I don’t have a lot of musical talent. In fact, I can’t play any instrument at all, short of Chopsticks on the piano. Standing on a stage and performing a piece of music is the last place you’ll find me, and it may be a long shot for you, too. The spotlight is a stressful place even when we’re just talking about what we do. But you need to get comfortable talking about the work you do and what you’ve accomplished. You need to “toot your own horn” regularly.
I’m glad I was sitting down, or I’m not sure I would have been able to mask the surprise. It’s possible that I didn’t hide it well at all. Because the truth is I was thrilled. My year-long client had just told me that she was moving on and really wouldn’t need my services anymore. We were done. Over. Kaput. Fin. And we were both positively giddy about it.
I was honored to be a panelist with three very talented and professional creative business owners in Boston on May 15 at the 2014 How Design Live Creative Freelancer Conference. The panel addressed the joys and challenges of virtual teams to an audience of my peers; creative business owners like me and a smattering of really talented soloprenuers. I’ve included my presentation here, just in case someone listening to the presentation didn’t take notes. Or you overslept and missed it.
A week at the HOW Design Live Conference is a great way to learn new things, and relearn what you should have remembered. Here are a few of the most memorable lessons, in no particular order:
- Practice, practice, practice. Then practice some more.
- A digital business action plan will help your creative business maintain momentum.
- I want to spend next Tuesday on my patio having breakfast. This was an answer to the question, “If you didn’t have to earn a living, what would you do next Tuesday?”
- I still have a hard time appreciating the value that younger people bring to the conversation when I know I have so much to learn.
- Keep your room key with you all the time, even when you step out into the hall for some ice. Yes, I was fully dressed, but felt like a loser riding down the elevator to the front desk.
- If you own a business, you will sell your business to others more often than work in your business.
It has been humbling to teach Adobe InDesign the last few weeks to a room full of eager creatives at SMU CAPE. These students are bright, often teaching the rusty teacher, and they will do some pretty exciting stuff with the program in the future.
The variety of functions with InDesign made it tricky to teach. There’s always more than one way to do something. That flexibility can make simple projects much more complex because we choose the looooong way to get the job done the first time. One evening before the lesson started, a young woman showed me a catalog she created way before she took our class. The finished piece turned out really well, but now that she knew some how-tos of the program, she knew she made her job much more complicated than necessary.
During World War II, Coke and Pepsi were competing for the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of every American. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it.) Coke had already managed to develop a strong following stateside with the promise that every American in uniform could buy a Coke for a nickle no matter how remote the outpost. In response, Pepsi rolled out what I like to call the first social network campaign – “a recorded message from your man in service”.
Pepsi set up several mobile recording stations at training centers around the world where soldiers were preparing for service. Soldiers stepped into a recording booth to read letters, sing songs or just say a few meaningful words to far away family, friends and fiancée. That session was made into 78Rpm thin acetate records and then mailed to the loved one to be played on the family record player. Over and over again, if they wished. You could say it was the very first example of voice mail. (Here’s a YouTube video of one of these records if you are interested.)