Design the Life You Love: Inspiration Journal #8


Hello!

In this Inspiration Journal we have a creative exercise that has you listening to music and writing. Those of you who aren’t as comfortable drawing, you'll like this one. Have fun!

Design the Life You Love!

Ayse


How to be Creative Everyday

Exercise #5 Listen to Music & Write (or Draw!)

This is an adaptation of exercise #5 from my Inc. article with 32 exercises to boost your creativity. To do this exercise set aside 15 minutes to listen to music and write ideas that pop into your head (or sketch, for those of you who prefer to draw!). As always, don't edit or judge yourselves, just go with the rhythm of the music and have fun!


What music did you listen to? Please let me know at info@aysebirsel.com and share with me what you wrote or drew.  

And I hope you'll continue to share examples of how you're creative everyday on our Design the Life Love: How To Be Creative Everyday Pinterest page.


For more inspiration read my latest Inc. article: What It Really Means to Be a Design Led Company.

I also want to encourage you to sign up for my friend Patricia Echeverria's Creative Courage Summit. Starting April 17th, you'll get exclusive access to more than 20 creativity, psychology, and life design experts (including me!) who will equip you with invaluable skills and strategies to Design the Life You Love. 


Our Community

You can connect with us on Facebook @ Design the Life You Love by Ayse Birsel, via Twitter @aysebirselseck and on her website, aysebirsel.com. Design the Life You Love the book can be purchased on Amazon. 

Design the Life You Love: Inspiration Journal #7


Hello!

Today's Inspiration Journal is about one of my favorite love stories. Hani Hong and Andrew Hessell can to my workshop with eyes only for each other and said, "We're here because we want to design a life together!" I was so moved that two people in love would have the courage and foresight to see life as a design collaboration! Read their beautiful account here.

Design the life you love!

Ayse Birsel


DLYL STORIES

"Let's Just Draw Our Dreams Out Together” Ayse Birsel talks to Hani Hong and Andrew Hessel about Design the Life You Love.

Hani Hong and Andrew Hessel are two nomads who met in 2011. Andrew is a scientist, working to advance synthetic biology, and Hani is an out-of-the-box-thinking marketing director. They came to my Design the Life You Love Workshop in 2013, a few months before they got married. They sat side by side and were obviously very much in love. They were also incredibly open. They shared their insights and exercises not just with each other, but also with the other participants, which helped create an immediate mood of sharing and camaraderie among everyone. One of the most touching moments in the workshop came during the Heroes exercise. Inherent to any design process is the need to gather inspiration to be able to open up your point of view to different possibilities and find examples that represent your design values. The same is true when you’re designing your life. Heroes is about thinking about the people who influence us in one way or another and who have qualities we aspire to have. They help us to think creatively about our life using other people as our inspiration. Hani shared her hero, her mother, and told us the story of her mom who escaped Vietnam with her five kids all under the age of five, leaving her husband behind. Hani explained that the secret to her mom was “unconditional love”. I think at that moment, her mom became a hero to all of us present. They talked about having kids, living a bi-coastal life between New York and San Francisco, about Andrew’s ground breaking work, and Hani’s work that bridged design and marketing.  That was almost exactly four years ago and since then they’ve continued to design an original life for themselves. I talked to them about being at the workshop as a couple, their insights and AHA!s: what they learned about themselves and about each other, what their recommendations are to other couples who might be interested in the workshop, and how they’ve continued to design their life creatively, together as a couple. Their take on it is, if you can't sit down together and design the life that you love, you're in trouble! HANI  Somehow I'd seen information about your workshop either through you or on Facebook. And I wanted to try it because Andrew and I had been talking about where we wanted to go with things and about what we wanted, and it just seemed like the right timing for us.  We did the workshop in 2013 and we got married that July. So it was a few months before we got married. We already knew that we would be together. We were trying to have kids. We had been out to Cazadero, which is where we are now, and we both knew we loved it out here, in the woods. We talked about places we could live, whether it was getting a home in New York City or in San Francisco or outside of those areas. It was still all very up in the air with a sense of direction, but just not any certainty.  Going into the workshop together helped us sync up what we were each thinking—being able to draw what we saw as our future and seeing the things that were important to us and how those aligned. One of the things that has been really good for us about doing the class together was getting synchronized.   When a single person is doing it, they have a general idea of what they might want in life or what they might want to change, or redesign and they can't quite get that clarity until they go through the class and they're drawing out their bubbles and making their priorities. It's like saying something out loud. I think with us doing it, it was putting it down on paper and then sharing it and saying, okay, these are the things that we're both aligned on, here are the things that are a little different from each other, and then recognizing what is really important to the other person and being able to get alignment on those things.     ANDREW  The strongest impression that I have is when we started to visualize it, I recall being pleasantly surprised that we were as synchronized as we were. Because you know we often talk about various aspects of our life, and we are pretty good at doing intentions, but this was really the first time we put it together as a package. And said, this is what we like and this is how we see ourselves as we move forward.  HANI  Our communications have always been very open. So it's seems easy, but having it all in front of you and being able to view it together is what makes it different. Looking at the big picture and saying, here is what I drew and here's what you drew and look at how similar they are.  ANDREW  We are exceptionally honest with each other. In fact other people might be surprised at just how honest we are with each other about our life and relationship. There are very few boundaries and a lot of that comes from how both Hani and I have been so independent for most of our lives. We are secure in who we are, we don't really have any masks. It can be pretty raw sometimes. But one of the reasons why we work is because when you get to the inner core of us, we are really, really, similar. That's literally how we found each other.  HANI  I was traveling for six years. And I had just signed a two year lease for an apartment in New York City. Two weeks later I went to the TED conference in in Edinburgh. It was TED Global of 2011. We were both there at an evening event at the Museum of Scotland and I walked through the crowd and Andrew saw me and stopped and we talked. And for the next couple of days we talked, but we didn't actually get together until later that fall. I had contacted him and we were both very clear about our intentions. And so, he basically came to New York after speaking at Comic-Con and stayed ever since. That was it. It was all very easy.  When I met him he said that he was a nomad, he didn't live anywhere, he didn't have anything. The irony was that I was a nomad up until then. My aunts used to tease me all the time because I was getting older and I hadn't met anyone and I would say, Oh don't worry, he's traveling and I'm traveling and we just haven't met each other yet. And then we met. I believed in it.  ANDREW  Everyone knew that I did not want to have children. I was very comfortable and secure in that until suddenly I met Hani and I realized, "Oh I'm going to have to eat so many words." (Laughter) And people still tease me about it today.  HANI  I've recommended your workshop to friends who are in places where they're sort of at that fork in the road, where they're trying to decide what to do next with their lives. And we've actually mentioned it to other couples that we know. We really enjoyed going through it together.  ANDREW  You know Hani has a design background. I have a different design background in genetic design. But I absolutely recommend your course because if you can't sit down together and design the life that you love you're in trouble. You won't be pulling on the same chords and leavers in your life to make it happen.  HANI  For me, it's just fun to do together. You learn about each other, you learn about yourself. You know what it is, it's "Hey, let's just draw our dreams out together." Why wouldn’t you want to do that with your partner, right?  ANDREW  And we actually designed the life we love! She is here playing with us.  HANI  Her name is Ro! 

Hani Hong and Andrew Hessel are two nomads who met in 2011. Andrew is a scientist, working to advance synthetic biology, and Hani is an out-of-the-box-thinking marketing director. They came to my Design the Life You Love Workshop in 2013, a few months before they got married. They sat side by side and were obviously very much in love. They were also incredibly open. They shared their insights and exercises not just with each other, but also with the other participants, which helped create an immediate mood of sharing and camaraderie among everyone. One of the most touching moments in the workshop came during the Heroes exercise. Inherent to any design process is the need to gather inspiration to be able to open up your point of view to different possibilities and find examples that represent your design values. The same is true when you’re designing your life. Heroes is about thinking about the people who influence us in one way or another and who have qualities we aspire to have. They help us to think creatively about our life using other people as our inspiration. Hani shared her hero, her mother, and told us the story of her mom who escaped Vietnam with her five kids all under the age of five, leaving her husband behind. Hani explained that the secret to her mom was “unconditional love”. I think at that moment, her mom became a hero to all of us present. They talked about having kids, living a bi-coastal life between New York and San Francisco, about Andrew’s ground breaking work, and Hani’s work that bridged design and marketing. 

That was almost exactly four years ago and since then they’ve continued to design an original life for themselves. I talked to them about being at the workshop as a couple, their insights and AHA!s: what they learned about themselves and about each other, what their recommendations are to other couples who might be interested in the workshop, and how they’ve continued to design their life creatively, together as a couple. Their take on it is, if you can't sit down together and design the life that you love, you're in trouble!

HANI  Somehow I'd seen information about your workshop either through you or on Facebook. And I wanted to try it because Andrew and I had been talking about where we wanted to go with things and about what we wanted, and it just seemed like the right timing for us. 

We did the workshop in 2013 and we got married that July. So it was a few months before we got married. We already knew that we would be together. We were trying to have kids. We had been out to Cazadero, which is where we are now, and we both knew we loved it out here, in the woods. We talked about places we could live, whether it was getting a home in New York City or in San Francisco or outside of those areas. It was still all very up in the air with a sense of direction, but just not any certainty. 

Going into the workshop together helped us sync up what we were each thinking—being able to draw what we saw as our future and seeing the things that were important to us and how those aligned. One of the things that has been really good for us about doing the class together was getting synchronized.  

When a single person is doing it, they have a general idea of what they might want in life or what they might want to change, or redesign and they can't quite get that clarity until they go through the class and they're drawing out their bubbles and making their priorities. It's like saying something out loud. I think with us doing it, it was putting it down on paper and then sharing it and saying, okay, these are the things that we're both aligned on, here are the things that are a little different from each other, and then recognizing what is really important to the other person and being able to get alignment on those things.    

ANDREW  The strongest impression that I have is when we started to visualize it, I recall being pleasantly surprised that we were as synchronized as we were. Because you know we often talk about various aspects of our life, and we are pretty good at doing intentions, but this was really the first time we put it together as a package. And said, this is what we like and this is how we see ourselves as we move forward. 

HANI  Our communications have always been very open. So it's seems easy, but having it all in front of you and being able to view it together is what makes it different. Looking at the big picture and saying, here is what I drew and here's what you drew and look at how similar they are. 

ANDREW  We are exceptionally honest with each other. In fact other people might be surprised at just how honest we are with each other about our life and relationship. There are very few boundaries and a lot of that comes from how both Hani and I have been so independent for most of our lives. We are secure in who we are, we don't really have any masks. It can be pretty raw sometimes. But one of the reasons why we work is because when you get to the inner core of us, we are really, really, similar. That's literally how we found each other. 

HANI  I was traveling for six years. And I had just signed a two year lease for an apartment in New York City. Two weeks later I went to the TED conference in in Edinburgh. It was TED Global of 2011. We were both there at an evening event at the Museum of Scotland and I walked through the crowd and Andrew saw me and stopped and we talked. And for the next couple of days we talked, but we didn't actually get together until later that fall. I had contacted him and we were both very clear about our intentions. And so, he basically came to New York after speaking at Comic-Con and stayed ever since. That was it. It was all very easy. 

When I met him he said that he was a nomad, he didn't live anywhere, he didn't have anything. The irony was that I was a nomad up until then. My aunts used to tease me all the time because I was getting older and I hadn't met anyone and I would say, Oh don't worry, he's traveling and I'm traveling and we just haven't met each other yet. And then we met. I believed in it. 

ANDREW  Everyone knew that I did not want to have children. I was very comfortable and secure in that until suddenly I met Hani and I realized, "Oh I'm going to have to eat so many words." (Laughter) And people still tease me about it today. 

HANI  I've recommended your workshop to friends who are in places where they're sort of at that fork in the road, where they're trying to decide what to do next with their lives. And we've actually mentioned it to other couples that we know. We really enjoyed going through it together. 

ANDREW  You know Hani has a design background. I have a different design background in genetic design. But I absolutely recommend your course because if you can't sit down together and design the life that you love you're in trouble. You won't be pulling on the same chords and leavers in your life to make it happen. 

HANI  For me, it's just fun to do together. You learn about each other, you learn about yourself. You know what it is, it's "Hey, let's just draw our dreams out together." Why wouldn’t you want to do that with your partner, right? 

ANDREW  And we actually designed the life we love! She is here playing with us. 

HANI  Her name is Ro! 


Do you have a story of how Design the Life You Love has impacted your life? If so, please share it with me at info@aysebirsel.com

And I hope you'll continue to share examples of how you're creative everyday on our Design the Life Love: How To Be Creative Everyday Pinterest page.



OUR COMMUNITY

Want to connect with other DLYLers? Let us know at leah@birselplusseck.com and we'll send you an invite to join our Design the Life You Love Slack Channel. You can also connect with us on Facebook @ Design the Life You Love by Ayse Birsel, via Twitter @aysebirselseck and on her website, aysebirsel.com. Design the Life You Love the book can be purchased on Amazon. 

Design the life you love: Inspiration Journal #6


Hello!

To inspire you this week I'm sharing a creative exercise I learned from my dear friend, Ken Carbone, the co-founder of Carbone Smolan Agency and a renowned graphic designer, artist, musician, author, and teacher. He called this exercise, "An Apple a Day." Enjoy it!

Design the life you love!

Ayse Birsel


HOW TO BE CREATIVE EVERYDAY/CREATIVE PROMPT

For this exercise, also from my original list of 32 Creative Exercises in Inc., I want you to draw an apple a day for one week using a different technique each day. Ken did this for 365 days! Check out how he did it here and be inspired!

Keep in mind the different techniques you can use like drawing, sculpting or photographing and the different materials available to you such as pencils, colored markers, crayons, pastels, paints, paper, or clay. Have fun! 

Do you have a creative exercise you love? If so, please share it with me at info@aysebirsel.com

And I hope you'll continue to share with us the examples of how you're creative everyday on our Design the Life Love: How To Be Creative Everyday Pinterest page—thank you!


For more inspiration read Ayse's latest Inc. article: This 1 Simple Exercise Will Remind You of Your Purpose.


OUR COMMUNITY

Want to connect with other DLYLers? Let us know at leah@birselplusseck.com and we'll send you an invite to join our Design the Life You Love Slack Channel. You can also connect with us on Facebook @ Design the Life You Love by Ayse Birsel, via Twitter @aysebirselseck and on her website, aysebirsel.com. Design the Life You Love the book can be purchased on Amazon. 

Design the Life You Love: Inspiration Journal #5


Hello!

This week we share with you the profile of an extraordinary person, Whitney Johnson, disruptor and corporate innovator. Whitney and I met at Marshall Goldsmith's 100 Coaches program, where we were both among the first wave of 25 cohorts. She is an original who has not only disrupted her life multiple times, but helped so many others to disrupt their lives for the better.

When I asked Whitney what advice she has for those who want to live the life they love, she said, "If it's scary and it's lonely you're on the right path." Inspiring words from a true disruptor!

Design the life you love!

Ayse Birsel


EXTRAORDINARY LIVES / WHITNEY JOHNSON

"If you want to be successful in unexpected ways, follow your own disruptive path. Dare to innovate. Do something astonishing. Disrupt yourself."

The author of Disrupt Yourself and Dare, Dream, Do, Whitney is a self-proclaimed "investor in people, concepts, and dreams." As co-founder of Rose Park Investors, a Disruptive Innovation Fund, she put this approach to practice and now shares it with others through her speaking engagements, writing and her inspirational "Disrupt Yourself" podcast

Do you know an extraordinary person living an extraordinary life? If so, I'd love to hear from you at info@aysebirsel.com


For more inspiration read Ayse's Inc. column 6 Forgotten Leadership Lessons From Childhood.


OUR COMMUNITY

Want to connect with other DLYLers? Let us know at leah@birselplusseck.com and we'll send you an invite to join our Design the Life You Love Slack Channel. You can also connect with us on Facebook @ Design the Life You Love by Ayse Birsel, via Twitter @aysebirselseck and on her website, aysebirsel.com. Design the Life You Love the book can be purchased on Amazon. 


We Started Having ‘Life We Love’ Meetings on Sunday Mornings: An interview with Steve and Pam D'Amico

Steve and Pam met when they were 19 and 17, respectively. They have been together ever since. Steve came to Ayse's Design the Life You Love Workshop around the time they were becoming empty nesters and when he went home, he taught his wife Pam the process. They’ve been designing their lives together every Sunday ever since.

 

Steve I was with Procter and Gamble for 24 years as head of their Clay Street innovation arm and am now in the process of figuring what's next. I'm an industrial designer, but I haven't designed products in some time. I'm most passionate about helping companies create cultures of innovation, whether that's at Clay Street or elsewhere.  

Pam I'm a retired stay-at-home mom who started tagging along on the journey with Steve. I worked in the finance industry for 20 years, took care of the kids, and kept everything running. Our oldest daughter is in her second year of medical school and our youngest is just about to graduate from Columbus College of Art and Design in illustration. 

Steve So we are a scientist and an artist. We met when I was 19. I had been dating a girl and it wasn't going very well. My best friend at the time was essentially badgering me about his girlfriend’s friend, so I got him to agree that if he would stop bugging me, I would go out with her. 

Pam I was seventeen at the time and still in high school.

Steve My best friend's girlfriend was hitting on me while I was on my date with Pam. It was incredibly awkward, but somehow we got together anyway.  

Pam We've been married for thirty years since last September.

Steve We were reflecting on that... That's what old people have, thirty year anniversaries, but we're not that old yet. It's gone very quickly. It was David Keeler who originally told me about your workshop…One of the reasons that I accepted and was so eager to try it was because Pam and I knew we were coming up on a life changing event for us with our youngest daughter going to college. We were just on the cusp of a transition. I only knew a little bit about the premise of Design the Life You Love, and I thought, It had never occurred to me before to use the design process to reflect on one's life, but it made a lot of sense. And I think at that point Pam and I were rather disconnected.  
 

Pam We were mom and dad, but we weren't necessarily connected.

Steve You had us reflecting about ourselves individually at the workshop, but it struck me that we could use this as a couple.  

Pam I had been taking a class through the Arbinger Institute about empathy and self, using their book, The Anatomy of Peace. When Steve came back, we put what we each learned together and started to identify where there was some common ground. Steve had more about exploring, more in the mind space. And I was looking at traveling. Suddenly we realized that we both want to explore. And that was kind of the jumping off point for us. We should do this together or combine them.  

Steve I remember reflecting how interesting it was and how Design the Life You Love really made me think about myself and where I was as a person. I went home and was telling Pam about it. I shared with her my notebook and the sketches that I had done and I think I had a rough tree.  

Pam We talked about it and I told you about the Arbinger book and then you lead me through what you did.  

Steve Like Pam said, we realized we had some common points. This whole notion of exploration, which for me meant I sometimes spent too much time in my head. Her exploration was in terms of let's go out and see the world. So then it got us to really clarify what it means when we say ‘explore.' That gave us a launching off point to understand, this is what I mean, this is what you mean and this is what it means for us together. Up until then, we hadn't been talking about that. It's so easy just to be living your everyday life and and this gave us some common ground to actually have goals to work towards together instead of just doing the same thing every day and kind of living parallel lives. This happens a lot. You fall into patterns. I would get up and have my coffee and go to work and and she would get up and get the girls going. So, it kind of forced us to pause and really talk to each other about where we were individually and as a couple. I think I took her through pretty much verbatim what we did in your workshop. To basically have a similar experience to what I had. I think we did it in one sitting on a Saturday.  We had three common themes that were coming out: Exploration; The idea of connection; and then health and wellness. So I did the sketch of the tree. In purple pen, because I love purple. Basically, the vine symbolizes us working on our health, both mental and physical. We were hoping the fruits would be exploration. Health and wellness was our grounding, the roots, and the trunks are connection—connection to each other, connection to our daughters, and connection to our extended family and friends. Exploration became the thing that we both want. Later we changed that to play. Because play sounds a lot more fun then exploration.  

Pam We've been through many many iterations. 

Steve  We've been kind of wordsmithing it. But we really use those three themes—exploration, connection and wellness—and then say, okay, what’s within those is what's really important to us as a couple.   

Pam We started having Life We Love meetings on Sunday mornings. We would go to the local Panera and have a cinnamon roll and coffee. It was fun. It was wonderful for us.   

Steve There were other times we’d go, “Oh, you know we should have a date night" or “Oh, you know we should do this on a regular basis" and we knew that it wasn't easy to keep this going. So we actually picked Sunday mornings, because we said that's a time when the girls are not around and nothing was scheduled.   The Life We Love was the theme of what we did every Sunday. We would pick a topic and both of us, whatever it was, would go out and do a little research and then report back to the other. Now, maybe every six months or year we kind of look at it and say, you know this is working, this isn’t, and then talk about the latest iteration.   

Pam I think that this whole exercise has given us a really good connection and helped us to create a map to move forward in our relationship. This started just as Steve had left P&G and we really had no idea where we were going. 

Steve And I think that was part of also changing exploration to play. You know again there's this idea of being intentional, but it was just less serious and we were at a time in our life where people often get serious, but we needed to lighten up.   

Pam I think part of it was Steve had been the only one of us working for a lot of years. Our life could become in service of his career and his passion for his work, which which was fine, but I had kind of gotten to the point where I was just doing things on my own and making decisions about our life. That wasn't fair to him and it wasn't fair to me. So this also gave me the platform say, ‘wait a minute, we need to talk about this.' That was great, it made us feel like we were both sharing in our life. Not just in service of his career.   

Steve The other thing that I would say is that when we first did the list, we were looking at it a lot. And then, once we got comfortable with it, we put it away for awhile. I think that was important, that we not get so tied to it. But there were a couple of things that emerged naturally that weren't on there, but are on there now. The morning contemplation. We do spiritual readings in the morning and we have for the last year. Pam has her coffee. I have my tea and we have a reading and then we just talk about what that really means to us. So, some things were able to sort of percolate out naturally. That didn't originate on the list, but we very quickly found a home for it to go "oh, let's get intentional about it" and remind ourselves to do that. 

Pam I think one of the things I think that maybe you learned about me is that I was a lot more curious about exploring than you thought I was. I think I found that you wanted to be a lot more involved in our life then I thought you did since you've always been so passionate about your work. That was a very pleasant surprise for me.   

Steve  I think it helped. On a couple of fronts and I don't mean this in a negative way, but it helped me understand how disconnected we had gotten. Just because we hadn't had these kinds of conversations in a long time. There's a lot of benefit to be to be had by couples from Design the Life You Love.  

Pam It was really fun. I mean, I don't think if you were a couple that was having serious problems that it would solve them, but I think to address the every day it’s really good— a good way of falling back in love with each other and reminding yourself of what attracted you to that person and brought you together in the first place. Also, as a reminder of "yeah we need to work on that right now.”   

Steve It's also good to help you look forward. We were in a time of transition and, apparently, divorce rates are highest in couples when children are born and when children leave the house. Again I don't feel like our marriage was in trouble, but we had gotten disconnected. And so it seems to me that this is really great for these transition points, when you kind of have to rediscover each other, It was really great for that and is still paying dividends. We're still meeting every morning. You know we still go to Panera. Probably not every Sunday, but we're working on this every day now.  

6 Forgotten Leadership Lessons From Childhood

You want to know the top lessons in leadership training? It turns out you already know them. They're more or less the same lessons you learned as kids.

The things that your parents and your primary school teachers drilled into you are the same ones the best executive coaches will drill into you to help you be the best leader you can be.

How do I know? I'm one of top leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith's first 25 cohorts of his 'pay it forward' project, 100 Coaches, and he and his cadre of friends--among them Frances Hesselbein, CEO of Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute and Alan Mulally, former CEO of the Ford Motor Company--and his teammates, Frank Wagner and Chris Coffey, have been teaching us.

So here is a refresher course on the lessons from your childhood that can be applied to the business world.

1. Say thank you!

Marshall Goldsmith tells this great story in his bestseller, What Got You Here Won't Get You There. He was on a flight when there was an emergency and everyone thought the plane was going to crash. At that moment, his only regret was, "I didn't thank the people I needed to thank." The emergency was averted and the first thing he did afterwards was write thank you notes to everyone to acknowledge what they've done for him.

Thank the people who've helped you become who you are with a thank you note. Just like your mom taught you.

2. Listen more (talk less)!

Alan Mulally taught us that great leaders listen well. Being a good listener is a strength. Look into people's eyes and listen to them attentively. Listen in the present time. You will learn new things. You will let the person who is talking know that you value what they have to say. You will build trust.

There was a reason why our parents told us to "talk less and listen more." We were actually being taught a leadership lesson.

3. Don't interrupt!

Part of better listening habits is not interrupting. We interrupt others because we are bubbling with ideas. Or we know the answer and we want the other person to know we know the answer. Or we think we have bigger, more important ideas then they do. It happens. When it happens, stop and apologize. The more you do it, the less you will interrupt people and start to exemplify the importance of listening to each other.

Next time you interrupt someone, simply say, "I interrupted you, I am sorry, please continue."

4. Help each other!

Goldsmith says no one likes feedback; but everyone can use feed forward. Instead of dwelling on the past, feed forward is about asking each other for help for the future. He has people do this in pairs, each person tells the other something they want to improve on (i.e. I want to exercise more regularly), listens to the answer (i.e., schedule it into your calendar as if it is a meeting), says thank you (you don't say "I don't like it" or "I've heard this before", you just say thank you). You then switch roles. Then you switch partners. The more people you do this with the more help you get and give. It is humbling, empowering, builds trust and it makes it apparent how to be there for each other.

We all need help and we can all give help.

5. Be kind!

Goldsmith says that one of the most important criteria for getting into the 100 Coaches program is not brains, expertise, position or influence. It is kindness. One of the stories he had Frances Hesselbein tell us underscores this lesson--the story of her grandmother being kind to a Chinese laundryman, Mr. Yi, and being rewarded with his only possessions in this country as he was returning to his country--2 beautiful, giant Chinese vases. Why? Because Hesselbein's grandma was the only person who respected him and showed this through kindness. That is the lesson she grew up with and shared with us.

Be kind and respect all people. It is probably also the kindest thing you can do for yourself.

6. Play!

This is my add. Approach work playfully because when we play, we're like kids, we're not afraid of making mistakes. We try things out without judgment and accept we have so much to learn. Playing with ideas, with new ways of doing things, and learning constantly is probably the best way we can move forward, innovate and learn from our failures. Great leaders I know go to work with a smile and a bounce in their step and make work look like play.

Play like a child even though you're an adult.

How about starting today by thanking our parents and embodying their lessons in the office (and in life), everyday. And if you have other childhood lessons that have served you well as a leader, please write to me or comment here. I would love to hear from you.

Design the life you love!

 

4 Ways to Use Constraints to Come Up With Breakthrough ideas

Thinking outside of the box may have become a cliché, but that's because we've forgotten what it really signifies. Take a moment to visualize it. Can you see the box? It is defined, it provides boundaries.To think outside of the box, first the "box" must exist. You need something to push against. In other words, you need your constraints.

Here are examples from serious out of the box thinkers--Elon Musk, Charles Eames, Issey Miyake--on how to turn constraints into opportunities,e next time you bemoan them.

1. Define a game-changing constraint.

Sometimes a given constraint is so extraordinary that it becomes an incredible game changer.

If you are reading Elon Musk's biography like me these days, take note of the many constraints Musk puts in front of his team at SpaceX to arrive at extraordinary solutions that are changing the space industry.

My favorite anecdote is how his team invented a truster engine out of a mind-boggling single piece of metal (made with a 3-D printer) to outperform anything that is normally man-made in parts and welded together.

Next time you want to think out of the box and innovate disruptively, define the box in a radical, counter-intuitive and non-traditional way.

2. Instead of trying to bend the seemingly unbendable, find a way to bend with it.

Everything has constraints: materials, processes, people. Work with them.

Charles Eames, the industrial designer, was a master at working with constraints. His ground breaking work in plywood is a case in point. Imagine what plywood is. It is layers of thin wood, like a ream of paper. If you take a ream of paper and you want to curve it, you can only do it in one direction. It is the same with plywood, you can only bend it in one plane. That was Eames' constraint and chance to innovate. He realized this and then bent with it. His plywood furniture is a testimony to his genius.

"I have never been forced to accept compromises, but I have willingly accepted constraints." -Charles Eames

Like the zen master, who works with the stones in the zen garden, work with the stones and make them part of your solution.

3. Turn an annoyance into an advantage.

When Japanese fashion designer, Issey Miyake was asked to design a travel collection in the 1970s, he didn't know that the project would come to define his work. As a first step, he defined his box by asking what happens to your clothes when you pack them? The answer--they wrinkle. That became his key constraint. So how did he push against that? Instead of working against wrinkles, Miyake turned them into intentionally designed pleats and came up with what is now a big part of his brand, Pleats Please. He saw an opportunity in an annoyance and turned it into a world renowned brand.

So next time you have an annoying constraint, think how you can make it your biggest advantage.

4. Constrain yourself to one basic criteria.

Sometimes the most liberating thing is to be restrained to one medium.

Look at Twitter and its 140 characters. Painter Chuck Close's pixel paintings, now a beautiful part of New York's 2nd Avenue Subway. How Sean Kenny creates art using lego blocks. Real Simple's 3 ingredient recipes. Bach's Goldberg Variations, which are 30 variations on one aria. Japanese haiku, poems with only 3 lines, including one of my favorites here:

First autumn morning
the mirror I stare into
shows my father's face.

- Murakami Kijo

Define a singular focus, intentionally limit your resources, and give yourself tunnel vision, within which to explore the maximum number of variations, ideas, designs. Sometimes being constrained is exactly what you need to think without limits.

Maybe because I grew up in the Turkish culture, I am determined to see a silver lining in any situation. I love using constraints as a tool to think differently. How about you? I would love to hear from you about how you think outside of the box and turn constraints into opportunities in your life and at work.

Design the life you love!

 

Your Worst Idea Might Be Your Best Idea

Sometimes the best way to get to the right answer is to think of the wrong answer first.

This is especially useful when you're stuck.

Brand consultant and author Marty Neumeier talks about how designers go beyond thinking out of the box by "thinking wrong" in his book The Designful Company, something he explains Jonathan Ive, Apple's chief designer, cultivates:

"One of the hallmarks of the team is this sense of looking to be wrong...because then you know you've discovered something new."

3M calls this "Reverse Thinking--turning the problem upside down" and they've created a simple and user friendly guideline you can try on your own or with your team here.

Here are some examples to inspire you about how and when to use this tool:

Take something that is obviously a mistake or a "no-no" and use it for good

A wonderful example of wrong thinking is reverse graffiti, as illustrated recently by the South African artist William Kentridge who used the grime along the walls of the Rome's Tiber River to create a 550-meter-long work, Triumphs and Laments, to illustrate the city's history.

- Reverse thinking: Grime and graffiti is good for the city.

- Right idea: Let's use grime as an art material to do a mural that shows the history of the city.

Generate ideas that feel like a taboo until they're not

Imagine De Beers "right hand campaign" when it came out. To suggest that women can buy their own ring, from a company that invented the tradition of men buying diamond engagement and wedding rings for their fiancées, was almost a taboo. They broke their own convention and in doing so invented a new market.

- Reverse thinking: Imagine women buying their own engagement or wedding ring.

- Right idea: Actually what if we created rings for the right hand that women can buy for themselves?

Note that once a taboo is broken it doesn't feel so much like a taboo. Today Uber seems very normal but only a few years ago challenging the NYC taxi system was a downright taboo. Until it was broken.

Break your fundamental principles to remember why they matter

At the beginning of the design of the Resolve Office System for Herman Miller, I did a quick exercise that proved to be very useful.Technology was changing office culture so fast that it was challenging our user-centered thinking, so I decided to ask the team the worst question I could think of, "Let's put technology at the center of work!" The ideation that followed was so rich, but so inhuman that it demonstrated the danger of putting an inanimate object at the center of our thinking. It was the best 30 minutes spent, as it drove the number one principal of design--people-centered solutions--so strongly that we didn't waiver from it for the next 3 years of development and it's fueled all of our future work together.

- Reverse thinking: Let's put technology at the center of our thinking. Then we can make smaller and smaller cubicles.

- Right idea: With the person at the center, everything should be human in scale and spirit, follow the body. The system should welcome the person, make them feel valued and at home.

Go against your own instinct

Let me share an example where I tried to apply reverse thinking to my own life. As a working mom of two teenagers, one of the most baffling questions for me is "How do I make my kids happy?" So I decided to reverse the problem statement to, "How can I make them unhappy?"

Easy to answer! Buy less junk food. Take their phones away. Embarrass them in front of their friends. Do less stuff for them. Sing and dance to my heart's content. You can add your own idea here: ___________________________.

Then I used the wrong answers to generate potential right ideas.

- Right ideas:

  1. Buy more healthy snacks > We'll all eat better.
  2. Take my own phone away too > Do more stuff together.
  3. Embarrass them in front of their friends > Nothing to be done there :)
  4. Let them do more on their own > They'll become more independent.
  5. Sing and dance in front of them > Go to a karaoke bar together!

You know what my big AHA! was after doing reverse thinking? That my role as a mom is not to make children happy! Of course I want them to be happy, but I cannot make them happy. That is for them to do. This was such a huge revelation! And I wouldn't have gotten there without this exercise.

Get yourself almost fired

Another metric you should use when conducting reverse thinking is to ask yourself, "what is the worst idea that I can think of? The one that would get me fired if I told my boss." That is the level of "wrong thinking" you want to go for. Remember you're playing with ideas here and deliberately breaking your own prejudices.

We recently used Reverse Thinking as a tool in Design the Life You Love 2.0, in the context of work. The starting point was: how to deal with coworkers who have different political views than you? Here are examples of how wrong you can think and the right ideas it can lead you to--

- Reverse thinking: Spread nasty rumors about team members.

- Right idea: Spread good truths about your team members and promote their successes. You can read more about doing good in Adam Grant's gem of a book, Give and Take.

Next time you're stuck, try reverse thinking. Be playful and remember to push the wrong ideas as far out as possible. This will help break your own preconceptions. Then use the wrong answers to generate new "right ideas"!

Let me know how it goes. I am always on the look out for right ideas that come from wrong thinking to inspire creative teams.

Design the Life You Love!

12 Powerful Tactics That Will Help You Banish Self-Doubt

Often, people stand between themselves and success.

In our work with large organizations and individuals, we've learned that the number one impediment to success is not lack of time, limited resources, or a difficult boss or team. It's you!

We doubt ourselves, fear failure, feed ourselves negative thoughts, and don't show up as our real selves. We are our own worst enemy.

So how can you get out of your own way? We asked 40 respondents this question in a Design the Life You Love survey (all quotes, unless otherwise noted, come anonymously from survey participants). Here are the inventive and effective ways leaders, entrepreneurs, freelancers, managers, and designers get out of their own way to do their best work:

1. Have a routine

When you're anxious or fearful, or the work looms large, have a routine. Brian Koppelman, producer and writer, has a routine he developed to get out of self-doubt quickly. It includes morning pages à la Julia Cameron, meditation, long walks, and going somewhere to write (as discussed in an interview with Debbie Millman for Design Matters).

"By managing fear and rejection, you gain power over them." --Brian Koppelman

Other favored routines of survey participants included having a drink, going on a bike ride, laying in the sun, remaining in the moment rather than letting your mind race to outcomes that don't even exist yet, taking deep breaths, setting aside five minutes every morning after waking up to think about your day, reading something inspiring, listening to podcasts, learning new skills (skiing, calligraphy, karate), listening to people with empathy, visualizing your process and where you want to get to, and going to a spa to soak and clear your mind completely.

2. Positive interaction

Engage with other people in a positive way, which in return will help you be more positive about yourself.

"Little acts of kindness help you feel more positive about yourself, which makes you feel less fearful, more confident."

"I try to add kindness into everything--whether a smile to a stranger in the elevator, thanking the parking attendant and asking him about his day--the positive interaction always puts a lift in my day."

Another survey participant uses a private Twitter account to write down extreme feelings, both positive and negative ones, to be more rational and analytical than impulsive. She says, "I think it's all about developing habits to stay positive about myself. It's a muscle; I need to work on it constantly."

3. Time management

Approach your work with good time management: Put it in your calendar, use a focus technique like Pomodoro, have deadlines, do lists for every little thing you need to do, cross items out when you're done.

"If I want to or have to do something, I just start doing it, because the more time I spend thinking about it or getting ready for it the more discouraged I get."

4. Break tasks into smaller pieces

It is often the enormity of the task that scares us--the book, the report, the big idea. Instead of thinking of the end game, stay in the moment, define a small chunk of the work, and accomplish that--500 words, three sketches, 20 minutes of research. Plan to do a little each day and have them add up.

"Starting anything is the hardest part. I start by making a list. For me, a list breaks everything down into small tasks and achievable goals (I make a list every day). If you just focus on some big obstacle that's in front of you, it can easily become too daunting to take on. But if you break it down into smaller pieces--what you can do in the next hour, the next day, or the next week--before you know it you will have chipped away at what you once thought was too big to take on and it won't be so big anymore."

5. Delegate

Having too many things to accomplish is itself an impediment to doing your best work. List what you need to do, put names next to the tasks, and assign, collaborate, outsource. You will realize that you don't need to put your name next to everything, and that there are people who can help you.

"Creating lists, tediously updating my calendar, and delegating everything are the techniques that I use often."

6. One out, one in

Cross out one project before you add a new one. This is similar to what organizational expert Peter Walsh recommends--if you buy a new shirt, be sure to throw out an old shirt--to avoid overstuffing your closet. We all have constraints of time, energy, and resources. Be mindful of how much you can manage at a given time.

As a participant noted, "I started keeping a list of new shiny things and projects, but I only get to indulge in one if I cross something off the existing project list. One out, one in. It keeps me honest with myself about what I can handle and makes me choose more thoughtfully the new thing to tackle."

7. Get it out of your system

Talk to your friends, discuss it with your colleague, write in a journal, make lists, to get it--your fear of failure, the complexity of the work at hand, your limitations--out of your head and into the open. As one person put it in the survey,

"I connect with people, through a phone call or a coffee meeting, and try to verbalize what is holding me back. I break through the fear of starting, whatever the root of it is, by acknowledging it, and through conversation I always learn again that everyone faces challenges, and that they only pass if we continue to put one foot in front of the other."

8. Do the hard thing first

Instead of leaving the difficult stuff to the end, do it first, when you have the most intellectual energy. Resist the pull of easy stuff. It will drain your brain without giving you a sense of accomplishment. In the morning, when your brain is rested, work on the hard questions, the "knotty or wicked problems," as we call them in design, not on email.

What is hard changes from person to person, which is why this response from a participant is so refreshing. "Start talking with a stranger in the morning. The whole day gets easier."

9. Say yes!

Say yes to things. Yes is an invitation to learning new skills, to experimenting, to showing up. No is a closed door, a nonstarter. Often, we stand in our own way by simply saying no and thinking I am not good enough, I don't know enough, I am terrified of failing. It is so easy to say no--out of fear and self-doubt--but say yes!

"If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes--then learn how to do it later!" --Richard Branson

10. Embrace negative thinking in doses

Ask yourself, what is the worst possible thing that could happen if I do this? Use negative thinking to put the situation in perspective. This will allow you to recognize possible consequences and choices you have to either move forward or adjust your plans. More often than not, you will find that most of your fears are in your head and don't reflect reality.

"I always say to myself, 'What's the worst that can happen?' Since I never know the answer to that question, that's when I know I am tripping myself."

11. Advertise it

Tell others what you're doing until it becomes public knowledge. When you state publicly that you are doing something, the bird is out of the bag so to speak. At our studio, Birsel + Seck, when we want to try something new, we announce it as a public workshop and start taking reservations. As soon as the first reservation comes in, it is too late to back out. It is our way of getting over the fear of the new and to constantly experiment.

As one survey participant put it, "What always works is committing to something in a way that makes it harder to back out."

12. Reward yourself

Try any one of these tricks, and when you get out of your own way and get things done, celebrate! It not easy to leave your fears behind, to get beyond procrastination and self-doubt. Recognize what it takes to do your best work and give yourself a much-deserved pat on the back. Give yourself flowers, have a drink with a friend, buy yourself that pair of shoes you've had your eye on. Jump in the air, and do a crazy dance, and mark the moment. It was hard, but you did it!

You can model badminton world champion Saina Nehwal, who has a reward that may resonate with many of us.

"After I win a match, I celebrate it by having an ice cream."

We continue to make an inventory of habits and tricks. If you have other ways of getting out of your own way, write to me. I would love to hear from you. And thank you to participants of our survey for sharing your experience and knowledge!

Design the life you love.

Source: http://www.inc.com/ayse-birsel/12-powerful...

13 Work and Vacation Hacks That Will Help You Achieve a Better Work-Life Balance

Often what we want and what we need are in conflict.

My favorite example is vacation and work--I want to be on vacation, but I need to be at work.

So if you can work on vacation and feel like you are on vacation while working, you are creating uncommon value. In design this is called dichotomy resolution. It's the ability to have your cake and eat it too, by thinking creatively.

"But in our daily lives, we often face problems that appear to admit of two equally unsatisfactory solutions. Using our opposable minds to move past unappetizing alternatives, we can find solutions that once appeared beyond the reach of our imaginations." - Roger Martin, The Opposable Mind

Here are ideas for feeling like you are on vacation at work and doing interesting work on vacation:

  1. Take a short business course in a different city or country. You'll learn something new and network with other students, while discovering a new city or culture.
  2. Teach a class. I tell my graduate students at Products of Design at SVA that teaching them is my vacation. I enjoy my time getting to know them and talking about things that interest me. I learn all sorts of cool stuff from them too, but hey do the work.
  3. Do breakfast meetings. Find a hotel near your work, a place you'd stay if you were visiting, that has a good breakfast vibe. For me this is The Breslin, at the Ace Hotel, NYC. Meet people there. Then go to work.
  4. You've probably heard of the Pomodoro technique? You focus on a task for 25 minutes, then you take a 5 minute break. Treat these breaks as mini vacations--a 5 minute meditation, jumping rope, dancing, singing, reading (= 3-4 pages of fiction). After 4 focus periods, you will have taken a full 25 minutes off--where you can nap, bake, read a thriller, draw. Great for time management and having a healthy attitude at work.
  5. Practice skills you love but often run out of time for, on your vacation. My friend Theresa Fitzgerald, VP Creative Director at Sesame Workshop, does quilting on weekends to practice her making skills. Ken Carbone, founder of Carbone Smolan Agency (they do brand strategy and experience design) does a live drawing session once a month at the office after work and invites his friends.
  6. Make lunch at work. Peter Miller who owns my favorite bookstore in Seattle cooks a communal lunch with his team. For recipes and inspiration for this ritual, read his book Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal. I've had delicious lunch meetings at 10XBeta and HMA2, design and architectural studios respectively, who have the similar lunch ritual.
  7. Wake up early and then go back to sleep. Get up very early, like 4am, do great work for an hour, but then go back to sleep for an hour or two. Knowing you can go back to sleep feels luxurious.
  8. Have a cocktail with friends after work. This is the English pub idea, or the American happy hour, that adds an element of vacation between your workday and home life.
  9. Have a real coffee break. Instead of making coffee and taking it back to your desk, have a cappuccino and a cookie at a local cafe. Talk to the barista, read your book, sketch, do some people watching. 20 minutes of vacation in a day of work.
  10. Reserve one hour a day while on vacation to work on your own project. Decide on the project before you leave, bring your materials (sketchbook, research material, books, camera), and spend one hour on it each day. In one week, you can accumulate 7 hours that can fuel your thinking for months to come. This is how I started and finished my book, Design the Life You Love.
  11. Is there someone you'd like to meet while on vacation? Do a little research about local people and reach out to them to have a coffee (you will find that people are often flattered and will make time for visitors). You will make a new connection and network without it feeling like work.
  12. Be a tourist for an hour or two during your work day. Schedule one morning to go to a museum, visit new stores, have lunch at a hotel, go to a bookstore to look at the new books in your subject of interest or do a little hike. Bring a teammate or invite your mentor. Back at work, imagine connections between what you're working on and what inspired you most.
  13. Teach a summer (or winter) class. Many schools offer week-long retreats or special classes you can volunteer to teach, in return for travel + boarding. My favorite work vacation was teaching a Design the Life You Love course for 5 days at Boisbuchet, a summer design school in France, in the middle of a secluded forest with very little internet coverage, in the company of some wonderful people and marked with communal meals.

If you liked these ideas, here is how you can do your own hacks for work and vacation--

Make a list of things that you like doing on vacation and think of how you can insert them, intentionally and in small doses, into your work week. Then make a list of things you love doing at work but often don't have time for, and insert them into your vacation time.

Creativity happens at the intersection of what we want and what we need.

I would love to hear about your work and life hacks!

Design the life you love!

 

 

Source: http://www.inc.com/ayse-birsel/13-work-and...

7 Habits of Very Creative People To Inspire Your Everyday Work

You can wait until inspiration strikes. Or your muse arrives. Or you can start fostering your imagination today by developing a creative habit.

Here are 7 ways to find, nurture and maintain a creative habit which will invariably (speaking from experience and from watching my friends at work) increase your creative output.

1. Find the right time

My creative time is dawn. I wasn't always a morning person but, after I had my kids, I taught myself to be one. Early morning is quiet and free of distractions. 5:00-6:00AM is a short, precious window of time that cannot be wasted with dilly dallying (or email), plus my brain is fresh but not awake enough to be too judgmental (being judgmental gets in the way of creativity). And I am better for it, the rest of the day.

- Create a time: Find your time, with little or no distractions (no email, phone, co-workers, kids) and make it regular, same time, same place, to think creatively everyday. It takes about 3 to 4 weeks to make it into a habit, after which you can't do without it.

2. Set a limit

English novelist Graham Greene wrote 500 words everyday, stopped and didn't think about it until the next morning. I've loved this idea ever since I read Michael Korda's profile of Greene in the New Yorker in 1996, imagining his life between those 500 words feeding his writing. Michael Korda noted that,

"Greene's self-discipline was such that, no matter what, he always stopped at five hundred words, even if it left him in the middle of a sentence."

- Determine a limit: number of pages, words, sketches, images, amount of time--and do exactly that much creativity per day. Watch them add up, to an article, a book, a product, a film.

3. Have a starting cue

Choreographer Twyla Tharp hops in a cab at 5am every morning to go to her gym. She is half asleep but by the time she is in the cab it is too late, she is in forward motion to her creative place. I make tea as soon as I am out of bed and by the time I pour myself a cup with my cookie (a reward), I'm ready to open my sketchbook and start sketching.

- Create your entry point--making tea, putting on music, wearing a hat, walking the dog, hopping into a cab--that literally pushes you into your creative habit and marks the beginning of your creative time.

4. Start humble

Starting is half the battle and starting small, humbly, is really the only way to start. I started this article a few days ago with a title, a few sentences and some jumbled notes. And that makes all the difference because once you've started you can continue. It is out of your head and into the world.

- Have the creative habit of starting small--build little by little from there. Waiting for the big idea, fully formed and ready, is a myth. At least in my case (and I believe the same is try for most of us)!

5. Go for a walk

Beloved illustrator and author Maira Kalman's makes a great case for walking, her creative habit, "Walking clears your brain and fills your soul and makes it quite happy actually." And she is not alone--Steve Jobs of course was famous for his walks.

- Take a walk--alone or with someone to reflect, think through ideas, get inspired and observe life around you.

6. Give yourself a sabbatical

Graphic designer and typographer Stefan Sagmeister has many creative habits, but the one that is quite unique is his creative sabbatical. Stefan takes a year off from his commercial clients every 7 years and uses his sabbatical to think creatively on his own time. His beautiful film, the Happy Film, which explores three things that make people happy--meditation, cognitive psychology, drugs--started during a sabbatical and took him an epic 7 years to finish, bringing him to his next year off!

- Give yourself a creative sabbatical--you decide how much time you can set aside: maybe not a whole year but maybe a month, or 3 hours every Friday afternoon, or every 2 weeks. This is your time to doodle, research, do a project that interests you. No clients, no boss, no deadlines.

7. Wait until you run out things to do

Richard Ford is one of my favorite writers. In a 1999 New York Times article, he said that he does nothing for long periods of time until he runs out of other things to do. Then he starts writing.

"I simply choose to do it, often when I can't be persuaded to do anything else; or when a dank feeling of uselessness comes over me, and I'm at a loss and have some time on my hands, such as when the World Series is over." -Richard Ford

I love this creative habit even though I am ill-suited for it. But for all of you who can afford to do it, it's worth a consideration. Especially if the results will be to the level of Ford's art.

- Don't do anything creative--use that time to reflect, live life, collect material and knowledge intentionally or intuitively for the next round. Until you run out of things to do. Then be creative. Fully and with no holes barred!

My creative habit is a combination of all of the above. I wake up early, make tea, do a little something creative everyday for an hour, go for walks in New York City, treat my vacations as sabbaticals and even have periods where I do nothing creative until I crave being creative again.

How about you? What is your creative habit? I would love to hear from you.

Design the life and work you love!

Source: http://www.inc.com/ayse-birsel/7-habits-of...

Love and Be Loved, and Other Life Lessons from Alan Mulally

You wouldn't think you'd learn lessons about being a better mother from an executive. But that's exactly what happened when I met Alan Mulally at the 100 Coaches seminar run by Marshall Goldsmith. Alan is the legendary Ford Company CEO who was responsible for turning the auto giant from the brink of bankruptcy.

Here are 3 sets of lessons, one from Alan's mother I've since adopted; one from Alan's own corporate vision, People First; and the last set from his family rituals.

Lesson Set #1:

Alan Mulally said that his mother repeated 3 things to him every day, over and over again, like a mantra:

  • The purpose of life is to love and be loved, in that order.
  • To serve is to live.
  • It is nice to be important, but more important to be nice.

When Alan shared these simple but profound sentences with us I took them home and told my children I learned these three lessons from a friend. I now repeat them to my kids so that they will be ingrained in their minds and hearts. But honestly it is as much for them as it is a reminder for me.

These mantras are all interconnected. You need to be nice to be loved. Success comes from being at the service of others. And to be at the service of people, you need to love them. That brings me to what Alan taught us next:

Lesson Set #2:

People first. This is the first line from the Principles and Practices section from Alan's Working Together Management System. Everything else flows from this essential principle. In other words, nothing else matters if you don't put people first.

For Alan People first is embodied in his leadership behavior in different ways--

  • As a leader, you need to enable people to learn
  • You let everybody know the plan
  • If everybody knows the plan, you're showing vulnerability, authenticity and trust
  • Be clear, because if you don't understand it, neither will they
  • Talk less and listen more
  • Ask people what they think of you, because you can work with those gems
  • Be consistent

It is intuitive for me to put people first for my family. Having said that, I know I can be a better mom if I practice each of the above consistently. Especially talking less and listening more! Having everybody in my family know the plan makes so much sense yet I have to admit we often don't talk about the plan. And asking my family what they think of me takes courage but it also means I am willing to change. These are things I will be working on.

Lesson Set #3:

Alan, who has 5 kids, also shared how he applied his famous Business Plan Review (which he credits for his ability to turn around Ford Company) with his family. Consistently, every Sunday, he, his wife and their kids had a routine:

  • Put everything back in your room
  • Do laundry and sort socks for 7 people!
  • Review everyone's schedule for next week and what they need schedule it in your work schedule
  • And he gave this valuable tip for parents of teens--"if you're going to do something that will affect the whole family, let's talk about it!"
  • Pass out allowances.

My goal for 2017 is to apply this with my family. I love the consistency of the review (and for my family the hardest part will be the consistency of doing it every Sunday but I will try); sitting around the table to plan our week so that everyone knows the plan (which reinforces Everyone knowing the plan from lesson set #2), and reinforcing the idea that we're all interconnected and that one thing that you do can effect the whole family.

Thank you Alan Mulally for being a hero to me and sharing your life lessons. And a shout out for my friend Marshall Goldsmith, author of the Wall Street Journal best-selling book, Triggers, who introduced me to Alan and brought us together. Lessons I have learned from Marshall will be next!

Do you have lessons you've learned as a leader that you're applying in your family? I would love to learn from you.

Design the life and work you love!

Source: http://www.inc.com/ayse-birsel/3-lessons-i...

The 4-Step Design Thinking Process You Can Use to Revamp Your Work

There is a myth that to be truly creative you need no process. False! Actually process is what separates truly creative people, repeat creatives, from the rest. In our studio, we have a rallying cry: TRUST THE PROCESS!

My design process is Deconstruction:Reconstruction. It is based on my experience of designing award winning products, systems and experiences, everything from office furniture for Herman Miller to kitchen utensils and tools for Target and washlets (toilet seats with bidets) for TOTO.

Deconstruction:Reconstruction has 4 simple steps that can help you to think differently about anything with optimism and creativity, even your work.

Note: Before you get started, do a simple warm-up exercise to wake up your right, creative brain. Here are my 32 easy exercises that will take you 15 minutes or less that you can choose from.

STEP 1: DECONSTRUCTION. Taking the whole apart.

Here is my work, deconstructed. CREDIT: Ayse Birsel

Deconstruction is not a new idea. Even Rene Descartes, the French philosopher, mathematician and scientist, talked about it in the 16th century: "Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it."

This step takes that same approach.

Start by mapping out the main building blocks of your work, things like collaborators, time, places, purpose, strengths, earnings. Then continue to deconstruct each building block into smaller parts and pieces until you run out of things to note.

Take a look. Did you note love? Make sure you have love. How about money? 80% of people who've deconstructed their work forget to include money!

Now note your AHA!'s: those things that surprised you. Here are some of the most common of these insights:

  • Being your own biggest stumbling block and the need to get out of your own way;
  • Work becoming a rat race (bigger car, bigger house, bigger salary) and the need to reconnect with your real purpose (helping others achieve a dream, giving without expecting something in return, doing what you love);
  • That all the pieces that matter are there and what you need is to be mindful of what you already have.

Seeing the parts and pieces, you can decide what you want to keep, what you want to delete or change, what you want to have more or less of, and you can identify the new connections you can make between the parts. Which brings us to our next steps.

Step 2: POINT OF VIEW. Seeing the same things differently.

Example of Heroes Exercise by Alexander Osterwalder, Co-Founder Strategyzer and inventor of the Business Model Canvas. His heroes made him “realize even more how much I love creating stuff!”. CREDIT: Alexander Osterwalder

The goal here is to look at the same things from a new perspective. This to me is the heart of creativity and inspiration is the perfect tool for it.

Think about people who inspire you at work. Make a list: note their names, draw a little icon or symbol for them, and write their qualities in detail.

Marshall Goldsmith, the author of the best-selling business book Triggers, came to my workshop and realized that his heroes were his teachers who had taught him what they knew without asking for anything in return: Peter DruckerFrances Hesselbein, Buddha. Marshall decided to do the same and started the 100 Coaches Project to teach what he has learned from his teachers to 100 CEO's, entrepreneurs and leaders for free. His only requirement: give back and teach what you know for free to others when it is your turn. Full disclosure: I am one of the first 25 of 100 Coaches!

Marshall's heroes reconnected him with his purpose and inspired him to start one of the most important projects of his life.

What do your heroes tell you about your own values and what matters to you. What do they inspire you to do differently at work?

Step 3: RECONSTRUCTION. Putting it back together.

Reconstruction teaches us the key to doing more with less. You can’t have everything but you can be intentional about what you choose to have in order to create something unique. CREDIT: Ayse Birsel

Reconstructing your work is about making choices about what you want in your work, knowing you can't have everything (we simply don't have enough, time, energy or resources).

Pick 3 things that you want in your work, the work you love. Note: The number 3 is an intentional constraint to remind you that you cannot have everything. It also helps you focus on what really matters.

Here is a cheat sheet, from participants of my Design the Work You Love workshops. Add your own using the inspiration from your heroes and insights from your Deconstruction:

  • Act from an authentic place
  • Constantly evolving
  • Persevere
  • Grace under pressure
  • Fearless determination
  • The ability to walk to your own drum
  • Act with integrity
  • Save lives
  • Have your own voice
  • Be a consummate teacher
  • Redefine the way something is done
  • Longevity
  • Mindful
  • Generous
  • Inclusive
  • Full of humility
  • Curious
  • Fearlessly pursue your dreams
  • Courageous
  • Audacious
  • Kick ass
  • Be the best at what you love
  • Add yours here...

Your choices are the foundation of the work you love.

Step 4: EXPRESSION. Giving it form.

Steph Stepan expressed herself as Big Bird from Sesame Street, tall, strong and gentle, which led her to ask: “What does this look like in my inner and outer life? What makes me fly? What does my Sesame Street look like?” CREDIT: Steph Stepan

Now that you have the essential ingredients of your work, you need to give it form. You can express your new vision of work by drawing and writing about it.

Steph Stephan from Amsterdam, who was a participant in one of my Design the Life You Love workshops, drew herself as Big Bird, from Sesame Street, and wrote the 3 qualities she wants to embody everyday:

  • I STAND TALL! By sharing what I believe in; knowing what I have to contribute; acting with integrity.
  • I AM STRONG!! I show up, even when I am scared; I keep my body healthy; I am honest--my litmus test.
  • I AM GENTLE! I welcome people; I assume the best in people; I am kind to myself (I try).

Now it is your turn. Draw yourself as you want to see yourself at work--Big Bird, Katy Perry(my vision is to be the Katy Perry of Design the Life You Love), a tree, Little Buddha, and identify your key qualities. Then do this daily exercise: plan how you can embody your 3 key qualities every day before work to help you be intentional about bringing these qualities to life.

Go ahead and design the work you love in 2017. Prototype it, enlist your friends and team to collaborate with you on it. Test it for a year. A year from today, you can take your notes and drawings out and see what worked, what you'd like to change as you continue to redesign the work you love.

Keep me posted! I would love to hear from you about your work design for 2017.

Design the life and work you love!

Source: http://www.inc.com/ayse-birsel/the-4-step-...

32 Easy Exercises to Boost Your Creativity Everyday

For a lot of people, creativity is a talent that few people have.

For me, creativity is a skill we all have and can improve with regular exercise.

"Creativity is not just for artists. It's for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it's for engineers trying to solve a problem; it's for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way."--Twyla Tharp

Here are 32 simple, daily exercises you can choose from to enhance your creativity. They are short workouts for your right brain, often with nothing more than a pen and some paper (my tools are the Pilot Bravo! pen and a Moleskine sketchbook) and playfulness.

To make it into a habit, schedule "15 minutes of creativity" into your calendar and try a different exercise each day.

  1. Draw something--fruit, your coffee cup, your dog, cat, children--for 5-10 minutes. Just draw, don't judge and don't erase.
  2. Draw an apple a day using a different technique each day, for a week. My friend Ken Carbone did this daily, for 365 days.
  3. Buy a set of color pencils. Draw parallel lines freehand or with a ruler. Color them in a la Paul Smith.
  4. Use a drawing program on your i-Pad, my favorite is SketchPad, to draw half of something and have the mirror effect draw the other half. Try symmetrical things like bottles, vases, forks, pencils.
  5. Take your sketchbook to a concert and sketch or write ideas that pop into your head as you're listening to music.
  6. Make something new, funny or weird with objects lying on your desk.
  7. Collect a bunch of things from your recycling bin. Combine them together to make an abstract sculpture. Use a hot glue gun or lots of tape to hold it together.
  8. Look up a word in the dictionary, and then look up the word before and after. Make up a short story using the three words (loosely inspired by Twyla Tharp, from her book The Creative Habit).
  9. Make new things with paper clips (earrings, letters of the alphabet, a heart). See how many things you can make in 5 minutes.
  10. Find one thing that starts with the first letter of your first name and another with the first letter of your last name. Mash them together to make a new thing: Apple for Ayse + Bus for Birsel = Apple shaped bus. Draw it.
  11. Draw something on your desk, i.e. your stapler, without looking at your hand in 5 minutes. Cover your hand and drawing with a paper towel to not cheat. When done, take away the towel. Tadaaa! You'll be amazed.
  12. Pick a song you love and sing it with new lyrics.
  13. Write a poem about your day in the style of your favorite poet (Maya Angelou for example).
  14. Take a photo, or a selfie, open it in Photoshop or PowerPoint and write HELLO! in large letters in a fun font, save as PDF and attach it to your emails for the day.
  15. Take a compound word made up of two words. Separate them. Replace one of the words with a new word to make up new compound word. List as many combinations as you can.
  16. Go to a museum with your sketchbook and draw a painting or a sculpture that inspires you (if you can't take the time, go outside your door and draw a tree or a mailbox). It doesn't matter how crude or crooked your drawing and I guarantee that you will never forget what you just drew.
  17. Write something you want to solve in your notebook before you go to sleep. Sleep on your problem and let your subconscious do the work. When you wake up, ideate in your notebook.
  18. Look at clouds and imagine them as things, just like when you were a kid.
  19. Borrow your kid's Playdo and make a sculpture for 15 minutes. Use Henry MooreIsamu Noguchi or Brancusi as inspiration.
  20. Next borrow your kids Legos and make a plan for your dream house, pool included. You can also do this virtually on Minecraft.
  21. Cover your table completely with large easel paper. Draw on it large, free style, stream of consciousness, using a Sharpie (make sure Sharpie doesn't seep through) for 10 minutes or until the whole table is covered. Tape it all together and tack it on your wall.
  22. Take 5 minutes to write a haiku (Japanese style 3 line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable structure) about your day or night.
  23. Next time you're cooking, change a key ingredient and experiment.
  24. Gather materials (foil, q-tips, wire pipe cleaners, colorful paper or post-its, paper clips, some string, buttons, pushpins, and any other odds and ends) and glue them together to make something. If you have young kids, do this together.
  25. Channel Stefan Sagmeister, the graphic designer and author of Things I have learned in my life so far. Formulate your life's motto and write it in sugar or salt, or with flowers, or make a sketch of how you'd like to write it in a forest or across a pool.
  26. Mash up very new and very old technology and play with new ideas. Uber + Horse Carts. Apple Watch + Sun dial. Write and draw them.
  27. Do any page of Keri Smith's Wreck This Journal. My favorite: FIGURE OUT A WAY TO ATTACH THESE TWO PAGES.
  28. Print a portrait of someone you love or admire. Put tracing paper over it and redraw their face. Don't judge and don't erase. Try this with your own face for a self-portrait.
  29. Collect branches that look like letters on one of your hikes and write your name with them when you're home. Take a photo and post on Instagram.
  30. Draw something without lifting your pen.
  31. Learn how to draw something realistically, like an eye on this YouTube tutorial (this will take more than 15 minutes).
  32. Take a different route home and take photographs of the new things you see along the way. Post on Instagram, #creativeeveryday.

Here is what I've learned from these creative warm-ups: my thinking continues to be more flexible and multi-dimensional throughout the day. I approach work challenges with less fear and more playfully; I'm more open to see things in new and unexpected ways... Andthat makes all the difference.

How about you? Do you have some favorite creative exercises? I would love to hear from you.

Design the life and work you love!

Source: http://www.inc.com/ayse-birsel/32-easy-exe...

3 Ways to Use Design Principles to Create a Better Company Culture

Business is all about people. This is what I learned from Alan Mulally, former Ford CEO,who not only saved Ford Motor Company from bankruptcy but saw employee satisfaction double during his tenure in Dearborn. So--how do you make it all about the people?

Designers understand this, because they have to put themselves in other people's shoes everyday to solve problems for them. To make their lives better, safer, easier, joyful; to make things simpler and more intuitive; and to give them the feeling that someone actually thought about them. Graphic designer and filmmaker Stefan Sagmeister calls this, "touching someone's heart with design."

Imagine applying this thinking to your day-to-day work.

Answering emails, hosting meetings and giving presentations--most of it can feel like drudgery until you reframe them in the context of serving others. What if every part of our work is about touching someone's heart?

1. Answering email: How can I make email messages special for the person who is receiving them? Each email is an opportunity to show someone else they matter to you.

  • Use emoticons: Jocelyn Glei, author of Unsubscribe, a great how-to book about email, recommends using emoticons and exclamation points as "sort of a shorthand for social cues, conveying that you are playful, excited, enthusiastic, or supportive without requiring you to be overly wordy."
  • Make it personal: add something unique, like your location at the time of your email (greetings from Amsterdam) or an inspirational quote, or a unique sign-off (my favorite is Marshall Goldsmith, author of the best selling book, Triggers, who signs off with "Life is good!").
  • Add a special touch: When words are not enough, include a handwritten note (scanned or photographed), a 10 second video message, or a piece of music (gift it from iTunes) to say "thank you, congratulations or get well."

2. Hosting meetings: We plan dinners, parties, and social get togethers with so much care. Imagine taking similar care with business meetings, thinking of them as hosting meetings, where people feel welcome and well taken care of.

  • Transform: At Lululemon's off-site HR meetings, special care is given to making an otherwise sterile hotel meeting room special, with fragrant flowers, colorful blankets and table runners to create a sense of welcoming. Food preferences are taken into account, food is presented beautifully, and there are ample snacks for low energy moments. Imagine how you'd do it, in your own style.
  • Personalize: Print name cards, have a small sketchbook or a little gift waiting for each person. Provide funny glasses, hats or lab coats if you want to have people role play. Have a give away that leaves an impression--once I distributed cans of sardines to make a funny but pertinent point about office real estate and user density.
  • Clean-up: This may seem obvious but is often overlooked. Open the shades or have them all line up, line up all the tables and chairs, put away any junk from previous meetings, wipe the boards, even arrange furniture if you need to, to make the room presentable, clutter-free and clean.

3. Giving presentations: Most presentations feel lop-sided--one person talks, the rest listen. Even if you're doing most of the talking, here are a couple easy tricks to make everyone else feel included in your presentation:

  • Greet everyone in the room one by one before you get started. Shake their hand, or hug them (if you're a hugger like me). If this is a new group, introduce yourself and let them introduce themselves. Even if you have 80 people, it will take you less than 5 minutes but you will have made a connection before you even started.
  • Get a list of the attendees and include everyone's names in your opening slides. If you have photos, insert photos. This helps everyone feel included.
  • Do a fun little ice breaker in the beginning to get people to relax and be present in the meeting. At our office, we get people to draw each other. Lululemon starts with a meditation.
  • Go around the table, lightning style and have everyone state their mood (it clears the air and you get a chance to explain why you look so stressed, out of sorts or happy).
  • Make your presentation look beautiful. There is nothing like a well-designed presentation that communicates care and consideration for your audience. It doesn't hurt to hire a graphic designer for best results.
  • At the end, do a quick Q&A to make sure you're addressing questions or open issues.
  • Add a thank you slide at the end and thank everyone, for their time, for their contributions, for their high energy.

Try these simple acts of thoughtfulness and you will feel kinder. It won't go unnoticed either. Other people will respond in kind to you. And through greater empathy for each other, you will together change your company culture that is welcoming and people-centered.

How about you? What are some ways you use empathy to build a better company culture? I would love to hear from you.

Design the life and work you love!

 

 

Source: http://www.inc.com/ayse-birsel/3-ways-to-u...

5 Exercises That Will Help You Think Like a Designer

Designers are trained to think differently. How else can you take an old-fashioned idea like knitting and transform it into FlyKnit, a beautiful, cutting edge athletic shoe that eliminates waste by only using the yarn needed to make it (the designers at Nike must have had fun imagining that one). Or the Teavana teapot I use at home which never ceases to amaze guests because the tea comes out the bottom and not from the spout: it doesn't have a spout! Here are 5 simple designer traits that, when used together, will make you think differently and break age-old preconceptions.

Don't give up on a problem until you've come up with a solution

Designers believe they'll come up with a better solution, no matter how hard the problem. This optimism drives their creativity. When you're faced with a tough problem at work, remind yourself that constraints are also opportunities. If stuck, think whether you've seen a similar problem in another industry or context.

Steve Jobs did this when he took the magnetic power clip from Japanese rice cookers and applied it to Apple laptops. Very different industries (computers and cooking), same need (avoid a fall). So identify your problem and look for it in other contexts, and when you find it, use the solution as inspiration for your particular context. You'll be cross-fertilizing your way to a solution!

Put yourself in the shoes of others

Designing often means solving problems that you don't personally have--learning toys for toddlers, breast pumps for new moms, knives for chefs--without being a child, a mom, or a professional chef. You can only do this if you have deep empathy for the other person, the person who is in need.

Sam Farber, founder of OXO brand of handheld products, was inspired to create kitchen gadgets with a more comfortable handle after he saw how difficult it was for his wife to peel potatoes because of her arthritis. Be on the lookout for the pain points people experience throughout the day, imagine what they're going through and think about how you could solve them.

Think holistically

Often, people think that they need to spend hours jotting ideas down on paper to come up with the best solution to their problem. But focusing on the problem creates a sort of tunnel vision, you can't see beyond what you know. It helps to take a step back and see the big picture.

I give my students at School of Visual Arts (SVA) the following exercise: break chicken soup into its parts across emotion, physical, intellect and spirit.

  • Emotion of chicken soup is comforting, beloved, healing
  • Physical qualities are hot, steaming, liquid, chicken
  • Intellect is traditional, intergenerational, universal
  • Spirit of chicken soup is caring, childhood memories, home

Use the 4 quadrants with anything when you want to see the big picture.

Ask open-ended questions to practice an open-mind

Designers ask "what if" questions all the time and explore different outcomes to a given situation. Like what if we designed a teapot without a spout? What if we knit a shoe using only the amount of material we need to avoid any waste? What if we replaced chicken in the soup above with lots of onions (answer: French Onion Soup).

What is your "what if" question du jour?

Work with others

Designers understand that today's problems are often too complex for any one person to solve. You need people from other disciplines to build on each other's ideas.

It was a professional set designer who built big rock concerts who first inspired me to imagine that an office system can be lightweight, modular and easy to change, just like a theater set. We built our first prototypes of the Resolve Office System for Herman Miller from off the shelf, inexpensive set building parts. It was Jim Long, then director of research at Herman Miller, and his work around metaphors that helped me broaden the idea of the theater into an overarching metaphor--that the office is really a stage for the performance of work. And that, like a stage, an office system needs to be easy to change and adapt to different work performances.

Start a conversation with a person from another discipline, listen, learn and ideate together.

How about you? What are some favorite tools and tricks that help you think differently. I would love to hear from you.

Design the life and work you love!

 

Source: http://www.inc.com/ayse-birsel/5-exercises...

AYSE HAS BEEN SELECTED AS MARSHALL GOLDSMITH'S THE FIRST 25 COACHES WINNERS

I have been selected as the first 25 of the 100 Coaches winners!

Marshall Goldsmith came up with the idea of mentoring 15 people at no charge. His idea was to pick 15 people to teach everything that he knows. In return, these 15 would do the same thing for 15 others, for free. He called the project 15 Coaches.

He was so excited and moved by the more than 10,000 applications he has received! Therefore, he has decided to expand the program from 15 to 100 coaches!

The project is now called 100 Coaches and he is currently working on the selection of the next 75 coaches!

The first group of 25 coaches will join him in Phoenix in December. There will be three more groups – one from Asia/India, one from the US, Europe, and South America, and one group of younger people and people from developing countries who are ready to make a difference in their communities and pay it forward.

Source: http://www.marshallgoldsmith.com/100coache...