writers

Ways to Cultivate Creativity in the Office

Carrie sat staring out the window, mesmerized by the glittery sunlight reflecting off the water. Longing to be out on the water, she let herself sink deeper and deeper in to the recesses of her mind. “Carrie?” a voice jolted her out of her hypnosis. She tore her eyes away and looked up. “Phone for you,” her assistant said. “Take a message,” Carrie replied. She glanced around at the piles that awaiting her attention; she felt the impending doom reach up and tighten around her airways. Deadline week. 

I wrote that little paragraph on a “mind break” in between posting for my social media clients and writing blurbs for our March Linked Magazine issue. Deadlines are stressful. Work in general can be stressful, but don’t have a panic attack like Carrie. Staying healthy is important—physically and mentally.  Here at High Five Media, we believe that a healthy mind is a creative mind, and vice versa. 

A study on creativity at Saybrook Universtiy showed that students engaged in a creative activities reported feeling “significantly happier.”  The researchers wrote: “Engaging in creative pursuits allows people to explore their identities, form new relationships, cultivate competence and reflect critically on the world.” 

 

So regardless of whether or not your job is inherently creative, it is important to allow space for your brain to exercise its creativity.

Maybe you aren’t a writer, singer or dancer. So what? The key is to be open-minded. Creativity can be applied to all aspects of life—from making your bed to sorting through data. Submersing yourself in a creative activity allows your mind to stop fixating on problems and think more broadly. It allows you to take a step back and see the big picture; it gives you the insight and clarity of mind that you'll need to think through other problems throughout the day. If that isn't enough, it makes you happier, too. 

Essentially, being creative helps you grow in insight, self-reflection, and how you interact with others. It grows you as a person. 

How can you be more creative in the office? Here are some tips and ideas for you: 

1. Surround your workspace with fun images that make you happy.

There are several research studies out there about designing offices. But what happens when you’re stuck in a building that was already there? Well, at High Five, we believe in making your space special to you. We are constantly finding fun posters or memes to print out and put on our personalized bulletin boards. Not only do the images and pictures make us h-a-p-p-y, they help us get a deeper glimpse inside our co-workers’ minds. The way that the people around you use the space that is given to them—their humor, favorite quotes, the way they construct their to-do lists—can all be ways to let you see just how unique they are. 

2. Keep a creative activity in your desk drawer. Pull it out and work on it from time to time. 

I almost always have some sort of embroidery project that I keep in my backpack. When my brain gets in a fog and I need to physically step away from my computer, I pull it out and find a seat by the window to unwind my thoughts. Knitting, embroidery, calligraphy, water coloring, and writing are all great ways to relax your mind so that you can go back to work refreshed. 

3. Brainstorm visually—let the ideas flow. 

Sometimes brainstorming is taxing … but it doesn’t have to be! Brainstorming visually and creatively is a great way to get everyone involved because there are fewer hindrances in sharing ideas. Plus, there are fewer distractions and everyone can focus more on the project before them. 

4. Have fun with your co-workers.

If we merely see creativity as “work”, we forget the beauty of it. Don’t forget to have fun with your co-workers. The more you can play off each other, the more great work you can create together. Laughter truly is the best medicine, and can keep everyone happy and working together effectively. 

5. Be supportive, be encouraging, be rewarding

Part of creating and working together is supporting and encouraging one another to keep the creativity going! Sometimes the hardest part about keeping the creative juices flowing is having the courage to keep them flowing. By being supportive to those around you, you provide a safe environment for people to branch out and dream their big dreams. 

Almost just as important is being supportive, encouraging, and rewarding to you. Stuck in a rut? Love yourself. Express yourself. By taking care of yourself, you can be the best that you can be for your workplace and those around you!

How are you being creative today? Tell us!

A Magazine Resurrection

We're pleased as punch that our Linked Magazine editor, Meg, decided to grace us with her blogging presence with this little entry on why magazines are still relevant. It's a resurrection just in time for Halloween. Enjoy!

Every writer is also an avid reader and a critical thinker.

We inhabit a space that's hard to describe unless you've been there - in which case, no explanation is needed. We always set out to keep ourselves out of a story, and we inevitably either draw on some personal experience to give depth to a piece, or become so personally touched by the subject of our writing that we leave a bit of ourselves in it. Writing is hard. It’s a constant state of self-examination and self-evaluation. Every comma becomes personal; every line as much art to us as the stroke of a brush to the painter or the contouring of a shape to a sculptor. Fortunately, professional writers (a category I find myself in, incidentally) have thick skins. So after we craft our art, we cut and edit it. We try to surgically remove our bias from our writing. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes you really think that last sentence shouldn't have been cut, but you hit publish (or send to the printers) and hope for the best.

Years ago, if you had told me that I would be at the helm of six magazines by the age of 24, I would have laughed. Magazines were declared a “dying” form of journalism so long ago, it's hard to see how they aren't already dead. Except, they aren't dying. That’s never been the case. They’re changing and adapting, and technology has allowed writers to connect with audiences on a much more intimate level than ever before. We can reach more people and get feedback in real-time after our magazines hit doorsteps. 

Dying? No. Evolving? Absolutely.

So before you discount long-form journalism, remember everything is cyclical. We live in an age where more young people choose to scroll through pictures on instagram than read the words in Facebook statuses, and where folks get their news in 140-character snippets from Twitter. But even now, it looks like that 140-character limit may increase. Buzzfeed has reinvested in longform journalism, and most comprehensive journalistic work in the world is being done for newspapers and magazines - articles measured in pages, not characters. Magazines matter just like stories matter. They connect us; they remind us why we cared in the first place. Linked Magazines are hyper-local. Our goal is to connect people by telling stories about the people and places around them. By covering stories in communities around the metro that aren’t being told elsewhere and by highlighting people and groups doing good—real good for people you know (or should know, if you’re new), we’re helping communities connect and grow.  

Magazines do a better job at this than any other form of media out there. They have staying power and allow us to spend more time with our subjects. When I’m writing a story, I don’t have to worry about hashtags or SEO. I’m focused on you, the reader. I’m focused on delivering you beautiful photos and stories to match. I’m I'm focused on sending you a magazine you'll pick up and read. I’m focused on your community, your story and your world.

What do you think about magazines? Do you enjoy long-form journalism? 

5 Reasons Why Employing Millennials is #Winning

Let's be honest. The term "millennial" likely makes you cringe, and I can't say that I blame you. I'm a member of the expansive, ever-active millennial generation, and sometimes even I become exasperated over the generational hoopla 

If you look past the marathon of selfies and the frenzy of status updates, however, a startling truth emerges: millennials are changing the world.  

A trend of data is surfacing in support of more openly embracing the integration of millennials into the workplace. Why? Well, for starters, according to the Deloitte Millennial Survey for 2014, millennials are expected to make up 75 percent of the global workforce within the next decade. This means that, whether you're on board or not, millennials are likely going to be working for or with you in the very near future.  

Because of this, seasoned professionals are beginning to take notice; they're discovering that we've got plenty to offer.  

We are digital pioneers.  

It's no surprise that millennials are tech-savvy. Nearly every aspect of our lives revolves around digital devices. However, there's more to our savvy than a sophisticated Instagram post or a well-planned Snapchat story.  

Technology developed as we did, and we've easily adapted to each new wave of advances. This means that we're always looking to push digital boundaries. We're looking for new ways to connect online and improve our daily lives. 

Consequentially, this carries over into our professional lives, as well. In an article on Fortune.com, Sally Susman, the executive vice president of corporate affairs at Pfizer, highlighted the crux of millennial potential when she said, "Greater insight from millennials can help us connect online with people of all ages in ways that are, frankly, new and unexpected... 

If given the chance, millennials can be great assets for social media strategy and connecting with consumers on a digital level. 

We lead through inspiration.  

According to an article on Business Insidermillennial managers are more optimistic and lead by "pulling" their employees to succeed rather than pushing.  

What does this mean for business? When millennials lead with inspiration, optimism and by example, motivation increases among employees, and millennials rise as "champions of change," often for the benefit of the company's image and its bottom line.  

We move to improve.  

There's a saying that one of my college professors used to recite, "I give back through feedback." Of course at the time, it usually elicited an eye roll from me. But even then, I eagerly welcomed feedback, nearly chomping at the bit for a chance to better my work and refine my craft. 

Zenger/Folkman's research captures that sentiment by suggesting that millennials are "looking for new ways to work smarter and produce higher-quality work." This often encompasses the desire to both give and get feedback. Such a desire increases communication and fosters a drive to continuously improve - a win-win scenario for employees and companies.  

We are challenge-seeking goal-setters.  

This goes hand-in-hand with our digital drive and our desire to improve. We push the envelope, constantly looking to take things to the next level. It's as if the powers-that-be told ambitious millennials, "Jump," and the resounding response was "How high?" 

In most cases, the status quo is just not good enough. We set goals that seem unattainable and then strive to bypass reaching them and focus instead on surpassing them. This pushes us to bigger dreams and better results.  

We are social investors.  

Investing in the well-being of the community and society as a whole is kind of our mantra, whether or not we're consciously aware of it is a different story. As one of my co-workers puts it, "Millennials grew up on Harry Potter and The West Wing." It may sound cheesy, but it rings true. Our expectations for how to treat others and our elasticity toward social acceptance gives us an innate drive for social responsibility.  

As for how that translates to businesses, Susman explained, "As a new generation entering the workforce without pre-set notions of traditional models, millennials can help shape corporate responsibility programs to move beyond charity and towards entrepreneurial models that benefit society." 

If millennials can and are changing the world, imagine what they can do for your business. 

What have millennials done for your business?

3 Reasons Engaging Content Still Matters

Hello there, today we're going to beat a dead horse, but it's going to be fun and completely hypothetical and non-violent. Today, we're talking content, how to use it, and why any of this even matters. Let's dive right in sans weapons, shall we?

What sets you apart from the rest? What makes your post have the most likes, the most views, or the most subscriptions? What makes content matter so much? 

Everything has become a tagline.

How do you get attention-grabbers, while still maintaining a sense of professionalism?  Why does this matter?  In this digital age, your content becomes synonymous with your name. Unfortunately, sometimes it is hard to get good quality materials for your content in the world of 140 characters. Some of those in the writing world turn their nose up at the thought of social media and online content replacing their beloved hard-copy pieces they grew up dreaming about writing. But we’re here to tell you that written content is still king in this age; it just shows up in different mediums.  

Here’s a few reasons why good content matters: 

  1. Content is the essence of every idea. A challenge companies could face in the age of endless scrolling is having a single, overriding message. Themed blog posts, catchy hashtags, or creative titles have ways of tying everything together nicely. It’s no different than serial publishing from years ago—it’s just taking a different form.
  2. Content’s form is make or break. Content reaches a much broader audience than in previous years, and with so many formats and layouts like Instagram, Twitter, and Google +, the format of a post could make or break it when it comes to views, likes, shares, and ultimately a reputation. 
  3. Content will live long. If content is well-crafted, the idea it presents will reflect well on every aspect of the company. Content will only last long in the reader’s mind if it is noteworthy.

Written content, in all its forms, is the same. If anything, this digital age challenges writers to be more on top of their game. In a world with a short attention span, writers are called to be even more relevant, clear, and creative. We are not all defined by our #hashtags. Content at its best is self-evident, self-affirming, and completely essential to today’s written world.

What are ways you use content to reach and engage with your audience? Do you think content matters to businesses?