Archive for the ‘Storytelling’ Category

  • Your Professional Emoticon

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    Happy Birthday Emoticons!  A picture is worth a thousand words and you’ve been telling stories for 30+ years.

    The father of Emoticons — or emotional icons — was Scott Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. In 1982, he proposed that the following character sequence be used as a joke marker:   : – )

    These characters were quickly added to the lexicon.

    The emotional characters spread like wildfire, capturing every conceivable expression with a keystroke or 2 or 3…

    Simple as they are, these pictures convey a lot (maybe not a 1000 words but a lot) about what you’re trying to say in your communiques.  In the same way, your photo on a site like LinkedIn is your professional emoticon, and it behooves you to think with care about what the photo you post conveys.

    First and foremost, “professional” is the key word here. Whether you’re looking for a job or connecting with professional colleagues, you can be sure that your photo will be seen. The question is “how” will it be seen.

    Save the cute puppies, your precocious toddlers, wild dancing, and fashion bling shots for the family album – hopefully tucked safely away in some trunk in the attic. Remember, there is no such thing as privacy online. Your photo is part of your brand, and unfortunately, a goofy picture may turn the people you hope to reach off before they ever get to the brilliant words with which you have crafted your professional acumen.

    For some valuable, practical advice, check out this article, 11 Tips for Choosing Your LinkedIn Photo, by Norine Dagliano at CareerRealism.com.

    1. Don’t use an old photo. There are few things worse than meeting someone for the first time and not recognizing them because the profile photo is from 10 years ago (or longer)!
    2. Use a photo of YOU in your profile — not an object.
    3. Smile! Your face should radiate warmth and approachability.
    4. Photos should be professionally done, if possible (but not glamour shots).
    5. Wear your most complementary color. Bright colors can attract attention, but avoid patterns.
    6. Don’t have other people in your photos (and don’t crop other people out of your shot — there should not be any errant body parts in your online photo!).
    7. Make sure the background in the photo isn’t distracting.
    8. Relax. Look directly at the camera.
    9. Take multiple shots and ask people for their opinion on which one makes you seem most “approachable.”
    10. Tips for Men: Wear a dark blue or black dress shirt. No t-shirts, Hawaiian shirts, or busy/crazy patterns.
    11. Tips for Women: Wear something you feel comfortable in. No t-shirts or big/busy patterns. Soft, dark v-necks look great. Black always works; avoid white.

     

    You don’t need to hire a professional photographer. Find a friend who’s good with a camera, with whom you can relax and smile with confidence. You want to be accessible and engaging so those finding you online will be eager to hear what you have to say.

    Emote yourself!

  • If Only Employers Could Think Like These Casting Directors

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    This Fast Company article, 6 Tips For Hiring Star Talent From A Top Hollywood Casting Director, by Mina Hochberg describes how the particular genius of casting directors is showcased in “Casting By,” a documentary which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Wisdom from that film and from top casting director Ellen Chenoweth,” Hochberg says, “shows you what Hollywood casting can teach you about finding, interviewing, and hiring your next star.”

    When Hochberg writes, “A film’s success depends on perfect casting just as much as a company’s success depends on hiring the right talent,” I thought these six tips should be posted in every HR office.

    1. Don’t wait for candidates to come to you.
    2. Don’t always go with the most obvious candidate.
    3. Don’t dismiss a promising candidate based on a bad interview.
    4. Fight for your first choice.
    5. If possible, take your time.
    6. Look for strengths that the candidate might not even be aware of.

    See the film if you can, but, until you can get to a screening, read this article, try to put yourself in the casting/hiring director’s shoes and imagine what he or she is looking for in a star and make it happen!

  • Improvisation and Collaboration

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    Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong – two jazz greats making music as one “Umbrella Man.”

  • How to Frame Your Career So Your Resume Does Not Read Like an Obituary

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    Your resume is your story. To bring it to life you must maximize your focus, relevancy, particularity – and, as always, your authenticity. Keep in mind Ernest Hemingway’s wisdom: “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”

    I’ve recently read three unique pieces with key insights for this task.

    The first is NY Times‘ columnist, David Brooks’, The Power of the Particular.” Brooks describes a Bruce Springtseen concert he attended in Spain,

    “The oddest moment came mid-concert when I looked across the football stadium and saw 56,000 enraptured Spaniards, pumping their fists in the air in fervent unison and bellowing at the top of their lungs, ‘I was born in the U.S.A.! I was born in the U.S.A.!'”

    “My best theory,” Brooks says, “is this: When we are children, we invent these detailed imaginary worlds that the child psychologists call ‘paracosms.’ These landscapes, sometimes complete with imaginary beasts, heroes and laws, help us orient ourselves in reality. They are structured mental communities that help us understand the wider world.”

    “We carry this need for paracosms into adulthood. It’s a paradox that the artists who have the widest global purchase are also the ones who have created the most local and distinctive story landscapes. Millions of people around the world are ferociously attached to Tupac Shakur’s version of Compton or J.K. Rowling’s version of a British boarding school or Downton Abbey’s or Brideshead Revisited’s version of an Edwardian estate… Millions of people know the contours of these remote landscapes, their typical characters, story lines, corruptions and challenges. If you build a passionate and highly localized moral landscape, people will come.”

    “It makes you appreciate the tremendous power of particularity. If your identity is formed by hard boundaries, if you come from a specific place, if you embody a distinct musical tradition, if your concerns are expressed through a specific paracosm, you are going to have more depth and definition than you are if you grew up in the far-flung networks of pluralism and eclecticism, surfing from one spot to the next, sampling one style then the next, your identity formed by soft boundaries, or none at all.”

    ***************************************************************

    “Shall I compare thee to a newscast spot?”

    This workshop on how to create one minute radio spots by Phyllis Fletcher and Robert Smith from New Public Radio helps us fine tune other aspects of our storytelling to achieve high impact particularity. You can tell a lot about yourself over a great deal of time, but if you need to capture someone’s attention quickly, you need to capture what counts in a minute.

    Their tips to achieve compelling brevity are:

    • Focus on one subject [in this case it’s you].
    • Use vivid language and concrete examples.
    • And if you can get away with it, make sure there’s a turn in the piece. (Poets call it the volta, a little shift in tone. A question is answered. A problem is solved. Perfect for news [of what you can do as demonstrated by what you have done].

    Now we know that particularity and brevity are important, but they are meaningless without authenticity and relevance.

    ***************************************************************

    Martin Zwilling writes in Forbes about John B. Montgomery’s new book, “Great From the Start,” which highlights Mark Zawacki’s  five rules of relevancy.  Zawacki’s rules, while focused on business startups are equally apt for the startup of your new life:

    1. A startup needs to be relevant and stay relevant.
    2. A startup needs to find a voice relevant to its ecosystem.
    3. A startup must gain traction.
    4. A startup must form partnerships and alliances within its ecosystem. 
    5. A startup must maintain a laser focus.

     

    You’re not ready for a tombstone yet, so chuck that old resume and create a dynamic and vital new blueprint for the next stage of your life.

     

     

  • The More You Live, The More You Have To Express

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    Courtesy, www.gutenberg.org

    As I was driving out of Washington this afternoon, I was listening to an interview with the marvelous Trinidad-born, jazz musician, Etienne Charles, who is scheduled to perform at the DC Jazz Fest this month.

    His rich music is, as described on his website, “at least four generations deep: his great-grandfather, Clement Monlouis, emigrated to Trinidad from the overseas French department of Martinique bringing his folk music to the village of Mayaro; the young trumpeter’s grandfather, Ralph Charles’ distinct cuatro style can be heard on the classic folk and calypso recordings of the Growling Tiger; and, Etienne’s father, Francis Charles, was a member of Phase II Pan Groove, one of Trinidad’s most progressive steel bands and one that Etienne himself would later join. Immersed in his father’s vast record collection, and suffused with the sounds of calypso, steel pan, and African Shango drumming, Etienne imbibed many of the influences that presently constitute the diverse colors of his harmonic palette.”

    But, impressive as his musical heritage is, I was most struck when he commented on that heritage, saying,  “The More You Live The More You Have To Express.”

    How poignant, especially on this day when Queen Elizabeth, age 86, is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee. Not too long ago, we noted in this blog just how much you and the Queen have in common.

    Then, too, look at the stars participating in the Queen’s concert this evening: Sir Elton John, age 65; Sir Paul McCartney, age 70; and Dame Shirley Bassey, age 75, among many other “golden oldies.” Their performances, imbued with experience gleaned from the decades they have lived, were some of the most moving of their careers.

    May we all live – and express our lives – as well!

  • Advanced Style: A Sight for Sore Eyes

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    More than a sight, Ari Seth Cohen’s new book, Advanced Style, is a testament to the art of being oneself – forever!

    In his introduction, Cohen writes, “I have never considered ‘old’ a bad word. To be old is to be experienced, wise and advanced. The ladies [in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 100’s] I photograph challenge stereotypical views on age and aging. They are youthful in mind and spirit and express themselves through personal style and individual creativity. The soul of Advanced Style is not bound to age or even style, but rather to the celebration of life.”

    Ari Seth Cohen and Mimi Weddell

    In this blog we have often addressed originality and the important ways in which that originality or style is our unique brand and our selling point as we seek to remain active in the work force or re-invent ourselves. Most recently, we noted in our ode to Edith Piaf, No Regrets: Have the Courage to Live a Life True to Yourself.

    Creativity can and should be pro-active for, as George Eliot said,  “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

    The Grande Dames photographed by Cohen share their own nuggets of wisdom:

    “Elegance is refined with age.”

    “Style is above all, the right attitude.”

    “Fashion says ‘me too,’ while style says ‘only me.'”

    “If you try to imitate too much, you will look like nothing. Never compare, you are you!”

    “We must dress every day for the theatre of our lives.”

    In her forward to Advanced Style, Maira Kalman, a fashionista in her own right , as well as an illustrator, author, artist, and designer, says, “Ari Cohen has done something very important. He has looked at our grand population and singled out the people that, in a way, are most invisible and have the most to offer.”

    “We are lucky,” Kalman continues, “when any older person crosses our path. Our lives are enriched just by proximity. The wisdom. The spirit. The saying exactly what they think. The dispensing of advice. The courage. The humor. The crankiness. The kindness. Or the iconoclasm. All of these come from people who have lived a long life.”

    i have enough

    Ahhhh…. that “buy a hat” is also key for Mimi Weddell, one of Cohen’s many elegant ladies (pictured in the photo with Cohen, above), who said of her life, “I can’t imagine going without a hat. The only romantic thing left in life is a hat.”

    My grandmother always wore a hat and I adored her. My great Aunt Dell wore her hat at a saucy angle as she fearlessly maneuvered her ambulance across the battlefields of France in WW I. Here’s to all the Grand Dames in our lives!

     

     

  • Behind the Curtain: Three Walt Disneys in the Magic Kingdom

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    Image courtesy, wallpaperden.com

    Joanna Maxwell,  provided a peak behind the curtain to reveal the real magic in Walt Disney’s creative process.  Maxwell’s Work In Colour blog is always a virtual cornucopia of  “creative thinking tools for individuals and businesses to switch from black & white to colour.”

    Last week she introduced us to three key mindsets behind Disney’s creative genius: “Disney set up three rooms, one for each mode of thinking. The first was for the Dreamer for thinking big, for creating visions and imagining possibilities without boundaries. The second was for the Realist to determine what is practical, how can we make this happen in the world, what actions are required? The third was for the Critic where you play devil’s advocate – test the plan for flaws, imagine what could go wrong.”

    Maxwell offers some questions to help us navigate each mindset to mine our own creativity:

    Dreamer

    1. What’s your vision, your ultimate fantasy for the project?
    2. If you had unlimited resources and ability, what would it look like?
    3. What’s most exciting about it?

    Realist

    1. How will you make this happen? What do you need?
    2. What’s the plan? (Details, please!)
    3. What might get in the way and how will you get around it?

    Critic

    1. What if my customers don’t like it?
    2. What are the competition doing in this space?
    3. What if the plans go wrong? What’s the worst case scenario?

     

    “The order,” she cautions, “is important – especially, don’t jump to the Critic before the Dreamer has had a thorough go.”

    In past posts, Maxwell has noted how difficult it is to step outside ourselves to interrupt our patterns and realistically assess our dreams. One particularly poignant suggestion (vis a vis this Disney post) that she had to help us was “to seek out aliens.” Not green creatures from another planet, but rather people with entirely different perspectives to shed new light on our ideas. “Children,” she says, “with their own unique insights and fresh approach are ideal.”

    When I read that I couldn’t help but think how much Disney – who created so many “colourful” magic kingdoms for children – would have loved that.

    Courtesy, houserphotography.net

  • No Regrets: Have the Courage to Live a Life True to Yourself

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    Lightning Striking Behind the Eiffel Tower, photo by Bertrand Kulik, Paris 2008

     

    I found this article, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, forwarded to me by a Canadian friend, profound, poignant and a call to action!

    The author, Susie Steiner for The Guardian (UK), writes about Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. Ware recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

    Steiner notes, “Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. ‘When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,’ she says, ‘common themes surfaced again and again.'”

    She says her patients’ # 1 regret is,

    I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

    “This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

    The question I’d ask, if you haven’t already done so, is how do we take charge of our lives to live the life we want to lead and not what is expected of us? It takes introspection first and for those of us healthy individuals 60+ it’s not a moment too soon to begin.

    A life examined is not an easy thing but, in today’s market-driven world where nearly everything is outsourced, some of you may be delighted (I was horrified) to learn we even have an opportunity to outsource our lives. The possibilities as noted in this essay, The Outsourced Life, by Arlie Russell Hochschild, a professor emerita of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of “The Second Shift” and the forthcoming book “The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times,” are endless.

    Whether you do it yourself or you bring in some outside help, the important thing is that you Do It!

    When I reach the end of my life, I want to be able to say, “I regret nothing.” The French chanteuse, Edith Piaf, also known as “The Little Sparrow,” captures it best in her famous song, “Non, je ne regrette rien.” Even more than her words, study her face – especially her eyes – and listen to the passion in her voice. This is a life lived truly.

  • Competition, the Blues and Salamander Pink Suits

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    I was struck by the parallels between two outrageously different articles this week. Each is unique, compelling and passionate in its tribute to the value of creativity and individuality.

    The first, “The Creative Monopoly,” by David Brooks is a fascinating analysis of a course Peter Thiel, PayPal founder, teaches in Stanford University’s Computer Science Department. Thiel believes we “tend to think that whoever competes best comes out ahead. In the race to be more competitive, we sometimes confuse what is hard with what is valuable.”

    With dazzling insight Thiel raises “a provocative possibility: that the competitive spirit capitalism engenders can sometimes inhibit the creativity it requires.  Think about the traits that creative people possess. Creative people don’t follow the crowds; they seek out the blank spots on the map. Creative people wander through faraway and forgotten traditions and then integrate marginal perspectives back to the mainstream. Instead of being fastest around the tracks everybody knows, creative people move adaptively through wildernesses nobody knows.”

    Brooks acknowledges how we “live in a culture that nurtures competitive skills. And they are necessary: discipline, rigor and reliability. But it’s probably a good idea to try to supplement them with the skills of the creative monopolist: alertness, independence and the ability to reclaim forgotten traditions.”

    Brooks’ last words, “reclaim forgotten traditions,” resonate in so many ways, especially for me when I found Whitney Boyd’s beautiful photo essay, “A Right to Sing the Blues.”

    Boyd describes how photographer, Jimmy Williams, traveled throughout the South and photographed artists like Boo Hanks, 84, a singer and guitar player, James “Bubba” Norwood, 70, a drummer who played with Ike and Tina Turner, and Whistlin’ Britches, the blues singer known for clicking his tongue. When he met Bishop Dready Manning and his wife, Marie, at their church in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., they were wearing matching salamander pink suits. Talk about photogenic!

    “These blues musicians,” Williams said, “are the very threads of American music.”

    Don’t miss a single photo.

  • The Power of “Power Posing”

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    Nicole Wallace writing for the Chronicle of Philanthropy described a rather unique presentation at the Pop Tech conference last fall.

    Wallace writes: “With strains of the ‘Wonder Woman’ theme song opening her talk, Amy J.C. Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School, discussed her research on body language and how it can change the way people feel about their status—something that could come in handy for the people nonprofits train to get jobs, and many other purposes. She and a colleague found that holding ‘power poses’ —open, expansive body postures that convey confidence and power (imagine a corporate titan with his feet propped on a desk or an Olympic runner raising her arms in victory)—for as little as two minutes changes people’s levels of testosterone and cortisol (hormones associated with leadership), increases their appetite for risk and helps them cope with stressful situations.”

    Watch the video of Professor Cuddy’s conference presentation: The Power of “Power Posing”

    Do you need a power pose to ask the right questions and nail your next job interview? Or, imagine how a power pose might impact your presentation to a bank, micro-finance institution or venture capitalist to secure funding for launching your own business.

    The applications are unlimited. I remember, for example. when my son’s traditionally reticent, somewhat elderly, first grade teacher dressed as Wonder Woman and assumed that icon’s power pose on an float in our small town’s Independence Day parade. Parents lining the parade route were stunned and children were awestruck.  And I can say with confidence that woman never had a discipline problem in her classroom again.

    “Power Posing” could that be just another way of saying –  take charge of your life???

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