On July 10th, Catalyst Arts joined dozens of performers and caterers for the annual ISES Gala at SF Old Mint. For those who don’t know – ISES is the International Special Event Society, which is the association for special event professionals, so of course, we were excited, not only to show off our beautiful circus-themed stilt walkers and serving skirts, but also to debut a special new Signature offering: our unique Become the Art cart!

become the art cart by Catalyst Arts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Become the Art Cart is an interactive mobile photo opportunity suitable for any event. That night, the cart was particularly popular amongst the ISES crowd, because unlike most stationary photo booths, this one wheeled right up to people. Sporting a nice golden frame and a attended by a pro photographer (in this case Gustavo Fernandez) and a friendly costumed attendant.  The Become the Art Cart allowed guests to choose from a variety of custom-made props- from the ever-so popular mustaches on sticks to the cute circus hats and boas. After a click and flash, the playful experience becomes a very unique photo gallery to bring back memories well after the event is over.

become the art cart mobile photo opp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the second half of the event, we collaborated with The Other Woman, an event catering and planning service. Their delicious treats settled nicely on our Sweet Cakes Serving Skirt. At first people weren’t sure if the desserts were for display only – but after a little encouragement, anyone who had a sweet tooth eagerly snatched a snack to taste.

sweet cakes serving skirt of Catalyst Arts

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, this event was a huge success and milestone for Catalyst Arts. We were able to get our name out there with event planners, made friends with talented performers, and debuted our brand new Become the Art cart, which was so enthusiastically received. Now we can’t wait to get the cart to it’s next special booking — maybe somewhere near you?

http://www.catalystarts.com

or http://catalystarts.com/circusgala/ to see the whole gallery!

Easy way to explore new career directions– target potential future jobs, etc…

In doing market  and industry research for a business training I am currently taking, I stumbled upon a simple but profound exercise.

If you are curious about or actively exploring other career paths or job directions, this is a fast simple way of narrowing it down to some more specific targets.

Here it is:

1.) Type into search engine something like “list of events related job titles” but fill in the industry you are interested in. “marketing job titles” etc… Find a good list and paste all the job titles into a word document.

2.) Now go through them all and put a start or two stars next to the ones that sound appealing to you.

3.) Compile all of these that got stars into one place and look them over in more detail. The ones that seem like the best fit you can now research deeper and start pursuing.

NOTE- After you gather as much info as the web will give you, the next step before applying for education or internships or jobs is to do an Informational Interview with someone currently holding this position. This can save you a lot of wasted time and resources.

RESOURCES

Here is a great site with titles and descriptions of Creative, Marketing, and Communications jobs.

http://www.paladinstaff.com/services/job-title-descriptions/

http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag_index_alpha.htm – List of all Industries- ‘Industries at a Glance’

Bureau of Labor Statistics

http://www.bls.gov Includes stats on the hourly pay, amount of employees, unemployed, etc… in that field.

New Years resolutions are a great tradition, but have started to become more associated with wishful thinking than with serious goal setting.
Because we say I want to do more of this and less of that and then hope that because we wrote it down it will magically happen…

After many years of doing resolutions, I have gathered and developed a few tips and tools to help give some legs to those intentions so that they can walk out of January and into the rest of the year.

1.) WRITE IT DOWN- & put someplace visible.
It is not enough to write down your goals and hopes and dreams in your journal. That is a great start. It is best to use your notebook or journal to process and get to clarity, but once you are clear, put it down on a nice sheet of paper that you can hang someplace highly visible. Then you will have a reminder of your resolutions or goals in your space making it less likely for them to fade from memory.

2.) BREAK IT DOWN into small chunks that can actually be tackled.
This can be done in a linear way by making a list of small items beneath the big one, or you can also do this by mind mapping. Put the Resolution in the middle and brainstorm all the connected bits and branch them off of it.

3.) MAKE A GRID TO KEEP TRACK of Progress

Using one of my resolutions as an example– I want to revive my ‘morning practice’, which means 20+ minutes first thing in the morning for writing, meditating, yoga, or some other centering non mental activity. So I write 1/1, 1/2 etc… down the left side of a page in my notebook and then the intention at the top and then make boxes where I can check the box on the day that I did the morning practice. This way, at the end of the month I can see exactly how many days I realized my intention and how many I did not. This visible accountability is an extra band of incentive… and you can always give yourself some reward if you hit 20 out of 30 days.

4.) GET AN ACCOUNTABILITY BUDDY

If you are the only one that knows that you only exercised 1 day this week despite the goal to exercise 5 days, well… but if you have someone who you check in with and who will want to know why your results were weak this week… this simple accountability is incredibly powerful. This is one of the main reasons people hire life coaches… to have someone who knows what you are intending to do and who will hold you accountable. If you can’t afford a coach right now, then find a friend who could use support with their resolutions and schedule a weekly call to share your progress and get support through resistance or obstacles that inhibit progress.

In Summary:
Get those intentions for 2011 onto the page, broken down into their components, put onto a simple grid, and find a buddy to check in with on your progress.

To Your SUCCESS!

Costume Closet

I have been playing dress up pretty much my whole life.

I have been being paid to play dress up for about 10 years now.
(I’m a performer, stilter, & face painter)

My inner child is thrilled about it.

Dressing up in costumes is fun, creative, and occasionally truly glamorous, tranformational or therapeutic.

I go out in public in costumes on a regular basis. I love Halloween because everyone else shifts shapes and comes to the party as something new (& hopefully) interesting. So maybe you are not a dress up type but you just want some ideas for Halloween costumes so you don’t feel left out. Or perhaps you are a clothes horse and want to up your game in terms of costuming yourself.

THE TIPS

1.) Choose a character direction that is currently genuinely inspiring to you.

It could be compellingly attractive or compellingly disturbing, but it should be compelling. If it is tired, or more true to the old you, it won’t make you come alive when you wear it. If it doesn’t have juice for you, you won’t really rock it

2.) If you don’t have a great idea, use your friends.
If you are drawing a blank then make a brainstorm game out of it with some friends and bounce off each others ideas until you get one that makes you really excited. Or you could ask everyone you know what their all time best Halloween costumes were, and then just steal your favorite idea. (provided it meets tip 1 criteria)

2.) Give it time. Don’t wait till just before the party/gig/event to pull it together.

If you know you are going out for Halloween or are invited to a masquerade ball or need to pull a _____ themed costume out of the hat for an event soon to come, give yourself as much time as possible to daydream ideas, shop at stores, yard sales & thrift stores, and pull it together. This way you won’t feel stressed and be tempted to sucker out. This way the magic and synchronicity have time to help you get it together. (costume fairy’s do exist!)

3.) Strive for Originality. Don’t go for a made in China ‘costume in a bag’.

Oh it can be tempting to go online or sneak into some halloween superstore and just grab yourself one of those one size fits all costumes in a bag. If you do really want to be a sexy nurse or a vampire or a pirate or some other trendy character- find a way to do it so that you don’t look like the other 20 people at the party who bought the same cheap-o costume. Browse google images for inspiration. Repurpose fabrics & clothes in new ways. Bribe a friend who can sew to actually make you something. It is worth the effort to not look like you came off the assembly line.

4.) It is all about the Face Paint and the Attitude.
If your face paint looks great and you are totally in character, it can make up for a shabby costume. It goes a long way to actually try to be the character your costume is indicating. Get into it. Have a different accent and do things you wouldn’t normally do. That is a huge part of the point of costumes in the first place. Intimidated by the face paint part of this tip? Find a friend who is good at it or look up videos on you tube. (or hire someone like me:))

5.) Bring a Prop and have a Schtick. *
This is crucial for having a fabulous time in your getup and contributing greatly to the overall social dynamic. You will have a lot more fun if your character has some sort of playful gimmick or way to engage other party goers. IDEAS & GENERAL EXAMPLES: If you are a geisha, bring a fan and cool down the sweaty folks on the dance floor. If you are a giant banana, bring a banana and tell people they have a phone call on it. PERSONAL EXAMPLES: I was once a princess of hearts and I went around painting hearts on people with my red lip liner. Last year for Halloween I was a genie and I had this super cool lamp filled with yummy oils and I asked people to touch the lamp and make a wish and they smelled the oils and closed their eyes and made their wish and I told them it would be granted. This was infinitely more amusing than just wandering around looking like a genie. It is all about interaction. Schtick Schtick Schtick.

So, I hope this helps and I hope you have fun creating  another costume for your arsenal.

Clarity is a slippery creature. You have it and your life and goals look clear and then somehow it slips away and that very same view is now thick with fog.

There is this frustrating tendency for humans to forget what we know, to suffer from amnesia.

BRIEF STORY- I was recently on skype with my own coach in the UK on a day when things were not looking particularly clear to me. She asked me what the ultimate goal was for me, what the purposeful bottom line was. I blanked out. I was just about to say I don’t know when I looked at the wall (I was in my home office) and saw my Life Purpose Statement hanging there declaring in bold pen the answer to that question. And at that moment I really needed to be reminded what my life is about.

What I am getting at is that it was not enough that I took the time to draft and polish and write out this life purpose or mission statement. I reflect on and write about all sorts of important aspects of my life all the time. It was the fact that I put it up in a visible place where it can remind me at any time I need to be reminded of the greater picture.

It is almost an antidote to the amnesia issue.

This same thing goes for our Priorities and Goals (what am I shooting for again?)
and our Strategic Plan. This is like an action blueprint and needs to be visible while you are building the house, so to speak.

So here is MY PURPOSE STATEMENT as an EXAMPLE:

My purpose is to live an inspired, meaningful, and creatively productive life, and to support thousands to do the same in their unique way.

TAKEAWAY- Don’t keep those gems hidden in your journal or computer- turn them into something tangible that can live in your space. When you do have those precious moments of clarity– Capture it- WRITE IT DOWN and when you get something so central, so crucial, then I dare you to frame it and hang it up so you will be reminded all the time of the purpose behind the work that you are doing.

To your Success,

Audette

I recently finished a course from SF State extension that was called Market Research Basics.

Now I will admit that this is one of the less interesting aspects of marketing to me, and yet I did get some valuable insights from it that I will share with you.

Creative types can tend to lean away from super analytical methodological practices and approaches to business. But just like the analytical could learn a thing or two from the nonlinear creative, we can learn a thing or two from the analytical.

Conducting market research makes a lot of sense:

  • When you are starting a biz or deciding between a few biz ideas
  • When deciding on which product to produce or before launching a product
  • When you feel like you have ‘lost touch’ with your market or are ‘missing the mark’ and need some input and insights to guide you back into a sweet spot
  • When you want to gauge satisfaction or improve a product or service

Some Subsections of Market Research:

CUSTOMER RESEARCH- Who are our target customers anyway? What dot they need and want? What wording do they use to describe their wants and goals?

COMPETITOR RESEARCH- Who are our closest competitors and how do they compare with us? What can we learn from them and do do to clearly distinguish ourselves from them? What is our competitive advantage? (this informs your value and positioning statements and your USP- unique selling proposition)

TREND ANALYSIS- What trends are currently impacting the need/demand of our market? What trends might impact us in the future? Which trends are beneficial to our work and how can we best align ourselves with the existing momentum?

Also PRICING Research, SEGMENTATION Research, CUSTOMER SATISFACTION, and ADVERTISING/MESSAGING Research

As strategic of a thinker as I may be, I had to admit that I hadn’t really thought of either of my businesses in terms of trends. I hadn’t done any real substantial research into my market before starting a business to serve their needs. I just thought they were good ideas and suited me, so I created them. If I had identified and surveyed my market, I could have saved myself a lot of guesswork and accelerated my profits.  But it isn’t too late.

MAIN MARKET RESEARCH TOOLS:

SURVEYS- be clear about your objective in conducting the survey, use an online service like survey monkey, use a variety of question formats, and give people an incentive to complete it. (perhaps a coupon or a free download after completing it) ALTERNATIVES include Questionaires and Polls.

FOCUS GROUPS- A roundtable discussion of 6-10 carefully selected people with a facilitator. You can get more in depth information and feedback and thus insights. The role of the moderator/facilitator is very key in quality of results. Costs can be high.
ALTERNATIVES to Focus Groups include Interviews, free workshops with a question and answer portion at the end, and creating a ‘marketing persona’, which is basically a fictional ideal customer that guides all your decisions.

Whichever option you go for, you will need to know WHAT you are trying to find out, then GATHER DATA, then sort, filter, and ORGANIZE DATA and then ANALYZE the Data so that it can be applied to actual improvements.

A good baby step is to create a poll on your blog. Here is one I created in 5 minutes via poll daddy. Please take a second to add your vote into the mix.

To your Success,

Audette

By always focusing on what we have yet to attain, we rob ourselves of the joy of where we already are.
By affirming what we lack, we fail to appreciate all that we already have.
By obsessing on destinations, we don’t fully enjoy the journey.

It is incredibly tempting to assume that our life will be better when___________(fill in the blank)

This plays itself out in the sphere of career in many ways, including:

  • The unemployed envy the employed
  • 9-5 ers envy those with time and freedom in their schedules
  • People who want to quit their jobs envying those who are starting their own business
  • Small biz owners envy the consistent hours and paychecks of employees
  • Solopreneurs envy those with business partners or teams

Yet the great irony is that while you are assuming the grass is greener in someone’s yard, they may be projecting the exact same onto your yard. There are pluses and minuses to every position in the world. You may be worse off than someone, but you are certainly better off than many. How happy you are is more a matter of your perspective of your situation than it is of your actual situation.

The key is to focus on all the aspects of your current situation that you are grateful for and to appreciate it for what it is. Then as you move towards more freedom, more security, more money, more (fill in the blank) you can do it from a healthier place. You will still move forward and improve your situation, but you can enjoy yourself along the way. You don’t need to postpone gratitude and joy until we get to xyz…you can find it by realizing how  pretty darn green the grass actually is where you are now.

Discernment has been such a THEME around me lately, that I decided it is worthy of a post.

BACKGROUND STORY-

I spent the last weekend helping my mum go through the closets and drawers of her 4 bedroom home of 20+ years to decide what was worthy of keeping as they streamline into a 1 bedroom home. What a process!

But the truth was that at least 75% of the clothes in the closet, and the VHS tapes, and the stuff in the garage, and the books on the bookshelf were NOT needed/wanted!
This could be seen a few different ways:
1.) She should have done a deep Spring cleaning every year.
2.) Americans have way too much stuff and it’s ridiculous.
3.) She should have been more discerning of what she bought in the 1st place.

Though they are all somewhat true and interesting, especially #3. Perhaps if we have higher standards we will surround ourselves with more quality but less quantity. Perhaps if we know what we Really want in life, we will be less easily convinced of the merits of so many (extraneous) things.

I think we could all practice more discernment about the FOOD we put into our bodies, the CARE PRODUCTS we cram into our bathroom cupboards, the TV SHOWS & MOVIES we put into our minds, the CLOTHES we buy because they are on sale and kind of cute (but don’t end up wearing), the PRODUCTS that sound good at the time but we know we won’t really get around to using…

EXAMPLES

I have a client currently going through all his collections, possessions, and all the art he has produced in the last 25 years. His task is to discern the treasures from the junk.

I have another client who is realizing she needs to cut some social connections out of her life that are draining and distracting her from her stated priorities. Her challenge is to discern true allies from flashy distractions.

The internet is the biggest bundle of exciting, stimulating, overwhelmingly distracting endless tunnels of information that humans have ever had to reckon with. If you don’t come to the search engine with a clear query, you can bounce all over checking out cool stuff and realize that hours went by just ‘surfing’. All of us have the challenge of discerning what Content (in books, newspapers, tv, & internet) is actually worth our time.

So, a few TIPS if you are sorting through anything in your life, from contacts to stuff… Ask Yourself:
* Do I truly Love this?
* Does this in any way help me get towards my biggest goals?
* Would I miss this if it disappeared?

And if the answer is No— help it find a new home!

I am a big believer in looking at the bright side of every situation, and seeing the opportunity in every challenge.

What to do when you lose your job or freelance work slows down and you suddenly have time on your hands?

Unemployment and underemployment can be very stressful. It is tempting to freak out and spin your wheels with hours of Craigslist searches and submit your resume to everything under the sun that you could conceivably do. And when this ‘strategy’ fails, to get depressed and catch up on your sleep, eat/drink too much, and watch a lot of TV and movies to distract you from the state of your finances, career, and general self-esteem.
Stop! Don’t do it!

Instead, try some of these worthwhile endeavors:

1.) CATCH UP ON READING

No, not reading novels or magazines. Catch up on the key periodicals, books, and blogs about your industry. (If you are sick of your industry and can’t find any motivation to read about it, then find one that is compelling and bring yourself up to speed about it) This way you will feel up to speed on new developments, and be able to dazzle people at dinner parties and job interviews.

Some tips to ensure that this reading time is strategic:
* Capture key bits of information and advice in files. Extract the best information out of any and every book/newspaper/blog and put it in a place that you can find it again. [for hardcopy texts, use my highlighter tips from my most popular blog post of all time- Ode to the highlighter]
* Write up a summarizing book report after you finish a book. May feel dorky at first and send you back a decade or two, but there is a reason our teachers gave us this assignment—so we would better integrate the information.

2.) TAKE SOME COURSES

To succeed in this competitive job market, it is smart to adopt the attitude of a lifelong learner.  Always seek to expand your skills and keep your brain and job skills toolbox in good shape. When you suddenly have time on your hands, it is a great time to sign up for a couple courses at the local community college or a university extension program. Take a marketing, writing, or computer class.
Or learn a whole new software application in your bathrobe through cool video tutorial programs like Lynda.com.

3.) STRENGTHEN YOUR NETWORK

Use some of your spare time to nurture those friendships and professional relationships that have been withering from lack of attention. Sure, build up your facebook friends and your linked in profile, but don’t stop there. Virtual community only goes so far. Pick up the phone and call people, send friendly emails or letters, and attend parties and networking events. Try to be positive and not needy in your interactions. When people ask what’s new- don’t gripe about being underemployed, tell them about the cool courses you are studying or the volunteering you are doing. (see tip 5) Take people who could give be helpful to your job search or career advancement out to tea/coffee. Have a potluck dinner party at your house. Make sure you are socializing for genuine reasons, and also some for strategic reasons. Be generous with your network and it will be generous to you.

4.) POLISH YOUR SKILLS & YOUR PACKAGING

Work on your resume. Rewrite your bio with the help of a couple people who know you/your work well. Get a new headshot. Update your social network profiles. Work on your portfolio or promo kit if you have one. Upgrade your personal branding.

Research jobs related to your previous positions and ideal jobs. Do you get excited at the prospect of any of them? What skills do they require that you don’t have? How can you attain these skills? Spend time looking at the web sites, bios, and portfolios of people whose careers you admire. Emulate some of their best practices in your own promotional materials.

5.) VOLUNTEER—-Strategically

Find one or two local organizations doing inspiring work on causes you believe in. Think of how your specific skills and experience could be beneficial to them, and then contact them to volunteer these services.

This will have multiple positive effects: It feels good to work for a good cause, it takes your focus off you and onto something larger, it can be included in your resume, and it could even result in a paid position down the road. If you see a perfect job for yourself in their organization, volunteer to throw a fundraising event to pay for your salary.

1.) DEVELOP YOUR WILD IDEAS

Do you have some crazy idea for a business you want to start? A creative project?
A community project?
Maybe this extra time is the universes sign to focus on it.  Sketch out your project; draft a business plan, work on that book you always wanted to write. Use this as a brilliant excuse to work on that thing you have been wanting to work on for years. If Plan A isn’t working out so well, might as well develop your Plan B.

Who knows? That sketch or book proposal or 1 page business plan may lead to a whole new exciting direction in your career. Even if they don’t seem ‘practical’ give your wild ideas and harebrain schemes their due and develop them out of the idea phase.

To Your Inspired Success!

Here are some BASIC and FUNDAMENTAL Concepts of Marketing.

Definitions of Marketing-

The super basic definition- Managing profitable customer relations.

“Broadly defined, marketing is a social and managerial process by which individuals and organizations obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging value with others.”

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

What is a Market?

The set of actual and potential buyers of a product.
These people share a need or want that can be satisfied through exchange relationships.

2 of the most important questions to ask before you can create your marketing strategy:

What is our target market? (What specific customers will we serve?)

What is our value proposition? (How can we serve these customers best?)

A company’s value proposition is the set of benefits or values it promises to deliver to customers to satisfy their needs.

This is also referred to as a USP- unique selling proposition. This forms the core of your marketing message. Sometimes you can encapsulate your usp into your businesses tagline. This should also be what is conveyed by the headline you use on your web site or in any ad campaigns.

5 Steps of the Marketing Process

1.) Understand the marketplace and customer needs and wants
2.) Design a  customer driven marketing strategy with the goal of getting, keeping, and growing target customers
3.) Construct a marketing program (4 P’s) that actually delivers superior value
4.) Build profitable customer relationships and customer delight
5.) Reap the rewards of these strong relationships by capturing value from customers

* Notice that the first 4 steps are all about value for the customer.
* The 4 P’s are Product, Price, Place, and Promotion

The Marketing Process

Situation Analysis
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V
Marketing Strategy
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V
Marketing Mix Decisions
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V
Implementation & Control

I will write future posts going into more detail about many of the above elements.
This is just an overview.

- Credit for many of these general concepts goes to the book
MARKETING- An Introduction By Armstrong & Kotler

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For a Great Free Online Course on the Fundamentals of Marketing– Go to:
http://www.smallbizu.org/m101/

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