Clarity is Power

Tonight I watched my first Anthony Robbins presentation. It appeared at the top of one of my feeds and the title struck me as something that would be worth checking out, if only for a minute.

His message is good but the part I enjoyed most begins at around the fifth minute where he discusses the importance of clarity. Simply put, being clear about goals (both personal and professional) and the power that comes with clarity, can change your life.

Here’s hoping that we find clarity and work hard toward our goals.

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Culture and the Importance of “Wow” Withinin Your Company

Many companies are beginning to realize the power and benefit of developing a “wow” campaign within the culture of the organization. These campaigns are designed to inspire teams, develop a positive culture within (and outside of) the organization, and create an unforgettable experience for team members, clients (customers) and partners (vendors).

Lately, our executive team read The Value in Wowing Your Customers , in the Harvard Business Review. As a result of discussions around this article we decided it was time to elevate our commitment to developing our “wow” culture. I was asked to develop a brief overview of this phenomenon and here are two things I discovered.

Developing a “wow” moment for a customer can create a community of committed customers and ambassadors of your brand.

While putting together my research for our team I stumbled across a thread on Facebook (very timely) by a friend who’s husband was recently deployed to Iraq. He’s in the Navy and will serve a one-year term. Here’s what she posted:

A local company heard from one of my neighbors that [my husband] was deployed this year. Within a few hours, I had offers from them to do all of the lawn fertilization for the year, spring clean-up, mulching, and they also plan to mow the lawn until [he] gets back. They’ve done great work for us in the past, but this just goes above and beyond my wildest dreams.

Within a few hours she had several “likes” and then the comments began to emerge including:

– Their e-mails seriously brought tears to my eyes…what a relief to have those things off my master “to do” list during the upcoming months. They will have our support & business for years to come.

Walt got the chills when I just told him. He thinks that is so cool. He is gonna pass along their name to guys he plays hockey with that lives down that way.

The story was eventually covered by the local news, which happens to be a major market, and her post received a total of 77 “likes” and 16 comments. Not bad exposure for a local landscaping company that thought about their customer and inserted themselves as a solution to her challenge. My guess is that she will be a customer for life.

“Wow” moments also happen within the workplace and can transform the way staff feels about the company and its brand.

At the Holcomb Bus Company, one of the owners became concerned f his foreman when left a meeting to take a call from his mother. Upon returning to the meeting the team learned that the foreman’s mother needed to replace a portion of her sidewalk or face citation by the municipality. She received a quote from a local company but it exceeded her budget and she didn’t know what to do.

Immediately following the meeting the owner, who is also involved in the construction business, called his “concrete guy” and sent him to the house to fix the sidewalk. Needless to say the foreman and his mother were forever grateful for this act and I got the sense that the owner also felt pretty good about being able to help.

In both examples there was a financial investment on the part of each company. However, one can easily surmise that the investments have paid huge dividends for each company, and not necessarily to the bottom line.

The following presentation was delivered for the presentation noted above and touches on some of the topics discussed here.

Wow

View more PowerPoint from brianjohnriggs

The hope is that more and more companies will develop “wow” campaigns and that this movement becomes contagious because in the end everyone is happy and everyone wins. If consumers are talking about your brand over breakfast (or on Facebook) then your company will succeed, your staff will be happy and the world will be a better place.

Additional Resources:

From How to Wow – http://www.successwithcrm.com/blog/bid/53427/From-How-to-WOW-Create-a-Culture-of-Buzz

Creating a Wow Culture at Work – http://www.thehumanracehorses.com/2009/07/15/creating-a-wow-culture-at-work/

Run Your Own Race

Image Courtesy of Time.com

Last week I wrote  Creative (and other) Problems, a look at the point at which we become paralyzed in our  own work, often unable to move forward due to a lack of inspiration, vision, creativity or whatever other distraction comes up. In many ways it’s like “writers block” for the everyday professional. Over the past several days I couldn’t help but think of a comment on that post by left by Mike Dwyer who said “don’t stress about it and your natural creativity won’t fail you!”

Fast forward one week. In the midst of the high winds and driving rain brought on by Hurricane Irene, I  watched Secretariat, the Disney movie about Kentucky’s Triple Crown winner of the early 1970’s. In the movie the phrase “run your own race” pops up  frequently and is used as a connector throughout the film. At one point Penny Tweedy, the owner of the horse, used it to try to convince her husband and brother that her decision to leverage everything they had on the future of the horse (described here in “drew’s marketing minute); and again, perhaps most dramatically, when she’s talking one-on-one with  Secretariat (the horse) shortly before an important race.  It didn’t take long before I “got it” and when I did it resonated loudly with me.  This is why.

Rules and Distraction
In our professional and personal lives  rules and distractions play prominent roles in defining how we spend our hours.  At times we are forced to address projects directly in front of us, you know,  the everyday tasks and responsibilities that we need to accomplish just to stay afloat.  Then enter the rules which govern our behavior, those set about by home, work, culture, routine, our laziness to…well,  run our own race.

Too often we forget that what got us where we are today is a belief in our own abilities but perhaps more importantly how those abilities can carry us forward. When we’re empowered to follow our “natural instincts,”  then we quickly realize we have enough drive to execute our goals, to embrace own success, and to run our own race.

Inside the Creative

One of the biggest challenges I face is a commitment to process – but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. In fact, I strive for it because I often look past it. It’s a fault of mine that I continually work on.  I also understand that I may not be alone.  Innovators, “big picture” thinkers and everyday people often have trouble sticking to process.  However, it’s important to always recognize the value of process and what better way to examine process than through the eyes of an artist.

I caught the following sequence of paintings on Facebook and was instantly taken by the imagery, the dedication, and of course, the process.  The paintings were done by Dan Reed, an artist in the Philadelphia region who focuses on automotive paintings.  His gallery can be found here.

Shortly after seeing the paintings I reached out to Dan to see if he would discuss his process with me in hopes that it would shed some light on how to refine my own processes. The interview is located just below the presentation and sheds some light on how, perhaps, the creative process isn’t unlike the process by which we approach our own projects.



1. How do your drawings, or visions, first appear? Are there certain elements that trigger inspiration?

In a way that’s a loaded question because practically every painting  was derived from its own inspirations. However, I can point to a  couple of paintings in particular. The painting “I Can Make It”  (see website) was inspired by my desire to incorporate trains into some  of my classic automobile themes. I didn’t want to repeat what other  artists have done – specifically having a car and train racing side by  side. I gave it some thought and came up with the idea of having the  driver of a car attempt to outrun the train through the crossing. Its  a dynamic scene and led me to create another in that series “I Can  Make It II”. Both paintings caught the attention of a top automotive  magazine, Hemmings Classic Car, and they featured both paintings last  summer which resulted in orders for prints from all over the country.
There’s another painting which had an interesting start. My 1955  DeSoto painting (see website) was inspired by the roof of a neighbor’s  barn roof. Not the roof specifically, but the extreme contrast I saw  one day between the bright, sun lit roof against a deep blue cloudless  sky. I knew I had to incorporate that contrast into a painting so I  made sketches as soon as I got home. The extreme low vantage point in  this painting was determined by the fact I needed the bright sunlit  building to be backdropped against a deep blue sky. The byproduct of  this vantage point resulted in a very unique view of the car itself.

2.  Can you walk us through the creative process?

Once I have a vision for a painting I begin to make sketches. This  allows me to get the ideas out of my head and on paper before I forget  it. In a way, the sketch stage is the most creative part of the  process because this is where the composition, color, and format of  the painting are really determined. A canvas is never even placed on  the easel until I know what’s going to be on it.

3. Do you ever feel like giving up?

Yes. Every day…………………. Kidding:) Actually, not often.

4. Are there any “failures” along the way and if so, how do you  overcome  them?

I don’t want to talk about failure. NEXT QUESTION!…………Kidding again:)
Regarding the painting process itself, any failures are typically very  minor – nothing that can’t be touched up once the paint dries. This is  another important factor of the sketch process. If I loose inspiration  at the sketch stage I wouldn’t move forward to the canvas. I only put brush to canvas once I have confidence in the composition of my sketches.

5. How structured is your creative process? do you employ timelines  or is  it more or less an evolving process?

The creative process is not structured – not in a time-line sense. I  don’t employ time-lines in the traditional sense by having certain elements of the painting completed by a certain time. I will give a client an estimated completion date and keeping to that date simply means staying disciplined to the overall process and the time it takes to follow through.

6. Is there ever an end goal for your paintings – meaning, how do  you  envision there life once you’ve completed them?

As for a long-term goal? No. If the painting is commissioned, the long  term expectation is that the painting will remain with the owner for  the foreseeable future. If its a painting I create for myself, the  intent is to produce a line of prints that can be sold through my website and at automotive events throughout the following seasons. The original paintings are offered for sale as well.

7. Do you think there are parallels in your creative process that  would  resonate with how non-artists approach projects in their  everyday life?

There certainly can be parallels in the creative process with other  non-art activities. To pinpoint what I do on a daily basis and draw a  parallel with another person’s activities, I can’t answer. However, I did  work in the corporate world for 12 years, in the engineering field. In a broad sense, you have to be self motivated and have a good work ethic. These traits will serve a person well in the corporate world or being self employed. Funny side-line; I had a friend tell me when I left my day-job to paint full-time that her husband “could never work from home. He needs that boss-over-the-shoulder as his motivating factor.” I think creativity is a mindset and therefore I’m not quite sure how you would teach it. I’ve worked with people who were very good at executing a given task, but once that task was completed they came to a stand-still until directed to do another task. Others seemed to have the ability to extrapolate from that task and move onto other related projects. The selling and marketing of artwork takes a certain amount of creativity as well. You can create the most outstanding artwork, but if nobody sees it you can’t sell it. Being a self employed artist means you have to wear many hats. For many years while working in an engineering testing lab I essentially had one job – test and evaluate the company’s products. I didn’t have to manufacture it, market it, create profit/loss analysis on it, sell it or ship it. When your on your own you have to do it all. And that too takes some creativity.

8. Would you say there are more creative outlets, opportunities for   individuals to create, than there were 5 years ago? If yes, what  does this  mean for the everyday person who is interested in  advancing their career.

My answer to this question is time sensitive. My answer could change  again in 2-4 years. For me personally the opportunities were more  plentiful 3 years ago mainly because the state of the economy. I bill  myself as an automotive fine artist and my lifeblood are the car show events. When the economy tanked in 2009 corporate sponsorships for some of the top tier events (know as Concours d’Elegance shows) dried  up. Some shows were dropped from the 2009 and 2010 calendar years,  which directly effected the number of exhibition opportunities.  Without those potential customers my request for commissions dropped  off as well. Not all is doom and gloom though. I never stop working  and there’s never a day I don’t have something in the works. When my  commissions drop off I just shift to creating more work of my own  ideas that I can then produce a line of prints from. Having a greater variety of prints to sell  helped to offset the lost income from private commissions. Not only  that, I can continue to sell the prints year after year and when things pick up I’m just that more prepared to take advantage of it.  One thing can be said for starting any business in a down economy – yes, it will take a bit more work, but if you can succeed now you’ll do great when things improve. I began painting full-time in 2005 when I had months worth of backlogged work in the pipeline. Things were easy and humming along. Then came 2009 and it seemed people just stopped spending money overnight. I had to scramble and think fast, be more creative, and adjust my thinking a bit. One thing I do better today is keep more money in reserve so I don’t get caught off guard. Seems so common sense and yet it eluded me when times were good.

Lessons of Leadership from #17

Rod Brind’Amour played the majority of his NHL career for two teams, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Carolina Hurricanes. He retired after the 2010 season and now works in the front office for the ‘Canes. On February 18, 2011, when his number was formally retired and a banner was hoisted in his honor at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. , Brind’Amour gave compelling speech that embodies what it really means to be a leader.

In his more than seventeen minute speech (irony not lost on the length of his speech and the number on his jersey) Brind’Amour spoke of his family, his teammates, his tenure with his former team (the Flyers), his former coach (the now current coach of his former team), the fans, the community, and the year his team won the Stanley Cup (2006). In each case, he rarely spoke about himself. Instead, he made that night, the night in honor of him, about everyone else.

A true leader always looks outward and never inward. A true leader recognizes that they are part of a community, a community that relies on them as much as they do it. A true leader is able to raise the level of play of everyone around them, often without anyone realizing it is even happening.

Rod Brind’Amour is a former hockey player, a father and husband, a member of a special community and a leader on and off the ice. There are many lessons one can pull from the following speech here are a few that resonated with me:

– Always look outward to see who or what you can lift up.
– Always remember that your community is as much defined by you as you are by it.
– Always remember that when you focus on your goal, instead of the distractions that enter your path, you have a better chance of reaching it.
– Always remember that our family, friends, coaches (mentors), teammates (colleagues), and the random people we meet are members of our communities and that each member plays a role in our success; and that each member of our community is our teachers and students.

Click on the image below to view Rod’s speech – it’s worth every minute. (the sound gets better after 30 seconds)

Image Courtesy of http://thepuckdoctor.com

For additional stories on this moment please visit –

http://mikebell.mensporting.com/2011/02/19/rod-brindamour-number-retired-by-hurricanes-franchise-he-helped-build/

http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/18/rod-brindamour-number-retired-by-hurricanes-franchise-he-helped/