Creative Lifescaping with Moshe Mikanovsky: Using Creativity to be a Better Human

About Moshe Mikanovsky

Moshe has always loved making stuff, but not just from a template. He needed it to be new. He craves new ideas and creativity. As a kid in Israel in the 1970s and 1980s, Moshe was limited to crayons and Lego, but that didn’t stop him from drawing his own pictures and building his special Lego worlds.

As a Software Developer – for the first 20 years of his career – he loved creating software that does something and helps resolve a specific problem for the users. As a Product Manager – in the past 10 years – he loves discovering value for users and clients and building software with amazing teams. And as a human being, he loves connecting with others, learning from their experiences and sharing his own.

Some learning is done in discussions. Some is done in story telling. Others are done with pictures. All of these are creative ways to make connections. And he loves them all!



Author of the Resurrector:

Prefer to watch? Here’s the video!

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript!


Hello. Hello. Welcome everyone to my very, very first LinkedIn live creative lifescaping.

My goal is to find people who think they’re not creative or who are traditionally not creative and interview them so you can hack their tips for how to use creativity to make your life better. We all can benefit from being better humans because we’ve got enough robots already.

So it is my great pleasure today to introduce Moshe.

Moshe is so interesting. We met through LinkedIn. So that’s the power of social media.

Moshe is a product management leader. The reason we connected to be on this interview is that he’s an author of the upcoming book, The Resurrector.

In Product Management, Moshe started his career in the engineering side, not traditionally very creative, specifically within the enterprise real time B2B software space. He fell in love with product management (who doesn’t) after seeing the gap that existed between what customers wanted and what engineering produced. Moshe enjoys applying his lean iterative technique to develop products that exceed users expectations.

Being a creative person, Moshe paints and writes, bringing his Jewish heritage into all his creative endeavors. His book, The Resurrector is coming out December 21, 2021. Yay! With New Degree Press. And is dealing with fathers and some sons relationships, foreign cultures, a key element of creativity, by the way.

And the question, if someone we lost is coming back to us from the dead, can we get the closure we need? Moshe lives in Toronto with his wife and three daughters. He can’t stand the cold winters during the club, but he loves his Canadian home and the maple trees all over. Thank you so much for joining me today, Moshe.


Thank you so much for having me. This is a pleasure.


Isn’t social media great? Like, we never would have met. I don’t even know how we connected on LinkedIn, but it was a fantastic connection. I’m so thankful.


I know. Me too. And, and then also to figure out that we’re both Canadians, so that was also great.

Although, you know, I’m not discouraging anyone who is not Canadian from connecting with us, so.


Yeah, international is better. And actually, that’s one of the things in the data that helps people become creative. CEOs who had spent a stint abroad at a different international location. We’re more creative than CEOs who didn’t travel. So having an international and diverse culture is key for creativity.

And so, do consider yourself creative, Moshe, like you’ve always considered yourself a creative person. Is that right?


Yeah, that’s right. Since I was a really little kid, I have loved to paint and do something creative with my hands. But the society and the culture I was growing up with didn’t really encourage that. So, I always had to kind of fight for it or do it on my own. Not really hide it, but you know, it’s not a real thing for a career. That’s what I was told.


You weren’t celebrated for your creativity. It was tolerated it sounds like.


yeah, yeah.


I think a lot of us can relate to that. It’s tolerated but not encouraged.


Yeah, I mean, my parents—I remember they did hang some of my drawings on the walls in our apartment when I was young—so they liked it. They—I think they told me I’m talented, but when I said, oh, I want to be an artist—they’re like, um, no, you don’t.


Well, parents are always just trying to look out for us. Right?

And they probably worried about, you know, your sustainability in a career, like being an artist, but it’s hard because so many people, and myself included, go through this more non-creative career, but so many people come back to it.

Over and over as they get older, they feel like something’s missing. Some people seem to identify that creativity is what’s missing. Some people just go through life not knowing what’s missing, which is the whole point of the series is to help people see how other people do it, like yourself.

So you’ve always considered yourself a creative. And then you went into a traditionally non-creative type of career. So, how do you think your creativity has changed since that young boy who had drawings on the wall? To now, your creativity being an author?


Yeah, that was a very, very long journey that I also had, you know, ups and downs throughout that entire journey. So I think since I was 10, I thought: okay, I’m going to be an architect.

Because it is something that, you know, it’s a good profession, it’s still very creative. You know, you design buildings: exterior design, interior design, and all of that stuff. But then I found myself going through this program in the army back in Israel for software development. So, I was like, okay, maybe I will develop software for architects or something like that. which didn’t, didn’t really happen.

So I was a bit kind of torn between the two. But it was a very good profession to have, and I enjoy doing it. And what I realized after some time was that building software is also a creative thing. Because you’re creating something that was not there before. You have the tools. So, you don’t have pens and brushes and whatever. You have your language and then the computer. So software development language and the computer you’re using, the databases, all that stuff. And then you have to build something that wasn’t there. So, I found the creativity there.

So that was actually, you know, good insight to have. And then over the years, I always wanted to continue doing something creative that is not just work. So there were times that I would paint, there were times that I would do stained glass, there were times that I would do ceramics. So I found courses here and there just to try different new media and things.

But then, one time, I was laid off. My job just ended because the company closed up, and I was like, Yeah, maybe I should be an artist now. It didn’t it didn’t work.


Can I ask how old were you when that happened?


That happened when I was 37 or 38. So, it was the first time I lost my job. I already had three kids, a mortgage to pay. And, you know, three kids to feed, so it wasn’t very easy. So, while looking for a new job in software development, I was also painting a lot, and connecting with a lot of artists and stuff like that.

But this is a very long term type of thing that you have to invest a lot into it. I just, I couldn’t, it didn’t work for me. So, I went back to the engineering side and then product management. And then I found writing. Actually, it did start from trying to be an artist because I was writing a blog and also I was a guest blogger on a blog for artists.

They liked my posts on my blog, so they reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to be a guest. And I said, yeah, sure. Why not? And basically I wrote about my experience trying to be an artist. And then I saw that I really enjoyed writing, and I wrote a few articles for a local newspaper, a Hebrew newspaper in Toronto. It doesn’t exist anymore, but I still have, I think, a stack of the newspapers from back then.

And when I saw that I enjoy writing, I was like, this is also very creative. I replaced my tools again from paintings. From paint and brushes to words. It’s actually much cheaper and much easier because you can take it anywhere you want. You don’t have to buy expensive paint. You don’t have to be in one place to sit down and, you know, wait for the paint to dry and all of that stuff.

So I started writing, you know, just for myself. And then I saw that I enjoyed it, and that’s how it all started.


The rest of history. I love that. Thank you for sharing that.

And I love what you were saying, Moshe, about coming back to creativity and art. And I hear you saying a lot about creativity with respect to painting and writing.

So, how do you define creativity? Many people think creativity is art, painting, and writing. But you also alluded to using creativity as a software designer.

So has that been a change for you from when you were young to now, meaning that your your scope or definition of creativity has changed? Tell me a little bit about that.


Yeah, it’s a good question. I think that the core, for me, of being creative is something I alluded to before: creating something new, something that wasn’t there before.

So that’s really the core of it. But there are always opportunities there to explore that when you are in the process of creating something new. You know, how do you create it? How do you get there? And getting there is not always, you know, obvious, and you have to take a lot of small steps actually to get to the final result.

You know, when you’re talking about painting or writing, it’s very obvious. You have to put paint on, on, on the canvas, and then you have to make a shape and whatever. With the software, you know, I learned throughout the process of this and doing many different positions in software development and being a product manager.

You know, there are the people that I need to really make the software for, those personas of people who will use it, problems that I have to identify so they solve them, etc. So, this product solves it. So, all of that was really learning about how to do these things, and sometimes, it’s not very simple.

I am mainly in B2B, business-to-business products, and digital products, and those are even harder to find your users. So, just as an example, how do you find new users? You have to be creative with that as well.

So, creativity is not just about finding or creating something new from something that didn’t exist before. It’s also about getting to a goal, reaching somewhere, and overcoming obstacles. How do I go around these obstacles and make it happen? Sometimes, it is with the specific tools I’m using. Sometimes it’s new ideas I never thought about before. And other people told me, Oh, you can try this or you can try that. So, creativity is really all of that.


Yeah, it’s very all encompassing. And I, and I like your definition and inclusion for all of those different aspects, because according to Adobe, only 41% of people think they’re creative and only 31% of people think they’re living up to their creative potential.

But I believe, and I am interested in your thoughts, I believe that most people are creative every day. They just don’t recognize it as creativity. And then that also self perpetuates this idea that creativity is fluffy or for grandmas or for kids. As opposed to really thinking as creativity as a way of life to differentiate ourselves, in both our life and our work and our professional life, what do you think about that?


Yeah, I agree that it’s much more prevalent, and it’s everywhere that you go. And every person that you see than peopl e actually think.


I think people think that it’s just life, but like they’re creative because they’re humans. But they don’t think of it that way, maybe.


Yeah, I guess, you know, I guess so. To me, creativity is one of my top ten core values of who I am. So, it’s a very important value for me, and therefore, I’m very mindful about it. But people who are not mindful about it may think, “Oh, we’re not creative” where they actually are.

So when you have lots of errands to run, and you take your kids to school and then you have to drop someone somewhere else, and you just plan the route, how to get there, that will be the most efficient. That’s creative because you could spend a lot of time and money going around in circles, or you can do the best route, and some people do that. And they are creative in that way. So there are different ways you can, you can think about it.


I agree 100%.

I want to talk a little bit about your book. So it’s a little unusual to meet a product manager, despite your creative background, who launched into writing a fictional book called The Resurrector.

So what motivated you to write that book? And you told us a little bit about how you’ve written blog posts, but is this your first book? And what motivated you to write this particular book?


Yeah, so It’s a very interesting story, well, maybe not that interesting, but to me. So, in 2013 – that’s when I actually started writing it.

My daughter was in grade nine, and she’s also a really talented writer. I always saw that talent in her, and I have three girls, and in each one of them, I like to see, you know, what is their talent and what are they passionate about and direct them to do that because I think they will be much happier in their life if they really use that.

She decided back then to participate in NaNoWriMo. That’s the National Novel Writing Month that happens every November. And people all over the world, they sit down and they write a book. It’s kind of a motivational thing because writing a book in their definition is 50,000 words. And to write 50,000 words in a month, it’s a big thing to conquer. You have to have a story, and it’s pretty time-consuming.

So, I told her, sure, yeah, I mean, do that, I actually love the idea. And then I told her, I want to join you. I want to do it too. So, a few friends from her high school also did that. And what we did, we started doing that.

We started writing, but I also kind of did NaNoWriMo parties where we invited them for a few hours in our house, and we sat around the table, and we all sat down and wrote together, and we had snacks and drinks and whatever (non-alcoholic, of course).

And the idea. So that was when I sat down and started writing it because I had this nugget of idea in my head, but I was always like, “Oh, I don’t have time for it,” and whatever.

One of the things I liked about that one, and in general, and that’s also what I like about New Degree Press that I’m publishing the book with, is that I like to have schedules and milestones to reach. And sometimes, if I have to put them myself, I will just be like, “Oh yeah, I can do it another month, another year,” and whatever. But if it’s something that comes from, you know, outside, sometimes it’s actually easier for me to actually say “okay, that’s, that’s it. I have to do it.”

So, I had the idea in my head for some time. I don’t remember how long, but the idea of the Resurrector came from a few words in the Jewish prayer about the resurrection of the dead. There is a belief in the Jewish, and I think also Christianity, that after the days of the Messiah, God will resurrect all the dead. And I was thinking, I love books with some mystery in them and also some magical realism. And what if something like that can happen? So I was thinking, what if it could happen not for everyone, all the dead, I mean, that’s going to be a lot of people. I don’t know if the world can sustain that. But what if it’s one person? What would it be if it’s one person.

So I started it by basically having this family sitting down for Shiva, the mourning period, after their son passed away. This person comes in, he’s a stranger, and he gives the power to one family member to see the dead. The dead that has passed away.

This is where it all started. During NaNoWriMo, every day, I had to think about it. How do move this story forward? How does it move forward? So, every day, it had to move forward a bit more, and by the end of the month, I had 50,000 words.


Wow, and your daughter, does she have 50,000 words, too?


She also had 50 000 words. Her book is still in the drawer somewhere, I think. She’s not writing that much these days, at least fiction. She’s writing, you know, for school. She’s in school and stuff like that. But I still encourage her, and I tell her you have a talent that you have to use. You know, you should use it one day.


Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting when you talk about your daughter’s kind of moving in a different direction right now and your background as far as finding your way. I always think of it like, and I’ve had the same experience, it’s like a puzzle, and I often have all these puzzle pieces, but I have a hard time sometimes fitting them together. And I think that’s the beauty of following your interest and taking chances. And just doing something that pulls you because then you start seeing how those puzzles fit. You can’t force them all together, just sitting down and staring at them. You have to work on it. So I love that story.

Obstacles to Creativity

You alluded a little bit to some of the obstacles in your way of being creative. Things like not having a structure, having external deadlines, are there any other obstacles? And how would you overcome them, or how would you recommend other people overcome them if they’re having the same challenges?


Yeah, sometimes, sharing accountability with someone else helps. So you can tell a person, and that’s what they recommend also during NaNoWriMo, to have someone else write with you. You’re accountable for each other. It’s a bit of a competition, but it’s also like two runners who are running together, and they help each other run forward. That’s one of them.

And then different tools to break it down into smaller steps. It’s very hard to conquer a huge step. It looks like unconquerable. I cannot do that, but it’s much easier if you start small and always go with baby steps.

We forget when we grow up that baby steps are a real thing.

And they really help babies to learn how to walk. And if the baby would know what is expected of them in the future and what is waiting for them, maybe they will not even bother. But, it’s true.

I mean, we don’t have to do everything at once. One example, when I was doing that month (NaNoWriMo) and I did it again the second year, in 2014. I have another book that I wrote that is waiting for after this one. I actually wrote on the subway every day on my way to work, and back, so I had to find time to write. I wrote on my iPhone. And then, I would send it to myself in an email and add it to the end of the file from the day before. So you always have to find different places and times that you can do something to move the needle a bit.


You have to be creative with your creative practice.


Exactly. I’ve seen, you know, people sometimes say, “Oh, I don’t have the tool for this,” or “I need the tool for that.” At the end of the day, the tool is not the one that’s making the work. It’s you that makes it work. So you need to be creative about that as well. So it’s always about being creative.

Fear of Judgement


Yeah, and I love it. That’s a great segue to the next question I wanted to ask you. Because in my experience, fear of judgment of ourselves and fear of judgment from others is the number one thing holding us back.

We have this outdated operating system that kept us safe when we would starve to death if we didn’t have the benefit of a tribe. But now, that same instinct hasn’t kept pace with the way we’ve changed, and it holds us back. So, do you think that fear of judgment from yourself or others impacts your ability to be creative? Or do you think that’s a factor for other people? Tell me a little bit about like that fear of judgment.


I definitely think it is, and I definitely have it. I think that this is also one of the reasons why it took me so long to actually try to publish the book. Because I started in 2013, I did a lot of different revisions.

I had a few beta readers who read it maybe 5 or 6 years ago. And I edited it again. And again. I think I went through 7 or 8 revisions. But I always had that fear of actually publishing it. Because of that [fear of] judgment—what if people will not like it? What if people will think the story is about me? But it’s not. You know, stuff like that.


So how did you get over that? So how did you overcome that? Because you’re publishing in December.


Yes, I think that it’s two things.

One of them is time that passed by, and I kind of grew up a bit. And that’s something personal for me; everyone has different stages for growing up, and we always grow up until, you know, the last day. I think we always grew up with learning and whatever. And for me, I think sometimes it takes a bit of time actually to manifest themselves into an action.

Then the second part is that once I saw this opportunity, I also found it through LinkedIn to publish with this publisher. I was like, yeah, well, why not? I will just try it. And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.

And I sent them the manuscript, and I waited, and I was like, “Oh if they don’t like it, they don’t like it.”

And then they accepted it, and they liked it. And I’m like, “Oh, okay. They liked it. So maybe there is something there.”


Yeah, I love that. It’s it’s feeling the fear. It’s not that you don’t have that fear, but you just realize that your desire to do this outweighs the fear.


That’s true—and also going back to the baby steps. It was all one step at a time. I didn’t think about the next step yet.


Well, I think we get so used to when we’re pretty confident in our career, especially mid-career, we’re not used to things being hard, and we’re not used to stepping into an uncertain environment. And wondering, “What if they don’t like it?” or “How is it going to work out?”

Because we’re usually pretty capable mid-career, and we’ve lost this ability to step into the discomfort, take baby steps, and fail. And I think that you know, you’re the perfect example of sending it to a publisher. If they don’t like it, they don’t like it—like the world’s not going to end, right?

And you’ve done a lot of what I talk about, which is risk mitigate, like risk identification, asking yourself what’s the risk. I’m not going to lose my house because they don’t like my book, right?

NaNoWriMo Writing Parties


So, we have a few comments here. We have a comment from Daniel, who says you’re one creative person, and Margaret agrees.

Alexis comments that she’s done a NaNoWriMo, too. It’s a lot of time writing, but so much fun, especially when you get to have those writing parties and write with others.

So, was that a fun environment when you have the writing parties?


Oh, yeah. Not only that it’s fun; it really makes you sit down and focus and concentrate and write. We had one party actually that we did it on the subway. So we went all the way from Finch Station, which is on the Northeast side of Toronto. All the way it goes, it’s a big U with, I don’t know how many stations. But we were like maybe 20 or 30 people sitting in one of the cars and we wrote all the way to the other side and back.

That was fun also because people came in and came out and they’re like, what are all these people sitting down here with laptops and writing?


What was your goal for that? Like what, what prompted you to do that on the subway?


It’s just people are arranging different types of parties and that was one of them. And we’re like, “Oh yeah, we can do that.” I don’t have to go too far. I just go to the station next to my home, sit there and see other people doing the same thing. And, you know, the community is really a big thing about this.


Yeah, and it takes you out of your regular environment, right? And so that’s another one of the habits for creativity is to seek novelty. So if you just sit in your room and don’t go anywhere, it’s going to be very difficult to collect new experiences and get those aha moments.

Like when you were prompted by the Jewish verse about, Resurrection and that book and then, you know, all these other pieces that come together. We can’t force those.

This month’s theme is daydreaming. so like being on a subway can help you daydream and collect new experiences. And I just love the way that you encouraged your daughter and her friends and you got involved. Like what a fantastic story. I would love to read a story about that! Maybe that would be a another book or a blog.


Yeah, for sure

Benefits of Creativity in Your Life & Writing


And you know, even if you do something creative and you don’t do a good job, even if people hate your writing, you get the same benefits.

So, maybe in 30 seconds, what would be the main benefits that you see in your life and at work from engaging your creativity with your writing?


Specifically for me or for anyone?


No, for you. What do you see in your life as a direct benefit from engaging your creativity outside of your product management job?


It’s being able to express myself and share ideas because I also love to share my ideas with other people. And that’s part of it. There are many different ways to share it. So the writing, I think, is really helping me become better at that.


So finding your voice, expressing yourself.




I love that. Great. Well, and for those of you just joining us, we’re, um, just getting ready to wrap up this amazing interview with Moshe, who is a product manager and also a fictional author who has written a book: The Resurrector.

So, go and support Moshe and his book and author journey. It sounds like a great book about reconnecting with people who come back from the dead. I love that you have some personal investment in it, but it’s not a personal story. I can’t wait to read it.

This is our very first LinkedIn Live. Moshe was totally keen to jump in and just give it a try, and I love that. I’m so thankful for him joining me in this interview. I hope that this has helped other people figure out how they can tap into their creativity, writing on the subway or, you know, writing in the bathroom on your iPod, or all kinds of different ways.

Truth or Dare


And so we’re going to end this off. We’re going to start the tradition with you, Moshe. We’re going to end it off with truth or dare because we know it’s challenging to step into uncertainty and share our voice with the world. So, ahead of time, we talked, and you said you wanted to pick the truth.

The truth is to share a silly story or a story that kind of embarrassed you a little bit.

And the dare, which you didn’t choose, which is fine, is where I would dare you to do something on camera.

But please share your truth, and we’ll end our interview off with that.


No problem. Yeah, so let me do the truth. And maybe the dare will be if I get to have my pre-sale completed by my birthday, which is on the 19th of the month. So you have 16 days to help me with that. And then I can dare and do something on camera for sure.


Oh, that would be great. And we can promote it. So yes, go and buy Moshe’s book so we can make him do something really embarrassing.


I have an idea. I already have an idea for the embarrassing thing, but it could also be something of your choosing.

The truth is, maybe 10 years ago, maybe less, my wife and I went for Valentine’s to the second city here in Toronto. And after the intermission—they have an intermission—we were sitting just by the aisle in the middle, but at the back, because we don’t like to be picked on, you know, so we don’t ever sit in the front.

And then the two guys that started the next part of the show, they came from behind us, and then they grabbed me, and they pulled me with them on the stage. And then they start in this entire thing about trying to embarrass me, doing things on the stage, like jump here, go under, under a chair, do this, do that.

So I put some shoe shine on my face. And this is like with the entire full house at Second City. And then at the end they were like, “Okay, so now you have to tell us a story about something that you were really, really embarrassed” because it was all about embarrassing. And I had nothing in my head, I was just like, “nothing.”

So they said, “okay, then just take off your shirt, this will be embarrassing enough.”

So I took off my shirt. And that was the end of that. But then afterwards, after they let me go, everyone was like, “Oh, you’re the guy. You’re the guy.”


That’s funny.

I really appreciate you taking the time, Moshe, to share your creative talents, and your creative journey, and what holds you back, and what helps you move forward.

You can learn more about Moshe and his website. I’ll put the links in the event if you want to follow up and buy and support Moshe’s author journey.

And if he gets to his funding goal – you don’t get to pick the embarrassing thing. Moshe, that’s not how this works! That’s not how this works at all. I will choose something for you to do that will be safe and embarrassing, but hopefully fun.

So thank you very much, everyone, for joining us. And I really appreciate you spending the time with us.

Next week’s going to be a recording (cause I’ll be in the backcountry) with Natasha Purnell, who is an HR employee engagement ninja for an insurance company. She’s going to share how she uses her creativity to help employee engagement.

So thank you so much. Thank you so much, Moshe. Bye, bye.


Thank you Caroline. Bye, bye. Take care of everyone.

UPDATE: Moshe Reached His Goal!!! Watch the Dare: