Posts Tagged ‘Harvard Business Review’

  • Storytelling – The Business of You

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    I was struck when I read Alina Tugen’s NY Times article, Storytelling Your Way to Find a Better Job or Build a Business, this weekend. Struck that this thousands of years old art form has now become such a high profile trend. It’s been called a strategic tool with “irresistible power” by Harvard Business Review. And “the major business lesson of 2014” by Entrepreneur magazine.

    Tugend says, “In these days of tougher-than-ever job searches, competition for crowdfunding and start-ups looking to be the next Google or Facebook, it’s not enough just to offer up the facts about you or your company to prospective employers or investors. Or even to your own workers. You need to be compelling, unforgettable, funny and smart. Magnetic, even. You need to be able to answer the question that might be lingering in the minds of the people you’re trying to persuade: What makes you so special? You need to have a good story.”

    A good story, however, is not that easy to tell.

    Turend offers 5 Tips:

    • Know who your audience is.

    • Have a beginning, middle and end.

    • Use concrete details and personal experience.

    • Don’t self-censor.

    • Don’t try to memorize a story so it sounds rehearsed. It’s not about perfection. It’s about connecting.

     

    I think the first steps to successful storytelling are even more basic:

    1. Know the story you want to tell.
    2. Find the information that best tells the story.
    3. Determine the form that most clearly displays that information.

    In terms of you and your work or startup aspirations, stories can illuminate:

    • Who you are – your character, originality and authenticity, as well as your skills and expertise.
    • Where you came from.
    • Where you are going.
    • What you care about.
    • What is important to you.

    Speaking of illuminate, storytelling – especially in our digital age – goes well beyond the written word. In this multimedia world you need to create a spoken, written, and visual message. Pictures, logos, videos and information graphics are all tools to help you tell your story – your brand – and engage your audience in much less than a thousand words.

    One of the most valuable resources I’ve found for digital storytelling are these online workshops from The KQED Digital Storytelling Initiative.

    No matter what your tools – be it a hammer and chisel, a feather pen, or a mouse – the best, most compelling and memorable stories are those that engage your audience. Anyone can relay facts and data. It takes an artist to build and share a story, but you can learn to do it and it will bring your job interview or new business startup pitch to life. Good stories change lives.

     

     

     

     

  • Be Like Matisse and Reinvent Your Life as a Work of Art!

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    Throughout his long and productive 84-year career, world-renown French artist, Henri Matisse (1869-1953), continually redirected his creative energies by tackling at least six different styles of painting, sculpture, paper cut-outs, illustrated books, architectural design and stained-glass windows.

    And, all of this happened after Matisse had launched his first career as a lawyer! Yes, a lawyer. When he was eighteen, Matisse’s father encouraged him to study law in Paris. For two years, Matisse did brilliantly even though he found law boring and totally uninspiring, and then he was struck down with appendicitis. To ease his convalescence, his mother brought him a box of art supplies. Matisse said, “From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life.” His father was deeply disappointed, but his mother, whose art had been limited to painting designs on porcelain, advised her son not to adhere to the “rules” of art, but rather listen to his own emotions. And that is what Matisse did – over and over again – as he was living his art.

    He began painting still-lives and landscapes in the traditional Flemish style, but quickly transitioned to Impressionism, painting his first masterpiece The Dinner Table in 1897. The French traditionalists denounced it and, discouraged by their response, Matisse briefly turned to sculpture. Though he did not pursue this for long, it continued to influence form in his painting for the rest of his life.

    His next style, Modernism, was influenced by such post-Impressionists as Paul Cézanne and Gauguin. From there, he dabbled in Pointillism and Naturalism. That’s five stylistic reinventions so far in this his second career. His sixth came in 1905, when he was considered the leader of the Fauve painting movement.

    Over the next 36 years, he created hundreds of masterpieces until he was diagnosed with cancer in 1941 and the surgery necessitated he use a wheelchair. Physically diminished, his creativity soared to new heights. He called what was to be his last 14 years, “Une seconde vie,” a second life. He created his vibrant cut paper collages, and described the process as “painting with scissors.” His assistants helped him mount the cut-outs on the walls of his room and he said, “You see, as I am obliged to remain often in bed because of the state of my health, I have made a little garden all around me where I can walk… There are leaves, fruits, a bird.” Then, in 1947 he published Jazz, a brilliant, limited-edition book containing prints of his colorful cut paper collages.

    Lastly, Matisse’s final reinvention was to design in 1951 the interior and the stained-glass windows for the Chapelle du Rosaire in Vence.

    Matisse was a genius at reinvention – an inspiration to all of us to try it at least once. The good news is that there’s lots of help out there. Here are four great places to start:

    Seth Godin, marketing guru, entrepreneur, and best-selling author of fourteen books that have been translated into more than thirty languages, has written, Why We Are All Artists. In his online conversation he describes how we are all “capable of making a difference, of being bold, and of changing more than we are willing to admit. We are capable of making art.”

    The Idea Champions share 50 Ways to Foster Innovation. This blog post is about developing a culture of sustainable innovation in organizations, but the same principles apply to individual lives, as well.

    From the Harvard Business Review Blog, check out,  How to Master a New Skill.

    And don’t miss Kerry Hannon’s terrific new book, Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work that Keeps You Healthy and Happy, and Pays the Bills, which was named book-of-the-month in the Washington Post’sColor of Money Book Club“.

    Happy New Year and Happy New You!

     

  • Orchestrating Innovation – Old and New

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    Courtesy, Harvard Business Review

     

    This weekend, as I read a preview of Walter Isaacson’s article, “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs” the April cover story in the Harvard Business Review, I was struck by the parallels between the culture of creativity Jobs fostered at Apple and that of Mervin Kelly, “the man most responsible for the culture of creativity” at Bell Labs fifty years earlier.

    Jon Gertner, author of the forthcoming “The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation,” published an ode to the “Bell Labs’ Miracle” in the NY Times last month. Just for starters, read and compare how these four key lessons of Jobs – “Focus; Simplify; Take Responsibility; and Combine the Humanities with the Sciences” were integral to the Bell Labs’ creative ecosystem.

    Echo, the first communications satellite, in 1960. Courtesy of Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc. and the AT&T Archives and History Center

     

    As Gertner notes: “His [Kelly’s] fundamental belief was that an ‘institute of creative technology’ like his own needed a ‘critical mass’ of talented people to foster a busy exchange of ideas. But innovation required much more than that. Mr. Kelly was convinced that physical proximity was everything; phone calls alone wouldn’t do. Quite intentionally, Bell Labs housed thinkers and doers under one roof. Purposefully mixed together on the transistor project were physicists, metallurgists and electrical engineers; side by side were specialists in theory, experimentation and manufacturing. Like an able concert hall conductor, he sought a harmony, and sometimes a tension, between scientific disciplines; between researchers and developers; and between soloists and groups.”

    Indeed, it will take all of us – artists, scientists, politicians, teachers, navigators, cooks, athletes, geeks, oboe players and more – to address the world’s seemingly intractable problems today.  And, once we truly understand this, we need to identify another innovator cut from the same cloth as Jobs and Kelly to lead our orchestra.

     


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