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The Design Blog

Just right business vision

I’ve talked before about the importance of having a clear business vision. But is it possible to have a vision that’s too focused?

When business vision turns into tunnel vision, it’s possible for even the most insightful entrepreneurs to miss out on opportunities for growth and progress. A focus that is too narrow limits our abilities to see unexpected potential. It also impedes our ability to see how factors outside of our field impact our business’ success or failure.

When business vision becomes tunnel vision

For years, Polaroid was a giant in instant photography. The leaders of the company had vision when it came to developing a business that combined chemistry and photography to generate the sales of cameras and film.

What they didn’t see was how changes in physics and electronics would impact their bottom line. This lack of insight led to the demise of the iconic company. In a 2008 interview at Yale, the company’s former CEO Gary DiCamillo, said “People were betting on hard copy and media that was going to be pick-up-able, visible, seeable, touchable, as a photograph would be.”

Unable to imagine an era in which photographs lived inside of phones that we carried with us everywhere, sharing across internet wires and altering without any chemicals at all, the tunnel vision of Polaroid’s leaders prevented them from preparing for the coming opportunities and for necessary course changes.

Building a balanced vision

To build a balanced vision – one that has a focus on an end goal as well as a healthy peripheral vision, we need to step away from our vision on occasion. We need to look at it objectively within a broader environment. We need to stay up-to-date on external trends and technologies, on sciences and enterprises that may impact the progress of our own business’ growth.

We also need to share our vision with colleagues in other industries, to objective parties, who may be able to poke holes in views that we’ve held too long without critical or creative analysis. Of course we’d all like to think that our ships are unsinkable, but we can’t know until we test them rigorously, and that means subjecting them to the world.

When we focus too narrowly on one goal or on one piece of data or on one problem, we often neglect others. We may focus heavily on social media to the exclusion of more conventional marketing methods or on local growth to the detriment of national expansion.

Just right business vision is creative vision that seeks out all of the factors that may contribute to our successes and failures. It generates its own objective assessments that allow us to measure our growth and our losses. And it’s flexible, open to change and to new input.

How do you keep the focus of your business vision just right?

Why you should start building your creative tribe today

Back in May, Tina Roth Eisenberg of SwissMiss fame, shared a quote by Adrienne Rich that struck a chord:


“The possibilities that exist between two people, or among a group of people, are a kind of alchemy. They are the most interesting thing in life.”


In order for alchemy to occur – in order to turn some dull metal into gold – it’s necessary to combine several ingredients. One just won’t do the trick.

Likewise, in order to create anything new and innovative, it’s helpful to have several unique perspectives. Despite all the old myths about the lonely artist, the most prolific creatives are those who have the insight to recognize the value of other people.


Improved well-being

According to recent research, loneliness poses a greater health risk than either smoking or lack of exercise. Being a part of a community is good for you; it boosts your immune system in addition to boosting your brainpower.

A sense of security

Early farmers recognized the danger is being entirely self-reliant, and so they developed insurance programs. By investing in one another, communities of farmers protected one another and themselves from fires, lost crops, and other disasters. Likewise, investing in a community of creatives protects you from fatigue, idea droughts, and other creative problems.


In his 2012 TedTalk, Scott Dinsmore said, “There is no bigger life hack in the history of the world from getting where you are today to where you want to be than the people you choose to put in your corner.” When you surround yourself with other talented, thoughtful, supportive creatives, you are accessing living, breathing inspiration.


We all know that there are benefits from engaging with other like-minded individuals, and yet we still find ourselves all too often indulging our solitary artist-selves with late night Netflix marathons or bending to our inner micromanager who insists we do all the work ourselves. We’ve got plenty of excuses when we’re pressed to commit to a community, from lack of time to lack of human resources, but we’re only harming ourselves when we avoid making time for community.


In all likelihood, they’re right there in front of you already. The tribe gurus at Being Boss cite your blog readers and social media followers as tribe members, your blogger buddies and internet friends, other creatives in your community, real-life friends and acquaintances, co-workers and collaborators, and your very best friends and family members as potential tribe members.


If a tribe is too small, it’s easy to fall prey to the bookclub dilemma. That is, you’ve got a few like-minded people who enjoy one another’s company, and after an initial, tentative foray into meaningful discussion, things get tangential and wine-soaked. Not much is accomplished.

If a tribe is too large, you’ll find it difficult to develop the intimate relationships that lead to genuine collaboration and support.

Most experts agree that the ideal size for a creative community is between 5 and 8 people. If you’re building your tribe from scratch, identify six other people who share similar interests and goals. You might decide to bring in seasoned veterans to offer experienced wisdom as well as novices who bring in fresh insight. Whatever their experience or expertise, bring in people who are willing to both give and receive feedback graciously.


Heed that old adage: To have a friend, be a friend.

If you want to cultivate a tribe, find ways to take action with and on behalf of your tribe members. I’ve fostered my own tribe of creatives through endeavors like The Fabricant Way, which allows me to offer support to other creatives I admire. You might take time to share or comment on their posts on social media. Schedule regular meetings to share triumphs and trials. Go out on the town together to absorb local art and culture. Collaborate on projects.

Building a tribe will do wonders for your creative spirit, but it will do much more than that. It’ll make you healthier and happier. It’ll give you fresh insight into your problems and inspiration for your art.

How are you building your tribe?

5 worthwhile splurges for busy bosses

While perusing the Being Boss Facebook page, I stumbled across a discussion about the unique stressors that women in business face. Though men have taken on more responsibilities in relationships, families, and home maintenance, the majority of the weight still falls on the shoulders of women.

As we embrace our roles as titans of enterprise, as entrepreneurs and trendsetters, it’s time to recognize what our male counterparts figured out a long time ago: the most effective people do not attempt to do it all.

If we see professional help as an unreasonable expense, we don’t really understand the link between productivity and profitability. In particular among entrepreneurs, each hour of our day has value. The time that we spend checking emails, balancing checkbooks, and cleaning is time that we could be committing to more valuable activities – creative work or spending quality time with our friends and families.

Investing in a few “splurges” isn’t a selfish or wasteful act; it’s CEO decision-making. So where will you reap the greatest ROI?

Invest in your household

Women spend twice as much time as men cooking and cleaning and four times as much time doing laundry even with trends towards greater household equality. What’s the impact of this exertion on our businesses and our lives?

In general, clutter contributes to feelings of guilt and loss of productivity. The excessive stimuli overwhelms us and makes it difficult to focus on more creative, profitable tasks. In relationships, an unfair division of labor is second only to money stress in leading causes of divorce.

Hiring a professional to come to your house just twice a month takes pressure off of you while creating a clean, tidy environment to spend quality time with your family and even get some work done at home.

Invest in childcare

Parenting takes a toll on both men and women, but again, women often bear the heavier load of responsibilities – from keeping children fed and cleaned to setting up appointments and staying home when the inevitable cold sets in.

In 6 out of 10 households, mothers handle most of the childcare management, and 41% of working moms say that taking care of the kids makes moving their careers forward more difficult. Only 20% of fathers feel that same pressure. This constant juggling act leads 86% of working mothers to feel perpetually rushed and unnecessarily stressed. It’s not hard to imagine the toll that this takes on the family as a whole.

Childcare can take a bite out of your income, but it can also give you the leverage that you need to advance professionally. Ultimately, an invest now can mean a greater income down the line. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll be able to really enjoy the time that you spend with your family when they don’t feel like another chore on your already full to do list.

Invest in a professional accountant

Despite all the old stereotypes that paint women as terrible money managers, 75% of all family financial planning is undertaken by women, and 90% of the extraneous money management – from charitable giving to saving for retirement – is left for women to manage. The problem of money is not only the leading cause of divorce, but money stress doubles women’s risk of heart attack.

Hire an accountant. This isn’t just good for you, it’s good for your bank account. Whereas amateur money managers are often simply doing the best we can to keep accounts balanced and bills paid, professional accountants know all the tips and tricks for stretching, saving, and growing finances. This is a no brainer.

Invest in assistance

If you haven’t had a chance to read Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week, make time. One of the most valuable lessons he teaches is the benefit of outsourcing the work that anyone else could do. Personal errands and trivial busy work will destroy your productivity, and any loss of productivity is a loss of profitability.

Whether you invest in time-saving tech tools or in a virtual assistant, outsourcing unskilled work can recoup three months of regained productivity. That’s three months that you could spend investing in growing your business or in enjoying other aspects of your life.

Invest in you well-being

In 2013, 42% of working Americans took no vacation. What’s the toll on our well-being? We lose quality time with our spouses and children. We lose much-needed rest and relaxation. Responsibilities, chores, and conflicts become never-ending, uphill battles.

You need rest. You need time with your loved ones. You need a break. You need inspiration. You cannot get those things if you’re chained to your desk. Taking time for your own well-being is not a waste of time or of money.

It’s an investment. It’s an investment in the relationships that provide a support net for you. It’s an investment in your health, which is critical to your work ethic. It’s an investment in your happiness, which shouldn’t require any justification at all.

What “splurges” are you going to make to ensure your continued successes?

Understanding the genesis of design trends

Where do design trends come from? We designers certainly spark our fair share. And designers, in turn, are influenced by other artists, by entertainers, by fashion and music. We’re influenced by preferences and pop culture.

But the influence goes deeper. When we as people respond to Beyonce’s new video or to Apple’s new iPhone, it’s not only because the music is powerful (though it is) or because the design is beautiful (of course it is). The artists, the entertainers, the fashionistas, the brands have tapped into something that resonates with us. Read More

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