Whistle While You Work

I tend to get so focused on my work that I forget about everything else. For the most part, that’s a good thing. I do my best work when I’m totally tuned in and the rest of the world is tuned out.

I drink a couple of big cups of tea every morning (I take mine with milk, like the Brits, thank you). It gives me a good jolt and helps keep me focused. But it also presents a problem. With the kitchen down the hall and around the corner, I had a tendency to forget about having put the kettle on to boil. It led directly to the death of a couple a nice tea kettles and the possibility of actually burning the place down!

The solution was clear. I needed to secure a tea kettle with a loud, built-in whistle ASAP. Initially, I picked up one of those cool kettles that Michael Graves designed in the ’80s. You know, the one with the cute little red bird that whistled. Eventually however, that little bird got lost (or flew away). Time to brew a new solution.

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Success To The Power Of One-On-One

Any conversation about the current state of communication in sure to be peppered with references to mobile, email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the zillion other ways we “speak” to each other every day. And justifiably so. Texting, video conferencing, and especially social networking have become integral to doing business. You don’t hear a whole lot of talk, however, about the most powerful communication scenario of them all – the one-on-one encounter.

Any business development veteran can relate stories of how this or that deal was closed only after that lunch, dinner, drink or cup of coffee brought them together face to face. But even when people can’t be in the same physical space, collaborating directly with the decision maker can be the difference between a fully realized vision and a built-by-committee mishmash.

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Everything Is Design!

We’ve always been inspired by the amazing work and the design-first philosophy of Paul Rand. From the 1930s until his death in 1996, he was a pioneer in demonstrating to the business community the considerable power of great design in their marketing efforts. As his associate Louis Danziger put it, “He almost single-handedly convinced business that design was an effective tool…We went from being commercial artists to being graphic designers largely on his merits.”

Some of Rand’s iconic corporate identities include IBM. ABC, Cummins Engines and UPS. He was an inspiration to Apple head Steve Jobs, who referred to Rand as “the greatest living graphic designer.” Jobs turned to Rand to create the corporate identity for his NeXT Computer.

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Are You Stuck In The Cereal Aisle?

Growing up in Fidel Castro’s Cuba, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Juan Carlos Formell knew life in a supressed society where commerce and commodities had all but dried up. A world-class musician, Juan Carlos was chafing at his creative and career limitations when he was offered an opportunity to travel with a band on a state-sponsored tour of Mexico. Slipping out of his hotel one night, the musician made his way to family members and a new beginning in New York City.

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Shhh…Are You Listening?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey

I love this quote from the bestselling author of “Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People,” because it points out the big difference between “listening” and really, truly listening. Think about it. When having a conversation with someone, be it business, personal or whatever, most of us are actually only half listening. The other half of our brain is busy formulating a response to what is being said. Unfortunately, this kind of “diluted” listening is the norm.

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