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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.

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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!

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.

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/

What do desks and altars have in common?

I have kept an altar in my room since the age of 17. On it I have many beautiful representations of what I see as sacred, profound, and divine. It is a spiritual anchor in my room even if only as a visual reminder. During the period when I was meditating daily, I would sit every morning first thing in front of my altar and center myself in this practice. Thus the altar was associated with introspection and connection to something greater than my chatty mind.

It occurs to me that the person praying at their altar and an artist setting up at their easel to paint and an entrepreneur at their desk working are all engaged in much the same thing. They are using the visual cues and physical features of a specific space to help them to focus their energies.

MEDITATOR               CENTERS SELF                AT ALTAR
ARTIST                         CENTERS SELF                AT CANVAS
PROFESSIONAL        CENTERS SELF                AT DESK/WORK SPACE

So let’s focus on the workspace or desk as an altar to efficiency and inspired success in our work. Besides the obvious elements of computer, pens, files, staplers, etc… what can we surround this space with that will help us stay connected to the deeper motivation behind our work?

__________________________________________________________

SOME VISUAL ANCHORS to consider putting in YOUR WORK SPACE:
_____________________________________________________

* Your MISSION STATEMENT, Life Purpose, or Artist Statement– This summary of your essential commitment underlying your work can serve as a profound reminder of why you are hacking away at your to-do list.

* Your GOALS– I have noticed a huge difference in my realization of goals since I have started writing them out clearly in bold pen and hanging them up to see on a daily basis.(Picture below is of a template I created for this purpose, which I am happy to give you- just email me at muse at catalystarts.com and I will send it to you)

Goal template created by Audette Sophia of Catalyst Arts

* Your VISION BOARD or a Bulletin Board– A vision board is a collage or what you are creating in your life for the coming year (6 months, 3 years, fill in time period) I will dedicate another post to the process of making a vision board, and I teach workshops on that topic. I will include a picture of mine as an example. I also have a bulletin board in my office that I use as an inspiration board and to put key flyers, cards, etc… on. If the work you do at your desk is mainly just to bring in money, then make a little visual reminder of what you are making/saving money for.

vision board


* PICTURES of  ROLE MODELS & or your CHILDREN
– to remind you who’s shoulders you are standing on, and who will stand on yours. Hang up a picture of anyone who exemplifies grace and success and will inspire you just by seeing them. This can also be a place to hang up an image of Christ or the Buddha, or the Earth, or any spiritual symbol that touches you. (They are role models too after all)

* SYMBOLS of PROSPERITY & SUCCESS– Surround yourself with a couple tasteful objects that represent these things for you. In feng shui they say that purple and gold are good colors to put in your Prosperity Corner, as well as succulent plants and round objects.

_____________________________________________________________

It certainly can’t hurt to put more intentional and beautiful things in your work space, and it may just work a little practical magic and bring more of the profound into the mundane and more of your deeper motivation into your daily action.

To Your Success!

Sometimes a book jumps off my bookshelf and says look at me again- Now!
Being that I am currently studying marketing, when I picked up the book ‘The Rise of the Creative Class’ By, Richard Florida again, I had a whole new appreciation for its contents.

This national bestseller written by a professor of economic development, makes many key contributions to the discussion about the central role of creativity in the economy, and specifically highlighting a growing class of society he calls the creative class.

HERE ARE SOME Gold NUGGETS  or KEY QUOTES to chew on:

“Many say that we now live in an “information” economy or a “knowledge” economy. But what’s more fundamentally true is that we now have an economy powered by human creativity. Creativity– “the ability to create meaningful new forms”, as Webster’s dictionary puts it- is now the decisive source of competitive advantage. In virtually every industry, from automobiles to fashion, food products, and information technology itself, the winners in the long run are those who can create and keep on creating.”

***

“The economic need for creativity has registered itself in the rise of a new class, which I call the Creative Class. Some 38 million Americans, 30% of all employed people, belong to this new class. I define the core of the Creative Class to include people in science and engineering, architecture and design, education, arts, music and entertainment, whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology and/or new creative content. Around the core, the Creative class also includes a broader group of creative professionals in business and finance, law, health care and related fields. These people engage in complex problem solving that involves a great deal of independent judgment and requires high levels of education or human capital. In addition, all members of the Creative Class– whether they are artists or engineers, musicians or computer scientists, writers or entrepreneurs– share a common creative ethos that values creativity, individuality, difference, and merit.”

***

“Given that creativity has emerged as the single most important source of economic growth, the best route to continued prosperity is by investing in our stock of creativity in all its forms, across the board. This entails more than just pumping up R&D spending or improving education, though both are important. It requires increasing investments in the multidimensional and varied forms of creativity– arts, music, culture, design and related fields– because all are linked and flourish together. It also means investing in the related infrastructures and communities that attract creative people from around the world and that broadly foment creativity.”

***

The Creative Class  has 3 FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES TO ADDRESS:

1.) Investing in Creativity to ensure long-run economic growth.
2.) Overcoming the class divides that weaken our social fabric & threaten economic well-being.
3.) To build new forms of social cohesion in a world defined by by increasing diversity and beset by growing fragmentation.

This book shows how codependent and increasingly connected are the worlds of finance/business/economy and the worlds of the arts/creativity/culture.

It also really broadens the scope of what we may usually categorize as “creative work” and illuminates the integral role that creativity has in many of the jobs central to our economic health.

We all know how it feels to fumble our way through a vague jumble of to-do’s and get distracted, get some little things done, and at the end of the day wonder what we actually accomplished.

In contrast to that, how good it feels to be crystal clear on your priorities, have all tasks organized and listed, and to blaze through the list with efficiency.
Since time is a very precious resource, can we afford to be disorganized and ineffective?

SOME POINTS about EFFICIENCY

* PRIORITIZATION IS KEY for acting efficiently. Take the time to assess your list and determine an order of priority. Use Color coding, Stars, or a special box on your To Do List page to indicate which items are to be acted upon first. Tackle the most important and/or most difficult tasks first thing in the morning when you are sharpest, and it will set a great tone for the rest of the day.

*Have a MAP or MASTER PLAN. In visual or written form this big picture document can be a reference point to return to when we get distracted and veer off track. I have a vision board in my home office that I can look at, as well as my mission statement and a Master Plan word document on my computer.

* Your ability to GET STUFF DONE is strengthened by working your  ACTION and DISCIPLINE MUSCLES. To support this, I highly suggest developing and maintaining a daily practice (could by physical like running or yoga, spiritual like mediation or creative like writing). Even 15 minutes a day of any practice can help us greatly to get used to taking action weather or not we are ‘in the mood’. This is also a way to balance out our do do do work orientation with a non mental practice, and the byproduct is that we are practicing discipline which will spill over into the mental sphere too.

* STREAMLINE OPERATIONS by clearing space and getting rid of unessential objects, projects, and clutter. Clear and organize files on your computer every couple months.

* Being a sleek effective person who knows what they want and gets stuff done not only leads to more Success, but hey… its SEXY!

THINGS THAT ENHANCE EFFICIENCY:

* Good Systems

* Good Time Management

* Clarity and Planning

* Delegating & Teamwork

* Focus w/out distractions

TOOLS and SOFTWARE RESOURCES
that have been helping me streamline and up my time/task management game.

RESEARCH– R&D is a big part of the initial phase of almost any project. We need to research when exploring career options, getting a new apartment, writing an article or book, or looking for places online to promote our work.

Microsoft Word Notebook Documents-
This template is in all MS Word from 2004 on. To find it go to Project Gallery under File and then click on ‘Word Notebook’. You will get a blank document with multiple tabs on the right side. This way you can gather a lot of varied information related to your topic into one document. For EXAMPLE, I am writing this blog post in my Blog Topics notebook, and there are tabs for “Topics & Ideas”, “In Progress”, “Already Posted”, and “Radar Screen”. It’s easy to add, delete, and rename tabs as you go along. Using notebooks for any topic that is more multi-dimensional than flat leads to more streamlined virtual filing systems and less overwhelm.

Evernote- http://www.evernote.com
I absolutely love this tool and have been using it a lot lately. (It was tool #9 in my inspired productivity tools series.) Once you download it for free, its small icon lives at the top right of your screen and you can use it to get screenshots of sites relevant to your research. You can also add tags to keep it organized, and put the source url so you can easily return to that site (easier than bookmarking). For EXAMPLE, I am developing an educational branch to Catalyst Arts and exploring local organizations to partner with to bring the program to low-income youth. So here is a screenshot of my evernote notebook with c.a. education program tags.

Evernote_EducationProgram

What Else?? What helps you to act efficiently?

Artists are known for being the pioneering out of the box types. But then so many find themselves in a frustratingly small competitive mini world going for the same gigs or galleries as their counterparts. Lack of inspiration and lack of compensation are two of the biggest pitfalls to avoid while we adventure down an artists path. With so much pulling back and shrinking going on these days, I think we creative types need to stretch out and think BIGger.

Expanding the sphere of our art is good not only for the creative stimulation the challenge brings, but also for the new sources of income it can generate. In a nutshell, splashing out of traditional containers can be both fun and profitable.

Well the visual artist’s primary canvas is the human eye and perception/imagination field.
The paper and easel and computer screen are common containers for that art, and yet in being small squares, they have their limitations.

EXAMPLES of CANVAS EXPANSION FOR VISUAL ARTISTS:
Tattoo Art, Body Painting, Face Painting, Designing Fashion, Painting Murals, Caricature Sketches, Graffiti Art, Air Brushing clothes and walls and people, Silk Screening, Live Painting at music shows, painting pregnant women’s bellies, drawing your dream home on your lover’s back and taking a picture of it, decorating cakes, doing custom signs for local small businesses…

Musicians primary canvas is the human ear and the emotional and social field.
The live show and the compact disc or mp3 are the traditional containers for this audible art.

EXAMPLES OF CANVAS EXPANSION FOR MUSICIANS
Play in mental hospitals or old people’s homes, teach kids in schools or private lessons, collaborate with other artists on a large public art project, create a music therapy project at a local childrens hospital, go in a tunnel and record your most heartfelt music and sell it to gardeners to play to their plants, make fun little snippets of music for commercials, ring tones, your answering machine…

Performing Artists like actors and dancers primarily use a stage as their canvas.

EXAMPLES OF CANVAS EXPANSION FOR PERFORMERS:
Perform on the streets, perform for your neighbors or block party, collaborate with photographers and film students, for charity events, in beautiful spots in nature, in ugly industrial settings, make up a new theatrical telegram service, work with wild new props, dance with fire, put on a show with your favorite kids for their parents, do political satire miming at the lawn of a federal building, dance at rallies, try go-go dancing, wear a mask and perform on a bench during lunchtime in a big city, teach your art form to kids or under-expressed housewives and businesspeople,  hang up a big sheet at a party- shine light on it and shadow dance behind it, build a stage onto a big van or ice cream truck and take the show on the road…

You get the picture.

Integration Exercise:
(cause it is oh so easy to scarf through ideas with our minds and never build a bridge into action)
Answer these questions in your journal or with another artistic partner.
1.)    What are my main 2 artistic forms?
2.)    What current canvas are they being expressed on?
3.)    What new ideas do I have for other outlets and canvases to explore?
Then circle the most compelling ones. Then do them, or if you are the forgetful type- write them and hang them up in a visible place to remind you of them till you get around to trying them out.

Would love to hear your comments or ideas.