Everything's OK (...and there's work to do)
Issue 36 – January 2015
IN THIS ISSUE
Welcome to 2015, if you're reading this you made it— congratulations! How can you make this a better year for yourself and family? Unfortunately, we can't answer that for you nor do we have a list of self probing questions to expose and then weed out unwanted behaviors. What we do have are 4 interviews with 4 exceptional people in their fields. We probed them for how they dealt with unforeseen obstacles in their work in 2014. We found their accounts inspiring and thought-provoking.
Nicole Quinn (
), self defined as a "media content creator", took time out of her own 2015 New Year's Day party for this interview:
Ken: So, you're basically a writer?
Nicole: I'm a content creator. I make shit happen.
K: What does that mean?
N: I make... I record audio books. I write novels, screenplays, and plays. I've directed movies, and plays. I just... whatever the medium calls for, whatever it takes to puff that up, that is kind of what I do.
K: Did you run into any unforeseen obstacles last year?
N: Life was an unforeseen obstacle. My father moved in and I was right on deadline to deliver a book and I work at home. I had to take a month out of my life to sort of re-help him relocate and it changed the way I had to work, so it became a lot more disciplined because I lost seven hours out of my day.
K: Each day?
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International Coach Federation
"We loved every aspect of the FTM event. The setup and coordination was easy and seamless, the event was beautifully facilitated and done in a way that engaged even the ones who were nervous, and the end result had participants speaking positively for days."
Gisele Eve Garcia
The Conference Board
"The event was engaging to the audience and everyone had a great time being creative and performing. We appreciated the professionalism shown by your team while on site. I love this as a way for people to express what's in their heads in a creative, interactive way. While our session was used as a graduation event I could also see how good it could be for a big change management project, merger/integration activity, etc."
"Remember when you were a kid you got your first small box of Crayola Crayons with five or six primary colors. The first thing you did was enjoy the smell and then you feverishly colored everything in sight. You soon became bored with the limited colors provided in the box and stop being creative. Now think back to when you got the really big box with every color in the world. The crayons were layered in stadium style with limitless opportunity for creativity. Face the Music is the
big box of crayons
Orange & Rockland Utilities
N: Each day, seven days a week. I lost seven hours from the way the care works with my father.
K: So did that get in the way of your work?
N: It actually made me focus more. I'm behind, but I used the time that I have better.
I don't think the work suffered.
K: The deadline suffered because your father moved in.
N: Right, extenuating circumstances and acts of God are often forgivable.
K: Are there any learning's from this experience?
N: Sure, sure. You can still make things happen, be creative even under great emotional duress and that life happens, and that as an artist you should feed your work, not take away from it. I think my work is better because of that awful thing that has interrupted my life; it made the work deeper, richer, and more meaningful. The end product is just better because it's more focused. Suddenly, it had a point of view that it didn't have before based on my life experience. As an artist, if you resist your life experiences and try to keep them on the same track then your works seems kind of hollow and shallow to me at the end because I didn't follow the way the work was taking me which was to follow my life. 'Cause you can't separate the two, you can't take yourself out of yourself and go into a job. You're always there.
Our next interviewee, X, asked to remain nameless. He is a high-level Creative director and writer in the corporate world.
X: Our main clients retired and another key client also retired and there were a number of layoffs (or reallocating as they call it). The landscape changed so that my security and my relationships and dynamics were different than they have been in the past: you have to prove yourself all over again, learn how to interact with new people in new ways, so, I would say that was my primary challenge this year with my biggest clients.
Ken: The personal of the company changed.
X: Yes, exactly. Kind of a new regime, who, you know, in our business ... your job is to help them to make them look good... .
K: How did you deal with that?
X: There are times when if you do your job too well you can actually underscore; you can make them look bad. You can make them look unnecessary; you can make them look like they are not providing enough value internally. When you don't know people and you're trying to do your job to the best of your ability, you have to be careful with the internal politics.
K: I just want to back up, you said that if you do your job too well you can make them look bad, please talk about that.
X: Well, let's say that you are a marketing group and part of your job is to communicate information to your sales force. If you hire me to create a video, to write a speech on top of a presentation to create other forms of communication that is in fact your job as an internal employee and I do it well and people on all levels take notice including the marketing person's boss, or executives above that person you can, they can, those higher level people, would and could potentially question the value of their own employees. Why aren't you guys able to do this?
X: To meet that challenge, I was tempted to do what I always have done and that is understand my client, their brand, their unique communications challenges, and to provide them with the best work possible. However, with the new regime I have to keep them involved and make sure that they remain involved. There is collaboration and that we are working as a team rather then simply them going to an agency to provide work or output or deliverables as sort of a separate outside consultancy.
Ken: What learning's are you taking into the New Year?
X: I've been doing this for a long time. It's really good to remind yourself that relationships really matter. If you can create strong relationships, if you can create a short hand or language you share in common, and if you're able to communicate not just around the business but also as people in my line of work, that's critical. I think I was taking that for granted that I have a lot of long standing clients, but taking on a new client I learned that all over again.
Ken: Thank you, Ron. Sorry, I mean X.
A musician who wears many hats: Composer, producer, engineer, instrumentalist, singer, and band-leader. Grammy award winner Dean Jones (
) tells us about one challenge that lasts from 2014 to the present.
Dean Jones: I have been very lucky; feel very fortunate to have worked with a lot of great musicians who are fun to hang out with. I got a Grammy two years ago and that led to more work. So, I've been quite busy, but as usual in the winter time around here it gets a little slower. I always just have this nervous feeling in the winter that I got to take some work. So, I started a recording project with this woman whose music I'm not really into.
K: Oh so, this has been different for you?
DJ: Usually, people come and do their records in 3 to 4 months. Okay, she's going to come in and record and she'll leave. I'll just do my work on it and it'll be done in a few. But, it's been dragging on for the whole year. Normally, I work with people who have similar aesthetics. So this was a much more challenging thing to deal with somebody who is very critical of everything and over-thinking. I have to deal with trying to be pleasant, when I feel like saying just "Get out of Here!"
K: Did you finish the project?
DJ: No, I mixed it and remixed it and re-remixed it and its now been given to somebody else to mix, and it sounded good.
K: So, you dealt it by being as professional as possible and not to take it personally.
DJ: Yeah, yeah, which is hard. I do this for a living and I work with a lot of different people and people are happy with what they get. Here's somebody who is not happy... So, I tell myself, it wasn't a good match.
K: Are you going to change anything about the way you do business going forward?
DJ: I am going to be more careful in who I choose to work with because in my worry, "I'm going to be totally broke this year and I'm never going to get any work," it's not true. I think I've got to turn people down; I can't get into something that will make me miserable for a year.
At the conclusion of this interview I learned that Deans latest production for The Okee Dokee Brothers newest recording entitled "Through the Woods" has been nominated for a 2015 Grammy.
Finally, we have Hudson Valley farmer Bruce Davenport (
), who co-owns, with his brother, a 120 acre vegetable farm.
Ken: So, 2014 was a good year for you guys?
Bruce: Yeah... it was. If you can't do it in 2014, then you're not going to do it.
K: Even with all that cold last winter?
B: That doesn't make any difference. That actually helps us because it kills a lot of bugs off.
K: So, did you have any unforeseen obstacles this year?
B: Our main unforeseen obstacle is always the weather. The hurricanes we had and that kind of thing. Nowadays, margins are so small that if you lose a couple of crops it ends of being a bad year. Every business has its pitfall's, but with farming you add weather to it.
K: So did you do anything different to grow your business this year? And I don't mean that metaphorically—actually maybe I do mean it metaphorically.
B: Yeah, we actually took back some land that we have been renting, so, we literally grew our farm. Also, we're always not passively, but not really actively, always looking for a better outlet. We can only grow so much. Frankly, we sell just about everything we grow.
K: Everything matters?
B: Yeah, everything matters and so, we are always trying to say goodbye to the guy that's not paying us very much, pays too slow, and cultivate the next guy down the road, not necessarily bigger, but a better customer, you know, that's better for us to work with. Because quality of life has a lot to do with it, you know. I call you up, give you the order, and just, how easy it is to do your business and collect your money.
K: Is there anything that you learned from last year that you would like to do this year?
B: Every year... our field is gridded out with an irrigation line that runs down through the middle of it and so, it has six hydrants where we irrigate from and each one is 1100 ft by 600ft (or something like that). And the rotation that's involved, the considerations in the rotations, and the considerations on what you plant, when you plant it, what follows it the next year, what you have to follow, what that crop follows, we have broccoli, corn, tomatoes, peppers, melons, spinach, is a real tough one. How you do that is a constant learning curve and it's really hard to figure out, so, we are always fine-tuning. Every year you go rubbing your hands, oh we got it now. You know your crop plan and how you are going to lay it out... so there's that. That's an ongoing thing.
Thank you to all are interviewees and to my assistant, Sue Kim, for her meticulous transcriptions of the recorded interviews.
Did you make a resolution to be more productive this year? Here is a tool to center yourself on what is important each week, and get into action around the things that are going to make a difference. Once you get yourself setup, the process should take you about 10-20 minutes to use every week. Can be done Friday afternoon, on the weekend, or first thing Monday morning.
If you want some inspirational music to jump start you go to:
and listen to Everthing's OK (and there's work to do).
1. PowerPause—Breathe, center, clear thoughts
2. Check in on vision—What is your current vision? (Enter you vision statement here.)
Strategic questions (with respect to the vision):
a. What's working? (Enter answers after each question.)
b. Not working?
3. What's the context for this week?
A context is the mindset of frame of reference you want to hold/come from. A longer definition: A statement you believe to be true or wish to be true that gets you the results you want.
Example: By being prepared in my head and coming from my heart I enjoy creating my success. (Enter your context statement.)
4. Look at Key Success Areas (KSA's) and rate each from 1-10—10 means it couldn't be going any better; 1... it's dead in the water. (A KSA is an area of focus in your life/work that is essential in you attaining your vision and success.)
a. Business Development (Enter 1-10 rating after each)
b. Delivery and product
c. Developing my team
d. Internal Systems
e. Personal Development
5. Strategic action: Define actions/activities this week that are moving each KSA forward (especially low ones)
a. Write out actions under the heading of each KSA
• Business Development
+ Make 25 calls this week to prospects
+ Write and distribute press release on new product
+ Attend networking event on Thursday—5 new contacts
• Client delivery and product
• Developing my team
• Internal Systems
• Personal Development
b. Plug actions into calendar
6. Review decisions, commitments and to-do lists from
a. Meeting/call decisions
b. Actions plans
d. Client requests
e. Any other sources
Schedule all decisions, commitments and to-do's and/or the actions needed to complete them into your calendar.
Now you are starting your week coming from your vision, holding a powerful context, and have actions plugged into real time (your calendar) to move it all forward. One way to up the energy and fun is to enroll a partner/buddy to do the process together.
For a free template, email us at
WIP it good!
What event, initiative or challenge do you have coming up
that Face The Music can add value to?
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