Mind Your Own Business

If you’re in KC on Thursday, February 26 (and you’re an early bird), come on down to the AIGA office where I’ll be one of three panelists on a Mind Your Own Business panel talking about “the money”. You can read all about it on kansascity.aiga.org.

Here are the details:
Thursday, February 26, 2009
7:30 – 8 am – Registration and breakfast
8:00 – 9 am – Panel discussion, Q+A.
Kansas City AIGA Office

Just $20 for AIGA members and $30 for non-members.

Hope to see you there!

Google’s next big thing

One word: stickers.

Scanning through my Gmail today, I noticed a bright red link at the top of the page reading, “Do more with labels!” I clicked through and landed on Google’s What’s New page, where I spied a unicorn posing in front of a rainbow.

Gmail Stickers

I thought maybe they were getting on the cornify bandwagon (hat tip to Ryan), but the modest use of glitter led me to dig a little deeper and learn that Google is indeed giving away stickers for the low, low price of a self-addressed stamped envelope.

And now that Google’s released Latitude, you know exactly where you can find friends to swap stickers. Integration, people. Integration.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

I ran across this post in Google Reader and I was about to re-share it, but I think the link warrants its own post…

The basic premise revolves around ad/creative/media agencies adapting to the changing landscape of communication (most unsuccessfully). I’ve seen a lot of these types of posts recently (either due to New Year’s resolutions or the economy), but this particular post really stood out to me.

Basically, I think you can take two approaches to radical shifts in the way the world works: think/discuss/worry about it or jump right in—just try something, learn what does and doesn’t work and go from there.

Wait for it…

With the wait and see approach, you probably won’t fail (immediately); you continue doing what you’ve done so well, maybe jump in when the time is right and if your timing is good, you’ll continue doing well. On the flip-side, you could jump in too late (or not at all) and when the balance shifts, you’ll be left in the dust.

Just Do It

With the latter, jump right it approach, the odds are you’re more likely to fail than succeed, but you’re likely to learn a lot more in the process. Your assumptions will change. You’ll have a clearer picture of what your audience actually wants. You could make money offering consulting services to the Waiters : )

In the projects I’ve been involved in recently, I’ve been better served by diving in—I tend to procrastinate, so the time I normally spend thinking about what I need to do (aka putting it off) is better spent just working on the problem and iterating as needed.

Which camp are you in?

iPhone365 in 2 easy steps*

iPhone 365

The iPhone365 group formed on January 1st, but it’s never too late to start participating.

The rules are simple:
1. Possess an iPhone
2. Take a picture a day, every day, for a year

Neither of these steps are necessarily easy, but if you’ve accomplished step one, there’s no excuse for not at least attempting step two.

And, if there isn’t an iPhone in your future, you can still participate in a 365 project—there are gobs of groups to choose from over at Flickr.

*note that step two could actually be considered 365 steps, but I like to keep it real simple.

Prognosticators 20.0

Back to the future Delorean on the road
photo credit

Pew / Internet just released their latest installment of “The Future of the Internet” where they ask various people what the Internet will be like 20 years from now. I think the fact that this is only Pew’s 3rd installment in the series speaks volumes.

Think about where the internet was 20 years ago — heck — 10 years ago and you can see it’s daunting to even attempt and imagine what anything will be like 20 years from now. I’d be tempted to guess jetpacks for everyone (solar-powerered, natch), food in pill form and (tastefully) metallic clothing. That, or a zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic dust bowl with ragged clothing.

With a quick scan through the responses to a question about the future mobile technology, I’d peg a lot of the predictions becoming reality in the next 2 – 5 years (if they’re not already here now. For example, “Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the internet will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020.” Somebody should get these folks an iPhone.

Another example; “The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations” — I think that’s in my job description.

On a semi-related note, Kevin Kelly has a great talk on the next 6,500 days of the web. His position—which I agree with—is the web of the future will be radically different that what we know and love today.

Hat tip to Advertising Lab

Staying Creative

I recently started a group for Creative Directors over on LinkedIn (the group is a precursor to yet-to-be unveiled project I’m developing) and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the discussions. A recent discussion started with the question of how to maintain your creative spark when you’re pulled out of a creative environment and dealing with left-brained folks all day.

I won’t include anyone else’s comments (although they’re welcome to comment here), but here’s my $.02 on the subject (slightly modified from my original comment on LinkedIn):

1) I can’t picture a day when I’d want to step away from designing and the creative process. BUT the thing that’s constantly kicking my butt is the fact that I get pulled in so many different directions — meetings, emails, hallway meetings, mediation/counseling—the fun never ends. Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy what I do, but the trade-off is I can’t always give my projects as much attention as I’d like. I haven’t found (and don’t see) a design/management/leadership balance yet. 

2) The first (and best) piece of advice I received when I was starting my career in the design world was to ‘hire people better than you’. Coming from the guy who just hired me, that sounded like really smart advice. : ) It’s something that I’ve tried to do since I put on a hiring hat (7 years ago—time flies), and it’s served me well. To earlier point(s), it’s humbling to get your butt kicked by a creative dyamo, but the good part is I learn a lot in the process and it pushes me to do better work.

This is either a cautionary tale or good advice (I hope) for those looking to grow in their careers. What do you think? If you manage people, how do you maintain balance? If you’re a creative, how do keep your spark sparkin’?

Burger King – Fresh?

Burger King and Mess Marketing recently opened an Art Gallery/Event Space/Think Tank/Hipster artist collective in Chicago dubbed Burger King Studio. The concept is kind of interesting; you can mingle with artists at the occasional event and buy and customize t-shirts on the site. All-in-all, a great fit for BK’s well-known “have it your way” brand position, but there are some pieces of this campaign that have drawn a little too much inspiration from the creative community they’re aping.

Figure 1 – Inspiration?

This is a shot Burger King Studio’s Store side-by-side with Threadless.com — note the similarities in the presentation of the t-shirts, the use of hipster models and solicitations to participate/create your own shirts. Despite the similarities, I could give BK a pass on this one as more of an “inspired by” than a rip-off.

Figure 2 – Rrrrrrrip

Unlike the Figure 1, this example is a 100% rip-off of a classic design created by Experimental Jetset. In fact, this design has been ripped so many times that Experimental Jetset has a section of their site dedicated to cataloging the infractions.

Not only is the t-shirt unoriginal, it kind of made me think of the old McDonalds Big Mac jingle. You know, the one where they sing the ingredients…

Figure 3 – mixed messages

The jingle is about 15 seconds in…


What do you think? Should they get an “A” for going through the effort of trying something new in a well-trod space or is this simply another clumsy corporate co-opting of creative culture?