Friday, May 29, 2009

Crisis, Misdemeanors and Special-NESS

Things that made me go hmm this week.

I heard from a self-proclaimed e-business guru that “if you haven’t p-ssed somebody off today you aren’t doing your job”! I heard from a just-graduated art student that if an artist wants to get attention it is all about “committing misdemeanors.” “Misdemeanors” she kept on saying. And I heard last night at the SHOOT New Directors Showcase that “crisis and creativity go hand in hand.”

So in the quest for what's new and next - and for the attention we crave - it sounds as if we should be making more noise, stirring more pots, causing more trouble and intelligently exploiting the air of crisis that is all around us in the media industry.

But we had better do it with a point. Be true to our own unique personality and skills – be bad “on brand” in fact, if we think that bad is what we need to be. There is no doubt that each of us has to distinguish ourselves from the pack. No-one wants “just another one of those”. Everyone is looking for something (or someone) special.

So we each have to be just as special as we can be and show it to the world - what David Byrne has called our "special-NESS." And we should probably rattle some cages along the way.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Is a blogger a journalist?

Should properly trained journalists be afraid of bloggers invading their turf? I was talking today to a journalist who’s at the top of her game. She writes cover stories about A-Plus list celebs for one of the best-known popular mags. She’s wonderful writer and reporter with all the training and the dream pedigree.

She told me that mainstream magazines are starting to hire bloggers with no training and no skills. But the in-depth stories that I like to read, take vast amounts of reporting and research. There are sources and teams of reporters who get the whole 360 degree picture of the story. The information comes in thick and fast and it all has to be pulled together into a readable and entertaining and informative whole.

This is a far cry from what bloggers do. As with this piece now, which I am writing essentially on the fly – it’s just a thing that is on my mind right now and may stimulate some thinking on your part. But the features in Vanity Fair or People or Us are researched and crafted and end up deep, wonderful, fascinating and entertaining. I love them.

I also the party blogs of people like Kelly Samardak, written with flair and wit – but those are very much of the moment and disposable. I am sure there is a place for both.

This issue applies to a lot of creative endeavors – the tools and channels are available – does that make everyone good at it? Did the introduction of the Brownie camera and the Polaroid make us all into Photographers? Did YouTube make us all into Moviemakers? Or is there a place for all?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Creative insecurity and streamlining businesses

The talk this day is of companies merging divisions and streamlining operations with fewer offices. This leads to talk of identifying key creative talent and thinking about how to retain them. Of how to get merged teams to work together. Creative people are necessarily fragile and can be unproductive when they are uncertain about what is happening. I know I am! Though arguably a certain insecurity is a terrific driver for great creative product. Well it is - isn’t it?

Interesting discussion too about how non-creative people don’t recognize the cues of creative people and how they work. How it sometimes look as if nothing is going on, but that in fact is when the really good stuff is happening. That is hard for a non-creative to understand and very hard for them to manage. Good creative folk are very special – nurture them. Understand them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Career Transition Workshop

I will be leading a Career Transition workshop specially for Creative people. It will be at Mediabistro/NY in July - here's where you can sign up.


Do join us - and please tell your friends. Here's the scoop:

A workshop for creative professionals figuring out what's next

Do you feel like your creative career is in a rut? Have you been downsized or outplaced? Or maybe you work in a shrinking creative industry? If you are having a hard time choosing which path is right for you and worry about what you could possibly do next, this workshop will give you a kick-start to advance you to the next level of your career.

During this workshop -- limited to 12 students -- we will explore four main areas to guide your choice. Carefully designed exercises and guided discussions will give you ideas and inspiration as well as a plan for moving forward. You will leave this class having made serious headway on an effective way of identifying a new direction for your creative career and you will have an understanding of the fundamentals of how to pitch yourself.

This is an exhilarating process. You should be fearless and open to anything. This workshop is a unique and safe way to challenge yourself and be stimulated to develop the next exciting chapter of your creative career.

In this workshop you will explore:

* Your own skills and successes
* Your passions and dreams
* Careers you never thought of
* How to find out what skills are in demand
* Whether you want to start your own business
* How to zero in on your next career
* The fundamentals of the story that will get you hired

Sign up here for the Career Transition Workshop

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time

I went to a lecture this evening entitled the Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time. I thought it was going to be about publishing – but it wasn’t that awful. In this one only about 90% of the species on earth perished completely. Gone. It happened 250 million years ago.

The fascinating lecture was given by Professor Mike Benton a scientist from Bristol University in England (my alma mater). The catastrophic event is known as the Permo-Triassic Extinction and was vastly more destructive than the one a mere 65 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Permo-Triassic was caused by a prolonged and intense period of volcanic activity in the Siberian Trap that caused – wait for it – acid rain that killed all the vegetation, and global warming that killed pretty much everything in the oceans. So let that be a warning to us as we make our own acid rain and global warming.

For those of you who are casting about for something else to do, I also learned of a new possible career: Professor Benton told us of one "Roderick Murchison, who was by nature a catastrophist." So there's a field that may be worth looking into!

Anyway the good news is that Benton wasn’t talking about the Extinction of Time Magazine or the rest of the media.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

However will we manage without..

Newspapers. Town criers. Carbon paper. Twitter. Car phones. Quill pens. Hypercard. Rolodexes. Telexes. Filofaxes. Zip drives. Cyclostyles. Faxes. Morse code. Steam trains. Floppy disks. Signal fires. VHS. Visiting cards. Facebook. Dial-up. 8-track. Geocities. Prodigy. Undersea cables. Telstar. Concorde. Pony Express. Polaroid. 3/4 inch videotape. Open reel tapes. 16 mm film. Syquest drives. Z-term. TV commercials. Banner ads. Email. Rich media. Land-line phones.

Are you good at everything?

Not everyone has to be good at everything. And that includes you. And me.

It is not a sign of weakness to admit that while there are things you are good at, there are also things that you are not so good at. In fact knowing your strengths and getting others to help you are basic requirements for building a successful career or business.

I meet a lot of people who want to be all things to all people and do it all themselves. When you meet someone like that don't you find yourself asking them "What is your core skill? What are you really good at?"

If you can be the best at something - be the best at it. Know what it is and be proud to be able to offer that to people who need it.

Be special. Be remarkable. That way happiness lies - and success.

It's like starting over

Do you sometimes feel that you are starting again? For many people and businesses that really is what is happening.

In the past couple of weeks I have been asked to prepare workshops on career transition for creative professionals, I have been asked to be part of a resume workshop for creative job seekers, and I have been asked about helping to integrate "traditional" and "new generation" creatives following mergers of departments and companies.

This is the time to apply our creativity very firmly to our careers and businesses. We need to spot fresh connections, use our imaginations, exercise our curiosity, think laterally, harness our uncertainty and be open to opportunities we never dreamed of. Say no to nothing. Explore, research, network. There are no rules.

Be open. Be persistent. Be fearless.