creative courage

random thoughts

“I’d rather be exhausted striving for excellence than churning out work that succeeds merely because it offends the least amount of people. The cost? The fear of financial uncertainty. But I willingly accept this cost because it allows me to follow my path and craft the type of career and lifestyle that I want and need. There are things that I will not compromise on, including my sanity, happiness, time with my family, spontaneous travel with my son and creative control in the work I choose to take on. If I fail, I will fail on my own terms, doing what I love.”

James Victore author, designer, filmmaker and firestarter

the true entrepreneur – 3 tips for your success

improve yourself

“Most of you would agree that an entrepreneur is one who is a risk taker, a visionary, thinks outside the box, is passionate and determined, driven and courageous, strong work ethics, highly motivated and creative, a learner and a maverick. These are just the basic characteristics of an entrepreneur.

However, to be a true entrepreneur you must also be a charismatic leader with integrity, who knows how to listen and make decisions, is disciplined and a passionate servant, humble, driven, loyal, a good listener and influential. To be successful, you must be the combination of the two. In addition, you need to develop a procedure of leading that becomes the foundation of your business’ growth and prosperity.

Now, let’s look at why a lot of businesses fail and what you need to do in order to become successful. Here are the 3 tips for your success:

1_Change your mindset!

Most people fail because their mindset remains focused on steady paychecks, job security, benefits, promotions and time off. They get discouraged and give up. Being self-employed means changing your focus from an employee’s mindset, to focusing on being your own boss and doing things your way. Starting a business takes serious focus, day-in and day-out, all hours of the day. Don’t burn yourself out by doing all the work yourself. To be successful, look for others who are the best to do the work for you. Strive to use other people’s time and other people’s talents (OPT). The true entrepreneur will find the best employees or the best specialists to run their business.

2_Be a leader!

Get out of the mindset of having employees and start thinking about building a team. Employees compete with one another and have a win/lose mentality. Build a team that works together, helping one another for a common goal. Teamwork is not just something you teach. It is a lifestyle you live every day. It starts with you. A true leader will take responsibility for the success, as well as, the failure of the team. Learn how to communicate effectively with your people and develop great people skills if you really want be successful.

3_Adjust your focus!

Life has a way of bringing distractions in front of us. Distractions can prevent us from seeing what’s on the other side. If you want your business to be a success, you must look beyond the distractions in life and focus on the joy of gaining possession of your dreams. Allow your focus to bring out the best in you. Robert Kiyosaki has a great definition for focus. In his book entitled Midas Touch, he defines the word FOCUS as Follow One Course Until Successful. You need the strength of character and the ability to stay on course until successful.

When you apply these 3 tips in your life, you position yourself for success. You don’t have to be another statistic. You now have the power to be a success for everyone to read about and follow your example. Develop the qualities of being a true entrepreneur and live the life you were destined to live.”

 Matthew Habbis

The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact

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Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact, the brand-new 99U book, is now on sale.

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how to apply lateral thinking

improve yourself

“Pretend that you’re trapped in a magical room with only two exits. Through the first exit is a room made from a giant magnifying glass, and the blazing hot sun will fry you to death. Through the second door is a room with a fire-breathing dragon. Which do you go through?

The first door, of course; simply wait until the sun goes down. 

The answer to this puzzle is an example of what psychologists call ‘lateral thinking’. The most elegant solution presents itself when you approach the problem sideways, rather than answering it head-on. Though the question is presented as a binary choice —one option or the other— when you disregard the assumption that you must act immediately, the ‘best’ answer becomes obvious.

The trouble for most of us is that even if we’re ‘creative’, our default setting is ‘linear thinking’. But that default can be overridden.
Here are five steps to train yourself to think a little more laterally with any challenge:

1_List the assumptions
When confronted with a question (problem, challenge, etc.), write out the assumptions inherent to the question. In the case of the puzzle above, the list might include the following:

  • You want to get out of the room
  • You have to choose one of the two options
  • You have to do something now
  • Room One will kill you no matter what (or so we think!)
  • Room Two will kill you no matter what

2_Verbalize the convention
Next, ask yourself the question: how would a typical person approach this problem? Map out the obvious, straightforward solutions. Then ask yourself: what if I couldn’t go this route?

3_Question the question
Ask yourself: what if I could rewrite the question? Rearrange the pieces to form a new scenario. In the trapped room scenario, instead of “which do you go through?” you might rewrite the question to ask “will you go through one of them?” or “will these really kill you?” or “do you even need to go through one of them?”.

4_Start backwards
Often the route to solving a problem is revealed when you start with the solution first, and try to work backward. For example, asking the question: how would I get into a trapped room if it were adjoined by a room made out of a magnifying glass? By reframing the challenge in this way, you’ll notice that I stripped away the details that cause you to overthink the answer to the trapped room example. But in a real-life scenario, this question might sound more like “how could we renewably generate 10 gigajoules of electricity?” rather than “how could we make the city more energy efficient?” —a vague question that often results in straightforward, but ineffective answers like “get people to turn off their lights more”.

5_Change perspective
Finally, one of the reasons innovation often happens when outsiders enter a new industry, or when disparate groups bump into one another, is because fresh perspective are convention-ignorant. To kickstart lateral thinking, you might do well to pretend you were someone else trying to solve the problem. Say, if you were a magician, or a scientist, or a track and field star, how would they escape from the fire room? Or how would the fire-breathing dragon answer this question? Etc.

In our modern work culture, we generally cling to two conventions when solving problems: 1) put your head down and work relentlessly until fortune strikes; and 2) spend as little effort as possible. The problem with each of these philosophies is actually somewhat lazy. Mental work is more difficult than rote physical work, though we often fool ourselves into thinking that because you can see the latter, it’s just as or more valuable. Conversely, no one ever changed the world by cutting corners. It’s the combination of the two, hard work and mental flexibility, that leads to revolutions.”

Shane Snow journalist & cofounder of Contently

end every day with a beginning

work smarter

“Here’s a two-minute strategy for lessening procrastination and creative block by ending with the beginning in mind:

1_Before you close out your work for the day, capture any open questions that you are currently working on. If you were to continue working right now, what would be the very next thing you would do?

2_Write those questions and the next thing you would do on a post-it, or a sheet of paper, and leave it where you’ll see it the next day.

3_Determine right then what you’ll do first when you next sit down at your workstation. Establish a starting point for your work. This will give you immediate traction

Following this approach will help you save time and — more importantly — avoid stressful headaches. Start tonight by spending a few minutes writing down your starting point for tomorrow.”

Todd Henry founder of Accidental Creative, speaker and consultant

more hours = more procrastination

random thoughts

“Ben Pieratt recently put it nicely: ‘I find that when I give myself more hours the only thing that scales up is procrastination. There’s little difference in my productivity in a 80 or 40 hour work week’. When you’re tired, stressed, and burnt out, it takes longer to generate creative solutions. Done work becomes more important than great or even good work.”

Jason James UI designer

5 scientifically proven ways to work smarter, not harder

work smarter

“It’s easy to fall into a pattern of ‘always working’ rather than working smart. Here are five ways to avoid that trap:

1_Take more breaks. On average our brains are only able to remain focused for 90 minutes; then we need at least 15 minutes rest. (The phenomenon is based on ultradian rhythms.) By taking period breaks roughly every 90 minutes you allow your mind and body to renew–and be ready to fire off another 90-minute period of high activity.

2_Take naps. Research shows naps lead to improvement in cognitive function, creative thinking, and memory performance. In particular, napping benefits the learning process by helping us take in and retain information better.

3_Spend time in nature. Unlike natural environments, urban environments are filled with stimulation that captures attention dramatically and additionally requires directed attention (e.g., to avoid being hit by a car), making them less restorative.

4_Move and work in blocks. The idea is that you set up at various cafés, workspaces, or pubs to get chunks of work done throughout the day. Create a plan for what you will accomplish at each location so you can immediately jump into those tasks. The important part to note is having a clear finishing point based on your task list rather than the time you will move to a new location. And when you move, cycling or walking is a good way to go.

5_Check your email first thing. This one is fairly counterintuitive; basically everyone says not to check email right away, but I do and find it extremely useful. Dealing with important issues first thing helps me make quick decisions about whether my day needs to be adjusted to fit in with what everyone else is doing or whether I can proceed with the tasks I already had planned.”

Jeff Haden for Inc.

radiant orchid

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Pantone® 18-3224 Radiant Orchid has been named Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2014, an enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones which blooms with confidence and magical warmth that intrigues the eye and sparks the imagination. It is an expressive, creative and embracing purple.

what we wear affects how we think

improve yourself

“There is a large amount of evidence showing the profound effect clothing has on our thinking style, how we feel, and on the way others perceive us. Use clothing and props to improve your work performance through these simple steps:

a) Dress for the task: the “lab coat” effect
Consider the findings of a study published last year by the Kellogg School of Management. They showed that students were far more accurate on tests of attentional focus and sustained concentration while wearing the white lab coat of a scientist.

b) Be yourself and respect your own style
As well as affecting our mindset, our clothes can also alter how we feel about ourselves. U.S. research published in 2007 found that employees described themselves as feeling more productive, trustworthy, and authoritative when they were wore a business suit at work, but more friendly when wearing casual clothes.

c) Choose your weapons (and accessories) wisely
The psychological effects of clothing on performance extend to tools and props. A 2011 study led by Charles Lee at the University of Virginia showed that university students perceived a putting hole to be larger (thus making more putts) when they used a putter that they thought belonged to the pro player Ben Curtis, as compared with a standard putter.

d) Dress to impress
If you want to appear authoritative it really does make sense to dress smart. A raft of studies have shown that people in more formal attire get served more quickly in shops, have more luck soliciting charity donations, and are usually judged to be more intelligent and academic. A study that looked specifically at female applicants for a managerial job found those who dressed in a smart masculine style were perceived as more forceful and aggressive and were more likely to get hired.

e) Consider your audience
Formal suits aren’t always the way to go. Research shows that people who wear more daring outfits are perceived as more attractive and individual, which could be advantageous in more creative industries. Casual dress can also be more persuasive, depending on your audience. In 2010, a female experimenter reported that students were far more diligent in following her detailed instructions when she was dressed casually (like they were), as opposed to smart and professional.

So the next time you’re getting dressed for work in the morning, be mindful of the psychological impact that clothes can have. Your choice could literally affect your mindset, so try to match your outfit to the type of work you’re planning to do. If interacting with other people is on the cards – consider who they are, the impression you want to make, and especially whether you want to impress them or be one of them. A polished professional look can certainly give you authority. But if you’re collaborating with quirky creatives, or you want to cultivate a friendly atmosphere, you may find it’s advantageous to adopt a more casual, individual style for the day.”

Dr. Christian Jarrett psychologist turned writer

Maximize Your Potential

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With wisdom from 21 leading creative minds, 99U’s Maximize Your Potential will show you how to generate new opportunities, cultivate your creative expertise, build valuable relationships, and take bold, new risks so that you can utilize your talents to the fullest.

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