Posted: March 31st, 2011 | Author: Christian | Filed under: Idea Drunk's Ideas | Tags: advertising, book, christian parsons, creativity, free pie, generosity, gift, giving, idea drunk, linchpin, linkedin, present, seth godin, writing | No Comments »
Nothing is better than free pie. It’s a delicious treat for your mouth and your brain. A gift. And gifts are fun to get. They’re even more fun to give – although that is definitely one of the top five signs that you’ve become an adult. And the digital world has made giving gifts easier than ever. There’s reduced friction to buying, sending or creating your own gifts. Etsy even makes it easy for you to find someone to create a customized gift for you.
But, how many of us take advantage of the new ease of gifting? How often do we actually give outside of the expected holidays? I recently finished reading Seth’s book Linchpin. He spoke about creating value for yourself by giving freely. By giving without an expectation of reciprocation. By doing it simply for the internal satisfaction and for the reward of the craft.
That spoke to me. So I started giving.
And through that, I found that there’s a variety of free pie that you can give away. There’s a scale. There are the easy gifts. The ones that take no more than 5 minutes and a little bit of effort. There are the medium gifts. The ones that require some thought and emotional effort to create. And there are the hard gifts. The gifts that take a whole lot of passion and drive to complete.
But where do you start? What are the best types of gifts to give? Here are some of my favourite examples of the gifts that you can give.
THE EASY GIFTS
- Your attention (like reading a blog or watching a video)
- Your recommendation (for an article or a song)
- An email to an old friend to reconnect
- A phone call to your parents
- A friendly demeanor towards strangers
THE MEDIUM GIFTS
- Writing a blog post
- Recommending someone on LinkedIn
- Sharing pictures on Facebook or Flickr
- Penning a REAL letter
- Sharing your industry insights and knowledge with someone
THE HARD GIFTS
- Challenging the status quo at work
- Creating art to be exhibited and criticized
- Writing a book
- Embarrassing yourself to show the truth
- Remaining polite and positive in stressful situations
The hardest part of creating gifts is the emotional labour behind them. But it’s worth it. The effort and passion show that you care. Some gifts take a lot of time to create. You spend time mining insights and thinking, adjusting and rethinking. But once you get there, all gifts are easy to give.
So why not start giving? You’ve already given me the gift of your attention. Just keep on going from there. And if you can’t think of anything, there’s one gift that is always appreciated – free pie.
Posted: March 25th, 2011 | Author: Christian | Filed under: Random | Tags: birthday, christian parsons, creativity, customer relations, delight, idea drunk, marketing, rewards, surprise | No Comments »
An embarrassing picture from 10 years ago of me and Derek post water balloon fight.
When I was younger, my high school girlfriend threw me a surprise birthday party. Needless to say, it was awesome. It was well planned out beforehand. She asked my parents if it was cool to have it at our house. She arranged for all of my friends to show up and hide. She got a cake. There were even water balloons filled for my friends to “welcome” me to the party.
And then it went horribly awry. We were supposed to meet up with my friend Louis to get a ride back to the house. But his car was wrecked that morning, so he was running about two hours late. And I think we were wandering around East Hastings in Vancouver – not the safest neighbourhood. So, all of my friends were hanging out at the house getting bored and we had no way to get there. The success of the party was in jeopardy.
But I had no clue that any of this was happening. I was just wandering around downtown with my girlfriend. Nothing special. And then when we got dropped off at the house, I walked towards the back door with absolutely no clue that I was about to be pelted with about a dozen water balloons. Surprise!
And then I came to the realization (as I was dodging water balloons in my backyard) that all of my friends were there to surprise me and wish me a happy birthday. Best gift ever.
With surprises, there’s often a lot of preparation and little things that can go wrong. But in my case, the little details didn’t matter. The long wait in a sketchy neighbourhood downtown didn’t matter. It was the surprise that mattered. It was the surprise that was the gift and the thought that was the source of the happiness.
THE BENEFITS OF SURPRISE
The key to a great surprise is that it’s an unexpected piece of happiness. It’s an interruption of the typical pattern. Good surprises can delight people. They can interrupt your customer’s routine or interaction and radically shift their view of your brand.
And a surprise shows your customers that you care. It shows that you’ve been thinking of them. That you appreciate them enough to put in the extra effort. That makes people happy. And aren’t we all trying to foster a tribe of happy customers?
And surprises make for great conversation. They create stories. Stories that your customers can share. Tell their friends about. Stories that will build your reputation. Differentiate you from your competition. Demonstrate that you care about your customers. And provide justification for you to charge a premium for your services.
HOW TO DO IT RIGHT
1. Take time to plan the surprise. Base it on a simple thought or insight about your target. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but it should show that you’re thinking about them and that you care. KLM knew that waiting for planes was boring. So, they found a way of making it exciting for their customers.
2. Keep a lid on it. Whatever you do, do NOT spoil it. Don’t hint at the surprise. The main benefit of a surprise is the fact that it’s unexpected. By hinting that something is going down, you’re opening a window to expectations and imagination. And if you can’t meet those expectations, you won’t be able to deliver the same level of happiness.
3. Execute the surprise. Since it’s unexpected, you never know how people are going to react. They could be blissfully happy, indifferent, speechless and shocked or even angry. Be ready for a range of reactions and be prepared to roll with whichever one you’re faced with.
4. Document the surprise. Take pictures afterwards. Or a video. Make it easy for the person to structure it into a story if they want to tell other people about it. Or give them a memento so that they can remember the moment if they want to revisit it themselves.
Recently, when I was indulging my Lomography habit, I went to purchase some film online. I went through to the checkout. I didn’t use a discount code or membership offer or anything special. But then they gave me a free notebook and roll of film! For no reason! It wasn’t an offer that was plastered all over their website like “if you spend $40, you get a free roll of film.” It was just something nice that they decided to give away as a gift to surprise people when they’re checking out. It cost them almost nothing, but it was 100% unexpected. And I loved it.
Posted: March 25th, 2011 | Author: Christian | Filed under: Inspiration | Tags: christian parsons, idea drunk, Inspiration | No Comments »
Posted: March 17th, 2011 | Author: Christian | Filed under: On Ideation | Tags: adidas, adidas is all in, advertising, christian parsons, creativity, digital campaign, idea drunk, Inspiration, stress | No Comments »
Life creates stress. Sometimes it’s from your personal life. Sometimes it’s just stuff going on in your head. Sometimes it’s from work or school.
And stress builds. It builds and builds until it gets released or you break down.
But the worst thing about stress is that it creates an atmosphere the stifles creativity. It can choke the ability to think and make art. It can put you in a situation that you’re too busy being worried to actually produce. You’re too freaked out about the outcome that you can’t do the work. And you feel like you’re going to vomit.
But the truth of the matter is that you can get through it. The human body is amazing. Your mind is able to perform and deliver under all sorts of crazy circumstances. You just have to treat it right and push through the inevitable period of self-doubt. The true artists are those that are able to push past the wall and create something. They’re the ones that are able to deliver. And it’s not brainpower. It’s not genius. It’s just passion and effort.
But I’ve found over the past couple of years, that there are a couple of things that you can do to help stay creative while stressed:
1. Drink lots of water.
It’s good for your system. It keeps your body hydrated and your mind clear. Force yourself to drink a lot of water as your working through your stuff. Plus, drinking so much water will make you pee a lot. Which brings up my next point…
2. Don’t forget to get up and stretch.
Move your legs. Don’t stay chained to a desk for more than 30 minutes at a time. Even if you just take a quick 30 second break to get up and jump around to get your blood circulating. Your body isn’t designed to sit down in front of a screen and create. Give your eyes a break and look around.
3. Change locations.
A lot. Don’t stay in one place to study or work. Move around. You need to vary your surrounds to keep yourself motivated and feel like you’re moving in your project. Try different places and see how they impact your focus. Work on a picnic table. At the library. At your desk. In a conference room. It doesn’t matter. Just vary your surroundings. Get different inputs.
4. Drink caffeine.
I’ll give you some history – I’m not a coffee drinker. When I went to college, I promised that I wouldn’t get addicted to cigarettes or coffee. So, I don’t drink coffee. But I do drink Red Bull. It’s a last resort, but it works. Especially if you haven’t slept a lot and you need to stay sharp. Caffeine really helps you focus when you need to get stuff done and you’ve been burning for a long time.
5. Take your Flintstone vitamins.
Vitamins are good for you. And chances are, that if you’re stressed you’re probably not getting all of nutrients that you need from food. Or enough sunlight to generate the immune boosting Vitamin D. When you’re stressed, your system is more susceptible. Your normal defences are weakened and you get sick easier. So take your vitamins! The worst thing that can happen to being stressed is when you add being sick to it.
6. Avoid the greasy food.
It’s so easy to get seduced by the lure of greasy food. It’s comfort food. You’re stressed. It’s easy, cheap and convenient. But it’s bad for the brain. It slows your system down. It makes you sleepy and sloppy. It drains the blood from your brain and brings it to your stomach to process all of the grease. So try to keep it healthy when you’re stressed. (The exception to this rule is if you’re hung over. Then eat as much McDonald’s breakfast as you need to get better.)
7. Make a list. Check it twice.
Set down the things that you need to get accomplished. Then get moving on it. A lot of people find themselves worried about trying to get something done, but get stuck in a rut of stressing. They worry about not being able to get to their destination and forget to take the first step – start the work. By breaking a big task into smaller steps, it becomes less daunting. And then you can tackle the easy stuff first and start getting things done.
8. Change the music.
Music affects your mood. It can provide energy or serenity. Happiness or anger. So, use this to your advantage. If you’re freaking out about something, go to your happy place. Put on your headphones and listen to your happy song. If you need to keep pushing on your writing, throw on some upbeat adrenaline hip hop and turn up the volume.
Talk to someone. Anyone. Someone that you trust. Someone that’s a good listener. Someone that will listen to you bitch about the same person or problem for 15 minutes without trying to change the subject. Because sometimes you just need to vent. You can’t keep it all bottled up inside. It chokes creativity. Let it out.
10. Have a creative outlet.
Like doodling. Or writing. Or character makeup. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Do something fun that reminds you why you like to create. Why you like to make art. Why you like to accomplish stuff. Because it’s fun. And it communicates to people. And it displays thought and emotion.
So those are the tips. Let me know if you have any more! And if you’re wondering why I’ve been stressed lately, it’s because I’ve been leading the team that created this.
Posted: March 6th, 2011 | Author: Christian | Filed under: Inspiration | Tags: action, books, christian parsons, hugh macleod, idea drunk, Inspiration, ramit sethi, reading, seth godin | No Comments »
I did something this weekend that I haven’t done for a while. Read. A book. Not a magazine. Not a blog. Not a news site. A book.
There is so much great content out there. Real ideas, thoughts and arguments that are printed on pages and bound. It’s great fodder for a creative mind. And I had this obsession of trolling bookstores. I’d pick up the latest mantra written by Hugh or Seth or Ramit and flip through it. I would buy it. And then it would sit on my shelf collecting dust.
The act of buying the book was what I enjoyed. It possessed all of the ambitions of reading and learning, but lacked the action. It’s how people feel when buying lottery tickets. The act of buying the ticket provides a high where you get to dream about all of the stuff that you would do with the money. The vacations. The house that you’d buy. The car.
Buying a book led to the same euphoria. Anything was possible. I would read these pages, my brain would be filled with brilliant ideas and then I would go out and change the world. Instead, nothing happened. It would sit on my desk unread for months.
This was an expensive habit. Expensive because it wasn’t paying off. I was spending money to buy the materials but not investing the time to follow through with it.
So this Friday, I started reading.
A lot of the time, we purchase things based on an goal. You buy brand new Nikes because you’re going to go running. You buy a guitar because you want to learn how to play. You buy a new camera because you want to take pictures. But the process doesn’t stop with the purchase. That’s the beginning. The next step is to follow up with action.