7 Ways To Help Spark Creativity When You’re Not Feeling Creative

I consider myself extremely lucky. I get to lead a work life where I constantly get to be creative. In most cases, my creativity is my paycheck. Directly. We come up with products and services, get them built and hopefully – somehow, someway – find some customers. Thanks to those customers my kids get to eat, we have cloths and shelter. All’s good.

With this constant dependency on creativity, it’s burdensome when I run out of ideas. When I get into these slumps I have a list of things that I try in order to get back on track. These are the progressions I go through – like a quarterback going through his options to make a big play downfield.

This list is personal for me, but it may be helpful for others who are stuck in temporary creative hell.

1. Change my physical venue
This is usually my first option. When I come out of the huddle of the quarterback of my creativity, this is my primary receiver. When I sit in the office all day in a creativity rut, I grab my laptop or a pad of paper and head for the hills – the hills can be my local coffeshop or a park or anywhere else. A change of venue tricks brain into thinking differently.

2. Swap my tool set
This one has been huge for me as of late. I used to think it was a personal flaw that I use so many damn tools to get things done.

I wanted to be the guy that has a single discplined way of doing stuff. Structure. There are some folks that are ALL digital and they have everything perfectly organized in tools like Evernote and Onenote.

I wanted to be one of those guys.

But that’s not who I am. I’m scattered. I have short attention spam. I need things to feel new.

I have dozens of notebooks and I download countless apps all the time out of curiosity and boredom. I take notes sometimes or write directly into evernote, onenote, IA Writer, MSFT word – sometimes even into txt files. And you know what? That’s OK. Actively changing up my toolset is a great way to get my creative juices flowing differently.

3. Play with my kids
When I put everything down and just loose myself in outdoor play with kids, I come back stronger than ever. Kids are the most creative beings on earth. Getting back to their way of navigating the world is a great way to clear out all the bullshit adult guck and build up the grows in my brain.

4. Draw Something
This is very similar to my #3. As adults we do so much self editing. It takes us longer to do things and we take less chances because we think of how we’ll look and we overstate actual consequences.

Drawing is a great way for me to get my brain to stop editing. No erasing, no trying to make things look good, just draw and see where it takes you.

5. The treadmill
Excercise is any easy one for most people. Unfortunatrely, I’m not the most natural gym rat. But when I do grab some headphones, fire up some music and hit the treadmill I am so much better for it.

6. Instrumentals
I am a huge hip hop fan. But I find it hard to work and be creative while listening to it. To this day, one of the longest creative and project grinds that I’ve endured was my college thesis. During that time, I leaned heavily on jazz music. There were two songs that I specifically had on repeat that I still go to when I need a shot of creativity - Naima by John Coltrane and Maiden Voyage by Herbie Hancock.

maiden-voyage

Over the years I have built up a pretty strong digital jazz collection, I have also ventured into music by artists like Bonobo, RJD2 and Tycho. I find that lyrics stunt my thought as I go down the path of listening to the lyrics and wondering what the artist is trying to convey. With instrumentals, it says a mood and my brain just kind of wanders from there. They mood that the music sets is a great paremeter and creativity needs some boundries so it works well for me.

7. Visit my barber
I feel like the most dangerous man in the world when I’m fresh out of the barber’s chair. I went from getting my haircut a couple times a month to a couple times a week because of this. There’s something about just being fresh and clean that clears mind and allows me to get back to my creative grind.

Taking On Giants: A Quick Look At MacDougall Batmakers

large_bat

 

“Is anyone else doing this? If yes, can I do it better?”

That quandary is usually enough to derail a business before it leaves the mind of the would-be-founder.

Louisville Slugger and Rawlings have been the premier name in baseball batmaking for the better part of forever. They have left little, if any room for a competitor.

In fact, if you were telling your friends and family you wanted to start making baseball bats for a living, they’d probably think you to be out of your mind.

But over in Bend, Oregon baseball enthusiast John MacDougall is doing just that.

He is the man behind batmaking start-up called MacDougall Bats that has spent the past five years trying to challenge the common way of thinking.

MacDougall started his company after seeing several bats meet their demise in the batter’s box. Sick of replacing expensive bats, MacDougall began researching batmaking and looking into different types of wood that would last longer.

MacDougall found his answer and began started making bats out of

The results have been successful thus far. MacDougall bats are now being carried in stores in several US Stores as well as stores in Canada, Australia, and England. Their Powerwood Bats are NCAA approved.

MacDougall Batmakers are not just trying to turn into a cute little story, they are instead challenging the old guard of an industry long thought to be conquered.

 

8 Productivity Tips from Louis CK

Louis C.K. is smart guy. He’s won multiple Emmy awards, writes an extremely popular televisions show, and basically upended the comedy business. The thing I like about him is that even though he’s insanely successful, he still acts like my uncle. He’s surly, down to earth, and will give you a straight answer on things.

I think Louis C.K. would probably hate this slideshow. He’s say something like “I’m just a guy with a bigger microphone. I’m nobody special.” However, I think he espouses a lot of good, no BS advice.

On success:
“You’ll be fine. You’re 25. Feeling [unsure] and lost is part of your path. Don’t avoid it. See what those feelings are showing you and use it. Take a breath. You’ll be okay. Even if you don’t feel okay all the time.”

A lot of young professionals forget this. Stuff takes time. Success takes time.

5 Insights on Marketing to Dads

dad-600x400
Momcentric marketing is out there. It’s aggressive, it’s effective and it is in abundance. Marketing to moms targets the do-it-all type who rarely has time for herself and will do anything for her kids.

Then, there’s marketing to Dads.  Dad marketing highlights their inadequacies and mocks their missteps. The hapless, confused father is the go-to character in product marketing. He serves crackers for dinner, cannot change a diaper and tries, pathetically, to cover up these lacking skills prior to mom’s arrival home.

Companies continuously make these mistakes when marketing to fathers, and this Father’s Day (and from this day forward) keep a few things in mind when preparing your marketing strategy to fathers.

[Read more...]

Facebook Fans: Tricking Or Treating You?

We live in a time and place where our relevance and popularity is measured by our number of social media fans or followers.  As a brand owner it looks and feels better to have 500 fans instead of 50.  With that said, have you ever wondered how many of your fans are actually paying attention to your posts?  Is Facebook worth your time, and are your posts hitting the mark?

According to recent benchmark reports from a Facebook analytic tool PageLever, the following was discovered.

  • 1 out of 50 post views get a negative response.
  • Negative responses most likely result in all your page stories being blocked, 60 times more likely than clicking unlike on your page.
  • Post are more often reported as spam instead of the page being unliked.

For every 50 posts you are unsubscribed by 2% of your fans.  This does not mean that your number of fans is decreased, but the number of those fans hiding from you without your knowledge is increased.  If you were to post one thing a day every day for one full year, 15% of your fans would be hiding from you by years end.  Why is this happening, and what can you do to keep your fans engaged?

Do not feel discouraged, a few tweaks in your approach moving forward will make a world of difference.  It’s time to take the blinders off and focus on maximizing fan engagement instead of fan count.  Are we giving our fans relevant brand content, frequency expectations and the things they want to see?

Here are a few tips to keep your fans loyal.

1. Quality over quantity:
Your current fans are just that…your current fans.  Some of them are hiding from you and some are not.  Moving forward it is important to cater to those who are actually paying attention or engaging you.  This will grow the quantity of your qualified fans.

2. Frequency doesn’t always sell:
Your Facebook page is not a traditional form of advertising like radio, TV or print.  Set frequency expectations for your fans.  This can be done by posting once a day at the same time of day.  Think about the time you most often visit your page…post then.

3. Talk the talk:
When you make a post be sure that it reads the way you would say it to someone.  For example, if you own a flower shop you are by no stretch of the imagination a professional copy writer…..post the way YOU talk.  Your fans like you for a reason.

4. Own your brand:
Your fans do not want to hear your political views.  They are not a fan of your page to be entertained, unless your brand is entertaining.  Be sure to keep all of your posts in line with your brand.  Keep your fans up to date with product trends, new products or services, your promotions, events etc.

5. Ask for help:
As a good rule of thumb you should post at least one poll on you page per quarter.  This poll should ask your fans what they want to see more of from you.  Measuring your products or services this way is very beneficial as well.

In closing, be sure to have fun.  While this is a very serious subject we are still talking about Facebook.  Don’t take yourself too serious, stick to the fundamental tips above and treat your fans to a great page.

Video Weekend

If you do anything this weekend, we highly recommend you watch the following videos.

Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Tim Leberecht teaches us some ways to usefully lose control of your brand.

The days are past (if they ever existed) when a person, company or brand could tightly control their reputation — online chatter and spin mean that if you’re relevant, there’s a constant, free-form conversation happening about you that you have no control over. Tim Leberecht offers three big ideas about accepting that loss of control, even designing for it — and using it as an impetus to recommit to your values.

3 ways to usefully lose control of your brand

Artist Neil Harbisson can hear color.  No joke…this is worth a watch.

Artist Neil Harbisson was born completely color blind, but these days a device attached to his head turns color into audible frequencies. Instead of seeing a world in grayscale, Harbisson can hear a symphony of color — and yes, even listen to faces and paintings.

I listen to color

I personally cannot get enough of Seth Godin and wish I could meet him someday.  Not just to talk business, but to just chill out with a cup of coffee and some awkward silence while reading a magazine or looking at our iPads.  I feel like the osmosis alone could make me a better person.

Why are so many things broken? In a hilarious talk from the 2006 Gel conference, Seth Godin gives a tour of things poorly designed, the 7 reasons why they are that way, and how to fix them.

This is broken

w/t Ted.com

Tweetin’ Ain’t Easy

Tweetin’ ain’t easy especially when you are trying to hit a specific audience.  Consider timeline, user interaction, content, placement, structure, etc.  All of these pieces (and probably a lot more) are integral in ensuring that your followers are actually following along with your tweet-ness.  When you start an account you need to determine a few things as well – who is your audience? what is your mission? do you have an agenda? is this for fighting or is this for fun?

Who is your audience?

When you are a business and you are on twitter, you must assume that your audience is working particular schedules whether that be 9-5 or slogging away at the midnight or swing shift.  So that being said, how do you hit the masses without going critical and too overbearing on your followers?  First determine where your audience you are trying to reach is located.  A great way to do this is to go through your list of followers and determine their location.  Many users will actually enter their physical location in their twitter profiles.  Pick your key audience out of your list of followers and make sure you document where they are located.  No worries about those profiles that don’t include their location.  Remember, it’s not that you don’t care where they are located…so don’t go DM’ing them for their location to complete your list.  We can create a buffer for them.  Once you have identified your audience and you get their locations log all of those time zones down and move on.

Time Zone Checklist

Once you have your time zone sheet, think about when your audience is going to be awake on Twitter.  Schedule tweets and content to go out during those times that contain the most bang for the buck.  Here at Morning Donuts, we attempt to throw in some tweets that keep people engaged in the day or in certain events.  Questions, quizzes, thoughts on the day.  It’s all valid because there are other people out there probably feeling or experiencing the same thing.  Because there are different time zones there is nothing wrong with retweeting your already posted tweets.  Some things to consider.  Is the tweet important enough to send out again?  Was there a lot of interest that was engaged by that tweet?  Should you retweet or follow up on that tweet with another one that has related updated content?  There are actually some really good tools that help you engage your audience in this way.  Personally, I haven’t used all of them but have heard glowing reviews about a lot of them.

What is your mission?

Your mission will be whatever you choose!  Surprise!  That wasn’t hard was it?  Grab some mental notes about what kind of content you want to push out on Twitter.  Is it personal, is it for business?  Best bet…don’t mix business with pleasure.  Stick to your range of topics.  Be mindful that when switching from your personal to business twitter profile that you don’t accidentally send something that you wish you could take back.  There are ways to delete the tweets…but sometimes it’s too late.  Be mindful of the bird in mouth disease.  Make a mental list of the topics you want to re-tweet and their effect on the user base.  Do those companies support your overall mission?  Do they have the same values that you have as an individual or a company?  Don’t get me wrong…there is nothing wrong with being snarky or have a joking tone when you are writing your tweets…be yourself!  People aren’t going to respond to daily bland tweets and retweets that they could get from a news agency!

Pick it and Stick it

Once you get all of your data aligned…you’re golden…well close.  There are a lot of other things to consider, but these are just highlighting on some of them.  Don’t worry…tweetin’ ain’t hard either.  But be mindful of your audience and keep pluggin’ away.

 

Get Satisfaction

Ever wonder how you could get more satisfaction from your customer base?  Some of the top companies in the world are using Get Satisfaction.  Get Satisfaction and it’s clients boast the ability to help you get more clients, drive product innovation, and improve customer experience by making your customer your product advocates and making your website more social.  Happy customers makes for successful businesses and Get Satisfaction has got you covered to make for happier customers.

Get Satisfaction helps companies build a trusted connection with their customers by bringing relevant customer conversations Anywhere: Your website, social network, via search, and on mobile. Customers can ask questions, share ideas, report problems and truly engage with your company on topics they care about.

About Get Satisfaction

Get Satisfaction was born out of Valleyschwag, a lark of an idea for distributing grab bags of leftover Silicon Valley promotional goodies.

While initially designed to be a fun and frivolous side project, a surprising number of people signed up for the service, and we found ourselves awash in thousands of customer-service requests. We couldn’t find a suitable, inexpensive, online tool to host our community of customers. So we built one. We created a friendly online environment to encourage people to answer each others’ questions, pitch in to help solve problems, and share all kinds of new ideas about how to improve their product and processes.

Today, Get Satisfaction is the leading customer engagement platform that helps companies build better relationships with their customers and prospects, and better relationships mean better business. Get Satisfaction powers 65,000 customer communities for companies of all sizes and over 4 million registered users interact with top global brands on Get Satisfaction. With Get Satisfaction, you can quickly set-up an online customer community to engage with your customers anywhere they are: your website, Facebook, search and mobile devices.

H/T

https://getsatisfaction.com/

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is the onset of a new deliberation for companys, startups, and entrepreneurs to add money to their cause.  Finding funding is something that is you can either do by scraping for those pennies in that junker sitting in your driveway to save up for your next million (cause you gave up on your first one).  When you get someone behind you…it makes all the difference.  It gives you instant customers and instant funding.

I have to give credit to  for her pre-made list of optimal crowdsourcing sites.  This cuts the work of finding money…in half!  Who can pass up half off of anything…not ME.

Check it out.

Venessa Miemis, Evolutionary Agent, Provocateur

here’s a few i came across during my research for the future of money project. they’re separated into categories for creative/artistic projects, & for business development/investment. [DIY examples]

  • crowdfunding – creative

- kickstarter http://www.kickstarter.com/
- Indiegogo http://www.indiegogo.com/
- crowdfunder http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/
- peerbackers http://peerbackers.com/
- chipin http://www.chipin.com/
- fundable http://www.fundable.com/
- citizen effect http://www.citizeneffect.org/index
- revenue trades http://www.revolutiontrades.com/
- rockethub http://www.rockethub.com/
- sonicangel http://www.sonicangel.com/
spot.us
- startnext http://www.startnext.de/
- ulule http://www.ulule.com/
- cofundos http://www.cofundos.org/
- buzzbnk http://www.buzzbank.org/
- biracy http://www.biracy.com/
- investedin http://invested.in/

  • crowdfunding – open business investment
- 40billion http://www.40billion.com/
- appbackr http://www.appbackr.com/
- capangel http://www.capangel.com/
- cofundit http://www.cofundit.com/
- crowdcube http://www.crowdcube.com/
- crowdfund http://www.crowdfunding.co.za/
- digital garage http://digitalgarage.co.za/
- globeforum http://www.globeforum.com/
- growvc http://www.growvc.com/main/
- innovatrs http://innovatrs.com/
- investiere http://www.investiere.ch/
- podium ventures http://podiumfunds.com/
- profounder http://www.profounder.com/
- raisecapital http://www.raisecapital.com/home…
- seedups http://www.seedups.com/
- seedmatch http://www.seedmatch.de/
- trampoline http://crowdfunding.trampolinesy…
- vencorps http://www.vencorps.com/
- venture bonsai http://www.venturebonsai.com/
- wealthforge http://www.wealthforgeonline.com/
- wiseed http://www.wiseed.fr/wicket/web/…
- FriendsClear http://www.friendsclear.com
- 33needs http://33needs.com/

You can find some more great responses to options to crowdsourcing here…

http://www.quora.com/Crowdfunding/What-are-some-great-crowdfunding-websites
http://www.crowdsourcing.org/

Need some more advice or options? Reach out…