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Refresh

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about creativity. Not just artistic creativity, but strategic creativity, and how I can be better in my job (or in marketing in general) to think outside the box and continually provide fresh, original and smart ideas to my projects.

This thought came to my head (sidenote, NAME THIS MOVIE: where do thoughts come from? I don’t know, they just appear!”)* one morning when I was slurping down my last bit of half-decaf coffee painfully wishing for more caffeine and more sugar, staring at my computer screen, and trying to determine how I could be smarter and better about a certain project. I had missed an opportunity and was beating myself up over it, pouting, looking something like this:

monkey-slump

Too often I find myself behind the ball. Someone suggests something and I think “I probably should have thought about that,” or things don’t get done in the most reasonable timeline, or someone just has a better idea than me. I work very hard to be a strategic and creative person, but continuous creativity is tough! Especially in the marketing and PR world where you are constantly trying to outthink, outsmart and outdesign your competitor. I’m still learning and reworking my process everyday, so it’s a life-long learning curve.

creativity-takes-courage

So I started scouring for tips on how to refresh, recharge and be continuously creative. I found this article on Fast Company that offers some tips. Here are my favorites:

1. Stay connected to your world – I took this to mean your industry or your environment; keep your ear to the ground for trends, ideas and happenings around you that could trigger a bright moment of creativity

2. Be brave – this can mean for anything, whether it be speaking up in that big meeting, suggesting a different color for an ad, or deciding to make your own baby food – live courageously!

3. Look for inspiration in the unexpected – I like to read, and sometimes find nuggets of goodness in different places than marketing or PR trade books.

These are good tips, but, I think I want to add a few more to my own process to help refresh my brain when it’s on empty:

4. Take time – take time to look at what you’re working on and slowly pick it apart. Write down every stream of consciousness that comes to your head, make text graphics, word bubbles, thought clouds, whatever it takes to get it all on paper – and then start to make connections between what once was random, and may now be strategic.

5. Take more time – take a breather between big projects. Save some filing, desk work, or other mundane things between big thought sessions to give your brain a break.

6. Keep an inspiration board – Pinterest could be good for this, but I also like to cut out magazine ads, articles, clips, etc. of things that make me laugh, or ideas I wish I had thought of, or just art that is exciting to the eye. I think it helps give you more to look at than a computer screen.

7. Eat chocolate chip cookies – oh wait, that’s for my pregnancy survival list…

I know everyone has a different process, and we are all trying to be our best everyday. So any other ideas on how to refresh your strategic mind? I would love some more tips on how to keep a fresh eye on marketing strategy. I love to see how other people work through the fatigue and create more and more memorable and beautiful things.

*The movie is Empire Records for those of you who had no idea what I was talking about 🙂

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The “You Know What” In The Boardroom

How can I put this delicately…us b***** got to stick together!

There are common stereotypes for women in the workplace. You’re either the sexy secretary, the ball buster in the boardroom, or the wallflower/people pleaser. I’ve encountered every type and often wonder how I will fit into that world. I tend to be a people pleaser, but also expect respect for my ideas and contribution to a project.

I LOVED this article from FastCompany, because I connected with what one of the women had to say about being a woman and being a hard worker. It’s hard for women to navigate the expectations and the differences in being liked, being respected, or both.

success and likeability

Here’s an excerpt:

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is undoubtedly a mover and shaker. The woman behind Mark Zuckerberg also happens to be the social network’s highest paid exec and has the sort of resume any successful business person (man or woman) would love to have–think chief of staff for the U.S. Treasury and VP of global online sales at Google.

And while it’s clear that she’s deep in the trenches both at home and in the office, Sandberg did say, “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There’s work, and there’s life, and there’s no balance,” in an interview for the Makers series from PBS and AOL. 

That may be why, in that same series of interviews, Sandberg confesses that even though she was voted most likely to succeed in high school, she asked a friend on the yearbook staff to remove the reference because it was “uncool” and admits that for women, success and likeability is a trade-off. 

That’s brilliant! I was also voted Most Likely To Succeed, and was embarrassed that it was in the yearbook (instead of the coveted Most Involved or Miss THS) because I thought it was “nerdy” or an unflattering title for a dainty girl like me. I didn’t know it then, but even at 17, I was struggling with the trade-off of success and likeability. And the feeling that if I’m a successful woman, I lose my femininity. And even more, little did I know that this struggle has plagued women for decades (insert long diatribe on my current reading selection The Feminine Mystique here, but for time and Jason’s sanity sake, I’ll omit).

The article goes on to discuss the different stereotypes and challenges that women in the workplace face. I think what’s most important is for women to stay true to what they want to be. If you’re not the tough exterior type, don’t be that way, but don’t let people take advantage of you. If you are the tough, go-getter type, good for you–but don’t be afraid to show a softer side when it’s appropriate.

Be who you are, and be supportive of the other women around you. They may not show it, but they are probably going through the same struggle as you.