Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Speaking at the National Stationery Show

If you're in the stationery or gift industries, I'll be speaking at the National Stationery Show again in 2015 as part of their Buyer Education program. My session will be on Sunday, May 17th at 11 am, so be sure to mark your calendars and purchase your ticket in advance, as the class sold out last time.

My talk will be on separating fact from fiction on the millennial consumer (the generation born between 1979 and 2000) so that you can effectively market and sell to them at their current life stages as engaged couples, young parents or savvy shoppers.

You can follow updates on the National Stationery Show on twitter at @stationeryshow.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

On Making It Look Easy

An input of 100% does not equal an output of 100%.

Giving 120% may get you close to 100%, but most likely still short of perfect and on point.

If you want to be known as someone who makes the work you do look easy — if you want it to look like you're winging it and that everything comes naturally to you — you'll need to give much more than 100% on a consistent basis.

Originally published May 2014

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Waiting On The External

The mark of mediocrity:

"When X happens, then I'll to do Y."

We are never in control of the world around us and there is never a right time for anything. Waiting until a list of external factors lines up to start something is a surefire way to live a life fueled by distraction and ultimately regret.

Originally published February 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Everything Old Is New Again

Beverly Cleary, arguably one of the most brilliant writers of the twentieth century and the woman responsible for bringing us Ramona and Beezus, eloped in 1940. Her parents were against her inter-faith marriage but, to appease societal norms at the time, she had two wedding receptions afterward: one at her parent's home in Oregon and the other with friends in California. At her California reception, instead of cake they served individual ice cream to each guest with a personalized library catalog card attached (a nod to her profession as a librarian).

In the 1960's, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy created a mild uproar and began a new trend when she ditched the long rectangular tables in favor of round ones for an official White House event. At the time this was hugely controversial as these types of tables were just not used for formal dinners. She wanted the guests to have a more intimate experience and felt the round tables would better accomplish that goal. The round tables have since become the standard in venues around the world and wedding planners today do anything they can to avoid using them.

Similar ideas come honestly and creativity has existed throughout the ages. A few years ago, the vintage charm of card catalogs lent itself to weddings themed around simpler times. The designers of today's library-themed weddings didn't copy Beverly Cleary's nuptials from 70 years ago, nor did they probably even know the details of it.

History repeats itself. Wedding cake has come in and out of style for as long as it has existed. Ice cream isn't a new wedding dessert. Round tables will make a comeback after they've been retired for a little while, for similar reasons to Jackie O's. Your job as a professional is to deliver work that your clients love. I like to say that imitation is the sincerest form of plagiarism, but don't get so wound up if people have similar ideas to yours — there is very little in this world that is truly "brand new."

Originally published May 2011. Image via JFK Library.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Jealousy, Apathy and Celebrating Milestones

In the past few weeks some very big things have happened professionally for friends and colleagues of mine. Pop the bubbly and share a toast types of milestones.

Yet when these people shared their great news with others they count as friends, the overall response was a bit lackluster. Perhaps the word "congratulations" never appeared on a vocabulary test in middle school? On the occasions I observed the lack of enthusiasm for their good fortune, it didn't strike me as jealousy on the part of the others hearing the news, but rather apathy. If whatever good wasn't happening to them, they just couldn't get excited at all.

As you grow and become more successful, others will find a way to excuse your success as something else. These write-offs aren't always blatant misgivings about the circumstances that got you to where you are. They often come in the form of pretending that what should be a big deal is really not a big deal at all.

Ignore these brush offs and celebrate your journey's milestones anyway, with or without them. It is a big deal and you deserve the glass of champagne.

Originally published June 2010