Do You Say ‘No’ Enough?

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When you’re asked to do something that prevents you from doing your best work, how often do you say “No, I’m sorry, but I won’t do that because…”?

I went to see the exhibition of Danish fashion designers Viktor & Rolf at the NGV a few days ago and was particularly interested in the stance they controversially took against the fashion industry and its crazy fast pace. They just wanted to do their best work.

“We love fashion, but it’s going so fast. We wanted to say ‘No’ this season.” said the designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren to a  group of devoted fans and curious reporters. Their statement was expressed on the runway with a model wearing a grey trench-coat with ‘No’ incorporated into the design of the garment.

What would happen if you said ‘No’ more often when being asked to do things that prevent you from doing your best work?

You may lose a fan, project or client, perhaps shake things up a little within your industry, but are you throwing your souls to the wind if you don’t? The people that respect what you do will stand by you, find you and encourage you. They’re the ones that matter.

You can either focus on doing your best work, becoming known and respected for this, or do whatever is thrown your way, get lost in the crowd and be discontent in your work.

There’s always a choice.  Where will ‘No’ take you?

Something Wonderful

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The amble back from the post office today was like no other hugging this beauty.

Oh Seth, you’ve done it again. Shipped something wonderful. A waft of fresh ink, a weight of wise words (all 17 pounds), an abundance of powerful visuals, a heart thumping with delight… I shall begin to devour this magnificent titan of a book.

Thank you Seth Godin.

Obsessed by Design

Every time I see an Airstream my heart races.

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Its design is distinctive, retro, shiny… equipped with all the modern technology, within the smallest of spaces, customizable, movable… a space to live, work, play… and inspires adventures by land.

Airstreams are not for everyone, but that’s what makes them so desirable. You’re buying into an exclusiveness that appeals to a certain crowd. Much like Harley Davidson. Not everyone owns one, or wants one, but these brands give people a sense of belonging, identity, community and experiences for enjoying life.

People are obsessed by design and brands that make a difference.

Image: Airstream

Creativity and The Local Market

The local market can be a culturally diverse and creative place. It not only provides goods and services that you may want or need, but it’s also an opportunity to experience something interesting, engaging and enjoyable.

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The South Melbourne Market also houses SO:ME, a space for both emerging designers and established brands. Whichever end of the spectrum, it’s an opportunity to raise brand awareness locally but also gives the smaller businesses a chance to dip a toe in the water before taking on the world.

All senses are firing when visiting this market. Whether you’re on the hunt for specific local or exotic ingredients, a good coffee, a cool new bike, a touch of grooming… or a treat for your pet dog, you’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for, and more.

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If you keep your eyes peeled, there’s also plenty of hidden surprises. One being some beautiful wall art by renowned local female, stencil and street artist, Vexta. And after venturing to the other side of the market, a painting amongst the veggie stalls by Australian still life painter Chris Beaumont, as part of the signage for Georgie’s Harvest (selling “all that’s good from the ground”).

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While admiring this impressive painting of characterful market vegetables, I was approached by a welcoming Georgie herself who asked if I new the artist before then enthusiastically launching into the story of how the painting came about. Georgie then proudly talked about her brand identity, which was created by Andrew Ashton, who also designed the branding for The Pet Grocer (also within the market) and a wealth of other recognized creative projects.

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The market tells a wonderfully dynamic story. The people under its roof are passionate, creative and remarkable. No matter what you’re there for, you’re guaranteed to be entertained and come away with more than you’d expected. I guess that’s why this place is so popular, on a Wednesday morning, and the packed car park was proof of that too.

There’s heaps to learn from what works, what people fall in love with, and what they come back to experience, over and over again.

Fear of White Paper

When you’re faced with a blank sheet of paper, the first page in a new notebook, the thought of marking it with your pencil, or pen, for the first time can be quite confronting. But it’s just a piece of paper. Isn’t it?

shutterstock_171554138Transferring thoughts from head to paper is just the beginning of creating ‘something’. Like any first steps, they have to start somewhere before they can grow into wonders. But if you don’t start, you won’t go anywhere.

The next time you come face to face with that daunting blank page, quickly get your thoughts down before the fear of white paper overcomes you. Or just pop your coffee mug on the page, at least it’s a start.

And there you have the beginning of creating something wonderful.

Your ideas are bigger than a blank sheet of paper.

Ideas Are Not Enough

Many designers will tell you they’ve come up with heaps of fantastic ideas that have gone nowhere. But the ideas aren’t the hardest part.

The biggest challenge is the communication around your ideas. You have to be able to share your seamless thinking before, during and after; to convince and excite about the possibilities.

It’s not good enough to just have an idea. It’s not acceptable to groan about a client ‘not getting it’ if you haven’t done your job to explain your thought process.

A truly great designer comes up with brilliant ideas along with their story.

A truly great client is brave enough to join you in bringing them to life.

A match made to lead change.

Do You Value What You Do?

Gaining new clients can be tough. When you get them, you want to do your best to keep them happy. But when there’s no pleasing a client, the smartest companies let them go. To put it bluntly, fire them.

It’s tough to fire a client when the competition is fierce and snapping at your heels, and there are steep targets to meet. Just remember, it only takes one bad client to negatively impact your entire business, pretty fast.

To minimize the chances of this happening in the first place, research any potential relationship before getting involved. Ask about their vision and values, work ethics and what’s important to them. You need to know. Find out who they’ve worked with before and ask them about their experience too. Do your homework. Are you really a good match?

The client-agency selection process should be a two-way dialogue, whereby both equally do their checks to find the right partnership. This kicks things off with a mutual respect, bringing out the best in all talent, motivating the teams and encouraging everyone to do their best work.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen enough as the client is perceived to hold the power (the purse strings) and the agency is perceived to be vulnerable (needs the business), with the latter bending over backwards to be a pleaser. This is a no win situation for either party.

You may enter into a relationship that seems like a good match at the time, but somewhere along the way it takes a turn and becomes a living nightmare. Day and night. Knowing when to say “that’s enough” is a tough call, but any self-respecting company needs to take the stance.

How do you know when to do ‘the deed’? Start here:

1. Are they respectful (towards you, your team and your business)?

2. Do they value creativity (what you do, at your best)?

3. Is there a mutual trust?

If your client isn’t respectful towards you and your people, doesn’t value what you do and get out of bed for every day, and there’s a lack of trust between you… it’s a no brainer.

Fire them. Gracefully. And willingly refer them to the competition.

If you value what you do, don’t work with people that don’t.