The holidays are upon us, and while they can bring with them a mountain of stress (for various reasons), there’s one emotion they trigger that we should all learn to harness all year long – gratitude. Studies have shown the positive effect of feeling genuine gratitude, which can improve overall physical and mental health, including creative problem solving and memory. And people who are more positive tend to have stronger friendships, better relationships and happier employees. Expressing appreciation towards someone not only strengthens the relationship, but it also opens up the lines of communication. This is especially important when you’ve got people of very diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking working together – often on tight timelines. We previously discussed how bringing together an eclectic team yields a unique mix of capabilities and depth. Giving direct thanks for each of their distinct contributions and insights can aid in the success of a team by ensuring each person knows they are heard and valued for what they bring to the overall conversation.
So, while Thanksgiving Day may be a good reminder to be thankful, try practicing gratitude once a day. Stuck in traffic? Use that time to think about all of the good things you have in your life, rather than what you don’t. Early for a conference call? Remind yourself of the many people who have influenced your life in one way or another. Creativity doesn’t have to be a lonely process; many times, our greatest ideas are sparked by those around us who offer feedback and encouragement to keep us going. Tell your coworkers, your employees, your business partners and your vendors how much you value them. The more gratitude you build within yourself, the more you’ll have to share, thus giving back some of that happiness – and its creative benefits – to those around you.
Featuring Dan Walkup
As professionals in the design and branding industries, we’re always thinking about our creative surroundings as generative environments. Generative spaces – or imaginative habitats — allow ideas and people to flourish. Bold, radical and intentional, they empower culture, sensory experience, habits, mindsets and thinking patterns. Imaginative habitats help generate curiosity and respectfully blend people of vastly different viewpoints working for a common goal.
What’s your company’s imaginative habitat? Does your space attract the kind of talent you want? Does it inspire you and those around you?
At Oishii, we are lucky enough to work with academics, storytellers, producers, visual and spatial dreamers. Featured here is Daniel Walkup, Executive Producer at Oishii. He is someone who thrives in an imaginative habitat, seamlessly working in a culture that uses his talents in research and creative, the left and right hemispheres.
What was your first paying job doing what you love?
I try to approach everything I do so that it’s doing something I love. My career trajectory has many deeply interesting and often unrelated branching paths. The one thing that connects them is my desire to work independently and with a sense of purpose. My first “favorite” paying job was probably working in a neuroscience lab doing my own research on song learning and acquisition in zebra finches.
What inspires you in your work?
DW: I’m inspired by the breadth of things we do and the depth of creative, strategy and understanding we put into it all. This inspires me to figure out the best approaches to ensure our people in the trenches have the resources they need, while keeping clients informed, happy and as much a part of the process as makes them comfortable.
What are your favorite type of projects?
DW:I like all kinds of projects. That’s what makes being at Oishii so special. There’s never a day where we’re doing the same thing; we’re always looking to expand what we do and how to do it more efficiently.
For me personally, I like solving puzzles that require quiet time, research and creativity. These kinds of projects come in many forms, from creative to growing a business. I’m lucky I’m at a place where I can try my best at both.
What is your ideal working environment?
DW:One where everyone has ownership of what they do and everyone’s input is valued. I can be a bit intense and impatient, so I work better independently – it’s also where I can make strange connections in developing different solutions. I have to be secure in my steps before I can bring someone on the journey with me.
What artists inspire you?
DW:Too many to name really … and it depends on the day of the week and my mood and what I’m doing. I guess my greatest hits list might be Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, David Wojnarowicz, Xavier Dolan, J. M. Coetzee, Matthew Bourne, Alexander McQueen, Sadie Benning, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Dante. I know these are all pretty classic, but I’m always looking for new inspirations.
What companies do you like to work for?
DW:I like working for companies that care about the people who work there – not just seeing them as cogs in the wheel. One that not only allows a life outside of work, but encourages it. I love possibilities of being challenged and really pushing the way I think.
Recently, we talked about How Meditation Makes You a Mindful Multitasker, but the benefits of mindful meditation go even beyond improving our ability to juggle our work, it’s also a cognitive workout. We spend so much time focusing on improving our bodies that it’s easy to forget about giving our brains a little strength training as well. In a recent article in The Atlantic titled “How Meditation Works,” Dr. Katherine MacLean, a psychologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine stated that when “you strip it of its religio-historical context, mindfulness meditation is essentially cognitive fitness with a humanist face.” Studies have shown that just like other forms of exercise, the more you do it, the more of a lasting impact it has.
Filmmaker David Lynch is a firm believer in this concept and has even published his thoughts on meditation and creativity in the collection Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity. In it, he describes the creative benefits he’s received from practicing meditation and how it’s influenced his style as an artist by keeping his mind nimble and helping him dig deeper into his creative conscious.
According to Lynch: Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful. The more your consciousness – your awareness – is expanded, the deeper you go toward this source, and the bigger the fish you can catch.
Just as we wouldn’t expect our bodies to be capable of running a marathon without plenty of training, if you want to be able to fully flex your creative muscle, you need to build up core strength in your mind, and mindful meditation is a great way to start.
At Oishii, storytelling is at the heart of what we do. Whether we’re launching a new brand, redefining an existing one or creating a 360-degree integrated experience, storytelling drives every one of these projects. The rise of digital technology means more opportunities to get your message out – more than we’ve ever had before. But with these new platforms also comes the fear that the rise of digital storytelling will fundamentally change what we do, shifting it into something unrecognizable. After all, if we can’t foresee it, then how can we adapt and excel with it?
But the key to good storytelling is older than any technology. No matter how many new ways we come up with to tell a story, the fundamental core of it remains the same: a good story is about connecting, be it to a character, an emotion, or, yes, even a product. Worrying that the story is dead just because the mediums for it have evolved would be like worrying that we’re no longer capable of love just because people use dating sites to meet someone.
Good storytelling transcends the platforms we use to deliver it, ensuring that no matter what technological changes we see, if your story is well told, engaging, and, most importantly, provides a value to your audience – be it informative or entertaining – it will make that connection. All of the companion Twitter feeds and carefully-timed video series in the world are not going to give your audience a reason to care. So, before you start wondering whether a Pinterest board or a sponsored Buzzfeed article is the best delivery medium for your story, make sure you’re telling a good one.
Om, that feeling of complete calm and quiet is something we’re all greatly missing in our daily lives, which is especially true when we’ve got a busy work and personal life schedule. Stress can manifest itself in many ways mentally and physically. It impacts our ability to be creative and think clearly, the way we relate to others, the quality of our sleep, and our overall well-being.
Latest neuroscience research shows that giving yourself time to relax and meditate help you better make creative decisions and even multitask. According to a paper titled “The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Multitasking in a High-Stress Information Environment,” released by professors at the University of Washington, meditation training can help people working with information stay on tasks longer with fewer distractions and also improves memory and reduces stress, which is something we could all use a little more of.
We share IDEO founder and Stanford professor David Kelley’s ideas in his most recent book Creative Confidence. We too believe that for clients to think creatively, it takes a lot of taking a step back, breathing and letting yourself assess the situation before judging or using analysis, the basic principles of meditation. That’s not just beneficial on the client side; anyone in our creative community could take a page from that. Too many times when we’re faced with a situation that has us over-taxed, emotionally, physically or mentally, we’re in such a hurry to power through it to get to the other side that we don’t often stop and really let ourselves really think on it.
So even with all of those multitasking apps aimed at improving productivity at our fingertips, the best solution might actually come from within.
A while back, a group of us were meeting to discuss a project and client expectations. The internal conversation pivoted to questions about finding a “blue ocean” space for the design and branding industry, which eventually turned to a debate on measurement, and how to quantify “creative” using the metrics of efficiency and “value.”
Someone chimed in, “Creativity can’t be constrained by bottom-line considerations. That ‘line’ pushes away imagination and limits vision.” Since then, this perspective has become part of the culture and fabric at Oishii. Ish was recently featured on postPerspective speaking on this very tension: http://bit.ly/15Fv23V
From left to right, our eclectic team of designers, directors, researchers, consumer insight strategists, art theorists, storytellers and social scientists yield a unique mix of capabilities and depth – separate but interconnected perspectives.
Good design for us is the interdisciplinary merging of business, art and science, taken together. As our alchemy of strategy taps the right brain and the logical left, we were encouraged by the recent findings of Florida State University Anthropologist Dean Falk and East Normal Chinese University Physicist Weiwei Men.
Einstein’s brain showed physical signs of “inter-spheric communication” between his corpus callosum. In other words, Einstein was able to connect and utilize the powers of both brains. He was not only remarkable for pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge, but also for connecting and cross-pollinating them to challenge the status quo. He was aware of the ways society separates thinking and processes. He even went so far as to suggest the imagination is more important than knowledge: “For knowledge is limited to what we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world…”
No doubt, Einstein, without the practical work of the imagination, the impractical work of science could not happen.
Have you reached out to your corpus callosum lately?
We’re proud to present “Delicious“: all the creative inspiration that’s fit to “print.” Curated daily, our digital newspaper puts an eclectic community of the thinkers, dreamers and creators at your fingertips.
Why did we launch Delicious? Because we want to share the ideas that stir our wonder, curiosity and excitement – a platform that echoes the true sentiment of our company mantra: “Dare to Inspire.”
We believe inspiration is the key to imagining and experiencing the world in new and unforeseen ways. It informs every facet of our multidisciplinary approach to delivering award-winning creative. It is the bridge between great ideas and even greater creations.
In our creative field, inspiration is beautifully cyclical – and it all starts with our clients. We strive to reciprocate that with the caliber of creative we bring to their brands.
So flip through the pages of Delicious and discover a world where inspiration abounds, from industry-centric ideas surrounding design and digital media, to the music and arts community. As you come along on our Delicious journey, we hope you also find your own inspiration!
If you’re working in the creative services industry (or any creative field, for that matter), generating innovative ideas or strategies is what you do everyday, on multiple occasions. Bosses, clients and colleagues depend on your ability to galvanize your forces — wit, tenacity, optimism and grit — as you generate bursts of ideas, thoughts, emotions and, ultimately, solutions. What’s your process for brainstorming? How do you prepare your mind for the serious work of creativity?
In our ongoing series, “Think Like A Tourist,” we know creativity and problem-solving require more than showing up to meet with others. Brainstorming actually requires prepping your mind for brainstorming, and putting yourself in the position to let your ideas flow effortlessly. And flow they will, but you have to know the steps. At Oishii, we like our teammates to “think like a kid” before some of our meetings. No, we don’t mean come in ready to play, but rather, put your mind in a playful space, where the world is infinite, options are everywhere and your purpose is to have fun. This is what we mean by taking a kid-like approach to the creative task ahead of you.
So put your “kid thinking” cap on and see how your next brainstorming session goes. We’d love to hear about your experience!
Commerce relies on the imagination and talent of graphically inclined artists. At the dawn of broadcast television, for example, surrealist Rene Magritte’s “The False Mirror” (1928) profoundly inspired CBS designers who came up with their own version of the eyeball as the network logo. A few years later, they ditched the background skies. The pop art of the ‘60s aesthetic inspired the ABC font and black dot logo, created by graphic designer and artist Paul Rand.
Perhaps it is cliché to fault corporate designers with relying too much on the imaginative strengths of artists, but the rich connection between art and commerce is valuable and revealing for us creatives. It illustrates the often hidden push-and-pull forces of imagination and reveals the pathways of inspiration. Inspiration is everywhere, and who best to turn to than those for whom imagination and art are daily labors?
To fully inhabit the role of a creative means to take in art, literature and entertainment and beyond. Inspiration is indeed everywhere, but you need to know what you’re looking at and apply that your own work. Perspective helps find creativeness and understand what to do with it.
Where do you find inspiration? Follow our Think Like A Tourist series, where we discuss how to think creatively.