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Category: Strategy

What Real Hero Work Looks Like

We love superhero movies. There’s something about them that we can relate to. Good overcoming evil. The afflicted getting the justice they deserve. Peace being restored. All narratives that resonate with us. There’s no better example of this than last year’s box office hit Avengers Endgame.

Released in Spring 2019 to much fanfare, Endgame went on to shatter box office records becoming the highest-grossing movie in history on July 21, 2019, after 89 days of release. It was the climatic ending we all have been wait for after a decade of Marvel films building the anticipation.

One of my favourite scenes in the film comes near the end. Steve Rogers aka Captain America stands alone in the battle field as thousands of enemy soldiers, aircrafts and beasts begin to approach him. Looking at the overwhelming task in front of him, Captain America, in true Cap form, grits his teeth and tightens his iconic battle shield strap preparing to seemingly die honourably in battle.

We can sometimes allow the fantasy of superhero life clash with our reality and influence how we approach issues on a global scale. To clarify, we all have a small inherent desire to be ‘superheroes’ to save the world and the problems it’s currently facing.

At first glance this idea doesn’t seem problematic. Having a desire to do good is the essence of humanity. The problem lies in the area of how we scale what real effective problem solving looks like. One against a thousand is a romantic idea, but is often not practical or provides meaningful impact. As well the idea that the only means of achieving something significant is to approach large scale issues head on can lead to missing more optimal opportunities for progress.

If personal circumstances won’t allow you to participate in a march for racial inequality, donating to organizations that have been in this fight for sometime may prove to be more beneficial. Signing petitions, sharing legitimate information on social media and participating in progressive conversations aren’t massive undertakings but can lead to positive change.

Don’t be fooled by society’s perception of what real ‘hero’ work looks like. Simple, unassuming actions done consistently over a period of time build a stronger foundation to the ultimate goal. Recognition will be hard to come by, but is that the real reason we desire the hero status?

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Record it, Always

A few years ago I read probably one of the most epic bedtime stories ever told to my four kids (their words, not mine). But it didn’t come from a book.

The story took several days to finish from beginning to end and it all came creatively from the top of my head at that very moment. The entire storyline, character development, scene depiction, plot twists and story action never existed previously on a written sheet of paper or electrical document.

To say the least my kids were entertained each night and often refer to the story of ‘Prince Edward’ as the best story I’ve ever read.

Too bad I no longer have any idea in what the story was about. I made the mistake of not recording or writing down any details of the story. Nothing. Not even jot notes. At the time I was just trying to get my kids to sleep not realizing a literary master piece was being created. Any chance of passing the story to my grandkids was now zero to none.

Ideas, thoughts, plans, names of new network contacts and where you met them, and yes stories you tell you kids – write/type/record it all down. Trust the capacity of your mobile phone note app over the capacity of your mind in remembering hundreds of hours of creative thought in detail.

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Welcome Complex Ideas

The other day my teenage son was sitting in our living room with his portable gaming device, fully engaged in the application he was playing.

I glanced over to quickly see what was so fascinating. The game was a simulation of a surgical procedure. A voice would give critical directions on the next step and he, acting as a surgeon, had to execute it virtually with his gaming stylus on the screen.

I was intrigued and continued watching him for a few more minutes. The game seemed complex and the fact that he used his leisure time to partake in what looked to be a stressful endeavour was pleasantly surprising.

Sometimes we avoid complex ideas or tasks because they come cloaked in stress. Stress because we can’t figure it out or we don’t hold any pre-existing knowledge of what we’re about to do.

That stress is actually our fear of failure. But we should always run towards complex ideas because it’s the only way we achieve personal growth. When we stick to only concepts that are ‘black and white’ and don’t entertain layered or more complex ideas, not only will our personal growth suffer, but our impact on a much larger scale will be minimal.

That’s assuming you want to have a greater impact in the personal and professional circles you frequent in. If that’s not the case then you will continually avoid the difficult, uncomfortable and complex discussions/actions that we sometimes need to take.

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Networking Made Simple

If you want to write a book, support those you know who have written one. Buy it. Give them encouraging feedback. Tell others about it.

That’s just one example of building a community. Whatever creative focus you have, locate and support creatives that are already in that stream.

Yes it’s called networking. And networking is a fancy term for building a community. It’s the prerequisite for long term success.

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Don’t Be Afraid To Share Ideas

We all are afraid at times. Afraid our ideas will come across as small, not well educated or not complex enough to seem impressive.

And if someone thinks this about our ideas then what? It gets disregarded or not taken into consideration. Now the onus is on that individual to come up with something better. Your job is done until your ideas were proven to be of no effect.

This needs to be our thought process when we experience fear in offering our solutions and strategies at work, in creative groups, with business partners, etc.

There’s value in what you have to offer until someone proves otherwise. And if they happen to, you simply try again. professional growth comes with repeating this process over and over.

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Finding Solutions Already Provided

My kids don’t go to an after school arts programs. They watch drawing tutorials on YouTube.

Creative thought should go beyond the physical manifestation of an idea. It’s about being able to solve a problem using the simplest means.

For kids art classes at home, YouTube already solved the complex part of the problem. Our part is locating the solution already provided.

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Outsourcing: Pay Someone Else to do It

A few weeks ago I was commissioned to write a piece for a reputable online magazine. It was contingent on conducting several interviews with individuals related to the topic I’d be covering

Once the interviews were recorded, the tedious task of transcribing the audio to print laid ahead. I was operating under a tight schedule in order to get the 1500-2000 word piece done, so the last thing I wanted to do was take 2 hours to transcribe.

So I chose not to. I simply outsourced the job based on the rate I was making on the project. For $30 I received transcripts of the interview responses. I compared the rate to what Fiverr gigs were charging for roughly 25 minutes.

You may decide to keep your money and do it yourself. And that’s fine too. But, there will come a time when you’ll find value in saving time by outsourcing.

Trying to cover every minimal task of your business or creative project can end with us not putting our full energy into the core essence of what we’re trying to accomplish.

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Benefits of Unconventional Partnerships

Back in the summer of 2019 I attended a the General Mills Carrier Summit. It’s an opportunity for the iconic cereal brand to connect with their supply chain network and provide a business outlook for the upcoming fiscal year.

General Mills also uses the event to review their successes from the previous year. One initiative I had no idea about was the Reese Puffs x Travis Scott collaboration. Here’s an excerpt from Hypebeast.com:

The Astroworld superstar and the Minnesota-based manufacturer are working together to release a special-edition line Of Reese’s Puffs cereal boxes. Although this product’s exterior packaging will be different, the pairing’s collaborative effort does not involve changing the taste and flavor of the standard Reese’s Puffs cereal. Travis Scott reportedly handled the design of the packaging, taking his inspirational cues from his Cactus Jack record label and the artwork that adorns his latest studio album. These new boxes will also carry a different price-tag: $50 USD.

The boxes reportedly sold out in 30 seconds at the initial collab in Paris. A few days later they could be found selling online for hundreds of dollars targeting hard core collectors.

As much as General Mills understand the cereal market, they were bold enough to partner with a pop culture icon to help them build a presence with a particular democratic. While at the same time not compromising the integrity of the Reese Puffs brand and popular recipe.

Some of the most effective strategic partnerships are ones we least expect. It shows us that being open to unconventional ideas can unveil a whole new world of opportunities for extend our brands and business awareness.

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The New NBA

The National Basketball Association isn’t in the basketball business. They’re in the entertainment business. Just like any other North American professional sport league.

So when the COVID-19 outbreak effectively shut down the rest of the NBA season, the players turned to social media to provide fans with their most treasured resource: themselves.

Players have jumped on Instagram Live with each other and media personalities. Players posting their Tik Toks if anything has increased since the shutdown (see Lebron and family). And Twitch has seen an increase in viewership partly due to NBA players streaming their 2K sessions online for fans.

The NFL, NHL and other sports leagues are beginning to follow suit. They are all at their source entertainment companies. Nothing more and nothing less. Just the means by which they entertain has changed.

10 years ago we shook our heads when older entrepreneurs said they’d never use Facebook or Instagram for business. Are we making the same mistake now by not seeing the benefits of Twitch and Tik Tok? Facebook and Instagram once upon a time also looked like nothing more than a social site for teenyboppers to pass time. Now they’re both critical platforms for business marketing.

Before scoffing at the new strategies sports leagues are using to connect personally with their audiences, take time to understand the competitive advantages they provide. Not doing so could hinder your business growth when our COVID-19 global quarantine comes to an end.

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The Truth About Our Creative Passion

Yesterday I posted an article on LinkedIn about 4 titles you need to read while in quarantine. One of the books on the list is Todd Henry’s Die Empty

You can read my thoughts on the book here.

One of the topics Henry talks about is the idea of our passion and what in reality it looks like in our lives:

“’Passion’” has its roots in the Latin word pati, which means “to suffer or endure.” Therefore, at the root of passion is suffering. This is a far cry from the way we casually toss around the word in our day-to-day conversations. Instead of asking ‘What would bring me enjoyment?’ which is how many people think about following their passion, we should instead ask ‘What work am I willing to suffer for today?’ Great work requires suffering for something beyond yourself. It’s created when you bend your life around a mission and spend yourself on something you deem worthy of your best effort. What is your worthwhile cause?”

I’m currently in the process of writing my first book. For as much excitement and anticipation I have, the actual writing part is a grind. The intentional focus and discipline needed are not for the faint of heart.

We walk away from Henry’s description understanding why so many people start but never finish. Our internal fortitude needs to be ready for the daily grind our passions lead us to.

Write this down somewhere you can read it every day: Falling in love with your passion is falling in love with the pain of hard work.

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