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Finding Creativity with Nick Onken

Nick Onken is a world-renowned photographer, host of the NIONradio podcast, and creative entrepreneur devoted to inspiring the world to create their moments. Nick has photographed personalities such as Justin Beiber, Tom Hanks, and Jessica Alba. On his podcast, he’s interviewed celebrities such as Usher, Scooter Baun, Donna Karan, and many others. He is the founder of the lifestyle brand, NIONlife, and has been a featured speaker for Adobe on activating creativity. He’s been featured in Fast Company, Huffington Post, and MTV. Nick has traveled to over 60 countries and 7 continents and is the author of the travel photography book, PhotoTrekking. He has photographed global campaigns for international brands such as Nike, Coca-Cola, and Adidas and his work has been published in magazines such as Conde Nast, Traveler, Cosmopolitan, and Marie Claire.


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How can you change your world with creativity?

In this episode, we discuss the healing power of creativity, art, and expression.

To discuss this topic, I’m excited to welcome my good friend and one of the most creative people I know, Nick Onken, to the show!

Nick is a world-renowned photographer, host of the NIONradio podcast, and creative entrepreneur devoted to inspiring the world to create their moments. 

Tune in as we talk about the healing power of creativity, art, and expression. Furthermore, Nick explains how meditation, healthy routines, and trying new methods of art influence and enhance his creativity daily. 

Find out how creativity is not just something we have but something we do that empowers us to create the world around us every day.

*** Do you want to stay up to date with every new episode and get my brand new Kwik Brain Accelerator Program? Go to www.KwikBrain.com/podcast to get instant access. ***

"The important thing is to create from the heart and create for yourself."


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  • While many jobs are going to machines, automation, and A.I., what is truly limitless is our imagination.
  • Creativity is something that is the innovator’s skill used to get and create jobs. The goal is to have the ability to think and create new paradigms and new products or solutions to problems in the world.
  • We do not have creativity, it is something that we do. It is a process.  We put ourselves in a trance  when we wake up and say, “I don’t have creativity today.”
  • We may not all be artists, but we are all creative in some sort of way. We are all creating our reality and the lives that we want whether or not we choose to become aware of it.
  • Eighty percent of the act of creativity and being creative is just getting through the fears and mental blocks that keep us from showing up.
  • In the book, “Art of War,” it is referred to as the resistance.
  • Examples of resistance include procrastination and limiting beliefs like “I’m not good enough.”
  • The first step of creativity is often just putting the pen to the paper.


  • When the pandemic hit, Nick was unsure if he would ever work again. All of his clients canceled their photoshoots and he was left to deal with the stress of not knowing what to do next.
  • Meditation, breathwork, movement, and exercise were the tools he used to keep his mind and body balanced to begin practicing other creative endeavors.  These activities helped create the time and space needed to consider alternative things that he could create besides photography.
  • From this challenging time, his custom hat business was built. Check out his work, here.
  • Nick also began playing with different mediums of art like painting and drawing with different pens and inks, from which his signature handwriting style was created and since used for murals, hats, and other graphic designs.
  • Many times the projects you start just for yourself can turn into opportunities to make money or build a business.
  • The important thing is to create from your heart and create for yourself.


  • Even if you are not a trained artist, creativity is a form of expression and should not be hindered by the fear of judgment from self or others.
  • You can take the time to play around with art without ever showing anyone or being concerned with their opinions of your work. You might discover a form of art that you actually love.
  • Create the space and time to put the pen to paper regardless of if anyone is seeing it.
  • Create for yourself as a form of expression, healing, and therapy.  Especially with all the pressures and anxiety in the world today, it can be healing to get yourself in a creative flow state.


  • To enhance creativity, it is helpful to block out the noise that could serve as a distraction to your flow.
  • Although there are many pluses to social media, podcasts, news, and even books, our minds can get crowded with too much information. Sometimes it is good to take a break.
  • Nick found out about what’s referred to as a dopamine detox. Getting “likes” on social media provides a huge hit of dopamine which feels good, but can easily become addicting keeping your mind from having focused attention.
  • It is more challenging to be focused and get into flow states when you are constantly checking your phone notifications.
  • Try a dopamine detox for 24 hours. This could mean no phone, addictive foods/sugars, television, or gaming. Instead, spend the time journaling, exercising, and going for walks.
  • At the beginning of the detox, you will notice a natural compulsion to pick up your phone because of the habit already formed. It’s almost like going through withdrawals. Algorithms are designed to keep you on your phone all the time, creating a high level of distraction in your life.
  • A great way to implement a daily dopamine detox is to avoid using the phone or any other media for the first 45 minutes of your day. It’s like a temporary fast.  Use that time to recharge or get creative.
  • A healthy morning routine with time alone to meditate, clear your thoughts, and set your intention for the day can provide a major daily reset.
  • In addition, starting the day with exercise and healthy food/nutrients provides an additional boost for clarity and creativity.
  • In order to show up and create art or do any work well, it’s necessary to have routines that keep you grounded, focused, and energized.
  • It’s easy to get mentally derailed by all the distractions of news and media.
  • If you are feeling burned out, maybe it’s not because you are doing too much but you are doing too little of the things that make you come alive.
  • It’s not a matter of whether or not you are creative, it’s about discovering the ways in which you best express yourself. Do it because you love it.
  • If you are an artist that’s used to using one medium, try to use another medium to get you out of your comfort zone. It helps you get into another creative flow.
  • What are the small things you can do every day to reset your focus and flow with creativity?


  • Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us on social media (@NickOnken & @JimKwik), and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us.
  • Get a custom Onken hat, here.
  • Check out Nick’s photography, here.

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