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So You Wanna Be Fascinating?

March 20th, 2010 4 comments

A guide to help us discover how and why we fascinate, and how we may increase our own levels of fascination.

Fascinate by Sally Hogshead.

This book is quite a read, and, indeed; a fascinating one. You’ll want to chew and digest these words slowly, Creative Beasts, and perhaps finish with a taste of fine Cognac (which, by the way, would be appealing to the lust trigger–and trust, because we know it will provide comfort). In her book, Sally Hogshead takes us on the fascinating journey of fascination using a style that succinctly and playfully pulls every trigger as we go along. It boils down to this: The seven triggers of fascination are simply the tools we use to communicate and respond to one another, but by learning about how they work–and becoming aware of their nuances–we may adjust our methods and levels of use accordingly in order to better persuade and captivate our audience. You can almost think of it as learning the ways of the force.

Okay, well. Not exactly, perhaps. But perhaps not so disimilar either. “The Force” didn’t suddenly appear out of nowhere when Obi Wan introduced Luke to its ways. It was always there. Likewise; lust, mystique, power, alarm, prestige, trust and vice are all there being used by each of us in the ebb and flow of the tides in which we tweet, grin, wink, flash, flirt, yell, coo and/or whisper–with, to or at one another.

As it turns out, most of us want to be fascinating in some shape or form, according to the research–about sixty to seventy percent, depending on which group you’re looking at. Furthermore, each of us in our own unique way has something about us that is fascinating. Still, most of us would prefer our lives to be more fascinating than at present. Surprise, surprise. Ms. Hogshead describes the reasoning behind this current wave of mentality as one that streams from the A.D.D. world in which we live. We are constantly inundated with messages coming at us from multiple angles… messages that we find boring, either because there are too many, or perhaps simply because the messages, themselves, are lackluster and trite. We crave experiences that are genuine, alluring and comforting, but also thrilling, intoxicating and at times, even frightening. (Bungee jumping, anyone? That would be the alarm trigger.)

Who or what fascinates you and why?

In what ways would you like to be more fascinating?

In general, I, myself, am fascinated by creative people of all kinds–artists, writers, scientists, musicians, politicians, filmmakers, designers, architects, chefs and the list goes on.

One of my key groups of particular intrigue happens to be great journalists. They are often in the spotlight, yet their jobs entail and require aiming the focus at someone else… people like Charlie Rose, Terry Gross, Mike Wallace, Gwen Eiffel, Ira Glass and the late Peter Jennings, to name a few. The core values of journalism are based on trust.

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia on:

Journalism Ethics and Standards

While various existing codes have some differences, most share common elements including the principles of — truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability — as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public.[3][4][5][6]

(And here’s the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalism_ethics_and_standards)

Codes aside; to be a righteous player in this field requires high emotional intelligence, a deft approach to interaction on multiple levels, and one must walk some very fine lines. It seems that good journalists may just be some of the most adept at using more of the seven triggers than the rest. They need to be charming, but not overly so. They need to keep their subjects at a proper distance yet seduce them at the same time to gain the necessary level of intimacy, so we have all kinds of things going on here. There’s a certain amount of lust at stake. Notice how in many interviews a very carefully balanced level of flirting takes place. This brings the subject closer and helps in developing a rapport. Here’s 60 Minutes’ well-seasoned Bob Simon interviewing Bollywood’s lovely princess, Aishwarya Rai back in 2004. She at once gains the upper hand when she catches him blushing:

That brings us to another point, which is the power balance. The best in journalism get to interview the most fascinating people because they, themselves are forces to be reckoned with, and people of power are typically fascinated by other people of power (and they often seem to enjoy the opportunity to disseminate their messages to the masses). Here is another game that takes place, which is a challenge of wits, intelligence and at times; superiority. You’ll find interesting battles of wills when you listen to Terry Gross‘ recent interview with Karl Rove on NPR’s Fresh Air, regarding his latest memoir, Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124597241

And finally, we have the queen bee of fascinating people, Ms. Barbara Walters. She uses her lust and mystique triggers very well. She displays her sweetness as she walks arm in arm with her subjects, but make no mistake; she is also a major lady of power who is well known for making even some of the toughest nuts to crack–cry. Could it be that some of us actually want to cry with Barbara Walters? Could this be a vice trigger? Hmm. Here she is interviewing Lady Gaga. She did not cry.

At times, the role of the journalist is similar to that of the psychologist. Boundaries and levels of comfort get tested and gently nudged to achieve desired objectives. Remember The Sixth Sense? In one of my favorite scenes, we see Dr. Crowe (Bruce Willis) and Cole (Haley Joel Osment) getting acquainted. “Wanna play a game?” Dr. Crowe asks Cole. “It’s a mind-reading game. Here’s how it works. I read your mind. If what I say is right, you take one step towards the chair. If what I say is wrong, you take one step back… towards the doorway. If you reach the chair, you sit down. If you reach the door, you can go. Wanna play?”

Dr. Crowe talks to Cole in the film, The Sixth Sense.

Perhaps if we’re each able to view our lives as more of a game with one of the goals being that we create rules as we go, we may find that our day to day exchanges will become more fascinating. By being aware of cues and making notes as well as recognizing our own signals, we may find that there is a fascinating Jedi as well as a “force” in us all.

By the way, have you taken the F-Score test yet? It’s quick, fun and enlightening. I dare you to do it!

Until next time, Creative Beasts… SEIZE THE PREY.

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Just Another Deluded Entrepreneur.

March 4th, 2010 3 comments

You sure know how to say it, Hugh.

It’s kind of like, “I am an entrepreneur. I am an entrepreneur. I am, I am, I am, I AM an entrepreneur!”

Check out this latest post of Hugh MacLeod’s: http://tinyurl.com/ycmzgw8

He offers great insight (so wise). I’m grateful for these thoughts because if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that when you make the decision to take the plunge, you have all of these feelings. Feelings like, “I’m an idiot.” Or, “I’m crazy.” Or, “I’m crazy and I’m an idiot.” You’re leaping out into The Great Unknown. There’s no one there holding your hand. You’re swimming solo. And you’ve never done this before. It feels scary and it feels lonely. And it’s one of the best feelings, ever.

Hugh’s book, by the way, is wonderful and it is one of a few that has had a hand in changing my life. Check it out: http://gapingvoid.com/books/

And if you like that one (and by the way, my guess is that you wouldn’t be on this page if you didn’t share in these hopes and dreams), here’s a few more for you to check out:

Fascinate by Sally Hogshead http://sallyhogshead.com/category/fascinate/

Radical Careering by Sally Hogshead http://www.radicalcareering.com/

Linchpin by Seth Godin http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/

Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith http://www.chrisbrogan.com/where-to-buy-trust-agents/

Why Now is the Time to CRUSH IT! Cash In On Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk http://crushitbook.com/

If you’re as geeky as I am, you will find parts of these books that will make you cry as you read. So, even if you never truly become your own boss, at least you will have had a good cry or two.

Here are some of Hugh MacLeod’s thoughts regarding entrepreneurship, followed by my comments (for whatever they’re worth):

1. Everything takes three times longer than it should. Especially the money part.

Thank God I’m not the only one who feels this way. And please, God, would you send me a bit more money, a decent video camera or two, a new Mac, fully loaded with Adobe CS4, Final Cut Pro, etc, etc, an art director, a video crew, an editor, a producer, some advertisers, a SEO expert, an affiliate manager… hmm, what else? Oh, yeah, an accountant… and maybe an extra writer or two. Oh, and about a million or so followers? …Thanks!

12. It’s easier to turn an ally into a customer than vice versa.

This one made me think of something one of my best customers once said to me when I sold software. I’ll never forget it. I made a mistake, and that was that I over-promised and under-delivered. The great rule of sales and service is just the opposite. What he said was, “Trish, I’m going to teach you something: there’s an old saying that goes like this: ‘It takes years to win a customer and seconds to lose one.'” Original thought or no, he was right. I felt awful, and that I had not only lost a customer, but a friend. I sent him a most sincere letter of apology, not expecting to regain his business. But guess what? A couple weeks later he called me again, and it was as though nothing had gone wrong. “Wow!” I thought. “I must be doing something right.” The funny thing was that when I told my boss about losing him, his response was more or less, “Oh, well.” He was the one that had instructed me to make the promise and take the order; i.e., the money. Never again, will I take an order from a client without being able to personally guarantee 100 percent that I can deliver on the product. I like having customers that like me, but more importantly, I need my customers to trust me. Whatever it is that you’re selling, your customer needs to feel satisfied with your product and the experience at the end of the day, if he is to return. And if he walks away delighted, he might just tell someone else. On the flip side, if he walks away angry, you can be sure he’ll tell someone else. It all boils down to earning trust. That is how you sell your product and that is how you win and keep customers. To hell with dog and pony shows. And thanks, Josh.

25. Bill Gates may have a million times more money than me, but he isn’t going to live a million times longer than me, watch a million times more sunsets than me, make love to a million times more women than me, drink a million times more fine wines than me, listen to a million times more Beethoven String Quartets than me, nor sire a million times more children than me. Human beings don’t scale.

Find a way to love what you do. Love your friends and loved ones well, and try to appreciate what you have. Life is short, and it’s easy to miss the little joys and wonderful moments that sometimes fall before us. One of my Russian friends once said to me, “There is a Russian saying: ‘It’s better to have a hundred friends than a hundred dollars.'” I told another friend who said, “That sounds like a Russian saying.” Maybe so, but I like it. Not that I would turn away a hundred dollars.

For the rest of Hugh’s sublime thoughts and witticisms check out his post. Again, here’s the link:
http://tinyurl.com/ycmzgw8

And on that note, Creative Beasts, I bid you adieu. Keep dreaming, keep building on your dreams and as always, Seize The Prey. Here’s Barenaked Ladies with If I had a Million Dollars. Bein’ geeky and keepin’ it real.

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No Reservations – Hudson Valley: So Kick-Ass, I Watched It Twice.

February 10th, 2010 No comments

Yep. Watched the same show twice in a row. It was that good. Is “twice in a row” correct usage? Something tells me that in order to make a row, you need three. Aw, heck. Anyway, this No Reservations trip along The Hudson really did it for me. Aside from all the beautiful food, Bill Murray, Michael Ruhlman, the Pardus family, Chef Peter X. Kelly–and Tony Bourdain–there was just something really special about the photography and the storytelling. This is a really good show.

Tony takes us from a crab boil with locals to a brief CIA refresher course with pal, Michael Ruhlman, followed by a meal of Asian pork belly at Chef Michael Pardus‘ home, complimented by the refreshing insights of Pardus’ delightful 10-year-old daughter (“Your job is real tough,” she says to Tony. “You stuff your mouth with food.”), this episode not only shares a good story/travelogue; it takes us on a scenic culinary journey through an exquisite part of New York (that I, for one, was not familiar with) and gives viewers a little taste of adventure, to boot. It isn’t just good TV. It’s good reality TV in the sense that it’s real people doing real stuff–and doing it really well. It’s well detailed, brightly produced and intimately shot. And that is hard to come by.

Topping things off, Tony shares an amazing meal and scintillating conversation with guest, Bill Murray at Peter Kelly’s restaurant X2O in Yonkers. Mr. Murray sums things up perfectly: “You’re within visual distance of your home. I’m within visual distance of where I’ve lived for 30 years. What’s the meaning of being here in this place? And I know you’ll find the answer to that, because you always seem to find it in your programming–what the meaning of it is. What’s the meaning of finding a meal in a great place served by people that care… in a place that Henry Hudson came to 400 years ago?”

Neil Young once said, “When I get big, I’m gonna get an electric guitar. When I get real big.” He was pretty big then… nevertheless… words to live by. I’ve always loved his style.

Anyway. Hats off to Neil Young, hats off to Bill Murray and hats off to Tony Bourdain and the crew of No Reservations. And to all Creative Beasts everywhere, Long May You Run.

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I Have Not Yet Begun to Crush It.

January 12th, 2010 1 comment

The meek may inherit the Earth, but meanwhile, "The Determined" are gonna get theirs.

Pigeons… gotta love ’em. The cooing, the nesting, the foraging… and of course, the “bombing.” My Norwegian (step) grandmother said that when a pigeon poops on you, it’s good luck (she stated this after my mom had just been hit with a love-bomb from a feathered friend from above). I haven’t yet been able to confirm whether this is a Norwegian belief or one from somewhere else. If anyone can help me out with this, give a shout. I was once struck on the head by a pigeon-bomb, in the middle of downtown Milwaukee. It was a dove, actually. I was on the phone with a friend. It was a warm, sunny, early evening and I was standing beneath a tiny tree–newly planted, in fact. I had paused to chat–apparently under this little tree–and splat! Right on top of my head. I was surprised, of course, and of course, I reached up to find out what had hit me. I yelled out in disgust, and then I believe I started to cry a little. “Ahhhnnnnn! Come get me!” (it was my boyfriend) I exclaimed into the phone, looking up into the little tree. “A dove just shat on me!” He laughed, but then fortunately, he did come to get me. And the dove? It sat in the tree, a couple feet above me, cooing softly. “Jerk!” I thought. That was a few years ago. I’m still hoping for that good luck to come, but in the meantime, I aim to “Crush It!”

Just finished Gary Vaynerchuck’s book Why Now is the time to CRUSH IT! Cash In On Your Passion.

It took me a little longer than I thought it would, but hey, interruptions happen. Anyway. Great book, I really enjoyed it. Gary Vee is not just entertaining, as it turns out, nor is he simply driven. He’s an inspiring, thoughtful businessman and marketing strategist who looks well into the future to anticipate trends; all the while, keeping his eye on the ball. So what is Gary’s #1 strategy? CARE. That’s right. Care. Care about what you do, be authentic, be passionate, and let these things be your guiding lights. Here’s a rather recent appearance Gary made on CNBC:

If you pay a visit to Gary @ http://garyvaynerchuk.com/ you’ll see that quite a few folks giggle and scoff at old anchor-dude Dennis Kneale, who calls Gary “corny.” I get why the fans giggle and scoff, and I’m pretty sure I get why Dennis Kneale called him “corny.” The fans… well, it’s a couple reasons: A) just because they’re fans, they will always stick up for their guy and B) If they really know where Gary is coming from, then they truly know that he means what he says, but also that he’s right. Now, why did Kneale call Gary Vaynerchuk “a little corny?” I think it’s because he must be thinking, “Oh, now isn’t this cute and clever. Here’s Mr. 35-year old millionaire entrepreneur, telling everybody that all they need to do is care.” Obviously, he hadn’t yet read the book, because if he had, I don’t think he would have made a silly comment like that. Here’s the deal: Gary can explain in his book, exactly what he means by “caring,” and the thing is that it really isn’t any different from the approach taken by good old-fashioned great brands, all over the world. It is one thing to say that you care, but it is an altogether different thing to actually live it. What are some of the great caring brands of our times? How about Nordstrom? How about McDonalds? How about Starbucks? He says it boils down to the quality of the communication, and he’s right. “It’s about listening.” You listen, you give it your all, and you make adjustments when you need to. In his book, he recounts a retail story of a woman–a customer in New York–who called to complain that she didn’t get her wine shipment on time. It was December 22nd, and it was an older lady who was not a regular customer, a major buyer–or anything else major. What made her special was that she was a customer, plain and simple, and Gary knew that if he let her down… if her holiday got spoiled because it was too late to make a promise from FedEx… he would be letting himself down–and his team. So what did he do? He grabbed her case of White Zinfandel, threw it in his car, and drove it through a blizzard for three hours to her doorstep in Westchester, New York. Crazy? Maybe. Awesome customer service? You bet. He set the tone for his company that day, and that’s what leaders do. That’s how good brands get built. Really smart people understand this. I don’t know if it is still this way, simply because I don’t have the chance to visit Nordstrom much anymore (we don’t have them here), but the way I remember it, their service is legendary. If you needed something tailored and their tailor was out, the associate would run it to the next local tailor to have it done–and have it ready for the customer in the same day. OK, I’m kind of making that up, but stuff like that. No kidding.

Here’s a quick brand comparison story: And first, let me just say that I have for the most part, really gotten away from fast food. But one day at work a couple of years ago, I ran out for a burger. I thought to myself, “Hmm. Flame-broiled Whopper, Jr…” It had been a while since I had patronized a Burger King, but I was in the mood and I was pressed for time, so… fast food. I pulled up to the drive, and a girl answered, “Uhhhh, just a minute…”

I thought, “OK. Well, that’s weird because I’m the only one here.” But I waited a couple of minutes. Then I thought, “Hell with this,” and I pulled around and parked and went inside. What I found was a young manager yelling at several employees sitting at a table, telling them it was time to get back to work because they had already had breaks. There was one girl at the counter. I approached the counter, and waited for someone to say hello. No one did. Finally, I said, “Can someone here take my order?”

The girl at the counter said, “Just a second.”

I lost it. “You people are pathetic,” I said. “I went to the drive-thru and no one could help me. Now I’m inside and no one can help me. And there’s NOBODY f***ing here!” Yes, I said “f***ing.” Sorry I was foul-mouthed, but I was really amazed. They just stood there with their mouths open. I left, and went to McDonalds.

At the drive-thru speaker, the first thing the girl said was, “Thank you for waiting, can I take your order?” I was already thrilled. I ordered, and a couple of minutes later I was at the window receiving my meal. “Sorry about the wait!” She said with a smile.

“What wait?” I smiled back and thanked her and drove away. Fast and friendly service, napkins, ketchup, a sandwich, fries and a beverage with a straw–all the right temperatures and freshness… the birds were singing and weaving a happy little bird-dance around my car (just kidding)… I was a happy lass.

Looking back, I might have chosen a kinder way of addressing things with the folks at Burger King–I work at not getting upset these days, but anyway, it sure was an interesting juxtaposition of brands… To me, employees that give great customer service appear to be happy because they are happy. Generally, I look at this as a sign that they are treated well, but additionally, they are following good examples. They are taking ownership. These are all signs of a business that is being run properly and smartly.

Incidentally, I have worked at different companies throughout the years. I have worked at places who understand that good brands start from the top, but then are built from the bottom up (Starbucks is one of them), and then I’ve worked at companies that have had a different approach. The different approach was one that was unfortunately centered around money and the making of it. There was nothing wrong with the initial idea: sell a commodity–something everybody needs. (Heck, that’s what Starbucks does–well, OK, so we don’t actually need coffee, but you understand.) The problems began when corners got cut, and to what extent and how often. I am here to say that that is no way to run a business. If all you care about is money, I can just about guarantee that no matter how much you have, you will never be happy… Did I mention I watched it grow from a three person company to a 40 million-dollar operation in about six years? In Crush It, Gary refers to something he calls “reactionary business.” What he’s talking about is having the ability to anticipate change and adapt. I’m not sure I would call that “reactionary.” I would call that “being proactive.” To me, “reactionary” was watching the flames get higher when things started to smoke and burn because the only solution “leadership” had was to throw on more coals. That was due to a couple of things 1) a president who didn’t want to listen to his employees and 2) a sheer lack of anticipating change and lack of planning for it. But there was another attitude problem that inevitably led to the company’s demise… arrogance. The owner had it in his head that if a customer was lost, there was always another one around the “virtual” corner. I think he ultimately felt that it didn’t matter if customers left unhappy because it was an online business. Wrong. There are only so many chances to reinvent yourself, and it’s much harder now than it was then. Those company doors closed in 2007, and Twitter was only a year old. If you want to start a business, have it be something that you want your name on. Be proud of it. That’s another thing Gary Vaynerchuk talks about: legacy. By the way, if you ever work somewhere at which the owner of the business isn’t willing to publicly admit ownership, let that be a warning to you. That is not a good sign.

OK. So. Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Crush It!: I say buy it if you’re just starting a business, and buy it if you’re a six-or-more-figure salaried CEO. Gary’s messages are pretty simple and straight forward: Care. Work your butt off. Listen. Adapt. Anticipate. Be aware of what’s going on around you. Build your personal brand. Care. He breaks it down much further, but I don’t need to repeat the entire book, as short and sweet as it is. His messages are in many ways, not new, and in fact, in some ways they are old-fashioned. So what? They work. My concern that I mentioned in my earlier post before I read the book was that it might be too schmaltzy. Too much of a “just believe in yourself”-type book. While there is some of that, he explains why he believes it is actually possible to follow your dreams at this point in time. Gary is a good coach. He doesn’t tell you how to do everything, but he gives recommendations on tools to use, strategies and approaches. He also talks about DNA and how it plays a part. I tend to think that many immigrants in general, have a much better idea about how to succeed than (non-immigrant) Americans. They tend not to take things for granted and they really know how to hustle. I realize that’s a sweeping generalization, but just look around you and see for yourself. I’ll be bold and make another sweeping generalization: Gary is from Belarus, and I don’t care who says what, but many of the folks from that part of the world are great mathematicians, some of the world’s greatest composers and musicians, scientists… and chess players. Gary is an excellent strategist. Just sayin’. Until next time, Creative Beasts… Seize the Prey! Or, as Gary says, “Crush it!”

Another link to check out: http://vaynermedia.com/

And to send you off, here’s one of my favorite songs ever (definitely a T-Haus theme song) as well as a bit o’ CreativeBeasts.com inspiration–Hot Chocolate’s Every 1’s a Winner (and a random fan viddy):

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Ground Control to David Bowie: Happy Birthday!

January 8th, 2010 1 comment

Hey, Creative Beasts! A short post today, for there is much to do. That said, today is a very special day, indeed; as it is the birthday of one of my all-time favorite Creative Beasts and Heroes… Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Thin White Duke, Dapper David (and the list goes on)… The one, the only… Mr David Bowie! Artist, musician, actor, writer, poet–you name it; he’s done it, and he has done them all so very well. Lieutenant Bowie, today, you turn 63 years young. Creative Beasts salutes you and humbly thanks you for your words, your art, your performances, your dedication to your craft as well as all Creative Beasts you have helped either directly or indirectly throughout the years–and many more. You are an amazing and wonderful person and spirit, and the work you do is timeless and legendary. Happy Birthday and thank you for all you do. …And kids, just in case you didn’t know, you can keep up with David Bowie’s latest and greatest at his web site: http://www.davidbowie.com/index.php where there are always fresh, exciting and sometimes strange (but in a good way) things happening.

If I could talk to David Bowie today, here’s what else I would say: “You’ve been through a lot, to say the least, and you’ve seen and done so many fantastic things. What would you say have been some of your best or perhaps most rewarding moments as an artist? Here it is, 2010. Sounds strange to say it, right? The entertainment industry has changed so much throughout the years. What do you like about the changes, and what do you dislike? What advice can you give to all the young dudes (and dude-ettes) coming up to face the music, so to speak?

…Well, who knows if we’ll get any answers, but regardless, David… love on ya, and cheers!

Here’s a lovely tribute to our man from some other brilliant and very funny Creative Beasts Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, a.k.a. Flight of the Conchords:

And to send you all off, here’s a great one from the glamorous king:

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Finding Your Marketing and Branding Angle. And Crushing It.

January 5th, 2010 1 comment

Mission-style dining table... at ByAmish.com

Can an Amish guy sell furniture online? Sure. Why not? But then the questions become, “How will anyone find his shop? And even if they do… why this Amish guy?” And since the Amish have a reputation for being… well, rather “shy” in terms of connecting with people outside of their community, they need all the help they can get when it comes to spreading the word about what they do. So the guy making the furniture should basically stay busy doing what he does best–making furniture. But his distributor doesn’t have to be quite so shy about things. He can attest to the fact that every square inch of any piece–whether it’s a dining room table or an armoire–is lovingly hand-crafted by Elias and Friends. Work like this cannot be replicated because it comes from knowledge and traditions passed on from generation to generation–and is entirely custom crafted. So, what do we know about Amish furniture? In general, the consensus is that it is extremely well made, and there is, indeed, something very special about beautiful things made entirely by hand. When you own a piece of furniture by Elias, you will not simply enjoy using it; you will enjoy using it with the knowledge that your children will own it some day, and then perhaps your grandchildren. And with each generation, it will take on a new beauty. That’s the thing about quality: it retains its value, and gains in value.

“Why, oh why, are you now writing about Amish furniture, T-Haus?” You ask. Well, I’ll tell you. 1) It’s my site, and I’ll write about what I damn-well feel like (sorry, Amish people for saying “damn,” but you won’t read the blog anyway, and so what you don’t know won’t hurt you). 2) I think it’s a very interesting marketing/branding question: “How does an Amish furniture maker promote himself?” Maybe he’ll get lucky and CreativeBeasts.com will do a little plug (Can anyone get more lucky than that? Dear god, I hope so.). “…I know of this guy named Elias who makes damn-good furniture (and no, we are not related).” 3) I think it has a lot to do with the quest of CreativeBeasts: helping creative people from all walks of life to get a little closer to their goals… and discovering how the ones making it happen are getting it done. There’s the whole Field of Dreams notion… “Build it and they will come.” And if you build the best furniture in the world, a light will shine down upon your shop from the heavens; showing appreciators of artisanal work the way forth, right? Not exactly. If no one knows about it, no one can buy it… and no one will come. Sad, but true. Sooo–the word must be spread!

On a slightly different note (but not totally), I picked up Gary Vaynerchuk‘s new book Crush It! –Cash In On Your Passion, today.

I should be able to read it tonight (it’s not War and Peace). I’m excited, and I’m hoping it will offer some juicy secrets that I can apply towards getting my own show on the road. Stay tuned, for there will be comments. I’m seriously hoping it’s not just another “You-can-do-it-if-you-just-believe-in-yourself-hard-enough!” book. And I’m not at all knocking the “belief” end of things. You knows I’m alls about the faith. But Gary doesn’t seem like the bullshit type. We shall check it out. …I think I like you, Gary Vee, but I haven’t entirely made up my mind about you yet. I do like your passion. And now, speaking of Crushing It, I think I’m ready to go pick up a little vino, myself, and cook up some coq au vin tonight… maybe throw in some dried morels (that I picked myself), in my beloved

5 Quart Le Creuset French Oven... in Cobalt

Le Creuset Dutch oven (Oops–I mean “French…” the Le Creuset peeps call it a “French” oven–how very French of them), which I purchased from one of my all-time favorite stores, Williams-Sonoma. If you love to cook, but do not yet own a Le Creuset French oven, you should seriously consider making it a priority. Seriously. You will be so glad that you did.

And then… I’m gonna get reading (Crush It!).

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2010: Wishes and Ambitions For the New Year.

December 28th, 2009 7 comments

Hey there, Creative Beasts–happy holidays! Can you believe 2010 is almost here? I don’t know about you, but for me it seemed like 2009 blazed by like a comet… or at least like a wild horse. Which brings me to why I chose this image. There’s an old saying: “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Try this on for size: Do what you gotta, but get that horse. Me? I’m going after ‘im, and I’m gonna catch ‘im. And then I’m gonna ride. Where we will go is yet to be determined, but I can say one thing… it will be an adventure.

I’ve been invited to stay in Italy this coming spring. I’m not sure yet if I can make it happen. I need to come up with the ticket… and the time. I want to go. A lot. That reminds me of another saying: “When there’s a will, there’s a way.” Can I will myself there? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

So. This post, I’m asking all you CBs out there… What do you want out of 2010?

Personally, I’ve had it with resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are sooo 2009. 2010 is all about The Manifest-Wish-List. It’s about how we will turn our dreams into reality. Really, that’s the whole reason I started CreativeBeasts.com. I want the best and the most for creative folks everywhere and from all walks of life–the only caveat is that the creativity–has to be good. What does that mean? Humor me briefly: You don’t have to follow a special religion–but faith is important. Whether it’s a belief in something greater, or a belief in yourself, it is imperative. Creativity should serve a meaningful purpose. That could mean a lot of things; true. And since the general goal is to embrace and to expand the circle rather than to exclude or alienate, I’ll simply add this: Whether you write software apps or novels, whether you make films or medicine, whether you sing, run, play the drums or play basketball, sculpt, paint, act or teach–your creativity radiates from you. It takes on different colors, shapes, hues and tones. It moves people to act, it evokes, transforms, energizes and inspires. How will yours manifest?

Here are just a few things on my Manifest-Wish-List:

1. Make CreativeBeasts.com into a show that is for Creative Beasts, about Creative Beasts and the creative process.

2. Go to Italy.

3. Better organization.

4. Hit the morel Mother lode.

So. Got any ideas? Got a list?

Please share.

Here’s Spiritualized with Soul On Fire (Great band. See them live if you get the chance):

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They Call It Understanding.

December 12th, 2009 2 comments
Snow geese in flight.
Snow geese in flight.

The past is history. The future is a mystery, and this moment is called a gift. That is why this moment is called ‘the present.’

From The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra

Now I get it. Or at least maybe I’m getting closer.

Some things aren’t meant to be, or perhaps just not meant to happen at the exact moment that we would have them occur. Once this is understood, things can get easier. Deepak Chopra refers to this concept as The Law of Least Effort. He says that (and I’m paraphrasing) nature always follows the path of least resistance.

Grass doesn’t try to grow. It grows. Birds don’t try to fly. They fly.

The first time I heard that, it sent shivers down my spine (in a good way).

Here is a quote from Jesus (Matthew 6:28) which I believe is the same idea (this one’s for you, Liza):

So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

I think this notion has a lot to do with success–in fact, almost everything. Talent and smarts are great, but faith, timing–and understanding timing–make a world of difference. Think of a baseball pitcher. Now, let’s say that this pitcher throws an amazing curve ball, and maybe he really likes throwing curve balls. But maybe the curve ball isn’t always the solution he needs to achieve his goal, which is to strike out the batters. In order to apply the best approach to any given situation, one must apply understanding which comes from awareness. Very successful people don’t waste time tarrying about and carrying on. They are often quick to measure how well their energies are being received, and from there they determine what the appropriate next step should be. This is how some of the greatest systems have come to be.

Here’s Bob Seger with Understanding.

Have you ever been driving on the freeway at a moment at which all the drivers seem to be moving in sync? Traffic just flows and it seems like a well orchestrated symphony. Then other times, not so much. Life can be similar. On one day your movements and actions might match or compliment those around you, and might be very well received. You are happy and those with whom you interact are happy. Other days, nothing seems to work as you might have expected or hoped for. This is where creativity comes in. You are aware of your situation, and so you make notes, and then adjustments.

I’m a writer. Words matter to me and I know that words can change the world. Not everyone agrees. Some people don’t think words hold much value or maybe they simply don’t remember how words may have impacted them. They might have sung New Years Day at the top of their lungs at a U2 concert once upon a time. They might have worn a Nike T-shirt bearing the slogan, Just Do It. And they probably felt something at the time… something like connectedness. Somewhere else at that time, someone else was listening to something else, and someone else was wearing a different shirt. My point is that we aren’t all on the same page at the same time, and that is OK, and in fact; it is just as it should be. But when we are on the same page–even if it’s just two people–it can be great… magical, even. And great and magical things can happen.

A great deal of time and energy can be wasted in an attempt to gain things like acceptance, attention, praise and even love, but such things can never be forced if they are to remain genuine. The best situational outcomes occur when things happen genuinely… naturally… and when the timing is right.

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Go Crazy for Your Dreams. It’s All You, Baby.

December 3rd, 2009 2 comments

Love this song by Brett Dennen. Love the video, too. Having spent plenty of time dancing to the tune of the consumer organ grinder and countless hours that inexorably turn into days and weeks and so on and so forth–I can say that his song and video are deliciously poignant and gratifying. And heck, I even sold shoes once upon a time, so yes; in a crazy way, it makes complete sense. When you’re doing your dog and pony show, absurdity knows no boundaries.

René Magritte - Die Grosse Familie, 1947 (?)

René Magritte - Die Grosse Familie, 1947 (?)

One time at work, I had a customer ask me if we had ‘something for making pancakes,’ which, of course; we did. We had cute, animal-shaped pancake molds along with griddles, skillets, pancake mixes, syrup, recipe books and even pancake pens, which are these new, large, squeezy plastic bottle-thingies that you put your batter into, and it is cleverly designed to carefully squeeze the batter out into your cute, animal-shaped pancake mold so that it turns out adorably perfect and makes the job easy and fun. I showed him all of these things, but evidently he was looking for something like a circular-shaped mold. I tried to explain to him that when you put your batter in your skillet or on your griddle, it more or less naturally takes on that shape. For some reason, though, he wasn’t buying it. Perhaps he hadn’t yet tried making pancakes. At any rate, sometimes it just feels like you can’t win no matter what you say or do. But you can. You choose your battles, and live to dance another day.

Now, I do not condone or approve of bullying as a tactic or means to an end in any way shape or form, but it’s hard not to admire Vicky Pollard‘s unshakable self-confidence here, despite the hard evidence pointing to the notion that she is out of her league in this competition:

…Then again, there is the fact that once she has clearly lost the game, she resorts to bullying. *Sigh* Ahh, well.

GOT DREAMS? I do. Here’s one of mine: This site is going to become a show. How ’bout them apples? Interviews with great Creative Beasts from all over, and from all walks of life… and other wonderful stuff of an inspiring and mysterious nature.

I’m going to need a few things… eventually, a bigger staff, for example… maybe some cameras… and a film crew… and definitely some angels. That’s my tip of the iceberg list, which is actually a big tip to an even bigger iceberg. There will be much more to say to the right set of ears.

“Why are you sharing this, T-Haus?” you may ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Because I feel it’s important to state your mission and share your vision. And I aim to prove some things for the sake of all CreativeBeasts: 1) I am not entirely crazy. Slightly, yes. Entirely, no. 2) You can be from anywhere at all and still make your dreams come true. Even Milwaukee, WI (though I am originally from Seattle, WA… but that’s beside the point). 3) Cool and amazing things are happening all over the world. All around us, in fact. Today, in Milwaukee, for example, we had our first snow of the year. Pretty cool. 4) –This is the most important thing–it is not only OK to have dreams and to believe in them, it is GOOD! Go crazy for them, and may it serve you well. And hey–this is, after all, the season in which dreams (supposedly) come true. Keep right on dreaming, and all the best to you all.

I stumbled across this article, “Yes, I Can” Seven inspiring stories of people who proved the naysayers wrong. http://tinyurl.com/y96t5hv . Not bad.

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Surviving the Holidays: Creative Tips For the Service Industry.

November 17th, 2009 2 comments


It may be just over a month away, but if you work in the service industry, Christmas is here, and Thanksgiving is just a little stop along the way. Perhaps you’re a server, or you work in retail… or both. You have been on your feet for hours, and they are killing you. You do your best to smile when two independent people interrupt your conversation with a customer you are currently helping–to help them–each… You think to yourself, “Something funny is happening… All of the adults in the world have suddenly turned into little children… Weird!” It will appear as though many folks have lost their minds… or their manners… or both. The snooty get snootier, the greedy get greedier, and the needy… needier. And then you think, “Hey! This is exactly the opposite of how it’s SUPPOSED to be. Even weirder.”

I was never really a Dead-head, but the phrase, “Nothing to do but smile, smile, smile,” couldn’t ring truer than at this time. CreativeBeasts Rule no. 1) Kill ’em with kindness. It’s what the Whos of Whoville did to the Grinch. It’s what Rudolph, Hermey and Yukon Cornelius did to the Abominable Snowman. And yes; ’tis true, these are merely cartoons, but the lessons, here, people, are priceless and timeless! And if all else fails, just start singing Fah Who For-aze to the offender. I promise you, he or she will simply stare at you blankly… and powerless, not knowing what to do (at least until it snaps to, and calls your manager to the scene, but at that point you just pretend like nothing happened. “I started singing? Ma’am, perhaps you’re just tired from all the shopping. Would you like to sit down? I’ll get you a glass of water.”). See, that’s the thing about “Fah Who For-aze…” nobody knows what it means. Powerful stuff!

Rule no. 2) When smiling becomes difficult, imagine that the guy who just insulted you is Burgermeister Meisterberger, and you are Kris Kringle.

Burgermeister Meisterburger

Burgermeister Meisterburger

Santa+book+1-1

Kris Kringle

You won’t believe how your heart will fill with laughter. You will, in fact, laugh out loud as though being insulted is the funniest thing in the entire world! And as Kris Kringle, you gotta fight the power. Fight the powers that be.

Rule no. 3) Empathize with your needy, ornery, spoiled customer (because hey–we’ve all been there at some point in our lives–like about thirty or so years ago). When they ask you to throw away their garbage for them, smile sweetly, and say “Certainly!” And then become Olivia Newton John from Xanadu. Straight guys, you too.

Rule no. 4) Gently try to remind the customer of the holiday spirit. You could say something like, “We’re simply having a wonderful Christmas time.”

Last but not least, Rule no. 5) Don’t Stop Believing. Dreams do come true, and if you had a rough day–or week–this, too, shall pass. Dare to dream… even if it’s just to soak your feet in baking soda at the end of the day!

Go ahead. Sing it at the top of your lungs. Play a little air guitar, even. Enjoy. And from all of us here at CreativeBeasts.com, Happy Holidays!

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