Archive for the ‘amazing book’ tag
What do you think of when you think of creative people?
Slackers? The people in the office who often wear jeans, but rarely wear socks? The ones bouncing the rubber balls off of the walls or the ones with the desks that are littered with action figures and video game stickers? How is it fair that these people get to play all day, while the rest of us have to deal with the hard work of number crunching or calling on clients and sitting in meetings? It’s amazing how much our world has changed. Granted, we don’t want creative accounting, but then again, we kind of do (in the purest sense of the words and not in the perverted ways that caused an Enron). It seems like creativity and commerce are now one. The most impressive companies are the creative ones. The most inspirational companies are the creative ones. The companies that we’re banking on in the future are the creative ones.
How are we supposed to get any work done if we leave it up to the creatives?
There’s a dirty little secret of the creative class (that few really know and understand): creative work takes a massive amount of time, energy and practice. The most affective creative people don’t spend their days wandering around bumming smokes and drinking cappuccinos. The most affective creative people spend their days in the long, hard throes of their craft. This was one of the main themes that stands up and demands attention from the book, Spark – How Creativity Works by Julie Burstein. And, in reading this amazing book on how creative people work (and, by the way, I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie at the TED conference, so look for that conversation in an upcoming episode of Six Pixels of Separation), you start to see a very similar pattern from creative success to creative success: a ton of work in the "office."
From circular to linear.
For years, I would describe the creative process as being either circular or squiggly. It wasn’t linear (like going to work from nine to five and taking lunch at noon). I used to embrace the saying, "creativity does not keep office hours," because who knows when inspiration may strike? And that kind of thinking was my downfall. There is no doubt that inspiration can happen anywhere (shower, middle of the night, on a subway ride, etc…), but turning that inspiration into something functional (be it a book, performance, presentation or Blog post) is a process. And, for many of the most creative people that I know, that process is actually quite linear. Meaning: they have rituals, a place they prefer to work, a way to deconstruct the inspiration to turn it into something tangible, a set time to make it happen. It’s a topic that Steven Pressfield talks about so passionately in the book, The War Of Art (more on that here: SPOS #251 – Do The Work With Steven Pressfield). The most creative people are the ones who apply a blue-collar work ethic to their assignments. They wake up, eat their breakfast, take a shower and get to to work. The different between the creative class and everyone else is that the majority of the creative class also love what they do (which makes it both easier to do and enables them to work at it for hours, days, weeks and months on end).
We could learn a lot from the creative process.
Are you a salesperson?
How does that sentence make you feel? Most people say that they either hate sales or hate salespeople and yet, those same people fail to realize that everything we do in life is sales. When we wake up and get dressed, the clothes we put on is a sales pitch to ourselves (we sell ourselves that the clothes we are wearing best represent to the public who we are… or who we want them to think that we are). When we are pitching our ideas, we are selling. When you are having lunch with a client (or a potential client), you are selling yourself in the hopes that they will work with you. Yes, there are soft selling techniques and hard ones (and we have to be careful of which lines we cross), but everything we do in life is a sale… and there’s nothing embarrassing about it. If you think there is, I would recommend that you pick up a copy of Jeffrey Gitomer‘s amazing book, The Sales Bible.
It’s only embarrassing when it gets slimy.
Sales gets slimy very fast when people misrepresent their intentions as wanting to be helpful when all they’re really trying to do is close a sale. Recently, a major media company reached out to me to discuss what they called, "a new business opportunity," for Twist Image. In the email exchange that ensured, the individual indicated that they had clients who may require our services and would like to set-up an exploratory conference call. It seemed reasonable enough and there have been multiple instances in the past when these types of conversations have led to new client work, and a reciprocation in terms of business opportunity (the old "win-win scenario" we often hear about). We settled on a date and time. About an hour before our scheduled meeting, I was sent an email with a PowerPoint attachment. The body text of the email went on to describe to the Vice-President of the company (I was dealing with a person at the management level) that our call was scheduled for them to present their credentials to us. Yep… I was scammed and the got the old bait and switch. I quickly responded back to the VP (cc’ing my original contact) that my understanding of the call was that there was a new business opportunity for them to discuss with us and not a credentials pitch of their services . The meeting quickly got cancelled with an apology from the VP. The tragedy here is that I may have needed this company’s services, but I would not have led this conversation – it would have been someone else within my organization. Now, not only will we never work with this company, but their image is tarnished forever. Over what? Lying. Plain and simple.
Did someone get fired?
I hope not. I hope this person was given an education in leadership. People don’t hate being sold to. People don’t hate advertising. People don’t hate being marketed to. People hate bad advertising. People hate marketers who lie about the benefits and value. People hate feeling like they’re being taken advantage of instead of being offered an opportunity. It sounds simple enough, but it’s so rarely practiced that we wind up giving sales, marketing and advertising a bad rap. It’s a shame…
And it’s easy to solve. Here are some simple steps:
- Follow first. Before calling on a company, follow them online. On Twitter via Google Alerts, whatever. Within a couple of hours you can better understand their needs.
- LinkedIn them. Use LinkedIn to see if you know (or are connected to) someone who knows someone. You would be surprised how often this is the case.
- Give value first. You don’t have to buy them anything, but think about someone you could introduce them to or uncover a piece of content (a Blog post, Podcast, article, whatever) that they have not yet seen and send it to them with an introductory note (keep it short and sweet).
- Be honest. If all you’re looking for is a sale, let them know. You’re probably going to get blown off. Let this be a lesson to you: there is no quick sales in life. Give value first and keep giving. Sales is a long, hard road of relationship building.
It’s not easy.
I’m a sales person. My main job at Twist Image is to get people to buy our marketing services. In reading a ton of sales material, I realized that the best way I can do this is by providing value and building relationships first. It’s slow going. This is why I Blog, Podcast, write books, speak at events, pen columns for newspapers and magazines, join industry associations and do a lot of community work/outreach. I don’t want to cold call companies. I’d much prefer that Twist Image makes itself as findable and as shareable as possible. It’s not easy. It’s not easier than cold-calling a random list of potential customers, it’s just different. One of the biggest differences is that in all of this hard work, I don’t have to lie, misrepresent or posture. This is who we are. In the process of using more of these inbound marketing channels, it has also made me much more knowledgeable about the industry I serve. The process of selling like this forces me to constantly educate myself about the industry, so that once we do get a new client in the door, I’m also in a better position to provide a unique solution to their problems (I do this as part of the strategy and creative teams here).
What’s the point?
Being slimy, lying or misrepresenting your services may get you an immediate sale, but it’s never going to foster a lasting relationship. The funny thing is that you know this. It’s obvious. And yet, with Social Media, look at how much posturing some of the most respected brands take part in that make them look, feel and act pretty slimy. Don’t believe me? Look at what a brand is willing to do simply get someone (anyone) to like their brand on Facebook. Is that a real "like" or a little bit more like a slimy move to bump up numbers? Is there an actual marketing result that comes from that? There is much more real work here for all of us to do.
Don’t you think brands need to be a lot less slimy?
Ever think books and libraries are just obsolete technologies from our past? Artist Guy Laramee thinks about it a lot. By carving amazingly detailed landscapes into discarded books he expresses his feeling towards man’s progress in society.
“Mountains of disused knowledge return to what they really are: mountains. They erode a bit more and they become hills. Then they flatten and become fields where apparently nothing is happening. Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that which does not need to say anything, that which simply Is. Fogs and clouds erase everything we know, everything we think we are.”
Whoa, heavy stuff there Guy.
View more of Guy Laramee’s amazing book sculptures here.
I’m listening to Patton Oswalt read his book (amazon affiliate link) for nerds. It’s a totally wonderful book, and his narration makes it pop up even better still. Why? Because he’s a professional actor, as well as a darned good writer. His voice for this is perfect. His reading isn’t literal to the book. He keeps adding in liner notes. Hell, Michael Stipe from REM shows up in the reading.
This comes the day after I finished reading my own new book. This comes one week after Joe and I interviewed Sean Pratt, professional audiobook reader. Sean points out in that interview that most authors can’t read their own book for crap.
Like anyone with a low self-opinion (is that all of us?), I went into recording my audiobook thinking about what Sean Pratt said. He’s right. I’m not a very great book reader. I’m a very good author. (Not great.) But I’m not an amazing book reader. I’m passable. I don’t mumble much. I speak reasonably clearly. I probably speak a little too fast. I don’t have a deep melodious voice like Julien Smith. In fact, I think I sound like Kermit the Frog. My kids also tell me that I do a great Squidward from SpongeBob.
We’re Not Experts
The Internet and computers in general have opened us all up to opportunities to do what we want. Lowered prices on all kinds of things open this up, too. In my immediate vicinity, I have an electric guitar that I can play well enough for people to say, “Oh, I didn’t know you play guitar!” I also have two prosumer video cameras that I use regularly, whether or not I know how to do that well. I have Final Cut Pro X, so I can edit things rudimentarily. I have a blog (you’re here!), so I can publish. I write books, because hey, this computer has a typewriter. I have an MP3 recorder so I could do a podcast, if I wanted (I want to, but I have run out of hours).
We are quite often given the opportunity to do something we’re not qualified to do. We often take on projects we’re not qualified to take on. I do it all the time. I will sign up for something, learn that I have no idea how to do it the way I imagine it, and then I rush to learn how to accomplish something that will make my client feel I’ve delivered value. It’s exhilarating (which I’m not an expert in spelling, but blogging software now has spell check). And yet, I have to accept that I’m not an expert.
And That’s Okay
You’re not an expert, either. But, maybe you have passion for something. I have passion for telling stories about interesting people and human-minded business. I have passion around music and noodling around on my guitar. I have passion for making better marketing happen for companies. I have plenty of passions. And these lead me to try and do and experiment and make. My passions lead me to that recording booth to record my book. My passions lead me to share with you.
And your passions will lead you to heights you shouldn’t achieve, too. Your passions will give you warmth and encouragement while you learn to achieve and do something. Your passions and your experiments and your efforts will spur you to learn more, to gain the experience you need to climb towards (but not so likely reach) that status as an expert.
Wait to be an expert? Never. Just don’t sell yourself like that, either. Instead, lead with your enthusiasm, and then make damned sure you deliver.
Let’s go be non-experts.