Three Thought Bubbles hits the stop button

23 December

I’m hitting the stop button on Three Thought Bubbles. It’s time for me to stretch upwards. I’ve committed to learning new skills. One of the triggers for this move is a business trend that worries me today; we want to distill everything down to a 5 step process. Social media obliges and rehashes the formulas daily. I want to do some deep learning which involves messy exploration with no set objectives. I want to learn through doing the work myself.

A video posted by Min Liu (@bloodydairy) on

 

I’m taking six months out to do some deep learning in a distraction free zone!

I continue to be open to collaborations and side projects. One of these is ARTzheimer’s – a social enterprise that uses art to provoke bold and honest conversations about Alzheimer’s. My work here is as a written and visual brand storyteller.

I stand by the two reasons I set up Three Thought Bubbles; to help businesses to be more human on the web and to help them to communicate with meaning and clarity. I still believe that human and marketing are two words that can co-exist – if we choose to communicate with intention.

This creative learning break was greatly inspired by Stefan Sagmeister. One day he questioned how we spend our lives learning, working and dreaming about retirement –

Right now we spend about the first 25 years of our lives learning, then there is another 40 years that’s really reserved for working. And then tacked on at the end of it are about 15 years for retirement. And I thought it might be helpful to basically cut off five of those retirement years and intersperse them in between those working years. That’s clearly enjoyable for myself. But probably even more important is that the work that comes out of these years flows back into the company and into society at large, rather than just benefiting a grandchild or two.

Here are some of my articles about key ideas I learned as a mentor and trainer over the last three years:

  • The concept and results of doing micro work are powerful.
  • Best Practice’ is a jargon phrase used by lazy people who want to follow formulas and not exercise their brains.
  • “We’re on social media.” Really? What is your intention?
  • Learn to chop your words – the power of editing.
  • Ultimately, what do you want to be known for?
  • Why blogging is not about finding your voice.
  • I encourage you to be part of an encouragement network.Develop your brand voice

    That’s it for now – no trumpet fanfares or lengthy speeches. I have thoroughly enjoyed working in this field. I trained a diverse group of clients and got to collaborate with inspiring colleagues. Two colleagues I’d like to mention in particular are Siodhna McGowan from Inspired Thinking and Gillian Horan from The Pudding Brand. Like myself, they strive to make marketing human and meaningful.

    Who knows what the next chapter will hold! I’d love to stay in touch with you – Twitter is my platform of choice.

    .

Animated GIF credit:
Min Liu Animator NYC / Taiwan
Website: min-liu.com
Instagram: @bloodydairy

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Is the feeling of having to ‘create content’ killing your creativity?

25 November

Is the feeling of having to ‘create content’ for your business stressing you out? Does it feel like a chore? I know that this is a real issue for many business owners. And yet you have valuable ideas to share. Today, I’m suggesting a technique to help you inject some fun into this important area of your business. It starts with taking a content creation sabbatical.

Creating content

Here’s the thing – Much of what we read online is not new to us.
Some of it bores us. Or it’s interesting but there’s too much throat clearing. Think of an article that you did enjoy reading – I bet that the person brought the idea to life because they looked at it in a new way.

Content creation sabbatical

The purpose of this post is to plant a new seed in your head! Creating exciting content involves practising your creativity muscle. Treat yourself to a two week writing sabbatical and try something different –

Scribble
, type or record some ideas that interest you. Carry a notebook in your pocket. Question what excites you. Stand on your head or look down from a height. What other ways can you interpret this idea? Forget about the general viewpoint. Feck Perfunction. Maybe it’s time to take yourself less seriously?

Dominic Wilcox

Variations on normal

Dominic Wilcox is an illustrator and inventor who looks at his everyday world in hilarious ways. This video called ‘Variations on normal’ encouraged me to question how I view the world. It made me question what I believe to be true. I think that this is essential skill for innovative content creators.

My tips

Question your beliefs. See new possibilities. Laugh more. Now, share your ideas and get some feedback. You’re not writing for validation; you’re writing because you believe you have something worth sharing.

This is a topic I write about frequently – these posts might give you some more ideas:

  • How much thought do you give to your personal brand?
    In this post I ask you to consider what you would like to be known for? Every piece of content that you share online says something about you. Only talk and write about things that genuinely interest you. This is particularly true for blogging. Value your time and ideas!

  • How to set yourself sane, humane and reasonable goals.
    This one idea from Alexandra Franzen had a huge impact on how I work. Let’s start by being kinder to ourselves.

  • Why blogging is not about finding your voice
    It’s about discovering that voice.

  • Sometimes we need to unplug
    Finally, it is perfectly OK to disengage from the web sometimes Give yourself a break, give your ideas space to grow and develop. Chill out. You’ll come back full of ideas!

    Writers block or writers weariness strikes me too, but I got some great advice from a colleague recently; value and own your ideas and put them out there into the world. In addition I’d suggest looking at the world like Dominic Wilcox sometimes!
    I offer a range of writing classes – let me know if you’d like some help.

     

  • What do adult colouring books and blogging training share in common?

    20 July

    There is a message surfing around the internet which is hard to miss – “Done is better than perfect”. (Mostly imagined) fears rattle around in our heads and hold us back from starting things. But today when I read an article about adult colouring books, it reminded me of something clients often say to me – “I’m not creative”. I’ve discovered that most of us need help in realising that we are creative. If we don’t believe this, it’s hard to put hand to keyboard and start publishing content.

    Creativity takes many forms and the visual form is the one that mostly springs to mind. But how about the art of words; people who can skilfully juxtapose words to inspire new meaning? A sharp wordsmith is a valuable asset to any business.

    First of all, what is an adult colouring book? It’s probably not what you think (and I dread the sea of spam comments that this title is going to attract!). Adult colouring books are designed to allow adults to be playful, just like kids. Colouring allows the brain to relax while still being creatively engaged. The key attraction seems to be that the user is not faced with a blank page. Someone provides you with an outline, which means that you don’t have to make that first mark on a glaring white page!

    Secret Garden

    “Many people fear the idea of filling a blank page, and this comes from the often misheld belief that they aren’t creative. By acting as an entry point into creative activity, adult colouring can help people to tackle this fear. Michael Bierut, my fellow partner at Pentagram, was recently discussing Johanna and her work on his podcast, Observatory, and he said “there is something great about giving people a way in with creativity, even if it has multiple training wheels on it,” and I agree. The great result of adult colouring is not the act itself, it’s the subsequent acts of creativity it inspires. It’s a gateway drug, if you like.”

    Quote from an ‘It’s Nice That’ article by Angus Hyland

    Starting to blog can feel like staring at a blank white page… it can feel incredibly scary at first. My job is in helping my clients in two ways;

  • To give you the confidence that you are indeed creative and have something valuable to say
  • To help you find your voice and give you the techniques and strategy to help you make it happen.

    Most of my posts are about getting you to think differently about marketing what you do. As Seth Godin recently said, no-one suffers from ‘talking block’. As a business owner, you are the best person to tell your story. Perhaps you need the equivalent of a colouring book outline to get you started?! Give me a call if you’d like to chat about some training.

    Here are some other posts I’ve written to inspire new business bloggers:

  • How to set sane, humane reasonable goals
  • Invest in Mattering
  • Let’s make friends with the idea of business blogging first!

    Image credit
    The illustration above is taken from ‘Secret Garden‘ by Johanna Basford.

  • Twist it

    6 February

    The best blogging advice I ever got was to look outside of my own industry. See what other people are doing or talking about. Twist that idea and make it your own!

    Twist it is a new series all about innovative blogging ideas from different industries. People who are doing something different.

    Architect Jody Brown has a Tumblr blog called Sketch Every Day. It’s a place for him to share his amazing architectural sketches. From these, he made a film called “1 year of the sketches in 1 minute“. Here’s what I love about it;

    • an architect, who can draw beautifully

    • shares his creative process

    • and then turns it into an entertaining short film

    This film has totally inspired me because it’s so beautifully simple. Customers are buying much more from us than a product or service. They are interested in the process and what inspires us to do what we do.

    So here’s my advice; think about different ways to tell your story. Words are great but there are so many different tools out there from audioboo to vine to smart phone videos. Vimeo and YouTube provide endless content. You don’t need to be the artist or film  maker. You can share examples of work that you love or ideas that you want to spread.

    The Twist it series is a resource of inspiring content ideas – please share your own finds in the comments below or get in touch to say hello! I’d love to hear from you.

     

    What’s keeping you from sharing your work?

    28 January

    As a designer, I’m really curious and interested in what inspires other people to create what they do. But I’ve noticed that there seems to be a huge reluctance to share this type of information publicly. Why are we so scared of revealing our creative thought processes? My biggest aim with my blogging workshops is to get people talking about the how and why of what they do!

    Two things happen when we do this;

    We open ourselves up to feedback (positive and negative) and we create possibilities to collaborate with other people. Most people can’t seem to get past the fear of negative feedback – what if they criticise me? what if my competitors copy what I do? The inner voice goes on and on. Try turning it off and see what happens!

    Here’s what I believe –

    Constructive criticism can help you improve your idea and positive feedback will encourage you to keep going! I have worked by myself for 15 years and loved it. Recently though, I’m actively seeking to collaborate with other people. Blogging does that for you. On-line connections lead to three dimensional coffee dates. Conversations can start adventures.

    This is a book that I recently read. It’s full of really simple but totally mind-shifting ideas. I totally recommend it. I also follow Austin on Twitter (@austinkleon) Today, he posted a link to a discussion on his Tumblr site –

    What’s keeping you from sharing your work?
    What are your greatest fears when it comes to sharing your ideas, your process, and the stuff you make with others? If you do share your work, whether it be reading a story in a writing workshop, showing a painting in a gallery, pitching an idea to a team at the office, or posting on your blog, what problems have you run into? What would help you solve them? Open question because I’m curious.

    Go and check out all the readers replies. Maybe it’ll make you realise that we all feel vulnerable about sharing ideas. I’m making a concerted effort to lose the fear and put myself out there more. How about you? Leave me your thoughts and niggling fears below! Let’s blast them away.

    Would you like to join five other business owners for a totally different blogging workshop? Get in touch and I’ll tell you more about how blogging can help your business.

    Being honest

    7 January

    What’s the point in writing for an audience if you’re not being truthful and honest? One of the things that blogging has taught me is that I need to keep it real for myself too. Otherwise I would have stopped long ago!

    The best way to improve your blog is to discover the elements that attract you to other sites. How can you use these ideas in a way that suits your business? It’s not about copying. It’s about taking that idea or concept and making it your own.

    Yesterday’s web discovery was The Honest kitchen; an Australian food blog with a difference. The name  intrigued me first, followed by their honest and simple philosophy. Basically this blog is all about presenting food in an honest setting;

    No intimidating ingredients or complicated stocks. No using every single pan in the house and creating a mound of washing up, just to create a delicious and healthy dinner.

    The photographs, too, reflect this philosophy. Our food is approachable and achievable in an everyday setting, so it is plated and photographed truthfully, in a real working kitchen, before being devoured by family and friends, the people we love to feed.

    An Honest Kitchen blog

     

    This approach really appeals to me as a reader and has encouraged me to write some posts with a similar feel over on my business blog. It’s so tempting to make everything look and sound perfect on your blog. Lately, I’m pulling myself back from this way of thinking. Perfection can be boring!

    While scrolling through the visual feast, I found this post about a failed recipe called ‘Some recipes don’t work‘. One of the main reasons why I want to teach others to write a blog is that there seems to be a reluctance or fear of putting ourselves out there. Why are we nervous of sharing our creative process?

     

    ‘Some recipes don’t work’ post

     

    This post shows the reality of creating any new thing; it doesn’t always come out like you expect! And that’s the exciting part of the process. I’d like to be brave enough to share similar projects on my business blog. This post has certainly inspired me to think differently. If someone is reading a blog about a creative person, they are interested in the how and why of what you do. That’s where the interesting story is to be found.

    So my tip for you is to start gathering inspiration – look outside of your industry for fresh ideas. What grabs your attention and why? What can you tweak to make it distinctively ‘you’ and inspiring for your reader? Let’s get more honest and knock perfectionism on the head!

    Credits:
    Top photo collage – images by Luisa Brimble
    Bottom collage via An Honest Kitchen.

    Being creative what does it mean?

    18 December

    Being creative what does it mean? Sometimes words stick in your mind when you read them. This quote reminds me why I want to teach others how to write a business blog;

    There are two ways of being creative. One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish.

    Warren G. Bennis
     

    I’m lucky to have a studio in The Design Tower in the Dublin Docklands.  I’m surrounded by designer/makers and we bounce ideas off each other all the time.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about creative collaborations lately. I want my workshops to do more than teach a set of skills; I want to create the environment that Warren is talking about. I don’t know exactly where my path will lead me but I’m buzzing about the possibilities.

    How can we collaborate? Please say hello and tell me your ideas. I’m always up for a coffee and chat!