Category: blogposts

15
Aug

Don’t Put It Off: 6 Tips for Combating Procrastination

Image courtesy of http://www.whywesuffer.com/

Image courtesy of http://www.whywesuffer.com/

Procrastination can easily be excused as being fueled by our busy lives — but overly-booked schedules, meetings running long and unscheduled check-ins can only explain so much. And time management tools can only help so much. To really address the issue, we need to look deeper than just how much is on our plates. If we really examine what tasks and issues we’re consistently not facing, it’s usually rooted in a deeper issue. While poor time management contributes to the problem, an inability to face fears and manage emotions is really the root of the problem. More than anything, procrastination is about the fear of losing, the fear of guilt, and the fear of making a mistake.

In fact, procrastinators are often so driven by the fear of failure or of not meeting their self-set standards of perfection, that they’d rather be perceived as lacking effort than lacking ability. It’s a self-defeating cycle because they tend to believe deep down that they can’t do the task successfully or don’t deserve the positive outcome that can result.

Combine this with findings that indicate procrastination shares a strong genetic link with impulsivity, and it can start to feel like the issue is out of our hands, but by recognizing when we’re starting to procrastinate and implementing some hard-learned tactics, we can combat this destructive habit.

Break It Down Into Smaller Steps

Even renaming your To Do list can help. Intimidated over the implementing and planning you have to do? Try breaking the task down into more manageable, concrete verbs instead of big, abstract objectives. Or try breaking up the task into smaller segments and doing one a day, for example.

Enforce Deadlines

Set and enforce personal deadlines. As noted above, chopping up tasks into smaller pieces can make the work seem more manageable, but setting deadlines for yourself can improve your ability to complete the task.

Reward Yourself

Rewards — however big or small — can be a great motivator to get stuff done. If we can train our brains to see task completion as a positive experience rather than an overwhelming one, then we can really work toward reducing procrastination. So reward — rather than punish — yourself for achieving a task or goal.

Forgive Yourself

It’s easy to become weighed down by self-doubt before even starting a project, so much so that it becomes even more difficult to begin. But, studies have found that one of the keys to breaking the procrastination cycle is to forgive yourself for past failures or guilt. Otherwise, you’re likely to go down an endless cycle of shame.

Face The Fear

Fear holds us back in many ways, but in business, perhaps none is so strong as the fear of failure. But we’ve seen time and time again that successful people make more mistakes than others. They just never give up hope or stop trying new things. Force yourself to get out of your comfort zone and take action.

Start Now

Ultimately, there’s really no trick to short-circuit your brain. Sometimes, you just have to roll up your sleeves, dig in and get started. Once you take that first step, you’ll be surprised at how much easier the next one is.

 

08
Aug

Anti-Social: When It’s Time to Step Away From Social Media

Image courtesy of http://rubiconn.com/

Image courtesy of http://rubiconn.com/

Recently, we touched upon the importance of giving yourself a break from social media as frequent usage is linked to lower productivity levels and even depression. But why is it so hard for us to disconnect?

While we know part of the reason is that gaining positive feedback on social media, such as likes and retweets, activates the area of the brain associated with pleasure, part of our problem may be rooted in the Industrial Revolution.

As the 19th Century economy took shape, machines introduced us to a world where quick, fast and scale were the marked steps to success. Soon, we started thinking of humans as machines, too. And as scientists studied the mind and body, they applied principles from mechanics and business together. Human habits, traits and personalities were “mechanical” including our brain’s workings.

Over the years, that has translated into a society where we no longer give ourselves permission to disconnect, treating an internet sabbatical as a luxury reserved for (some) vacations, while humbly bragging about our need to be tethered to our phones. We have trained ourselves to be always on and always available, often confusing our time spent online for productivity. In fact, as reported by Business Insider, Americans now spend more time on social media sites than any other online activity, including checking email, with 60% of that traffic coming from smartphones and tablets.

And considering the growing number of social media detox programs, from China’s more than 200 hardcore military-style boot camps to a Scottish Island social media-free experiment, taking extreme measures to break this addiction is becoming more and more popular.

And maybe we need it. According to the Badoo-produced study “Social Lives vs. Social Selves,” 39% of Americans spend more time socializing online than in person. While social media can be an incredibly useful tool for keeping up with clients and colleagues, it shouldn’t replace good, old-fashioned face-to-face interactions.

So, what can you do if your job doesn’t allow you to disconnect completely? Well, you can take babysteps.

Establish Social Media Free Time. Maybe it’s during your lunch break, or perhaps you go offline for an hour after dinner, but the more you schedule time to be off (or on) social media, the easier the habit will become to break.

Make Facebook-Free Zones. Maybe you don’t allow yourself to go online when you’re lying in bed or during your morning commute. Whatever part of your life provides you with the most zen space, make that area social-free.

Get Help. No, we’re not saying you’ve got to go to an island for a week, but if you really can’t help yourself, try installing an app or web blocker to help rid you of distractions.

And if all else fails, maybe it’s time to check out one of those boot camps after all.

 

01
Aug

It’s Summer: Daydream!

DaydreamSummer months are ideal occasions for creative ideation. As work colleagues go on holiday, and frenzied schedules relax, there are more chances for what I call unstructured creative work — ideation time without overly planned, organized and managed schedules. It’s the time to daydream, wander and to get bored. Yes, that’s right, get bored for a creative purpose.

Creativity — whether in the science, design or agency worlds — demands freedom to play and wander, and our over-scheduled and hectic daily routines don’t leave room for deep, creative work. What we know of as “aha” moments happen because you’ve just connected lots of seemingly unrelated dots that have been steeping in your unconscious over time. Think of it this way: Suddenly, the science exhibit you’re viewing brings to mind the Transformers movie you just saw and that blends with a song you heard a few weeks ago at a party. And, “aha,” seemingly out of nowhere, you came up with the perfect idea for tomorrow morning’s data visualization presentation.

That’s creativity. Taking seemingly unrelated things and combining them together to make something new. The creative process is a complex orchestration and neuroscientists are only beginning to map out the relationship between creativity and the unconscious. We do know that for the most creative and productive minds, incubation takes time and involves several steps and processes.

In a recent article in the Atlantic, researcher Nancy Andreasen studied the most “prolific” writers to see if she could see patterns and processes in highly productive minds. Andreasen found that the most productive creatives ideate, prepare and incubate. In other words, they work, ponder and engage their curiosity and produce. They’ve got room to roam and they use it cleverly.

But, as we understand from experience, the unconscious process and its strengths don’t always fit into standardized work schedules, and, in fact, many people and companies hold negative opinions, judgments and associations with daydreaming, the vital element in the creative incubation process. Sometimes, people are judged as unproductive or lazy when they don’t seem to be hitting a mark; when they aren’t relentlessly “producing” heaps of “things.”

That’s because we live in a culture that defines creativity by metrics and outputs. Fortunately, this notion is changing as pioneers of the unconscious, like neuroscientist Scott Barry Kaufman, are studying the activities of the brain where creativity emerges, and in the process, are challenging conventional notions about daydreaming and slackers who want to take a nap after lunch.

But even as science helps to evolve our understanding and relationship with our generative powers of innovation, convergent thinking and originality is elusive. In the abstract, we love it, admire it and try to fit it into schedules. But in the practical sense, sometimes we just have to give ourselves a little flexibility to go off schedule and zone out with our thoughts for a while. So, take advantage of the long warm days and empty quiet offices, and give yourself some space to ruminate.

It’s summer. Go daydream!

18
Jul

Vacation/Vocation: 5 Tips to Bring Back from Your Summer Break

Image courtesy of bookhangoversbb.blogspot.com

Image courtesy of bookhangoversbb.blogspot.com

Summer is in full swing, and that’s got us thinking about beaches and barbecues and made us realize how differently we approach our time off than we do our daily work lives. And maybe we shouldn’t. Whether you’ve already enjoyed a nice long break, are planning a two-week getaway or just a weekend staycation, there are plenty of ways we approach our time off that would be beneficial to bring back to the office. Here’s a look at five ways you can bring your vacation mindset back to the workplace and make it work for you.

1. Digital Detox

According to a recent research project by IAB Real View, 52% of people say they prefer to check their smartphones during downtime rather than be left alone with their thoughts. This figure might sound low for those of us accustomed to reaching for our phones every time we break away from our laptops, but think about the last time you went on vacation. You probably didn’t spend the entire time with your face buried in Facebook. Studies have shown that high social media usage, especially time spent on Facebook, is linked with lower life satisfaction and productivity loss. Need an extra hand weaning yourself off the “Likes”? Sites like 99 Days of Freedom offer a little extra encouragement and structure for those looking to keep their selfies to themselves.

2. Reconnect with Colleagues

Vacation dinners call to mind long, conversation-fueled feasts over good bottles of wine with family and friends. Why not bring that mindset back to the boardroom? No, we’re not saying get tipsy with your CFO, but why not catch up with one of your colleagues over coffee or take your mentor out to a good meal? Researchers recently discovered that our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, actually gets a boost of the “love hormone” oxytocin when they share a meal. Plus, getting out of the office environment, and, if you’re following step 1, leaving your phone in your pocket or purse, allows you to give the other person your undivided attention, helping to force or strengthen important workplace bonds.

3. Seek Out Advice

We’ve looked at the benefits of approaching your own city as an outsider in our Think Like a Tourist series, but going on vacation is a chance to see it in action. When we’re visiting another city, we tend to take recommendations and ask the advice of others; in fact, we will seek it out. Even if we’ve been to a place before, we want a local’s perspective. So, why not do this in your daily life as well? Ask your art director where she’s getting her latest inspiration, or check in with your business development rep to get his insight on a new client. Getting out of your comfort zone can help you see the world, and maybe even do your job, through a new, exciting lens.

4. Recharge Your Mind, Body and Soul

Whether it’s booking a massage or sitting by the beach to read a good book, when we’re on vacation, we always seem to take time for ourselves, doing mood-boosting and stress-relieving activities. We’ve previously talked about how mindful thinking and meditation can give you a cognitive workout and make you a better multi-tasker, but even just taking a 15-minute break to walk outside and get some sunshine can help you better focus on work.

5. The Endless Vacation Day

Doesn’t it seem like we often do more in one day on a vacation than in a week back home? If you’re in another city or country and don’t know when (or if) you’ll be returning, suddenly even the most notorious procrastinators and worst planners are able to prioritize what they really want to see and do to make the day count. Part of this is because negative feelings or perceptions of situations can wipe out our self-control and ability to think and plan clearly. By focusing on things that are important to us, we’re better able to tackle that task, thus boosting our mood to start the next. So, next time you’re feeling like you can’t get it all done, imagine your vacation self and pick the one, two or three most important tasks for you to do today and focus on those.

Just as there are endless ways to spend your vacation, there are endless ways to bring what you’ve learned back home with you. What are your favorite ways to keep your vacation mindset for the rest of the year?

 

11
Jul

Television and The Modern Family Mash-Up

Image courtesy of Hapticgeneration.com

Image courtesy of Hapticgeneration.com

Audiences gravitate towards stories about families because they capture the quirky, imperfect, and often hilarious dynamics of our own lives, and as a content creator, television is uniquely positioned to mirror our changing families and to help audiences navigate what it all means. Only recently, however, has the story been so colorful, and crowded. Here’s a look at how the changes in American families and their continually complicated stories get played out in entertainment.

In the 1950s, the family was viewed as one cohesive functional unit and the need for conformity was a recurring theme in programming. Demographically speaking, television reflected the fact that American households were primarily white, and on TV, white families stood in for other ethnic groups. After World War II, US consumers had more discretionary income and the population was growing. With more money and bigger families, people began moving to the then-new suburbs. Television telegraphed these demographic changes, turning raw data into stories that fueled shows as The Real McCoys, The Donna Reed Show, Bewitched and Father Knows Best.

By the 1970s, the American family had begun a process of dramatic change. Divorce rates doubled, we saw the development of blended families, and the face of the American public was becoming a true melting pot, a multicultural mixture of ethnicities, races and religions under a single American identity. Again, television reflected these changes, now playing off family tension in such popular shows as the ground-breaking All In The Family and its spinoffs Maude, Good Times and The Jeffersons.

Recent demographic changes have further upended American society and culture. We are more diverse than ever, and in a demographic first, immigrant families accounted for the majority of births in 2010. Census data also indicates that there is no longer a “typical” American family as they are headed by divorced, married, single parents, married couples and a rising number of same-sex married and unmarried couples.

This new data reflects our changing attitudes about families and the ways parents and kids should live and love. It is opening up a new canvas on which we can write stories and create meaningful content that is truly modern and celebrates everyone in the household. I have no doubt that television will continue to play a critical role in shaping and depicting family stories and in doing so, attract more audiences.

This is an edited excerpt of Oishii Partner Kate Canada Obregon’s article “Television and The Modern Family Mash-Up,” which appears on Cynopsis Cynsiders. You can read the full text of the article here: http://www.cynopsis.com/cyncity/television-modern-family-mash/

 

30
Jun

What TV Cultural Norms Can We Learn From The World Cup?

World CupThe Oishii office has been bustling with World Cup conversations. With staff members from Germany to Mexico to England to Peru, everyone has a story to share; a team and player nuances passionately mapped on the whiteboard.

In a recent NPR program, guest Felix Sanchez raised questions about what he perceived to be the racist or culturally offensive remarks made by Univision game announcers during the World Cup. Sanchez, who champions the Hispanic voice and perspective in media and culture, also raises awareness about the lack of inclusivity in content we consume.

During certain World Cup games, Sanchez argued that the racist and otherwise off-color remarks, such as “morena” and grena,” showed a lack of respect for certain players, and reflected racist perceptions about “dark skinned” peoples. While some audiences may grit their teeth and laugh off the bravado, he pointed out that other audiences might be insulted by such racially charged language. Reactions to Sanchez’s comments have fueled further outcry, forcing him to defend his criticisms:

Again, the issue is not how you have used the word “moreno” and “greña,” but how it was used in the context of this broadcast. Here the sportscaster had been calling all the players by their last names, but when it came to the Afro Latino player, he referred to him by the color of skin and gratuitously focused on his hair, essentially he said: “the black guy with the dreds.” That kind of double standard commentary is not acceptable and at a minimum raises issue of fairness and respect to Afro Latino players, and at a maximum reinforces a classist/racist/ mentality.

We think it’s important to look at the World Cup less as a spectator sport more as a moment of television cultural anthropology. How television, culture and sport are symbolic and real “screens” onto which we can see audience values, tastes, opinions and ideas intersecting and influencing one another. How cultures merge and where conversations happen. The World Cup is a great opportunity to see how television works in very powerful ways. In the United States, television audiences reflect demographic trends. Audiences are increasingly diverse and bring with them their experiences and ideologies. With this diversity comes convergence, and merging is not without its conflicts and happy accidents. Rather than label announcers, perhaps we should embrace the chaos and sit without judging. Observe and truly understand the importance of audiences in the new local-global television scape.

What are your thoughts on Sanchez’s argument? What role / responsibility do you think TV should play in this case?

20
Jun

If You’ve Never Experienced Creative Nirvana, Go See Robert Rodriguez Speak Live

Robert RodriguezIf Robert Rodriguez is off your radar and like many, you don’t know what he does, that’s okay. You can look him up now and thank me later. He’s a fearless leader, passionate creative and dedicated family man (similar to our own Oishii Creative Founder, Ish).

Now that I’ve secured my employment, we can continue.

Lucky for you (and me), Oishii was a creative partner for the PromaxBDA Conference this year and of the few speaking engagements I experienced, Robert was one of them.

Here are my favorite quotes:

“Don’t look at what other people are doing. Think of what you’re doing as completely fresh, because if you imitate, you’re dead.”

“If you work creatively, there’s no wrong way.”

“I never stop being creative. I don’t say, ‘okay, time to sit down and come up with ideas.’”

“When you want to do something creative, you have to reduce your list of ‘I’ needs.”

“If you cannot get in a system that already exists, create your own system.”

So here’s my advice: consider hearing Robert speak in person if you ever have an opportunity. The guy is simply an inspiration. It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, he will undoubtedly inspire that creative part of you.

— Carlos Penny, Oishii Head of Business Development

 

30
May

Meet Carlos Penny, Our New Head of Business Development!

Carlos PennyWe’re excited to welcome Carlos Penny as our new Head of Business Development. He comes to Oishii with more than a decade of business development experience, including positions at TV production company SD MEDIA and digital content agency FILTER.

Bringing Carlos on board is part of our continued evolution by embracing strategic partnerships with a focus on multidisciplinary talent and investing in proprietary technology, mobile video and multi-channel networks.

What makes him right at home at Oishii? He’s passionate about emerging industries and technologies, he’s in tune with the future of our company and our industry, and he brings the same energy and ethos we do when working with clients. So everyone wins.

When he’s not surfing or cooking sliders on his rooftop deck in Venice Beach, you can find him supporting the local community, which he’s proud to call home (Oishii’s a close second, of course). Carlos also volunteers with the Surfrider Foundation and is working towards launching his own non-profit, Surfunite.

27
May

Think Like A Freaky Tourist

Think Like A FreakA few nights ago, we enjoyed taking in the new Freakonomics book with authors Steven Levit and Stephen Dubner.  The latest incarnation of their Freaky franchise, Think Like a Freak debuts this week at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list. For us in the creative industries, the popularity of thinking differently is a welcome addition to our thinking toolkit.

With their usual witticism and insight, Levit and Dubner offer more observations into the ways we rely on habits and unconscious incentives when making decisions and solving problems. Often we don’t critically think through our own thinking process, say Levit and Dubner. We don’t recognize our selfish motives when thinking and taking action; we shy away from asking for help and we stand on the shoulders of conventional wisdom to solve problems.

As we continue our Think Like A Tourist series, I want to bring an older voice into our ongoing conversation about creativity, Mr. George Orwell.

Orwell was a writer obsessed with clear thinking and writing. In his famous essay Politics and the English Language, Orwell took issue with jargon and complex writing styles. He disliked glossy or shimmery writing, because as he saw it, such writing lacked lucid thinking. In Politics and the English Language, he pressed writers to write less and think more. He wanted writers as artists to take a step outside their craft and evaluate how they make art. In this way, Orwell wasn’t necessarily interested in helping writers become great writers so much as he wanted writers and artists to be rigorous thinkers. As he rightly saw it, writers and artists have responsibilities to their craft and audiences. Readers need to read something that challenges their habits and stretches their ways of looking at the world. He wanted audiences and writers to use their minds and exceed each other’s expectations.

Orwell’s aspirations are applicable for us in the creative industries. Our work lives are framed by trends, reports, data, thought leadership, research findings, insights and even the five-paragraph executive summary. These pieces of conventional wisdom are the beacons of our craft, giving direction to our solutions and shaping the direction for our clients’ next launch.

More than thinking like a freak, Orwell reminds us to always take a few steps back before we write, draw and do. Pay attention to the words we use, the phrases we toss about in meetings, and the goals we give our teams.

Who feeds you the language, phrases, terms and conventional wisdom everyday?

 

16
May

Why Ad Agency-Created Products Fail

Why Agencies Fail_Mona Lisa

We read a recent Fast Co.Create piece by Leif Abraham, partner at Prehype, a New York-based venture development firm creating new digital products and companies together with startups and bigger corporations. In “Spike and Die: Why Products Created By Ad Agencies Fail,” he argues that the current culture and agency business models just aren’t conducive to real product innovation. Namely, that agencies trying to do product work typically treat the production of an app or product in the same way they treat the production of a TV spot.

Abraham says this has two effects:

1. It’s a torch relay

Just like in a TV production, each person finishes his or her work first, before the next one starts. That means the designer completely designs the app before the developer even starts to code anything. Though this can sometimes work, it also bears some risks, such as the developer finding mistakes in the design at a very late phase in the process.

2. An ad agency is not set up to maintain

In a campaign process, people are used to making some thing, put it out there and then never touch it again. This does not work with products, because they need on-going maintenance and a dedicated team to further develop it and deliver support.

As a result, product-like launches coming out of agencies don’t have long-term plans — or budgets — in place to maintain and sustain them.

Abraham further offers a few suggestions for how an agency could become a real player in the world of product innovation. Agencies should treat product development more like the founding of a new company — acting like a startup — versus treating it like another project. This inevitably marries the creation process with the business side of things. And both agency and client are equally invested in the long-term success of the product. To quote Abraham, “…if, as an agency, you believe in and enforce the rule of ‘my success is your success,’ you will have an interest in things running efficiently as possible.”

His other point is something that we at Oishii Creative are very passionate about, and have written on extensively, which is building company culture. Some of our best ideas come from fostering an open and collaborative environment; what we like to call “generative workspaces.” When your team feels excited about building a company — and not just a product — then ultimately, they’ll also feel incentivized and committed to the other aspects of the business.

As our VP Kate Canada Obregon recently wrote on The Agency Post, people like to work in open office spaces, or ones that promote a collaborative spirit, because they feel connected to the company’s organizational mission and to their fellow office mates. It’s about creating community within the office, and ultimately, the effects of this virtuous cycle translate into your output as a company, whether that’s launching a new product or a new TV campaign.

A vibrant and generative company culture takes the long-view for clients and projects. This isn’t always easy because it’s not a matter of providing short-term fixes or campaigns to fill holes. It’s about coming up with innovations that work seamlessly and consistently across platforms. This kind of generative culture asks more of staff and creative resources than replicating the status quo. It means working harder and longer on projects that hopefully, many are willing to do. Because what it really comes down to is thinking and creating with the future in mind, and always finding ways to partner and deliver for clients.


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