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Managing Creatives

By | Business | No Comments

When it comes to leading an organization to success, managing your “creatives” can prove to be one of the most daunting tasks.

Now, when I say “creatives”, I’m referring to anyone from developers and graphic designers, to photographers and writers. They’re confusing, probably wear too much plaid, and roll their selvedge denim jeans at the ankles. Yeah, you know exactly who I’m talking about, and you’ve probably got someone in mind right now. If you don’t understand how to lead these individuals it can make or break the launch of your startup or paralyze the growth of an established company that’s pivoting with today’s ever-changing market.  The problem is that, up until now, companies have never had to rely on the artsy, non-conforming type of employees that every company desperately needs in order to succeed in today’s market and culture. My move into learning how to manage these types was not a comfortable one, though. I happen to be one of these types, but I had to trudge through all of the corporate bullshit, because I had a family and bills that needed to be paid. I had to learn to suppress my inner artistic side enough to appear conformed into the person that all the Suits wanted me to be. But, one too many times, I could not keep my true self contained and found myself kicked out of the corporate jungle, never to be let back in, no matter how hard I tried.

At the time, I thought it was the end of some great things I’d grown accustomed to, like food and a place to live. You know, the important things. But it ended up being the best thing that could have ever happened to me. After a few failed attempts, I learned how to bring artistic people into teams to produce some incredible products and ideas that have showed outstanding results! After helping hundreds of companies harness the power of these mis-fits, I’ve discovered that there are a few simple keys to keep in mind if you want to successfully manage your creatives.

1. Restraints don’t work! You hired this person for their creativity, but putting them in a small cubicle, with nothing around for inspiration, causes every creative juice they have to just evaporate. Especially because the good ones are usually ADD to the extreme. Give them room and space (and maybe a couch), or you’ll end up with a hopped up, depressed, emotional, crazy-person. 

2. Make goals clear and achievable. Creatives want boundaries, but movable ones. If you want them to move in a specific direction, do not make it 90 degrees, let it be a sweeping curve. Give them freedom to bend where needed, while still staying true to the objective.

3. Give affirmation in small doses. If you affirm too much they’ll start to get a big head and begin having all-day Kumbaya sessions, listening to the Grateful Dead, and thinking they own the place.

So the next time you’re on the verge of pulling out all of your hair, trying to come up with ways to restrain your resident artíste because he may have been twenty minutes late to work, remember they abide by a different set of rules! 

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Get Over Yourselves, Adults

By | Family | No Comments

Do you remember what it’s like to be a kid? I do, partly because I kind of still am a kid, but that’s a different blog post for another time. I think a lot of adults have forgotten what it’s like to be a kid. I realized that, today, when I received a call from Mr. Macho, the Self-appointed Constable of the Homeowners Association in the subdivision of our temporary home rental. I answered the phone, and he started on a wild tangent, so I quickly told him that I was about five minutes away and would be there in a few minutes. When I arrived I found Mr. Macho, a thirty-year-old man, bowed up and ready to teach a couple of junior high girls a lesson about respect and HOA rules. If you know anything about young teenagers, you know that they absolutely don’t care. At all. After seeing The Constable berating my daughter for an alleged lack of respect, I could tell by her answers and his body language that it was just a simple case of “not remembering what it was like to be a kid”.

I think we, as parents and adults, easily forget about being kids. They have a need to be free and adventurous, driven by a constant curiosity. They need the leeway to just have fun. It’s how they learn and grow. I could tell that “fun” is something the mighty Constable had not experienced in quite some time. In the middle of him reciting the HOA rules and regulations to me, I stopped him and said “It’s a shame that some of us can’t remember what it’s like being a kid trying to have a good time.” But of course he didn’t miss a beat in his verbatim listing of the HOA rules, which he seemed to have completely memorized. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I did what any rule-following adult would do. I told the kids to “come on” and then helped them sneak into the local country club pool, so they could continue their nefarious swimming party, which had now grown to 20+ kids. So the next time you see kids that may be breaking some stupid rule (unless it’s blatantly disrespectful or harmful), think about when you were a kid and just wanted to have fun. Some of us just need to calm down and live a little.


A Bigger Mindset

By | Business, Family, Investing, Travel | No Comments

As I walked down to Rockefeller Center from our hotel while in Manhattan last week, I realized that I need to have a bigger mindset to propel my family, businesses, and life forward. One of the things I love about New York is that everything is big. Really big. And one of the biggest things that has hindered growth in my family and in our business is our small mindsets. The fact is, we should be progressing every day in our minds. We should be looking at our world-view to see if it meets our vision for our future selves. We should be visualizing our life as bigger, better, and more of impactful. We should be looking at ways to grow and propel our future to a level that we can only imagine. “Our goals should be so bodacious that people look at us funny when we tell them.” [Tweet this!] You will hit the mark you set for yourself. I am going to work on setting my mind to be in a place that I can propel my business, family and personal life into a realm that I think is impossible.

So, for those of you who like lists, here are 3 keys to a bigger mindset:

1. Put yourself in new situations and environments. Think of newness as fuel for your vision. It stimulates your mind and puts it in a constant creative state that allows you to actually visualize bigger things for yourself.
2. Write your vision down. Writing it down gets it out of your head and on paper. This is important for those times when you catch yourself slipping back into your small mindset. Having your commitments written in ink is a helpful way to keep yourself accountable and help you get back on track.
3. Map it out. Create steps to hit your vision. Don’t expect to achieve a goal without clear and defined steps. Otherwise, all of your energy just goes in every direction, which moves you nowhere. Define your next steps, apply linear energy, and watch how it gets you further, faster.

“Dream it up and Chase it down.” [Tweet this!]

So basically you have to dream it up and chase it down. Its so easy to to just be ordinary, but being ordinary just pulls you down. Don’t get discouraged when you seem stuck in a rut or when people speak negatively about your goals. Just use this simple process to set yourself up for a bigger mindset and a better future.


Twitter: It’s About Time

By | Business, Investing | No Comments

Twitter is finally taking control of their platform. Its about time!

For too long, Twitter has been allowing other platforms like Instagram to take control of the visual side of social media. But with the introduction of its new native app and web environment, people finally have a reason to un-link their other profiles that once controlled photo and video.

What’s new?
Twitter’s new interface is sleek and usable. With the brands that I manage, I’ve been watching the success of using its native tools, as opposed to linking other social media accounts. I’ve seen, on average, 60% better engagement with images and videos posted inside of Twitter than those just shared through linking external social media accounts (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, etc…). I’ve also found that a tweet with a picture or video, versus one without, gets 50% better engagement from audiences.

What does this mean for investors?
I think this should reignite an interest and poise Twitter to become more of the major social media player it once was. Because of the upgrade in the visual component of the app for the end user, promoted tweets have had 30% better engagement from previous promotions before the app upgrade! With this improvement, of course, it means better profits. That makes Twitter (TWTR) a steal at its current stock price!

The folks at Twitter are doing some great stuff to propel their platform into a new stratosphere. By continuing to give users the best experience possible while creating profits for investors, they should certainly build a major advantage for themselves in the social media realm.

Pace vs. Environment

By | Business, Family, Travel | 2 Comments

Matching the correct pace to the environment is very important, in family, life, and business!

Believe it or not you shouldn’t go “balls to the walls” every moment. Nothing gave me a clearer picture of that than today after leaving London with my family and arriving to the Villages of the Cotswolds. After touring London for a couple of days with my kids, while Abbi was working at an all-day book event, we were wired up. We were used to the big city life of riding the Tube, jumping across roads of speeding cabs, and eating in packed, loud diners.

That all came to a screeching halt upon our arrival to sprawling gardens, sheep grazing, strolling paths, chirping birds.  What would seem to be paradise was almost too much for us to handle. It was too much of a culture shift, and we didn’t know what to do, and we couldn’t figure out how to enjoy it. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve matched the wrong pace with the environment. It takes getting your mind ready to understand the environment you’re about to step into. Had I done my research on where I was going, I could have prepared my mind during the two-hour car ride to transition myself to the calmer atmosphere.

“Bringing the wrong pace to a situation is like a mechanic bringing a wrench when he needs a hammer.”  [Tweet this!]

Bringing the wrong pace to a situation is like a mechanic bringing a wrench when he needs a hammer. Bringing the wrong pace to a presentation can be the end of a hopeful business relationship with a potential client. When I bring the wrong pace to an evening out with my wife, I can determine how the night is going to end! Pace is everything. It can totally make or break a situation in family, personal, or business life.  So the next time you’re getting ready for an adventure, vacation, or business meeting, think about pace. It will make or break you!


Be Careful with Your Dreams

By | Business, Family, Investing | One Comment

Dreaming is one thing. Executing and making dreams a reality is another.  Most people have the dreaming down, it’s the executing the dream into a physical business or idea that people struggle with.  I’m a dreamer. The one thing I learned very early in my career is that my dreams can frustrate those I am trying to bring in to help me facilitate it. What I have realized is, as a dreamer you have to be very careful who you share your dream with in the early stages. You need to make sure the people you share it with can handle it if it just stays a dream and never becomes a reality.

Also, you have to be cautious of those you ask to help make that dream a reality. Every great task takes people to help accomplish it. I’ve never had a dream where I did not need others to help me accomplish it. Early on, my passion for what I was doing allowed me to have tons of people that wanted to be part of my vision.  The only problem was, I had poor execution and burned a lot of bridges on the ideas that never came to fruition.

So here are a few tips that will help you make your dreams into a reality and not bring frustration to those that want to help make it happen:

  1. Move slowly.
  2. Throughly test your ideas before you bring people in to help you.
  3. Be up front. Make sure you let those know that want to be part of your dream that it’s a dream and may not work out exactly how you communicate it.
  4. Clearly Communicate the level of risk with everyone involved!

My Letter to Gaylord

By | Business, Investing | No Comments

Profiling customers doesn’t work!

Last week, as I was eating breakfast with a friend, I overhead the table beside me talking about homeowners insurance for a farm they have in my town. It just so happens that my wife and I recently bought a farm, and I’ve had a hard time finding an insurance company to write the policy because of acreage and horses. So I thought this was the perfect opportunity to find out about getting insurance for it! In their conversation, I heard them mention, specifically: horses, boats, outbuildings and barns. It may freak you out that I was listening in so intently, but I need insurance and I haven’t been able to find it anywhere!

I waited for the salesman to say his goodbyes to his customers, and once he did, I politely asked for his card. He instinctively handed me his card, but then he took a look at me and stopped in his tracks. He said in the most condescending tone, “Oh, you probably don’t need my card. I just provide insurance for very expensive properties”. He literally picked up the card that he just handed me and said “You don’t need this”. My friend’s jaw dropped.

Now, in the looks department, I realize I probably don’t fit the standard profile of this guy’s ideal client. I had my hat on backwards with a t-shirt and shorts, and I probably looked half asleep, My appearance was not anything like the couple he had just been meeting with. However, he missed out on a sale because of a preconceived idea he had about how his ideal client should look. Not only did he miss out on one sale, the guy with me was looking for insurance as well! Not only do I have one property that meets his “requirements”, I have two. So Gaylord, the moral of the story is don’t judge a book by its cover! [Tweet this!]

Here are some tips I would have for Gaylord (if he were to ask):

  1. Do not profile your customers because of looks or your preconceived notion of a first impression.
  2. Get to know people. If Gaylord would have been genuinely interested in me he could have determined very quickly that he had somthing I needed.
  3. Dont make people feel like less than you, even if they cant afford or qualify for your product or service!

Put Yourself in the Selfie

By | Family | No Comments

I realized this week after being on Spring Break with about 22 teens in one condo that I was missing the boat as a parent. After watching every one of these teenagers take a million selfies of themselves, I realized it was time for me to start getting into their selfie. They are so inammered with themselves that I think it creates an attitude of loneliness. I hear from moms and dads, every week, about kids dealing with loneliness. I’ve noticed kids in large groups, sticking their lips out, selfie faces blocking out everyone around them, just so they can take a picture of themselves instead of actually enjoying the people they’re with! So I am putting myself in the selfie! Instead of making fun of my kids for taking selfies, I’m going to let them know I care about the things they do by getting right in there with them! Every time I see them taking one, I’m going to run and get in it!

So here is my challenge to all parents: “Put yourself in the selfie”. [Tweet this!]
Don’t let a week go by that you don’t stick your face next to theirs and poke your lips out, and let them know you’re with them. And when you get in their selfie, hashtag it on Instagram, Twitter, or facebook with #getintheselfie

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