leadership dot #1991: red flower

There is a new (to me) philosophy for teaching art to elementary students that involves focusing on self-expression rather than technique. Students are encouraged to pick their own topic to explore, then taught how to use tools and technique to create that art. Instead of being about projects, class is about artistic expression.

When I heard about this concept, I immediately thought of the story about the red flower that was memorialized in an old Harry Chapin song and which is in story form here. In short, a teacher gives explicit instructions so many times that students become reliant upon them and are unable to create on their own, even when given permission to do so.

I think the red flower story has relevance to today’s structured activities for kids – because they grow up always having something on the calendar it becomes difficult for them to create their own fun, even when time permits. And after completing 12+ years of structured schooling, new employees are often challenged in taking initiative at work, instead wait for their supervisor to tell them what to do.

I applaud all efforts that help people – of all ages – truly think about things instead of memorizing them, and bravo to teaching that helps people learn how to conceptualize and understand the rationale of the fundamentals behind what they are studying.

Here’s to creating a gallery of snakes and snowmen and elephants and mice!

leadership dot #1989: selfie

One innovator combined two concepts together for their new business idea: a) people don’t like the stilted nature of having a professional photo taken and b) people are very willing to take selfies, and in fact, the younger generation is actually pretty good at doing so.

As a result, we now have the Iris Booth, a kiosk where you can take a professional headshot on your own. The booth is an automated photo studio, with LED lighting, retouching/editing options and a high- end camera. What is even better is that you receive six options and one high-resolution download for $20!

As someone who just had new professional shots taken, I can tell you that the price is a bargain, and I think they are on to something by allowing people to take their own shots. I always feel stilted when someone else is taking my photo, so, while I like how my pro photos turned out, I wonder what they would have looked like if it were just me in the booth.

If you travel through the right airport that has an Iris booth, you no longer have to have amateur-looking pictures as your profile photo or professional headshot. Iris allows you to go far beyond “just a selfie”; you can whiten teeth, remove blemishes and soften skin – editing one pose in the booth, or for a mere $5, to do all six later.

The world is becoming much more visual, and quality always matters. Iris Booth saw a need and met it in an innovative way, and did so at a very affordable price. How can you capitalize on access to professional-quality photography for yourself, your team or your organization? It’s time to say “Cheese!”

Thanks, Tracy!


leadership dot #1983: borrowing

Libraries long ago expanded from books to include magazines, newspapers, music, movies and audiobooks. Our library took that a step further and now loans out board games and baking pans. Their baking pans are appropriately located in a section of cookbooks, tying in the library’s core product with this new expansion. What a great idea!

In addition to the expense, who really wants to store a shamrock-shaped muffin tin or a beehive cake mold? And what better way to try out new board games before you buy them or when you need multiples for a party?

Sharing is economically and ecologically friendly and the library is making it easier to take small risks and experiment with something new.

How can you take advantage of opportunities to borrow some resources and creatively expand your horizons today?

leadership dot #1976: freaky

Most stores are decorating for Halloween using pumpkins or gourds, but one grocery store got creative with their display. Their produce department went all out to acquire some of the lesser-known fruits and present them in a “freaky fruits” display.

Ever heard of rambutan, red cactus pears, dragon fruit, kiwano melon or jackfruits? I had not, but their display made them look intriguing. The store also took care to give nutritional and taste information as well as instructions on how to eat them. It was an authentic link to their products and brand – as well as making for an eye-catching display.

We often default to the known and easy – like decorating for Fall with pumpkins – but how can you use the holidays as an opportunity for creativity and experimentation? Challenge yourself to add something new to your celebration mix – maybe even something from the produce department!

leadership dot #1961: souvenir

How many times has the airport been the only place you have seen in a city? Unfortunately, for frequent travelers, it happens regularly.

Kansas City (KCI) is catering to the airport crowd by offering a vending machine that allows travelers to bring home a souvenir of a higher caliber than the typical tchotchkes sold in airport stores. Even if you never get beyond the concourse, you can purchase desirable items from their clever SouveNEAR machine. It’s like an automated Etsy store, featuring cards, shirts, journals, snacks and jewelry – but all are handmade items that are produced locally.

KCI airport has done a great job of bringing their product to potential customers. Think of how you can take advantage of the ever-expanding capabilities of vending machines to reach your clientele. Spirit wear at athletic venues? Branded merchandise for your organization at your office or events? Convention centers that rotate merchandise depending on the current show? Rain gear at outdoor public places like zoos or amusement parks? A way to sell products of students or employees?

Dorothy and Toto may not be in Kansas anymore, but the effective use of vending machines certainly is. Click your Ruby Slippers and add vending to your brand outreach.

leadership dot #1958: compilation

If you have ever seen a Dale Chihuly sculpture, you know that they are a montage of intertwined glass in vibrant colors, with different shapes and colors assembled in unique and visually captivating forms.

Chihuly’s work reminds me of yesterday’s dot, about how the Smithsonian curated a collection of John F. Kennedy photographs purchased from eBay. The exhibit exclusively utilized ordinary artifacts and made them special by their compilation. In a similar way, Chihuly utilizes individual pieces of glass that are not spectacular by themselves, but create stunning works of arts through their arrangement.

I think that too often we believe that greatness or creativity must be ONE.BIG.THING. — a monumental discovery, an epic piece of art or a product that is truly magnificent. What Chihuly and the Smithsonian demonstrate is that little things can add up to create something with synergy greater than the individual pieces. Dots that are connected can result in something amazing and new, even though the components are not so special if considered alone.

Don’t let your fear of the mountain prevent you from taking that first step. Start from where you are, with what you have, and see if you don’t end up with something noteworthy by putting together the ordinary in new ways.

Chihuly Sanctuary at the Buffet Cancer Center, Omaha

leadership dot #1955: dispense

You have seen public art, but the Prudential Mall in Boston has a new take on making culture accessible to the masses. The concourse features a Short Story Dispenser where you can select a reading time (1, 3 or 5 minutes) and the machine produces a story for your enjoyment. It’s fast, easy and free!

The one-minute version was about a foot long; the five-minute version ran for about a yard. Both provided interesting little tales that had been translated into English. The strips also included a little “Thank you for visiting Prudential Center” at the bottom and a link to read 80,000 other short stories. What a delightful way to add a bit of serendipity and tactile component to the mall user experience.

When you are thinking about providing art for your space, don’t limit yourself to visual arts. The written word has much to offer, especially if you can be equally creative in how you dispense it to your patrons.

Thanks Meg!