Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Interest in Women's Leadership Over Time

Interest in "women's leadership" over time is declining as measured by Google Insights for Search which tracks search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties. In addition, that particular search term is used exclusively in the US.

If we're not searching for "Women's Leadership" as a term, what are we searching for instead? What search terms are other countries using instead?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Moving Forward Playing Big

I'm not sure where to start this blog post but I know it all begins and ends with movement, first the lack and then the presence of.

For years now, I've wanted to publish a book, but I haven't moved on it.  According to Dan Miller, experts tell us that 81% of Americans want to write a book. So I'm definitely in the majority.

Why write a book? Dan lists 4 reasons: for communication, fame, fortune and/or credibility. He didn't really list expression but I think he would put it in communication if pressed. For me, it's not the fame (well, maybe among friends and family), nor the fortune (I don't think being a writer is a sure route to a fortune) and it's not the credibility, or at least I don't think so.  It's about expressing and communicating.

Yes, but expressing and communicating about what? For years I've thought that a book of......photographs of......f...l...o...w....e...r..s, yes those, would be wonderful BUT I've talked myself out of it over and over again.  First, because I didn't know how to start the ginormous task of pulling together the huge pile of photos that it would take to make an actual book. Second, because I thought NO ONE would bother to look at a book of flowers.  Talk about an overpopulated and trivialized genre!

However, while recently in Portland, I visited an exhibit at the Froelick Gallery of photographer Ron Von Dongen's work, and, guess what I found? He has published no less than 12, count them, twelve, books, oh, actually huge monographs, of nothing but f....l....o....w....e....r....s!!!!!!! So clearly, I was wrong.

At about this same time, I started Playing Big with Tara Mohr in part because Playing Big is for you if "You feel a calling or a creative inspiration - but you aren't moving forward with it as powerfully as you could." I resonated with that and one of her early journaling questions had to do with honoring your callings or assignments and jumping in. So I took another look at Ron's flowers.

Why did people pay attention to his flower photos? I figured I could learn from a master who had managed to work with Nazraeli Press to publish so many.......monographs.  So I observed:

  • Form: 1. The background of the photo is always lighter on high key and darker on low key photos with white on white and black on black 2. For color he uses analogous color contrast and complementary contrast. 3. He uses consistently very shallow depth of field
  • Content: 1. Usually one or two flowers 2. One group of 3 consisted of photos of pairs 3. Another group of 3 consisted of photos of flowers that bloom in bunches of tiny blossoms
  • Text: 1. The text is always on the left page, centered, 1/3 down, followed by 1 to 3 photographs. 2. The titles include the botanical name, the common name where available, the year of the negative and a roman numeral for the plate number

But, after going on like this for some time, I realized that none of that observed stuff is really the stuff that makes work "valuable", whatever that means.  From my perspective, right now, it means "the work is of enough value to spend time and energy and love working on." That pronouncement of value comes only from inside, from inside me.  And I made it!

So I'm moving.  I'm making my first book, my book of flowers.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

4 Resources for Finding Your Calling

On this Easter, I realized I've repeatedly worked to get closer to my calling in life and along the way have collected 4 resources worth sharing.

Full disclosure: My default go to resource for most of life's problems and joys is to ...read a book.  So lots of these resources are books.  However, I'm not receiving payment from anyone for talking about these resources and, while I should be, I'm not an Amazon Affiliate....yet.

1. The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy Filled Life by Tommy Newberry
Extremely practical advice focused on the things that you can control like your thoughts, your diet, your exercise, the premise of this book is:
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whateve is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." Philippians 4:8
Essentially, this speaks to the power of positive thinking. Newberry recommends disciplining your thinking because the  Law of Attraction and the Law of the Harvest both say the same thing.  What you send out into your world, what you sow, is what you will reap. It is more about the how you approach things than the what.
I'm on Day 5 of this 48 days project which includes journaling answers to questions at the end of each chapter. Dan's goal is to help you "find the work you love."  One of the most useful things he's said so far is, "Jobs will come and go, but they should never derail you from the fulfillment of your calling." 

Rubin examines a number of different theories about what makes us happy. For example, a de-cluttered space is supposed to contribute to happiness.  Gretchin puts the theory into practice and, as an engaged reader I did the same. It's definitely a good book for understanding what you can affect in your own happiness vs the theory that you have a certain set point that can't be changed.

4. Playing Big with Tara Mohr
This one is different from all the others because Tara coaches a group over 6 months.  As she says,
"Playing Big is for you if:
You want to be more effective and have a greater impact in changing the world
You feel a calling or a creative inspiration but you aren't moving forward with it as powerfully as you could
You want to make a positive difference in the world and find that you are held back by self-doubt, fear, or procrastination
You suspect it would be a whole lot more fun to play bigger."
There are over 100 participants from all over the world including New Zealand and Nova Scotia. All the participants are women.  We connect through the use of the Ning network, Maestro teleconferencing and soon, MeetUps in locations of concentration such as the Pacific Northwest and the San Francisco Bay Area. 

The most useful thought so far is that we don't receive ONE calling but many assignments that vary over time and with our individual circumstances.  That frees me from the fear of making a mistake and choosing the "wrong trousers" Wallace and Gromit style. 

I'll write  more in the coming days and weeks about what I'm learning and the changes I'm making.  In the meantime, I hope these resources are helpful to you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Life Lessons In Odd Places

Sometimes life hands you lessons in some odd places.

The Value of Mistakes
I was fascinated to find, when I took some DMAIC training recently, that mistakes are not considered waste. DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control and it is generally most useful in high volume processes where even the slightest improvement makes a material impact to quality and margins.

In DMAIC-land things like motion, waiting, rework and wasted intellect are considered waste but not mistakes because mistakes are useful learning opportunities.

The Non-Utility of Average
There's a good bit in the analyze section of DMAIC about defining the average. It basically says, be careful how you define the average because it matters.  There are different ways to define the average! The average called "mean", the one we normally think of when we say "average", is not always a good choice because it is easily distorted by outliers.  There are 2 methods for removing this noise.  One is to hack off the top and bottom 5% of the results.  The other is to delete outliers that don't have significant meaning.

If this still doesn't give you a neutral average, there are a couple of other ways to define average...the mode and the median. The most frequently occurring value is called the mode.  The median is an average where 50 % of the number of results lie above and 50% below that point.

So the next time you compare yourself (not a good idea in the first place) remember that what you consider average can actually vary quite a bit!

Here's to life lessons in odd places.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lines and Repetition

Day 1 of Week 2 of the SITS Spring Into Action Photo Challenge focused on lines and repetition.

I started out with basics, the straight repeated lines of a souffle dish and oven rack, and then forgot all about it to eat souffle, my first. Yum! 

Then I found some curved lines in these repeated sunflower petal edges.

Then I began to wonder what makes a pattern? And to try things out. Is it a pattern or a repetition when you can't really see it like in this strawberry leaf?  Is it a pattern of repetition when only part of it is in focus?

Is it a pattern if it's organic and irregular?

A very satisfying exploration of the jazzification of lines.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Old Engine Oil and Gravity

After reading Gretchin Rubin's Happiness Project, wherein she works on being happier for a year one area at a time and develops a set of "commandments" to support that, I decided to work on a set of my own.

However, "commandments" is a word already taken in my life so I call these operating principles.

  • Drink beer
  • Run
  • Do the right thing
  • Have an opinion
  • Chase what matters

I recently had the opportunity to put the first operating principle into practice at Gravity, a wine bar in Palo Alto. I was surprised by their long list of unusual beers. The Old Engine Oil was a chocolatey beer, dark as a Guiness but much lighter in weight. The label was great! I can't wait to go back and try the London Porter.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Honorable Mention

Here's a great summary of each day of the first week of the SITS Spring Into Action Photo Challenge.

And, hey, somebody noticed! My blog entry 2 Sunflowers Caress: Rule of Thirds about Composition was listed!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

First Story Board Construction

I'm continuing to participate in the SITS Girls Spring into Action Photography Challenge. Yesterday's exercise introduced us to the use of storyboards. Thanks to templates from Rita at the Coffee Shop I was able to focus only on what colors and subjects looked good together and on the relationship between the photos. A reasonable first step.

The relationship of the compositions is not quite ideal. While the middle two images point the eye into the storyboard, the top two direct the eye outside the storyboard as does the bottom left. It would be better if they all pointed to one another because that would keep the eye.

The color consistency is decent with yellow and red being the dominant ones and blue for accent.

The selection of topics is a bit too diverse (books, flowers and a card) but the color scheme provides the unity.

A great exercise in thinking about unity and diversity in a composition. Next up I'll work to learn how to make a template myself.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How to Collage a Blog Header in Picasa

I first learned how to make a blog header for free using Picasa about a year ago from an article on Blissfully Domestic.  I haven't looked back.  Every month I look through my photos from the prior month and, using Picasa, collage them together for a fresh look.

I keep them all in a set called Blog Header Collages on Flickr.


2 Sunflowers Caress: Rule of Thirds

I've joined the 10 Day SITS Girls Spring Into Action Photo Challenge. The first day's assignment on Composition was to apply both unusual perspective and the rule of thirds.

It was getting near the end of the day so I grabbed what was in my environment, a vase of sunflowers in the kitchen. Once I got the image into Photoshop it wasn't quite working for the rule of thirds. So I put in some thirds guides and began to crop until I could get interesting content in more of the thirds, moving the guides to the right place for the smaller size. The above is the result. The below is the original SOOC.

Most of the visual activity in the original version on the left runs along a diagonal band across the photo.  It isn't really in or near the target intersections which are the yellow lines.

You can see the new cropped version with guides and targets on the right. More of the visual activity occurs closer to the targets.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Born to Run

I had passed by this book lots of times in the last 2 years because I thought it would be boring.  The long subtitle, the heavy anthropology overtones and the simple graphic design of the cover put me off.

Four days ago, I finally flipped open the cover at Costco and thought, "What the hell, I'll give it a try."  Boy was I surprised.

Christopher McDougall is an excellent storyteller! This book has all the ups and downs of the Leadville Trail 100.  There's the drama of his own story as a persistently injured runner who's looking for a way to experience distance running without ruining his body and the drama of the pursuit of the story, finding a lead in Caballo Blanco, plus 4 chapters devoted to the duel between Ann Trason and the Tarahumara in one Leadville 100 race, to the final showdown in Mexico.

McDougall covers a vast amount of relevant side territory intermittently ranging from the scientific research of paleontologists, anthropologist and biologists on free footed movement and the actual practice of persistence hunts in Africa to the on-the-spot construction of a pair of rubber tire tread sandals with a twine thong and the real background of the mysterious Caballo Blanco.

I not only highly recommend this book just for the pleasure of reading good writing but also for the development of running skill.  In fact, as a fellow runner who suffers from more overuse injuries than I like, I'm' going to put the Vibram Five Fingers that I bought last fall to use today.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Value of Mistakes

"Don't worry if you make a mistake. I'll show you how you can fix it by adding some flowers or other touches. It may turn out to be the most creative of all" the instructor said.

All 8 of us were listening intently as Nancy showed us how to make greeting cards using an array of tools from embossing powders to cut papers.

This card ended up being an example of her advice. I didn't get the stamp inked all the way to the top of the basket of flowers on the bicycle. So they looked faded. Nancy suggested I add a few flower stickers to both cover the area and add more spice to the piece.

She was right. Having a mistake pushed me to do something extra that actually added to the overall effect in the end.

Here's to mistakes and creative ways of addressing them!

Via Flickr:
My favorite of all the cards I made today at the Paper Source card making class.