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The importance of ‘being you’ in a position of creative leadership – via Creative Review

November 29, 2017
Being a successful creative leader is all about authenticity, says Tanya Livesey, Leadership Coach and Global Head of Creative Talent at The Talent Business. Trying to be someone you’re not is asking for trouble. Success can be a double-edged sword for those in the creative industries. Great work brings accolades, status and promotions – it also brings visibility. Yet being in the limelight is not always a comfortable place for creatives because the introspective nature of creativity goes hand-in-hand with the often-introverted tendencies of its best practitioners. However, once you take on a leadership position, you have no choice but to step onto the stage in front of your team, your clients and even the industry, and that can be a tough role for the audience-shy to play. The relentless drive for new business also adds to the constant pressure to perform and conform to our preconceived leadership ideals: the charismatic frontman, the inspiring orator, the powerful figurehead – so most feel huge pressure to live-up to these lofty expectations. Unfortunately, for those in charge, wearing the mantle of ‘leader’ can often make you feel like you’re dressed in someone else’s clothes. Pretending to be someone you’re not is physically and mentally exhausting….And it’s not just you it hurts: an ill-at-ease leader will quickly create an environment of anxiety and uncertainty The reality is that creative businesses require their leaders to wear so many hats, you can’t expect to fit them all. Importantly, if you’re not a natural showman, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a hugely effective leader. On the contrary, a recent study called the CEO Genome Project, which spent a decade studying more than 2,000 CEOs, concluded that the most successful ones were actually introverts.  But perhaps this should not be so surprising. If you look at the leaders that are changing the way the world does business, such as Mark Zuckerberg, Arianna Huffington and Elon Musk – these low-key figureheads and ‘introverted entrepreneurs’ are the antithesis of the more aggressive or flamboyant leaders who perhaps more readily fit our Western stereotypes.  Instead, they demonstrate the value of influence over dominance, of substance and strong belief systems over fanfare and showmanship and of the value of inclusiveness and the ability to connect with people. But perhaps the most important thing that this new breed of global leaders has in common, is that they live and breathe the power of being themselves. Why faking it fails As polygraph machines show, when we are untrue to ourselves, our bodies betray us. If you’ve ever tried to fake it, you’ll know that pretending to be someone you’re not is physically and mentally exhausting. It’s not sustainable and the cracks will eventually show.  And it’s not just you it hurts; an ill-at-ease leader will quickly create an environment of anxiety and uncertainty that can crush creativity. Instead it’s the leaders that are comfortable in their own skin that are best able to foster a culture of openness and trust that is essential for creativity.

10 Design Leaders On How To Empower Women In The Workplace (via FastCo)

November 15, 2017
Women design leaders at Uber, Facebook, Adobe, Pinterest, and more share stories of workplace sexism–and offer strategies for moving forward.   The tech and design worlds need more balanced leadership. Seventy percent of graphic design students are women, yet only 11% of creative directors are women. In the tech industry, which is notorious for gender imbalance, design leaders are looking for ways to support the career growth of female designers and build inclusive teams. At Women in Design 2017: Women Working Together, Designer Fund asked 10 design executives from companies like Facebook, Adobe, Uber, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Shopify, and Netflix how they create positive environments for female designers, and in particular, how colleagues can collaborate in this realm. The uniting message was that fellow women designers are one another’s most powerful assets. Read on for real stories about managing competition, examples of company-level programs that support women, and strategies to improve design team cultures. MANAGING A COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE With limited design leadership opportunities at tech companies, how do women approach competition when they pursue the same positions? The sentiment was unanimous: Advance the women around you, and you’ll all end up ahead. Nancy Douyon, a UX researcher leading Global Scalable Research Platforms at Uber, shared a story about a past colleague in a higher-ranking position—and how Douyon wanted to leapfrog her. “I was trying to figure out how to do a double promotion,” she jokes. One day, she and the senior woman were in a meeting full of men. All the men’s presentations received praise, but when the woman got up, a male colleague said, “I’m sorry, it’s too hard to see past the typos. Can we just move on?” This caused a mind-set switch. “At that moment I realized how important it was not to compete but to celebrate each other,” says Douyon. “I now make it a point to affirm a woman who speaks up or to ask them follow-up questions in meetings.” This idea appears in pop culture as the term “shine theory.” Coined by Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, hosts of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast, it means that you don’t shine if the women around you don’t shine. For example, women on Obama’s White House staff made a practice of amplifying one another’s contributions to make sure they were heard and given appropriate credit. These micro-level, individual adjustments add up to a bigger shift in women’s influence in the workplace. “It’s important to be deliberate about how we communicate with women,” says Laura Naylor, head of user experience research at YouTube. A recent study shows that men are three times as likely to interrupt women as they are men. This didn’t surprise Naylor, but here’s what did: 87% of the times that women interrupted, they were interrupting other women. “We need to be aware of unconscious biases and interact with one another in a way that strengthens us.” But what happens when there is only one leadership position available and two women are competing for it?

Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

May 1, 2016
*This is in my top 10 article list. Written by Ivo Dias de Sousa: “Catching the Big Fish” is a brief and charming book about creativity from the point of view of David Lynch. It is full of “gems” about his creative process. Many of the “gems” can be appropriated by people who need to be creative even in a business environment. The reader probably knows some of David Lynch’s films (like “Wild at Heart” with Nicholas Cage and “Blue Velvet with Isabella Rossellini and Kyle MacLachlan) and the famous TV series “Twin Peaks” produced by him. Lynch is also a visual artist and a musician. It is difficult not to admire David Lynch. On one side, he is one of the most iconic and creative filmmakers alive today. On the other side, it is difficult not to admire is persistence and “never give up attitude.”. His first movie (“Eraserhead”) took several years to finish. Basically, David Lynch worked in other jobs to have enough money to film it – when he had money to buy celluloid and other filming material he would go on. “Catching the Big Fish” is a book about creativity but many of its ideas can be applied in other areas of our life. The book is written in a very direct and charming style about his methods for having ideas and developing them. It consists of small excerpts that could actually stand alone well. Many of those excerpts have ideas and concepts that will challenge the mind of the reader. However, those small excerpts make sense together as a whole, without any problem. The view of David Lynch is very hands-on. One of the key points of the message of the books, is that artists should learn by doing. Learning stuff and don’t applying, doesn’t make sense to David Lynch. In a way, if you don´t apply what you learn, you don’t really know it. Read the full story

Updating the site

January 3, 2016
I’m designing and publishing at the same time – pretty crazy, right?  I wanted to try a few things out on the font door and do a quick character count for post length. This is just a test post! Thanks for visiting during my site update – things will settle into place over the next few months. *I’m a one-woman shop for this project so I really appreciate your patience. And feedback is always welcome.