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S4G MSP – Strategy For Good

On April 28, 2012, MJM participated in the 6th Strategy for Good session held at CoCo St. Paul. Strategy for Good is an opportunity for non-profit groups to work with top marketing strategists from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area at no charge. Teams of 2-5 strategists work with each non-profit, learning about their organization and offering feedback and solutions on some of their most vital challenges around awareness, social media, event strategies, media strategies, and building a strong brand.

Strategy for Good is hosted in the MSP area about 3-4 times a year. If you are a marketing strategist, consider joining us and giving of your time to help non-profits. If you work with a non-profit group, we’d love to serve you!

To learn more about the Strategy For Good #6 event held last weekend, visit http://s4gmpls6.eventbrite.com/

You can also sign up for more information when Strategy For Good #7 is announced!

Remix, and Creativity for the Common Good

For over a year, Kirby Ferguson has been producing a documentary, in short installments, that coherently explains creativity through the lens of remix culture. The series, aptly titled Everything is a Remix, is informative, entertaining, and most importantly inspiring. Part 4 was recently released to finish off the series, and now is the perfect time to revisit or discover it for the first time. You can watch the entire series here, entirely free.

Everything is a Remix reaches an important conclusion in Part 4: that at its core, creativity is ultimately concerned with the common good. Through our own curiosity and willingness to collaborate and share our knowledge and unique perspectives, culture develops greater richness and value. And, as Ferguson points out, the idea of the common good is crucial: “We live in an age with daunting problems. We need the best ideas possible, we need them now, we need them to spread fast.”

It’s why blogs like this one exist. We aim to share our expertise, and the things that inspire it, with you, in the hopes that it will catalyze dialogue and new creative acts that bring good to us all.

Focus vs. Awareness

You’ve got a new project to work on, but are struggling with getting a solid start. Conventional wisdom says all that’s needed is focus. Just buckle in and force your thoughts into something tangible.  But maybe seeking a state of awareness is more effective.

Focus and awareness sound like complementary qualities, but that’s simply not the case. They are polar opposites. Focus is an intense concentration upon one subject. It is narrow and results in tunnel-vision, leaving no room for new insights and solutions to problems. That is not to say there isn’t a time for focus. But that exhausting feeling of being stuck running in place on the starting line is often self-induced by our attempts to reign in our grey matter. We do ourselves a huge disservice in immediately forcing focus upon many of our daily activities that require problem solving.

Awareness on the other hand is a quality far more conducive to creativity and solving problems. When in a state of awareness rather than focus, other avenues of thought are open and playful experimentation can occur. All of your prior experiences, random thoughts, and stimuli from your current environment are resources at your disposal. They just might be what is needed to trigger that “aha!” moment.

There are many ways to promote a state of awareness: mind-mapping, sketching, discussing with colleagues, or maybe listening to a favorite album while at work. Try writing and rewriting the problem to view it from multiple perspectives. Word association can be an effective strategy too, though it’s important you don’t censor your thoughts. What works for you?

Next time you feel stuck on a problem, let your mind wander for a moment and play with the possibilities rather than beating the problem, and your energy levels, into submission.