Poetry: Music of the Soul

Colouring pencils Français : Crayons de couleu...As part of an end of the year project, my oldest son’s teacher embarked on a poetry lesson. In this intensive, active learning project, the kids learned about the different kinds of poems, wrote a half dozen poems, and celebrated the end of second grade with a poetry reading. By the way, did you know poems include acrostic, ballad, cinquain, and more? Fascinating.

The poetry reading was bittersweet in many ways. It marked the end of my son’s time at the school and served as a yardstick to demonstrate how much he had grown, learned, and developed.

Voltaire once said, “Poetry is the music of the soul, and, above all, of great and feeling souls.”

Each of my son’s poems showed different sides of him – playful, serious, fun, logical, sports-minded, and even profound. In particular, my son’s Color poem moved me. I was surprised by how such a young mind (8-years old) could be so introspective. The way my son was able to dig so deep and explore the figurative and affective aspects of nature caught me by surprise.

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The 5 Forces Shaping Advertising

Marketing to kids. An illustration for Forces ...

Those of us in the advertising business know the industry is undergoing a transformation. There is a blurring of lines among advertising, digital,  and management consulting. Traditional folks are trying to be more digital, digital folks are trying to be more traditional, and management consulting folks are looking to upend the industry. All the while, new entrants are testing, learning and trying out new business models.

Agency evolution is “inextricably tied” to an evolving and complex digital landscape. It is no longer black and white. It is getting harder and harder to parse out digital and non-digital work. As complexity rises, brands are bringing on more and more agencies who are expected to collaborate. Things are certainly getting more confusing. Yet, at the end of the day there are 5 forces shaping advertising. Focusing on these 5 forces can help organizations navigate the turbulence.

What are the 5 forces?

  1. An evolving & complex digital landscape
  2. Consumer control & empowerment
  3. Technology growth & proliferation
  4. An expectation for marketing to have a positive  impact on the bottom line
  5. A shift from making campaigns that are one and done to making experiences that live on – and are fueled by consumers and social interactions

The Benefits of an Arts Education

A few weeks ago a friend of mine, Gessica Silverman,  participated in the  Somerville Open Studios. I’ve known Gess for what seems like ages, although in reality it has only been 6 years. I still fondly recall the day she put her wish out there for the world to hear and told me she wanted to “make art.” The bravery it took to say her wish aloud and the work it took to bring it to life was inspiring. It has been many years since we colluded on ways to make art a reality. Now, Gess is doing what she loves best and sharing her talents with the world.

When we learned of Gess’ art show, my husband and I thought it would make a great family event. We packed the kids in the car and headed for Somerville. At the studio, Gess walked us through her pieces and explained how they were made, what they were made from, the concept behind the pieces, the parts of the art making process that gave her energy, and the parts of the process that proved to be challenging. Gess did a great job breaking the conversation down into kid friendly bits. However, while polite, the kids looked like they had some bottled up energy.

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How Doodling helps Facebook and Zappos Generate Ideas

Harvard Social Enterprise Conference 2012

A few weeks ago, I made myself a promise to do something every now and then that scared me. As luck would have it, a friend sent me an email asking if I knew any visual note takers who could help with an upcoming conference. She didn’t have a ton of money to hire an expert. Though my drawings only make sense to me (LOL!), I bit the bullet and offered myself up as a visual note taker in case she wasn’t able to find anyone. The thought of standing up in front of a crowd and visually expressing what was happening at the conference horrified me. It was then and there that I knew graphic facilitation could serve as my “one thing” that week.

After some back and forth, details of the conference changed and my skills, or at least attempt, was no longer needed. That same week I saw a Wall Street Journal article titled, “Doodling for Dollars.” If you’ve ever wondered about the benefits of doodling, read on. Well-known businesses like Facebook, Zappos, Microsoft and Citrix Systems are sending employees to graphic facilitation training and hiring consultants to sketch what is happening in meetings. These cartoon like drawings help to generate ideas, build collaboration, and simplify communications. And, from a learning standpoint, visualizing notes and ideas helps with retaining information.

In case you’re wondering what graphic facilitation or visual note taking is all about, take a look at these YouTube videos.

 

Scribing 101

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How Vodka Cranberries Helps Mad Men think Creatively

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  The cast and ...

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: The cast and crew of 'Mad Men' including Elisabeth Moss, Jon Hamm, Matthew Weiner and Christina Hendricks pose in the press room after 'Mad Men' wins Outstanding Drama Series during the 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on September 18, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

With the premiere of season 5 of Mad Men just around the corner, I found Time magazine’s, How Getting Tipsy May Inspire Creativity fascinating. I’ve been in the advertising industry for nearly two decades and have become desensitized to drinking. Though Mad Men has been criticized for “promoting a glamourized and unrealistic image of functional alcoholism,a study by the University of Illinois at Chicago found drinking moderate amounts of alcohol helped with creative problem solving. Perhaps that explains the acceptance of drinking as a way of life in the ad industry.

On the topic of Mad Men, alcohol, creativity and advertising…a few days ago I went to dinner with some friends. In catching up, one of my friends asked if I was still enjoying Mad Men. When I shared how Mad Men wasn’t relaxing because it was too much like work (umm, maybe not in all the ways you might be thinking!), my friends were surprised. What they were most surprised by was the alcohol. When I shared how I’ve known people who have kept alcohol in their desks, displayed alcohol on their bookshelves, and lugged in mini fridges to keep their beer (and vodka) cold, there was disbelief. I guess this type of thing isn’t normal in other industries.

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Emotional Intelligence and Innovation

Angry Penguin

A few weeks ago, my two boys engaged in a heated argument about whether reading Harry Potter, then watching the movie, was a tradition or a condition. My kindergartener started by saying watching a movie, only after reading a book, was a tradition. He pointed to the fact we had read three Harry Potter books, then watched the three movies as proof. Conversely, my second-grader rationalized that watching a movie after reading a book was a condition. He surmised the fact we never watched the movie first, made movie watching conditional to reading.

In the end, I surprised my boys by sharing they were both right. Watching the movie was both a tradition and a condition. This rocked my boys worlds. As I explained why it was both a tradition and condition, they simmered down and listened intently.  As emotions subsided, they were able to take in alternative points of view.

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Is Gaming the Future of Education?

Controlador de Video-Games

I started reading Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken and can’t wait to learn more about how gaming is being used for social good. Though I am only on Chapter 1 (yes, I could use more free time. LOL!), I recognize many of the “gamer” traits in my two boys. At just 8 and 5-years old, both kids enjoy playing video games. In fact, my 5-year old has been waking up extra early every day in order to get time alone with the Wii before his brother wakes up. At first, I was disappointed that my younger son felt pressured to exchange sleep for improving his game play. After all, I’d hate to think the Wii was so competitive and/or addicting that my Kindergartener would go to such great lengths to play. However, after chatting with him about why he woke up early, I was surprised (and happy) to learn my 5-year old’s efforts to get better at the Wii were not necessarily aimed at beating his older brother, but for self-improvement and the joy that comes with unlocking new achievements.

And, in case you think play is easy, it really isn’t. Playing games is hard work. McGonigal describes the video game experience as, “…always playing on the very edge of your skill level, always on the brink of falling off. When you do fall off, you feel the urge to climb back on. That’s because there’s virtually nothing as engaging as this state of working at the very limits of your ability – or what both game designers and psychologies call ‘flow.’”

BTW, “flow” is another way of describing the state of extreme happiness. To learn more, take a look at the field of positive psychology.

How to Explain Leap Year to a Kid

My youngest brother was born on February 29th. Given 2012 is a Leap Year, my kids are fascinated with the fact their Uncle is “only 9-years old.” Technically, he’s really 36, but who’s counting :-)

The concept of Leap Year is confusing. In explaining why we have Leap Year to my Kindergartener, he quizzically asked, “So…the reason he [meaning his Uncle] is 9-years old, but looks older than most 9-year old’s is that when he was born, he was really 10?”

I love how children fill in the gaps by making up and testing assumptions. Though I wasn’t quite sure about the soundness of the reasoning (LOL!), my Kindergartener was on the right track when thinking about making up time.  I wondered how to simply describe Leap Year. Here’s where I’ve landed.

A calendar year has 365 days

English: Calendar

While, a solar year, or the length of time it takes the Earth to travel around the sun, is 365-1/4 days

NASA exploration of sun earth magnetism

 

Every four years, one extra day is added into the calendar year to catch up to the solar year  (i.e 1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 = 1)

A pie-chart showing fourths split into pieces

I’m going to try this description with my Kindergartener tonight. Wish me luck.

 

 

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Creativity Index Aims to Bolster Much Needed Workforce Skills

English: A university classroom. (Jones Hall a...

A recent Huffington Post article identified gap in what schools are teaching students and what employers are looking for in the workforce. Starting in elementary school, the primary focus of the curriculum is to improve basic skills. Policies like No Child Left Behind heighten the issue by promoting the testing and standardization of basic skills like reading, writing and arithmetic. However, in reality, employers find it is not the basic skills that are missing, but the applied skills including critical thinking, creativity, and innovation.

Many argue America’s educational system was built for a different era – an era where finding the one correct answer was key. Nowadays, the pace of change, the global nature of business, and complex decision making show there is not always one right answer, but a growing need to creatively solve problems. The days of rote thinking are in the past.
Will creating indices that measure creativity help?
To answer this question, we must ask what exactly will be measured. While some educators feel the index should measure the number of classes in drama and art schools offer, it is important to

understand creativity goes beyond the arts. States like California and Massachusetts will be the first to define measurement criteria as both have approved bills to develop a Creativity and Innovation Index.
While the key performance indicators of creativity have yet to be defined, the notion of measuring creativity is a positive one. For, as John E. Jones stated, “What gets measured gets done, what gets measured and fed back gets done well, what gets rewarded gets repeated.”
This article was first published on IIR’s Front End of Innovation as “Creativity Index Aims to Bolster Much Needed Workforce Skills.”
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Creativity: How Right Turns Saved One Company $3 Million

No left turn

The other day a couple of my colleagues were talking about sustainability when someone mentioned how FedEx optimized their truck routes so that drivers only take right turns.  Why, you ask? Supposedly, right turns save on gas.

I was a bit skeptical and figured the story had to be an urban legend, so I did some digging.  The story is indeed true. Well, mostly true. The company that implemented the right turn program was UPS, not FedEx. And, UPS does take some left turns…but only about 10% of the time. Here’s how the right turn policy came about.

A few years ago, UPS was facing pressures to cut costs. UPS also had an environmental stewardship policy. In thinking about how to solve their budget challenge, UPS put two seemingly unconnected ideas together.

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