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Drawing makes sense.

06 Sep

Drawing, or ‘doodling’ as Sunni Brown describes, is a crucial tool to help solve complicated business problems, thinking creatively, and aid recall.

See our ‘Practice’ posts for more tips on drawing. And more on Sunni Brown.

Popularity: 41% [?]

 

The Daily Ritual.

11 Mar

The Standard.

We all have daily rituals.

They may be structured by a calendar, or by rules. You may follow a set schedule, or you may just believe something like, ‘everything in moderation, including moderation.’

Here is a contrast of five daily rituals practiced by some famous creatives:

THE ONE WHO LOVED CLOCKWORK RIGIDITY.
CS Lewis. Writer and thinker CS Lewis had a very clear schedule of his day, with activities such as work, walking, meals, tea, and socializing down to the very hour they should be done. He even describes when beer should be enjoyed (not at 11:00 for fear of running over the allotted 10 minutes for the break).

THE ROMANTIC.
Alexander Dumas. Whether or not he had heard the adage about keeping the doctor away, the writer of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers, Dumas started each day eating an apple under the Arc de Triomphe.

THE DAY-JOB-JUGGLER.
Franz Kafka. Kafka started his day at his job at the Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute from 8:30 to 2:30. Afterward he would lunch until 3:30, then sleep until 7:30. Upon waking, he would do exercises and have dinner with his family. He began writing at 11:00 in the evening, usually working until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning–sometimes later.

DRIVEN BY A MUSE.
Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway described his writing ritual as starting just as the sun began rising, then working straight through until whatever he had to say was said. He likens completing his morning of writing to making love to someone you love–being both empty and fulfilled at the same time. Upon completing that morning’s work, he would wait until the next morning to begin again, going over his ideas in his head and holding on to the anticipation of starting again the next day.

ONE WHO NEEDED TO TAKE HIMSELF SERIOUSLY, AND THEN NOT.
John Cheever. American writer John Cheever wore his only suit of clothing each morning as he rode the elevator down to a basement room where he worked. Upon arriving there, he would undress to his underwear, hang up his suit, and get to work. He would dress to go back upstairs for lunch and again at the end of his day when he would ride the elevator back home.

See more at OnlineCollege.org

If you’re looking to rework your own daily rituals… checkout how to spring clean your routine.

Popularity: 57% [?]

 

The Lost Art of The Proposal: Get paid for anything!

26 Feb


After participating in a panel on ‘The Portfolio Career’ at the Arts Enterprise National Summit,  I felt a need to share some practical advice on how I find more of the right work at P&G and in the ‘real world.’ Here’s how:

So.. you’re freelancing… or in human terms… you have some skill you want to use to make some extra cash. But no one is buying it!

Well, don’t just sit there, find someone who can use your help and PROPOSE to help them.

Your job is no longer to do XYZ.

Your job is now to:

  1. find people who can benefit from you doing XYZ,
  2. explain to them how you doing XYZ will help them, and
  3. THEN do XYZ.

Here’s a bit more practical advice on getting this done…

  1. Do an 80:20 Analysis. Look at how you spent your time this week… if you really get objective, you’ll notice that about 80% of your positive results came from 20% of the time you spent. Summarize what you do well, most easily, and try to do more.
  2. Develop your tagline. Write down 2-5 words that summarize what it is you do well, across all the work you find yourself doing. Maybe you’re a ‘Product Developer’ or a ‘Musician with Project Management Skills’ or a ‘Visual Artist with Creative Leadership’. Use this to quickly introduce to others how you can help them.
    1. Try the Harvard Business School Elevator Pitch Builder if you’re really stumped.
  3. Develop your portfolio. You need a quick, simple, and engaging summary of great work you have done in the past. Use this to prove to other that you can help them.
    1. Build your page on About.Me. It’s really simple, looks great, and it can aggregate your content from other social media. Only aggregate the content if that helps support your tagline and it relates to what you learned in your 80:20!
  4. Start writing proposals. Now that you’ve defined ‘This is me. This is how I can help.’… go find people who could use your help and write a quick email, or better yet, physical letter dropped off in-person explaining, ‘This is you. This is me. This is how I can help you.’ Include your tagline and links to/a copy of your portfolio. Make sure to spend some time to understand their problem, and if possible, find a reference or person you can connect with directly, rather than just leaving the proposal with someone random. Drop them off, and follow up on them.

Creativity comes through restraint… find a way to make the most of the resources and skills you already have.

Here is more thinking on how to sell what you already do.

Popularity: 62% [?]

 

How to build a creative juices pump.

25 Feb

DISCLAIMER: This works much better with 25+ cool people.

Arts Enterprise is a group effort to break down the silos between art and business. I’m still buzzing from the summit this past weekend.

Before we can merge the world of art and business… we must break down personal barriers between everyone attending our conferences and presentations.

Here are two techniques I practiced this weekend to get creative juices pumping, and people excited.

The Reciprocity Ring

Chris Genteel, Business Development Manager at Google, got everyone at the summit stirred up and mingling within 30 minutes. Each participant came to the conference with things in mind they’d like to accomplish. The Reciprocity Ring (by Humax Networks) was an activity that had each of us voice three things we could use help with, related to arts/business or not. What resulted was an instant connection of people willing and able to help each other.

  1. Get a big ring of dots on the wall. Provide some pens nearby.
  2. Give everyone a sticky note, and ask them to write three things they could use help with, related to the conference or not.
  3. After a few minutes, gather everyone around the big ring of dots on the wall, and ask people to one-by-one share their three things they could use help with. When they’re done, ask them to write their name next to one of their dots, and place the sticky note next to it.
  4. Other people who can help that person with one of the three things should write an answer on a sticky, and place it on top of the persons plea, then draw a line between that person’s name and another dot with their name on it… showcasing the connection.
  5. After everyone shared and listed connections… open up the room for everyone to chat with people who have answers!

The Critical Run

So, you’ve got a big problem you’re trying to solve… its hairy, and you don’t know where to get started… you just want to have an open and engaging discussion about it.
  1. Get everyone who wants to chat it together dressed and ready to run.
  2. Appoint a leader who will guide the group on a 3 mile run. They must know the loop, be able to lead the pack, and be knowledgeable enough about the topic to foster discussion when its not flowing.
  3. Let the magic happen, and enjoy the run.
  4. Get a more formal discussion organized as a wrap-up, after people get a chance to get a drink or shower. :)

What techniques do you have to engage a big group?


Learn more about conducting The Reciprocity Ring or The Critical Run.

Popularity: 81% [?]

 

The edge is where the action is. Business-Design-Art-Music.

24 Feb

Amy and I are back from the Arts Enterprise Summit in Kansas City. It was so much more than a conference…

Back in the real world, I found myself explaining the experience to a colleague. This event was special not because of the content of the slide decks or the caliber of the speakers, but rather the combination of all the people. This was the intersection of a network passionate about business, design, art, music, and everything in between.

The edge between all those worlds is where the action is… this is where you foster Diversity of Thought, the ability to see the same thing in many different ways, simultaneously.

As the summit was full of practicing musicians (more than I’ve ever spent time with!), I had the opportunity to explore how the musician thinks, the struggles their working community faces, and how they overcome it all to create a working piece of art and help the community grow.

Peter Witte, the Dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, had an enlightening quote about the growth of this creative organization: “Through music-making we learn to listen, to accompany, to support, to empathize, to work together… all non-verbally.

Every organization could use this kind of perspective.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to sit at the table with business professionals, freelance designers, visual artists, and practicing musicians to discuss creative output and bringing new ideas to the world… do it. This event was a pinnacle example of whole-brain thinking… so many quick wits, so many interesting perspectives, so many memorable jokes!

Now, I must get back to training for karaoke next year.

Popularity: 48% [?]

 

Solitude and Leadership: If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts.

21 Jan

The Guiding Tenet: "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain

Amy, my partner here at Drawing Down the Vision, shared a fantastic read with me this week: Solitude and Leadership. I’d like to share a taste here with you, but would greatly prefer if you read it in its entirety. I do it no justice.

William Deresiewicz, a former Yale professor, addressed the Plebe (Freshman) class at West Point Military Academy in October of 2010. He spoke about the crucial and difficult role of solitude in developing as a leader.

Mr. Deresiewicz derided the false image of the conservative, robotic West Point grads to ensure that is what they do not become. They are training to enter one of the largest bureaucracies there is. He exalted how in order to be successful leaders on the world stage, they must be true independent thinkers who know what they stand for, and fight for it. In essence, the larger the bureaucracy you enter, the more of an independent thinker it is your responsibility to become.

It seems counter-intuitive. Solitude and Leadership? It flies in the face of the common phrase, ‘a leader is nothing without followers.’ But flying in the face of the ‘common’ and accepted when appropriate is exactly what Mr. Deresiewicz advocates we must learn. We must not become expert hoop-jumpers. We must become confident, focused leaders. We must learn what we stand for. This is a lonesome journey if done right.

But how can they, and how can we, become those independent thinkers and successful leaders? For starters…

Popularity: 64% [?]

 

Working wellness.

25 Oct

There are times in work and life when things are going so well. It seems we’ve got everything under control… nothing could be better. And there are times when that is not the case. Our frenetic, demanding work environments cause a great deal of stress. This stress limits our ability to experience and enjoy life and work, to be creative in the process, to create things and solve problems others.

How can we have more of these days when things are ‘going so well?’

Well, here are a few scenarios elicited by designer Stefan Sagmeister in which he finds himself most satisfied in work and life:

  • Thinking about ideas and content freely – with the deadline far away.
  • Working without interruption on a single project.
  • Using a wide variety of tools and techniques.
  • Traveling to new places.
  • Working on projects that matter to me.
  • Having things come back from the printer done well. (think manufacturer, employee, contractor…)

A simple technique of my own is, ‘Do more of what I love, and less of what I don’t.’ It sounds simple, but to truly put it in practice involves using the word, ‘No,’ more often than were accustomed.

‘No’ is tough for many people who don’t want to hurt or annoy others, we want to be seen as effective citizens of the world. But the reality is that making a choice to do less of something and more of something else is a short-term sting, a necessary evil to allow you to focus on doing bigger and better things that really matter.

Let go of a few things, and be comfortable with it. Some things may fall apart, and some people may get angry, but that’s life. Take some time to think through what you’d really love to accomplish, and do it.

What other techniques have you applied to live and work more creatively?

via TED, Stefan Sagmeister shares happy design.

Popularity: 19% [?]

 

Capturing beauty.

24 Oct

via Brain Pickings

Popularity: 9% [?]

 

Living Differently

22 Oct

A recent article, How To Think Like Steve Jobs, by Carmine Gallo, author of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, got me thinking about how we can all live and work creatively, to be a more worthwhile addition to the communities and live and work in.

Steve Jobs is the pinup boy for successful, simplistic product design. He makes grandmas want gadgets. His success in doing this stems from the Apple slogan, an embodiment of his character, to ‘think different.’

But what does ‘think different’ mean, and how can it help us? Let’s break this problem down, and reassemble it.

Why would we want to ‘think different?’ Thinking differently will help us deliver creative breakthroughs, solutions to people’s problems that weren’t able to be solved with conventional thinking. We all want to do that.

So, if we believe the assumption that your thoughts are a product of everything around you, how can we come up with breakthrough ideas? The answer is simple… live different.

Steve Jobs has always made an effort to surround himself with non-conventional people and search for answers in non-conventional places. For example:

  • When hiring the original Mac team, he hired musicians, artists, poets, and historians. This made it work for everyone, not just techies.
  • When designing the original Mac, he integrated Calligraphy he learned after dropping out of college. This made it the first computer with beautiful fonts.
  • When he wanted the Apple II to be the first personal computer used in the home, he went to the Macy’s kitchen department. This made it easy to plug and play.
  • When starting Apple Stores, he didn’t hire a tech guy, he hired former Target executive Ron Johnson. This made Apple Stores world-class retail.
  • When developing the service model for Apple Stores, he didn’t analyze Dell.com or Gateway Stores, he emulated the concierge at the Four Season Hotels. This created accessible, comfortable, world-class service.

How can you break away and ‘think different’ to bring new solutions to today’s problems?

For starters… find some new people, try to learn some new tools, and try to get inspiration from new places. Be dramatic. And have fun with it.

via Oxstones Investment Club

Popularity: 16% [?]

 

Every country on Earth is reforming education and learning.

21 Oct

Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert, gave an enlightening talk about education reform around the world. Education reform is happening less through legislation, and more through an awakening of what creativity, knowledge-gathering, and motivation really are.

Education reform is a critical topic as Thomas Friedman (of the NYTimes and ‘The World is Flat’) recently opined that, ‘America’s core competency is is ability to attract, develop and unleash creative talent.

Is that competency in danger? Are other countries struggling as well?

Sir Ken Robinson challenges a few key assumptions that stem from the intellectual culture of the  Enlightenment and the economic circumstances of the Industrial Revolution.

  • Why do we batch students by age or year? Shouldn’t we batch students by their respective skill in a certain topic?
  • Why do we educate students in the same class sizes? Don’t some learn better in large groups, small groups, or even alone?
  • Why are all students forced to learn during the same hours? Some students are geared towards morning, afternoon, or evening learning.

The most alarming statistic Sir Ken Robinson provides is from a study on divergent thinking published in Breakpoint and Beyond. Divergent thinking is the ability to think of many answers to a specific problem… this is the first step to problem solving… before we get analytical and make THE BEST decision (this latter process if where business education focuses today). 98% of 1500 kindergartners scored at the genius level for divergent thinking. Their scores went down as they progressed in the education system.

What examples have you seen of successful education reform? What programs are creating vibrant students who are making a difference in the world?

Related:

Popularity: 37% [?]

 
 



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