What’s your key to success?

Create change with a 3-word mantra…

Change gurus often borrow from Hindu tradition to tell us that in order to create change in our lives, we need a mantra. 

According to Wikipedia, a mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of “creating transformation.”

By adopting a mantra, we can focus our mind and heart toward a single, simple message of change. With all the busyness and business that crowd our world each day, having the focus of a targeted mantra can help us to filter out the “noise” and stay connected to a goal. A plan. A dream.

What’s your mantra?

Using just three words, describe the key to your next success.

Here are a few examples:

  • Try something new
  • Always be yourself
  • Do what’s right
  • Finish the book

Your turn:

Choose three words to adopt as your next goal for success, add those words below in a “comment,” then make a plan to execute on  your mantra.

There’s magic all around us

Would You Stop to Listen?

A man sat at a metro station in Washington, DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by and a middle-aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Credits: Joshua Bell experimented for Gene Weingarten’s story in The Washington Post: http://wpo.st/-vP (Video by John W. Poole)

Your Turn

_____________________________

How might you “stop and listen” differently in your world today?

Using technobabble to sound cool

Jargonicious! A plea for simplicity…

The ingenious (and totally fictitious) “Turbo Encabulator” video has long been used to warn against the use of technobabble. It has a fascinating history, which includes this Oscar-worthy 1977 performance by Bud Haggart:

 

What’s the lesson?

Avoid confusing jargon in your presentations.

Be conscious of your audience and sensitive to their familiarity with the terms that you use. We should use jargon, acronyms and other technical terms only if we are sure that our audience will understand them. If there is the slightest chance that they won’t understand, then simplify your language. Remember, if they can’t understand your message, they can’t adopt it.

I know what you’re thinking…

“But, Susan, big words make me sound more interesting and credible!”

Actually, the opposite is often true. The more clearly and simply you can deliver your message, the more likely people are to follow your ideas (intentional double entendre).

I would write more, but I’ve gotta go for now, as my flux capacitor needs recharging.

Your turn

Where have you seen (or even used) technobabble?

__________________________

Thanks to my colleague, Dave Ilconich, for reminding me of this classic video. 

Celebrate the spaces between

Let your ideas breathe…

How Can You Harness the Power of White Space?

Objects in a composition need to breathe. White space offers an airy canvas stage on which the parts of your design can freely dance. Just ask Mark Boulton, graphic designer and writer from the UK. Here’s my favorite part about Mark’s view on white space:

“Whitespace is often used to create a balanced, harmonious layout. One that just “feels” right. It can also take the reader on a journey through the design in the same way a photographer leaves “looking room” in a portrait shot by positioning the subject off the center of the frame and having them looking into the remaining space.”

Check out this slide show by Brand Autopsy to see some compelling use of white space.

Now, how can you use white space in your next design, web page, slide deck or thank you note to make a bold statement?

Looking forward to [the spaces between] your ideas,

 

Susan Hendrich

Communicating data with Infographics

Infographics: Pictures That Tell A Story…

What is an Infographic?

The term Infographic is a portmanteau of two terms, “Information” and “Graphics,” and describes the visual representation of data. Infographics help communicate complex information in a digestible manner, as they creatively present data in an understandable and engaging format.

from www.DesignModo.comAs web users, with our diminishing attention spans, we’re inexorably drawn to these shiny, brightly colored messages with small, relevant, clearly-displayed nuggets of information. They’re straight to the point, usually factually interesting and often give you a wake-up call as to what those statistics really mean.  Here are some examples to fire up your i-graph engines…

Example: An Infographic that’s all about YOU

Intel’s “What About Me?”

Intel’s What About Me? is an automatic infographic generator that connects to your own Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts to create a profile infographic about you.

Social media users know that discovery is half the fun. With What about Me? you can capture a snapshot of your social media life and create your own colorful image, full of clues and facts about one of the most fascinating subjects in the world — YOU!

The chipmaker’s new “What About Me?” app culls info from your Facebook, Twitter and YouTube profiles to crank out a data visualization of your composite social media profile.

For instance, there’s a graphic that looks like a flower that tracks your interests based on what you tweet and write status updates about. There’s also a record of your most popular post ever and your most popular pic, your ratio of self-created updates vs. found information and “likes.”

More great Infographic examples

Free Online Tools For Creating Infographics

  • Hohli

    Hohli is an intuitive, simple online chart maker. It’s incredibly easy to pick your chart type, add some data, vary the sizes and colors and see the finished chart.

    information graphics

    Creately

    Creately lets you design easy-to-make diagrams and flow charts. You can choose from a number of purpose-designed diagram types and quickly add your data to make your own chart. The end result looks very professional.

    information graphics

    New York Times

    New York Times’ Visualization Lab lets you use statistics from recent NYTimes articles to create visualizations in various formats. You can also see other people’s visualizations and see how other people choose to display the same data.

    data graphics

    Many Eyes

    Many Eyes lets you upload your own data or use data already stored on the site. The visualizations themselves are well-designed and very professional-looking. This is definitely the easiest way to use your own data for online visualizations.

    data graphics

    Google Public Data

    Google Public Data lets you easily take public data and transform it into an infographic of your choice. These beautiful, colorful graphics simplify and communicate the data perfectly.

    data graphics

    Wordle

    You may have seen my earlier post on Wordle, which lets you create word visualizations using text you enter. There are plenty of interesting designs to choose from. Enter whole books, short passages or see what other people have used. In this example, we can see the US constitution visualised.

    Free Software For Creating Infographics

    Tableau

    Tableau is a free Windows-only software for creating visualizations. As you can see, these impressive graphs are colorful and quite unique.

Great tutorials on infographic creation: