Creatives

How To Avoid Instagram Burn Out


It’s been said we’re the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. This can be transferred to who we "hang out" with online, as well.

It's easy (and trendy) to blame Instagram and other social media for our problems, but that blame is misplaced. Social media is like money in that it's amoral. It can be used for good or evil (or just to further lazy complacency), depending on how we choose to use it.

If you "learn nothing" from social media, that's on you. Take stock of who and what you allow to shape your thoughts, and raise the bar where necessary. 

If you listen to podcasts or watch educational videos, listen to ones hosted by people who talk about ideas from a point of both expertise and curiosity and who bring a thoughtful perspective to the table. I love On Being, hosted by Krista Tippett. The Stanford Graduate School of Business also puts many of their guest lectures and interviews on YouTube, as do other business schools. On the occasion I listen to podcasts from a business consultant, it is by consultants that I would hire for myself.

If you’re taking an online course, consider taking a free one through MIT, Harvard, Columbia, etc through EdX. They have over a thousand free classes covering multiple areas of interest, including first-rate business courses ranging from Business 101 to marketing to finance to supply chains. 

Follow artists on Instagram who have nothing to do with your field so that you can train yourself to see inspiration everywhere and learn from someone else's very different creative process. 

The purpose of Twitter is mindshare, which is why it is the preferred social media platform for so many CEOs and other leaders. Follow people who talk about things that cause you to think about topics from a different angle. Twitter has evolved, so if you haven't been on it in a few years, treat it as a listening tool for a while so you can learn how it's used differently now than it was in the past. 

Social and online media is a great way to gain exposure to new people and ideas that sharpen you, force you to examine long-held beliefs you may have never questioned, and spark your creativity. This is especially true if you work from home and don't have the same in-person interactions that a standard corporate office has.

If you leave social media feeling more drained than inspired, change who you follow. You are the sum of who you surround yourself with, online and off. 
 


Originally published March 2017

13 Books Every Creative Entrepreneur Should Read

And how you can find time to read more.

Two book tables at my local library. Some intern deserves a raise.

Two book tables at my local library. Some intern deserves a raise.

It’s been said that leaders are readers, but in truth, great leaders are voracious readers. Reading gives you a competitive advantage, plain and simple.

The two biggest hurdles that people tell me they deal with when it comes to reading are finding time to do so and the price tag that reading a lot can bring with it.

Let’s tackle the time issue first: if you read 20 pages a day, you’ll read around 20 books a year.

In case you think that still isn’t a doable goal, 15 minutes a day is 91 hours per year. Most people spend at least two hours a day scrolling social media – 30 days a year. An entire month! You have more time than you think.

Second, you can cut down on the cost of buying books by signing up for a good, old-fashioned library card.

I have a private list on Amazon called “library” and when a book is recommended to me or I come across one I want to read, I add it to that list. Then, the next time I’m at the library, it’s easy to pull up on my phone and see the list of books I didn’t want to forget about.

While I have created the habit of always checking the library first, if they don’t have the book, I buy it. If it’s a book I want to read again, I buy it. If I know the author, I buy it. Also, almost all libraries these days have the option to download the book to an ebook or audiobook app (like Libby) if you prefer to read books digitally.

I am a believer that the ideas contained within the pages of a book are what truly matter, and that reading a book with paper pages vs digital is simply a matter of preference. I will say though that when kids see me reading on a device, they tend to assume I’m on social media or checking email. Since the importance of reading is something that is both taught and caught, reading physical books while I’m at home is a priority for me in this season of my life. Libraries make this more doable and more affordable.

A Splendid tip: Designate a special shelf or space in your home for everyone’s library books to go. This way you aren’t digging books out from underneath your kids’ beds or searching for where you misplaced them once it’s time to turn them back in.

Below are some of my favorite books related to owning and running a business. I am sure there are several I loved that I am forgetting about at the moment. There are also many I read that are popular but that I felt “meh” about so they’re not listed here.

Also, these are mostly business books or non-fiction, but I make a point to read fiction and poetry as well. I find that well-written fiction gets my creative juices flowing in a way nothing else does. I often end a fictional story that has nothing to do with business brimming with new ideas for my company. If you’re feeling stuck, a cup of chamomile tea and a good fiction book may help you.

13 Books Every Creative Entrepreneur Should Read


1) On public speaking:
Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun

(I’ve given this book as a gift so many times. It’s the best one on the subject, hands down.)

2) On entrepreneurship: The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

(One of my favorite business quotes comes from this book: “As a startup CEO, I slept like a baby. I woke up every two hours and cried.”)

3) On business strategy: Blue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Reneé Mauborgne

4) On teams: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

5) On selling a service: You Can’t Teach Hungry: Creating the Multimillion Dollar Law Firm by John Morgan

(If you can read past the attorney-specific advice, there is plenty in here for people who sell creative and intellectual ideas rather than tangible products.)

6) On invisible affluence: The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko

7) On communication: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson

(I also have this as an audio book and re-listen to it once a year.)

8) On business systems: The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber

9) On business management: Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman

10) On leadership: Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization by John Wooden

11) On getting out of your own way: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

12) On decision making: Left Brain, Right Stuff: How Leaders Make Winning Decisions by Phil Rosenzweig

13) On focusing your mind: 10-Minute Toughness: The Mental Training Program for Winning Before the Game Begins by Dr. Jason Selk

(I started using methods from this book several years ago while preparing for my speaking engagements and it changed everything for the better, immediately. The author has since released another book called Executive Toughness: The Mental Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance.)


Original post published October 2018

Amateurs Add, Professionals Edit

Constraints make creativity valuable.

Photo by    Cameron Clark

Photo by Cameron Clark


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 restaurants have fewer menu options, not more. The best magazines and 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