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Punch Your Ticket, Not the Clock

What is the passion that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning ready to take on the world? Make the hair on your arms stand up? Make you want to stay late in the night, not because you have a deadline, but because you have a problem you’re on the cusp of solving? What is the passion that will make you want to give 110 percent of yourself, rather than putting in the minimum requirement to pick up a paycheck? What is that passion for you?

During my 7 years of 40-hour work weeks, it’s taken a long time to truly find what it is that makes my gears grind, makes the hair stand up on my arms, gets my heart racing…until recently. Recently, I’ve had some pretty great changes happen in my full-time, professional work life – I got a new job – with an amazing agency…and it was a HUGE change for me.

I have dedicated my entire career to the corporate world. Creating a marketing plan for private and public companies from the ground up, establishing their branding, advertising plans, promotional schedules, implementing CRM & email marketing programs, and so much more. When you do this for a couple of companies, it becomes cake. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful for these experiences; they paved the way for who and where I am today. However, once you perfect your craft and the tasks become mundane, the days start to blur together. The question then becomes, when you just start saying “yes, approved,” is everything you’re doing truly contributing to your greater goal?

I don’t think so.

My personal career MO has always been to refuse to remain stagnant in my career, to demand challenge, to defy convention, and to change the way people think. Three weeks ago, I found that challenge, that passion, in an amazing agency that isn’t afraid to be disruptive, hungry for innovation, and enthusiastic for making the impossible, possible.

I saw the quote, “don’t wait, the time will never be just right” way too many times before I realized that I needed to make a move. Most people never make the move. Some people are so close but turn down the opportunity because they are comfortable. Some find their passion in a specific industry like medicine, law, or science, however, I tend to believe that for most, passion is tied to a desire, such as to lead, teach, or help others. What is important, though, is for each of us is to figure out what the passion is inside of us that will drive us to become the very version of ourselves.

When you are passionate about something and working toward something you truly believe in, you not only have more energy and a positive outlook on life, but you also work much harder, are more creative, and inspire others who work alongside you. Above all, I believe we are the happiest when we are pursuing our passions in life, and that is the very best kind of success.

So what type of worker are you? Are you constantly watching the clock? Doing the bare minimum for a paycheck? Life is far too short for that! There are so many people I have met (I was even guilty of this), that do something they truly love on the side or weekends, but are too afraid to go out and pursue it. Be bold, make a positive change, and pursue your passion. At the 2016 Golden Globes, Emma Stone dedicated her speech to the dreamers saying, “to any creative person who’s had a door slammed in their face, either metaphorically or physically…or anybody, anywhere, really that feels like giving up sometimes, but finds it in themselves to get up and keep moving forward, I share this with you.” We’ve all been there. The importance is the difference between those who make a move to change the world and those who continue to follow the status quo.

What will your story be? Who will you inspire? How are you going to change the world? What ticket will you be punching?

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” —Nelson Mandela

Being Disruptive: Flying in the Face of Convention

What does it mean to challenge convention? To be disruptive? A pioneer in your trade?

Every industry convention starts somewhere. Usually the leader of a business made a decision early on to differentiate itself, but as the company grew their behaviors evolved into industry conventions. Conventions are those arbitrary rules and norms governing the countless behaviors all of us engage in every day without necessarily thinking about them. From shaking hands when greeting someone, to driving on the right side of the road. Regardless, the leader of your industry decides what is professional and what’s not. Your job is to challenge those expectations.

Cutting-edge marketers and revolutionary people challenge the status quo; they find new ways to not only be innovative, but relevant.

Too often today, so many employees are fearful of stepping outside of their comfort zones to try a new way of doing something. Common questions they ask themselves (I used to be guilty of this) are what if they look at me differently? What if they don’t like my idea? What if it doesn’t work?

STOP.

There is always a better or more creative way to do something. A new idea. A new strategy. What’s the worst that could happen if you are disruptive? What’s the worst that could happen if you challenge an idea? Your boss says no? Your big idea doesn’t work as well as you thought it would? Who cares! That’s another opportunity for you to better yourself or your business – to think of an even greater way to do something.

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix on the life of Janis Joplin. This was something that was supposed to just be a background sound as I worked on side projects, but ended up being something that I couldn’t take my eyes off of.

Janis blew audiences away with her raw, emotional voice. She struggled growing up in Texas because she didn’t conform to the mold of the typical young woman of the 1950s. She was a painter, she was chubby, she had bad skin, and she wasn’t conventionally beautiful. She found her outlet in the blues — singing was the only way she could express how she felt. “Playing is just about feeling, it isn’t necessarily about misery, it isn’t about happiness. It’s just about letting yourself feel all those things you already have inside of you but are trying to push aside because they don’t make for polite conversation or something. But if you just get up there — that’s the only reason I can sing. Because I get up there and just let all those things come out.”

Janis was the great unrecognized protest singer of the 1960. No, she wasn’t singing explicit protest songs, but in her voice, what people heard, was somebody who was refusing the status quo.

When I look for inspiration, or examples of how people are making it happen, I often look at big brand stories on Adweek or Adage. However, watching this documentary gave me a new perspective. It is the disruptive people behind brands that make the headlines, that make 100-year-old brands new again.

Businesses yearn for new perspectives and people who are unafraid of bringing new ideas to the table in order to drive their business into the future. They want disruptive spirits who not only challenge ideas, but also have an innate curiosity to find novel ways of creating, thinking, and learning. At the end of the day, being an authentic disruptor isn’t dependent on a single idea, product, or breakthrough. True disruption is about constantly shaking things up – challenging even the status quo you yourself have created.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

– Mark Twain

Don’t be Basic – Tell a Story

Everyone loves a good story. Especially a good brand story. How a company started, the guts of their business, what makes them tick. A brand story, however, goes beyond what is written in the copy on a website, the text in a brochure, or even the presentation used to pitch to customers. Your story isn’t just what you tell people, your story is what you believe your brand represents. What you represent.

Every ounce of what you do for your business from the colors on your business card, the images on your website, or the people you hire, is all part of your story. Therefore, if you want to build a successful business that will not only garner loyalty, but also attract brand champions organically, you have to be as authentic as possible.

So the question is…how do you tell a powerful story? How do you dig deep down to the roots and figure out what you’re all about – and most importantly, relay that to your audience?

The most memorable brand stories tell the unexpected, speak directly to the heart or dare you to live life to the fullest.

Take Barbie for example…I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately, but they did a complete 360. For years, they had a major brand image problem. They advertised and created these dolls that embodied perfection; a completely unrealistic view of not only a woman’s body, but their lifestyle as well. Impossible proportions, blonde hair, blue eyes – you get my point. However, their new campaign that was released in late 2015, “Imagine The Possibilities,” shifted the paradigm. Barbie’s new ads playfully emphasize how many different roles the doll has taken on over the years: professor, leader, coach, paleontologist,  Bye, bye, material girl, hello woman with purpose and meaning. A woman with a story to tell. More importantly, an iconic brand, with a strong woman, with a story to tell. This rebrand wasn’t just the result of Barbie listening to its consumers, but it was also a result of them going back to their roots, figuring out what their brand stood for and why they started this 60-year-old brand.

Every time I start a project with my clients, I ask them what story they want to tell – this is usually the conceptualization period. If we are doing a logo project, I ask what elements are important to them and their business to incorporate into their image that people will associate with their brand for years to come…and more importantly, why? Why are these things important? What’s the meaning behind them?

A year ago when I started my business, my good friend Mark actually helped me with my logo design. At first, you may just look at the logo and think, wow – that’s generic, she put the basic Illustrator pen tool in her logo and some text next to it and called it a day. C’mon guys, look closer. It’s two C’s ☺ Why the pen tool you ask? In my personal opinion, the pen tool is the most important tool in Illustrator. It is used to create the anchor points that form the basis for designs created in Illustrator, and to connect lines to those points that will create the curves and shapes that are the building blocks of Illustrator.

In 2017 and for years to come, I hope to be the rock for my clients, the beacon of their brand image – the ignition to help them find and create their purpose, their story. Connect them to the things that mean the most to them and how they want to instill and reflect that in their company in the most authentic way possible. Most importantly, inspire them to constantly innovate, be better, stronger, and tell their story in a variety of outlets (new designs, new promotional campaigns, etc.)

How does this relate to my overall story? In the beginning it didn’t, I’ll be honest. The first year I was in business I was so concerned with building brand awareness and finishing projects that I lost sight of who I was, what I wanted my business to be. By the end of 2016, I took a break from my projects to intensely focus on the image I wanted to portray, the goals of my business, and the story I wanted to write. So, I did a little rebrand myself.

If you want others to recognize you, the best way to do it is to recognize yourself first. Before you tell your brand story, recognize the message and the meaning you want to ingrain in your company. Be as true to yourself, compelling, and believable as possible.

What makes you unique and different? What makes you stand out? That’s up to you to decide. Don’t be basic, honor your craft.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe” – Simon Sinek.