05 Nov 2012

A Life Changer

By Ellen Witt

Let’s think back in history – we know Chirstopher Columbus, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and the latest Steve Jobs. Each of these men has a reputation of being a world-changing, mind-blowing, paradigm-shifting, crazy genius. Even with all their genius considered, crazy is still an operative word here.

So, let’s challenge ourselves – see if you can name one world-changing genius that our society would not call crazy. Feel free to take your time here…

Now, why was that such a challenge? Is it because our society is too hard on people? Is it because these people are some of the few in our world who are willing to show their true colors? Or, maybe it’s a little bit of both?

These thinkers, explorers, creators, inventors, artists and designers are the ones who are not afraid of what people might think when they speak their outlandish thoughts – even when they are well-aware those thoughts might be crazy. They are the ones who question everything they know with opposing thoughts and ideas. They are the ones who do not accept fact for fact without thinking twice. They are the idea makers, and they have a history of being non-conformists and socially ostracized.

Now, listen to Brené Brown. In the video below, she speaks at TedXHouston on vulnerability being the key to a life filled with success and happiness, as well as vulnerability being the birth place of new ideas and creativity.

There are all sorts of jokes about the vulnerable artists of our world. But can we say the same thing about all innovative creators? Is vulnerability the first step to opening yourself up to changing the world?

Whether you think so or not, this video just might change you. If you are like me, you will probably bookmark it, share it and watch it again. It might inspire you to change your life perspecitve, rethink your every day actions and analyze the way you treat yourself. And if you’re really lucky, it might entice you to free that crazy genius inside yourself.

Don’t wait. Watch.

11 Oct 2012

Right Around the Corner

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27 Sep 2012

Victor Papanek’s Definition of Design

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25 Sep 2012

break even

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13 Sep 2012

The Purist Movement

By Ellen Witt

Today is the most pure moment in history. Not a week ago, 200 or even 2,000 years ago.

It’s a fact that the Internet has brought us more child pornography and sexual predators. We face identity theft, computer corruption, viruses and hacking. Massive amounts of information have introduced a new class of criminals. So many problems have come out of this Internet, so what good is it anyway? All sorts of good, according to the bigger picture.

The Internet has finally brought us the legitimate power of choice.

Sure, we faced choice in the past. In Atlanta during the early 90s just before the introduction of AOL, we chose between the department stores Rich’s or Macy’s when we needed more fancy pants. We chose Red Delicious versus Granny Smith when it came to our favorite fruits. We opted for McDonalds or Wendy’s for a quick burger and fries. But when the Internet came to be, an entire subculture began to question why Red Delicious wasn’t so delicious anymore.

Our choices of the past were not nearly as powerful, widespread or readily available. The music we listened to was selected by radio execs who often made decisions based on pay offs and bribes. The best in art was hand picked by local museums and galleries. And the latest and greatest fashion came largely from the malls.

Let’s consider where we are today.

About 9 months ago, I watched this video on Facebook via YouTube. It was recorded at a band member’s home with just one guitar since that was all they had.

Long story short, the video went viral. In January of 2011, the band members shared their excitement with their Facebook fans.

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Today Walk off the Earth has over 585K facebook fans – so many that facebook rounds to the nearest 100,000 rather than listing exacts. As you would suspect, this song is also all over the radio. When I heard it a month ago for just about the 200th time, it hit me. Consumers are making big decisions. We are being heard, and the proverbial they are listening.

Our music landscape has changed radically. Before the advent of social networking, a record deal was practically a requirement. But today recording labels are struggling while everyone and their brother is taking a stab at their own grand entrance. Anyone with a Mac and GarageBand can record their own “album” and sell on iTunes using grassroots promotions through YouTube. If they are really good, they might become the next Walk off the Earth.

In fashion, design, art and culture we are in closer contact with the creators. Whether we are checking websites for the latest products, looking out for inspiration or even personally communicating with designers, artists or international inspirations, we have a new relationship with the world. The Internet has afforded small retailers a method of selecting seasonal products without requiring the expense of countless trips across the country. Small businesses are finally giving big chains a run for their money by offering more customized experiences and unique finds. We are no longer solely bound to what the mall wants to sell us. If a product is sellable, it can be found online.

So, what does this all mean? We are finally creating our own trends – from the foods we eat, restaurants we select and businesses we do (and don’t) support. We are trending toward local goods; designer and artist crafts; high-end fashion; a more natural lifestyle; and uniquely interesting experiences. We are going back to our routes of simplicity, less genetically modified and more pure. We are making intelligent decisions and leading our society down a safer, more thoughtful and personalized path.

Of course there are still people who have the power to control the creation of some of the thoughts and ideas that pop into our heads. But today we have more choice and resources than ever before. Today you and I are directing social progress, and the businesses that are paying attention are the ones that are growing the fastest.

Today we are living in a more pure world that is dedicated to us. So, go ahead and speak up because I can assure you that someone is listening.

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Disclaimer: If you are over the age of 60 and / or rarely use or get confused by the tools of social media, you might not understand this article. Just ask your 15 year-old grandchild, niece, nephew or neighbor. They should be able to help you out.

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