Sunday, March 1, 2015

Splendid Sundays Volume 171

A handful of splendid finds from around the worldwide web:

How Twitter CEO Dick Costolo keeps his focus. "The mental quietude some seek in meditation, Costolo finds in the gym: 'When you're doing some CrossFit workout or sprinting on a bike, you're not thinking about work. You're 100 percent focused on what's happening right now.'" [Inc Magazine]

The secret life of Nina Simone. "A fierce feminist and an activist, she didn’t accept the roles that were offered to her—she created her own space." [The Daily Beast]

Data mining Indian recipes reveals new food pairing phenomenon. "Treating recipes as networks has turned out to be a powerful tool that is changing the way we think about food and how we consume it." [MIT Technology Review]

The Clooney Effect: introducing the age of the trophy husband. "We always thought that [Amal] was the woman who finally snared George Clooney, but it’s the other way around. And we’re all better off for it." [The Atlantic]

Noteworthy from The Splendid Collective:

The 2015 UK Wedding Study from Splendid Insights is now available for download, along with the Premium and Luxury wedding budget reports.

Currently reading: On Immunity from A Year of Books and Every Day Is For the Thief by Teju Cole.

Quotable:  "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread." — John Muir

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Turning Your Dreams Into Reality

A goal without a plan is just a wish.
 Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Thinking about how to make a dream or a goal happen can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. In order to put a foundation under your dreams, you need to put together a workable to-do list for them. This is not as difficult as it may seem.

First, write down your goal. Then, work backwards to create a list of all the things that need to happen in order for that goal to materialize.

Since many people want to write a book, I'll use that as an example:

The majority of publishers these days will not award a book deal to an author unless the author has a minimum of 5,000 active, organic Twitter followers. They'll ask to see the Google Analytics for your blog as well. Why do they care about a blog? Because it's a platform you own. Yes, they also care about your reach and influence on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, but they want to know that you'll still have a base of fans that are actively engaged with your brand if all these free services go away tomorrow. A blog allows you to have this to a degree that no other platform currently does. (By the way, Google Reader is a perfect example of a widely-used, well-liked, free web platform that gets shut down.)

So what needs to happen in order to gain a large blog following and 5,000+ Twitter followers? Well, first you have to both blog and tweet. Seems like a no brainer, but where most people fail is not in creativity but in their refusal to do the work required to make their dreams a reality.

How do you gain followers once you're using the services? By producing compelling, useful content on a regular basis. The key word here is useful. A blog or Twitter feed filled with announcements or Instagram links is not useful. Depending on your goals, brand and boundaries, it's okay to mix personal updates in with business on these accounts. In addition, sharing inspirational content can be useful because it can recharge a person both creatively and emotionally as well as provide a mental break.

Creating compelling content is not easy but it is not rocket science, either. What perspective do you bring to the table? What can you offer that's different than the eight zillion books currently on the market? If you feel you have nothing to say, think again. You make a living because of the point of view you bring to your professional skill set. What do you know that would help others in some way?

This obviously isn't an exhaustive list of everything you'll need to do to get a book deal, it's simply an illustration of how this practice of creating a to-do list out of an end goal works. If you want your dreams to come to pass, create the to-do list and then show up and do the work.

Originally published April 2013

Friday, February 27, 2015

On the Joy of Missing Out

We tend to fear missing out more than we fear mediocrity.

Saying yes to every opportunity and hiding behind choices that only serve to make us look good to others results in a lack of focus and muddled vision. It also depletes emotional, physical and financial resources that could be used to pursue the goals we truly value instead.

You weren’t designed to do or be everything. Pursuing excellence means embracing the joy of missing out.

Originally published October 2014

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Amateurs Add, Professionals Edit

Some would argue that creativity is best when there are no constraints and the artist or business is free to do whatever they like. I disagree; constraints are what make creativity valuable.

It's easy to be creative if your client has a multi-million dollar budget. It's much less so if that budget is only a few thousand dollars. A professional can hone their creativity and deliver something beautiful regardless of the financial constraints.

Amateurs add, professionals edit. The best magazines have fewer pages, not more. The best blogs are the ones that curate their content and don't settle for information (or inspiration) overload. The best photographers are the ones who can capture myriad emotions in a single image. The best designers are the ones who keep deleting ideas until the product is so simple you think you could have created it yourself.

Constraints and editing require clarity of thought and vision. Constraints require someone to truly know their craft. These things make a business more valuable, not less.

Originally published November 2010

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Measuring Success as a Mentor

There are two popular ways to think about mentorship. The first is an approach intent on turning the mentee into the mentor’s “mini-me.” The second is to view mentorship as helping the mentee become more of who they are.

While it’s flattering to hear someone say they “want to be just like you,” it’s better to use your strengths to draw out their own. The people you mentor may not think exactly the way you do and may even disagree with you on key issues. They may look at the way you’ve designed your career or lifestyle and say, “good for you, but not for me.”

Your role as a mentor is to help people think about things from a different angle and to ask smarter questions, to empower them to take risks, to release untapped potential, to allow your perspective to help shape them into a better version of themselves.

Success as a mentor comes not from producing copies of yourself, but in helping people flourish in their own gifts and talents.