The advice-seeking coffee or lunch is standard fare in most business communities. It usually goes something like this: you email someone you admire and ask if you can chat. Sometimes you are ignored. When you’re lucky, your role models will say yes, and you now have someone you respect in your corner.
Entrepreneur Steve Blank gets these requests all the time, and he has advice for those seeking his (and other busy folks’) time:
The meeting requests that now jump to the top of my list are the few, very smart entrepreneurs who say, “I’d like to have coffee to bounce an idea off of you and in exchange I’ll tell you all about what we learned about xx.”
This offer of teaching me something changes the agenda of the meeting from a one-way, you’re learning from me, to a two-way, we’re learning from each other.
Include how you’ll help the other party in the meeting request. Not only can you offer them value, but it serves as yet another sounding board for your ideas. Brilliant.
Focused purely on idea execution, seamless design, and empowering you to take action, our 99U Conference takes a different approach from most creative conferences. We want everyone who attends to walk away with pragmatic insights on making ideas happen, a new set of creative allies and connections, and a refreshed (and re-amped!) perspective on how to get started changing the world.
But we felt like our existing website wasn’t quite conveying what makes 99U so special. To better embody how much love and care we put into the conference experience, we fully redesigned conference.99u.com.
We’re doing everything in our power to make 2014 our biggest and best event yet — a dose of idea rocket fuel that motivates you for months to come. Come check out the new site, and get a sense of the experience. We’d love to have you join us this May.
Since 2012, the To Resolve Project has been a running compilation of artist’s resolutions for the new year, each designed and made to be downloaded as a background for your iPhone 5. It’s a great way to stay motivated with simple, gorgeous, reminders to focus on improving yourself.
Check it out here.
Creatives and mental issues, like anxiety or depression, have been famously paired together for centuries. Gila Lyons explains in The Millions:
[Sigmund] Freud posited that artistic creativity is a product of neurosis; Marcel Proust claimed that, “everything great in the world is created by neurotics;” and Seneca quoted Aristotle as having said, “No great genius was without a mixture of insanity.”
It can be an (often terrifying) catch-22; do you need to be a little “mad” in order to be a great artist, and if you lose that madness, do you lose any of your creative spark? It’s an issue Lyons herself was dealing with when she started suffering intense anxiety and depression that was crippling her life, but (in the final year of her MFA) she was also terrified of losing her artistic edge.
I had heard of many artists who had gone mad or suffered from horrible depression, and took the popular prescription of the day, never to write or create again. Their troubling symptoms had been muted, but so had everything else, their thoughts, perceptions, libidos, and ability to access deep feelings. They reported feeling emotionally void, deadened, seeing life as if through a veil.
In the end, Lyons decided to take the medication and get help. While she admits to a muting of the overwhelming need to create or sensory overloads, she also raises the question of if creating from a place like that is really any better or more productive than from a place of well-being.
I wouldn’t trade the happiness, the sense of balance, the self-reliance, or the improved relationships I’ve gained from medicine for writing. And perhaps I don’t have to decide between mental health and creativity. It seems that, whether mad or not, people are driven to create in order to understand something about themselves, the world, or their experiences and perceptions… It’s possible that the medicines I take could help me travel a clearer and more direct path to that place…
Read the rest of the article here.
Note: Depression is not something to be taken lightly. If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
We all have an inner critic that nags at us to do better, give up on our dreams, or compare our work when it’s not fair to do so. On A List Apart, author and speaker Denise Jacobs writes about how to quiet that inner critic in order to produce more ideas, have more confidence, and be more productive. Some of our favorite points:
If you’ve been battling it for years, ur doin’ it wrong. Ignoring the critic doesn’t work—it will only make it more devious and insistent. Trying to strong-arm and exert your will over it will do the same. You’ll need to equip yourself with a combination of willingness combined with some tried-and-true methods to turn down the volume.
Be proactive. Don’t passively accept everything your inner critic says as gospel. Challenge the truth of the critic’s information…Think about how bad external criticism really is in the grand scheme of things. Admittedly, it’s no picnic, but you always live through it and come out the other side, right?
Reassign duty. Oddly enough, the inner critic does have a place in the creative process. Unfortunately, it is overly eager about helping and usually jumps into the process too early. Tell it to go take a long lunch and come back when you are vetting ideas, or editing a written piece, or determining the best of several design iterations. Those are ideal times to exercise discerning judgment and a critical eye.
Be deceptively non-committal. Trick your inner critic by using a bait-and-switch tactic. When you feel your inner critic trying to put the brakes on your motivation, enticing you to procrastinate, deftly sidestep it by telling yourself: “I’m not really going to do x, I’m just getting ready for it.”
Your inner critic can be responsible for feelings like exhaustion, dreading going into work every day, or like you’re constantly fighting a losing battle. When you let your inner critic get the best of you it means missing out on opportunities to grow, being less productive, and not creating the awesomeness you were meant to create.
Learn how to banish your inner critic by treating it how it’s meant to be treated, read Jacobs’ full write-up.
Olympic athletes have to be remarkably motivated in order to do what they do. Recently The Atlantic looked at some of the top-performing Olympians to see what motivates them. From the list:
1. Talk yourself through the stress. In 1993, researchers interviewed 17 national champion figure skaters and identified 158 unique coping strategies they used. The most common, used by 76 percent of the skaters, was “rational thinking and self-talk,” which the study authors describe as logically examining all of the potential stressors, determining what could be controlled, and talking oneself through the problem rationally.
5. Stick with a coach who’s more like South, not North, Korea. Unsurprisingly, the coach (or boss, or spouse, or parents, in real life) matters almost as much as the athlete. In a 2000 study, Division I athletes were shown to be more motivated when the coaches were neither too easygoing nor hard-charging—they reinforced consistently, but with a democratic style of instruction.
6. Try mindfulness. Mindfulness is loosely defined as the nonjudgmental focus of attention on an experience as it occurs. In a 2009 paper in the Journal of Clinical Sports Psychology, French swimmers at the national level told researchers that while competing, “I had the sensation of being in control of what I did, so everything seemed easier.”
To have the motivation abilities equivalent to an Olympic athlete takes work, but it’s certainly possible. Anticipating how a project will go, working with a mentor or manager reinforces with a democratic style, and practicing being mindful are just a few of the motivation lessons we can learn from Olympic-level athletes. Get all of the motivation tips right here, then use your imagination on how to incorporate them into your own work.
Google has gone from garage-based startup to global innovation factory in just 16 years. In their quarterly Think Insights publication, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki explains the eight pillars of innovation that can help any business innovate. Including:
Think big but start small. No matter how ambitious the plan, you have to roll up your sleeves and start somewhere. Google Books was an idea that our founder, Larry Page, had for a long time. People thought it was too crazy even to try, but he went ahead and bought a scanner and hooked it up in his office. He began scanning pages, timed how long it took with a metronome, ran the numbers and realized it would be possible to bring the world’s books online.
Strive for continual innovation, not instant perfection. The best part of working on the web? We get do-overs. Lots of them. Iterating has served us well. We weren’t first to Search, but we were able to make progress in the market by working quickly, learning faster and taking our next steps based on data.
Spark with imagination, fuel with data. In our fast-evolving market, it’s hard for people to know, or even imagine, what they want. What begins with intuition is fueled by insights. If you’re lucky, these reinforce one another…That’s the beautiful thing about data – it can either back up your instincts or prove them totally wrong.
From becoming a platform for innovation, remembering that you’ll be remembered for your hits and not your misses, and more, get all eight pillars of innovation from Google right here.