How Tigers Influenced Your Visual Processing

What do you see when you look at the picture below?

It’s not really a formal quiz, so I’ll just give you a hint. If you started off by thinking “it’s a grid” then you were correct. You were also correct, if you noted that the grid was comprised of 54 individual blue squares or boxes. You might have noted the rectangular shape of the grid too.

Grid with 54 Blocks

Grid with 54 Blocks

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If You Can Survive This…

survive this graphic

“If you can survive this, you can survive anything.”

Those are the last words my father said to me as he dropped me off to go to wrestling camp in my senior year of high school. The coach encouraged all of us to participate in a week of intense character and muscle building with college coaches and athletes at Lehigh University.

It sounded great when the coach told us, and I begged my parents to let me go. As I stared at the bus idling in the parking lot, it felt like a huge mistake.

He nudged me out of the car, said the words, and drove off. I considered how fast I’d have to run to catch the car at the streetlight, but he was gone. I had no choice, except to survive my own poorly considered decision.

Every day of our lives and careers we are faced with decisions. Most are trivial, but sometimes we’re staring down some serious, career-altering challenges. Learning to survive is something genetically coded into our DNA, yet we often walk away from challenges that might make us better people.

There’s always going to be a challenge. Something just slightly beyond the you that you think you are and the you that you need to become in survival mode.
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Kicking Off with Kickstarter Crowdfunding

Kickstart campaign

Kickstarting my first Kickstart campaign

A few hours ago, I launched my first Kickstarter campaign and peered into the inevitable future of commercial creativity.

First off, for those of you not familiar, Kickstarter is a “crowdfunding” platform. If you have something you want to make, you can create a project and people can contribute money to help you reach your goals. In return, they earn “rewards,” which vary from practical to unusual.

My Kickstarter campaign is fairly straightforward. I’d like to print T-shirts, but I can’t afford the initial outlay of cash to the printer. Ordinarily, I’d have to pay the printer before the actual shirts are sold. If I don’t sell enough shirts, I can lose money.

So how does Kickstarter help me? In this case, I get people to pledge financial support (everything from $1 to $100). In exchange, they get items of value, including my “Girls Like Comics Too” shirt. Since I am also an occasional author, I’ll sign copies of my work, including comic books and books I’ve published.

Part of the fun is creating these Kickstarter rewards. You want to incentivize people to support you, so you end up giving away a lot of value-added stuff to get backers. In my case, the value of the stuff is up to 50% higher than the investment people are making. It’s a crazy little system, but it seems to work.

There are Kickstarter campaigns for lots of special interests, including comics, movies, music, photography, fashion, technology, and more. Continue reading

Interview with “Likeonomics” Marketing Author Rohit Bhargava

Author Rohit Bhargava

Author Rohit Bhargava with his second book “Likenomics.”

Every once in a while, you read a business book and it becomes obvious that what you’ve been doing is…wrong. You know at that moment that you need to start doing things differently.

I had that feeling the first time I read “Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get it Back” by Rohit Bhargava. At the time, Rohit was a co-worker at Ogilvy and I was reading the book as a professional courtesy. I mean, sure, he was a smart guy, super nice, and seemed to understand marketing, but I wasn’t expecting much. Most marketing books are bland and theoretical. Short on insight and long on catchphrases.

But Rohit’s book was different. It was clear that Rohit had taken great pains to write a book that went beyond basic theories social media and marketing. It was an insightful, actionable book that is as relevant today as when it was published in 2008.

In his second book, Rohit tackles a range of marketing topics. The umbrella concept of “Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action” (2012) is “likeability,” but that’s just part of the story. He shares case studies and anecdotes that reveal why believability and trust are so powerful for brands. Continue reading

How Apps Are Ruining the World

Tesla: Master of Lightning. That would look cool on a business card.

Between our iPad, iPhone, and three iPod Touches, my family has over 100 installed apps. Amazing utilities, clever social apps, and plain old silly stuff.

I love my apps, but they are ruining the world. Sad, really.

Here’s the thing. Programming something for iOS isn’t exactly easy. There are some tools that cut your time, but if you want to maximize your app, you’ll have to put in the time or pay someone to do it. Someone smart and patient.

I’m all for creative entrepreneurs generating a profit from their hard work. I’ve certainly done it myself, so I wouldn’t begrudge someone else the opportunity to earn money. Unfortunately….

Unfortunately, some of the smartest people in the room aren’t solving problems anymore. They’re not figuring out the kinds of things that need figuring. They’re not inventing or improving inventions. They’re not even experimenting.

Nope, they’re coding apps that they’ll sell for 99 cents. And if they’re lucky (because luck is part of success), they’ll make some money. If not, they’ll just make another app. That’s where the gold seems to be. Continue reading

The “Idea Etherverse” (or How to Be More Creative at Work)

Idea lightbulb

Did that lightbulb in your head just go on? Maybe it’s coming from the Idea Etherverse.

In my line of work, people talk a lot about creativity. As a content strategist and copywriter at a marketing agency, people look to my creative services team for fresh ideas.

They appreciate unique angles, bursts of inspiration, and the proverbial lightbulb-over-the-head.

Yet, that creativity doesn’t just come from “the creatives.” Not at all.

Ideas can come from anyone in any role, if you encourage people to express their own ideas. Account managers, project managers, quality assurance testers, proofreaders, and traffic coordinators have come up with ideas that rival the best copywriters, art directors, and other people typically associated with “ideas.”

The problem? Most “non creative” people feel boxed in by the words printed on their business cards. They incorrectly assume they are less qualified to share new ideas or whatever. It’s really just “whatever.”

 

The Big Secret Revealed: Where Creativity Comes From

For a few years, I worked as a professional comic book writer (which was outstanding training for new media). At comic book conventions, fans and aspiring creators would sometimes ask where I got my ideas. Continue reading