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5 hacks to stay innovative

It’s not so much the work that keeps me going. Honestly the work can be truly mundain. And it’s not the amazing ways I spend my time off that keeps me going though it is a reason I work so hard to be able to have a certain lifestyle of world travel with my family.

What keeps me going is the craving to be innovative. It started with the pottery. Each year we would return to a city our customer and our galleries would ask, “what new offerings to you have for us this year?”

I had to practice forcing myself to make sure I could give everyone what they needed, more stuff and new stuff. To keep up with the demand I would have to appease them and keep them collecting our work.

This is a practice. I have been doing this since 1998. Every single year, typically if and when I hit a time in production that is slower, I practice these actions.

1. Renew yourself with the quieting if your mind. This is something from the Bible. if you follow me at all I am a confessed terrible Christian. I read books by others about the Bible, attend church sparsely, but love the wisdom, strength and grace God gives me. I am blessed to have a pastor who reminds me of the God I love, he is kind, forgiving and non-judgmental.

I take time for myself early in the mornings to read something positive or simply sit and imagine everything I can be and do.

2. Set a goal to find 5 new ways, things, styles, people to incorporate into your business. This can take some thought, and time but keep a list and think hard about what you might want to incorporate in the next year into your work.

3. Copy like a creative- research others in your field and copy them. Once you try something new you will find ways to make it yours and work for you.

4. Find a seminar or networking event outside your field and ask everyone at your table how they do business, what is their model. Just do it. No excuses.

5. Take an online course to learn a new skill and then find a users group and meet others doing those things you want to learn. I’m taking a coding class now and just have to find the time to make it to a users group meeting about an hour away, ugh.

Try these hacks and see what works for you. I found that over the years I end up with 2 or 3 that stick and take us to the next level. Even just doing the research will set you apart from others in your field, area, what ever. Don’t make excuses, don’t wiggle out of it, just get into the first three and you’ll feel the momentum of change under your feet. Others are attracted to those moving forward, you’ll find new people coming to you for no obvious reason other than you are the light of change.

RePost: Holiday Dreaming

A Stoic Guide To Navigating The Modern Workplace

The image of the Zen philosopher is the monk up in the green, quiet hills, or in a beautiful temple on some rocky cliff. The Stoic, on the other hand, is the antithesis of this idea. The Stoic is the man in the marketplace, the merchant on a voyage, the senator in the Forum, the soldier at the front. In other words, they are like you.

Those jobs might not seem like one well-suited for “philosophy,” but they are. And so are you. For in even the most modern seeming professions, a Stoic is able to peace and clarity. For thousands of years, Stoicism has been a tool for the ordinary and the elite alive — from slaves to emperors — as they sought wisdom, strength and the ‘good life.’ It was philosophy designed for action — for doers — not for the classroom.

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What Does Marketing Mean to the Business Owner?

I do a lot of research on how to market my business. I know a guy who has a paver business. He told me something I never let go of. He said the truth of being in business is that we are all in the service industry, we just happen to be selling pavers. I would take this a step further that you keep the mindset of not just being a designer, but a business owner. You have to constantly be aware of the larger concept of owning a business.

There are the four P’s of marketing. I know this sounds boring, but you have to remember you are a business owner first who just happens to be blessed enough to do what you love. You are the first of the four P’s : Product, Price, Promotion and Placement. You are selling you. This will lead to your branding. What is your brand? What are you selling that about you that is any better than what the other 10 “designers” are selling. I will talk about this a little more, but you want to really take a moment here if haven’t already built one and create a mission statement for yourself. I want you to start this marketing journey and get a spiral notebook, this is going to be your “Marketing Dojo” book. You will make notes and plans and keep them all in one place. I have several of these. I have my daily notebook on my desk for phone calls and lists. I can always flip through and review what I may have missed at the end of a busy day. I have my website notebook, I build all of my own sites, yet another creative outlet. I have my book idea notebook, etc. My system for keeping the right thoughts in the right place. I realize I could do all of the in Evernote, but at some point I had to put the technology down and I feel when writing down my ideas it is more visceral for me to do it with the physical motion of hand writing.

You should already have one of these but I do recommend rewriting it once a year to get a grasp of where you want to go and who you want to be. You can start this by considering others you admire and what qualities they hold. Then think of who you are and what you think as being your ideal self. How do you treat people and what legacy do you want to leave? In business these need to apply as well as your personal life. In business, who so you admire and why? What qualities do they own that you would like to emulate? I don’t mean for you to think of what they have accomplished in a physical manner, like how big the firm is or what car do they drive. You need to think of the traits they exhibit and the principles they live by consistently to have gotten them what they do have. Don’t focus on the stuff, focus on the journey. The stuff will come if you are coming from the right place.

Then consider how you want your clients to remember you and talk about you after their project is done. The design will be wonderful, that goes without saying. Any designer can do that, we are trained for it. What other qualities do you have or service can you offer to your clients to make them thrilled to tell their friends about you and refer you to others? When you are thinking of this consider what your abilities are in and around your previous experience, what your other skills are. Clarify your aptitudes and turn them into your purpose. Then step away for a day, come back and refine your message. Print this out and hang it above your desk. Your mission statement is reminder of what you are really after and what goals need to be accomplished to get to that place of leaving an amazing legacy.

Feedback Can Map Your Future

It’s January and time to re-read my favorite guide to life books. The list includes: The Success Principles; The Obstacle is the Way; The Compound Effect and a few spiritual guides.

Self awareness is a goal of mine. This year I’ll be asking for feedback to help me in my journey. I just ran across this little nugget in the Success Principles: “if one person tells you you’re a horse, they’re crazy. If three people tell you you’re a horse, there’s a conspiracy afoot. If ten people tell you you’re a horse, it’s time to buy a saddle.”

When I send out letters to clients to ask for feedback I will be looking for patterns. I’m going to make it a game with my family and see what comes back at me. I’m hoping to be a better mom, wife, designer and business owner.

Canfield suggests to ask “was this week a 1 or a 10?”, if it’s not a 10 there is a follow up question, “what would it take to make it a ten?”

It’s going to be a tough year of becoming g more self aware.

repost: the unfair truth about how creatives succeed

Sharing is caring, this is by Jeff Goins

Creativity: a systems approach

What makes a person creative? As human beings, of course, we are all endowed with the ability to create. But, what is the difference between that kind of “little c” creativity and the world-changing “big C” creativity that changes industries and leaves a legacy for generations to come?

In his decades-long study of creativity, management psychology expert Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described what he called a “systems approach.” Since “creative” work tends to be subjective, he posited a model that included three systems:

  • The domain
  • The field
  • The individual

In order to be considered creative (in the sense that it offers some kind of enduring work the world remembers), a work must satisfy all three of these areas. Here’s how it works: First, an individual must master his or her craft in a given domain (art, science, mathematics,etc.). Then, this person must offer the creative work to a field of influencers in that domain who are trusted experts. Finally, those gatekeepers must decide whether the work is worth being accepted into the domain as being authoritative.

That’s the systems approach to creativity. And as much as I initially winced at the word “gatekeepers” when considering what makes creative work succeed, once I started reading biographies of famous artists, scientists and musicians, Csikszentmihalyi’s theory made a lot of sense. Talent is only part of the equation. The rest is networking.

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“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us get up and go to work” Stephen King

Uninspired days seem to be the longest for sure. 

I am working through a Best Self Journal. Found it online wasting time on Instagram. Go figure. 

It’s a guide to set up goals and 13 week schedule to work on them. I mostly like it because it gives me a level of accountability. 

You set priorities for each day and at the end of the day you are accountable for how much you achieved. They encourage you to think positively. I like this because so much of my job is stressful and pretty high pressure. 

Setting goals is key and going to work to get what needs to be done to attain those goals is a primary function. 

10 Best Mom Hacks to Elevate your Business and Your Life

  1. Get help. Make sure you can get help any way you can. If you cant afford much, find an intern, use a family member. I could not have had babies without help from my “village”. Today I have an assistant, a house cleaner and I have my groceries delivered. My kids are old enough they have taken over a ton of the household chores. Next on my list is to get a few meals a week delivered.
  2. Plan your day down to the minute if you have to and practice self discipline. Follow your regimen carefully and you will get more done than you thought imaginable. My husband laughs when he sees my schedule and thinks its rediculous, and then occasionally he will comment, “I don’t know how you do it all!”. No shit Sherlock, I schedule it.
  3. Meal prep is key. Since I haven’t gone to having meals delivered, I try to spend Sunday planning meals for the week. Its amazing how much time we spend just trying to figure things out, planning ahead is the best way to save your mental energy.
  4. Saying NO is so powerful. just say no to PTA, to things that don’t align with your greater plan, don’t care what people think of you.
  5. Having a life strategy or a bigger goal to align smaller daily decision with helps a ton. I do this once a year and put it on an index card and keep it in my little schedule book.
  6. Delegate as much as possible the small tasks, to kids, husbands, family or hire someone.
  7. Don’t work weekends, recharge your mind, setting boundaries for others. I have seen this gain respect and clients now value my time more because of those boundaries.
  8. Exercise! If our energy is  in  a jar, we can make that jar bigger holding more energy if we exercise on a regular basis.
  9. Be sure to prioritize tasks on a daily basis, being able to change or pivot is invaluable. Everything changes, we live on a spinning mass hurtling through space.
  10. Make time for family and fun. I actually schedule this time to be sure I get to it. If you don’t list it it wont happen.