We don’t just need each other. We thrive with each other. How can we stay open and fresh in collaboration? Who’s exemplifying the best of creative collaboration? How can we work together to make change that matters in this world?

tracking wonder - collaborate

Tapping into Creative Collaboration

tracking wonder - collaborate

Collaboration, it turns out, is essential for creative productivity and innovation.

The New York socialite Mabel Dodge knew something about putting talented, engaging people from different backgrounds and creative media in the same room. With the right atmosphere and combination of people, ideas could ignite that might inspire creative action (including even, a few love affairs). Read more

Imaage: pixelbay.com

The Brave Creative

 

pages from the author's editor

Image:pages from the author’s editor

You can toil on a book, rehearse a talk, strategize a launch, stretch yourself to create a new product or offer or a whole new business, but you cannot control outcome.

You can craft to design experiences to take people where you promised, you can have meetings to plan, and you can gather and lead exceptional people on your team, but ultimately you have to get out of the way.

When you build something, you never ultimately know how it will be experienced.

Something happened a few years back that as I recall it still sends me reeling.  Read more

Courtesy Britt Bravo

Can’t Find a Female Mentor? Create a Circle.

Courtesy Britt Bravo

Courtesy Britt Bravo

Guest Post by Britt Bravo, Premium Consultant at Tracking Wonder

Note: Britt Bravo helps our clients shape their ideas into story-based brands and broadcast their message to the right audiences. Her local paper named her the “best podcaster and blogger most dedicated to social change.” She’s also mentoring a few people in our ArtMark™ Brand Story & Strategy program. I’m thrilled to have her on board the team and serving the TW Community. Find out more here: ArtMark™. – Jeffrey

I’ve never had a mentor to guide me on my career path. If you’re a woman, and haven’t had a mentor either, you’re not alone. According to a 2011 LinkedIn survey of almost 1,000 female professionals in the U.S., nearly one in five women have never had a mentor.

It’s not surprising to me that so many women haven’t been mentored. Few role models exist in American culture of women having mentors, and even fewer of women being mentors. Neo has Morpheus in The Matrix, Daniel has Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, and Luke has Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, but few heroines in American culture are depicted having mentors, especially female ones. Read more

girl-on-rialto-bridge-venice-italy-picjumbo-com

To Be Famous Versus To Be Seen

girl-on-rialto-bridge-venice-italy-picjumbo-com

The Fleeting Clap

You could make a long list of celebrities who attained fame and then wished to flee from it as if fame were pursuing them instead of the other way around. Fame can be the siren’s song that lures you into thinking you need heaps of applause and accolades to feel good about your work in the world. It is the veneer reflection of good work.

Chase after applause, and you measure success and contentment by how many and how loud. When the clapping stops, you leave yourself wide open to a chasm of disappointment or worse.

Here’s an interesting thing: When you chase after applause, you’re in such a hurry to gauge other people’s surface responses that you overlook the very thing that brings you abiding joy – the challenges of honing a craft, building an endeavor, improving a skill set, learning to do something brand new, and making something that in turn changes the way people think or feel or act.

It’s tough to resist this lure of instant mini-fame. It’s especially tough in a time when programmers who make apps and social media platforms know how to tap into our base needs for instant gratification. Like, Like, Like, Like.

We don’t need fame to thrive. We don’t need millions of people throwing accolades our way for our art or business or endeavor to make an impact and to make a return.  Read more

inner-you-mountain-quest

To Envision Your Best New Year, First Focus on the Inner You

new year inner-you-mountain-quest

Alison had published three books, delivered a talk at a renowned conference, and advanced her distinct brand enough to garner gigs around the world.

So, what was the problem?

“I’ve kind of run this thing to its end.  I’m ready for what’s next, but I don’t know what that is. And whenever I get an inkling, it seems radically different from what I’m known for.” She wanted to start off her new year with a whole new “thing.”

She wanted to Break Brand.

And sometimes, most times, that’s fine and necessary. But this kind of situation raises profound doubt. The kind of doubt the Alisons of the world experience has a different hue than the kind of doubt, say, of someone just starting out with his first venture ever. Alison’s kind of doubt comes post-success, post-mastery. She’s already accomplished in one field. So, for her to arrive again at uncertainty makes her think she’s a failure or a fool for surrendering success in that one proven arena. To become an uncertain apprentice again who must ask for guidance feels, to the accomplished professional or creative, kind of vulnerable.

But this junction of doubt turns out to be profoundly normal for successful people who excel in creative and entrepreneurial fields.

The hard part for Alison and others of us like her is staying in the confusion long enough to let something real and true germinate. When we cannot endure the unknown next horizon, we often respond in one of three ways:

  1. Stick with the safe thing.

  2. Leap to another safe thing.

  3. Get stuck in paralysis.

Not fun. Read more

group-brainstorming-2

Why DIY is a Lie for Entrepreneurs & Creatives

group-brainstorming1

Now perhaps more than ever we have access to more knowledge, more resources, more apps that empower us to take things into our own hands. We can create and manage our own websites. Write and publish our own books. Build our own businesses. You name it, there’s probably a way that you could find out how to do it yourself.

Here’s where we get trapped.

Just because you can download a logo design app doesn’t mean you are necessarily skilled to design your own logo.

Just because you can access WordPress or Foursquare and choose themes doesn’t mean you are necessarily skilled to design your own website.

You can write well enough to form coherent, clear, sometimes lyrical paragraphs, but does that equip you to write your best copy?

I can strum guitar chords good enough for sing-alongs with friends, but I would never produce and try to sell my covers of Bob Dylan.

I’m curious: Why do we settle for good enough not only for ourselves but, more, for the people whose lives we want to make better – our customers and communities?

Maybe we think that because we can kind of sort of figure things out on our own that we should do it on our own and that we are skilled “enough” to do so.

It will save us money, right? Maybe. But maybe not. Not if your doing so is consuming your finite time and effort. Not if what you produce actually does not bring back your best revenue.

DIY could waste you money and time.  Read more

xfv4Ek6qRre3Ud7p9row_sylwiabartyzel_unsplash_08

The Heroine’s Journey & The Business Artist

xfv4Ek6qRre3Ud7p9row_sylwiabartyzel_unsplash_08

11169549_10152840355971161_3650447059151620528_oNote: Saundra Goldman is a smart, quietly powerful mentor and leader. She has been leading a conversation for a few years at Creative Mix where she helps women connect the dots of their creative lives and step up with work that speaks to their deepest calling. Saundra has been taking stock of what the heroine’s journey entails. What is the heroine’s journey? How is that different from the hero’s journey? How do we live out a heroine’s journey as an artist or business artist – especially when we must contend with our own health and life constraints? Those are the questions Saundra has been living.

I’m grateful that she has agreed to share this piece here.

Read more

Opportunity by RK Rockefeller, Flickr

Do Your Best Work, Not Someone Else’s

Opportunity by RK Rockefeller, Flickr

Opportunity by RK Rockefeller, Flickr

He had made up his mind.

Archie told his two friends he just couldn’t risk starting his own animated studio. “It’s a stupid fantasy.” Benjy and Sahib sat silent and stunned.

Archie had come from a long line of respected business innovators and creative people – his mother and father both investors and business owners; his grandfather played sax for Bennie Goodman; his grandmother, a jazz singer. The youngest of three brothers, Archie had admired his older brother Sam, his best friend, a talented artist who always saw the best in his younger brother. “Little Archer,” he nicknamed him. He would watch Archie excel at drawing or playing sax or amateur video production. “Man,” Sam would say,” little Archer, when you set your aim on something, you’ll hit it, brother. You’ve got the knack.”

Then at 18 Sam left for Europe and never looked back.

Archie could’ve gotten lost. But amidst a family tree of accomplishments, he had found his own talents and own way of grieving his brother’s absence through animated design. Still, he drifted through his 20s, getting jobs at agencies and studios more out of prestige and security than anything else.

Then on the same day, he lost his job and his girlfriend, the one person who moored him. Over the next several months, he took stock of his life until, boom, it became clear that his next mission was to start a small animation studio. He’d start it with his two colleagues and chums – Benjy who had business smarts and Sahib who had smarts in many areas plus brilliant artistic talents like Sam. Read more

Spencer Goad/Creative Commons

Prioritize Your Value

Spencer Goad/Creative Commons

Spencer Goad/Creative Commons

She couldn’t believe the one word that came up in a simple self-assessment. She had sensed it in her 20+ years of accomplishments across the globe. But the word simply was not the word she used to describe herself or the quality that most captivates people and brings them value. She might have chosen compassionate, loving, sensitive. But this word?

What was that word? Power.

That word came up in one of the self-assessments I use with clients to help them gain a facet of self-knowledge. It was as if a mirror into her whole heritage and history brought to light her untapped gifts. What’s unique about this assessment is that it is more a reflection of how the world sees you – not how you see yourself.

Held in check, the world, it turns out, holds up a mirror to our genius.

Whether you’re a speaker or spiritual seeker, a painter or business artist, there’s an oft-overlooked level of knowledge essential to hone on the path to mastery.

It’s a knowledge that involves the world mirroring your genius. And it involves your genius in turn lifting up the world.

I’m sure you know and honor your “values,” and you likely don’t equate “your value” with complete monetization. You are not a product.

Still, if you endeavor to do business-as-unusual, you need to prioritize your value.

 

Jeffrey

Courtesy of Creative Commons (Jef Safi)

Imagine Your Future To Be Wholly Present

Courtesy of Creative Commons (Jef Safi)

Courtesy of Creative Commons (Jef Safi)

Creativity is a revived currency in business. The New York Times Magazine ran a full feature on the burgeoning field of us creativity consultants and idea leaders. Advances in technology have automated numerous jobs and made follow-instructions-and-gather-information managers almost obsolete.

Yet what do we entrepreneurs, business owners, and business artists do when we make professional plans and goals?

Some of us complain that we’re not analytical or MBA-savvy enough and forfeit our innate creative tools. Yes, rigorous analysis of data and competition and the market are necessary, but analysis alone will not get you to the heart of your professional life and future. And for most of us motivated by meaning more than money, we must get to the core to keep our business’s heart beat thumping through good times and bad.

One oft-forgotten tool, inherent to your creativity, can help you get to your professional heart and envision your professional year accordingly. Read more