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Grab yourself a soapbox V2.0. And burn it up at Ungeeked.

May 10th, 2010 No comments

"Burn, Baby, Burn."

Hello, Creative Beasts! Anybody else out there burning a little midnight oil? Because let me tell y’all, there’s a disco inferno going on up in here (“burn the mutha down”). In my previous post, I addressed a recent article posted on Talent Zoo, again; entitled, Advertising Agencies: Kiss Your Creative Teams Goodbye. Indeed, an incendiary title, to say the least. As Mark Fairbanks of Translator puts it, “The eye-popping title of the post led to a flurry of emotionally-charged user comments.” His poignant post, On Death and Dying: The five stages of post digital grief, in turn; finely illustrates the reality of the situation from the perspective of a creative leader who has walked through the fire and come out the other side… a transformation, you might say. Like many others, he has moved into the realm of digital creative.

I decided to do a second “Soapbox” post, because there is simply so much more that can be said about all of this. However. I promise to not go on ad nauseam, ad infinitum. My intention, for what it’s worth, is to further explore the subject of creativity and where and how it lives in our current culture, and to ask those who are creatively driven, what it is they seek from their careers. For example, what makes a copywriter want to be a copywriter, and what makes an art director want to be an art director? I think this is an interesting question that could be taken a step further by asking how many copywriters and/or art directors have a screenplay in the works, or are in a band? Is there a safety appeal in that these are jobs that allow artists to be artists, and yet they (sometimes) offer comfort and/or security in the form of a steady paycheck, insurance and hopefully a somewhat comfortable chair and a desk? For the artist, this can almost feel like a fun, sly, but legal way in which we get to pull one over on the corporate world. “Yeah, I’ve got a desk in a cube, but in my cube, I’m a rogue. I’m a rebel. Which is why you love me.” Uh, huh. Dreams aside, I think there are plenty who really love the problem of a concept and the building of a brand–and there are some who live for it. And you? How do you feel about the current winds of the industry? How have you been affected by digital/new/social media? What would you do differently if you were calling the shots? Or, if you are calling the shots, what steps have you taken to adapt to the new ways in which target groups are being reached? What’s your angle?

At any rate, Creativity is not on her death bed. In fact, she’s just getting started. Please join her.

“Get Up! And dance to the music!”

Embrace the new, and find a way to make it your own. Learn, grow and expand. Have fun. And heck, if it isn’t fun for you anymore, why die trying to fit your square self into that round hole? Keep those edges! Maybe you’ve always wanted to open a collector’s toy shop or become a beekeeper. Maybe now is the time to finish that screenplay. Speaking of learning, though, and in regards to all that’s happening in the worlds of digital and social media and should you want to learn more about it, Ye Olde Milwaukee is hosting a rather significant event designed for not only ad and marcomm geeks, but for entrepreneurs and CEOs of all sizes. The conference that is on its way to making history is Ungeeked Elite, brought to you by SOHO Biztube.

Happening this week from May 13th-15th, this will be one truly interactive event. The keynote speakers including New York Times bestsellers Sally Hogshead and Chris Brogan as well as Jason Falls, Olivier Blanchard, Scott Stratten, Phil Gerbyshak, Dan Schawbel, Visible Technologies and Hubspot will be offering a dialog-driven format, creating a talk-with-you-not-at-you environment. This will allow the experts to learn about followers’ needs as much as it will help newbies to get their feet wet. If you aren’t familiar with the above names, get to know them. Even if you become a beekeeper, you’ll be glad you did.

All right, Creative Beasts. That’s all she wrote for now, as this one needs its beauty sleep (truly). Go on and get yours. And until we meet again, SEIZE THE PREY. I leave you with the Trammps:

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Grab Yourself a Soapbox.

April 27th, 2010 1 comment

Madison Ave

In days of old in the world of advertising–many refer to it as “The Golden Age”–when major accounts were lost, heads rolled and the blood flowed down the glorious street known as “Madison Avenue.” Creatives and AEs alike commiserated over martinis that in weeks prior, would have served as lunch with the client. Oh, how the times have changed… Or have they?

Certain financial collapses in recent history knocked the wind out of many of the industry’s best and brightest, and that’s putting it mildly. But when the chips fell and after the dust settled, the light changed. Something was different… Or was it? Folks everywhere, from CEOs to CSRs and from CDs to JADs were talking. But it wasn’t over the phone or over lunch, or even via email. (O.K., well, yes; some of these things still do take place, thank god.) It was online via channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Texts. Tweets. Yelps. Etcetera. Communication changed. Mass communication–has changed. An aside, to many who may read this: it will seem akin to a brand new culinary student talking to Alain Ducasse about frying eggs. Hmmm. I am not a social media wizard by any stretch of the imagination. However, and as a writer, I do notice things from time to time.

That said, some things that haven’t changed in our world: creatives still bemoan their misfortune when they find themselves out of work… “But I DROVE that campaign. It was MY idea, MY design and/or MY COPY.” Or, “I’ve been kicked to the curb for some f***ing kid that designs hypertext links. He wouldn’t know a concept if it bit him in the f***ing ass. Do you know how many One Show Pencils I’ve won? I can tell you how many he’s won. That’s right. ZERO.” (See recent post at http://TalentZoo.com entitled, Advertising Agencies: Kiss Your Creative Teams Goodbye.)

Um… maybe it’s just me. Or maybe some of us have forgotten what it’s like to be hungry. It can hurt. A lot. But something else good can happen if you’re aware enough, scrappy enough, and once you’ve quit hanging your head between your knees. You get your edge back. Now, the truth for me is that I’m not where I’d like to be… just yet. On the other hand, I think there will always be a part of me that isn’t satisfied unless I’m dissatisfied. That is to say, I don’t know if I’ll ever be “Where I want to be.” I’ve heard some say that once you get to that place… the place that–before you got there–seemed so great–your perspective changes, and it wasn’t at all what you’d thought. Now, you want something else. Something better. I’ve also heard it said that getting fired makes you stronger. Tougher. If it doesn’t first drive you crazy… I wonder what Nirvana is like. I wonder if once you get there, you think, “Ehn,” …anyway.

This is the deal (and the part where I tell Chef Ducasse all about frying eggs):

Chef Ducasse

The landscape has changed. The world has changed. We are in a new era. Right now, the buzzwords are “social media…” “new media.” Oooh. Ahhh. Tomorrow they will be something newer. One thing that hasn’t changed? People. People still want to be wowed and excited and drawn in. They still want to be driven to ecstasy–and then held. In fact, maybe now, more than ever before. Frankly, so much (and I think many of you will agree, Creatives) in our world that lauds itself as “creative”–sucks. Maybe that’s why people are so bored and tired and are quite content in their own magical mini light-box worlds that fit in the palms of their hands. Maybe as a society and on the whole, we have become one great bunch of fat, lazy sods. Maybe I’m harsh. *sigh* Oh, well. But–my dear, sweet, lovely Creatives–and I mean this with all my heart–I know your pain. But I truly believe the answer does not lie in whacking the hypertext kid. Because The Man is, in effect, a junkie. He will find another hypertext kid. The trick, it would seem, is not even to try and figure out how to win back The Man. The trick is to figure out how to cut The Man out of the picture entirely. We’re talking Frank Lucas-style, Baby.

Frank Lucas, CEO Extraordinaire (a.k.a. American Gangster)

(O.K., well, maybe not quite that cold, and uh… illegal. But you get my meaning.) The trick, it would seem, is to become what some (Seth Godin) would call, a Linchpin. Relearn how to Fascinate (by Sally Hogshead). Or, as Hugh MacLeod would say, “Quality isn’t job one. Being totally f***ing amazing is job one.”

So, kids… Creative Beasts… have at it. Find a way. SEIZE THE PREY.

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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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Creative Moments, Shiny Baubles and Mushroom Hunting.

May 21st, 2009 4 comments
<i>Marcel in ecstasy... or something like it.</i>

Marcel (a beast) in ecstasy... or something like it.

Creative moments are fleeting. They come in glimpses like fireflies on a warm summer’s night. They are beautiful, magical and fragile. When you hold them too closely, the light goes out, and the magic is gone.

<i>Fireflies.</i>

Fireflies.

I think creative types sometimes spend so much time searching for the shiniest bauble that they fail to see the ones that roll right up to their toes. Many artists are addicted to extremes… to the edges of things, because indeed; these are the places to which others seldom venture, and therefore they abound with splendid secrets and answers to questions most dare not even ask–or so it would seem. However. Extreme existences can be extremely exhausting, going from agony to ecstasy to agony, and very little in between. Furthermore, it may very well be a waste of creative energy.

By paying closer attention to the subtleties and nuances of daily life, it may be possible to experience an even greater level of awareness and overall personal fulfillment. It requires patience, discipline, focus, openness and concentration. These are things I’m working on wrapping my head around in order to achieve a greater sense of passion and fulfillment.

Recently, I parted ways with a job that as it turned out, wasn’t a great fit for either party. I was looking for a role that offered more creativity as a copywriter, and eventually it became like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. And this square peg is here to say that when you keep trying to wear down your own edges to fit into a particular mold, not only is it counter productive; it’s downright painful. The lesson here for Creative Beasts is A) try to avoid these situations whenever possible, and B) if people aren’t buying your brand of honey, find somebody else who gets and appreciates its value. Artists get paid when they meet/find their market. That is appreciation, and from that comes gratification.

While the initial parting of ways was a bit sad for me at first, I soon realized that it may have been the best thing that could have happened. Now I have the chance to leap headlong into new creative endeavors, and see where they lead… writing, painting and filmmaking projects await. Passions are reborn.

Aside from that, I have since discovered a new passion which is morel hunting. For those who are unfamiliar, morels are exquisite mushrooms that grow only in the wild, and only in the spring for a period of 2-3 weeks. They look a bit like a piece of coral on a stalk, and they are perfectly delicious and altogether magical. They grow in the woods when everything is just coming back to life. Perhaps one of the greatest pleasures of seeking out this magnificent edible is the chance to witness nature in all its splendorous glory. Then there is finding the morels, which, incidentally, has turned out to be a wonderful metaphor for my current place in my creative path. Sometimes you look and look and you find little or nothing. Then, you cross a road or a stream, and there they are. You may not see them at first. They are elusive and well-camouflaged. But as you squat down, and look hard and close to the ground, suddenly, they start to appear right in front of you. And it is amazing.

Morel magic.

Morel magic.

If concepts like synchronicity, syncrodestiny and pursuit of passion ring true with you, I recommend checking out the following books/authors:

Deepak Chopra

The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire

Malcomb Gladwell

Outliers

Blink

The Tipping Point

Sally Hogshead

Radical Careering

David Lynch

Catching the Big Fish

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