Sunday, January 31, 2010

Photowalks Detroit Proves There's a Photographer in Everyone

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. ~Ansel Adams

This weekend I participated in the second Photowalks Detroit (Facebook page) event hosted at The Henry Ford Museum. I was hesitant at first to attend because I'm not a professional photographer and I only have a simple point and shoot camera. I thought my photos would look very amateur compared to others' photos. Some of the people who attended the first photowalk in Royal Oak promised that it wasn't necessary to have a fancy camera. They also reminded me that if the person behind the camera has a creative eye, then the photos will turn out great. I had nothing to lose by joining the group on their museum adventure.

I believe it's important to explore paths outside of your comfort zone every so often because you'll always take away something beneficial from the experience. The Henry Ford photowalk was an excellent experiment in creativity. What I lacked in camera technology I attempted to make up for in the angles at which I took the photos. It was fun to play photographer for a few hours and bond in real life with friends who I initially connected with online.

Check out the stream of photowalk tweets and the Flickr group. My photos are tagged as EstrellaBella10. Thanks a million to Becks Davis and Dave Peckens for organizing a great event!

If you live outside the metro Detroit area, I highly recommend forming a similar group, or doing some research to see if one already exists.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Interview With Creative Cosmetics Queen Bobbi Brown

I read an interview with Bobbi Brown (the makeup artist) in today's New York Times and thought her answers were very intriguing and a good way.

The first part of the interview focused on what Bobbi looks for in an employee and her hiring process. Two of her answers stood out to me:
  • When talking about what qualities she looks for in an employee, Bobbi mentions the ability to communicate. As someone who works in a creative industry, I can relate to what Bobbi said. "Communicating. To me, this is probably the biggest thing. If it’s the right person, I can barely speak and they understand what I’m saying. But if it’s not the right person, they have trouble understanding, because creative people are not like other people. Any other creative C.E.O. will understand what I’m talking about."
  • The interviewer asked Bobbi if she could only choose two questions to ask in an interview, what would they be? One of her responses was "what do you love"? All too often, interviews focus too heavily on the job and not enough on the person. It's important to mix in personal questions like "who do you admire/look up to", "what are your passions?", "what do you enjoy doing in your spare time" to learn more about who the person REALLY is.
You can read the rest of the interview titled "High Heels? They Just Don't Fit" here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dictionaries Needed for Hazel Park School District

Want to help me give dictionaries to third graders in the Hazel Park School District? Click on the widget to the right!

Trust me, I know everyone is overwhelmed with "please donate" requests. This is a particularly hard time because of the recent disaster in Haiti. Even if you can only spare $5, know that every little bit counts!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dictionaries Bring Happiness to Third Graders in Ferndale School District

This past Wednesday, 58 third graders at John F. Kennedy School received new dictionaries thanks to the dictionary project I'm participating in with local bloggers, and Operation: Kid Equip. The whole team (Jen Wright, Becks Davis, Lauren Weber, Erin Rose and Menachem Kniespeck) was there to witness the kids beam from ear to ear when we put the dictionaries in their hands.

The kids showed their appreciation with plenty of "thank yous" and hugs. The principal called on a few students and asked them to share how they were feeling. Answers ranged from "special and loved" to "very happy and excited." A few of the third graders asked us questions about the dictionaries and our personal blogs. I was impressed that the kids knew what a blog is!

You can read more about the distribution and the dictionary project in this article in The Oakland Press. Becks Davis has more photos on her Flickr page.

I want to touch on something brought up in the comments in The Oakland Press article. A commenter expressed her discontent over Oakland County schools receiving the dictionaries because (1) it's one of the wealthiest counties in the nation and (2) the article has quotes referencing how we're helping "Detroit" (it's a known fact that people here frequently use "Detroit" to refer to southeast MI, and some native Detroiters are bothered by this).

Menachem did a great job of setting the record straight in his comment. Oakland County may have been named one of the richest counties in the nation at one point, but many people don't realize that more than 50,000 students in Oakland County are on the free and reduced lunch program. Third graders in the Hazel Park School District are next up on the list to receive free dictionaries. More than 70 percent of those students receive free or reduced lunches. These statistics and others prove that poverty in Oakland County is no longer specific to the cities traditionally labeled as poor. You can find more info at on the Operation: Kid Equip site.

At the end of the day, all that really matters is the dictionary donations make students feel happy, cared for and loved. We don't know which ones belong to families who are struggling financially. We can only hope that this project will give the students more insight into the importance of knowing how to read and write well.

We still have a ways to go to reach our goal of giving dictionaries to roughly 2,700 third graders in Oakland County. With your continued support, we can make it happen. Donation details are included in my previous post, but ping me if you need more info. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Three Lessons on Success from Lady Gaga

Last night I became a Lady Gaga fan. Or, in Gaga's words, I'm now one of her "little monsters". I was teeter tottering on the edge of being a fan until I saw Lady Gaga in concert. Check out this Detroit Free Press review for more concert details.

The concert got me thinking about how Lady Gaga rose to stardom so quickly. I wrote before about the beauty of simplicity, but Lady Gaga is a perfect example of how doing exactly the opposite can work to your benefit when you're doing what you love.

When you break down her star power, it becomes obvious that she can teach us all a few things about finding success.

1. Be unique. This may seem like a "captain obvious" suggestion, but I bet you can name more than a handful of people who are trying to carve out their own pathway to success by directly copying off others. She may be an exotic blend of Madonna, Marilyn Manson and David Bowie, but she's done an awesome job of differentiating herself among these and other music moguls.

2. Be better than your competition. Britney Spears was previously the queen of pop/dance music and high energy concerts. Lady Gaga has dethroned her. I've never seen Britney in concert, but I do know she doesn't sing live. Lady Gaga sang her entire set live, bounced around the stage in choreographed dance numbers, played the piano (sometimes while standing on the bench) AND sounded amazing. The best way to beat out your competition is to show the world why you deserve to be on top. Lady Gaga has raw vocal talent, and sadly, that can't be said for everyone else who sings pop music.

3. Be real and sincere. Lady Gaga's show was supposed to be at a different venue, then it randomly got switched. A lot of people's tickets (including ours) got messed up in the process. Lady Gaga apologized for the venue swap during one of her chats with the audience. Unexpected, but very much appreciated. Her sincerity came out several more times during the show as she talked to the crowd about finding fame and what her fans mean to her.

You know she's real because her songs have meaning and tell interesting stories woven with love, pain, insecurities and fear. (she also writes her own songs). Lady Gaga made it very obvious that she's no southern belle. Nor is she trying to be. Love her or hate her, what you see is what you get.

You can take these lessons and apply them to any individual, company, brand, product, service, etc. Throw in some hardcore passion and perseverance with the above suggestions and you've got a nice recipe for success.

If you're ga-ga for Gaga and have learned anything from this 23-year-old mega star, please share!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Test Shows You How Creatively You Think

Creativity is a very in-demand skill...and not only for the design and communication industries. Creativity can be applied to any job in any industry. There are always ways to improve products and services. Workers who think creatively are needed to help a business operate successfully.

I write a lot about creativity on this blog (hence the title), so I was interested when I saw a link on Twitter to a test that shows you how creatively you think. Hat tip to @joshlinkner for sharing this test from the Flanders DC site.

The results of this test are divided into two sections - your personal score on the creativity index and innovation in your work environment. An explanation of the results is also provided. I found the results to be very in line with my personality and my work environment. My only complaint about the test is the five possible answers:

1this is not at all typical of me
2this is not really typical of me
3this is more or less typical of me
4this is pretty typical of me
5this is completely typical of me
I found it difficult to choose between some of the answers that are closely related, such as "not at all typical" and "not really typical". Regardless, the results were very accurate and I think this is an interesting test. Give it a shot and see if you get the results you expected.