Tag Archives: Creative work

What are you listening to?

what are you listening to

Tom Godber via Flickr

I’m really into podcasts right now.  I listen while I’m alone cooking dinner or folding clothes (the pseudo-downtime of a Mom).  On days I don’t seem to have time to read, these help keep my brain happy:

The Fizzle Show
A “podcast for creative entrepreneurs and honest business builders”, this is basically three smart dudes shooting the shit for an hour.  It may not seem like it at first, but there is a lot of great business information packed into each episode.  This Q&A episode has good insights into making the most of your job early on.

Being Boss
This newish podcast from two Lady Bosses is also targeted at creative entrepreneurs.  I like the conversational style and insight into how these business owners get it all done.  This episode offers some nice perspective on being a working Mom.

Books on the Nightstand
This weekly podcast is a great source of print and audiobook recommendations, as well as “a behind-the-scenes look at the world of books, bookstores and publishing”.  I usually add at least one book to my reading list after each episode.  This episode is particularly interesting if you’re curious about a career in publishing.

The Portfolio Life
This is “the show that helps you pursue work that matters, make a difference with your art and discover your true voice.”  Primarily focused on writing, this podcast explores how we shift from having a single career to creating body of work.  This interview with Seth Godin is good.

How about you? What are you listening to these days?

 


P.S. Here are three Books on the Nightstand recommendations that I’ve read recently and thought were excellent:

     


P.P.S. Are we Twitter friends yet? Find me @TheMgmtMaven

 

This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.

Photo by Tom Godber via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

 

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Three tips for managing creatives.

pencils


Today I’m excited to have a guest post from the amazing and talented Monica Garcia

Monica is a freelance writer and marketing consultant.  She’s a native of the Columbia River Gorge, and mom to a three year old Star Trek nerd.

I’ve had all kinds of jobs in my life.  I’ve bussed dishes in a cafe, made espresso drinks, and had countless customer service gigs.  I even had a brief stint as an obituary writer.  More often than not, being able to do use design software and having a talent for writing has landed me what I’d call “part-time” creative work, or a job where I get to use my creative skills in addition to more administrative duties.  What I’ve learned over the years is that using your creative skills flexes very different muscles than other types of work, and sometimes managers don’t seem to grasp the differences.  With that in mind I came up with my top three tips to keep your creative staff happy by showing you understand the unique challenges that creative gigs present.

1. Output requires input.  I think it is pretty widely accepted that you can’t be a good writer without being a dutiful reader, but somehow folks fail to see the direct connection when it comes to an employee on the clock.

Even creative people can’t always tell where inspiration will come from, so when managers start looking over our shoulders to see if we are “wasting time” it can put undue stress on an already stressed out person trying to pull something artistic out of a hat.

Design is everywhere.  Words are everywhere.  Inspiration abounds and creative people require huge amounts of input to churn out new and interesting work.  A walk in the park, thumbing through magazine, reading an interesting science article – any of these can prove inspirational.  Rather than trying to decide for a creative person what is applicable to their process, I think most of us would prefer that our managers build in some time for us to gather the input we need, and have the effectiveness of our time use be evaluated by our output.

2. Creative work isn’t made for multitasking.  A creative person may like to have several creative projects going at the same time so she doesn’t get bored, but I’m talking about asking your creative professionals to accept duties that require frequent interruption like answering phones or helping customers.  Can it be done?  Sure.  Is it a recipe for madness and mediocre results?  Certainly.  For most creative people concentration is key to getting desirable results, and a barrage of frequent interruptions not only slows down the process, it can completely stifle it.

3. A lot of us creatives don’t take criticism well.  Ever see the posters made by designers to illustrate the worst client feedback they ever received?  Yeah, well, sometimes the most well intentioned feedback comes across like a customer telling their mechanic which wrench to use to fix the car.  Still bosses and clients have to give feedback, and my favorite managers were the ones that gave me lots of information up front and less as the project progressed.  More information in the initial planning stages of a project is almost always preferable (and more efficient) than endless revisions.

Once a creative employee presents their work for review, think about giving feedback like a book editor.  Skilled editors know the difference between a sentence that is tragically ungrammatical, and a sentence that is soundly written, but perhaps just phrased differently than the editor would have written it.  A great editor will hold back comments that would alter the author’s voice and style without offering clarification.  I think this philosophy can be expanded to cover most creative work.

Changes cost time, and by extension, money, so with any change it seems prudent to weigh the costs to the benefit.  Will a quick change clarify the message or make it more accessible?  Probably worth it.  Spending time adjusting the color scheme to match the bosses personal preferences?  Maybe not so much.  That’s a good time to take the role of editor and say to yourself, “it might not be my favorite color, but it gets the job done.”

Recognize too, that sometimes creatives knock it out of the park on the first try*.  If you want a happy creative staff, recognize and reward those home runs.  It might feel like you haven’t done your job unless you made a few changes, but believe me nothing makes a creative stop trying to hit one out of the park like the realization that no matter what they produce, the boss just has to tinker.

*Rarely does a creative person show their manager or client an actual first draft, so when I say “knocks it out of the park on the first try,” of course I’m talking about the first polished draft.

 

(Photo credit: Microsoft)