’s always a “right” and “wrong” and rediscover more of the childlike creativity that exists in almost all of us.

It was through music that I had to overcome the fear that what I created wasn’t going to be good.  I resisted songwriting for a long time because I was a great guitar player, and I feared my songwriting wouldn’t match my performance abilities.

Once I lowered my standards and allowed myself to create without an attachment to the outcome, that’s when my ideas started getting better and better.  I had to be willing to write a lot of crappy music and improve it before I started creating great music.

I learned anything one creates can be improved upon.  I don’t have to wait for the perfect inspiration to get started.  Some of my worst initial ideas can evolve into or inspire something amazing.

Q. If you were giving a workshop on thinking creatively, where would you begin?

A. I would take participants through a dance exercise.  I would have them follow the leader, and then gradually branch out to do their own thing.

While there are several deep lessons that would be self-discovered through this (I’m not going to give away all of what this exercise entails), a big piece is that creativity is actually enhanced when you have limitations.

If I say, “Go do whatever you want” the endless options can be paralyzing.  But if I say, “Do whatever you want within these clearly defined boundaries” it can actually enhance your creativity.  Both too much freedom and too much restriction can stifle creativity.

Q. How do you store all the ideas you come up with?

A. I have many notepads on my computer and papers.  However I’m not the most organized with my ideas.  Despite that fact, what I find is that the ideas worth saving and acting upon often stick with me and come up again and again.  I’ve learned to trust that I don’t have to even refer back to all my notes.  However, the act of writing things down will typically help me remember my ideas even if I don’t refer back to them.

Q. What advice do you have for other young people who are considering the creative life instead of the usual 40-hour a week job?

As a young kid about to go into high school, there was some type of career day where we could talk to different people about what we wanted to do when we grow up.  I was told by someone, I believe a retired principal, not to be an artist because of the old “starving artist” idea.  He had a point, but his perspective was only a partial truth.

While there are many starving artists and my music didn’t make me a lot of money, my creative work and abilities are great assets as an entrepreneur.  Creativity is required for success in all areas of life.

To me, we’re all living “the creative life” without exception, even within a 40-hour a week job.  So my first piece of advice is ask how you can be more creative wherever you’re at.  When I worked as a valet parker, I still exercised creativity by working on my people skills, rapport techniques, and trying to come up with more efficient ways of doing things.

With regards to quitting a job and pursuing a career as a creative artist, first understand it’s not an escape from work.  It’s possible you’ll be doing just as much if not more work, at least initially, to make it happen.  The difference of course being it’s typically more enjoyable work.

The big fear I had to overcome when moving to LA to pursue music was that it might not work out, but then I thought I’d be a lot more disappointed if I looked back at my life in 10-20 years and realized I didn’t even try.

If you’re called to do creative work, first consider the cost of not doing the work.  This will inspire you to take action.  Then find mentors and coaches who have succeeded in your area.  Even if you can’t find someone who’s done exactly what you want to do, there are still plenty of mentors who understand principles of success that you can apply to be successful in any field.

You can reach Derek Doepker at Learn more about his work:  and

Download a free copy of Derek’s book Why Authors Fail at

Interview with Bob Matthews

Branding and Marketing & Graphics Design


I am here with marketing and branding guru Bob Matthews, to find out how he creates his compelling graphics. Bob is the owner of Matthews Design Group and creator of Pixelogixs. He is also the co-publisher of and created the cover and multi tool icon for The Personal Power Roadmap: The Ultimate 7 Step System to Effectively Solve Problems, Make Decisions, and Reach Your Goals and the graphics for

Q. On your pixelogixs website, you say: “Open the eyes of a blind world. Reality is elastic. Make the point of the story or add bolder, brighter or darker and create an emotional message the world won’t forget.” On your portfolio landing page, you say: “look at an article, service or product from 100 different angles, take it apart top to bottom and create visuals that will surprise, entice or provoke an audience…for their split-second attention.” So your job is to help clients “get noticed in a noisy world,” as Michael Hyatt subtitled his book, Platform. What tools or processes do you use to “open the eyes of a blind world.”

A. Just about everyone has the ability to have creative ideas – meaning to take what we see and experience and come up with new ways to solve a problem either out of necessity, to better our lives and others or to prove we can think of something no one else has thought of. For myself, being creative is an important part of everyday living – almost like breathing. It can even be distracting especially when you have to concentrate on the more mundane tasks – new ideas are always exciting.

The key to following a successful concept through to fruition is exploring all the possibilities time allows for and executing them in a way that creates a lasting impression. It really takes a lot of thinking and sometimes working with other creative minds to make it all happen. You may start a project with a preconceived idea, but through the process of developing other concepts, that first idea doesn’t seem so great after all. Maybe it was too safe, or maybe too confusing or just not hitting the intended market.

The satisfaction comes when the client starts getting responses and their business gains more real value. Plus it helps keep long term business relations going which in these economic times is so important.

Q. How do you generate ideas for graphics?

A. Oh, ideas come from pretty much anywhere. When a project begins, the ideas start to come and the pencil starts moving. These are rough sketches with notations like what is in a scene, what the various headlines might be, the type of photography needed or maybe a stylish illustration. I look at examples of a clients’ competitors to get an idea of how they are addressing their marketing messages and take it in a different direction. Differentiation is important. I come up with 4-5 concepts and then end up with the best three. I take those and do a fairly tight digital rendering and present the best one.

Q. What do you consider when creating branding, icons, and other means to promote a client’s business?

A. When helping to brand a company, the message has to communicate a unified look and feel to everything that company uses. Signage, websites, trade show booths, packaging, ads and more need to be consistent. Careful branding is often the difference in who survives and who doesn’t. Over time, the result is an expanding loyal consumer base.

Q. Do you have a special problem-solving technique for coming up with imaginative ideas?

A. I use word triggers I find in the thesaurus and in current culture like movies, TV, or common shared events. I start with words that relate to the problem I am trying to solve, then I search for synonyms and antonyms. Sometimes an entire concept may be spurred while I’m thinking about something unrelated − while driving, on a walk or most often before drifting off to sleep. Soon pictures form in my mind. I create different graphics using the mental images, let them sit for a while, then refine those and select the best ones to show my client.

Q. Do you use the same technique to generate ideas for dealing with “life’s flat tires,” those problems that we all have as we go through life?

A. I started working at a very young age and was given responsibilities that required my own solutions to get the job done. One of the keys to solving problems is to stay calm, think about the options first before reacting too quickly – which can often be the wrong path. Most of the time, you can handle many of life’s problems, but not always. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help – it can make a huge difference and give you perspective away from your own bubble.

Q. If you had to teach a class of children how to solve problems and make decisions, how would you go about that? What would be the key points you would like to make and how would you illustrate that?

A. For starters, having a few kids myself one of the more important things is don’t try to censor ideas, have fun with exploring and trying something a little crazy – even if it fails completely there is something to be gained. Be fearless when it comes to ideas. The other is perspective. What is a big problem and what is a small one? Kids often get confused about that and get upset over basically nothing. It tends to stop rational thinking and get into an overly emotional state…. Come to think of it, maybe some adults should learn the difference too!

 Q. Are you surprised by the images you come up with? Can you give us some examples? Maybe look at one of my favorites and tell me how you got from my text to your visual? I wrote an article on How to Write Effective Letters: Some Lessons from “The Art of War. I needed a visual for “What you write first is not the letter. It is the first draft.” You took inkwells, a pen, a samurai warrior, law books and other elements and combined the elements of the article with the graphic. You have a first draft that is really funny, as well. Can you walk us through your creative thinking process?

 A. On that one, “The Art of War” was a pretty good example of one of the easier visual concepts we did on the magazine. I knew one of the main elements would be a Samurai warrior, so I could build around that. The article was about not acting hastily and one of the examples was not writing a poison pen letter, hence the pen and the letter. Fortunately, I had a lot of creative license, so I took liberties with the language expressed on the nasty response letter. The background gave it the “legal” environment it needed to pull it all together.

You can reach Bob Matthews at:
Matthews Design Group
(408) 410-9943