onstagecuteness

For the past 6 years I have produced a Kidz Village at Earthdance Festival in Northern California. (through my other small biz- Magikidz– www.magikidz.com)
Earthdance is a global ‘dance for peace’ event that takes place simultaneously in thousands of locations around the world. Every year on Sunday we do a Kids Peace Parade from our Village to the main stage, complete with stilt walkers, samba bands, and giant puppets. I get on the stage with 20-30 kids and pass the microphone to them for their turn to share their message to all the adults listening below.
It is always a cute and heartwarming experience.

How I find these mini messengers is by getting on the stage at the Kids Variety/Talent show and asking who has a message to share with the adults and isn’t afraid to say it into a microphone on a big stage. There are always hands that shoot up right away, and I write down their names, do a brief practice with them (using my hand as a pretend microphone) and that is that. What is so great is that these kids know that they have a message and the courage to deliver it. What is sad is how rarely we take the time to elicit their messages and really listen to them.

The same sentiment is equally true for adults. Many of us are carriers of great compassionate concern, insight, and experiential wisdom that could be crystallized into powerful messages- if only it were asked of us. If only we were all asked to distill and share our messages with the world.

Below is a video called “The girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes” of a young adolescent who didn’t wait for someone to come to her school and ask if she had a message, she got herself to a UN Conference and did a poignant speech, acting as the voice piece for all future generations.

The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 minutes

gimmethemic

So the moral of this story is, identify our messengers and then…
Pass them the Mic!

Advertisements

flower_barter

I have always thought that barter is a great thing. Recently it has been highlighted in my experience in such a way that I now see it as one of the big keys to a sustainable personal economy. Developing sustainable mini economies that don’t rely on cash, credit, banks or loans is a huge, healthy, and proactive step towards reinvigorating or replacing our current economic system. (which is a pretty attractive prospect these days, is it not?)

It is ironic that barter is referred to as an alternative economy, since it has been the norm for most of human history. So we are returning to our roots by nourishing the natural impulse to exchange value for value.

When money is tight, we feel a disempowering sense of our options being constricted. Bartering is a great way to take the cash factor out of the equation and maintain or expand your options instead of minimizing them.

AFFORD MORE than you ‘can AFFORD’ VIA  WIN-WIN EXCHANGES

Some Personal Examples:
I used to work as a massage therapist in spas for many years, and I still have a trade running with my hair stylist. I get great coloring and cuts in exchange for her getting a much needed massage.
WIN WIN

Problem: As much as I love/need massage, it isn’t in my budget right now to get regular bodywork. Solution: I find massage therapists who need help with their career strategy and do a coaching/consulting trade. WIN WIN

Distinction-
With so many people out of work right now, many are asking themselves “How can I make money?” That is a practical question, but I propose that we also ask ourselves “What can I offer that is of service and value to others?” Then use these skills as barter currency and also to bring in money.

SOME REASONS WHY BARTER IS GREAT:

  • It builds connection based on real world value and service
  • It expands our options for products & services we can enjoy without maxing our budget or undermining long-term goals
  • It is a sustainable exchange model with a very long history and is not subject to the ups and downs and whims of the money based economy
  • It feels good

The Way of the Future?
I just read a really great time travel book called ‘The Accidental Time Machine’ by Joe Haldeman.
At one point he goes as far as 2,100 years into the future, and I was so curious to see how the author would portray the people alive at that time. One of the main things about their society was that its economy was based on barter! Here is a conversation excerpt about it:
“But if you just wanted to buy some women’s clothing?
“Buy?” the woman frowned. Matt gestured at the vault. “Money is one thing we have.” She looked at her husband. “Money?” He smiled at her. “You didn’t pay attention in school, Em. That’s what they had before bee shits.” “Oh, I remember. Like dollars.”   ….”So what’s a bee shit?” Matt said, thinking the answer should be “honey.”
Arl pulled a roll of bills out of his pocket and fanned them. Several different denominations, different colors. They all had the word BARTER ornately printed all over both sides. “A barter chit,” Arl said.

They go on to explain how everything is done via barter and the money is smart and imprints to the DNA of the one who holds it.
It’s a fascinating book that I really recommend. And supports the point of this post- to encourage you to bring more bartering into your life.


INTEGRATION EXERCISE

1.) List services that you really want or need but Shouldn’t justify spending money on right now. (web designer, personal assistant, life coach, massage, etc…) Then Prioritize them by attributing numbers to them.
2.) Write a List of all the Skills, Resources or Services you could potentially offer in a barter exchange. Put a star next to the most viable and attractive.
3.) There are many ways to go about manifesting an ideal exchange. Here are some of them: Actively research service providers and call or email them with the proposal, put a post on a listserve or social network you are on, post something up on Craigslist or a local bulletin board, ask your angels or the universe and wait for it to magically happen without work, or ask your super networked friend or colleague if they know of anyone who does ______.

gifteconomy_ricardo

Would love to hear comments, feedback, personal experiences and any resources you have along these lines…

This is the 1st post in a new Series-
Key Principles for Creative Life & Career Design.


FIND INSPIRING (virtual) ROLE MODELS

Knowing what is possible for you in your careers scope and impact is greatly supported by finding exemplary role models who’s works and achievements truly inspire you. They don’t even need to be accessible or alive to act as a muse and guiding force.

“Almost all artists derive succor from the dead. The dead continue to give willingly when the living won’t return phone calls and refuse to remember your name. Holding fast to your creative heritage is a way of building an impassioned support system without dealing with anybody! …Having a deep love and understanding for the men and women whose work has inspired and influenced your own can create a spiritual family that has just as much power as a living friend.” -Carol Lloyd from the book ‘Creating a Life Worth Living’

Of course, it is more ideal is if you can find a role model who is not only alive, but also willing to do some active mentoring with you. These relationships can be hard to come by, and the people worth having them with are often very busy. In all centuries previous to ours, apprenticeships and mentorships were the primary ways that trades were learned. Even though we have come so far from that now, many of us feel a sense of nostalgia, or a yearning for that sort of relationship. And anyone with a good heart who has had a fruitful career wants to find ways to help those who are coming up with similar callings. So if you do find a living role model from who’s guidance you would greatly benefit, create a win-win proposal of how you can also benefit them and then pitch it to them!

My own college experience was more based on mentors and advisors than teachers. I did a self-designed degree program through Prescott College (Integrative Arts major & applied Ecopsychology minor). Each course that I designed had to have a clear objective, a set of activities to meet that objective, method of evaluation, and a local mentor who would oversee the course. I was responsible for finding that local mentor and requesting their help. Even though the monetary exchange was very small, I almost always got a yes, and so for 4 years, at any given time I was engaged with 3 or 4 mentors loosely helping me to achieve the objectives of my courses. It was very enriching to work with so many people already established while I was just a student, including authors and key contributors to my field. One of those mentors in particular became a key advisor to me and is now on my board of advisors for Catalyst Arts.

Now most of my role models are virtual and I tap their wisdom through their books and their examples.


Integration Exercises:

1.) Write a list of 3-5 people who’s career path inspires you and what it is about their work that turns you on.

2.) What would your ideal apprenticeship be? Who is the teacher (if they don’t exist imagine them up) and what are you learning from them?

3.) Make a word document of web sites and bios of anyone you come across who does something either similar to you or something you aspire to do. You can also put businesses and organizations on this list. I call mine ‘Role Models’ and open it up when I need a good reminder of what is possible 5-25 years down the road.

At first glance at the proposition of making money from a creative passion or hobby, it would seem that there are no Cons. After all, being creative is better than doing a boring day job and having money is better than being broke. I do encourage creative people (especially committed artists) to monetize their skills and transition into making their livelihood from their art. Yet I am not quick to suggest people quit their day jobs or push their passions into businesses without consciously weighing it all out. In some cases, it is best to keep the job and let the art be about passion and self-expression, and not about making money.

Here are the top 2 pros and cons of turning an artistic talent or creative hobby into a significant income source.

PROS

  • You have a great excuse to do more of what you love to do and less of the unpleasant or unrelated things you do purely for money. (who wouldn’t love that?)
  • You become identified with your artistry in a professional context which can lead to more opportunities, heightened self-esteem, amazing connections, and a greater sense of fulfillment in the career sphere.

CONS

  • Some of the innocence, fun, and magic will be lost when the hustle of commerce comes into the equation
  • You could lose passion for something once it becomes a job. Things like comparison, competition, & sales can dampen the pure creative fire and take the spark out of the work. Once you  no longer feel passionate, it is tempting to drop it, thereby losing a perfectly good creative love affair.

So, I advise you consider both sides of the equation with any decision about a creative enterprise.

I am thrilled that I make good money doing the performance work that I love, and yet I am really glad that when I do any musical or collage project that it isn’t about making money, so there is a sort of purity that thinking through a commercial mindset can diminish.

INTEGRATION
Journal thoroughly about both what excites you and concerns you about any new enterprise you are considering.
Which of your talents are ripe to get developed into new revenue streams? Which ones would it be wise to just keep hobbies and art for arts sake?

Here is a link to an article I wrote about CREATIVE PROCESS vs. CREATIVE PRODUCT

What about your experience? Others pros or cons? I welcome your comments. 🙂

Rounding out this Series of 10 ‘Inspired Productivity Tools’

TOOL #8-
STICKIES or POSTICA

A great freeware tool that I use regularly is the computer equivalent of those little colored Sticky Notes. You can download it for free for mac or PC and then create as many notes as you want for various little snippets of info. You can color code the notes too. With Postica you can add images into the note and email them to yourself or others.

http://www.posti.ca/

TOOL #9-
EVERNOTEwww.evernote.com

This is a really great meta tool for keeping all the little snippets of interesting content in one place so you can remember it, organize it and utilize it in the future. You can email a note to yourself or someone else. Good when you stumble across a site you really want to keep tabs on, but you kow just bookmarking it won’t do the trick (how often do we really go through all our bookmarks?) Evernote it.

EXAMPLE Below is a screenshot clip taken in Evernote of my Evernote User Window.

evernoteclip

TOOL #10-

TA-DA LISTS– http://www.tadalist.com/

For those To Do List Junkies out there… here is an easy online to do list that helps you keep track of your List or create multiple lists. When you check something off your list, you can still see it in a lighter color, so you can track your progress.

FABULOUS BONUS  TOOL-
(this one is more about enjoyment than productivity)

PANDORA FREE INTERNET RADIO
http://pandora.com

Create a Radio Station based off of any favorite song, artist or album! It will introduce you to similar music and is a great way to get exposed to new artists. Great for people addicted to discovering new music. I play my pandora radio stations lately more than my own Itunes!

pandora

Both of these tools from Google compliment one another and greatly inform any process of branding research, marketing copy creation, and SEO, among other things.

FIND YOUR KEYWORDS-

This free tool is really great for choosing what keywords you will seek to emphasize and optimize for ‘Search Engine Optimization’ for your web site.  Also deciding on article titles, Ad copy, Brand Positioning, and endless other uses. For example, with Catalyst Arts and our spotlight artist section, I have been using the wording of ‘conscious hip hop’ to explain the sort of hip hop we promote. When I type that in and click ‘get keyword ideas’ I learn that my phrase only gets 1,900 searches on average a month, whereas ‘underground hip hop’ gets 8,100 searches per month. So if I make that slight adjustment, there are over 6,000 people more who may stumble upon our site.
https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

CUSTOM GOOGLE ALERTS-

This tool is great for efficiently and easily Keeping Up on Areas of Strongest Interest. Also great for keeping  an Eye on your Competition. Once you have chosen the juiciest keywords or key phrases from the keywords tool, you can keep easy tabs on them via this free alert tool.

HOW IT WORKS:
You can set up a once a week email alerting you to any online action related to your key phrase (such as your name, biz name, or your topic of expertise) Just type in your search term, how comprehensive of a report you want, your email, and how often you want the report delivered. Very easy and very cool.

For example, a few of my alerts: ‘Catalyst Arts’ and  ‘creative entrepreneur’ and ‘creative career consultant’. This collection arriving in my inbox every week saves me the effort of going out and researching what sites, blogs, etc… are using similar keywords, and keeps me updated on the collective radar screen related to these phrases.

http://www.google.com/alerts

Continuing in this series of highlighting cool free online tools that I use…

#2- ONLINE STOPWATCH

This is a great time management technique for those of us who tend to jump around a lot with activities and not buckle down and focus on just one project at a time. It is very simple and has helped me to feel (and probably be) more productive.

HOW IT WORKS:

http://www.online-stopwatch.com/
Click the above URL. I use “Count Down” but you can use Stop Watch too. Set a time on the watch that you intend to stay focused one one particular intention. Click the countdown and focus until it rings at you. I recommend doing 40-55 minute chunks and then rewarding yourself with a short break before launching into another focused time “chunk”.

#3- CHOOSE IT- DECISION MAKING SOFTWARE

Yes, that is right. There does exist such a thing as decision making software. And it is free. Have a hard decision to make? Need clarity about something? Give this a whirl and see if it helps you to get that clarity so you can move on into action.

It is a little bit of a scientific way to go about the decision process, but sometimes weighing pros and cons in our heads gets us nowhere, and sometimes pulling a tarot card doesn’t quite satisfy the rational part of us.

http://chooseit.sitesell.com/

#4- FREE ONLINE DICTIONARY & THESAURUS

Sure, this tool may be more relevant to writers than other kinds of artists, but really we all could use some help to decipher official meanings of words for various reasons. Use this tool to expand your vocabulary, or to help choose the right words for your marketing copy.

http://dictionary.reference.com/  Get the actual definition of a word can give insights very useful to deciding to use it or another. I often start my word deciding process here and then take it to the thesaurus to explore related word options

http://thesaurus.reference.com/ Great for helping you find just the right word by typing in a word that is close and seeing a cluster of its meaning relatives.

RECENT REAL LIFE EXAMPLE– I went onto the decision making site to help me decide between two variations on my new tagline for catalyst arts. The decision:
Either “branding, expanding & promoting creative works” or
“branding, expanding, & promoting creative projects”.
The decision software pointed towards works with a small lead. I then looked it up on the dictionary site and didn’t really like the connotations. I did like the project definitions better, and so started leaning towards that choice. Putting project into the thesaurus gave me a couple new options such as “enterprise” and “venture”, and I also got a peek into my word visually clustered with relatives- known as the Visual Thesaurus.
Definitely Cool enough to be…

#5- VISUAL THESAURUS

Is an ” interactive tool that allows you to discover the connections between words in a visually captivating display.” Really great for those of us who like to see things visually. (In case you are one of those people, I used tool #1 (imagespark) to grab a snapshot of this tool in action, and here it is:

visualthesaurus


http://www.visualthesaurus.com
It appears that this tool may not be free, (a disclaimer in case any technicality police visit my blog :)) but it is at least free as a trial and worth exploring.

ImageSpark-
This is a really fabulous tool that you download for free that helps you to capture and collect into one place all the great inspiring images you come across in your wanderings through cyberspace. It is especially good for visual artists and designers, as you can grab images that are a “mood” you are going for with a project and use them for your own or a clients reference.

How it works:
After you sign up and download it, a little star like icon hangs out in the top right corner of your computer. You see an amazing image you love and just click the icon, easily capture the image and file it in your library for future reference. You can create “mood boards” and easily view and capture images from other users, and you can choose if you want an image to be private or public. A great part is that you give credit to the source of the image (which is good both for honoring its creator and in case you want to use it on something you can check with them and give them proper credit) Here is a clip I took using image spark of my own image spark library.

imagesparklibrary

Go to the Site and get it yourself: – http://www.imgspark.com

And another snapshot of my library

imspklibrary2

This music video is poignant, potent, emotional, and an important message about destruction and creation and cherishing our planet.

From a man of such talent, brilliance, and sensitivity. Though the ugly underbelly of the music/entertainment industry really got to him and distorted him- his heart does shine through…and his care- so apparent and passionate.

This video represents an important message he left behind. A piece of his legacy worth holding up to the light.

highlighter-yellowHighlighters can be little magic wands of a kind. Magic because they help to select what is essential and worthwhile to you and bring it to the forefront of awareness. As I explain more below, this literal act can lead to the strengthening of a valuable perceptual tool.

When I am reading a good book, I always have a pencil and a highlighter by my side. I underline and star outstanding passages with the pencil or pen, and then I highlight and draw keys next to the “key” content. That way when I glance back over the book months or years later, I can easily get straight to the juicy parts.

If something is usable to some aspect of my work (like an exercise or diagram I want to reference in a workshop) then I will dog ear it on the bottom or more recently write the page number and a brief note about it on one of the blank pages in the back of the book. That way, I can extract and access useful content out of the book in an efficient way. I read books like a prospector looking for gold. When I am done, the treasure I found is literally highlighted in gold.

The great thing about highlighting key passages in books over many years is that it teaches you to think with a highlighter filter. Trains you in highlighter perception if you will. You automatically look and listen for the most exciting, relevant, and profound sections to jump out at you and then you give them the ability to easily jump out at everyone because of their bright color. This ability to listen for the essence of something has served me very well in working with coaching clients. My mind is naturally highlighting key parts of what a client is saying when they are sharing about something.

Who has time anymore for excess and fluff? We want to cut straight to the chase, get to the point, and get the juice of a concept without having to chew on a lot of excessive fiber.
So get yourself a literal highlighter and use it on articles, poems, instructions and books. Also practice highlighter perception and listen for and then “highlight” the essence of what a person is saying to you or the core of a situation.

INTEGRATION  EXERCISE

Write in your Journal if you have one or just do a Free Write on a piece of paper.
Go over it with your trusty highlighter and mark the parts that jump out at you as interesting.
Write a new and more streamlined expression using mainly the highlighted sections of the old.

What about You?? Any good highlighter tips?
Comments are welcome.