They think long-range. They challenge the status quo. Much of this has to do with people. Leaders need to be “force multipliers” – an agent that amplifies effort. A leader who engages people – focusing on the right inputs and behaviors -- will be much more impactful than one managing outcomes.Read More
Jeff Woods is the Community Evangelist at The Grid. Woods is also an amazing photographer and an accomplished entrepreneur.
There is no clear route to becoming a creative. That very same journey becomes even more labor intensive when you strive to become a creative entrepreneur. Woods’ struggle with his journey was not based on the lack of talent but on believing his disempowering story… “you’re not good enough.”
This statement is a common story that we tell ourselves which can limit your potential. But Woods had plans to becoming a world class photographer, so those limiting beliefs had to be removed.
Jeff found a mentor that could guide him and Woods also modeled Donald Miller, founder of Story Brand. Jeff understood that building a community that would support him was critical to his success.
As Jeff advanced on his epic journey, he began to believe deeply in his potential as a creative entrepreneur, and this allowed Jeff to take massive action. Woods became a platform speaker for Canon. And Jeff evolved into different mediums like design work for humanitarian projects, filmmaking, consulting, UX/UI design, and Jeff’s latest project as Community Evangelist for The Grid.
It’s been a chaotic trip but through the conflicts and wins Jeff Woods is living a fulfilled life.
So, Jeff, what is your story?
Something that learn early on from one of my favorite authors (Donald Miller) is what makes a good story. A good story is one that has a character that is faced with conflict or struggle and must dig deep to find resolve. When we choose our ambitions, they should be difficult, and we should anticipate and even welcome conflict.
I started out my career as a creative jumping into Photography. I had a mentor who was a photographer, and he took me under his wing. I never expected what would open up. When it all began, I did not know the first thing about photography. I could not even tell you what a F-stop was. However, that jump in the deep end put me on an amazing journey. I was a platform speaker for Canon and I was allowed to photograph all over the world. It came with its conflicts, trying to keep the lies in my head to a minimum.
We tend to listen to the lies that would say, "you are not good enough."
What I learn by sitting in that process is that the soul usually knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind. Part of the process of progress is the struggle. It's important to align yourself with those on the same mission as you. (more on that later). Once I understood that I began to work on my strengths and neutralized my weaknesses. Over the years, I evolve into different "mediums" other than photography. I went into design work for humanitarian projects, filmmaking, consulting, UX/UI design, and as of late community evangelist for The Grid.
I get bored easily... I have more than one craft, more than one way of doing things. As one of my friends pointed out you are not ADHD, you're a polymath. A polymath is a person whose expertise spans into a significant number of different disciplines. I am grateful to find the common ground between all my "Mediums."
The execution of a creative idea can be a chaotic experience. So how do you organize, prioritize, and manage your creative ideas?
A great question and one that could be a book in an of itself. A creative by choice tends to live life with a bit of a chaotic approach. One thing I have notice that comes with this way of being is you will have high highs and low lows.
Exploring for me is a big part of my everyday life. I have taken that advice from my wife who is a well-known photographer as well. You have to prioritize time for yourself as a creative. You have to dip your toe in the cold water. Meaning, take on some new ways to create.
You don't have to jump in, but you might want to experience some new things so I have learned to carve out time to allow that. I tend to have a Moleskine handy most of the time or my iPhone with various apps to help me align my day or my project.
I tend to collect article, art pieces, marketing material that appeals to me and my brand. I have created an idea box both physical and virtual where I store all those creative ideas or schemes. The hard part of managing my ideas is that sometimes they will be epic fails.
In those time, I am learning to take what I can from that and move on. I have learned to create a culture for myself that encourages experimentation and the free flow of ideas. And if I don't know how to do something I look for resources to partner with me or teach me what I need to know.
How I prioritize is instead of focusing on one "big idea," I consider many ideas and assess the opportunity for each. Then I validate those ideas and decide which path to go down. The validation process includes some variables like the market, customers, and competition.
I recognize when fear paralyzes me, it is a good sign. Fear is an indicator that I am on the right path. Fear tends to get me stuck in a proverbial rut. The dirty little secret no one talks about is that everyone is making it up as they go along.
Fear tells us what we need to do next.
What’s the biggest mistake you made in your life and what did you learn from it?
The biggest mistake is being too hard on myself when I make a mistake.
That means being able to be vulnerable with myself and those close to me. Failure is misunderstood, failure means there is room to grow. Today I allow people to come alongside me and help me "grow" in my vision.
I am not in this alone. I now look for resources, while in the past I would put it all on myself. Resources could mean taking on side projects. Side projects allow me to be stupid. Going off the path creates a new appreciation.
I have many butterflies that come in and out of my life. Some just have a way of sticking around.
How can entrepreneurs find success in a marketplace that always seems to change?
I heard this a long time ago and have adapted it to my everyday life: "Old ways won't open new doors."
Disrupt yourself or be disrupted. Prime example of this is the story of Kodak. They could and did not want to realize what was coming around the bend, even though they built one of the first digital cameras.
Today they are irrelevant in the marketplace, they were insecure in who they were. Its one of the reason we struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. Have the confidence in yourself to figure out what to do next and if not fake it until you do.
What would you say to someone who wants to take the plunge into entrepreneurship?
Don't look around for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work. Products and services are being dematerialized and demonetized like never before. The entrepreneurs who win are those who can think exponentially.
If you are going to take on something take on something that others think you are crazy for taking on. We have all seen examples of this through Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Larry Page to name just a few. Same with what we are doing at The Grid. We are taking on a difficult problem, the website problem. Nobody has touched this technology that has been ignored by bigger tech companies.
We are using algorithms to publish content with the ease of social media. Using artificial intelligence to teach the computer to make decisions instead of humans. A personal designer consultant for the user that is doing the heavy lifting.
That would be my first advice dream big hustle harder. Align yourself with those who want to get into the arena with you and don't listen to the critics who are outside the arena. Dream. Risk. Hustle. Repeat.
Why have you chosen to work for The Grid as Community Evangelist?
I did not see The Grid as a job but a movement. Work was never meant to be something we do just to make a living. It was meant to be a means of making a difference.
I just had to get out of my way and stop talking myself out of jumping into the deep end of the pool. Many thought my wife and I were crazy when we uprooted our family sold our home in Illinois and went on an adventure into the unknown. You typically don't make those moves in your forties.
However, I have a strength, and that is being a connector and pioneer. The partnerships that I am able to create globally allow me to help remove the barriers of entry for small business to have a meaningful place to call home on the internet. I am too familiar with the struggle that small business owners have in today’s marketplace.
The biggest pain point of my business was building a website. Then keeping it relevant and fresh was another issue. As soon as I built it, it was already stale. There is a profound shift happening on the web, a more personalized web. Most solutions being built on aging platforms, make personalization scalability, not reality. A website is the vehicle that people, like small business owners or artisans, use to communicate and execute their vision, product, or service.
There have been a few years of developing going on behind the scenes with The Grid. We are a platform first company. Instead of cashing in when Facebook came with an offer to buy us out. We wanted to stay the course and build something that was years ahead of it’s time. Game changing platform tools that we have created like The Grid Colorverse and Typographyverse will ensure that your site will always be uniquely yours.
Reader Question: Are you waiting for inspiration so you can start your journey? Don’t. You just need to start -- so what will you do today to move one step closer to a life fulfilled? Share your answers on Twitter.
Original Article: Huffington Post
Todd Barrish is the president of Indicate Media. The company is a personalized public relations firm, which focuses on telling powerful stories to drive their clients message. But before you can become a successful entrepreneur you first need to develop the skills necessary for success.
The Internet is in part responsible for lowering the barriers to entry and in some cases removing the gatekeepers. If you want to start a life changing business, become a New York Times best selling author, or simply create a lucrative second income as a personal coach -- the opportunity is available.
Unfortunately, while the opportunities are available the work still needs to be done. And the journey needs to be undertaken by you. Furthermore, because the level of noise today, the entrepreneur needs to work harder to out hustle the other guy.
And there is only one way of doing that.
Barrish quoted Seth Godin as saying "being the best in the world at something."
I agree with Godin. Many entrepreneurs feel they need to be experts at many things. While that is a worthwhile endeavor, it's a misplaced use of your limited energy.
Bearish continues to explain, that to be the best in the world you need, "to be focused and avoid distraction while keeping an eye on what's happening around you."
While the focus is critical, the question of what to focus on is elusive. So how do you narrow your lens? Simple -- focus on those skills that will give you the most freedom in the future. Once you have identified what those skills are, you need to create a learning map and then make learning a priority.
You don't have to become an expert, but you do have to master the skills.
It does not make a difference where you are in your entrepreneurial journey. But it's your duty to stop and review where you are -- checking in on your progress and making sure that you are solving problems. You need to make the review a weekly event, which is scheduled on your calendar.
By taking this type of action, you will slowly become what Seth Godin describes as the lynchpin -- the person that is necessary to...
These are strategies that Barrish has fostered through his entrepreneurial career.
Tell me about a project that forced you to be innovative and creative?
Innovation and creativity are the bedrock of any successful public relations campaign. Clients not only expect this kind of thinking, it's also the best way to build relationships with the media and other outside influencers.
The best example of a project that forced me to be innovative and creative wasn't a specific campaign at any agency - it was actually the creation and launch of my own agency, Indicate Media. After starting the business as young entrepreneur, the secret sauce to building brand credibility from the ground up and securing new business centered on our ability to differentiate our services from others.
Innovation and creativity are two principles that have never left us over the past four years and continues to guide everything we do today.
Discuss a specific accomplishment of yours in a previous position that indicates you will thrive in this position?
The interesting part of this question is that the term 'accomplishment' is meant to portray something positive. Yet in life, as I am sure we all know, accomplishments can also take on different meanings. In a previous life, I worked for an agency where I was tasked with helping to build out their regional operations.
Through some strategic reorganization and a focus on new business, we were able, in a very short amount of time, to bring on a significant amount of businesses. By all measures that is a great accomplishment because new business is the lifeblood of any PR firm.
However, through the process, it became clear to me that new business is only one part of many things that need to go right in building a business. Employee morale, compensation structures, adequate resources, etc. also have to be in sync.
So, the accomplishment of knowing how to secure business, coupled with the life experience of understanding the multiple moving parts that make a successful business has made me a much stronger entrepreneur and prepared me to execute better in my current business.
Solving complex problems often requires a re-framing of the problem. So what is your process of re-framing the problem so it can be resolved?
Problem solving is a key attribute for all successful entrepreneurs. In fact, one could argue 'problems' are an everyday part of business. At Indicate Media, we practice a 4 pronged approach to problem solving.
- Step 1: Thoroughly identify the problem and the root cause of the problem.
- Step 2: Discuss solutions. This includes potentially reframing the conversation. Usually the best solution is one that you can act on quickly. There is a rule that says that "every large problem was once a small problem that could have been solved easily at that time."
- Step 3: Assign responsibility of the solution. In other words, who is going to manage moving things forward.
- Step 4: Set a measurement of the solution so you know when and whether the problem was solved. Success is defined by a person or organization's ability to solves problems.
By being tactical in our approach to problem solving, we are better able to deal with whatever is thrown our way.
What would you say to someone who wants to take the plunge into entrepreneurship?
Being an entrepreneur is one of the best decisions I have made in my professional life. While it is true that entrepreneurs are able to take more pleasure in the good days and feel more pain in the bad days, at the end of every day, knowing you are working towards a goal that uniquely belongs to you and your team is extremely satisfying.
My advice to those thinking of taking the entrepreneurial plunge is 'go for it'. Jump right into the water. The very worst that happens is you might have to go get a job. But the very best that can happen is endless ... and that is the point.
How can entrepreneurs find success in a marketplace that always seems to change?
Over time all marketplace's change. It just so happens that today - thanks to technology innovation - it is changing at a faster rate than ever before in history.
The world of public relations is certainly no exception. The best way to find success in an ever-changing marketplace is to have a mission, be strategic in your work, work hard and pay attention to the things happening all around you.
Seth Godin calls it "being the best in the world at something." To do that, you need to be focused and avoid distraction while keeping an eye on what's happening around you.
Fights are healthy, how you get through them is another the question. How do you deal with conflict? Compromise?
At Indicate Media, we encourage everyone to say what's on their mind. It's the only way to identify problems and mismatches in thinking and allows us to push past them.
We work hard to set the tone for everyone that starts from a place of respect. If you start from a place of respect and mutual admiration for your co-workers, then when conflict arises, even though sometimes it can include passionate discussions, everyone in the end is able to move past it.
Business is and isn't personal. It just depends on which side of the table you are sitting at any given time. In any organization, on any given day, decisions need to be made. The best scenario is when those decisions are made on compromise and respect for the other side of the argument.
Reader Question: As an entrepreneur what strategies do you have in place that will help you learn those skills that will give you more freedom in the future? Share your answers on Twitter.