Creator’s Block

The creative process, more than anything, is about showing up and doing hard work.

When you don’t have anything to write about, write anyway. That’s the only way to push through. You create more by creating more. Don’t sit around thinking its going to hit you out of nowhere. Creativity isn’t as mysterious as it appears, there’s a direct correlation between creativity and hard work.

Find ways to inspire yourself in a new way. Figure out a better way to capture ideas when they come to you at unassuming times. Get a blank sheet of paper and start writing, or drawing. Open up a new window and start exploring.

Show up everyday and get to work, be disciplined enough to be creative, and scratch when you don’t itch. Creativity is born out of perspiration, not inspiration.

The Three Legs of Design

Frank Chimero, an incredibly talented designer, describes the three different legs of design; How it looks, how it responds, and how it behaves.

Looks - This is the skin of it, the shiny coat of paint that brings visual attention to the product. This is normally what “designers” think of the most when designing a product, they think about how it looks and stop here.

Responds - This, essentially, is the responsiveness of the product. If it's a website, its how it scrolls and how fast it loads. If it's a Mac, its how quick it starts up, how quite it is and how it responds very naturally to your touch. If it's a printed book, how does it feel when you open it for the first time? If this is an event, this is the direct interaction with the environment around you.

Behaves - This the experience of a product. Does everything make sense? Is there a theme that joins everything together? Are there consistent behaviors throughout the site, or product, or brand? Are things intuitive or are they designed thinking of the end user in mind?

So many times designers, and creators alike, stop at the first leg and let the rest haphazardly fall into place. What a shallow view of design. Dig deeper, put yourself in the consumers shoes and wrestle with the harder questions. Of course, here I'm reminded of this famous quote from Steve Job's:

Design isn't just how it looks, it's how it works.

Looks are one thing, experience is everything.

On Connection

Today, you have a chance to connect with someone. Through conversation, through engagement. Through your art, through your story, and through your work. Everyday is an opportunity to show empathy, to be generous, and to build trust. Too many people go throughout their day connecting with no one. Don’t let that be you. Every action you take is a step towards vulnerability or a step towards security. 

Don’t design your life around protecting yourself from letting people in. The most human ability is the ability to connect.

The Weekly Digest

→ Colbert shedding his usual persona and showing a rarely seen side of him to thoughtfully answer some questions from young girls.

→ Great article my Sean McCabe; Too many people already do what I want to do.

→ Newspring Church just underwent one of the best church rebrands I've ever seen.

→ Just another great iPhone wallpaper source.

→ I'm going to plug my own article here, because I think it's critical for creatives to understand the difference between excellence and perfection.

→ An interesting graph charting US's population broken down into age. Millennials are in their prime, and according to this, I'm the definition of one. 

→ The Museum of Natural History is hosting a sleepover for grown ups. A real life Night at the Museum. B.Y.O.S.B. (Bring your own sleeping bag).

Hurry up and Fail

The quicker you fail, the quicker you move on to your next success.

If you’re wondering whether you should move on your next idea, do it. Like any decent scientist would, go out and test your hypothesis. Don’t sit around in a state of indecision for long. Make a decision, if you make the wrong decision, then correct your course. It’s much harder to steer a parked car.

Ed Catmull in the book Creativity Inc. puts it this way:

The cost of failure is an investment in the future

I’m not glorifying failure, but to understand that failure is a natural progression of success is crucial to creating forward momentum, and those who don’t fail often don’t succeed. This post I’m writing right now might just be a complete failure, but it doesn’t matter. As soon as I hit publish I’m moving on to my next idea.

The only surefire way to avoid failure is to do nothing. 

Related: If you need further encouragement, here's a list of famous people who failed at first, and often miserably. 

Reading List: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

If you haven’t yet heard of Gary Vanerchuck, you should go watch this video, its a good prequel to this book. For all intents and purposes, Gary is a marketing genius.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is an extensive look at how to tell your story in a noisy social media driven world. Gary breaks down all the major social media networks and gives in-depth analysis on what makes them attractive, how their algorithms and metrics work, and how you can leverage them to effectively tell your story through social media. For anyone immersed in the ever-changing marketing landscape, this book is a must-read to fully understand the social world, and how storytelling can reap huge benefits for any business or organization.

Currently reading: Creativity Inc.

The Mirage of Perfection

If you’re like me, you strive to achieve excellence in everything you do.

The problem though is that the thought of “excellence” can be daunting and paralyzing. But there lies an underlying issue. Many of us have a misconception of what we think excellence is, and what we’re substituting it for is the idea of perfection.

Here is the difference:

Excellent: Very good of its kind, eminently good, first-class.
Perfect: Being entirely without fault or defect, flawless.

In your work, be careful in pursuing perfection. It will hold you in a cycle of revision, never letting you move on to the next idea, and stunting your growth. The extra time and effort you’re exhorting to get your idea from 90% to 95% or 100% isn’t worth it.

Thats right. It isn’t worth it.

There’s a term in economics for this; The Law of Diminishing Return. The law states that the continuing effort you put to a particular project will decline in effectiveness after a certain level of result has been achieved. That level of result is at excellence, or what my friend SeanWes would say, 90%. Your 90% is everyone else's image of 100%.

There’s a big difference between 70% and 90%, both in the effort that’s put forth, and perceptually to the consumer, but it pales in comparison to the lack of payoff that's seen from 90% to 100%. It’s important to know where that bar of excellence is in your work, where the sweet spot of 90% sits. Don’t become lazy and set your bar at 70% and call it excellent, but don’t set your eyes on perfection and either miss the deadline or be frustrated at your performance.

For those who struggle with the pursuit of perfection, be willing to let things go and ship your ideas, projects and products at 90%. We all would rather see you ship 10 really great, or excellent projects, than one or two, or even zero, seemingly perfect products.

Strive for excellence, but leave perfection up to God. Don’t be caught in the paralyzing unknown that is the pursuit of perfection.

The Weekly Digest

→ Inspirational video of the week, Moonshot Thinking, comes from Google. It's over a year old, but somehow I've never seen it. (via Tina)

→  I love this sweater. On my wish list.

→ This Ted Talk by Dr. Brene Brown is one of the best I’ve seen.

→ Apparently you can rent your car out to people, and make some decent change doing so. (via Nathan)

→ You'll have fun with this. Trust me.

→ If you haven't taken a good looked at Pomplamoose's music videos, you definitely should. 

→ The anatomy of songs.

Chess: The Game of Goal Setting

The game of chess consists of setting and achieving long-term goals, and making small moves to get you there. You’re always thinking three moves ahead. Most seasoned and professional chess players will tell you that they’re always thinking about the game in three phases; the opening, the middle-game, and the end-game. This tactical mindset its crucial to winning the game. 

In life, you should know what your next goal is, and what your goal after that is, and what your goal after that is. You should always be thinking three moves ahead, and be mindful of the end-game. If your goals are singular and short term, you’re not doing it justice. For instance, instead of setting a singular goal of having a job by September, your goal should be to have a job by September, so you can save $1,000 by November, and get a promotion by the new year. And in fact, you shouldn’t stop there. Why? Because you’ll live differently today knowing what you’ve set in front of yourself tomorrow.

Chess is a patient and deliberate game. Be patient and deliberate in life, know your next move, and keep your eyes fixed on the endgame.

The Weekly Digest

→ If you have $100 laying around, this espresso poster is really cool.

→ Hilarious Amazon reviews on this 85-inch Samsung TV. This one is my favorite.

→ The new Ugmonk lookbook is great. 

→ This Responsive logo design project is really interesting. Versatile brands are great at knowing their logo needs to scale.

→ The most ominous sound you'll ever need. Courtesy of Inception.

→ Sean Blanc release an update to Delight is in the DetailsIf you care about design, this is a must have.

→ I love this article on American excess from the Becoming Minimalist blog. Enough is enough.

→ Now this is how you market a product. A nice little cameo by Spyhouse Coffee.

People will stay because of you, or in spite of you

As the saying goes, "people quit people".

So that begs the question, are people staying because of you, or in spite of you. Everyday we have the opportunity to affect people positively in their work environment, or negatively. You can also have no effect on them at all, but no one stays because of the person who doesn't talk to them.

Be a joy to work with, put a smile on people's face. You'll spend 40 hours a week with these people. Give without receiving, encourage without belittling. Be a reason someone will stay, don't be the reason someone is okay with leaving.

And for goodness' sake, don't ignore people.