Aug 11, 2010

Plywood People and Making Ideas Happen

Last Friday we had the pleasure of sponsoring Plywood Presents "Making Ideas Happen." I was eager to attend and soak up the presence of some of our region’s most creative folks.kingofpops

Scott Belsky, founder of Behance and author, gave two fantastic presentations, and the day was rounded out by local creative entrepreneurs, including Michael Tavani of Scoutmob and new Atlanta fave The King of Pops!

We have a lot of creative people on the team here, and I know we have a ton of creative users as well.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the "fun" part of creating (coming up with awesome ideas and sharing them with people) and forget that the end result should be…well…a result.

Most of us have so many ideas, all the time, and many of them never see the light of day. The mission of "Making Ideas Happen" was to light a fire and help creative people to also be productive people and bring their best concepts to life.

Here are some of my favorite tips from the presentations:

  • Resist the urge to jump ship. Pair up with someone organized.

It is often easier, especially for the folks Scott calls "dreamers", to start to pursue a new idea than to follow through with the first great idea. Once it gets difficult or boring, the impulse is to chase thrills (new ideas) instead of finishing.   This is why it’s great for "dreamers" to pair up with "do-ers" who can help them get through the less-fun parts and make it to the end product.

Here’s a great video of one of Scott’s talks called How to Avoid The Idea Generation Trap.

  • Seek competition and community.  Instill accountability.

If you’re an artist, a freelancer, or an entrepreneur, you may find that a lot of your work is done on solo time.  It can be easy to lose touch with others who are doing similar work and to feel isolated.  That isolation can stall productivity and follow through. Go out and seek ways to interact with your community and with others in your field.

City planner Aaron Fortner reminded us that humans are about relationships, and the environments we create for ourselves affect us on deep levels. You might improve the quality of your work by having regular interaction with your community. This can be anything from setting up your laptop at the neighborhood coffee shop or scheduling a work-play date with other freelancing parents to a monthly artist’s meeting where you’re required to share new work.

Maybe someone has a project very much like yours — rather than being threatened, take that as incentive to work harder and faster and you may produce better work than you would have in your safe bubble.
Telling people about your ideas can also make you more likely to follow through on them.

  • Show off your "wins"!

No, I’m not advocating bragging to everyone you meet about how awesome you are. But when you struggle with finishing projects, it’s easy to get bogged down in the insecurity that comes with failures.
Keep a portfolio or a whiteboard or some other type of display that includes your or your team’s accomplishments in a visible place. By including all of the great things you’ve done successfully so far in your workspace, you’re motivated to add to the list and finish strong.

Overall, it was a fantastic day and I enjoyed meeting so many creative people, many of whom were already MailChimp users. I love that we attract so many creative customers! I’m still soaking up everything I heard on Friday and look forward to talking more about it with folks here.

If you’re feeling inspired too, stop by and see me in the Jungle to share what you’ve learned!