[x] as a pillar of change

22 October 2016

for the last two years i’ve been writing about how everything changes, all the time.

there are also things that will seemingly never change. at least not often or easily. this unyielding or stubborn reality — i call it ‘property x’ — exists in our personal lives and our work, our organizations and our families. it seemingly stymies progress, neutralizes genius, tanks relationships or takes the sparkle off the most brilliant of plans.

it is, at best, inconvenient. at worst, horrifically impossible.

property x is different than the 800 lb gorilla — the thing in life that everybody knows but no one talks about. property x is different because it’s not that you don’t quite deal with it, it’s that you can’t.

property x is that thing that isn’t going to change. you have no control over property x, only in how you work with or around it.

what immovable behemoth (x) stands between you and your vision of success? having identified it as such, how could you work with it, or step into a current of change that flows around it?

500 winner alexander rossi

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what defines a legend.

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indycar. what defines a legend

03 October 2016

this year marked the historic 100th running of the indy 500. racing’s greatest spectacle is the stuff of legends with all its speed, obsession, glory and heroes.

what defines a legend is the third in a series of campaigns designed to get the hearts of casual and avid fans racing again.

Read more…

in 2014 jw reignited the indycar swagger with their rivals campaign, calling on the appeal of indy’s many legends and the thrilling competition born of their excellence. this year’s campaign highlighted indy’s rising stars, the young guns on the heels of living legends like scott dixon and helio castroneves, all with their eye on the prize: the immortality promised by a win in this milestone year.

today #indyrivals still fuels a robust social conversation and has provided indycar and its partners a way to connect with the next generation of diehard racing fans: tech-leaning millennials.

this year was one to celebrate the rich past, present and future of indycar, to usher in the next 100 years of racing. and now we look to when, exactly, next begins.

play as... a pillar of change

21 September 2016

this post falls between.
somewhere between the personal and the professional.

a year ago i went to an author event, Brene Brown was in New York for her book Rising Strong. I am a fan of her work, and that night I became a fan of her. She stood up there sharing her own story as part of her work. Her own weaknesses and vulnerabilities were used to demonstrate universal themes. I liked her. I understood her work more fundamentally because she shared herself.

She talked about how she had strived to keep her personal life separate from her professional life, how she had divided it all up and how the divisions started to fall in on themselves. I hated that part of the presentation. I thought it was crap, and that she just didn’t get the whole managing personas thing. It has bothered me all year. So has the idea of managing personas.

I am brand strategist. A writer. A creative director, a sometimes CMO, I am a business leader and I am a jealous friend that does not like staying in touch via social — where’s the intimacy if everyone on god’s green earth knows everything? — and every time i sit down to write this blog, i think “what difference does it make?” no one reads it. but here i am. trying.

you might have landed here by accident, or maybe you’re considering hiring johnson + wolverton and want to get a sense of what we’re all about, or maybe you’re one of the editors i’ve been hounding with story ideas that relate to POSITANO, or a writer that is as freaked out about building your platform as i am, or maybe you’re my sister (hi, patty).

this post falls between the personal and the professional. a personal 10-year plan that crosses over, just like Brene Brown, into the work I do. i’ve written about my personal plan this year, relinquere et giocare (relinquish and play), and i had a bit of inspiration on next year’s theme, and worked with hal to flesh it out. we agreed, kind of fast. like record breaking fast. 2017 is “play as…”

i started with “play and …” i loved the idea that relinquish and play would roll on. that play would be our pivot point. hal tweaked it, he liked the idea but didn’t like that play was separate, a this or that equation.

hello?! yes. right.

play as…

play as a conversation. play as research. play as listening. play as exercise. play as an expression of confidence. play as a giant fucking clue that you’re onto something good.

when i look back over projects, the ones that resonate most for me or that had the most impact for our clients, there’s a thread of play that runs through them.

play, i believe, is super close friends with curiosity and curiosity is a pure gateway to the imagination drug — and when those three get together my ability (and the ability of most of the creatives i’ve ever worked with) to adapt and invent is so effortless and intuitive that all kinds of awesome breaks loose.

there’s lot of science to back this up, my bet is the ones who cracked it started with some bullshitting with colleagues, a little goofing around with algorithms, some private toying with opposing perspectives… and boom the explosion of insight around cognition and play was born.

one of my favorite business quotes ever is from trevor edwards, currently a huge big wig at nike. at the time he lead marketing for nike europe (and he was probably quoting someone else, but that’s how it goes), he said “invent the game, write the rules” that’s hardcore business, and that’s kids inventing new ways to move ones and zeroes around, and that’s me, using play as a way of getting down to one me.

a personal 10-year plan: schedules (make me twitchy)

31 August 2016

milestones and schedules in my life make me twitchy. personal deadlines kind of irritate me. the voice in my head has enough ammo to undo me without giving it the additional firepower of a deadline. it’s entirely unreasonable, and some would say (i’m not naming any names) i’m being childish. ok. but still, i don’t like them.

so, instead, i give myself general shapes, moods of things i’d like to tackle, i spend time imagining the parts i really like. i’ve found that sprinkling the forward path with delicious bits that i’m looking forward to doing keeps me going way more than does strewing it with deadlines.

if the beauty of a ten year container is that it’s so absurd, the irony of it is its malleability.

many writers talk about finishing a manuscript and putting it away for a while.
they come back to it to see what sounds true and what needs to be re-worked.

same with your plan. write it down. set it aside. note the things you want to check in on, in a few months, in a few years.

i put those things in my calendar. with a reminder. honestly, i put them in with some juicy bits. a dazzling little detail that i figure i can block some time for. it’s kind of a thrill when one comes up, or sometimes a total pain in the ass. either way, it’s a note to my future self, a reminder that i have a dream and there are awesome things about it.

it’s a reminder of a little step that will make a big difference, a vote of confidence that i’ll pay attention to my dreams.

a personal 10-year plan: 800 lb gorillas

23 August 2016

if what pleases you is at the heart of the plan for your life, it is flanked on one side by soft, inviting gratitude and on the other by an 800 lb gorilla. this 800 lb gorilla is something that everyone knows, but no one talks about. it’s too much debt. a job you hate or that bores the pants off you. it’s not getting to the gym, or drinking too much. it’s the things in life that you know are keeping you down, but you just don’t quite deal with.

we all have an 800 lb gorilla, or four. and for each gorilla, there is a critical risk, an action that needs to be taken. it’s an emotional risk, an “i’m going to make myself extremely vulnerable to deal with this” kind of a risk. the 800 lb gorilla is the affair, the risk is talking about it. the 800 lb gorilla is you drink too much, the risk is stopping. the 800 lb gorilla is “i hate this job,” the risk is moving on.

these risks, though emotional and values-based, require physical engagement — the big tactics of achieving your dreams. identifying them is the first part of moving through them. then ask the question: what steps am i going to take to clean this up so i can move toward what i actually want?

the 800 lb gorilla and its related risk, the heavy lifting, together with the light and optimism of pleasure and gratitude, provide four questions that, when applied to the different facets of life, guide us in the direction of our biggest, most audacious dreams.

what pleases me? what am i grateful for? what are my 800 lb gorillas? how do i use all of that to move towards my dreams?

important: this is not scientific. this is not the same style of work that i do for business. managing change for a business is research and analytics, budgets and feasibility studies. it’s methodical. there is a lot of creativity that is woven in, but at its core it is business. what i’m writing about here is deeply personal.

i can’t go to the finance department in my life, or see if the research group can do a feasibility study on my dreams. i have no hr guidelines to refer to in the conflict management of my personal life.

turns out our dreams are up to us.

and so, the ten year plan, and its messiness. i create a 10 year plan because i simply cannot keep track of all the parts and the things that are genuinely important to me. i get swept up with things, or bored with them. even what matters most deeply to me can be gone the instant a deadline goes south or a soul i love is sick.

having a plan means that i don’t have to hold on so tightly. i can let go. so i hope that you’ll let your plan breathe. it’s not rigid. you don’t have to be ‘on it.’ let it be there. for you. more like a $3 drawer-organizer from ikea than a corporate brand strategy. let it help you separate the spoons from the knives. have it collaborate with the calendar on the refrigerator, and the suitcase ziplock that keeps shampoo from getting all over your underwear.

it’s not fancy. it’s buckets and bins to hold the bits and pieces that matter. duct tape for your dreams.

a personal 10-year plan: pleasure + gratitude

17 August 2016

when mapping out what you want your life to be like, what pleases you is a great focus to keep at the heart of your work (otherwise you’ll have a plan that has you doing shit you don’t love, and that doesn’t really matter in the big scheme of things…).

this isn’t fluff. it’s very pragmatic. basic. how sustainable is a steady diet of stuff that doesn’t please you?

trust me on this, you can’t depend solely on discipline to achieve long term outcomes. there has to be pleasure.

pragmatic: when you have more things in your life that please you than displease you, you tend to be more productive. productivity + dreams, powerful. when you incorporate the knowledge of what pleases you into your plan, when you leverage those native things in your daily routines, then you move in the direction of your dreams.

conversely, without pleasure, your plan will be a big discipline box of things you’re supposed to do and the things that are supposed to represent success. an intellectualized path that has nothing to do with what you actually love about life. use caution when applying ‘should.’

if you don’t know what pleases you, consider what you’re grateful for. gratitude often gives insight into what pleases you.

gratitude is also one of the most real, in the moment ways of knowing where you are. it’s one of the most soulful ways to create optimism for where you want to go. gratitude grounds you in what is, and motivates you in what could be.

jot it down. what pleases you? what are you grateful for? it’s a very powerful start.

next week we’ll talk about two other necessary pieces: the 800 lb gorilla and how to use it.

a personal 10-year plan: the moving parts

10 August 2016

once you’ve decided to do it, to make a place for your vision, the big-picture view of where you’re going and how you plan to get there, you’ll have to zoom in a bit. zoom in to get a detailed view of the different landscapes that make up your life.

in our plan hal and i include sections for relationship; financial; career; artistic; attitude, faith, spirit; physical health; space and infrastructure.

each section contains two parts, one for me and one for hal. each section has a statement, some call it an intention, or a guiding principle. whatever you want to call it. wing it. just write something down for each section, you can always change it… it might be super simple, like ours for financial is “we won’t run out of money.” that’s crazy simple, but kind of huge, too. i remember writing that one down, and it kind of floored me. imagine what you would do if you knew you wouldn’t run out of money! a girl can dream.

anyway, on each section, there’s your big idea for that part of your life, and then there’s a list of things that matter. keep it simple. write down what you can imagine. as an example, i wanted to create a method for keeping track of all the financial details of life. i actually really hate thinking about money, that’s why i’m focusing on it here. tackle the icky stuff, imagine the details of it being easy. (because, you know, it’s easier to do easy things.)

things that matter dearly to me, don’t to hal. he has other things. for instance, for hal infrastructure is really important. i am the lucky beneficiary of his obsession. and then, things that matter dearly to both of us might sit undone for years, while other things that feel less important are getting done. it doesn’t always make sense. but within the context of the plan, things getting done or not getting done isn’t proof of how on top of it you are, or an indictment of what a loser you are. instead, over time, it simply creates a topographic map of what your priorities are.

the plan is a (somewhat) organized box of the stuff of your dreams. a way that you can live life without having to hold it all in your head. An easy way to come back to what matters and adjust course to make it so.