Monday, October 31, 2011

Last-Minute Halloween Treats!

When the girls were little, we watched a lot of Barney. A LOT OF BARNEY. The "I love you, you love me" song still pops unbidden into my head every once in a while. Talk about being haunted ...

But preschoolers these days are apparently tuning in to Pocoyo. I don't know Pocoyo from Popeye, but the little guy's PR person sent me a link with some fun last-minute Halloween ideas. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I (Still) Do

As the rabbi said before you broke the glass,
"If anything must be broken, let it be this glass --
not your vows and not your hearts."

Happy 26th anniversary, Tom!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Creativity Exercise: A Fabulous Photograph

For today's creativity exercise, you don't have to get out a clean sheet of paper. You don't have to email me the answer. All you have to do is answer this question -- in the comments or in your head: Why do I love this photograph? (I as in me. Jan. Not I as in you. Fred. Or whoever.)

Go ahead. Answer. I'll wait. La de da de da de da. Doodle doo ... it's a lovely day today, and whatever you've got to do, you've got a lovely day to do it in, it's true ....

OK, got the answer? See if it matches any of mine. I love this photograph because:
  • It reminds me of the fabulous time I had with Tom and our friends at the World War I museum in KC, including our trip to the top of the Liberty Memorial -- a vantage point that gives you this view.
  • It is a photo of my hometown and I really like KC.
  • It includes the old (Union Station) and the new (Kauffman Performing Arts Center).
  • It's black and white. Isn't it lovely that a few things in the world really are black and white?
But the real reason I love this photo? Drum roll, please:

Because I took it.

Does that sound insanely egotistical to you? Guess what? I don't care.

I realize my stance on creative pride places me in the oddball category, a drawer I've been in before. But I bring this up for a reason: Lately, I've run into several depressing examples of amazingly talented people massively minimizing their accomplishments. We're not talking about healthy humility here. We're talking about people who clearly feel unworthy of praise and admiration.

If you ever feel that way, consider my perspective: Diminishing my talents doesn't boost anyone else. Downplaying my accomplishments doesn't make anyone else more skilled. On the other hand, if I stand up and say: Look at me! Look at this! It's so cool -- and I took it with a phone! I implicity give others permission to do the same. To celebrate their own wonderfulness.

So here's the view I really want to share: You're amazing. I know it. And I want you to enjoy it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Creativity Tips: 10 Instant Mentoring Tips

How's your filing system? Can you find something when you need it -- so you don't have to recreate the wheel? My filing system -- electronic and physical -- ain't great. But, I'm delighted to report that I quickly found an Instant Mentoring tip sheet that will come in handy for a meeting next week. Since I found it, I'm going to share it. Enjoy!

1. Remember what your mother said.
Say "please." Say "thank you." Keep your promises. Keep your hands to yourself. Courteous, kind colleagues are highly valued – and far too rare in today’s stress-for-success business world. Good manners won’t slow you down on the way to the top. It only takes a minute to hold an elevator, send a birthday card or pause for the answer when you ask, "How are you?" Over the course of a career, those minutes will be time well spent. Trust me on this: I’m a mother.

2. Read what you don’t need.
If you always read the trades and the business pubs, congratulations. Now, take it up a notch. Look through a magazine that’s completely outside your industry. Enjoy Robert Frost poetry online – you can even find places where he reads it to you. Give your creativity the juice with Dr. Seuss. Expand your literary horizons, and oh, the places you’ll go …

3. Appreciate the administrative staff.
Make no doubt about it. These are the people who really know how to get things done. They'll get you in to see the boss and get you out of trouble. Lord knows, they've pulled me off the ledge more than once.

4. Everyone needs a little sweets.
My grandmother said it and she was right. Oh, I know. Everyone is on the Atkins diet, or the South Beach diet, or the "I’ll just have the salad with the dressing on the side" diet. Truth is, most people really want that $7 cheesecake with the ripple of fudge and the mound of whipped cream. At least, they’d like a nibble. So, if you’re buying, buy dessert. Tell them it’s a rule: You always have dessert if it’s a business meal. And they don’t have to clean the plate.

5. Three is magic.
"I love you." "Lights, camera, action!" "On your mark, get set, go!" Series of threes work, in everything from copywriting to design. Try it the next time you write a speech or a column: Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them. Think it doesn’t matter? Just do it.

6. Trust yourself.
If your guts tell you something is wrong, listen.

7. Realize that you are replaceable.
Now, most people will tell you that you’re replaceable at work … but not at home. It’s a lovely concept, but look around. Check out the ever-climbing divorce rate. Consider how many parents see their kids every other weekend. Then, decide what you really value, and make sure your actions reflect your priorities. And, when it comes to being replaced at work, remember: It’s a lot easier for the boss to promote you if your replacement is trained and ready to go.

8. Know when to go.
As James Taylor says, "Time may be money, but your money won’t buy time." No matter how long it is, life is too short – way too short to spend the majority of your waking hours someplace you don’t enjoy. If you’re not having fun at work, find something else to do or somewhere else to do it. Yes, I know. That’s easier said than done. But you tell me: How easy is it to get up every morning and go to a job you hate?

9. It’s not brain surgery.
God love 'em, I don’t know what neurosurgeons say. But most jobs are not brain surgery. (Many don’t even appear to require much grey matter.) Remember, your mistakes aren’t life and death issues – even if they feel like it at the time. Take responsibility, fix what you can, learn what you should, and move on.

10. Forget what your mother said.
There is such a thing as a stupid question. You don’t have to wait to be invited. And if you don’t have anything nice to say, call me. We’ll do lunch.