Friday, June 26, 2009

Greeting Cards!

I've been making greeting cards for 10 years, first by hand, and now on-line. There's something sacred about writing to people and something inspiring about greeting card images.

I remember when I was in college and went to this card store called "The Best of Times." I loved talking to the manager, a lovely "older" lady, very well manicured, who really took an interest in visitors to her store. I remember thinking, how wonderful that she could play this central role in people's lives, as they grappled with "best of times" transition events.

Many years later, I make cards with my own images with the hope that the images will inspire and encourage people in every day life, not just the special days. If you'd like to see my cards, you can find me on-line. If you'd like to see more pics, just visit me at Flickr. When you see an image you'd like for home decor, let me know at jlhhendersonATgmailDOTcom. I'd love to hear from you.

Portland

A wonderful day in Portland....I drove through parts of Nob Hill, a genteel neighborhood with walking paths that connect streets through blocks, winding roads passable at 10 mph.

It was still too early for anything but coffee shops to have their doors unlocked but I drove down 23rd street anyway. On my plane ride, a lovely gentleman from Missippi told me of a beautiful 4 column apartment building on 23rd near Burnside that he'd love to live in. I found it and I second the motion.

Next, I went directly to Powell's, the only adventure bookstore in the whole world. Rather than pursue my list, I allowed myself the luxury of getting lost. I bought 3 books not even on my list but imminently useful and delightful. There's something to be said for surrendering.

Crucial to my day was the purchase of a book called "How Not to Look Old." Anyone over 13.5 years old seems to worry about this. I read the most pressing chapters in the store and this equipped me for the day.

Retail therapy was my prime purpose so I walked one block to Anthropology which opened at 10am. Extremely rarely does anything in the store work for me but I persist in trying because of their incredible merchandising, right down to the smell wafting outside the store a good half a block away. A cream tank with v- front and back was the sum total of my yield.

At Nordstorm's Rack, I vowed to start with shoes first and was handsomely rewarded with a snappy pair of black patent criss cross platform Donald J Pliner's, a brand I've been pursuing for years. Also, some discounted Perricone toner and Neutrogena eye wrinkle remover to repair those years in the tanning bed.

Then, following the advice of my book to keep hair layered but not too layered (talk about double speak!) I found a wonderful hair salon called Eclipse on the 7th floor of the Ross building. Nick cut my hair beautifully! I'll have to come back in a month for a refresher!

Finally, a stop at J. Crew to see what our first lady is thinking of wearing. Another place where nothing works for me. But, I do buy a tank. Again. I cannot seem to get into this century. But I keep trying. The tailored look a la Katherine Hepburn is not in vogue right now and with broad shoulders the current look will simply not grace me.

Then it's back to the Moderna, a lovely chic modern hotel near PSU, to freshen up and get to dinner with lovely new friends.

Can't wait until tomorrow. Key to the joy of this trip is 0% sales tax! Big difference from 9.25% in my state and county. See you then!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

MOO: 5 Great Things...Actually 10


MOO has taken the traditional model for producing business cards and turned it upside down. Here are 5...no 10 ways that they make your life easier:

1. The smallest order quantity is 50 instead of 500. When things change quickly, you add a blog, a website, a Flickr account, you don't have far to go to use up your stock.

2. Gone are the days of 500 copies of the same image. Each card can have a unique one. This is great for showing a portfolio and for treating people special either by selecting a card with an image you think they'll like or allowing them to pick one.

3. On the text side, each card can also have another image. This is the ideal spot for a logo or consistent representation of your brand.

4. MOO is fully integrated with Flickr, Facebook and Etsy and will import your photos to select from. No more camera ready artwork.

5. Cardstock comes in laminated or recycled matte.

6. Cardstock is thicker than Vistaprint.

7. Cardstock edges are cleaner than the print-at-home kind.

8. MOO serves an international market by printing in the UK and the US.

9. The MOO Flickr Group shows creative uses and stimulates your thinking.

10. You can even get 1/2 sized or mini-business cards which have lots of alternative uses such as hang tags, place cards, jewelry holders and more.

With 474 layoffs announced in just the tech sector since August 27, 2008 totaling 338,270 people (Techcrunch), and unemployment at ~9% in the US forecast to rise to 10.9% by December according to Forecasts.org, carrying a personal business card is one step toward maintaining and presenting a personal identity. Go MOO!

Update: This entry works perfectly for Day #13 of BBB Challenge: Solve a Problem!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Who's Got Your Back

Went to my first Keith Ferrazzi event last night for his book, Who's Got Your Back. It was sponsored by University of Phoenix which I didn't know is the largest university in the US. UoP assigns students to groups of 3 or 4 and their responsibility is to help each other finish, pass, stick with it and excel.

It's a similar principle to Keith's. By being vulnerable and open, develop 2 to 4 lifeline relationships with people who have your back, who are there for you. Our assignment for the week is to go out and find one more lifeline relationship.

To practice, we got in groups of 2 or 3 and shared 1 dream and what holds us back. Through the process of being vulnerable to complete strangers I met 2 lovely unassuming people who are tremendously experienced and advanced in their careers. But I didn't know that until I got home and did some LinkedIn research. I got to know them first at a much warmer level.

I had read Never Eat Alone and eat lunch out a lot more as a result. Although I haven't yet read Who's Got Your Back, I think Keith is really on to something and I'll keep giving it a go.

For other posts on business books see:
Brand You by Tom Peters
The Longer Long Tail by Chris Anderson
What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshal Goldsmith and Mark Reiter

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Co-Branding the Chelsea Flower Show


Jo Malone Bottle
Originally uploaded by thyme2003
For 1 week in May, the stores next to the Chelsea Flower Show got into the act by having huge floral displays, a great example of temporary co-branding. Here's a roughly 6' tall bottle made entirely of peonies (I couldn't resist), roses and carnations at the Jo Malone store. Jo Malone makes flower, herb and spice scents and she encourages you to combine her perfumes on your skin. So it makes sense that she's used flowers and combined them in a unifying theme of color.

The only thing I can't figure out is why I didn't go inside to smell this incredible creation!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Anthem

In the June issue of O, I found reference to these lyrics from the song Anthem by Leonard Cohen, 1992:

Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.

Well, I can relate. Lots of cracks in life right now in health, body, work and house.

Then, in my Girlfriends in God subscription, I got this:

Psalm 40:1-3 "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, about of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord" (NIV).

In the presence of all these cracks, I'll go "ring the bells that can still ring" today and sing a "hymn of praise to our God".

Epic Moisturizer


Epic Moisturizer
Originally uploaded by thyme2003
"Epic" as in The Iliad, The Odyssey, Homer, the Greeks. Sometimes those stores know just what you need.....and say it in a memorable way.

BlogHer '09

Another sleepless night.....I just found out about BlogHer '09 in Chicago, was excited to go and then found out that it's sold out. Bummer!

Breakout session #1 has some great topics from this:

Identity/Passions: The Transformational Power of Blogging
Your blogs are instigating change In Real Life, from changing how you make a living to changing your own self-perception. This session will inspire with stories of true transformation, but this session will also instigate transformation!
to this:
Business of You: Bloggers are Pioneers in a Post-“Employee” WorldBloggers have created any number of “portfolio careers” using blogs as a jumping off point for freelancing, consulting, starting businesses, etc. This session will look at the fundamentals of valuing your work, skills and expertise from a business perspective. How to market yourself, how to attach appropriate value to what you do, how to decide when you’ll do something gratis, and when it’s time for that gravy train to roll to a stop.
and that's just a nibble. I need to figure out how to get sufficient heads up!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thankful Thursdays

Well, even if I had written this on Thursday, it's okay to be thankful for Fridays! And, though I'm barely awake at 5:30am, I am thankful for the white puddy cat who keeps me company right in front of my keyboard every time I sit down to the computer. I'm also extremely thankful for the amazing ability we all have to be instant story tellers through the web using words and pictures. It's fabulous to be an ultra-micro-publisher!

Faith, hope and love - but the greatest of these is love. These seem like really good things to be thankful for too.

Oh, did I mention, I'm so thankful that it is Friday. This week has been exciting and exhausting.

I'm not so fond of maintenance but since 80% of life is maintenance I decided that I'd change my attitude and enjoy it more. I'm thankful for new attitudes!

I'd love to hear what you're thankful about too. Just drop me a line in the comment box.

I hope you've had a great week, will have a great Friday and a fabulous weekend.

The Early Bird.....

Gets the worm!
What a difference being early makes! At the Chelsea FlowerShow, after some jostling and waiting, here's the photo I could take at the opening bell:
and here's the best I could take after lunch:

For more early bird photos from the show, try here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Quilted Velvet Garden


Quilted Velvet Garden 2
Originally uploaded by thyme2003
I was part of a great women's executive shadowing program today. What a charge that was to spend time with a woman exec and see her style, authenticity and work!

Speaking of style and authenticity, to brighten up things, I've got a great bouquet of dark pink peonies and deep purple hyacinth sitting right by this monitor. Clementine Churchill planted a cutting garden at Chartwell so she could have flowers throughout the house here and there. She's got the right idea.

For those of us who have doubts, there's no doubt that a positive attitude I bring to the table is powerful. Bring that on with style and authenticity!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Retail Operations Need A Revolution

Over the last 2 days I've been in Costco, Whole Foods, Target and Macy's. I've been struck by how much floor layout and store design make it hard to find what you're looking for compared to the web.

At Macy's, few brands actually fit so I want to go straight to that brand, look, try on or not and leave. This is a "sort by brand strategy", and easy on the web. A brand map at each entrance would have accomplished this. However, I had to wander around in search of the brand with no clues as to how the brands are organized. Why is Jones of New York here and Ralph Lauren there?

At Target, they already understand this. In the shampoos sections, they have signs sticking out in the aisle facing you so you can read them while you're pushing your card looking straight ahead. In large arial font the signs say "Tresemme" or "Aussie". It's easy to go to your brand directly and not be overwhelmed by the plethora of options.

I've been to my nearby Whole Foods store about 6 times now and I still don't grasp the layout. WF has divided the fruits and veg section into "Conventional" as in "may have insecticide" and "Organic". However, the Conventional sign is hanging over displays that have only organic food. So, is there no conventional fruit and veg in the store?

Don't even get me started on Costco. Food sample stations on a Sunday clog cart traffic throughout the store. This complication is double trouble because people already struggle as soon as the roll into the store. They suddenly lose their "other" awareness, if they had any at all, and park their carts across the aisle so that no one else can pass even without the demo stations. They lose their minds, literally.

Confusing store design drives me out of these places without purchasing as much as I would have. Expectations of how things should work in the physical world have changed as a result of our experience shopping on the internet and brick and mortar stores need to invest and improve as a result.

BTW this also counts as Day #13 BBB Challenge: Visit a Mall.
For links to other BBB entries visit Day #11: Come up with 10 Post Ideas.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thankful Thursdays


Hyacinth
Originally uploaded by thyme2003
It's Thursday and time to look back over the week and today and see what I'm thankful for.

1. For Michelle Obama's arms - it's great to see a strong woman in every sense of the word
2. For the conversations I've been able to have with people about career options. Jobs are different to find these days and these conversations seem to be the way to find out about upcoming possibilities.
3. For girlfriends who give me a sense of comfort, encouragement and ability to contribute to someone else.
4. That me and a girlfriend decided to stick to our priorities rather than attend a party.
5. For a cat who thinks the best place to be is right in front of my keyboard!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Brand You

The Brand You is a book written by Tom Peters way back in 1999, ten years ago now. In that book, he quotes:

"The attention economy is a star system,...If there is nothing very special about your work, no matter how hard you apply yourself you won't get noticed, and that increasingly means you won't get paid much either."  Michael Goldhaber, Wired 

Entrants into the RHS Chelsea Florist of the Year Contest like Christine Gulliver of Greycourt Florists are vying with a special design for star-worthy attention.  And she got it, winning a silver medal.

While a floral designer has the luxury of clearly visible design to make a statement about brand, white collar workers don't so much. They rely on slides, clothes, credentials, story telling and the ability to anticipate and answer questions to give them that WOW factor that sets them apart. But there are actually a lot of people who have mastered the above. So what else are they doing that gives that WOW factor, that special brand?

Another contestant, Joseph Massie of Fishlocks Florist, won a gold with this design.  I call her "Lady Phalaenopsis Teabags".  Both Christine and Joseph have WOW designs.  What's the difference that makes a difference? 

  What separates the Gold from the Silver?