Why focus 10,000 years into the future? The answer lies in Bezos’ letter to Amazon shareholders from 1997 when the company went public, a manifesto of sorts about the benefits and approaches to long term thinking.
The 1997 letter’s main point: we can’t realize our potential as people or as companies unless we plan for the long term. Every subsequent year Bezos has ended shareholder letters by attaching the original 1997 essay with a reminder of the importance of thinking long term. And every year, he is proven right.
The company that started out as a few guys in a garage has now revolutionized the way we buy everything from books to toys to clothes. Amazon is now one of the 100-largest companies in America, mostly thanks to bold long term plays like the Amazon Kindle.
“If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people,” Bezos told Wired in 2011. “But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that.”
Ilustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco
As we turn the corner on the new year, it’s the natural time to start afresh. To make resolutions for things we will do differently, creative projects we will finally complete, old habits that we will shed. And yet, we rarely make good on these changes. Why?
Casting about for an answer, I stumbled onto this line from Chuck Palahniuk’s book Survivor: “People don’t want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown.”
Sure, it’s sounds a little ominous, but it’s worth thinking about. What if we really did clear out the clutter this year, so that we could face the incredible unknown of doing our greatest work? It’s a heady prospect.
As you contemplate your 2013 goals, we’ve rounded up some of the top challenges and distractions creatives regularly face — e.g. procrastination, self-doubt, money problems, bad habits, etc — and pointed you to some of our best tips on conquering them.
Creative Projects: Overcoming Procrastination and FINISHING!
How many years in a row have you resolved to “finally!” finish a big creative project? If you’re anything like me, the answer is “a few too many.” With any project — and particularly with side projects — the pull of our paying jobs, the pull of procrastination, the pull of playing it safe (by keeping our work to ourselves) is extremely strong.
To combat these alluring distractions, check out our piece on the ever-growing procrastination problem and tricks for combatting it, a look at the mental games we play that keep us spinning our wheels, and finally a step-by-step approach to finishing your labor of love. >>> Leer más “Overcoming Procrastination, Money Problems, Self-Doubt & Other Creative Distractions | 99u.com”
Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco
Two candidates are being interviewed for a leadership position in your company. Both have strong resumes, but while one seems to be bursting with new and daring ideas, the other comes across as decidedly less creative (though clearly still a smart cookie). Who gets the job?
The answer, unfortunately, is usually the less creative candidate. This fact may or may not surprise you – you yourself may have been the creative candidate who got the shaft. But what you’re probably wondering is, why?
by Heidi Grant Halvorson
After all, it’s quite clear who should be getting the job. Studies show that leaders who are more creative are in fact better able to effect positive change in their organizations, and are better at inspiring others to follow their lead.
And yet, according to recent research there is good reason to believe that the people with the most creativity aren’t given the opportunity to lead, because of a process that occurs (on a completely unconscious level) in the mind of everyone who has ever evaluated an applicant for a leadership position.
The problem, put simply, is this: our idea of what a prototypical “creative person” is like is completely at odds with our idea of a prototypical “effective leader.” Leer más “The Bias Against Creatives as Leaders | 99u.com”
Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco
One thing that separates the great innovators from everyone else is that they seem to know a lot about a wide variety of topics. They are expert generalists. Their wide knowledge base supports their creativity.
As it turns out, there are two personality traits that are key for expert generalists: Openness to Experience and Need for Cognition.
Openness to Experience is one of the Big Five personality characteristics identified by psychologists. The Big Five are the characteristics that reflect the biggest differences between people in the way they act. Openness to Experience is the degree to which a person is willing to consider new ideas and opportunities. Some people enjoy the prospect of doing something new and thinking about new things. Other people prefer to stick with familiar ideas and activities.
As you might expect, high levels of Openness to Experience can sometimes be related to creativity. After all, being creative requires doing something that has not been done before. If you are not willing to do something new, then it’s hard to be creative.
However, creativity also requires knowledge. In order to do something that has not been done before in some area, you have to know a lot about that discipline. Creative painters need to know a lot about art and painting. Creative scientists need to be skilled in their science.
If you are not willing to do something new, then it’s hard to be creative.
Ilustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco
You’ll find that some days, the ideas come fast and furious. The days when you just want to sit at your desk, stare up at the sky and just let your mind wander.
Other days, though, you really want to get moving. You’re antsy and you can’t really focus on any one thought. Instead, you are most efficient if you are getting things done.
It is no coincidence that the motivation to think and the motivation to act seem to strike us at different times. Research by psychologists Arie Kruglanski, Tory Higgins, and their colleagues suggests that we have two complementary motivational systems: the “thinking” system and the “doing” system – and we’re generally only capable of using one at a time.Think about how you best generate new ideas. Often, you “brainstorm” or try to come up with as many ideas as possible. That is called diverging and requires our thinking system. At other times, you need to evaluate those ideas and figure out which ones are best. That is called converging, and it requires the activation of the doing system.
We have a ‘thinking’ system and a ‘doing’ system – and we’re generally only capable of using one at a time.
Managing your mindset can help you optimize your thinking when you are trying to be creative. Here are a few suggestions for influencing your motivational state. These suggestions can be effective either for you as an individual or when you are working in a group.Get some distance.
Physical and mental distance influence the way you think about things. When you are near to something, you think about it specifically, and you focus on the ways that you can interact with it. Being close to your work engages the doing system. When you are far from it, you think about it more conceptually. Distance engages the thinking system.
Your workplace environment is strongly associated with getting things done. In order to engage a thinking mindset, spend time working in another place. Change your environment, and you will change the way you think.
Stand up and move.
The modern workplace revolves around sitting. Most people have a primary workspace that involves a chair in front of a desk or table. This posture is great, because it allows us to work for long periods of time without causing bodily fatigue.
Change your environment, and you will change the way you think.
Additionally, the seated posture does not support many complex actions, so it reinforces the activation of a thinking mindset, especially thanks to years of schooling.
If you need to jumpstart your doing motivation, get moving. Stand up. Walk around your workspace. Put your ideas on sheets of paper and physically separate them in your space. Walk over to each idea and evaluate it separately. By getting up and moving, you shift yourself from a mode of deliberation to one of selection. Leer más “The Thinking Mindset vs. The Doing Mindset: Pick One (And Only One)”
Ilustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco
For most us, the thought of bargaining over money is an awkward and painful affair, something we try to get over with as quickly as possible like a root canal or watching a slideshow of our in-laws’ vacation.
But if we skip a few minutes of haggling, we can leave some serious cash on the table and, more importantly, short-change our true value as creatives. One study found that negotiating a raise of $5,000 for your first salary can result in more than $600,000 in additional lifetime earnings.A Cautionary Tale
In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt’s campaign printed three million pamphlets with his picture featured prominently. It was only after the pamphlets were printed that his staff noticed a small line of text that read “Moffett Studios – Chicago” under the picture. The campaign did not own the rights to the photo and licensing a photo for reprinting usually cost $1 per reprint.
A campaign manager was tasked with calling the photo studio and negotiating a fair rate for the use of the image. Shrewdly, the campaign manager contacted the studio and simply asked how much it would cost use the picture, never revealing that the campaign had already printed millions of fliers using the photo. Without further inquiry, the studio quoted a price of $250, which the campaign promptly accepted.
Had Moffett Studios been savvy negotiators they would have taken the time to gather all of the information before offering $250 and proposed a much higher rate instead.
How To Become A Better Negotiator
While the Moffetts of the world might appear a little naive, oversights of this sort are extremely common: we often fail to consider the full impact of a deal in the long run.
To make sure you get a better deal, here are a few tips on mastering the dark art of negotiation:
1. Separate the person from their position. This is one of the primary points of the popular negotiation book Getting to Yes. When we argue over positions, our egos are attached to what we are proposing. Instead, focus on the other party’s underlying interests. Find where interests overlap and work to develop solutions with the other party as a partner not as a combatant. An example from the book…. Leer más “How To Get Paid What You’re Worth & Other Negotiation Tips”
Often clients don’t know what they want but they want to know how much it will cost.We’ve all had that sinking feeling when meeting with a prospective client. The work is interesting and right in your sweet spot. But they don’t know exactly what they want or even what the deliverables should be. After a few minutes, you realize that just getting a decent proposal together is going to take a serious investment of time to unravel their needs.
Our company’s search for a better way to respond to RFPs (aka Requests For Proposal) began after a long and arduous bidding process around building a community-based website. We invested 3-4 days of our time conducting meetings, white-boarding ideas, and writing up our recommendations. We pushed the client into an awkward discussion around budget. But, at the end, we delivered a proposal with a rock-solid roadmap for executing the project.What happened next changed how we pitch and has made all the difference in our business.
Instead of hiring us, the prospective client simply passed around our ideas and deliverables to every other vendor for competing bids. Those vendors, in turn, said, “You bet we can do that – and for less.” We didn’t get compensated for our time or our work, but our ideas were implemented.
Prospective clients in the creative fields frequently use the RFP process – albeit unintentionally – as a cost-effective way to get brainstorming, mock-ups, and prototypes for free.
So what now? >>> Leer más “How To Reframe the RFP and Charge For Your Creative Expertise | by Jake Cook”
Ilustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco
It’s happened to most writers: we toil on a project for weeks, obsessing over every word. Then, when it comes time to release our work to the wild, we brace ourselves for everyone to sit up and take notice but instead … nothing happens. Why do some writing projects take off, while others never get off the ground?
Occasionally, it’s luck. But mostly it’s because the savviest writers have already ensured there is a built-in group waiting in anticipation on the other side.Call it the “anti-marketing” plan: by building genuine connections with readers we can dramatically improve the chances of success and make the creative process more fun. As a bonus, when done correctly, community building efforts are cumulative – work hard to win over a supporter and you likely have a fan for years.Below we outline the steps to building an audience with the help and advice of a handful of industry experts.
1. You exist in a marketplace. Prepare to humble yourself.
We’re often deceived by the Hollywood narrative of being suddenly “discovered” and subsequently rocketing to notoriety. Chances are, we won’t run in to a literary agent at Starbucks who wants to hand us a three-book contract and arm us with a team of publicists.
Call it the ‘anti-marketing’ plan: by building genuine connections with readers we can dramatically improve the chances of success
As a result, many writers play the “publishing lottery,” blindly hoping that readers will magically gravitate to their work and, when they do, they’ll be so enamored with the book that they will feel immediately compelled to tell the world. Though some people get lucky, building an audience of readers typically takes months of research and trial-and-error.”Most people don’t do any research into their target audience, they are either too cocky or too scared,” says Dan Blank, founder of We Grow Media
and advisor to authors and publishers about the best ways to get started building a community.Remember that you exist in a marketplace, and your job is to figure out where you fit iny testing who your audience is and what content resonates with them. With some up-front preparation work, you’ll save hours of heartache later.
But remember: “People can smell inauthentic community building a mile away,” says Pamela Slim, author of the blog and book Escape from Cubicle Nation. “Create something that means something to you and means something to your audience. If you’re in doubt about that, I’d suggest a different topic.”
2.Your goal will help put your work in context… Leer más “Building a Crowd: Make Sure Your Book Has Readers Before You Publish”
Ilustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco
It’s the reason Steve Jobs sold millions of iPods by skipping the technical specifications and simply stating that one thousand songs could now fit in your pocket. It’s the reason trial lawyers appeal to a jury’s humanity as much as the letter of the law. It’s the reason political candidates fight to define each other’s narrative. When human beings need to persuade people about ideas, we tell stories.
Telling A Great Story
In 2007, the American Association of Advertising Agencies published the results of a two-and-a-half year study“For the most part, ads that tell stories and engage and involve consumers create stronger emotional relevance than product-centric ads,” the study concluded. that charted the effectiveness of two types of ads: ads that told a story and ads that appealed to rational reasoning. The result? Leer más “Want Your Message To Stick? Tell A Story | by Sean Blanda”