Meet Siomara Valdes, an octogenarian who can still totally rock a packed house. I met her when we went to see the show The Bar at Bueno Vista at the QPAC Playhouse last weekend and was completely blown away by this legend of Cuban music. She mesmerised us with the raw power of her voice and her moves. But amazingly at eighty-something she wasn’t the oldest member of this remarkably creative and talented ensemble who transported us to the Havana of the 1950s for an intoxicatingly joyous afternoon of pulsating Cuban music. Reynaldo Creagh, icon of Havana’s music scene since the 40s and last remaining original member of the Bueno Vista Social Club* – is 95! Surely he would have to be the world’s oldest working singer and dancer, travelling the world living his dream and sharing his wonderful art. He absolutely enthralled us with his amazing voice, sprightliness of foot and ability to hold a huge audience in the palm of his hand. His secret to a long life? Music, dance, rum and cigars (Cuban of course).

I think there might be more to it.

Living our passion and tapping into the wellspring of our creativity helps our brains to stay in shape for longer. I recently read an article in Scientific America entitled Creativity Predicts a Longer Life. It reports on research which shows that creative thinking reduces stress and keeps the brain healthy. Other research reported in the Journal of Aging and Health found that creativity decreased mortality rates. One explanation for why creativity seems to protect the brain is that it draws on and activates a variety of neural networks. This means that brains of people who use their creativity regularly maintain the integrity of their neural networks. Given that the brain is the command centre of the body, keeping the brain healthy is an important aspect of healthy aging and maintaining well-being.

Creativity also helps us to reduce stress which can have a detrimental effect on our body’s various systems. Stress can be relieved by absorbing yourself in a creative activity which sends you into a state of ‘Flow’. That is the title of a book by creativity researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihali who coined the term. Flow is where you are so absorbed in an activity you are enjoying that you enter a place where time seems to stand still. It is a state of total concentration and focus and yet when you emerge you feel revitalised and invigorated.

Musicians often enter a state of flow during performance – even when the music is difficult to perform. When working together they seem to know exactly what to do and when to do it – even when improvising. That was certainly the case with the incredible performances from Siomara and Reynaldo and all the talented creatives in their troupe.

So the message is this: in order to live long and prosper – be creative. Find activities that you enjoy, that will take you into a state of flow – and do them regularly.

Flow on!

Until next time.



Intrapreneurs are problem solvers who are being recognized as the driving force behind innovation in organizations. Dr. Irena Yashin-Shaw is leading the charge in this new way of working. In this episode, she shares how to be an intrapreneur and how to create a culture that fosters creativity and intrapreneurialism.

What You’ll Learn

  • What intrapreneurs do and why it matters;
  • Three practices to foster intrapreneurialism;
  • Barriers that prevent intrapreneurialism; and
  • An example of a large organization who implemented intrapreneurialism and reclaimed over $1 million in lack of productivity.

Listen to the podcast here.


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Dinner with Dr. Irena, Conferences, Business Events & more.

Details here.

My book “INTRAPRENEUR” is now available to order.

“Dr. Irena Yashin-Shaw has cleverly captured the future of leadership in this ground-breaking book. She shows how creative and enterprising individuals – INTRAPRENEURS – are transforming their organisations from the inside out. A must read for leaders aspiring to unleash their inner entrepreneur to change the world.

– Allan Pease. Chairman of Pease International and author of 18 top ten bestsellers.



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