Thursday, April 30, 2009

Quit or be exceptional

Let’s face it; it’s hard to be exceptional. It means blood sweat and tears with no easy way to get there. Still, if the goal is worth the effort and you actually enjoy learning all this crazy stuff while in transit, it’s worthwhile. Most people quit before they get to the stage of becoming very very good at what they do. They choose the easy route and the results are mediocre. The artworks sold on Trademe are a very good example. 95% of what’s shown there is absolute high school level or less. I find it hard to find anything exquisite there but to be honest; it’s Trademe after all so it’s not the best place to look for exceptional art. You can find amazing art works in galleries and alas I do not have the chance of frequenting these often like I used to. I would like to visit them again. I love the Art Gallery here in Dunedin.

Quitting is not easy either because it can be embarrassing to admit you are never going to be number 1 in your field. I have thought about this. Do I want to become the best interior designer of Dunedin or just ‘the other one’? (Wink wink) What do I want to do really? Which leads to: what the heck is it all about? What do I want to learn here? I don’t like mediocre work and I least of all I like seeing me do mediocre work. It gives me the jitters, a rash or something I can certainly do without. I figured out that definitely I’m more the designer type. I like inventing and designing things, whether it’s graphic design, product design, a combination of those or interior styling. After having a go at all sorts of different areas I’m sure it will link together more and more.

Getting back to being exceptional or quitting:
When do you know it’s best to a. quit, b. continue and c. keep hoping for the best.

a. When you’ve done your research and you have found it’s a waste of energy and money. You thought it would work but the facts show it will not.
b. When you know you will get through the hurdles and that it’s worth wile sticking with it because the money and energy will be there on the other side. Exclusivity creates value. The business plan shows that yes it would be prudent to continue.
c. Is honestly for the na├»ve. Do your homework and grow up. Just being an optimist isn’t going to cut it (this I’ve said to myself last year, lose the baby curls and chewed some paperwork.)
Well that sorts the boys from the men. I’ve thought about it consciously and decided: exceptional work is great. I rather do challenging kick ass stuff or not any at all. I can be a bit black and white like that, something hubby has made comments about. I’m not the steady plodder, that’s never been my forte. However it’s humbling to know that it’s good for one’s character to ‘stick with it’ sometimes.
This philosophy mentioned above is influenced by reading The Dip, by Seth Godin. He’s brilliant that man. I dotted down a wee summary on a section of it. Know when to quit, and when to stick. And believe me, one of them can be as difficult as the other. Life’s little irony.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

what matters

I was going to read up one of my blogs I have in the holdingchamber and post that. Thing is that some are written in a way I find no longer appropriate, they are either too harsh, too true, or just too much. (I guess a bit like I was feeling for a while.) Gee I must have mellowed a wee bit. (My husband would probably roll over laughing right now, hush dear, hush. Thanks. Let the curly one finish ok?)

I found this morning that the truth can lie in... a smoothie. Don't ask me why but I have got hooked on a product called Charlie's Honest Superfood Smoothie: spirulina&fruit. Beautiful green stuff. Healthy, smooth as silk and tons of vit C to keep my energy levels up. I love the taste of it, it's wonderful. I love the label too, it's that supposedly artistic free style thing they stuck on it. Right now I'm looking at 1 litre of it. Oozing vitamine charm. Sigh.

Right, getting to the point: now and again we all get to a stage that we wonder what it's all about. Since last October I had bouts of feeling angry or frustrated on a regular basis. It's not a lovely place to be in and I chose to visit this place out of free will. (Taking responsibility and all that.) Then I must have decided I had enough and changed tack because I'm again the more bubbly freewheeler I was before. I like me again, lot easier to get on with. It comes down to thinking: what IS it all about. Why do things matter? Why do they not? In the end of the day I'm not entirely sure but most things make sense again, in a world that's gone topsy turvy and as long as my inner compass is aligned with my life, I'm at ease.

So! I have started some new entreprises which I believe will be very fruitfull. One of them is designing accesories and seeing my fabric designs being printed and distributed all over Australasia. That is a feather in the curly cap if there ever was one. There's also other things humming in the background which I'll leave there simmering away, working on them quietly. The time of believing everything will stay the same has perished a long time ago. Change is the only certainty. We might as well have a good laugh, soak up that 25 degrees sun we are curently having and chill out by working purposefully and to focus on that which one can have influence on, not on what one cannot.

So here's too many smoothies to come and brilliant ideas. Long may they last as the warm summers of the new Dunedin and the bounciness of our new born calfs. It's springtime this autumn.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nutshell marketing: value

The funny thing is that basically marketing is simple but it gets complicated in HOW you go about things.

Many people ask ‘Why are we not selling (enough)?’
1. Because people don’t need your product/services
2. Because they don’t have the money for it (which means they do not want it badly enough)
3. They don’t believe in your product/services
Well that’s very understandable right?

What value actually means is:
Establishing the desire point and building trust to successfully satisfy. True value is: I will get you what you want like no one else can. Value funny enough doesn’t equal service. Consider your social proof and your pricing into the equation as well. What are people getting from you and what is it 'worth' to them? Value is more emotionally based. It's in the opinion.

There’s 2 types of desired clients:
The passionate-about-a-product ones (your ambassadors to be)
The sitting on the fence ones (they like it but don’t go in head first)

To succeed you have to find the primary driver emotion of your client. Why does he really really want it? The essential thing is to go in conversation with him: use empathy + validation to make your credibility shoot up. ("We know what we are talking about here") Demonstrate the value of your product to get the sale. This sounds cut and dry and in reality it's a flowing event. Make sure there's a start and finish, be clear, answer all questions and objections.

Value is defined by what other people say. According to marketing guru Frank Kern you CAN manufacture reality. The client then HAS to believe you. Therefore you HAVE to build trust. Makes sense really, but good to think about more.

How do you get that? By:
Using authority: claim it yourself + appointed (reputation) + testimonials
a. Affinity: being just like them> confide in them
b. Represent desired outcome
c. Fun (why would you ever buy from someone who didn't make you laugh?)

I saw a video of Frank Kern, a marketing guru from the US, which mentions the above. His vital point is that you NEED to appropriately confide in your client. Share about yourself which makes them connect with you. Telling a story is a very good way to do this. The connection builds the trust and the credibility supports what value you are giving. Many of us do this intuitively but it’s nice to have it pointed out, especially in these interesting times. It’s amazing what a change one can experience with clients, or people on the street for that matter, when you find common ground. Listening is also a bright idea as many of us talk too much. (Including me.) Happy marketing!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Beautifully responsible

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog the other day: “It turns out that beauty is an important evolutionary byproduct. (…)We treat people and products differently when we think they're beautiful. (…) Beauty is a signal, not just a physical state.” It made me think about the effects of beauty.

When I was in my teens I didn’t consider myself beautiful at all. I was bullied by meany youngsters, bad mouthed by other teens who thought my white rim colored glasses looked stink (they did) and it took awhile for me to get into self appreciation mode. Stupid how other people’s remarks can influence one’s self image, but it does.

It was quite a bit later that I realized the power attractiveness brings. People can definitely approach you differently because you look more attractive than the average person, are easy to get on with and have a bit of brains. I can literally feel the change in behavior sometimes. It makes me feel embarrassed as my intention is not to ‘hook people in’. I like to be appreciated for my personality and abilities, not because I happen to be a “babeliscious” (one of my friend’s names for me). Not that I consider myself to be anything so dramatically enticing, goodness me.

I have pointed out to someone else last year that behavior which makes the most of beauty and charm, that draws people in, can create side effects you have to take into account. Being more attractive than the average person brings the responsibility to use this attraction ‘talent’ wisely. (I know this sounds really silly and most people would probably not consider this to be a topic even! Tell me, why are we even discussing this?)

Beauty creates an image in people’s heads. I have found that upon getting to know me behaviors can change because they realize I’m as human as they are, and therefore imperfect. ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and it can change in a day. Why are you liked? What makes you like someone? Because he or she is unique and by getting to know them, wonderful. At the same time you can be pushed off that wee pedestal you’ve been put on, because expectations aren’t met. Hello! Do I look like Barbie to you? Nope.

For me beauty in people, or the attraction, for liking them is seeing someone’s vulnerability, their genuine strengths and weaknesses, their potential. In short: the real deal. It is what makes us human. It’s the story behind the everyday mask that grabs you which makes it personal. Outside beauty can be incredibly boring, it’s only amazing when the substance is intriguing.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Design: what to choose

Good design is everything. I'm not saying you shouldn't go to Ikea (well we do not have that one here in New Zealand anyway) but truly: you can actually tell the difference between a quality piece and an off the shelf one. If you can sit in it you can definitely tell which is which. Cheaper versions don't have that good lumbar support so you end up getting sore backs after an hour or so and the frame construction isn't that flash. Why would you talk yourself into believing it's ok to except average stuff just to pay less? Naturally it's your choice what you buy, but why go cheap? It might be a good idea to buy quality, and just save up to splurge.

You guessed it: I'm a wee bit snobby when it comes to furniture and interiors. I'm a big fan of New Zealand made, where ever you are based dear reader, consider the impact you're making on your local artists, designers, businesses and community if you buy import stuff and leave them out of the loop. If you're buying from overseas, it'd better be good, and you'd better have a reason. I suggest strongly to consider your options and to stay away from cheap crappy product for the reasons stated above: it doesn't last long, it's not quality and your body will notice the difference. Besides: what's more enjoyable in the home then wondrous art?

A true example of orgininality, quality and great design, are the works of New Zealander David Trubridge. The man's work has become iconic over here. Check it out at Europeans can buy it from Le Souk in the Netherlands and New Zealanders can find local stockists (listed on Davids website). Nico and I will get one of his lights, the question is which as we're still mucking around with our interiors and deciding where the dining is going to end up etc. (We are focussing on the landscaping this year which is an outside adventure.)

Above all: enjoy the space you live in and the people around you. Good food, good company, good rest and comfort help to lead an uplifting life. Well that and to enjoy the company of lovely animals as well. They add greatly to the mix and wonder of life. They don't get designer chairs though but lovely grass and hooves clipped every few months and cuddles. Probably that's more important then design! Basics first, snazzy stuff later.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

and we're back!

Life is interesting. Bounds and leaps, turns and twists. Always suprises.

Yes I have decided to come back in English mode. Why? I write better in English now then Dutch (though always with a Dutch accent and grammar problems). The truth is I got blog sick. Readers then started to miss me and expressed their outrage that I would write in Dutch, a language they can't make heads or 'tales' of. The thing is that I had topic challenges which now have been dealt with, signed and approved so to speak. Filed away for future reference. Yessiree I'm back in business and enjoying it. It's nice to be in the writers seat again. I will post every few days for your enjoyment and my own.

Life is good. Smell the sweet roses. Cuddle the Kuddles (new born highland calf, a boy, pics will follow) and enjoy some sun. It's not winter here yet, this morning we woke up to 18 degrees and started work at 24 degrees. And that for autumn.

Like I said, it's a time of pleasant surprises. Long may it last.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Colour yourself beautiful

Berber Soepboer is a Dutch designer. I love the colour in dress! She studied at the art academy Minerva in Groningen (went there myself) and at the Royal Rietveld in Amsterdam. She says the following about her work:

"I especially design clothing which can be worn in different ways, so the owner can make choices in how to wear the cloth. Life exists of many choices based on expectations, desire and the available time. When everything is still possible the world seems an incredible place. I translate these endless possibilities in my design. A start to realize the ultimate dream in daily life."

Isn't it cool? For more of her work, click

Friday, April 3, 2009

Go for it

Today I felt inspired by an article from the local newspaper, the Otago Daily Times:

"A dairy cow in Kansas was headed for the slaughterhouse until an animal-rights activist bought her after the Brown Jersey made a run for it.
Farmer Calvin Nisly was taking the 5-year-old cow named Linda to a sale barn on Tuesday and had stopped at a veterinarian's office to be sure she wasn't pregnant. On the way back to the trailer, an annoyed Linda escaped through a fence and led Nisly and several law enforcement vehicles on a chase. Soon after the cow was captured, Hutchinson resident and animal-rights activist Danny Brizendine stepped into the bizarre scene and learned that Linda was headed for slaughter. Brizendine agreed to buy her for $700, and paid $300 to pasture and feed her for the rest of the year. "

I mean, it always pays to get into action! Appreciate life and make it worth living. I think Linda would agree with me on this one. Mooooooh. Yeeeeehaaaaaa.