Have-To v. Want-To Ju-jitsu: The work balance

20 11 2012

Ju-Jitsu JumpA warm “thank you” to my Uncle Mark for his insight below on work balance:

I was talking with Dawn the other day, sharing a perspective about the concept of work, and how it is that we do our jobs. As I’ve reaped the benefits of years of experience (read as: gotten a lot older), I have decided that to describe an overall approach to the whole concept of work, a gross oversimplification is helpful, so here it is:

All jobs can be broken down into two essential components:

the part that you have to do,

and

the part that you get to do.

Since everyone is different, and has different tastes and preferences, these parts will vary.  Some people enjoy meeting with clients; some enjoy the creative work that comes after the client meeting; some enjoy the mechanical production work that brings the creativity to life; some enjoy the delivery and tailoring of their product to the customer; and some people honestly enjoy the bookkeeping and administrative aspects of running a business. None of these is exclusive – you can love doing all of these things, in any combination.  But I’ve never met a person who doesn’t have a favorite – and a least-favorite – part of their job.

Here’s the “wisdom” that I’ve been asked to share with you:

The way I see it, my goal for a career is to maximize the time spent doing the part of my job that I get to do, while keeping in check the part of my job that I have to do.

Sounds simple, right? It is, as a concept.  It can also be devilishly hard to do, because it requires a structured approach to your business. Now, everyone is different, so I won’t pretend to have the one-size-fits-all answer about how to structure a business and how to mix and match the “have-to” parts with the “get-to” parts.  But I’m happy to share a few things that help me, as I try to incorporate these ideas in my own career.  In no particular order, they are:

Remember that the part that you “get to do” is the way you can really express yourself.  Take pride in it, do it well, and make that your signature.

Use this as a test to check that you’re doing the right things.  If there’s nothing but “have to do” involved in your work, and that’s not going to change anytime soon, it might be time to think about nudging your career in a different direction.

Recognize that sometimes the “have to” segments of a job lead to realizations that improve the fun parts – but that generally only happens if you’re open to seeing things from different perspectives.

It’s also really important to avoid the temptation to completely skip the “have to” parts – or, worse, to do them, but so sloppily that you have to go back and re-work them.  What helps me is to remind myself, when mired in a pile of reports that I don’t want to deal with, that I’m simply paying the price for the time that I get to spend learning about my clients’ needs and designing solutions to their problems. It helps especially because I know that the more thoroughly I work through the boring stuff, the more knowledge and experience I will bring into my interactions with my clients and staff.

Since I was asked to keep this short, I’ll try and wrap up now.  I’d like to leave you with an example of what I’m trying to describe: writing this note to you, dear readers, prompted me to put form to some ideas that were kicking around in my head for a while – which, in turn, led to some other ideas that will be of use in a project that I’m working on.  I’ll admit that when I was asked to write a guest blog, I was honored, but… still, it fell into the “have to” category – it seemed like a good idea, and I was happy to do it, and all, but it still meant an obligation… which turned into an enjoyable hour of thinking and developing concepts that I will be using to win over clients tomorrow. I offer that as proof of the subtle ju-jitsu that you can do to shift your thinking away from viewing work as a list of chores and into reshaping your career to be something more like jazz, in which you can improvise on themes that you create and modify endlessly.

Escape from the boredom. Take a chance, and go where it leads you. And be on the lookout for the things that make you excited about starting your workday – and then savor those moments and use them to build even more opportunities.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Gabriele serves as a senior adviser for technology programs for the US government. He lives in the Washington DC area with his wife, their two kids, and a pair of Siamese cats.

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





If Wishes Were Horses:

5 10 2012

Having a conversation with yourselfWait. Hope. Wish. Dream.

What do all of these words have in common?

Answer: They have no place in an entrepreneur’s vocabulary. These words are passive. They are a luxury. They neither get things done, nor generate productivity.

They’re all talk, and no action.

Why do I bring this up?

Because I’ve caught myself red-handed – more recently than I’d like to admit – waiting for projects to fall in my lap, hoping office renovations move forward quickly, wishing there were more hours in the day, and dreaming about DMT ‘going viral’ across the nation.

Doing this costs me. It costs me time; it costs me brainpower; it costs me energy. And the return is peonic – a moment of mental gratification. Hardly something to write home about.

So, why do we do it?

Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to accomplish things when someone or something – your boss, your spouse, the law, even your body – tells you to do something? Seriously. You have to do it – make the deadline, fix the car, pay your taxes, fill a cavity – so you just make it happen.

Take the same task, and put yourself in the role of giving orders. YOU know that you’re feeling a little tired today, that you have an ill family member, that your “to do” list is a mile long, that you’d rather be fishing, that…

It’s very easy to be sympathetic with a person who’s life you know intimately, and you will always be number one on that list. For that reason, it can be one of the most challenging feats of entrepreneurship to simply INSPIRE YOURSELF TO ACTION.

How do we make that happen?

Plan. Set goals. Initiate. Do.

There are always people to inspire, motivate, support, and cheerlead, but when the chips are down, YOU are the only person who can drive yourself to act. I can write “rah-rah” pep talks until the cows come home, but I cannot flip the switch in your brain that decides whether you wish or whether you do.

So if you came here today looking for motivation, I’d recommend pulling out the mirror. This is a conversation that you need to have – can ONLY have – with you, and you alone.

The world will know the results of this conversation by the progression of your business. Remember, failure is as legitimate a result as success. Stagnation and atrophy are not.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just inspired myself to action.

“Action conquers fear.”  ~Peter Nivio Zarlenga

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





Purple Revelations: The Joy of Impermanence

24 08 2012

DMT Artistry LLC officeMy husband, who reliably radiates the patience of a saint, requires Netflix and a sleeping bag any time we select paint colors. Yes, I am one of THOSE people.

Put me in a paint department with my artistic soul and perfectionist tendencies, and Mother Theresa could be forgiven for bolting for the door.

So, when it came time to choose colors for my in-progress office, I did everyone a favor, and went it alone. Interestingly enough, it took less then 15 minutes for me to leave with my liquid treasure.

Which got me thinking…

The way I see it, my office colors are the epitome of impermanence… the exact OPPOSITE of how I view DMT Artistry’s re-branding. My office colors can be changed in a few hours with a gallon of paint and elbow grease. But I’ve given myself the expectation that my new DMT brand must remain consistent across materials, locations, and time.

That’s a Mt. Everest order. Every brand evolves – even for the big guys, like Pepsi and Xerox. It has to. Stagnation means death.

It seems to me, then, that the “get-it-right-the-first-time” mindset is one of the primary sources of entrepreneurial quicksand. In an effort to make it right the first time, make it work perfectly the first time, make it a raging success the first time, we set ourselves up to be the deer in the headlights.

Impermanence is not only less intimidating; it’s more realistic. It reduces waffling over decisions. (It should NOT, however, be used as an excuse to be, think, or act in a mediocre fashion. We already talked about mediocrity in last week’s blog.)

Tell me, what decision have you been postponing for ages because the fear of “getting it wrong” is looming, piano-like, over your head? I challenge you to recognize that an incorrect decision is workable – you’re rolling your eyes, but I’m quite serious, you can always always correct your course to wind up on unexpected, opportunity-packed avenues – but going nowhere is not.

Come on, fellow entrepreneurs – let’s take this business world by storm!

Next Blog: … will be written by a guest blogger marketing guru, who’s been a DMT go-to guy for inspiration, motivation and valuable support – my dad!

“Nothing endures but change.”  ~Heraclitus

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.

 





Seriously… Discovering What It Takes to be an Entrepreneur

26 07 2012

Piecing together the "success" puzzleCandid moment, here…

Something interesting happened last September, when I celebrated DMT Artistry’s 2nd anniversary – something, in fact, cataclysmic:

I began to take my business seriously.

Understand that, prior to this, I certainly wasn’t operating my business halfheartedly or as a hobby. And the change had nothing to do with my work ethic, my professional possessions, or even external moral support. I had all of that in spades from the very beginning.

Nevertheless, it took two years for me to recognize my business as not just a success, but a legitimate, hard-earned, GROWING success with not-so-hidden potential. I grew aware of opportunities and, where there weren’t any, created them. Business didn’t just “happen” anymore. I MADE it happen.

At that time, the DMT re-branding concept was flickering to life, because DMT Artistry had become WORTH it.

I thought that this epiphany must be the Pinnacle of Entrepreneurial Realizations. To take my business seriously meant that I had given it the green light to be amazing, unique, enjoyable, worthwhile, impactful, noteworthy, and however successful I chose to make it.

But, this summer, I’ve trumped that realization:

I’ve begun to take MYSELF seriously.

In a role that demands the highest levels of self-esteem, entrepreneurship is, ironically, one of the most psychologically punishing. If there isn’t something strong at the core of you – something that goes beyond any vanities, excessive modesty, timidity or sheer bluffing – circumstances will knock you about, like a paper boat on the ocean, and your business will melt into nothing.

There are all kinds of statistics about our chances for business survival and success. Does the entrepreneur have what it takes to run a business? Can the entrepreneur do what is necessary to grow? Will the entrepreneur invest what is required to succeed?

In taking myself seriously, I’ve chosen to bank on the fact that I have, I do, and I will.

What about you? Have you given yourself and your business the same compliment?

Next Blog: I will post again in another 2 weeks. Thank you for your loyal readership!

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”  ~Ayn Rand

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





Well, Color Me Successful…

20 01 2012

This post is about COLOR – and why it warrants a second glance in your design and marketing.

If you have any favorite colors, leave them on the doorstep. Successful marketing has next to nothing to do with your preferences, and nearly everything to do with psychology.

At the level of color, we’re actually impacting our viewers at a largely subconscious level. So whether or not blue is the surveyed fave of your clientele is secondary to which color is most likely to make them feel confident/excited/safe/proud/comfortable/cool enough to buy.

Defining Color
It’s easier to understand the power of color if you understand the basic terminology first. A tint of red, for example, has a significantly different psychological impact than a shade of red. And analogous color harmonies have nothing to do with analogies about colorful instruments.

Check out this super-mini Color Glossary and this equally concise overview of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary colors… just enough to get you started, and not enough to bore you. I know you have other things to do with your time than go through a 12-week course on color theory.

The Color Wheel
Now that you have a handshake acquaintance with color lingo, it’s time to revisit our old, grade school art class friend: The Color Wheel.

The Color Wheel is crucial, if only to recognize successful color partnerships when you see them, and avoid eye-jarring combinations that induce eye trauma. Would you rather bank with a company that uses stately blues and wealthy greens, or one that markets themselves with neon yellow, clown orange and puce?

Uh-huh. I thought so.

Not everyone is gifted with an eye for coordination, and that’s okay. There are plenty of pre-designed color schemes and swatches to choose from. This interactive, online Color Scheme Designer is a phenomenal tool for just about anyone, amateur or professional, who isn’t sure where to start.

The Psychology of Color
And now we get down to it… the point of analyzing your marketing color choices.

Just like a doctor’s office will use soft blues to soothe, grocers use natural greens to suggest organic and day cares use primary colors to appeal to kids, YOU have to consider the effect colors will have on your target audience.

Below is a first-rate visual that clarifies the concept brilliantly:

The Psychology of Color
Courtesy of: The Psychology of Color by Tech King

The DMT Challenge
Starting with your logo, list the main colors incorporated in its design. Use the chart above to jot down the psychological impact of each, and see if it matches with your marketing goals.

Now review your website, and then your marketing materials. Which colors predominate? What are they saying about your company?

“People ignore design that ignores people.” – Frank Chimero

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

Copyright © DMT Artistry, LLC. All Rights Reserved.





Phony Baloney: Who are you, really?

4 11 2011

No Phony Baloney Here!Right now, any given person can find a million juicy tidbits about friends and family… just on Facebook alone! We’re packing social sites, apps, blogs and more with information about who we are and what we’re about.

With transparency fast becoming the “norm”, businesses have also had to “ante up” and show their hands. “We the People” want to know our companies from the janitor up.

But the front-runners of the business world are on top of the trend, and you can be, too!

  • Be, hire and serve only the type of people you are proud to associate with your business.
  • Build, provide and stock only products and services you are 200% behind.
  • Be your own spokesperson.
  • Use testimonials! Real-world feedback means far more than glitzed-up media hype.
  • Bring “real life” into your marketing.

For transparency in action, take a look at what Domino’s Pizza has done:

Talk about a game-changer! They even devoted a site to their company turn-around: www.pizzaturnaround.com

DMT Challenge of the Week
Brainstorm THREE ideas on how you can use transparency to positively inform people about who your company is and what it stands for. Put ONE of those into action today!

“If transparency… is not ethics, then I don’t know what is.”  ~ Frank Gibson

Dawn M Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

All content on this site is Copyright © DMT Artistry, LLC. All rights reserved.





The Hardest Easiest Thing You Must Do to Succeed

28 10 2011

Be yourself.Before you ask whether I’ve recently sustained a closed head injury or just completely spaced out on grammar, let me point out that my post titles – unusual as a rule – always make sense by post end. This one will be no exception… you have my word.

So let’s dive right in: What IS the hardest easiest thing you must do to succeed where so many other businesses fail?

Difficultly simple: Be yourself.

That means, understand who YOU are as an individual and a business owner, as well as your personal motivations, and cling to those babies like coral on a reef.

You’re nothing without knowing yourself. Your business can only survive so long on the recommendations, expectations and demands of others before it implodes like a black-hole-forming supernova. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if your business decisions satisfy the world’s population, your community or your mother (no offense)… if you have to become something you’re not to make it happen, your heart can’t and won’t be in it.

But, being yourself should be easy, right? I mean, all you really need to do is… well.. exist.

Alas, as any high school student can tell you, existence IS crushing pressure to be someone else.

Peers, mentors, customers, loved ones and even yourself are constantly heaping expectations, on top of advice, on top of demands in an effort to mold you into who they think you should be. It’s rarely malicious, just part of the whole human gig.

This is where setting personal goals, designing plans, making internal check-ins and building a core identity come in handy. They help define the founding ethics, values and purpose that make you YOU – regardless of the other changes you and others make in your life – and help you ‘remember’ who YOU are in the midst of all the inter-relational chaos.

When you’re solid on who you are, your business has a rock-hard foundation to build on, and success suddenly becomes a very viable option.

“I yam what I yam.”  ~ Popeye

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

All content on this site is Copyright © DMT Artistry, LLC. All rights reserved.





How to Turn Yourself Inside Out: Baring your business’ soul

22 09 2011

Turning your internal business message external(This one’s for you, David…)

Every business has a soul. They do.

That soul is a hearty blend of mission, values, standards, practices, policies and the characters of its owners and employees.

The way your company communicates those core truths within the organization is its internal message. And internal messages are a compass and a conscience all rolled into one. When an opportunity or dilemma presents itself, the internal message helps dictate whether and/or how your company acts on it.

Remember the Nordstrom legend about a dissatisfied customer who demanded money back on a pair of snow tires? News flash: Nordstrom does not sell tires. But because of their “customer is always right” internal message, the employee refunded the amount, and Nordstrom went down in history.

And on a recent, Las Vegas business trip, my husband and I struck up a fascinating conversation with one remarkably persistent street vendor. Her company’s internal message was “our customers are only here for a weekend and they’re about to blow all their cash in the casinos… SELL NOW, SELL NOW, SELL NOW!!”

Sharing that internal message “internally” is challenging enough because every staff member has his or her own motivations, expectations and interpretations. But your business has a “significant other” that also wants to know what you’re about. And this group means business… literally. It’s your customers!

So, how do you make your internal message external?

That’s What Marketing is For
Every print ad, billboard, logo, website, Facebook post, brochure, business card, etc. – when designed intelligently – shares some part of your internal message with your customers.

It can be as obvious as stating point-blank, “We treat our customers like family”. Or it can be more of a suggestion, like a story about an employee donating his kidney to a customer in need. Or it can be as subtle as a welcoming color choice in the logo, inclusive wording in your brochure or family photos on your website.

But Beware the “Telephone” Effect
Do you remember the game “Telephone”, where a person whispers a message into their neighbor’s ear, and it continues that way around a circle of people, back to the originator of the message? By the time the message makes it back to square one, it’s diluted to within an inch of its life. In many cases, it doesn’t even have a handshake acquaintance with where it started.

This is the same problem a business owner has to contend with. The first “whisper” is to the staff and marketing, as an internal message. The staff and the marketing pros then pass it on to the customers. And as the customers share it with friends and family, who share it with other friends and family, you exponentially lose control over what that message becomes.

The best way to combat miscommunications is to start out with messages that are so simple and so intuitive, that they’re hard to mess up in the first place!

Frankly, it’s easier to say “DMT Artistry, LLC will always complete your projects on time,” than to hope they’ll remember “DMT Artistry, LLC will work weekends, evenings and holidays, if necessary, to ensure that a client receives their project in the time frame specified on the agreement form, as approved by all parties.”

When the Line Goes Bad
Suppose your message does get warped. The only way you’ll know is by consistent monitoring.

Keep tabs on customer review sites to see what people are saying about your business. Listen to your employees’ conversations with your customers. Read the comments people are posting on your Facebook page. Poll your customers.

The best resolution is prevention, so nip bad or incorrect messages in the bud.

DMT CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK:
Pick a company – yours, if possible. Take a good, hard look at the marketing and the customer experience, and then at the external company reviews. Based on the former, what do you believe makes up that company’s “soul”? Based on the latter, what do other people believe is the “internal message”? Do the two coincide? If not, what could be done to get everyone back on the same page?

This post is a hat tip to my twin brother and professor of entrepreneurship, who recently taught his students about the role of “internal messages”. You’re pretty darn cool, Dave, even beyond your association with me…

Dawn M Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

All content on this site is Copyright © DMT Artistry LLC. All rights reserved.





Putting a Paper Bag Over Your Head: The Importance of Good Design

8 09 2011

Bad design is like putting a bag over your headBusiness Number 1 is decked out in a magnificent tower of dramatically dazzling headgear.

Business Number 2 wears an equally stunning hat in more classically elegant lines.

Business Number 3 has a paper bag over its head.

1 and 2 are attracting all sorts of positive attention. 3 is hiding its light under generic grocery brown. What happened?

The difference is in the design.

As a small or start-up company, it’s easy to conclude that personally managing your own branding, online presence and print marketing will save you a bundle. Because it will… up front. But at what cost to your future?

The gift of the true entrepreneur is to think in terms of future value. And this is where a graphic designer can help.

Businesses 1 and 2 have recognized the value of working with a professional designer to create an image that draws eyes and interest. Their designer helped them build continuity across all marketing to make them memorable and instantly recognizable in a crowd. Their designer also helped them express the personality and culture of the business with unique marketing materials. Their ads visually and psychologically target the right audience. Their message comes across with clarity. Their branding suits both who they are now, and who they want to become.

In short, they’re wearing some pretty cool hats.

Business 3, on the other hand, presents generic marketing messages that are muddled and non-representative of the business. Its designs are unprofessional and make the business appear unprofessional by extension. There’s nothing particularly memorable about its ads. Its branding is non-existent.

For all intents and purposes, business 3 has pulled a paper bag over its head.

Understand, professional doesn’t mean cold or corporate. In fact, it takes ingenuity, expertise, enthusiasm and warmth to create marketing materials that intrigue, attract and build empathy and rapport.

Just as books are judged by their covers, business are judged daily by the marketing “hats” they wear. You hire professionals to prepare your business taxes, manage your legal contracts, replace the roofing, install your security system, ship your products and protect your profits. The all-important image of your business deserves the same professional treatment.

DMT Challenge of the Week
Look through your 2011 marketing materials – logos, ads, websites, posters, etc. Challenge yourself to view them from a potential customer’s perspective. What kind of message are you sending about your business, your level of professionalism and your expectation of success? Is there a consistent style across your materials?

Compare your marketing to your competitors’. Is yours distinguishable from theirs? Is your branding unique enough to not only be memorable, but to attract more attention, as well?

Now compare your marketing to a company in your field that’s at the level of success and profitability you ultimately want to achieve. How does yours measure up? Is your image holding you back, or driving you forward?

Ready to ditch the paper bag? DMT can design your business to the next level:

Dawn M Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

All content on this site is Copyright © DMT Artistry LLC. All rights reserved.

 





The Choice: Celebrating an ongoing adventure

1 09 2011

Two year ago today, I launched DMT Artistry, LLC.

I’d like to think this just gave you goosebumps, but I’ll settle for an involuntary gasp.

The first anniversary breezed by with barely a “huzzah”. I was too engrossed in “figuring things out” to put much stock in a 1-year milestone.

But with a second year securing my faith in what DMT Artistry stands for, it’s quite definitely time to celebrate an increasingly successful go-round of entrepreneurial adventure. This business represents a decision to make creative thinking the focus of my life and career; to see projects as a quest, rather than an assignment; to connect with fellow business owners at the level of a peer; to think big and build bigger; to manage, rather than be managed; to DO.

This is the kind of day that needs to be celebrated with others… with YOU. So I invite you to step back from your daily “to-do”s for a moment, throw your proverbial doors and windows open with (intelligent) abandon and bask in the “big picture” of what you’ve accomplished and where you are going.

Remember, it took vision to lead you forward. It took integrity to build a reputation of reliability. It took courage to face the challenges. It took humor to pull you through. And it took cornering the market on elbow grease to make it all come to fruition. You had a choice, and you chose action. Bravo. Well done.

Celebrating two splendid years of serving your creative corporate needs:

Dawn M Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com