Crisis Coping for Creative Pros – Part 2 of 3

In this second of three part series by , they speak of various tools to utilize for staying creative, especially when stressed. Letting your creative juices flow during times like these does reduce anxiety and can give you a sense of accomplishment. Creativity is a happy, constructive tool that, when applied, can take you to a place normally abandoned during a crisis.

I speak from personal experience. Take my two blogs, for instance. I’m still trying to write them every week and during this Coronavirus outbreak, it’s like a medicine for me. It’s also important to me to provide my take and share with others that information pertinent to this crisis. Speaking of which, here’s part 2.

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Creativity doesn’t just improve our wellbeing; it can also reduce our stress levels. Recent studies tell us that creative tasks can unlock our imaginations, distract us from our feelings of stress and anxiety, and even prompt our brains to secrete feel-good chemicals.

That’s something we could all use right now. Still, it can be challenging to find that creative spark when we’re experiencing anxiety and stress. Amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, finding space for creative exploration and experimentation can feel overwhelming.

In the first part of our interview with the photographer and professional development coach Danny Ghitis, we asked him to share some tools for coping during this difficult period. This time, we wanted to pick his brain and get some of his best tips staying creative and motivated.

You might be stuck indoors, but there are still ways to engage your brain and get the ideas flowing. Read on for his advice.

Habits and routines can be especially important when we’re facing uncertainty and upheaval. What are your favorite creative habits?

“I don’t believe in a prescribed habit routine, and there are so many people out there modeling specific approaches. The important thing is to figure out what works for you through trial and error.

“People have a lot of ‘shoulds,’ like ‘I should get up at 6:00 AM and meditate’ or ‘I should chunk my day into rigid blocks.’ Hey, if that works for you then, totally go for it. But there’s a ton of anxiety around being someone other than yourself, and habits are much less likely to stick if they’re not intrinsically motivated.

“Give yourself a break! Take the time to reflect on what does make sense for you, given the circumstances. Ask yourself more proactive questions. What habits will support your goals at this point? What trusted person can help you be accountable for building that habit?”

Do you think stress can ever be channeled creatively?

“It depends on how you define creativity and stress. There’s a broad range of experience there. There’s a difference between the inspired creativity of discovering a new project idea and the focused creativity of cranking out five pitch emails on deadline.

“If creativity is about innovative ideas and broad perspectives, then anxiety and stress are not the best. When your body is in a stressed state, your thinking narrows and focuses on the perceived threat. So, if your goal is to think expansively, you should focus on calming your stress response and getting into a broader state of mind. It’s why people have epiphanies in the shower.

“On the other hand, if you define creativity as, say, a detail-oriented craft, then you can leverage stress in your favor by color-correcting images in Photoshop or keywording your image archive, etc.”

Do you have any skills for calming that “stress response” and getting back to thinking expansively? 

“Your body’s ‘rest and digest’ mode takes much longer to activate than your ‘fight-flight-freeze’ mode. Stress is meant to keep you safe, but chronic stress defeats the purpose and can seriously hurt your immune system.

“To regulate this, get into the habit of conscious breathing as often as possible. Your breath gives you a direct line to your autonomic nervous system, which is the otherwise unconscious way your body knows how to regulate itself.

“There’s a common misconception that taking a ‘deep breath’ will calm you down. In fact, it’s the out-breath that triggers a calming response. Try this: breathe in slowly for four counts, hold for two counts, breathe out slowly for six counts, hold for two counts. Repeat.

“Ultimately, managing stress is a huge topic, and there’s no one-size-fits-all technique. It’s important to understand what triggers your stress and address it using what works for you.”

What are some of your favorite (productive and creative) things photographers can do with the time they spend stuck indoors? Do you have any books or resources you’d recommend?

“This is a hard question for me to answer because I tend to look at an individual’s specific needs before discussing a course of action. It’s easy to get caught in a social comparison trap, wanting to succeed the way others do because it looks sexy.

“It’s normal to be influenced by other artists, but you have to show up for yourself, especially when it feels hard. This is a great moment to explore, research, plan, and reassess.

“To get your creative juices flowing, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield are always solid staples. For more insight about how you best show up in the world, I suggest taking the VIA Institute’s free character strengths assessment and reading their materials.”

Some of us are using this time to recalibrate and refocus, whether that’s in business or the creative sphere. What are your insights on setting realistic goals, both in the long and short term? 

“My favorite method of self-sabotage is perfectionism. I set the bar too high, making it impossible to succeed, and it’s a terrific excuse for getting nothing done. If you never get things done, you also avoid failure and create a false sense of comfort. You’re not failing, but you’re also not succeeding.

“This is super common in creative fields rife with rejection. Aim for scoring a B instead of an A with your projects. Set iteration goals without expecting a specific final outcome. You’ll actually increase your chances of achieving an outcome you’re happy with.”

Any more tips for photographers working from home right now?

“If you want to be shooting while you’re in quarantine, my suggestion is to be proactive about it. Keep your camera with you as often as possible and think of it like a sketchbook.

“Your thoughts and behaviors influence each other, so the more you take pictures, the more you’ll think about taking pictures and feel like someone who can take pictures in the moment.

“Because of cognitive bias, your brain filters what it thinks will be useful for you. If you keep ‘telling’ it to look for interesting compositions through repetition, the more you’ll automatically start finding them.

“This also applies to your mindset about business during these strange times. If you read panicky headlines all day, you’ll believe the sky is falling and hide under your bed, but if you look for opportunity, you will find it!”

This is part two of three of our interview with Danny Ghitis. Here’s Part one. For more in-depth and tailored coaching, Ghitis offers free 30-minute consultations.

 

Crisis Coping for Creative Pros – Part 1 of 3

During this time of uncertainty and distress, many factors are at odds with our coping mechanisms. Everyday stressors are one thing but having additional ones attack us during a health crisis is quite another.

I ran across a timely series of articles by Ellen Kail for Feature Shoot when they were publicized in Communication Arts. My immediate thought was that I really need to share these. So share, we will, with some input from yours truly.

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The experts agree: amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, public anxiety is mounting. The World Health Organization recently released a list of mental health considerations to keep in mind during the outbreak. This is a challenging moment for people around the globe, whether we’re coping with the stress spurred by the latest news headlines or the boredom and uncertainty of self-quarantine.

For photographers, and other creatives as well, the COVID-19 outbreak can also mean canceled exhibitions, fewer clients, and financial uncertainty. If your assignments require traveling and commuting, it means you might face the possibility of radically changing the way you work, at least for the time being.

Those factors don’t help ease the anxiety we’re experiencing right now, but there are ways to cope and navigate through this difficult period. We asked the photographer and professional development coach Danny Ghitis to tell us about some of his best skills for staying balanced and productive during times of uncertainty.

During these uncertain times, what do you think is the biggest challenge facing creatives, and what is your number one piece of advice for photographers who are navigating this challenge?  

“While these circumstances are new, the fundamental feeling of uncertainty is not. Creatives tend to be well-acquainted with that primal fear, given the nature of their work. This particular fear convinces you that there’s doom lurking around the corner and locks you into survival mode.

“Since we’re more exposed than ever to a constant stream of freak-outs, it’s easy to get stuck in this belief. Especially if you’re creative and envision apocalyptic dramas and spend hours ruminating on the world’s end.

“The key is to remember you have a choice about how to respond. That doesn’t mean you can choose/control everything–a lot of stress comes from resisting and trying to control the inevitable. The choice comes from examining your feelings and thoughts and understanding how they impact your behavior.

“Your beliefs create your experience of reality. Try this: recall an instance where you felt uncertain and navigated your circumstances successfully. What thoughts did you have at the time? How did they make you behave, and what results did you get from that behavior?”

What are some short-term coping strategies you’d recommend to photographers? Let’s say you read a terrifying headline or tweet, get overwhelmed, and have trouble coping. How do you not let the news consume your day? 

“The thing about the news is that it’s not there to help you cope or feel good. It’s there to report the news. When people freak out, the news reports it, and then people read the news and freak out more, and so on. Don’t go to the news if you’re looking for relief. It’s like sticking your head in the oven to cool down.

“The challenge is making the effort to remove the temptations all around us. Know that you have a negativity bias and that your brain will jump at any opportunity to ‘protect’ you. Being informed is good, but most of us are well enough informed just by living in society that we don’t need to read new headlines multiple times per day.

“Unless you have a specific and clear reason to be on the news or social media, consider staying away from it, especially now. Spend time outside, call someone on Facetime, reset.”

What advice do you have for photographers who are experiencing a lot of anxiety right now? How do you keep fear and worry at bay?

“First of all, it’s okay. It’s normal. It’s expected. If your income sources have suddenly vanished, you have permission to be upset. Write yourself a permission slip. Don’t pretend that it doesn’t suck if you feel like it does. There’s no such thing as bottling up emotions–they will come out in one way or another, so it’s better to deal with them directly instead of letting them skew your results indirectly.

“Of course, there are the staples: exercise, meditate, eat healthy, sleep well. They sound like cliches, but if you prioritize them, you’ll feel a lot better. If you’re not, then get help from other people.

“And try this: write down all the potential ways this moment could be an opportunity. If you’re feeling guilty because you ‘shouldn’t’ see this as an opportunity, well, let that sh*t go. Consciously helping yourself doesn’t mean exploiting other people. It’s quite the opposite.”

How would you advise photographers and other creatives who suddenly have a lot of free, unstructured time on their hands? 

“The busier you keep yourself, the more you’ll get done. This is a perfect opportunity to level up skills that you normally don’t have time to focus on. Create an exciting challenge for yourself, or do it with a group of people (online) for accountability.

“Immerse yourself in an indoor or nature-oriented project, practice lighting setups; take a marketing course; plan out a series of promo campaigns; challenge yourself to read five business books; research the hell out of your next project.

“When else will you have such an opportunity to deep dive? Take advantage and remove physical and mental distractions that will sap your energy. Focus on people who want to see you succeed, and brainstorm about how to help.”

This interview is part of a three-part series with Ghitis on coping, staying creative, and finding community during this time.

Future of Advertising

What of advertising? What of normalcy?

What of Coronavirus? What of sanity?

What of the future? The simple truth is, we don’t know.

Yet.

Though we can’t predict the future, we can wager a pretty good guess at times as to how we think all will turn out. However, everything is so up in the air right now. No one really knows what’s going to happen with this Coronavirus and the lives it has touched, plus those it hasn’t reached yet. I came upon this publication covering a variety of topics relative to advertising and its perceived future.

Regardless of the impact of COVID-19, vast changes in the way we do things are inevitable. Touching on several areas of marketing and creativity are key players in the global scene sharing their perspective on advertising and the ways we deliver the message to the consumer. Here are a couple of highlights.

Ads, Authenticity and Action

“Marketing is in a perpetual state of disruption . . . but the best way to deal with disruption is to lead it,” so says Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer, Proctor & Gamble. It’s “constructive disruption” he’s looking for: “There have been many disruptions that have destroyed value but the hardest task is to disrupt in a way that creates value for the consumers we serve.”

As it relates to marketing, he adds “(we want to create campaigns) more superior, more useful and more interesting to the point where people actually look forward to seeing ads.” He continues “The way we’re focused on doing that is by merging the ad world with other creative worlds, with music, comedy, sports and entertainment. So, we can continue to convey the superiority of our brands. But done in a way that is really engaging.”

The Campaign for Creativity

Philip Thomas, chairman Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, “believes creativity is essential for business growth, industry and societal change and as a driving force for good.”

“The businesses we work with tell us that embedding creativity requires the right conditions and culture to drive long-term, sustainable growth and impactful brand building.

“For brands and businesses to remain relevant and future-fit, they must continually reinvent.

“In recent years, we’ve seen an emerging trend in creative work driven by purpose. And on Festival stages we have seen brand activism, social justice and diversity lead the discourse. There’s been a recognized shift in the move from purpose and activism to accountability, and of course action.

“With the combination of global reach and power of brands, as well as the expertise of organizations like the UN, and the unbounded creativity of the advertising and marketing community, change for good is truly possible.”

There is no one single “conclusion” or summary statement relegated to the future of advertising. That’s because its state is comprised of various amounts of integral data, cultures, points in time and marketing techniques. It’s complicated and it will change.

The publication Raconteur lays it out nicely and is an interesting read.

Enjoy!

 

Future of Advertising Cover

Creating Together in a Post-Coronavirus World

We’re still right in the thick of this mess, the Coronavirus pandemic, and with no signs of it letting up. In fact, it’s just the opposite; more cases are reported daily, around the globe. Just about a week ago a little less than 200,000 people globally had been infected while over 7,500 people have died.

In order to try and stop the spread of the virus, the globe’s inhabitants are retreating inward, at least most of them. “Stay home, stay healthy” seems to be the motto of the day. If ET were to re-visit Earth right now, he’s probably wonder, “Where did everybody go?”

Businesses are shutting down and boarding up, as if they’re dealing with some big storm surge. Eating places are delivery or take-out only, if they’re even open. Schools are closing until further notice and most modes of transportation have ground to a halt or have severely curtailed their routes. Grocery stores have become almost barren, especially the paper goods and beverage aisles.

Most everyone is self-quarantining. Very few people are on the roads unless they just have to be.

Yet, the virus persists and is spreading. Damn!

TogetherWeCreate

Image source: Unsplash.

Writing from Johannesburg, South Africa, Rohan Reddy says, “Our hands have never been cleaner, human contact is being frowned upon, people are getting sick or dying. We don’t care much about advertising or design anymore; mortality is our reality, we care about surviving.

The executive creative director for the McCann Africa network continues, “When 2020 comes to an end, the world we live in will probably look very different from the one we said goodbye to in 2019. And it is impossible to predict what this new world will look like.”

I agree with him. The world is in uncharted waters with this virus. We’re doing good to react, let alone react in some timely manner. Forget about planning and acting on the plan. This stage is in its infancy, though it is forging ahead.

making more masks

Some corners of the world are doing better than others; Italy seems to have their act together while the U.S. is falling behind and will be doing good to “fight a good fight.”

Reddy again, “Creativity will save the world. People will look to our poets, our artists, our musicians, our dancers, our inventors, our architects, our engineers, our writers and designers to redefine humanity’s purpose post-Covid-19. Businesses will look to their advertising agencies and design studios to redefine how we consume everything from food to fashion to travel.

“Because, at the end of 2020, it will not be business as usual. It will be something completely different. We will spend our money differently, we will save our money differently and we will probably make our money differently too.”

buildingnewhospitalinWuhan

We won’t have to wait until the end of this year for business and living habits to become different. That is happening right now. Our lifestyles and business practices are changing, out of necessity, right before our eyes. We will be “ever-adapting” continuously through the rest of this year and into the near future.

Creativity will play a vital role in how we think, solve problems and present solutions. Creativity won’t be the exclusive territory of advertising. Hopefully, creative thinking and development will be in hyper-drive so that society can be the benefactor.

I think most intelligent people will adopt a much more sincere form of togetherness, a true multi-partisanship. We, as a society, really have no choice. We have to create through togetherness since our survival depends on it.

Past actions of stupidity and greed will be looked upon incredulously. There will be no room for them in our future. Disease, like this COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate when it comes to these fallacies; it also doesn’t play politics.

italy on lockdown

No matter how long it takes to save ourselves from this pandemic, creativity will and must play a part. That’s creativity in all forms, not just in the creative arts.

Together we need to rebuild into a better, much more aware future. The creative minds among us have a responsibility to craft a sound and viable and livable future for our society.

I agree with Mr. Reddy. As a creative, I can’t do this on my own. I can, however, do it together in forming a creative front to help lead us in progressing forward. We owe it to ourselves, our children, their children, as well as the planet.

Let us create together!

IABC WEBINAR: Crisis Management & COVID-19 – Recording Now Available

This is a special edition of the Ideasnmoreblog featuring a recent webinar by IABC Houston on the Coronavirus and the impact it’s having on the communication industry.

The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has disrupted the global markets and the pandemic is now impacting many within our own community. Schools have closed, local businesses have shuttered, and many are unsure of the long-term implications to their careers and personal health.

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In this time of uncertainty, how can we navigate the COVID-19 crisis as communicators? Join IABC Houston and our panel of experts for an informative discussion on crisis management during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our panel will share insights into their corporate response, working remotely, and the importance of maintaining a focus on mental health.

Thank you to all who tuned into the Crisis Management and COVID-19 webinar yesterday! If you missed it, you can watch the full webinar on Facebook or YouTube. Feel free to share the links with friends and colleagues as well.

Panelists: Judge Ed Emmett; Clint Woods; Dr. Chris Yandle

About our panel:

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Judge Ed Emmett | Rice University

Judge Ed Emmett is the former county judge of Harris County, Texas. From 1979 to 1987, he was a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives, first from District 78 from 1979 to 1983 and then newly numbered District 127 from 1983 until 1987. After a twenty-year hiatus from politics, he was elected as county judge to head the five-member Harris County Commissioners Court, based in Houston.

Emmett has been awarded numerous awards in his career, including being named Transportation Person of the Year by Transportation Clubs International in 2005, receiving the Presidential “Call to Service” Award from president George W. Bush in 2008, and receiving the 2009 Distinguished Public Service Award from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. In 2011, Emmett was named a distinguished alumnus of Rice University.

Emmett is now a professor at Rice University, a senior fellow at Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, and a distinguished senior fellow at Northeastern University’s Global Resilience Institute. He also maintains his transportation logistics consultant practice in Houston, Texas.

 

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Clint Woods | Pierpont

As chief operating officer, Clint Woods leverages more than 20 years of industry experience to ensure future growth for Pierpont Communications. In order to drive new business and deliver successful service expansions, Clint is responsible for client and employee development, setting firm-wide strategy and overseeing many functions across the agency, such as strategic partnerships, P&L growth and M&A activities.

In addition to leading Pierpont’s energy practice, Clint has worked with clients across a broad spectrum of industries including automotive, retail, enterprise hardware and software, professional services, business intelligence and collaboration tools, financial services and manufacturing. He has led or supported engagements with globally respected brands such as BP, Boston Consulting Group, Group 1 Automotive, Halliburton, Imperial Sugar, TPG Capital, and Wood Group, among many others.

 

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Dr. Chris Yandle | St. Tammany Parish Public School System

A native of South Louisiana, Dr. Chris Yandle is a former college athletics administrator and an award-winning public relations professional at both the K-12 and college level. After spending more than a decade with five different NCAA Division I college athletics programs, he transitioned to K-12 communications in his home state in 2016.

Considered among the leading communications professionals in college athletics, Chris served as the Assistant Athletic Director for Communications at the University of Miami (2012-2014) and Georgia Tech (2014-2016). He was CoSIDA’s university division recipient of the 2014 Rising Star Award. He is the author of Lucky Enough: A Year of a Dad’s Daily Notes of Encouragement and Life Lessons to His Daughter and he continues to share his daily notes on social media in an effort to help parents make non-digital connections in a digital world.

A World Tour in Images Via COVID-19, the Coronavirus

Awesome images. Deadly.

Unforgetable. Diabolical.

stock-photo-coronavirus-ncov-novel-coronavirus-concept-resposible-for-asian-flu-outbreak-and-coronaviruses-1625951248

 

Known the world over, yet we’d like to forget.

We never will.

 

 

 

Strikingly bizarre. Amazing how some life form that microscopic can wreak such havoc on mankind.

CoronaVirus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global Enemy #1

Image 3-18-20 at 10.47 AM In some strange way there is beauty among these images. Strange and weird and deadly. Awesome.

 

Corona Virus-yellow

 

Let us never forget what we’re going through, will go through and have gone through.

The Horrors.

The ones we’ve lost and will lose.

Those of us who will survive.

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warningsigninlondon

 

 

No matter how advanced we think we are, we’re still no match for microscopic life on this planet.

 

 

moscow

Moscow

buildingnewhospitalinWuhan

Building new hospital

market fears

Stock market woes

From Hong Kong to San Francisco and Italy to Israel and all points in between, the Coronavirus or COVID-19 has made its mark and as of this writing sees no stoppage.

Make no mistake, we will find a cure.

But what of next time?

What of next time?

 

Quotes on Advertising & Creativity

Greetings and good day to ‘ya! Here’s your respite into the world of famous and sometimes infamous quotes from a variety of personalities. Any one of these could prove motivation for that ad you’re working on, tweak your imagination, inspire you or just plain bring a smile to your face.

Feel free to share.

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Nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else’s advertising.
David Ogilvy, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

In the advertising business, a good idea can inspire a great commercial. But a good insight can fuel a thousand ideas, a thousand commercials. Phil Dusenberry, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Our job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message. William Bernbach, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.       Maya Angelou

The heart of creativity is discipline. William Bernbach, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

If you are writing about baloney, don’t try to make it Cornish hen because that is the worst kind of baloney there is. Just make it darned good baloney. Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Fun without sell gets nowhere, but sell without fun tends to become obnoxious. Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Yes, I sell people things they don’t need. I can’t, however, sell them something they don’t want. Even with advertising. Even if I were of a mind to. John E. O’Toole, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Big ideas are so hard to recognize, so fragile, so easy to kill. Don’t forget that, all of you who don’t have them. John Elliott, Jr., member, Advertising Hall of Famered-quotation-marks-vector-online-royalty-free-picture-435958

There is no material with which human beings work which has so much potential energy as words. Ernest Elmo Calkins, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

 

 

Now, paraphrasing Seth Godin, Go Raise A Ruckus!