“The Scared is scared”

I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to write about tonight because there is so much. I just finished reading “Redesigning Leadership” by John Maeda, it felt honest, unassuming, forgiving and kind to read. There are a lot of leadership books where ego gets in the way of the lesson; they feel like a “you’re doing it wrong” read. Just from this 80-ish page book, I have five items I want to work on personally in my professional life.

The first is less emoticons in emails. I’m not over the top but I tend to default to them, either to indicate a literal smile or to soften a disagreement. It is like I am yelling, “I am still on your side! I still support you! (But this is wrong and here is my idea.” That doesn’t make sense. People know who I am; I do not need to reassure them of anything.

The second is no arm crossing in meetings. I’m aware of this as it is and try to smile to counteract the arm crossing. It is just more comfortable, but I’ll figure something else out.

The next is related, be a “wannabe.” We all have meetings we don’t want to go to. But I love my job, so I wannabe there. Show it.

Similarly, be open-minded. I get protective of my projects, but different perspectives make them better.

And finally, remember “intention at the beginning matters.” If I intend to improve all these things because I want to be a better co-worker, employee, leader, etc. people will see that and I will get there.

I also want to say that Bianca Giaever’s video was a timely reminder to use my overactive imagination to imagine away the scared and focus on the positive. Who doesn’t need that?

the Scared is scared from Bianca Giaever on Vimeo.

This is not art for art’s sake anymore

Photo: The art of Frank Wright

Icarus: The art of Frank Wright

Andy Fife is the Director of Shunpike and an Independent Consultant for Art Strategy and Innovation according to his LinkedIn profile. From reading the title alone, you may not fully understand the philosophical depth of Fife’s work and the impact he has made through successful integration of this philosophy.

I was able to hear Fife talk on Saturday at the University of Washington and was thrilled to gain a deeper understanding of his perspective on art and strategy as well as learn more about what his title really means.

From my understanding, Fife believes that the integration of art is intrinsic and absolutely necessary for a project’s ultimate success. Without it we will miss something valuable. In his philosophy “art is the how not just the why.”

This means we use the culture we already have around us to inform our decisions on business, health care, or transportation. We need to do this because people are making art every day in their homes, in their work, in their communities. It is on a small scale, not an opera house or a theatre, but in parlors, offices and public parks.

With this in mind, Fife believes “we can create something together and you do not have to have all the answers in order to create something beautiful.” The art is part of the process and the process illuminates the culture and the decisions that must be made.

Fife’s talk paralleled the thoughts within Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception. Godin proposes the idea that everyone is an artist and that it is our responsibility to ourselves as well as our society to break free from the comfort zone we have been taught in order to create art. This art isn’t something that hangs on the wall, Godin clarifies, it is something that stretches us beyond where we currently stand in order to impact an audience we are trying to reach. Ignore the crowds, Godin says, the crowds are always wrong.

Fife’s work is along these lines. He is creating his art by weaving art into questions generally unassociated with art. It is not art for art’s sake, it is art for a reason. Godin’s art has purpose too. Godin specifies, if your art is not connecting with your audience, you have failed. If you have created art and it is never published, you have failed. For both, art is for change. And for both, art is within every person. There is no scarcity of art in our communities. We just need to harness it and make an impact!

The Need to Create Outside of the Safe Zone

@Maggiebrookes Instagram

@Maggiebrookes Instagram

One of my favorite quotes from The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin is “You have no idea what you’re doing. If you did, you’d be an expert, not an artist.” I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur when I was in business school. I saw those people and thought that isn’t me. Reading the interview with Jeff Fluhr, I am reinforced with the idea, that I am not that person. I do not take risks that throw me off the plan – high school, college, job, graduate school, better job. The plan is my safe zone.

But Godin challenges that significantly and inspires the potential for change. The quote from the beginning reminds me that I do not have to have all the answers in order to put my best into something and to create art. And that it is the creation of art that will make me, my company and the stakeholders successful. It is a reminder that there is more to business strategy and to creation than the standard step-by-step process. Being an expert in a field can only get me so far. I can know everything there is to know about content strategy, but if I use the same formulaic strategy as everyone else, I will accomplish nothing. I need to step outside of the safe zone into the artist’s realm and learn to create something from nothing.

Addendum to My Terms of Engagement.

As my first class in a graduate program came to an end, I looked back over everything that had been discussed, considered, and studied over the last few months. There were many moments that opened my eyes to a concept I had never considered or perspective I couldn’t imagine on my own. I am deeply thankful for these moments. Most of them came within the first few classes when Brent or Hanson were presenting. But the very first came as a note on my original terms of engagement submission.

“My advice to you on that front is to actually change your perspective somewhat: given the incredible pervasiveness of digital in our lives, it actually is “real.” Perhaps you may want to consider framing it as, say, online vs. face-to-face? To me, both matter greatly in the art of persuasion.” Hanson

This seems like an obvious fact. Growing up with technology at my fingertips my whole life, why do I still tend to think of the digital world as a different platform? Maybe it comes from working with members of an older generation or maybe it is because I am still amazed how fast we are moving. Or maybe it is just that they still are separated from each other. We spend a lot of time immersed within the digital world, but we can disconnect. We may Tweet a lot, but we have to get in the habit of remembering to Tweet. Five or ten years ago, it would not be a thought to send a Tweet regarding a disaster that is happening in front of our eyes, and for some it still would not be. But there are a growing number of people who do think this way now and are never truly unplugged. Their habits and thought patterns revert back to social digital sharing.

I am going back and forth on this issue. My conclusion is that the digital world may still be separate from our life but the gap is shrinking every day and with every new smartphone owner and new social media account created. If we want to be forward thinking, we need to consider this change in everything we do and with every marketing and communications decision we make. This is the world now. Online is IRL.

Presentations Day Two- Gaps within Communities

There seemed to be a theme throughout the day that tied all the presentations together in a way I didn’t notice last class. The focus was around community and the gaps within them, which seemed appropriate for our last day in a class I have very much enjoyed.

I enjoyed this set of presentations and thought they were well thought out overall.

The first presentation was on Evergreen Hospital and the Millennial connection. This was a very interesting concept. I also thought they did an excellent job pairing down their prompt into something digestible while still hitting the key points.  I know personally, I do not like taking time to go to the doctor but I also like to have a little better communication with them if I feel like I may be having a reaction to a medicine or on the boarder of getting sick. The three options proposed seemed to fit nicely into the lifestyle of the Millennial. The one piece that bothered me throughout the presentation wasn’t really an element that could be addressed by the presentation- how the doctor would find time to manage this new communication and how to set up limitations so that people do not become overly reliant on their doctors. I understand this wasn’t the point of the presentation, so I wouldn’t say it was lacking in explanation but it would be a huge consideration as well as a push back point for many doctors if this was real life. Overall, I greatly enjoyed the videos and “user” testimonials. It brought life into the presentation.

The second presentation on Asana flowed somewhat like a sales-pitch. From general experience, there hasn’t been a good collaboration tool that really works for the needs of a specific company. This was verified by the team after their presentation when they admitted to the class, you shouldn’t actually consider using Asana.

However, despite the obvious limitations of the tool, the presentation was still well done. Focusing on mobile trends and moving away from the weight of emails was a good way to frame the presentation. As far as marketing techniques, I liked how they linked to the Coke website and how they focused on a campaign based on testimonials. I wasn’t totally convinced that their contest would be successful, but the idea was founded on sound research so it is worth a shot. My other concern, was the ability of the younger generation’s ability to effect such a large change within a company.

The next presentation was on a new service called #pikshare. The concept of the product was great. I loved the idea that instead of a company having the rights to my photos to do with whatever they liked, that instead I could be rewarded for my brand loyalty. As came up in the questions, there did seem to be a lot of concerns over monitoring submissions and creating guidelines to outline these rules. The other element I was concerned about was the ability to get small businesses on board on a local level. Are we planning to have brand reps and sales people proposing this idea to local businesses?

After lunch we watched a clever presentation on communication within Amazon through a new system a to z innovation collaboration platform. This posed many of the same issues as the Asana, company buy-in, ability to actually solve issues presented, etc. However, I thought that the slides were beautiful and that the education portion was very well presented. I already knew about the adoption curve, but it was presented in a way that was helpful to understand. One element of the presentation I didn’t really understand was how the pages on our desk were meant to be utilized. Everyone at my table was the same group of people so it was unclear if we were supposed to be responding to the questions that followed with that mindset or if it was just further explanation on one group of people. The scrabble idea did a good job of representing the idea that collaboration will lead to much better results.

Finally, the team that must have been itching in their seats for the last two weeks, Gennect. This was one of the more interesting topics and maybe best saved for last. It was incredibly informative about the differences between the generations and what could have led to these differences. I also enjoyed learning how many of us are out there for various generational groups. Another plus is the fact that there is a wide range of generations represented in the class. Another element that could have been interesting to discuss would have been the reverse. As a millennial, how do I work with the older generations? What do I need to do to get along better with them? This was answered in the question and answer portion by one of your team members of one of these older generations and I completely agree. The best way for Millennials to learn to work with the older generations is to take a moment and stop driving forward, forward, forward and to listen. There are years of wisdom available to us. We do not need to remake the wheel or all the same mistakes. They are here to help if we would just take a moment to listen.

Thanks again to everyone who presented this week. I really appreciate hearing from everyone and learning about these topics from a variety of perspectives.