Every great designer has great processes. They know how to interview the client, turn that interview into clear objectives, show direction with examples and lead the client through the design process.
Junior designers ‘wing it.’ They try to impress with technique and flair. They skip past the important first phases of design which is discovery, research and sketching. They jump straight to the computer and go for the final product not understanding that a pencil and paper is the quickest way to get a feel for composition and that the best work may look simple but it is arrived at through many steps and lines of inquiry.
My process is simple but very deep. It goes in five steps and it works for the smallest of design needs all the way to building a full global brand. It's just a matter of scale and time. A patch has far less audits than a full brand identity.
So without further ado, Here they are:
1. Research. Research is comprised of a series of audits. I look at your marketing plan, your competition, the tech involved in your business, as well as the language and voice of your brand to date and any industry legal information. Basically the goal is to know your business and industry as well as you do.
2. Strategy. Based on the research, it's time to synthesize and clarify your brand or project strategy. Understand the problems needing to be solved. Remember, design is about function first. Ask, what is it for? Create briefs summarizing research and overall creative strategy.
3. Design. Based on the research and creative strategy brief, we manifest the look and feel, typography, word mark, icon(s), textures, and color for all animated, digital and print applications that are needed. This is a collaborative process, all hands on deck, you are sure to learn a lot as am I.
4. Implementation. Once the design work is all done its time to develop all applications for all necessary touch points. Packaging, signage, website, favicon, correspondence, business cards, collateral, advertising, environments, vehicle graphics, uniforms, ephemera, etc.
5. Management. We launch the project or brand, create design SOPS, brand manuals, deliver all reproduction files and often engage in retainer management when it’s a full brand.
That's how I move from start to ‘finish’ with any project. It's a meticulous process that takes time but has impeccable results.
So if you are out there and you are looking at hiring a designer, make sure you are going through all of these steps or something similar. Like I said, every great designer has a process that feels somewhat like mine.They may condense things or combine steps and call it a seven or a three step process but all of the details will be in there.
If you are trying to save money, and are hiring a junior or going to a website where there's a field of designers, remember that you are going to have to be the master of the process and you won't be able to rely on them for it. If you don't have time or the understanding to manage the design process, I highly recommend hiring a professional.
If you are looking at me but you don't think my style is quite a fit, no worries, hit me up and I will point you to a great designer that fits the style you want. As always, just slide in to my dms or send me an email. If you think you can't afford it, there's always a way, and you should never settle when it comes to your business your brand and your future.
I hope you find this helpful and challenging and look forward to hearing from you.
It will be quick is an easy thing to say. Hey! I saw you know how to make money on investing, can you help me? It'll be quick. Hey! You're a mechanic right? My car wheel is making weird sound... it'll be quick.
The problem with it'll be quick is that it completely overlooks the years of study and dedication it took to get to a place where the professional can quickly do something that for you is nearly impossible if not totally so.
When we hire professionals we don't just hire them for the hour. We hire them for their blood sweat and tears, the dues they've paid, their experience. That's why we pay professionals 100+ an hour and sometimes up to $400! Because we aren't buying an hour. We are buying a lifetime of knowledge and expertise for an hour, and there’s a big difference.
This one hits a little strange today. Yahweh’s timing is perfect. I have been meaning to sit down and write this for two days. I was going to write something about how mindfulness of death helps us with our consciousness of the value of our life and how that relates to our viewpoint on the kind of work we do. I think when we think about it, it means that we only push ourselves to do the most epic of work, finish it and send it.
So that was what I was going to focus on, and then, this morning I woke to a text from my Dad that my Grandpa Barney died last night. I had this post as the first order of business on my plate, in the workday, so, I guess there’s no more tangible way to write about death than this.
I felt close to my Grandpa. We didn’t actually spend a lot of time together in my forty one years, but somehow, I felt like he could see me and I could see him.
He lived in Oakland, CA while I was growing up in the northwest, and I only saw him a couple times a year at the most. I am the firstborn boy of my generation from all my Grandpa’s grandkids, and my Grandpa had a thing for that. He was always into genealogy and family history… He was the one who asked me to write my autobiography, which I am currently almost fifty thousand words into and now even more determined to finish it.
If I could describe him in one word it would be jovial. He was always bigger, kind of round and Santa-ish (which is funny because was a Jehovah's Witness so holidays didn’t exist) and had a big girthy laugh. I remember him smiling all the time. I never saw him angry or mad or contentious. He was also a bit odd. He made odd comments that made girls uncomfortable, like asking people to look up the definition of vanilla bean or orchid in the dictionary and go through ALL the definitions. He would bother you until you did it. Then,when you opened the dictionary, he would start to chuckle. Go look up the words, you will see why, or maybe you already know. ;)
He was an avid outdoorsman. He loved hunting and fishing and hiking, and I don’t think was ever happier than when his whole family was at a campground, cooking and building fires and swimming and telling stories and going on hikes and the like, all together. We probably should all have done it more. There was always a sense that we did these big reunions that were a pain in the ass for everyone, but it was all for him. Sorry Grandpa, I wish we could have one more. I guess we need to do it without the attitude this time.
The first few times I got drunk were with my Grandpa. The first time, I was about twelve, we were at his house, and he was day drinking whiskey one a Saturday and he started giving me some. I remember enjoying it as my Grandma protested. He argued that I was twelve and it was high time I got drunk with Grandpa. He was that way. So I had two or three bourbons served neat, no ice. If I was gonna drink, I was gonna drink like a man, he said. I think my cousin Joe was there as well but he was like 7 so he didn't have any. That day we read the story of Solomon in the Bible. We talked about wisdom. He asked me if I was totally naked, had nothing, was hungry and a man came to me offering food clothing or tools but I could only pick one, what should I pick? I chose the tools. I figured you could make more money with the tools and buy the clothes and the food. He applauded my choice. Now I wonder about that. Maybe with the clothes I could feel more confidence and talk my way into a deal where I got the food and the tools as well… who knows… We ate fresh strawberries and tomatoes from the garden. I had never had a fresh tomato from the garden, only store-bought. It was a revelation. Tomatoes were actually good. I had hated them until that day. Thanks grandpa, I still love fresh garden tomatoes with a little salt and pepper. Not only that, that little experience taught me that our tastes change, and that with experience, something we thought to be gross could suddenly become amazing. Maybe that was a little of that wisdom we were talking about.
Anyway, the years wore on, I grew up, I got married, had kids, and lived very far away, and traveling to see family just never seemed to make it to the front burner. The last time I had a meaningful interaction with him in person was ten years ago when I drove down to see him with my son, Elias. All my other kids didn’t know him. Thats a tough pill to swallow today.
We wrote each other fairly often. My last email exchanges were great. We talked about very deep stuff, how the family was splintered, how we needed to heal. He seemed to change from being a staunch JW to something else. We talked about God often and he never pushed the JW agenda anymore as he had a theological rift with the religion.
So maybe that’s the lesson here. We drift so easily in life. We forget what mattered and what matters and what will matter. We aren’t guaranteed anything but this moment we are experiencing right now. Every one of us will only breathe so many breaths no matter what we try to do to change it. Eventually, The Man comes around.
Do I have regrets? Hell yeah. Add it to the pile. I got a load as big as a freight train. But more than that, I feel lucky. No. Blessed. My Grandpa, whatever his flaws, was a hell of a dude. His smile was infectious, and even when we were all groaning from his cheesy humor, I think we all secretly loved it, I sure did. I can feel that smile even now, and if I can leave this earth with an impression even remotely close what I have of my grandpa, I think that will be a success.
If you read this, I know who you are. Or at least I have a rough Idea. I check the analytics. I know exactly who some of you are, and others, well y’all are kinda quiet. Send me an email. You know why? Cause I love you. I really do. I would love to hear from you. If you don’t have my number, I’ll shoot it over. Just to hear the beauty of your voice. Just to relish in the life we have. Just to be able to say, “I see you. I really see you. All of it. The whole thing. Your deep pain and your soaring joys. I love you. Memento Mori.”
We all want things quick and easy. Except when we finally build our dream home. We don’t just take any old floor plan. We want it designed. We want it thought out. We want a serious amount of empathy.
We want the designer of our house to know everything about us so he can design the home to suit our needs perfectly. We want space for our bicycles designed into the garage. We want our backyard designed to suit a Fourth of July super party complete with built-in grill, pool, patio, shade, garden and all the other bells and whistles a good back yard needs.
We need the right amount of bedrooms and baths and storage space and car spaces in the garage… on and on it goes. The line item checklist is a half a mile long that a designer need to think through.
The same is true for all design done properly. Whether it is a poster, or a chair, or a personal product, or a logo, there is a process and a checklist to make sure that the desired function is achieved.
Function is what it is all about.
Anyone can make a useless machine like a mobile. Something that sits and spins around in the air for no reason, catching our attention and fulfilling very little purpose other than tho illustrate the movement of air which is already done better by a tree.
It takes no thought or effort to tie things together and hang them. It takes entirely another person to conceive of the airplane, or the American Airlines logo, or the New York subway map.
If you are like me and you work in design, I encourage you to always remember the function and ask yourself, “What is it for?”
If you are a consumer of design or a purchaser of design you need to remember, you aren’t hiring an artist. You are hiring a master empathetic planner who plans exceptional communication on your behalf.
It’s not an easy job, and it takes a vast amount of knowledge of demographics, psychographics, business models, trends and more.
So, if you are needing to hire a designer, know up front that there is a process and nothing great is going to just get strung together. Depending on your project and your needs and ambitions, the planning may take a few hours, or it may take a few weeks, so be patient and be ready to accept that nothing is as easy as it looks, in fact the easier it looks, the more difficult it likely is and the ease is just a result of fabulous planning. Don’t take it for granted.
I hope this helps all of you out there a bit in your journey, and if you need design work and great planning, I am here for ya!
It happens all the time. A potential client calls. They have an urgent need. Which is funny, because it’s marketing, not heart surgery. They want the best work and they want it super fast and they want it cheaper than it costs, they want a deal. This is also interesting because you don't get a new iPhone and complain that there's only $20 worth of parts in your $1000 tool. You pay for it because of the completeness of the design.
They have forgotten that there are three ways they can get the job done; good, fast, and cheap.
The problem is, you can only pick two. I can do design for cheap, but it will either be low quality work, or it will take a very long time. I can do work very fast and urgently, but it will be very expensive if you want top tier work. Yet, we aren’t even approaching this properly by speaking this way. We are speaking about design as an expense, not an investment of high value. There is a big difference.
The thing about good design, is that when done properly, it has a direct correlation to sales and your customer relationships. Every branding and packaging professional knows exactly what I am talking about.
The combination of a logo and icon that tells your story, coupled with good packaging and marketing, if done right and built from a proper understanding of your brand and your audience, can change an entire marketplace. All of your favorite brands have done this, and if you want real success on a multi-state, national or international level, you have to do it right.
You need to understand your vision and your mission and your five to ten year business plan. You need testing. You need focus groups. You need consulting. You need in store research… Designing visual solutions to enable maximum connection to the customer isn’t something you wing, it’s something you purposefully design and execute on a solid foundation of research. This ensures high likelihood of success (nothing is ever guaranteed in life, not really.) If branding and packaging is done right, you almost can’t lose as long as you operate the rest of your business properly as well.
So, if branding and package design helps your business succeed over the long term, even if it only 5% responsible overall (I know it’s a lot more than that, visual storytelling is how all customers connect to you first), what’s that worth over the life of your business? Well, if your business makes a million dollars a year for ten years what’s 5 percent of that value? It’s half a million dollars.
Now let me ask you this, would you pay someone half a million dollars if you knew that you were guaranteed a product that would help you to make 9.5 million? I sure as hell would. Every time. The funny thing is that when the value is actually that high on branding a company, clients balk at ten thousand or even five for their branding.
You know what that tells me? That potential client doesn’t understand my value, nor do they understand theirs, and just like dating, no one wants a serious relationship with someone who doesn’t understand their own value.
So if you are out there, thinking that marketing and design services are “expensive,” do you yourself a favor and change your mindset, it's the only way you are going to get super high quality work from beginning to end.
If you don’t want to change your mindset and you want “wing it” design services, there are plenty of sites where you can get what you want for a lot cheaper than you are hoping to pay me or any other freelancer worth a damn. Google "cheap design services," or go directly to 99designs.com, fiverr.com and more. If you are looking to reduce expense and get super-average work with no research and very little value (which means, no matter how cheap it is, it's expensive) all while getting it done quickly, that’s the place for you.
You can Venmo me $100 for saving you $5000 or more.
If you know how valuable your company is, and you want only the very best, with proper research and testing resulting in a product that you know you can rely on, then you should call me because my work isn't expensive, my work is valuable. Any designer who knows their place will tell you the same thing.
Content is king. This has been a mantra of marketers on the internet for since Bill Gates said it in the nineties. If you google the phrase, you will come up with endless articles on the the subject. The premise is that by creating content for your audience you create valuable connection with those who consume your content. The point is to create a channel of communication where you can build trust and value and bring in new customers.
Not just any content will do. It has to be valuable in some way. It must bring awe, humor, education, or inspiration to the table. If your content has more than one of these, then you have something very valuable. The trick is to get it to the right person. The person who needs to hear you. If you are looking to get educated on this subject you must read:
This trio of books, if read to and implemented, is guaranteed to make your content A LOT better and give you massive insight on how to ship it out to the world.
So the question is, are you creating content that you publish while you learn? A blog? A podcast? A YouTube channel? Creating and publishing content benefits you first. It clarifies your thinking. It help you learn to distill your message.
If you aren’t creating and publishing already, today is the day to start. If you have been doing it, but you fell behind, today is the day to get back on. I look forward to seeing you out there on the Interwebs.
Peace, Love and Rock’n’Roll
We have all been there. The concert just started. We are really excited because our favorite performer just got on stage. They start singing one of our favorite songs and right at that perfect moment in the song, SQUEAAACHHH!!
Ew. The hair stands up on our skin. We feel gross. Our perfect experience has been ruined by this terrible sound. If the sound engineer is really great, he or she knows exactly where in the frequency range that pitch is. They instantly proceed to the graphic eq on the master faster and turn that frequency down.
It takes a high level of skill to be able to listen for feedback and identify the truth in it and respond appropriately. It takes a bit of practice to hear tones and identify their place in the frequency range. Once one does though, it is a lot like riding a bike, you can’t really forget it.
I contend that listening to constructive feedback is similar. When we work hard on a project and we amplify it and broadcast it to our network, we receive feedback from our audience. At first, it feels much like the feedback on a stage. Awful. We recoil at the sound of feedback. It hurts us to know that someone is critical of our work. Those who want to turn pro push into the awful sound. They listen deeper. They strive to understand what it means. They make the correct adjustments so the feedback becomes the pleasant sound of pure amplification.
We always have to get better at this. Just like the sound engineer needs to get faster and faster at identifying any defect in the sound coming through the speakers and correcting it, we all need to get better and better at hearing feedback.
Of course, what I am pointing out here is something very difficult. It is hard when those who are closest to us tell us the truth. That they didn’t understand us or didn’t really love our piece. But when we get feedback like that, it is actually love. It is our friends and loved ones telling us that they know how great we are and holding us to our own standard. To be more perfect. More excellent.
I would encourage all of us to look at our lives and see if we are angry at someone for giving feedback. Maybe they said it wrong. Maybe they need feedback as well. But they will never hear you over your inability to correct your own feedback issues. Whatever the case, it’s up to us to make adjustments until the feedback changes. The person amplifying us and giving us feedback is not necessarily responsible for the feedback, we need to start with ourselves. At least I think we should take this frame or lens. Then, if there needs to be a feedback loop to reflect back poor methodology in the way the feedback was presented, it can be done.
Receiving feedback is tough. But the world will be a better place tas we get better at receiving it.
Enjoy your day with Peace, Love and Rock’n’Roll!
Feedback isn't valuable unless you give it. We all see feedback forms every day, at the restaurant, on the website, in the email, they seem to be everywhere. We don't like to use them.
I believe the reason, is because we don't really believe the form asking us for feedback to be genuine. Somewhere along the line we have learned to innately and immediately distrust organizations.
When the truth is, that organizations are run like people who are much like us. Where this brings us is, do we ourselves ask for feedback authentically or is it just a ruse? If it is a ruse, I contend that people can smell it. But when it's authentic, it feels great to give feedback and see that feedback result in positive change for the person or company whom you gave the feedback to. So feedback is only valuable when it's given and also only valuable when it's received.
The question I am asking is, what are we doing to receive feedback more often? Also, are we taking time to give the services we use proper feedback?
This is a message for those who are new to the Cannabis industry, or maybe not new. Whatever the case, we have a major branding problem. In every state that cannabis becomes decriminalized or legal, a plethora of new businesses spring up around the plant. As that happens, a swarm of bad brands are born. It’s not that the people have bad taste. Nor is it that they don’t have anything about them that makes them good at what they do. At least let's hope not. The problem is that as a society consuming branding unlike any other, we also typically have no basic education around the subject in our schools.
What ends up happening is that the moment that cannabis gets legal in a state, invariably, someone thinks they are a genius and they name their farm or dispensary “Green Alternatives.” Go ahead and search on instagram and see how many businesses are named that. I came up with four right away. I am sure if I scrolled, there are many more variations like Green Alternatives 420, etc… It was a good idea in 1994 when the first dispensaries and buyers clubs were opening in California, but it was only a good idea once.
So, I would like to spend a bit of time telling you what NOT to do when naming your business. I have outlined quite a bit about how to name in my four part series on naming and trademarking (Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4,) but I glossed over this part. Here goes.
• Stay away from the word green. Don’t even go for the faux intellectual idea of using "verde" or some other foreign word to say the word green. In fact the real rule here is, don’t use anything that describes the plant at all. Stay away from leaf, flower, roots… Just avoid it completely. No, your exception doesn’t work. Period. Just accept it. Trust me, life is better this way. :P
• Stay Away from any specific words that denote weed. Canna, Mary, Mari, Kanna, Cannabis. There are literally thousands of Canna-this’s and Mari-that’s, Whosakannas and Whatamary’s all over the world. No, you can’t use the latin word for it. No you can’t use the Hindi word. No, you can’t say it in Hebrew. Stop. You can’t use the word. That’s the end of the story.
• The same goes for Natural, Wellness, Alternative, Apothecary, Healing, Health, or any other generic wellness term. Don’t use it. It’s not okay. Seriously. Stop.
• How about the word Elevated? Highly? Lifted? Any word describing the effect. Let's apply the same rule. NO. NOPE. NOT ONCE. NOT NEVAH.
Let’s just say this. The point is to find something original. Something true to you that is NOT common. Maybe you grew weed outdoors for years and you refused to wear shoes when working with the plants. There are so many unique naming possibilities from something this simple. Barefoot, Strongfoot, Holy Ground, Naked Feet…
Maybe your mom had a brass pipe that you loved. Old Brass, Mom’s Brass, Brass and Fiber… Any of these are better than Verde Farms or Green Mountain Medicine or whatever other generic name that might be brought to the table.
So, what needs to be done here is to look at the landscape, look at anything and everything that is common or everyday and AVOID IT AT ALL COSTS. A day on instagram searching cannabis hashtags can get a lot of this work done. If you have already gone down the wrong road, then you likely know how much of a pain it is when you are trying to distinguish yourself from ten other similar companies with a similar name growing at a similar rate. The longer you go without rebranding, the worse it gets. The best thing you could possibly do for your business in the long run is rebrand. I know the pain you feel when considering that. If you plan to build something worth selling though, or even more, worth keeping in the family for a long time, I contend that you should build something that will stand out.
Differentiation is the key. What makes you different? This is what I am asking us to think about. When it comes to branding, we have to stop thinking about the things that we all have in common. We all have the plant in common. We all have health and wellness and revolution on our minds. The question is, what do you have that is really unique and great? This question needs to be answered in a very real and consistent manner. If the answer is, “I don’t know.” That’s okay, but you have to answer the question. If you really can’t, then you should consider going and working for someone else who already can. Go commit to a badass that really has their handle on things. Learn. Grow. Get better. There is no shame in becoming a linchpin in someone else’s organization. We need linchpins more than ever. Not everyone has to start a business. Not everyone has a great idea. But everyone needs linchpins.
This all ties together. Branding and naming has to start with three things.
Know thy enemies.
Know thy friends.
In other words, know who you are and how you fit in the landscape of your industry. If you can’t completely describe the industry from top to bottom and how you fit and provide something everyone needs then you have schooling to do.
One thing I can tell you for sure. You are not “Green Wellness Heart Center.” That doesn’t say anything. It’s just a really complex way of saying “Weed Store,” which defines everyone who sells weed, not just you.
It’s time to do the work. If you know someone starting a business or who has a poorly branded cannabis business, would you mind sharing this with them? Guaranteed, it will save a major headache lasting years, and tens of thousands of dollars at the minimum if they read all of my posts on naming.
Peace, Love and Rock’n’Roll
How do we find the best people to work with? How can we gauge whether or not an employee or a partner is going to have a relentless approach to problem solving with us?
A year ago I learned how a friend of mine uses pink paperclips as a recruiting tool, and it clicked with me in such a deep way. Business is really about relationships and we ought to be looking at skillsets that go much deeper than job descriptions. This idea illuminates a lens or a frame that I believe can help us in everyday life as well as in business.
Michael worked in high level software sales. This means he would often be in a lobby waiting to meet with a C Level executive to pitch the software he was selling. For those of you who don’t know, the bigger the company and the more money on the line, the longer a sales person is going to have to wait in the lobby. Long hours of boredom in a lobby can lead to some solid creative moments. Michael had one of those.
At some point, in one of his lobby sessions, he decided to leave a pink paper clip by the elevator door in the executive’s office lobby. This wasn’t just some prank, it had a deep purpose. He wanted to see if anyone walking around might do two things.
A. Notice the pink paperclip on the ground.
B. Do something about it.
It takes a certain kind of person to care to notice that a pink paperclip is out of place in the office. It takes a whole different person to not only notice, but also do something about it. Michael’s premise is that the people he wants to hire do both.
In the time that he waited, if someone picked up the paperclip, he would talk to them, get their info and try to recruit them, or at least be very encouraged that the executives he is a bout to pitch have people around that are in that mindset.
I think there are two immediate takeaways here.
1. Be the person who picks up the pink paperclip. Train yourself to notice and care about little things. The little things matter. A lot. Imagine if everyone picked up trash as they walked around their neighborhood on lunch break. Imagine if no one left their shopping carts in the parking lot but walked them back to the store.
2. Surround yourself with people who would pick up the pink paperclip. They are the ones who will constantly be solving problems and making the world better around you because they just love to contribute.
I hope we all can adopt a daily practice of being more mindful of the details of our surroundings and relationships. I hope we can hold that mindfulness with a motive to constantly, gently, improve ourselves, everything and everyone around us.
Have a wonderful day and as always,
Peace, Love and Rock’n’Roll,
If you have to set up a subscription gateway where you are charging people for a year, it shows that you aren’t actually bringing as much value as you think you are.
If your product is so valuable that someone should spend $50 a month, people should be banging down your door to pay you every month.
If you find that you are losing customers monthly, and they cancel on you all the time, maybe your product or service is not as valuable as you think.
Instead of making a switch on your signup between monthly and yearly, requiring a credit card for signup and setting the autofill to yearly so you can increase your cashflow without adding value, figure why you are losing subscribers and make your business model better so that people renew more often.
But that’s a longview play. If you are playing the shortview, then by all means, take as much as you can from everyone that you can, without adding any value or improvements and definitely use every psychological trick in the book to manipulate people into overpaying for longer periods of time than they should. Oh, and definitely get all of their money up front.
The question is, which kind of client or customer do you actually want? If you want one that feels used and abused but gives you a lot of money, then definitely use psychological tricks to manipulate their wallets like form autofills for a yearly payment instead of monthly. If you want a client or a customer that feels like you are on their team, you help their lives immensely, AND you want them to give you a lot of money, then be transparent and consistent and they will pay you month after month. They are likely to even pay you more than you think if you ask.
If you feel like you have to trick your customer like this, you are going down the wrong path.
Peace, Love and Rock’n’Roll
Our car smells. Really bad. I found a free rug on the street . The day I found it, it happened to be raining a little and the rug was a bit damp. I put the rug in our trunk and we went about our day. When we arrived at home, we had forgotten about the rug and went inside. It happened to be the weekend and we didn’t get back in the car for almost 24 hours. When we got in the car next, the musty smell was overwhelming.
What happened? Or, better asked, what didn’t happen? Well, the truth is, when we had gotten home after picking up the rug, we forgot to take mindfulness of the transition from the car to our house and collect all of the things we had gathered together.
Now we have this smell in our car.
It got me thinking about something that has been on my mind since I saw my friend Jason Pinsky’s YouTube episode where he buys a Mezuzah. He goes to a store to buy a Mezuzah and the Rabbi in the store explains the purpose of the Mezuzah, which shortly said, is to remind us to be mindful as we move from one space to another. It comes from a handful of verses in the Torah:
Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates. - Deuteronomoy 6:4-9
Therefore shall ye lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul; and ye shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes.
And ye shall teach them your children, talking of them, when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates; that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, upon the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers to give them, as the days of the heavens above the earth. Deuteronomy 11:19-21
What has developed out of this concept of “writing them upon the door-posts” is the mezuzah. A mezuzah is small, typically ornate case that is placed at eye level on the entry way of a doorway. The purpose is manifold. Of course, there is the obvious point, which is written in the verses. Remember to love God with all your heart everywhere you go. In every doorway, as we transition, the teaching is, to be mindful of the magnificence of the infinite and enter with gratitude and awe.
This brings us to the second part of the teaching. This is about us. The mezuzah is to remind us to collect ourselves and be mindful of who we are and all that we bring with us when we enter a space. If we take time to collect ourselves and enter the mind space of understanding, awe and gratitude before we physically enter a new space, then we are coming in to that space with blessing. Said in modern terms, we are vibin’ high.
Back to the simple lesson at hand. If my partner and I had spent the time in this particular instance bringing ourselves into this kind of mindfulness, we would have likely collected everything from the car and it wouldn’t smell like ass in there right now.
Sometimes, the biggest lessons are found in the smallest moments, and if we care to notice them and take action, then our entire sphere of perception will be impacted by our mindfulness as we transition from one place to another.
So, I hope that today, you find deep mindfulness as you move from your home, to your car, to your office, and so on. I hope that you find space to breathe and collect yourself and realize and understand how blessed you are, no matter how hard life might seem. I also hope you find the ability to enter spaces with more presence and vibin’ as high as you can.
Peace, Love, and Rock’n’Roll,
One of the skills that designers and clients need, which is not readily apparent, is the ability to transpose and convert language. It is the designers job to lead the way on this, especially if the client is “green.” What I mean is this:
Clients typically have a good eye. Most people do. We have all seen the best of graphic design. We have seen great film and photography. We know good when we see it. Designers spend years in research and practice learning a language to describe all of this. We learn genre and style, history and progression. We have word for things like “Swiss-Style,” or “Russian Constructivism,” a couple of my favorite styles and periods of graphic design. We also learn and know words for shapes, geometry, mathematics and more. We learn an entire syntax built around describing visual information and how it is perceived.
The consumer of design doesn’t typically have this level of knowledge around what they consume. They don’t know that letters need to be 6 inches tall to be read by more than 80% of the population at one hundred feet while moving in a car. They don’t know that circles communicate unity and wholeness and squares create confining spaces and division.
The point is, we have separate languages for looking at the same thing. The best designers and clients spend the most time transposing the languages and making sure that what is described from both parties is actually in alignment. A client might say something vague and generic like, “Can you make this poster look bolder?” What they mean is, that they don’t like the page laid out on a white back ground and they want more texture and color added to the entire page.
A designer would say the opposite. Adding texture and color will make the graphics and text “less bold,” by decreasing contrast. The boldest you can be is stark, thick, black lines on lots of negative white space, or better yet, A red circle on a white page with white type in the circle. That’s bold. Every gradation away from that we get, we lose contrast and boldness. What the client is talking about is look and feel, not boldness and contrast. It takes a skilled designer to ask the right questions at this point to get to the bottom of what the client really means so that the designer can create the right thing, in the right style, for the right reasons.
One of the questions I find very helpful at this point is “What is it for?” If we ask this question, we can usually come up with the kernel of purpose. If the purpose of the poster is to look super cool, then adding a lot of detail and color and texture is likely to be useful. If the purpose is to make a lot of text very legible and readable, then we need good hierarchy with clean easy to read type and no details to distract from the information. Of course, this is a spectrum and we need to understand where in the spectrum we sit, as well as the genre and style we need to execute in this spectrum.
This exercise takes an abundant amount of communication and defining terms through transposition and conversion of meaning. Whether you are the designer or the client, or both, take the time to slow down and ask questions. The right questions will get your language straight and if you can clearly describe it with words so anyone can understand it, you can sketch it out. If you can sketch it, you can make it. So get to work!!! :D
I hope you have as much fun diving in to this with your coworkers and clients as I do.
Peace, Love and Rock’n’Roll
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the
organized habits and opinions of the masses is an
important element in democratic society. Those who
manipulate this unseen mechanism of society consti-
tute an invisible government which is the true ruling
power of our country.” - Edward Bernays, Propaganda - 1928
The above is the opening paragraph from a small but very important book published in 1928 by Edward Bernays, the father of "public relations." We call him that because before he got involved, Americans wanted nothing to do with World War I. You see, in the late 1800’s as the industrial age got roaring, Americans were excited about the power of economy. We believed that prosperity brought peace, and we lived it out as best we could. We were non-interventionist. We did not want to meddle in other countries political affairs.
The powers that be at the time were not thinking this way. They know there is money to be made in war, and the privately owned, global central banks that run the money systems love war. They especially like to fund both sides of a war, so that who ever wins, they win. If you are really interested in understanding fiat currency, central banking and its role in all this, watch the 4 hour documentary about how the global bankers got control of the money system in America. It’s called The Money Masters, and it covers the rise of fractional reserve lending from the very beginning.
The point is, if you do a little research and you read about Edward, who he was and what he did, and you read his book which is the summary of how he moved millions of people to change their minds against their will, you will quickly realize that ALL NEWS IS FAKE NEWS. Our minds are constantly under attack and those who have money and power want to keep it that way.
For instance, did you know that before modern industrial farming, bees were not our only pollinator around the globe? They are maybe the most efficient, but they are definitely the easiest to keep as far as we know. Did you know that bee dominance was created by industrial farming and that we have hurt global populations of other pollinators by propagating only the bee? Did you know THAT is the real reason we have a pollinator problem? Not to mention the complications of that same system introducing chemicals... Yet, all over, there is a lot of talk about bees. Why aren’t we talking about how to propagate other pollinators so we aren’t reliant on one species? Why aren't we talking about the fact that we have a holistic problem that has many factors starting with our tradition of a failed system of farming and food delivery? The earth does not function in mono crop systems and yet we let industrial farming tell us it does and we buy and eat the bullshit they sell us…
Trust me, if the propagandists are doing it with bees, they are doing it with the climate, with politics, with social causes and yes even cannabis and entheogens. Everything we think and care about, the conversation is steered by “an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
If you look around, all of the topics promoted by the big 6 global media companies are fear creating. People who are afraid are easy to manipulate and control. They are also easy to convince and brainwash.
From racism, sexism, war, religious views, sexuality and more, the conversation is controlled and we all feel divided and afraid of each other. It has been this way for a long time. Well over a hundred years. It’s time to turn off the talking heads and turn on our hearts and tune in to the Universe and its function. Listen to the wind and the trees and the rivers and the birds. Be still and know. Create your own propaganda and spread it.
Peace Love and Rock'n'Roll
I just had a very interesting aha moment. Yesterday, I was watching a young person's Instagram story. She spent the time to make 20 slides about her best friend, writing about how excited she is to live life with her best friend.
I found it interesting that she spent so much time and was so deliberate.
And it made me think about social media, choices, reflection and the impact on consistency of choice.
It strikes me as pretty rad that she has ability to spend so much time writing down how much she values her friend and then have the ability to see the resulting reflection that social media enables. She will likely revisit these slides many times in the years to come. This will cause her to have a deeper, more tangible reality to the choice that she's made in loving her friend over time, and it will make her more likely to keep that friend closer for her entire life.
In contrast, I find it interesting that in my generation, we were not able to do such things. I don't have connection to very many people from my childhood. We didn't have social media and my generation’s parents often moved chasing their career. So we were often torn apart with no way to stay connected. Also, my generation was not great at writing letters. We were caught in between the analog culture and the new digital consumerist culture. So, we lost a lot of those youthful relationships.
It make me happy to see that social media can benefit young people in this way, through their newfound capability of continuous reflection on the choices that they make, as they make them. I hope they learn to use it to its full advantage. I hope they see that the choices they make matter. I hope revisiting recordings of their choices helps them refine and direct consistency in those choices.
I hope as well that we all are learning to do the same.
Peace, Love and Rock’n’Roll
Some of you may not know the word entheogen. My guess is you know the other two. Entheogen is an English word that has been competing against the words psychedelic and hallucinogen for over 50 years. It is the unknown underdog in the fight to define substances like Psilocybin, LSD, Mescaline, Ketamine, MDMA, DMT and others for quite some time.
My friend and I stumbled onto the word a year ago when another friend mentioned the word oracle, and I went to learn everything I could about oracles. Well, there’s only one, mostly. Pythia, The Oracle of Delphi. It was one woman at any given time, and the role was handed down from one woman to her apprentice, generation after generation for nearly two thousand years. All of the poets and leaders of the greek world all consulted the Oracle for advice on what to do in war, planting, harvest… Basically anything that humans want to have divine direction in their efforts.
Reportedly, this place in Delphi that the Greeks thought was the center of the world spiritually, has gases that emit from a crevice in the rock there that have psychoactive substances in it. There is argument amongst those who are knowledgable about the actual efficacy of these gases, but apparently the Greeks and the Oracle believed it. Ancient tales tell of the Oracle breathing in the gases and going into a trance and then emitting her prophesy. This is the origin of the word entheogen. En = to be filled, Theo = God or Spirit, Gen = to start or begin or birth.
I am taking the time to explain the Greek roots and the story behind the word to give us a bit of context.
In the 40s and 50s in the US and a few countries in Europe, scientists were going crazy about the potential of these substances. Really, the thrust behind it was government money seeking to research whether these chemicals would assist in brainwashing or hypnotism or interrogation. It turned out that these drugs had the opposite effect. People felt connected to the universe. They perceived human authority as a moot point. The point is, as this research was going on, scientists waged another battle. The battle of how to define these substances. The Hallucinogen camp wanted to emphasize the hallucinatory and therefore, possibly dangerous effects, they also promoted the story that these substances are purely biological and cause only adverse effects like drinking too much alcohol. The Psychedelic camp wanted to highlight the psychological aspects. They saw value in the processing that happened as a result and were approaching these substances with a more Jungian point of view. Then there was the Entheogenic camp. They felt there was a more spiritual aspect. They saw that people were walking away from past behaviors and addictions and being reborn into new realities. They saw people who were depressed no longer behaving depressed and reporting massive change.
Now, almost 70 years later. The words hallucinogen and psychedelic have been embedded and we avoided the word entheogen thanks to the gift of our reactivity to anything “religious” in society. Until now. Entheogens have been slowly embedding themselves in every part of our culture to the point that microdosing lsd and mushrooms at work is fairly common, especially in radically progressive entrepreneurial circles. As they embed themselves, our experiences, the stories we share, they all come back to a lesson. Something bigger is happening. This is not just biological. Because of this, the new psychedelic warriors are almost universally using the word entheogen.
So what ’s the point? My point is that we are all looking for more inspiration. More fire. More energy. Many of us are finding that incorporating entheogens into our monthly, weekly and daily ritual does something very awesome. It fills us with a new sense of enthusiasm (notice the same word roots) for our life and everything in it. For those of us who are engaged in creative enterprise, what more could you really ask for?
So yes, I am encouraging you to try entheogens. However, I would add a couple caveat guidelines. First of all, be VERY educated about dosing and only take something that is tested and coming from a very trustworthy source. Second, if you are new, take baby steps and always have a guide. Someone who is very experienced and knows how to help you get your toes wet without pushing you into the deep end accidentally.
If you think you are ready for the deep end, again, you need guides, friends who will take less than you, stay more grounded and be around to help you stay safe. In other words don’t just take two hits of acid or eat an eighth of mushrooms and go to a party. Bad idea. Go on an intentional camping weekend in nature and get away from strangers. Go somewhere you can get naked and cry in the dirt if you want. Trust me, that might sound crazy, but those experience are the best if done properly.
Why do this? There is story after story after story, mine included about how entheogens have been one of the most important parts of helping a creative in their enterprise. It shakes us up, makes us question our notions, then we can see possibilities that were hidden from us before. After all, we know that enthusiasm is important for any enterprise, so we should be always doing everything we can to feed our enthusiasm, and entheogens are one very helpful method in a holistic approach to life.
I hope you find a reliable way to incorporate entheogens in your own life.
Peace, Love and Rock n' Roll
A few days ago, a livestream popped up from Seth Godin. I know, I mention him quite a bit. I find his intellectualism to be challenging and very uplifting so when he pops up, I will often tune in. I do this because he is also really good at speaking well thought out concepts in short tidbits.
Anyways, he covered many subjects and in the middle of ranting he blurted that “Authenticity is a trap.” I grabbed onto that statement as I feel that I have worked very hard to “be authentic.” It rubbed me the wrong way. How could he say that swithout explaining it? A fellow viewer also tuned into the same thing and asked a question about it in the feed. His assistant pulled that question up and Seth noticed it as well.
He proceeded to explain that when we go to a job interview, we don’t scratch our genitals (he didn’t use that word) in front of the interviewer, we use self control and we wait. He explained it a bit further using a couple of examples, but I didn’t get it. I think I was provoked by the fact that he had called something into question that I value so highly and I couldn’t quite process it right.
I kept thinking about it. I brought it up to my partner. I just couldn’t shake that I believe that authenticity is really important and Seth said it’s a trap. I don’t need to agree with him, but I do need to understand.
The next day, I sent him an email. His email address is not hard to find. Seth@sethgodin.com is published all over the place. I have a friend who ordered a book from him and when it didn’t arrive by Christmas like it was supposed to, he emailed Seth’s team on Christmas because he was just laying around thinking about it and he thought that the team would answer him the next business day. He got an answer in five minutes, directly from Seth. Seth proceeded to send him 5 copies of the book instead of the three that were supposed to come with the order. There’s a lesson in business right there folks.
Anyways, I also got a reply from Seth in six minutes to this email:
Hi Seth, It's Jesse,
I watched your livestream yesterday and as usual you hit all the nails on the head.
Except for one. One doesn't sit right with me, and I think it is because I have worked very hard at being "authentic." I work hard to be genuine. The real thing. Honest. Transparent. I also work hard at being consistent in that authenticity. Am I off? Did I miss something? I would love to hear more.
Thank you for always being so generous and inspiring people like us to do the same.
Peace and love and keep making a ruckus!
This was his reply:
appreciate the kind note
I think it's more a matter of semantics
being a good person, who is compassionate and caring and trustworthy and consistent is a CHOICE
we can own that
having a tantrum is authentic. It takes no self-control.
if you're using self control you're not being authentic, at least that's my point.
Aha! The lightbulbs went off. Authenticity. Rawness. Who we are at the base. Naked. Stinky. Our hair will naturally bind together into dreads. We don’t live outside naked and shit on the ground and leave the skids on our buttcheeks and proceed about our day. We scrub the the authenticity off every chance we get. In fact we really like it when others consistently smell washed and clean rather than authentically animal.
I think he is pointing out what makes us human. We can show up in the world however we choose. His point is, it is the process of showing up consistently that gains trust. It earns us the right to be seen and heard. Anybody can be "authentic," but it takes real work to choose and be consistent in that choice.
I think he is right. Authenticity is a trap. It’s up to us to choose how we want to show up in the world and how we want others to see us. In order for us to do that, we must first fully see them, so that we can know what they need to see that equals what we want them to see.
I am going to keep chewing on this, but I think it’s a really good piece of the puzzle in considering how we sell ourselves, what we do, or our product. I hope you have a wonderful day and would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. If you find the time and the inspiration you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me anywhere on social @thejessebarney or @barneydesignco
Peace, Love and Rock and Roll.
Two of my favorite writers, Seth Godin and Steven Pressfield write about a term Steven coined, “the resistance,” quite a lot. It has been a major theme for me the last nine years, ever since my buddy Frank Bell turned me on to the War of Art by Mr. Pressfield in 2011. Thanks Frank. By the way, if you haven’t listened to Frank’s music, you should. But, I digress.
What is this resistance? It has been labeled many things. The lizard brain, primate brain, fight or flight, writer’s block, and on and on. The resistance is what tells us that we aren’t good enough. It stops us from starting. It keeps us from even trying.
The resistance is most present whenever we are about to start something. It’s the part of us that gets us to watch one more episode of that marathon show rather than starting our new project. It’s the part of us that wants to go to happy hour when we could clock out and stay in the office to work on the new product that we are developing that will make our company more money. It’s the part of us that encourages us to take a long lunch and have an extra mimosa rather than bringing a sack lunch, staying in, stretching for 20 minutes and eating, while we work on the newsletter that we want to send to our family.
In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield outlines that the only way to beat the resistance is to have a daily practice where we fight and win every day. He recommends that it be the first thing we do in our day. He has a very strict and rigorous schedule that he keeps in the morning as a part of his personal practice. I highly recommend reading his book and incorporating the principles if you haven’t already.
Yesterday I wrote about one of the biggest reasons I write a blog post every day, the process of inner and outer reflection and empathy. This act of fighting of the resistance is another reason I write a blog post everyday. It starts the day off with me fighting and winning. It sets the tone. You see, when I wake up, this is what happens:
1. I wake at 5(ish) am, greeted by my lovely partner who relentlessly gets up and makes us coffee. I find her presence and coffee to be a very helpful tool in starting my fight against the resistance. In this moment, because I am in the habit of writing everyday, I am already thinking about what I have to do. The resistance is there, telling me I don’t have any ideas, my writing isn’t that great, no one reads it, there’s no point… You get the idea. But I keep going and I keep thinking about a topic as I sip coffee and wake my body.
2. I roll a spliff. This is the time I use to start thinking about what to write about today and generating ideas. I also find cannabis to be very helpful in this battle. Cannabis helps me let go of myself and go into a more universal mind, if you will.
3. I go outside and enjoy the pre-dawn light with my spliff and coffee. This is such a great moment in my day. I breathe. I give thanks. I prepare my mind and begin processing what I want to write about. I think about my life, my clients, my work, my relationship, my kids and often I try to distill the lessons that I am learning for myself. Frequently during this time, the wheels start turning and I have to put out my spliff and rush inside to my computer to start typing out my thoughts.
The resistance is there the whole time. Putting down every thought, shaming every idea. He’s really mean, he just won’t shut up. But as I said, he is loudest at first. As I let him yell on and on, but continue my work regardless, his voice gets further away and soon it sounds like he is across the canyon yelling about something I can’t quite make out. Soon my fingers are flying as fast as words can come to mind and before you know it, I am done for the day. Typically by now, it is around 7am.
Then it starts again, as now I jump into the same sort of process with creating a graphic for each post. Only this time, I don’t start with coffee and a spliff. I jump right in. I start looking at imagery and thinking about themes or abstract themes. The first one that sticks out to me, I just roll with it. I don’t ask, is that good enough? I just go. Some of them end up being ink sketches, some are typography, some are geometric illustrator pieces… Whatever the technique, I have three things I am trying to accomplish. Relate the art to the writing. Try working in a genre of design that isn’t natural to me. Make it in 30 minutes. I rarely hit all three. But I try, every day. When I am done I hit publish and spend an additional 15 minutes sharing the post on social media. Every day, the resistance gets a little weaker and I get a little stronger…
I have definitely not covered the resistance and the dance that we all do with it in full here. I have merely pointed it out. I hope that for most of you, you see your own resistance to doing the difficult and consistent art of your life. I hope if you have never had language for this, that you find it useful in waging your own war. For those of you that already have language and skills around this, I hope it renews you to fight on and deepen your practice. I also hope that you all get Steven’s book and that you start reading Seth’s blog at least for a few months.
Enjoy your day and fight on!
The reason I write a blog post every day is manifold.
Meaning it has many folds. There's many different reasons. I may not even in this moment, remember all of them, but the first and foremost is fairly selfish.
Well, it's not selfish. It's complicated.
I know that I have a gift of speaking to people. I always have. It's why I excelled in Bible College. It's why I taught classes in Bible College before I had graduated. It’s why I was always at the top. It's why I was selected by the pastors to be the next pastor. That's why they sent me to Africa. All of that, because I'm gifted with words. And not necessarily that I'm a gifted orator in the sense of having a great vocabulary or anything like that. I have some ability to tap into people's inspiration. And it's totally God given. It’s definitely a Spirit filled activity. It's just like an ability that I have.
So knowing that, and then knowing that I have a passion for art and drawing and communication... All of this comes back to communication. Everything we do is communication.
You build a house, it's communication. How? You're communicating with every family that's going to live in it for the next 50 years. They're living inside of what you built them. What they're going to experience for 50 years, is what you built. Who you are. If the house falls down, they're going to say to themselves, "that person's a piece of shit. They built a shitty house, they don't give a fuck. They don't care that people are going to live in this house for 50 years and it fell apart before 20 was up." So they learned your character. They communicate with you by living in the house.
A painting, a drawing, a song, a poem. It doesn't matter. A blog post, a social media post, a tweet. Everything is an experience of interacting with who you are. Now, just like Seth Godin says, not only do we have to show up, we have to show up well.
Anybody can write a blog post. Anybody can build a house. Anybody can write a song. Anybody can do all that. But did you do it well? Not only did you craft the song well, but did you publish it well? Did you put it out there well? Did you put it to the people well? Did you describe it well? Did you do the liner notes well? Did you write the album notes well? Did you take photography of the recording process and publish that inside the liner notes well? Did you do all of that well, all of that communication? Like, you think you just want to put out a song… There's so much more to it than that. Did you save the original lyrics? Did you take a picture of that? You see what I'm saying? Did you perceive how, if you wrote a great song, everyone's going to want to know everything about it, not just hear the song? They're going to want to know why you wrote it and where you were when you wrote it and who you were with and what inspired it and what the story was and how you got to the studio, who you recorded with… All this stuff. Right? (I realize I wrote all of this referencing LP records, so really, the “liner notes” is a website now and I am aging myself a bit by writing that, but it’s fun.)
These are the things that people discover when they're living in a house for 50 years. It all gets uncovered. You learn the whys as the house ages. The way that it ages teaches you about the carpenters, you learn about who they were, as it ages. Right? You see what I'm saying? It's all the same.
So why write a blog post every day? Okay, well, I'm a designer. So ultimately, I'm in the field of communication. I make money based on how good I am at communicating. In communicating, first, if I’m going to communicate well, I have to understand why I am communicating. Which means I have to understand what it is in the culture that I see that I am seeking to change.
Okay, then it requires another thing, empathy. I have to see the person that I’m speaking at or to, and I have to really understand them.
This is what we're talking about, right? But what you don’t know is that for me, this morning, I don't know what to write about. Because I'm looking at you, my audience and I kind of feel like I've gone through a lot of stuff. I know, there's stuff I haven't covered, but I want more of a sense of what you want to know.
I'm not getting that feedback as well as I should, which means there is stuff I'm not doing. So this is all self analysis. This is why Iwrite a blog post every day. Because, 55 posts into this particular blog… I'm going, uhh, I don't really know what my audience wants.
Well, that's not your fault. I just looked at my site analytics. In the last three months, I've had 1000 different people visit my site. I have 100 people who visit once a week. I have 400 people who visit once a month. Like, they're regulars. There's 400 people in the world, who once a month, come check out my website. I don't even know why! They're, they're looking at my graphics and they're looking at the blog. They're looking at everything. So I have 100 people who do it weekly, and I have 10 who look daily. I forgot to post to social about yesterday’s blog. Even though I failed to finish publishing, I did write my blog post and put it on my site. The bare minimum.
I still had 10 people who went to my site, because they expect me to write something. So, they're going and checking whether they see it on social or not, because they like it. So there's 10 people in the world who read me every day. Those people are the most important readers. I know one is my mom. I know one is my partner. So there's two. I know another is probably one of my kids. There's a friend of mine, Adam Ehlers who reads my blog all the time and let’s me know it. Steph Gibson, that’s five. So I know who a few of these people are. There's a couple I don't know who they are, I just know they know me.
So, the reason to write a blog post, coming back full triangle, is, learning to identify those people I'm writing for, the ones who are reading me...
Now the challenge to me is, How do I get feedback from you? How do I inspire more of you to talk to me? I'm doing a lot of talking, a lot of writing. You’re doing a lot of listening and a lot of reading. You’re coming back regularly. That's great. I love that. That makes me feel good, because it lets me know that I am bringing something of value to you.
I don't necessarily know what the value is, so why keep writing? It’s like a shot in the dark! Because the more I write, every day that I put out something, I increase the chances of:
A. Me learning how to have more empathy for you and understand you more and understand what you want and need me to write.
B. Refining my skills of writing and creating graphics that go with the story or the lesson with zero direction. But the writing skill I'm really working on is not the technical part of writing. It's the seeing. It's the seeing myself and seeing the other people. The mental work of doing this seeing, enhances everything I do creatively, because it's the act of training myself in the right mindset.
That's why I write a blog post every day.
Peace and Love and I hope you are inspired to excel in your communications today!
Expectations. We all have them. When we see something clearly, we expect that others will also. When we see that something needs to be done, we expect others to understand.
They don’t. Well, I argue that we should assume that they don’t. When we have expectations that we have not described, we begin to assume that others actions in relation to that expectation are deliberate. Here’s an example. This is not an accurate or true story, but made up based on many different scenarios I have witnessed and been a part of. Here goes:
I might expect my business partner to know that our client is feeling not taken care of, I assume my business partner picked up on it like I did and will call them, I hope so anyways, because I have too much work to do to take care of it myself, after all, they are the account manager and it is their job description. So not only do I expect that my partner knows and is aware, I also expect them to take care of the situation.
One problem. They aren’t aware. They didn’t hear the subtle sentence in the meeting that was an alert to something the client is unhappy with. They were distracted thinking about their daughter’s surgery tomorrow. But I expect that they did, again, it’s their job. Then when they didn’t call the client, three days later I am managing a crisis with the client and managing the stress of maybe losing the client and all that goes with that. On top of it, I think that my partner was being deliberately lazy or avoidant which excalates the stress because I start to wonder if this will keep happening, maybe this is a sign of things to come.
The question is, who should take responsibility? How do we fix this and make it so that it doesn’t happen again? It’s easy to take the self righteous path and point fingers at the partner telling them that they should have been handling it, they should have noticed, they should have, they should have, they should have. But they didn’t. I did.
Rather than identifying my expectation and seeing that since I have the expectation, maybe I should take responsibility at least to communicate and clarify what I perceived. Maybe I should realize that just because I noticed, doesn’t mean others did. I should have communicated to my partner about my spidey-sense. I should have asked if they noticed. Maybe on this one, my partner wasn’t capable this week and needed my help, regardless of how much work I have to do. Maybe they need me to stay a few extra hours each day to get this clear.
This all becomes much easier as I train myself to recognize these expectations and also identify if it’s easier for me to just jump in and get it done either through communication and rallying the team or through doing it alone behind the scenes like a janitor.
I think this is the work we avoid. We don’t want to take the responsibility. We want others to see what we see and care like we care. We don’t want to have to sit down and have a long conversation about how to tackle a problem that we wish wasn’t there. We want others to step up and take care of it and make our lives easier. When we operate like this as a team or a community, it’s a downward spiral to destruction.
But I want to ask, what happens if we are constantly looking to take responsibility and identify our expectations, clearly describing them to our community and getting others enrolled in the mission? What happens when we do that at scale? What happens if we train on these things collectively? I think we fairly quickly and radically change the nature of society. I think we enhance our evolution and our technology. I think that we end up constantly pulling burdens off of each other while our clarity of vision for life gets wider and more detailed. I think our organizations get better, our relationships, our jobs, our spirituality…
I think if we all practice identifying when we are laying our expectations, our stories, on others and removing those with curiosity and asking the real questions. Is this fair? Did I share? Did I share well? Did they understand completely or do I need to work harder at my communication and my empathy? Can I just take care of this really quick and then communicate that I did and why?
I think if we all collectively are taking these steps we reverse the pattern for the downward spiral. We show our partners and romantic interests and clients, that not only do we care, we are brave and willing to do the emotional labor and do the hard part first, clearing the way and smoothing the road for others. In turn if we are really doing this well, they are hearing us and understanding us and being inspired to join in and reciprocate earnestly.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
I hope you have a wonderful day and this post inspires you to deeper quality in your work not just in what you produce, but HOW you produce it.
Peace and Love,
Ratcheting is an interesting and fabulous phenomenon that exists in life. To ratchet is to gain a skill that once gained, you can’t really lose.
Think of it like riding a bike. Once you learn to ride, you can’t really unlearn. You have ratcheted. If you keep riding a lot, soon you will be attempting to ride difficult trails and jumping over things. Once you get skilled enough to jump a log, you can’t really unlearn that either. You have ratcheted again. If you keep going, eventually you will be one of the best bike riders in your community and your region. People will notice you. If you keep working harder than anyone else, you will eventually be likely to be very widely known. People like to see the result of a lot of ratcheting. We like to see someone do something difficult and “make it look easy.”
Ratcheting comes through something that is innate in almost every medium of expression. Repetition of form. Drawing the same thing over and over again. Shaping the clay into the same vessel shape over and over. Playing that same scale on the guitar over and over.
At first when we start our repetition, we think the purpose is trying to make the form perfect. After all, practice makes perfect. This is true. However, it is not the only purpose of repetition. The nature of the universe is, that no matter how hard we try, we will never make two marks with a pencil that are exactly the same. There are too many variables. How hard we push, the details of the surface, how long the mark is, our blood pressure, the moisture in the air, the consistency of the graphite and on and on and on... No matter how many repetions we make, we may be able to make our marks 99.9999999% similar, but never exactly the same. When we are mindful of this, suddenly the beauty becomes about discovering the differences. Discovering the uncontrollable, the chaotic. Some people in creative industry call these “happy accidents”
The real magic occurs when we find form in the accidents and we learn to repeat this new, unique outcome. Now we have added a detail to our repetition that is unique to us. This becomes our differentiator. Many people make this product, but not like this, not like us.
So, the question is. What is our focus? What is our why? What is the form we should be repeating and learning from as we ratchet? In this current world, it is so easy to be distracted and forget to dedicate to a daily practice that allows us to ratchet and become unique, strong linchpins in the world.
Mine is communication. Visual, aural and written. Right now, I focus on the skills that take the least amount of upfront financial investment and the most in time. It costs very little to expend graphite or ink onto a page. It also costs very little to write and practice sharing. Since these have been my core skills since I was a young child, returning to these practices in the last few years in a deep, dedicated way has proven very fruitful.
This is how we become irreplaceable, invaluable participants in our communities. If we ratchet, when some one hires us, they aren’t hiring us for an hourly wage as replaceable labor, they hire us because we have a lifetime of ratcheted skill that can’t be replaced. Not because there aren’t other highly skilled people, but rather, no one does it quite like us. We are a category of one. Lots of people draw, but not like this. Lot’s of people write songs, but not like this.
I hope you have a wonderful day working on your next ratchet, as will I.
Peace and Love,
There is a lot of confusion out there about branding. The language behind visual communication is very specific. I often get new clients asking me if I can "just make them a logo." My answer is invariably and emphatically, no. What is needed is for me to distill their brand identity and create a visual system that works for their brand and a logo will never do that by itself.
Just a “logo” is really not enough, but it can be enough to start a system, if you have the brand identity work done.
You see, the word logo is a greek word that literally means “word.” So technically, a logo is the wordmark. In other words, it is your company name written out in type. Hopefully you or a designer choose a typeface family for your brand that has the right personality (or none at all) for your brand and has a big family for expressiveness in copy and advertising.
Once that is done and you type your name on a page, you have a logo. Of course you would do well to customize the type in a few ways, so not just anyone can retype your logo in the same font, but that is not always necessary. Many companies have their logo in Helvetica. Now, we haven't even asked the most important questions. "Is the name good?" "Does the name speak to the customer, or does it speak to the person who came up with the name?" But, I am getting ahead of myself. I ask these questions in my branding discovery session as outlined below.
So how do we get here? How do we make sure that we pick the right typeface? How do we customize the type? What about the actual “logo?” I know that most peoples definition of logo is actually an icon. They want a stamp, a simple image that says something about who they are and what they are about.
The truth is, we are far ahead of ourselves. Before we pick a typeface and write out our name, before we make an icon and any imagery, we have a lot of questions to ask and have fully answered.
This is why I do a branding discovery session with clients before we even make anything. This is more like a day with a therapist and a coach. In this session, I ask a series of just over fifteen questions that go from the very simple and broad overview of the who, what, where, when, why of the brand, all the way to very deep and pointed questions like, “If there was nothing stopping you, no resistance or obstruction, what is the first thing you would accomplish for your business today?”
What a question like this does, is it allows the business to stop thinking about what they want people to see in an icon and start thinking about who they really are. Often, who we really are and what we want to look like are very different realities and in order to make a logo and an icon, or a full branding system, which is what is really needed, we need the truth first. Who are you, what is the soul of your company and how do your real world customers see you in reality?
The point of this initial discovery is many fold beyond just unearthing the truth of your brand. It does many things that make the process better for everyone:
1. Create a series of thresholds that allow the client and I to opt out of the relationship if it becomes clear that we aren’t a good fit. This is actually a good thing. If I do the initial branding discovery and find the client is not for me for some reason, I always know a designer that will be a good fit and that is what really matters here because you can’t get great work done if there isn’t full synergy. Humility around this is key to starting great work.
2. Find weaknesses the business leaders didn’t know they had in their brand. From supply chain issues to employee training and even small things like how well your parking lot works, all of this is a part of your brand. Every aspect of the experience is creating an overall perception of who you are. A brand is a lot more than a logo. You might have the coolest icon in the world, but if your customer service sucks then your brand will too.
3. Find strengths that the leaders can strengthen and develop. Often when businesses are focused on fixing details and getting better at the minutia, they forget what their core strength is. I have even had meetings where the business had completely lost track of their purpose, chasing every little stream of income and in the session, the owner had an aha and restructured to get back to their original purpose which in the end, made them a ton of money. That decision was more valuable than any typeface choice or icon I made and the visual identity cost more money!
4. Get to know the brand as well or better than the business owners and managers themselves. This is my goal. I cannot divine the kernel of truth for your imagery without understanding everything about your business as well or better than anyone. Believe me, when you have a third party learn about your business as well as you, and they lack the emotional attachment to the darlings of your business, you are about to learn a lot about yourself you did not know!
All of these questions serve to inform the visual decisions and make the process a lot easier as well as giving the client confidence about the decisions that are being made because they can see the reasons why at every step.
At the end of the session I spend the next day making a summary and creative brief, delivering all of my findings, advice and direction for creating the visual identity system.
This summary outlines how much work the branding system will take to build and the timeline and path to get there as well as all of the foundational info that we will be working with to create it.
In getting to this point the client has gone through a lot. This is an intense and deep soul searching session and the answers aren’t always answers the client wants to hear. Some of the answers mean we have to back track things that have been done improperly. This means wasted time and money. There can be pain involved and bedside manner along the way is everything.
There are exceptions to this. I have encountered businesses where they have someone on their team who is knowledgable and has been doing this work the whole time and they can submit all of the info I need without this session. Sometimes a team that is that savvy literally just needs a typeface and an icon, but in my experience that is a one in a thousand chance. Most businesses aren’t that prepared, they have been focused on the bottom line, not how to do great visual storytelling.
So, if you are looking for a “logo” consider that you likely need a lot more than that and you would do well to do a branding session like I have described. If you need one with me, you know how to get a hold of me.
Peace and Love on your journey to revealing yourself to the world!
We all need more forthrightness in our communication. Especially when we feel resistance to being upfront. This resistance is the clue telling us that we need to pay attention and be even more forthright and clear.
When we encounter this resistance to upfront clear communication, to spelling out what's going on within, without and around us, then we need to even be more conscious of that resistance and work to be in control.
Forthright is an interesting word because being forthright means we come first, we proceed directly forward. It means we don't wait for a response or a question. We don't wait for someone to interact and possibly have their own interpretation. We come out first, and we clearly describe exactly what's going on, what the intentions are and everything that we need. If we feel sensitivity and resistance to being forthright, that's when we need to do it the most.
That's when we need to realize that if we aren’t forthright, we give in to the resistance and we create problems.
Every time this is about to occur, that resistance is a warning flag that says, “if you don't come out and describe all of this, it's going to create a big problem.” And that's actually what we’re afraid of. We are afraid of not handling it correctly and then creating further problems because it wasn't handled correctly. Then, we don't handle it at all, because we are afraid and we obey resistance rather than saying to ourselves, “I need to handle this, and it's better to handle it poorly, upfront, than to not handle it at all."
So, we must fight the resistance to being forthright.
When we encounter this resistance to being forthright, that is the signal to do even more work, as the resistance is highlighting the need to clear the board before we even start.
The bigger the gap from where we are to where we want to be, the more tension we feel.
The problem is, is that in order for us to cross the gap from where we are to where we want to be, especially if there's a really big problem, like we've made a really big mistake, and we have to realize that we're really far from where we want to be because we made a mistake and we went a long ways down the road, the wrong direction. We have to undo all of that, go back to our mistake and then start down the other direction, the right way.
So just as big as that gap is when we realize we aren’t on track, that's equal to the amount of patience and gentleness it's gonna take for us to do the work that It takes to get across that gap.
If we lose patience with ourselves early and get frustrated, then we won't get the work done. We won't do the work. We'll get depressed. We'll get anxious. We'll feel any number of things that can slow us down or stop us.
But, if we stay patient and we say to ourselves, “you know, this just takes a really, really long time and a lot of dedicated work.” It becomes easier. Every day we wake up, there's gonna be hurdles. We can't wake up today and pretend there's not going to be hurdles to cross. There's going to be hurdles to cross today. There's gonna be hurdles to cross tomorrow, and the next day and the next day and the next day and for the foreseeable future. And the stress of having to do that will not go away.
Therefore, we need to be patient. Relax about our expectations and just work hard and jump the hurdles without causing extra stress. We don’t need to be stressed that it's taking so long and we feel like we’ve worked so hard, and we aren’t there yet. We don’t need to add that to our work.
Do we see how we feel how far we have come and we are complaining about how far we have yet to go? That illuminates how much work we still have to do.
So the complaining we feel is the truth.
It's telling us we’re not where we want to be. “This sucks,” It says. Well, however intense that feeling is and however far away the answer feels, that's exactly how much work we have to do. So the sooner we shut up, choose patience and work on getting there, we actually start getting there sooner.
The point is to recognize our own inner dialogue and give it a frame that helps us rather than hinders us. Feeling challenged and inspired by a large task is a razors edge away from feeling debilitated and depressed. It helps a lot to sway the needle if we are mindful of our inner voice and choose to see the optimism our frustrations point out to us.
I hope you enjoy your day and you find peace in chasing your vision with patience as you run the road of life.
There is a common theme in cannabis right now. It’s a disease that finds itself everywhere.
The truth is, very few people know what great cannabis really is. It starts with great genetics and then it takes a great grower who understands every detail of the ecology surrounding the plants, whether sun grown or not. Regardless of the farmers knowledge, it takes a fair amount of luck and blessing and cooperation from your environment to get plants to really take off. Then comes harvest, knowing when to harvest, and then drying and curing properly... Many of the best growers get impatient here and settle for money for their half-finished weed.
To add to this, if you have grown just a few plants more than once, you know it’s fairly easy if you take the proper care everyday. The challenge is that growing 100 plants is a lot different than growing five. Even more, growing thousands is the difference between knowing how to walk down the street on the sidewalk and knowing how to drive a commercial semi truck on the freeway, sorry, but your walking knowledge is just not going to help you.
So what have we done in light of this? We have started an entire industry based around scaling something that we originally trained ourselves and the plants to do on a very boutique level.
This training was the gift of prohibition. It created very high prices which allowed a grower with just a small garage full of plants to be able to sustain a family. This, in an underground, free market resulted in thousands of farmers and growers which in turn, led to a wide variance in quality that the consumer could see clearly. After some time, the “stoners” expected nothing but the best and would turn their nose at “green buds,” which was better than brick weed but not the fire Cali Outdoor we would all get in December.
Through the seventies, eighties and nineties, the underground boutique growers just got better and better. They were seeing each others weed on Dead and Phish Tour as well as out on the Hip-Hop scenes, and they were sharing trade secrets with each other as well as seeds and genetics.
Then cannabis became legal. Ish. Suddenly it became many peoples dream to grow a hundred thousand plants. Or maybe that had been their dream and it finally seemed attainable.
One problem. No one had really done it before. Not in the US. Not with the feminized, flower focused growing that we do. So what happened was we had an onslaught of thousands growers who were pretty good at growing a couple hundred plants start trying to go legal and grow thousands, or sometimes tens of thousands of plants. Now we have companies trying to grow this style at the scale of hundreds of acres!
Along the way, these companies lost their mission. It used to be that all that mattered was who grew the best weed. Now, everyone is focused on who can grow the most. This leads us to mids. Green Buds. Borderline swag. When companies are focused on volume, quality usually suffers. It happens to nearly every product we make. Nike was originally a handmade shoe customized for each athlete. Now it’s mostly a bunch of generic Chinese plastic with a swoosh and a boatload of democratic design. Mids. Cannabis in America is following this model.
Here’s the kicker. There are valleys in the world who have been outgrowing the entire US cannabis economy for thousands of years. They don’t fuss with feminizing it. They open grow the plant in 3 million acre fields and turn it all into the best concentrate in the world. So while we are focused on building hundred million dollar facilities to grow mid flowers, they sungrow the best weed in the world for free and turn it into a product our flower can’t compete with.
Sorry, but the mid business is built to fail. It can’t last long enough to support much of anything except maybe a bit of a bubble that one can hopefully cash in on before it bursts.
So what is the way out? Learn from the best. Make concentrates the way the rest of the world does. Or, make the cheapest, shittiest, most average, most generic mids you can and put a swoosh on it, and if your swoosh is cool enough and you can tell people to “Just Smoke It” then you will be good to go.
Of course I recommend the former. If you aren’t on a mission to compete with the Bekkah Valley, stay small. Trim the fat. Scale down. Grow fewer, better flowers and charge twice as much for them.
People won’t pay that much? You aren’t good enough.
There are growers that get much higher prices for their product than you do. It’s going to become more common. The days of the thousand dollar ounce of flower in the face of overwhelming amounts of concentrated mids are coming, and the ones that hit the mark first are likely to have a sustainable strong, independent family business that lasts for generations.
So, whatever you do, don’t grow mids. There’s already enough and there will always be enough farmers who only care about money and they will always grow enough mids for the ignorant.
So get out there and grow some fire!
Love and peace,
One of my early business “mentors” in the music industry, who turned out to be a mentor in everything to avoid, used to tell me that he had all these industry favors stored away to use when we really needed them, and he didn’t want to use them “too soon.” He also loved to call such a favor “firing a bullet.” Well, that business failed and I can tell you right now that holding those bullets back wasn’t doing anything to prevent that.
If you have an advantage to play in your industry, or a proverbial bullet, fire it! What are you waiting for? Life doesn’t happen tomorrow, it happens today and waiting to trigger an opportunity is just not wise especially in our rapid-fire culture. Maybe that saving favors philosophy worked in 1950 and maybe it still works in certain circles, but today, fire your bullets and pull in the favors when you need them.
On the flip side of that, make sure you show up when a favor is pulled from you. Don’t be stingy now, if you want to take, you need to give.
I hope that today you get out there and fire those bullets you have been saving.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a federal government organization. The fact that cannabis remains on the schedule of illegal and dangerous drugs limits it from most patenting and trademarking of businesses in and related to such an “illegal” industry.
Let’s look at how this works. The USPTO is the department that allows US citizens to register a name and/or a visual mark for a business that can be a logo or an icon in a particular category or industry in order to protect that business from being copied and business being done under their name. This way if you started a restaurant call Knobby’s Salads in California and were planning on going national within a few years, no one could use the same name and make money off of your reputation in New York. If they did, you could sue them and they would owe you.
Now, let’s look at the categories. You can register a name in the category of textiles, or advertising, or education and entertainment, you can enter the beverage category, on and on and on it goes. There are 45 main categories with subcategories. In fact here is a great article on NOLO.com about all of the categories.
Guess what? There is no “Cannabis” category. You can’t register a dispensary or a grow operation. So what have people been doing? They have been registering as “retail” and “flower shop” and “farmer” and things of that nature. This can be risky. If the USPTO catches you being a little shady and not forthcoming, they will deny your trademark and you will have to start over, like, choose a new name.
What else have they been doing? Companies will literally start a t-shirt company with the same name as their farm in order to register the name in the T-shirt category, the printing category and the advertising category. Some companies have been known to start as many little ventures as possible in order to register their name in as many categories as possible. This is less risky as it is more honest. This strategy will also make it so that they will be more likely to get their trademark in the cannabis category once it opens up. This strategy is also not cheap as you have to pay the fee for every category you register in.
So in conclusion, this is another reason why you need to heed the guidance of my four posts on Trademarking and Naming.
You would also do well to hire someone who is great at branding as well as a great trademark and patent attorney so you can nail this once and for all, the first time you do it rather than scrambling and starting over again and again.
Good luck out there making a scene in the world and I hope this post helps you or someone you know get started on the right foot.
When we are working on our brand, whether it be our personal brand or our company brand, we tend to focus on all the details of how awesome we are. As we should. That’s how we can show depth and breadth. That’s where extra value can show up. We all like to show up with extra value.
However, sometimes we rabbit trail on details that are not related enough to our core even though it is very exciting. For this reason, it is always helpful to have a process for revisiting your core in every detail you are adding.
You might be an incredible host and really good at Emceeing events. Adding public speaking to teach others about your skill not only adds value and teaches your customers about what you do and why it matters, it also rounds out your MC skills with a different skillset of speaking. Also, you will gain a tribe of other people like you who will inspire you and vice versa, which will help you get better as well.
However, when it comes to learning architecture and space design and worrying about how people are moving around in the space where you are Emceeing, you might be better off finding someone who focuses on that so that you can focus on the content.
The way to understand how to set goals and approve the growth decisions you are making is to always refer back and strip away the details to see if the core truths relate.
Content of communication and style of delivery for hosting a party is very different that creating wayfinding and flow in a space to get people to be in the right place and mood to receive that content and style at the right time.
Of course the MC and the architect would do well to learn language that allows them to communicate back and forth so that the MC understands how the architect can help their content and vice versa.
This is a core function of the practice of minimalism. Take away the unnecessary details and reveal the inner kernel of truth of your brand. Once you do that, you can see the relationships, the needs, the attributes you need you gather to round out your skill.
This reminds me of Role Playing Games. You can’t make a super character. You can’t have a wizard that is also really a strong warrior AND a sneaky assassin AND a charismatic thief.
You have to choose what your character is at the beginning and as you go through the game and level up, you choose the attributes to strengthen and the ones to leave weak.
You then shore up your weaknesses by adding members to your adventure party. A wizard travels with a rogue scout and a warrior and a thief. This is why we have organizations and companies. This is also why, if you are a freelancer, you need a network of people that you can refer, so you can always take care of any need even if it is not your skillset.
Strip away the details, remember the main attributes of your character (brand) and make sure you are adding the right skills and party members as you level up. If you find that you are doing something useless, be gentle on yourself, it’s totally okay to get distracted. Just put it down and refocus your energy.
Happy Sunday and enjoy focusing your efforts.
The concept of shipping comes from product manufacturing. Shipping is part of your brand. It the moment when the customer or reader gets to finally interact with you.
Getting your product out the door is hard. Whether it is a blog post, or a tchotchke, or a new car model, getting the prototype out of your head and out of your shop and into the hands of people who can evaluate it, this is the most valuable moment of your branding process.
There is a trick here. When to ship? It has to be good enough, and yet, we know that if we sit and polish more and more, we can make it better and better. This never ends. How do we decide when to stop polishing and ship?
Calling out deadlines in advance, setting goals that feel a little difficult to achieve, but not too difficult and shipping regardless of the state of the prototype on deadline is important.
A lot happens when we add a deadline. It creates pressure. It creates accountability. The drive of creating expectation and meeting it is strong. We have to meet the deadline and tell the story of why our prototype is not as polished as we want. We have to allow for the criticism that comes from people seeing our product as unfinished.
This is the reason to do something that has a daily deadline. Something that is a gift to the world. Something that is adding value to our humanity without a need for return. This is why I write this blog. I alluded to this in my post yesterday. I have set a goal to post a blog every day. I don’t always. But I try. It’s the first thing I do every day. I wake up and my goal is to come up with something fresh that is present in my life that I am processing and see a way forward and share that learning with you.
The second level of the blog that is a little less obvious is that I also create all of the graphics for the headers. This can sometimes be the most challenging as the writing itself is already hard, and creating a relatable visual quickly makes it feel more than difficult.
I try to go from concept to finished writing and graphic in less than an hour if I can. It usually goes a little long, but I get as close as I can.
The reason I am explaining all of this is so you might feel inspired to do the same. Maybe it’s a daily sketch on your instagram. Maybe it’s writing a blog about your relationship. Maybe it’s doing yoga everyday and posting the challenging pose you are working on. The point is, if you tell your audience that you are going to show up a certain way and you create an expectation of shipping, then you will be accountable to show up and ship.
This shipping creates a feedback loop for us. A reflection of what we are saying, what we are making. It gives our audience the opportunity to help us shape our practice and make it better with us. More importantly it allows us to see ourselves through their lens more easily. Even if they never give us direct feedback, we are automatically gaining more empathy through going through the process of ship, refine, ship, refine, ship, refine.
So, in summation, I hope that you are inspired to ship something today. Something with meaning and value that will make the world a better place. On top of that I hope that you reflect on what you ship and that you ship it again tomorrow, refined by your own reflection and the reflection of others.
Enjoy creating and shipping and if you are inspired, ship it to me!
Writing isn’t just valuable for the reader. It is equally as valuable for the writer.
I have been writing a blog off and on for 6 years. Mostly to try to share the things I don’t feel I speak clearly about. At first, I thought the main point was to share my knowledge with others and get feedback. Indeed, that is one of the reasons to write a blog and one does have to think about the reader when writing. However, as I write more and more, it is starting to translate to the way I speak and feel more and more. It's becoming something where I get more out of it than anyone.
What I mean is this. I am starting to see that I often speak sentences to others that I have not gone through the work of explaining to myself first. Last night, my partner asked me a question and I gave her an answer that was a summation rather than a clear explanation. The problem was that I had not even made the clear explanation to myself, so I definitely could not make it clear to her. I noticed the lack and stopped the conversation to take the time to explain the answer to myself out loud, while she listened.
The end result was that I understood myself clearly, as did she and neither of us had any questions about the subject at hand (I can’t remember what we talked about, but I can remember the process clearly.)
As this happened, my brain made a leap. This is exactly why I write. To get better at writing. One of the deep joys of communicating is learning how to go deeper and be more complete without rambling. To speak and see the hearer and perceive how well they receive and adjust the communication to improve the reception.
What is interesting here is that we are really doing this for ourselves. This is how we can see and understand ourselves more fully. In other words, when we take the time to do the work of explaining ourselves fully to ourselves, the chance for others to hear and understand us goes up exponentially.
I know this post is really meta, writing about writing, communicating about communicating, but isn’t that the core function of economy, communication and sharing? If we all spend part of the day, every day, shaping our communication skills, doesn’t that make us better leaders, mothers, brothers, sisters, co-workers, preachers, teachers, salespeople, etc? On top of that, if we all spend time everyday, wouldn’t the acceleration of skill be magnified with our collective consciousness?
I think so.
In closing, I am happy to see myself improve at noticing these things in quick conversation and I hope that you are inspired as well to spend time everyday working on and sharing (this is very important) art and communications with yourself and then the rest of us no matter how complete you think it is.
If this inspires you, send me a note at email@example.com and tell me your thoughts, I would love to hear your reflections.
Have a wonderful day and may it be filled with joy and peace even in struggle and tribulation.
It’s a good question. Many people think design is the science of making something look cool.
While great design almost always looks attractive, this is not the primary goal of design.
Design is the process of identifying a problem and finding the best possible solution to that problem.
A graphic designer works on visual problems. Does the graphic say what the words say? Can it be understood at a glance? Does it make people look in a visually crowded space?
An architect works on the problems of how people move around in spaces that we build. Where do you put your coat when you enter? How does the shape and arrangement of the room make people move around in the the space?
An industrial designer solves the problems of how the human body interacts with physical things to make simple things like chairs and spoons work even better or sometimes just differently than before.
Often, we miss the mark of design by focusing on how these things look when we should be focusing on how they work.
I find it helpful to ask the big questions in any design process again and again no matter what stage of the process I am in. Questions like, “Why are we doing this,” and “What is it for,” are the main two I am constantly jumping back to. We all get caught up in our own ideas and standing back and looking at our designs from afar and asking the big questions can get us back on the path to truth.
If you are interested in a very deep exploration of the basics of design thinking, read “Design as Art” by Bruno Munari. It is a fantastic book on design and why it is different than art and it is a monumental classic in design thinking.
Have a nice day and happy designing!
I had no idea when I was 16 years old in that basement smoking a joint, listening to Phish’s album Rift for the first time, that the band I fell in love with that day would be such a great model for modern business.
Unbeknownst to most people in the music industry and for that matter the rest of the world, in the eighties and nineties, while the whole world was busy hanging on to what had been built by the Industrial Age, Phish saw the future.
Phish built a business around a tribe. Something small. Instead of making 20 cents on a record sale and trying to do that 10 million times a year to make money, Phish built a business around getting a small handful of people to support them with thousands of dollars per year at live concert experiences. Of course, they weren’t the first to do this, they were really copying the Dead. But where the Dead were more a group of ragtag hippies just having fun and were known for shabby business, especially in the early days, Phish built an empire.
Not that long ago there was a white paper put out by Harvard Business School showing that a Sole Proprietor can make a hundred thousand a year by getting one thousand people to spend a hundred dollars a year and that with the internet, that is easier than ever. Phish understood this concept innately before the internet and built a tribe of thousands who would support them no matter what.
Phish was creating the kinds of tight communities thirty years ago that the internet is now producing through groups on social media and chat platforms. They built a fully independent nomadic economy that lived on the road and in the parking lots of venues and cities around the nation.
Phish created a world and an experience that their fans never wanted to end and still don't. There are fans that spend ten thousand dollars a year and more on tickets and merchandise. A lot of them. Like thousands and thousands of them.
Our challenge as freelancers, business people and entrepreneurs is that we want the fast option. The Phish Model is not fast. It is slow and dedicated. It focuses relentlessly on the core why, faces big challenges and grows and evolves over time like any good relationship.
So in the end, refocusing on our why, and narrowing our vision to what gets our tribe truly inspired up is a surefire path to long-lasting success in anything we do. It takes time and there will be major bumps along the way but our determination and dedication will not fail us. In this refocusing we find renewed energy to hack away at the big mountains in our way to building our own tribe.
Have a nice day and I hope you enjoy focusing your efforts in your life as I do.
As a graphic and brand designer this is my #1 rule I live by.
What does it mean? It means that we should always work on figuring what the function needs to be, and the best ways to make that function work.
One of the best examples of a beautiful function first design is the spoon. The spoon has a sensual sort of shape to it. No one set out to make it that way, all of the curves and parts are designed to do one thing. Bring liquid from a bowl on a table to your mouth without spilling.
This is no small feat. It is a miracle of geometry and physics that was produced over hundreds of years by many different designers.
The point is, the spoon is a perfect example of a function first design, it looks great because it works so well with the human body.
In a similar way, when designing branding and graphics, if the need is considered most important and the function of communication is considered first, then the graphic or brand is far more likely to work.
In other words the question “What is it for?” Is far more important than, “what does it look like?” Focus on what it’s for with reckless abandon and in the end it will look great.
Whats inside what's inside the jar? No, it's not a typo. I did ask what's inside what inside
When we encounter design, we often ooh and ah at the branding and the packaging and the trim job and the "bag appeal." Why don't we more often admire better qualities such as the ecologically friendly nature of the packaging or even more important, where the water comes from that waters your plants and how much it takes to irrigate your crop? The reality us, underneath all of the shiny foil our perception of a brand is really about what we really believe the product is made of. Not only philosophically but also tangibly.
Enter the queen of water friendly crops, dry farmed agricultural cannabis. That's right friends. No water. In the right location, cannabis succeeds incredibly well at being dry farmed with nearly zero surface watering. The cannabis tap root finds it all from the ground. If you don't believe me, ask Sunshine Johnson or Chrystal Ortiz.
The design thinking gets really fun here because it can impact large scale agriculture. Regenerative farming is here and we would do well to start designing our laws and infrastructure around it.
Dry farming prime ag locations? You can't dry farm just anywhere, it takes some specific ecoligical scenarios to be readily available and the farmers doing it need to be supported.
From a state perspective, identifying dry farm prime ag and giving it preference for cannabis permitting because of it's ability to make better cannabis on less resource is incredible important for many reasons.
Saving water resources by not extracting water from surface water systems.
Solving issues arising from drainage and leeching of even the most organic of compost.
Rising quality of cannabis by the nature of it growing directly in the native soil as opposed to lots of imported dirt
Creating a better understanding of terroir and Appalachia through more direct association of plant to local environment and soil.
This is just the beginning. There are so many reasons to find and support sun grown, dry farmed, regenerative cannabis that when we have/find the option, we ought never choose anything else.
This phrase gets tossed around a lot in the creative world. Especially involved with anything we have to pitch.
But there is a better way.
Just spend your time and energy finding out what your clients best idea is. Bring it out of them. Shape it as it comes out and reveal the truth of their excellence.
This means that the heavy lifting happens in the research phase. The interviewing and the reading, and the looking at reports and numbers and doing equations.
So rather than bringing our ego to the table as creatives and trying to figure out how to trick the client into our “genius,” let’s get inside their world and make them look the best that they can to the outside world.
That way we are on the same side of the table and the client feels that we are on their team.
This philosophy works for more than just a client relationship. It can help you understand your spouse or significant other better, or any relationship really.
Try it! It’s fun and it gets results!
We all have to sell something. Even if it’s just the reason we get out of bed, we are always selling things.
We all are trying to convince our boss that they should give us a raise, convince the client they should pay us, convince the teacher we should get a good grade. All of these actions are a form of meeting a threshold of approval.
What we tend to forget is that meeting a threshold of approval isn’t necessarily about what we do, but how and why we do it. In other words, it’s one thing to give an answer to a question. It is entirely another to give all the backstory to how you answered the question, and why. It's entirely different to own your work. To take responsibility for it, and for how it is handled in the world. It is after all, yours.
Many artists have found as they put their paintings up for sale for years that they sell at a certain rate. When they take the time to tell a fuller story behind each piece, they often find the pieces selling at a higher pace. It seems so easy, so why didn’t the artist do so at the beginning? It only took a small slice of time to explain the piece compared to creating the piece itself...
The question is, why do we tend to hold back? Why do we want to create things and not also create all of the ancillary storytelling pieces that go along with the thing itself? Why don’t we more than savor the moment? We can make it flavorable again and again and again.
I propose it is because we are scared and a bit prideful. We don’t want to take the time to write our stories because we think no one will read them. That injures our pride, because our internal experience is that our perspective is the only one that matters, because it’s the only one that’s truly ours. We get bummed when we think about our deepest treasures, left in the sea of the world's consumption, to rot away unnoticed. Soon, the spiral of loneliness gets out of hand and we feel we will never be seen.
There is no easy way out. The only way is through. Start trying to be seen. Every day. Those who practice the most at presenting their art, their art will be the most seen. They may not be the best artist, but they will be the best at being seen. It’s easy for the rest of us to complain and say that they don’t deserve to be seen because they aren’t good enough. That doesn’t get us anywhere. The facts remain. The person with the banner on the mountain is the most visible. So what can we do? Start practicing our sharing. Show works in progress, write stories about our days and how our consciousness’ interacted with the art, and whatever we do, we must share it. As always, I recommend building your own site or having one built and sharing there first, and sharing from there to other sites. Own your artwork, that includes all of the describing of the artwork. Own it by describing it, documenting it, and sharing it to a platform you own.
Love and Peace and Happy Owning.
Mix It Up
It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly expecting different results.
We all get stuck sometimes and the best remedy is to make a change. Do something different, try a new food or walk a different route to work.
Trying new things opens up new neural pathways and helps us to be creative and solve problems.
Try something new today! Whether it’s that 5 min of meditation you always want to do or a new skill you want to learn or that phone number you have always wanted to ask for... Just do it!
Death is scary. We don’t like to talk about it. However, I think that mindfulness of the end of life helps us shape our approach to communication, relationships, leadership, family life and more. I have to admit, I do have a view on death that is somewhat surprising and exceptional to some. I believe that this life is a beginning, an introduction. We are like seeds growing into plants and the day we die is the day the seed dies and becomes what it is meant to be. I believe there is deep meaning to the sun spending it’s life force to give the solar system energy for life. I believe that metaphor is resonant in everything in the universe. There is no life without death. To eat is to absorb the nutrients and life force of another in order to live another day. I believe that metaphor of infinite universal sacrifice is a giant hint at the truth behind the veil.
Now that I have taken you a least a bit behind the foundation for my thinking, here are three things I believe the correct mindfulness of death helps us with:
1. Creating the need to pass on our knowledge.
When we are aware of the passing of life, we value our most treasured lessons and are more inspired to share and teach. If we have never taught, then we should gain even more inspiration to learn to share. Documenting and sharing our deepest and most treasured knowledge is most assuredly a high form of love.
2. Giving us presence to speak what really matters in this short breath of life. Related to the first point, it is in the stripping away of things that don’t matter and speaking only the things that do. We don’t have time to waste on frivolity. When we realize this, we spend more time with people that matter, doing and saying things that matter.
3. Giving us thankfulness for all that we have in this present moment. When we are aware that change is always inevitable and nothing we have will last, we are more aware of how beautiful the passing moment is. This gratitude becomes a deep wellspring of joy
I hope this post gives you presence today and that you in turn give your gratitude and love to all around you as we all love you and are also grateful that you are in our life today. I am excited to continue this infinite journey with you, and you hope you are inspired to get out there and Stir the Pot.
There’s a reason quality alcohols come in cans, brown bottles and have very little to no air in the packaging. Light and oxygen.
Light and oxygen degrade the freshness of our products. 2020 should be the year of no more clear glass bottles for cannabis. We should be packaging our cannabis in brown glass, or even better, completely opaque. This is because light degrades all the chemical compounds in the plant, so the darker the glass, the closer the flavor and experience will be, according to the growers finished cure.
As far as oxygen, I haven’t seen a great way to reduce the amount of air inside a package of flower without crushing the flowers. In this regard, concentrates are much easier to control, and there is room for innovation for flower. Filling a container completely with concentrate that is not liquid will usually result in a dried top layer that seals in the rest of the concentrate and keeps it separate from any air in the jar, however little there is. This will not work with liquid as any air will mix into the liquid over time, causing oxidization.
Traditional hash in the form of a temple ball handles all of this perfectly, and it doesn’t need to be in a jar at all. A nice ball of hash is self preserving, the oils on the outside of the ball form a protective layer for the rest of the ball so you can keep it for months and even years while retaining the terpenes and cannabinoids in a much more stable state. Of course, this is dependent on a little care for the ball. It needs to be kept dark, cool and dry.
There is a need for preservation of the compounds we love. Coupled with the competition that will enter the market when global import and export becomes real, it leads me to believe that the smart concentrate makers are going to focus more and more on dry sieving and ice water techniques to produce their concentrates. Not only does it solve many packaging problems that we have, it’s an overall better product for shelf life than anything modern cannabis tech has come up with to date. Also, the processing techniques require far less machinery and intense scientific knowledge to operate. This means the investment in hash making goes towards artisan makers and people rather than industrial processes.
The real challenge here as usual is the storytelling and branding and education on the consumer side that lets people know why traditional hash is better on a shelf than almost any other product. As per usual, most people in America just don’t know. It’s not our fault, people spend lot’s of money teaching us the wrong things. We don’t even have a really good grasp of our place in the timeline of cannabis. Nor do we have any understanding of the global cannabis trade especially as it relates to history and where we are in time.
There is so much to teach, and so much misinformation, so many fads… It seems like everyday there’s a new way to consume or misrepresent cannabis that degrades the nature of the plant and the medicine it provides.
A simple solution to start moving in the right direction is to change the color of the jar you use to package your weed and tell your customer why. This will spark a cultural interest that will make change much like the craft beer and wine movements impacted the alcohol industry.
As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you get inspired to get out there and Stir the Pot.
In this fourth and final post on naming, it’s time to cover the symbols. What do they mean and when can you use them? Only the ™ and the ® have relevance to business name defense. The copyright would apply if you had made original art for your logo or brand that you didn’t want anyone else selling as art. So, here we go!
™ The Trademark symbol. This is a symbol that is free to use if you have a mark worth using (see previous three posts). You don’t have to register anything to use it legally. It is a non binding signifier that your mark should not be copied. If you know your name is original and unique and you have a custom drawn logotype or word mark than you should put this mark next to your logo. You can set this mark in most fonts by holding option(alt on pc) and hitting the number 2 on your keyboard.
® The Registered Trademark symbol. This is a symbol that you are only legally allowed to use if you have gone through the trademarking process with the USPTO and been awarded your trademark. If you can use it, you should. This character is set by holding option (alt on pc) and hitting the letter r.
© The Copyright symbol. This little guy has (almost) nothing to do with what we have been talking about, but I decided to include it even though it probably needs its own post. This is used for artwork and music and anything where you make copies. Every artist owns the copyright to any original work they put out the moment they get the art out of their head and make the first “copy.” It is smart to document your art when you make it. Timestamp it somehow. There is the legend of bands who used to record a song and then mail a tape and the lyrics to themselves and not open it so they had an official piece of evidence with a date on it. Now, you just publish your songs online and that date stamps it. A copyright isn’t something you have to go through a process for, you just need to document the copies so you can prove you were the first to make an artwork, if it ever comes to that. You can set this character by holding option (alt on pc) g. This is why the new media model is put out more, faster, and don't let it sit on your hard drive. Publish it!
That's about all I have on that. I hope you have found this series on naming helpful, if you know someone creating a new product or service, share these with them as they will find them extremely helpful. I wish I would have know about all this 20 years ago when I started my first business.
Peace and Love and Happy Building!
What about the url?
This is where things can get tricky and fun. The web domain name, or url, now plays a role in proving your trademark to the USPTO. You see, there is still a lot to explain about things the USPTO are looking for in your name.
Timing. You see, part of the reason for this law of trademarking is that two people can have similar ideas at the same time and these rules keep people from naming things the same way which help consumers differentiate and protects business people from being copied and stolen from. A url can help your right to the name in this way…
Let’s say I wanted to start a t-shirt company and I wanted to call it Wildhair Shirts. Before going to the USPTO the first thing I would do is Google the name and see what comes up. If nothing specific to that name comes up, my chances of getting a good url and this name registered with the USPTO are going way up.
Then, I would go to my favorite domain purchasing and basic web hosting site, Namecheap, and I would search for wildhairshirts.com and see if it was available. If it was, I would buy it, as that is a great sign that the name is not being used by anyone.
Now, let’s say I bought the relevant urls (buying as many urls that cover bases like wildhairshirts.com, .org, .net and wildhairtshirts.com and other relevant names is a good idea for the same reasons that I would get the first) and built a published site for them describing my company and future products while I start working on the business plan that ends up taking me a couple of years to actually fully launch.
Within that time, someone else starts a company by the same name in a different state. They have a website called whclothingincorporated.com because I bought all the name specific ones before they launched…
Now, in our story, we went ahead and registered our business with the USPTO, and our other Wild Hair Shirt company didn’t register federally so no one is the wiser. Everything seems good. It has all worked out.
Until the other Wildhair starts to get big. They started local, but they grew, and when they expanded to a national market, they noticed me, as I have them. Now they want the registered trademark and they believe they started before me because they believe they used the name first. Now I am going to court. They want to prove that they had the name first, and that they were doing business first (It’s true, they sold a shirt before I did.) and that even though they hadn’t registered the trademark, they had it in use before I did. If they prove that, I will lose the rights to use the name and will be forced to rebrand. If they fail in proving that, then I will be awarded the rights to the name.
One of the pieces of evidence that a Judge will look at is, who had the urls first and who published a live, relevant website first. Since I was the first to get the urls and the site published, and I did the fed trademark work as well, I am likely to win. Notice I said likely. Nothing is guaranteed here. Even if I think I did everything right, the judge could possibly see something a different way and I could lose. This is why, despite these informative posts, I will always say “GET AN IP ATTORNEY!”
The attorney has more experience, and knows more about how to make your name as defensible as possible. In an ideal world, you have a designer like me on your team who knows all of the ins and outs of making marks visually distinctive, and you also have an ip attorney making sure those marks are defensible in a court of law.
The moral of the story is: If you have a great idea, and a good name that you know is unique and likely to be defensible, and you have googled for it, and searched and can’t find anything, and you have searched for the url and it is available… BUY IT. But don’t JUST buy it. Put some kind of website up describing what you are doing and the intention of the company. It doesn’t have to look good. It just has to work. WIX or Squarespace or Wordpress or a whole host of others will help you build a site for free. You just have to pay for the connection to the customer url. A published website is stamped and dated material and will help you defend your name if anyone ever tries to take it. Don’t just take my word for it, call an IP attorney and at least get a consultation. If they tell you something different, let me know and I will update these blog posts, otherwise they will likely just give you even more info to chew on and process BEFORE choosing all of this.
Peace and Love and Happy Building!
As I said, this would be a multi part series. Why? Because there is so much to cover. There is a lot of detail to the subject and even in this multi post series could not possibly cover all of it. That’s why there are lawyers who devote their entire lives to the subject. If you are really doing this yourself I highly recommend getting a trademark attorney at least to help you. Some of the best money you can spend.
If you’re like me though, and you like to do everything yourself. It is possible even though it can be very frustrating.
Here we go:
What's in a name?
In another post, I wrote about the fact that the USPTO doesn’t like three things in a federal trademark application: Proper Names, Geographic Location and generic words in the industry and category the trademark is being applied.
In my rather long post, I did not talk about the exceptions very much. So let’s jump in to some reason why you may ignore the USPTO and apply for your rule breaking name.
The first exception is, if you intend to stay local, and you are the first with the name in your area, and you can use your geographic wordmark without legally offending someone else's, then it doesn't matter at all. Register your business name with the state you live in and you are done. Otherwise, start over using the concept outlined in the last half of this post.
The proper name exception is similar, you need a pretty unique name first of all, and then you have to be first to register a business in the category you are in. Once it's gone, it's gone. Imagine trying to open a national chain of anything called "Smith's." The trademarks are gone. They don't exist. Except for few brief seconds where a new category opens up.
As for generic words, there aren't really any good times for that. Black Rubber Tire Company is not a brand, it's just what the thing is, no more, no less. Talon Tires, however speaks to the idea of grip, grab, bite and if you have great tires for sale well then, we have a winner.
This is why the words, “green, leaf, canna Mari, Mary, kind, dope, weed, etc,” just have to go from the cannabis industry. Go ahead and google things like “nature’s solution” or “greenleaf dispensary” and see how many results you get.
On the other hand, google “Hippie House Cannabis” or “Sculpture Dispensary” and see how many results you get. Biiiig difference. The last two, I made up on the spot, and I knew they were original before googling to make sure.
The point is, use abstract concepts instead of generic, industry specific concepts and associations! Do you happen to love playing baseball and as you get older you find that cannabis help you continue to enjoy playing even when it hurts a little? Then it would make sense to go for a name like Home Run Cannabis Co. Go ahead and google it. It doesn’t exist yet. Why? Because the relationship is so personal and unique that no one else would think of it.
Ok, I just gave away three solid names for free, Go ahead and take them, or better, take the knowledge and start creating names that mean a lot to you and translate how you feel, and then you will be onto something. Remember also, this is only ONE way to approach naming. A simple google search for "how to name my business" and you will find many many many posts by many companies and people outlining other aspects. You would be wise to do such a search for a couple hours and learn from others as well.
In the next post, I will add the next layer which will really reveal whether your name is worth chasing after to begin with. How to search for your url and how it impacts your trademark.
Happy Brand Building!
What is a trademark anyway?
A trademark is a unique name and or symbol that is defensible in a court of law from use by anyone else. This is the first of a two part series.
There are three things the US Patent and Trademark office doesn’t like, and I have distilled that info for you here.
1. Generic terms for the industry/category. For cannabis this means no green, canna, flower, leaf, seed, CBD, THC, hemp or any other common or generic term directly related.
2. Locations. Humboldt, Cali, Oregon, Denver or any of those will not be federally defensible once there is a Cannabis Trademark Category.
3. No proper names. Sorry, but John Smith Dispensary just won’t hold up. If you have the most unique name in the world, the USPTO might give it to you, but it’s a gamble, you would probably have to do a lot of work to hide that it’s your name… In this case hire a trademark attorney no matter what!
I know some of you are jumping up and down upset and defensive about your name and you don’t want to change or admit that you have a bad name.
There are exceptions. When you combine one of these with something specific, it can work. I did it with Barney Design Co. Mostly because I happened to be first. I got lucky AND I knew what I was doing. Also, I am small, chances are your ambition with your cannabis business are much bigger on a customer scale than me.
But rather than flirt with danger, I would like to share with you what you should be trying to do when naming.
Go for the abstract. Maybe you love Persian rugs so you call your company Ornate Concentrates. Maybe you like the concept of going deep in life and you grow two strains and two strains only, better than anyone so you call it Mariana’s Garden (get it?) Then there's Shady Oak, Icarus Feather, Steel and Denim. You get the idea. The less obvious and directly connected the better. The crux to this is there does need to be a connection for you, no matter how abstract it may be. There needs to be a story. It can’t be random and made up, unless you are Steven King, then you can create an alternate fantasy reality and people will buy into it.
This is the first step to brainstorming a list of names. Did you screw up and name your business California Cannabis or Holistic Wellness Center? There is no better time to change than now. If you need help, I am always here and any brand designer worth a damn knows this stuff so ask them! You live in the age of the internet where you can know as much as the professional, at least enough to ask the right questions to see if they know.
If you have a great name and you want to trademark it, I would advise hiring a trademark and copyright attorney to make sure. David Branfman at Branfman Mayfield Bustarde Reichenthal LLP is a fantastic and affordable attorney who has done a lot in Cannabis and has worked in trademarking and copywriting for a long time. He will work hard to help you create a defensible name that you can protect.
Conversely, if you are super savvy, need to save money and have time, you can register your name yourself. The USPTO is a bit cumbersome and some of the forms and rules don’t make a lot of sense to those of us who don’t speak legalese but I have several friends who have registered their own trademark so it is possible, although I will say they all just about pulled their hair out.
Anyways, more info in the next post,
The revolution will not happen on someone else's platform.
The revolution will NOT be viral. Unless we start using our own platforms and ditching those controlled by massive corporations. The only way out is to use all the marketing and communications knowledge we have gained as humans to build out our own platforms and host our own content and drive our communities there. Otherwise our attention will continue to be the commodity sold to producers who only want us to consume.
This is one of the reasons I built my own site and I keep working on it and changing things and adding content. I won't be constricted to instagram and facebook. This is also why I would ask you, if you are reading this, and you like connecting to me in this deeper way, please send me a real email. Tell me who you are. What you are about. I am genuinely interested. I will email you back. I won't send you sales emails or anything, unless you tell me you want to see my merch designs when they come out. I will reach out occasionally when I see something really important going on and will occasionally ask you to confirm that you still like the emails you get from me.
Oh, and if you reach out because of this blog post, let me know, it gives me an understanding of where you are coming from.
Let's make our own television.
To erase or not to erase?
When I was a kid, maybe in about third grade, I had an art class where a guest artist was brought into the classroom one Friday to teach us. I remember being excited because I was drawing every spare moment of every day and had been for a couple of years.
In part of the lesson the teacher showed us two pieces. One where the artist had clearly drawn without erasing￼. I remember the image was a very natural, flowy line drawn form of a woman in a voluminous dress and was very detailed. The other piece was a series of very black balls where the artist had erased the highlight so there was a very bright contrast between the highlight and the shadow of each ball, making them look like black steel or something. She asked us to raise our hands as to which one we liked. The class was almost universally drawn to the balls. She then asked a question "Is it ok that the artist use the eraser in his drawing to achieve the effect?￼ Should he not have been able to achieve the same result without the eraser?￼"￼
I remember thinking emphatically, no. I remember thinking that it was a greater skill to have drawn such a beautiful form without erasing. Sadly, the teacher was not able to correct my misinterpretation of the lesson that day. The point is this, the lesson really was that both were great ways of attaining different goals. The pieces were very different and therefore the path to the end result was also very different.￼￼￼
In other words, one piece was made completely through processes of addition. The other, however, made its impact through a process of subtraction which gave it a certain striking character that was visually more impressive than the other because of its strong contrast. What am I getting at here? Surely, it has more to do than just a couple of processes of drawing and a lesson on contrast.￼ It does, although I must admit, this analogy breaks here because it really just reminds me of what I really want to talk about rather than being exactly analogous...
This is what I want to really get at. I often tell people I have a philosophy about iteration and editing.￼ I like to say that you should never put the creator and the editor in the same room. It's not an absolute never, but I think it's a generally a good idea to keep them separate and here's why.￼
The creative person is very sensitive. I know, I am one. They love the things that they make. Everything they make is a baby to them. They put their heart and soul into it. The creative needs safe space to create relentlessly without being stopped or told that their ideas are stupid.￼ If you keep the editor from talking to them while they are creating, they will create more and better ideas.
I'm not just talking about two people in a working environment. I am talking about the creative and the editor in your head. We all have them, the angel and the demon. The one telling us that we suck and the other telling us that we're great. The trick is, we need them both, but not at the same time. We get too confused by their back and forth.
If you give the creator free rein and let them create more and better ideas, then you give the editor more and better ideas to edit. On the flip side, keeping the creative out of the room when the editor is at work is very important.￼ When the editor is cutting and killing the darlings and babies of the creator, the creator will get sensitive and defensive and want to keep ideas that might not be that great. Let the editor cut at will after the creator has fully fleshed out all of his ideas.
This is how we arrive at our best work. Let both sides have their day by preventing both of them from getting in the others way.￼￼
Remain neutral to start. You can always add, but once form is established, it is hard to change. Forming out of neutrality, slowly over time, allows for evolution.
We are not rigid. We can admit wrongs and learn to become better. Better at relating our designs to their intended recipients, better at empathy, better at everything.
The recipient of our designs should also form their story into the design. If our design has too much personality there is no room for others. That’s just plain rude.
I am all for breaking rules. We take our culture to new places that way. However, most of culture is built out of what has been built before us. Respecting the tradition and history of design is more important than being original.
Originality after all is mostly the remixing and innovating of tradition. We all stand on the shoulders of giants and our designs succeed when we remember that.
Experience with a broad spectrum of techniques, mediums and applications is exceedingly helpful in design. It enhances our empathy. Synthesis begets synthesis. The more we synthesize, the more rapidly we can expand into new areas of thinking and bring in new information and skills.
On the other side, design is the ultimate discipline of synthesis. The principles of design apply everywhere. Comprehensive understanding of design enables more immediate synthesis of anything.
Simplicity is power.
Say it with less.
Same for graphics.
Simple messages work better than complex designs.
The relief of space makes our design stand out.
Silence defines the sound.
We are against the culture of obsolescence. We make designs that last. We make things that get better with use, age and the beauty of patina.
We despise momentary trends.
We prefer simple shapes, classic typography and timeless stories. We strive for this in design because it is good for our minds, the planet, our economies and our overconsumptive nature.
We like design to be clean, strong and lasting.
Design is the profession of responsibility.
Design goes into the world and makes change.
Bad design makes change we don’t want or need.
Good design makes change that is appropriate and useful.
Our responsibility is to ourselves, our integrity, the quality of the project, and to the public who will use our designs at large.
Design is function. It is mathematical. It solves problems. When we focus on function and solving the problem relentlessly, we arrive at forms that are astoundingly appropriate, and therefore, beautiful.
When function is top priority, design decisions become easier. The function is the meaning, it speaks to us about materials, color, texture, voice, type, lifestyle, culture and more.
As Massimo Vignelli said, “God is in the details.” It is the discipline of process that reveals the details. Creativity does not come through glimpses of inspiration. It is the dedication of consistently applying skill and knowledge with a sprinkle of bravery that brings forth magic.
Process is one of the keys to great design.
Process means we keep going. We don’t stop. We keep digging and exploring.
If we have understanding in our designs and we are communicating, but not touching lives, minds and hearts, then we have missed the mark. This does not mean we stoop to whatever current fad we can to obtain a moment of engagement. We have to find the kernel of truth in our design, because when we find that, we will touch the tribe that we are solving the problem for, creating change, leading to engagement that was not there before.
By standing firm in the river of fads with conviction for what we stand for, we become timeless trendsetters and connect with the best of humanity.
Understanding is useless without language. If we cannot share our understanding with each other then it is in vain. There must be thorough study of language in every design problem. Not only design language, but also the language surrounding the problem itself.
A robust language used properly creates consistency, which is paramount to any great design.
Last week I wrote a fantastic piece on failure..
That's right. I failed to publish it.
I was the wee hours of the morning as usual. I had just finished a pretty long winded piece on my personal failures over the course of my life and the lessons I am embarking on learning from those failures. It was deep. It was detailed. I felt really good about the writing. As usual, I went to make an image for the header, inspired by the words on the page, something to do with rebuilding a bridge. The first part of creating a graphic for me, is to find a source to be an inspiration for drawing or manipulating in some new way.
So I went to search for a cool bridge to draw. I thought I opened a new tab before I typed in the search bar. But I didn't. As my image search opened, I realized I had just closed my writing without saving it.
The lesson is an old one. Save your work along the way and make backups. Also, slow down and double check things. In fact, I normally write in Ulysses, an app that is extremely wonderful for writing and saves every character typed, but I had gotten in a hurry and written the post directly within my site. Always write in an autosave writing program that saves every character.
Then I failed some more. I couldn't really remember how I started the piece. I was so shocked at the loss that I couldn't remember what exactly I had written. Then I got depressed and mad as I sat for almost an hour trying to recreate something that I couldn't find.
But the real lesson is that I can still write about failure. I have more time. I can write a ten piece series on failure. Hell, I can write a fuckin' book about failure. I'm pro level. Last weeks failure isn't holding me down, in fact it has fueled me to do more and share more.
A year ago that would not have been the case. I had all but given up. Thank the Firstborn Starchild for the few real dear friends (you know exactly who you are) who reached out and held me up when I wanted to slip into a hole and disappear from the shame that came through my failures.
So there you go. Many of you feel it. Beaten down. Often by our own decisions or lack thereof. It's okay. You can get up again. Besides, this life of pain is short and it's almost over. It's just dust in the wind. But while we are still here we can get up and sing into its gusts.
Much love friends,
Every part of a design problem must be holistically understood before design can begin.
The entire subject must be fully grasped in order to translate the meaning of the design to the observer.
It is the job of the designer to understand the business and economies of the client fully. This demands an immense amount of collaboration and sharing. That’s the fun part.
To understand is the beginning of great design.
People throw the word around a lot. Brand. What is it? A custom shaped piece of metal that you get really hot and use to burn the shape into the flesh of an animal? No, that's a branding iron...
So is it the mark left on an animal? Yes. That is exactly how we think of brand and brand identity. But it's not quite right still.
We think of brand identity as the tool used to imprint the brand on someones mind like a branding iron. On the other side we think of the brand as the impression we leave on someone when they interact with our identity.
So close. So very close. What's missing is the understanding that it is not we, the brand and marketing people who make the impression. Rather, it is the people we seek to impress. They do it themselves. That's what gets scary. As designers, it's the moment we lose control of our work.
You see, our brand is how others choose to see us. It's the stories they tell themselves. We have no control over that. Not if we choose to be moral people, unlike those who work in government propaganda... But I digress. Sure, we can influence these stories, and we do, but ultimately what our audience thinks of us is up to them.
So what's the trick? How do we get people to understand us properly?
There is no trick. There is no easy way. You have to wake up and do the hard work of being communicative and transparent. You have to quiet your inner Sasquatch who wants to run and hide and stay under the cover of the infinite forest. You have to take the risks of exposing yourself in order to be loved. You have to let the haters hate and do it with poise.
Then, even more importantly, (actually you need to start here,) you need to listen. Listen to the feedback. Hear what your audience has to say to you. If they aren't talking, ask them to. If you don't even have one person in your audience, keep practicing your communication until you do.
Then process the feedback and go at it again. This is how we get better at representing ourselves.
The biggest companies can have the toughest time doing this. Inside of them, you have lots of people who love the company and are showing up, doing good work and serving their customers, wishing that their customers could see them and understand how much love they have for the customer (branding iron). Outside, you have a customer that mistrusts big companies and doesn't really believe the previous sentence at all, in fact quite the opposite, but they know they need the services provided so they feel at the mercy of the big company (brand). So the brand of that company is shit. The best in their field have realized that they way out is through.
There are companies who have survived this distrust. Think Coke and Mc'Donald's. For forty years or so, they have sat right next to tobacco and alcohol when it comes to how we as society regard them. Junk food, we call it. But those companies got square with the idea by saying, "yeah, we know it's junk for your health, but would life be any fun without it?" People understand that. Life without ever having a coke? Lame.
Okay Coke, you're right, life is no fun without you, we all like to party at some point. So society respond and says, "okay, well, if you are going to make money off of fun, and admit that it's not healthy if over indulged, we want you to spend some of your money teaching people how to be healthy." Coke says okay and starts supporting athletics and healthy food programs and buying organic juice companies...
Now what we have here is a giant society wide conversation that Coke is having with all of us. And when they do it right, they are really listening to us.
So at the end of the day, you might say, "I'm not Coke," and there are all these reasons why you don't need to or can't communicate with your audience because you don't have marketing, pr, graphics, film, or photography skills at your fingertips and you aren't even that great at the internet, in fact, you might hate facebook and instagram and you might even think it's ruining us all.
Okay, squatchy. Listen here. You DO have all of those things. You can write like the rest of us. You can speak into a camera on a livestream like the rest of us. You don't have to have all of the skills. You just have to start sharing and listening to our responses. Don't look for the fluff of your friends telling you "great job!" Ignore that stuff. Instead, look for the ones who call you out. Look for those who point out something missing. Take the criticism and refine your idea. We want to help you make it better. We want to feel like we are a part of something bigger than us and you are building that thing, so tell us about it!
While you learn and grow, start sharing today. Share your Identity with us and let us tell you what your brand is and we can go from there.
Have a wonderful day and I can't wait to see you out there in the world!
Many people are rushing to get in on the Cannabis Industry. It has been referred to often as the "Green Rush." For illustration, in a matter of days, the largest cannabis trade show in the world will flood Las Vegas, Nevada. Out of the thirty thousand or more people there, most will know very little about the history and legacy of the cannabis plant or its potential yet they will be seeking financial gain from the plant. Meanwhile, there is a concurrent movement happening. A movement referred to by Skunk Magazine as the "Green Renaissance" A movement to change the face of the world for the better by living closer to nature and the natural processes of the earth.
I am not here to belittle those who are here for the Green Rush. Quite the opposite. I think it is up to us, the veterans of Cannabis, to teach the "noobs" what's up. And it is up to those who are new to humble themselves and start reading and asking a lot of questions before they decide how to be involved. If you want to make money with cannabis, you first need to understand what cannabis wants to do to help you.
For starters let's ask this. Have you read the Emperor Wears no Clothes by Jack Herer? By the way, it's Herer like Terror, just so ya know... Is your brain full of the information contained within that book? If so, why are you so focused on the "cannabis industry" when you should be thinking about the hemp industry?
The information contained within that book alone is enough to start tens of thousands of entrepreneurial efforts in biodegradable plastics, cosmetics, papers, fabrics, adhesives, building materials, and more. Basically, all of the products that we use in modern society can be made from the hemp plant. Yet, for the last seventy years we have been infatuated mostly with the medicinal effects of the plant. This is one of the fundamental shift points we need to focus on.
We need to focus our efforts on supporting businesses that are working in these areas. I have mentioned before that we should be replacing our swag at trade shows with hemp products. How about packaging? I have been looking for hemp plastic packaging for some time, and I have only found one company doing it. Sana Packaging out of Colorado. Kind of unacceptable when Henry Ford was making hemp plastic panels for cars 90 years ago. If you know of more companies doing this, please let me know. Especially a mylar like plastic that is hemp-based and biodegradable, is anyone even trying?
How about paper? My friend Erica Halverson has been working on commercial hemp paper products for quite some time and has everything needed to launch a company with the potential to disrupt the entire paper industry. Where are the investors crawling out of the woodwork to help her do it? I hear about so many investors that want to get involved in cannabis throwing their money into a dispensary or a grow operation when they could start a whole new line of manufacturing processes that could singlehandedly take on tree paper... That's like buying a dive bar in a small town when you have the opportunity to make the bottles that every drink company on the planet needs and wants for the same investment.
The point is this. We are at a flux point in human history. Some very bad people have been making very bad decisions for quite some time. We have the opportunity right now to be at the ground level of a real renaissance. We are trying to eject ourselves from oil, and plastics, and cutting down forests and we have the answer in our hands. The question is what are YOU going to do? What product switch are you going to make? What product are you going to design? It is up to YOU to have no compromise. Set a standard. Be a leader. Show the rest of the world how it can be done. Please, for all of our sakes.
Yesterday I wrote a post about the industry's need to race to the top when it comes to craft cannabis and the small grower.
My dear friend Richard Eastman reminded me about the other side of the spectrum. Free Weed and the end of Corporate Greed.
I am also very passionate about this subject, as I have seen first hand the impact cannabis has on so many medical conditions. I have also seen the impact cannabis has on the health and wellness of people who are not ill, if used properly.
The question is, how to get there? How do we get free weed without eliminating the craft market I spoke about yesterday? I think the answer is simple. Maybe.
Treat raw cannabis as a vegetable. #acannabisplantineverygarden
Our cultural understanding of cannabis needs to shift. Juicing raw cannabis leaves and flowers everyday is one of the healthiest things anyone can do for themselves and their family. Raw, fresh cannabinoids are non-psychoactive and treat many of the health and wellness issues so many are looking to alleviate and then some.
One of the challenges is that we need a national education campaign on this fact while educating people that if they cook the same cannabis it will change the properties and unless the person cooking the cannabis really knows their stuff, you will get wildly unpredictable results.
If more people in our communities were growing cannabis as a vegetable, then those who need free access could more easily obtain it. And no, I don't think it would compromise the elite, handcrafted cannabis market. If anything, I think it would highlight the difference between master growers and the rest of us and make their skill even more valuable.
Cannabis is in flux. California, the world's leader in legal cannabis flower cultivation, is quickly becoming the leader in how to kill the golden goose.
What is the golden goose? I would contend that it is highly crafted cannabis grown by the best cannabis cultivators at the smallest scale. The challenge is, everyone has been trying to scale up. Grow more cannabis and sell it for cheaper. It's a race to the bottom. A race where nobody wins. The second challenge is, California has made it nearly impossible to get started as a very small grower, as the barrier for entry is very high.
But there are a few companies out there who could start this trend. The race to the thousand dollar ounce. The race to the top.
Here's the trick. In order for an ounce of cannabis flower to be bought at this price, it has to be authentic. It has to be cared for at the highest level from seed to sprout, to location of planting, the food fed to the plant, the music played to it throughout it's life, where the water comes from, the way it I harvested, hung, dried, trimmed (or not), cured, how long it's cured and how well, how it's packaged, shipped, presented and finally sold. Not to mention the sales and distribution pipeline has to be perfect and timely because the customer can't buy this product at the wrong time or they will not get what is intended.
That's just the beginning, because not only do you have to build the processes and presentation and distribution to make the ounce authentically worth a thousand dollars, you have to tell the story of that process in a way that educates the consumer why it's worth that. What would happen if I don't buy this on the right day? What if the cannabis got too warm or too cold or exposed to sunlight for a few hours while it cured or sat in the dispensary? You need to tell us every detail of every little decision. When you cut down this particular plant that is this particular ounce, I want to see photographs of the trichomes on the day that it was cut and an explanation of why you made the decision based on all of the attributes of the flower that day. This level of detailed storytelling has to be done in order for you to distill that volume of words down to simple, clean, brand messaging that educates me without bogging me down.
It's not easy. That's why very few have even tried. But I know one thing, if California legacy cannabis is to survive the next fifteen years, we have to start racing to the top and stop competing with cheaper, scalable cannabis. If there is to be a Steve Jobs or Elon Musk of cannabis who will attempt to take on and disrupt the big world players, then there will only be one, and if you are reading this, more power to you, I hope you win. The rest of us have to think like Seth Godin and design for scarcity, rareness, and make our cannabis unparalleled.
Be the Golden Goose.
I love this time of year. Growing up in Montana, the holidays have a special magic. The crisp frozen air, snow everywhere, fireplaces raging, comfy wool socks... mmm. Love it.
Then I became an adult. I learned that people beat each other up for pieces of plastic fabric shaped as Sesame Street characters. I learned that elderly women have been trampled to death in the biggest yearly craze in the nation. Holiday shopping.
It's hotter than baseball in October. It's more popular than the Super Bowl (seriously) and you could actually die from it.
I for one have opted out. I don't buy it. Lol. Why do we participate in such a vile venture? Why do we support those who revel in the frenzy and stir it up so they can make even more money on things that end unused in a closet or better yet in the trash or re-gifted? Odd, I just heard some dude say "but I am getting a TV! I use that every day and the cost savings are too much to pass up!" I don't know if I can help you dude, the TV is eating you.
I beg of you, if you participate in this madness, please find an alternative. Cyber Monday is at least safer and more humane, although just as lost in a forest of consumerist, dopamine fueled insanity.
Let's do something better. How about making your gifts? Revive your painting skills, and don't buy the canvases, find something else to paint on. Mechanically inclined? Give your five closest loved ones a handwritten gift certificate for free labor on one free oil change, minus the oil of course, they need to buy that. ;) The point is, we all have skills that people value, and only children complain about money not being spent on them, even if they look like adults, they are still children. The rest of us love genuine heartfelt time and energy put into a handmade gift.
Whatever you do, please, do something besides continue to support this insane train we are on. This Black Friday thing has been going on nearly one hundred years and it's time for a change, it's likely the best gift we can give our society and our children.
Last night I went to a mansion party in LA. It was grand opening for a cool cannabis brand that has been up and coming for some time.
Cool party. Good weed, good drinks, good music, beautiful people...
There I was, finishing a joint we had sparked at this weed party where there were free lighters, grinders, weed, stash jars and more. As I finished the joint, I began looking for a receptacle for the roach. A garbage can? Nope. Ashtray? Nope. Anything like that for putting the remains of our smoking? Nope.
You see, good design is about thinking things all the way through. What happens in the beginning is important. Where do you get the weed? Where do you get the swag? What materials are they made from? What inks and paints were used? Did everyone in the manufacturing process get a good, livable wage? Very important stuff.
What about the end of a product's life? Where does it go when it has been used? How do we deal with it? Is there a process for that? Do we just sweep it under some proverbial rug and ignore it? We seem to tend to ignore it, as I noted that every good party or festival has the same problem. Not enough bathrooms, garbages or ashtrays. I guess we just don't like to deal with our own shit.
I ended up throwing the roach on the ground, as did the hundreds of other people who were lighting up. I am sure that this morning the cleaning crew became hyper aware of the lack of trashes or ashtrays as they scoured the grounds for roaches and butts. With a little thinking, that job would have been easy and much cheaper and the cleaning money could have been used for something else a little more useful and fun than paying humans tohunt for ground roaches.
So the next time you plan an event, here's a tip. Start at the end. Start with visualizing what happens when all the people are gone and you threw a successful (crowded) event. Visualize the two bathrooms you have for 400 people over the course of 5 hours. Visualize what they look like after 400 people have used them for everything that people at parties use bathrooms for. Visualize where the trash is put when people don't have receptacles nearby as they finish their drink. Visualize the containers you chose for the party or event. Red solo cups? They are everywhere. Cans? Yes you did see a couple in the street on the way back to cleanup. Visualize the thousands of cigarette butts and roaches on the ground.
You get the idea. Solve those problems first and then take care of the fun stuff like the collectible swag and the music and the activation area design... Your party will run better and people will know, even if it's subconscious, that you think about them and care about them very deeply. Isn't that what you want people to think about your brand?
When we design for money, we think short-term. We lack empathy, well at least long term empathy. We get an aha. We think to ourselves, "that's how I can make my millions this year!"
It's easy to make a lot of money, if that's all that matters. I mean, watch Gary Vee, he gives you a new way to make money almost everyday and you don't need much to start. People launch small products everyday that sell in the millions and last for a year or two and then the product stops selling. If you do it right, you can launch a cheap plastic product, make a ton of money and walk away in a year or two and no one's the wiser. Except for that fish choking on the little piece of plastic that ended up in the ocean after some kid threw your little product off the pier, the fish knows what you did.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have Design for Good. When we design for good, we solve real problems regardless of money. We start a clothing company making only products that are from hemp, organic cotton, and leather, rather than polyester or nylon. We start a company devoted to making 3D printing filament out of biodegradable hemp plastic. We make products designed to last and be used for a lifetime or more, rather than something designed to last a month or a year and purchased again. Sorry, but the Gillette model has to go.
If you really want to see where this plays out, think about promotional products. Every year, we have more than 13,000 trade shows in the US alone. At every trade show, there are hundreds of booths packed with thousands of junk plastic products they are handing out as a marketing tool for you to remember them by. Isn't that sweet?
So, every year, we dump somewhere in the tens to hundreds of millions of promotional products into our economy for them to be processed and shit into the ground or the ocean or wherever they eventually end up. Sad, right? It doesn't have to end here.
We have technologies and design solutions for issues like this. The challenge is, there is no short or longterm "money" in it. At least it doesn't seem like it. But look at the organic food movement in the US. Consumers were educated on the ground level. They went to the store demanding organic products even if it cost twice as much. How did it start? Advocates and activists. People who cared more about spending their time educating others and making the food reality than they did about making money in the short term.
So the question is, what can you do today?
Maybe today you were thinking about printing some shirts for your business or something like that. Consider where the material comes from, and consider where it ends up. Finding a source for ethical organic cotton shirts or even better, a good hemp fabric... that's hard. I know. I look all the time. Then you realize that the cost is a lot higher than your $5 t-shirt you normally buy, maybe even three times higher. Then you realize that the fabric isn't as soft. Now you are thinking about just buying those cheap shirts and getting it over with. Besides, who has time for this?
This is how bad design choices are made. The thought process should be this:
I know the fabric isn't as soft, so I am going to buy it anyways and get to know the maker of the fabric and talk to them to see if they are working on improving it. If so, I want to help, what can I do? Not to mention that, maybe I know some people who are good at engineering business systems and they can help us bring the cost of the shirts down so that others might be more inclined to support this business and cause. In fact, I should start a facebook group and link all the people I can find who work in ethical fabrics and get all the heads together. After all, aren't we all trying to change the face of textiles in general?
Do you see what I mean? The simplest thing like ordering shirts for your business can become a nexus point of major cultural change. The question is, are you willing? Will you care that extra amount that it takes to see it through? Will you do it, not just because it will make money, but more importantly, because it is the right thing to do?
I think so. I believe in you.
Peace and Love,
It happens to everyone. You are mid project and you realize that you didn't start correctly and as a result your project isn't quite up to snuff.
This is why design matters so much. Even more, this is why a proper understanding of design is paramount.
The problem arises because we consume so much design everyday. From our house, to our car, to the bowl we eat from, our screens, not to mention the never ending stream of content on our screens... On and on and on it goes, where it stops, nobody knows.
Because we are such great consumers of design, most of us have an experiential understanding of what good design is. But we can't explain it. We definitely could not teach a class on design. Most of us have a hard time actually defining the word.
We are lost in a sea of design, and yet few of us have any real insight into the underpinnings of it all.
The truth is, what we design, designs us in return. The shape of a floor plan in a rail station determines how people walk through that space. The shape of a page, what you put on it and where determines the readers actions as they follow you through your story.
So you might ask, "Why does this matter? It sounds like you are rambling." Here's why it matters.
The world is full of people executing design without even understanding what it is. This is why there is so much bad design. That bad design is LITERALLY affecting all of us, everyday, helping us to continue to make the same choices that we have been making for quite sometime.
It's like a home builder who is an everyday Joe who knows how to build a house because "he's seen a lot of them and he knows what a good house looks like."
Yeah? What about Japanese design and woodcrafting? Know anything about that? How about the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century? The Greene Brothers? Do you know WHY the Japanese built houses the way they did for hundreds of years? On top of that, could you build a house by yourself with no ones help, from start to finish?
The questions aren't meant to make one feel stupid or ignorant. What they are meant to do is point out that if you want to build houses, first you really need to understand not only the proper how, but even more important, the proper why.
It comes down to the little things. Installing the dishwasher two more steps away from the silverware than was necessary means that every time you go from the dishwasher to the silverware drawer you walk an extra four steps. So, if you are super efficient, and you never forget anything on your first trip, you only tally up four extra steps a day. After ten years of living in the home, that little design flaw cost 6 miles of walking or a full day from your life.
You might say, so what? It's not that much. Who cares?
Well, if it is possible that one little flaw that small is robbing you of your precious life one drip at a time, how many other things in your home are that way? What if there are over one hundred flaws like this in the design of your home? Maybe even hundreds? What about your car? What about the supermarket? What about your job? Your phone? Your email? Your social media accounts? Your family? Your vacations?
Hmmm. It's starts to pile up, doesn't it?
Speaking of flaws, why are we currently spending resources globally cleaning up our natural environment?
What if the scientists who were making fuels out of peanuts and hemp oil 150 years ago had won? What if all of our plastics were made from hemp as Henry Ford imagined almost 100 years ago? What if all of these things were biodegradable and more integrated into the way the planet works? It's been possible for a long time. We have the technology. We have everything in our grasp to build the most amazing future for our kids, but it seems so hard to get out of this spiral we have put ourselves in.
Shit. How do we get out?
Start learning how to start. Learn about the the foundations of everything you interact with. Don't just learn about it, put the knowledge to use. Extract the wisdom and meaning from everything in your life and you will start building an excellent foundation. An excellent foundation for what, you might ask. An excellent foundation foundation for being an excellent designer of an excellent future.
In the Cannabis Industry today we have a myriad of problems affecting our marketplace. These problems are trickling down to every area of the industry to the point where many of the largest companies in California have announced serious layoffs and deep budget cuts as we prepare to go into 2020.
Everyone knows that there are many reasons for this:
For those of us who are still fighting on, believing that we can fix the problems created by the state, there is hope, if you can hunker down and hang on. Not only that, this is your opportunity to really see longterm and work to shape the next 40 or more years.
One major way to do that is through branding. Storytelling. How are people going to understand how fragile the flowering and harvesting and curing process is if we don't figure out how to tell them? How will they know that it matters that you let your flowers mature to get those trichomes nice and amber while your neighbor harvested the same genetic early while the trichomes are still clear? How are they going to see that you care so much about the details?
I will tell you how. YOU have to tell them. YOU have to do the writing. YOU have to publish articles on your site and share them to social media. YOU have to talk about your experiences and create new words and terms and share them with the community so we can all learn to use them. YOU have to devote a small portion of your day everyday to telling the story and pushing it to the world. YOU have to hear the feedback and refine the way you tell people so that you get better and better. No one is coming to save you. There is no secret formula. This is it.
As you educate people to your passion and knowledge, your branding will emerge. Who you are will become very clear, to them, to you, to everyone. What makes you different will become nearly impossible to miss. You will continue to gain market differentiation if you stay true to your core values and passions and you strive to communicate that to your customers daily.
I know it's hard. I know it seems like it's more than you can handle. I know you already put in 16 hour days. I know that you used to take off December to April and then work your Spring Summer and Fall relentlessly. I know that now, you don't get to take the winter off because that's how you stay ahead.
Keep going. It's worth it because we only have one life to live and spending it making sure the lives that come after us have a better world because of Cannabis, well, isn't that why we are all fighting so hard?
Yesterday I had the time and fortunate luck to stumble onto Seth Godin's Instagram Live about tension.
He riffed on the fact that creating tension is the process that pulls a person forward toward change. Marketers have used this for a long time to help you make decisions about life. Generally they use it to sell you more and make more money.
Here is an example put forward on the show Brain Games:
You walk into a movie theater, you go through the line and get your ticket. Then you proceed to the ever-expensive concession stand. You want popcorn and you see that the small quart size container is $4 and the gallon size large is $12. If you are like most people, you see the better deal in the small container as you don't want to spend drastically that much more for the large than the small.
The next day you go to see another new movie, only this time you walk in, get your ticket and go to the concession stand and now there is a medium that is exactly a split size between the small and the large and it is $9. Suddenly, your frame of reference for pricing on the small and large is very different. Now, if you are most people, you perceive that the large is now the best deal because you perceive a large savings in the jump from small to medium to large. You buy the large.
These decisions aren't conscious. We are lead around our modern world by our noses and we rarely are aware.
That is the point of this post.
A: Let's all decide to be more aware of the subtle messaging in our consumer oriented world.
B: Learn to use these techniques of tension in your own world to make the world a better place. These techniques aren't inherently bad, it all depends on the level of intent that we put behind our tension.
Riffing a little more, you can learn to see this tension everywhere. The way we get ready in the morning to get the attention of our boss or girlfriend or coworker that we want to impress, The musical tension in a song that makes it go to that super funky bridge, that art piece that makes you wonder just exactly what the artist is saying, the teacher who gives you just enough information to make you want to learn more on your own...
Tension is all around us, and it is up to us to see it and use it for good or let others see it and use it to direct us to whatever purposes they think are good for us.
Which do you prefer?
The intersection of cannabis and the world of design and marketing is quite interesting indeed. Traditionally, in recent history, design has served the corporate and industrial needs of the world by creating messaging and communication intended to sell sell sell. That selling has gone down a path towards more and more convenience, luxury and single use items leading to mass pollution.
On the other side, cannabis is a plant that when studied, teaches us that the natural world has much more to offer. Aside from the cannabinoid content, the oils and the nutritional and medicinal aspects of the plant, it can do nearly anything we can imagine it to do. We can use the oils of the plant to make fuel, plastics (biodegradable at that), cosmetics, adhesives, cleaners, food and more. We haven't even talked about the fiber of the plant, which is one of the strongest we have discovered in nature. It can be used to make clothing, building materials, furniture, insulation... Then imagine recombining the properties of the oil and the fiber...plywood and fiberboard, hemp post-it notes, hemp fiberglass... All the modern products that we make with oil, we can make with plants, and make it so those things are more easily absorbed back into the earth. And I have yet to mention terpenes! The chemical possibilities of cannabis are just as astounding!
The world of design is huge. We don't think about it much as we mostly take it for granted. It's like air. It's everywhere. Every screw, every bolt, every structural beam, every frame, every sign, every road, every fit and finish, design is everywhere. Architectural design, industrial design, graphic design, communication design, sound design, fashion design, product design, packaging design, all of these things have the potential to be majorly disrupted and impacted by the cannabis plant. We haven't even begun.
The revolution that is about to happen in the design world impacts all of us. What we design designs us in return, so we would all do well to really think through the consequences of our actions and to focus on our goals and make current decisions based on that. There is no excuse to put out a cannabis product in packaging that isn't 100% hemp. The only reason that hemp packaging isn't meeting the design standards of normal plastics, papers, cardboards and printing processes is because most companies settle. They settle for tree paper products because it looks better and it's cheaper. Remember the old adage, sell sell sell? Well here we are again.
Just like the organic food movement, real change will happen when consumers decide they don't care if the packaging doesn't look as good because the concept of "better" has a new definition. Better means the blacks are not necessarily the blackest when printed (yet), but the ink and paper are compostable and plant based so it returns to the natural earth more easily. It means that having shiny gold foil plastic inside of a box might have to be clear or brown for now and the consistency might not be as good, but again, It's compostable and better for us and our environment. Wouldn't it be great if 100% of our trash could convert directly to compost and mulch for farming and gardening?
We have to make the decision to tell a new story about what better is. Our concept of comfort and convenience has to change, and we have to make the demand with our dollars. If you are a consumer, look for products made from partial or 100% hemp and buy them even if the quality isn't there yet. It's a tiny sacrifice in the longterm. If you are a business, look for packaging that is hemp based and use it, even if the look and feel isn't there yet. Better yet, if you have a business that is currently in fabrics or plastics or any kind of product manufacturing, you ought to be creating your own sources or processes for more and more hemp in your products. First movers are going to win in the long run with this strategy. Use it as a story to promote your corporate responsibility. Publicly shame companies and competition not doing the same. Show your customer that their dollars are making real demonstrable change.
Tell others about why you are making these decisions and encourage them to do the same. This is how revolutions happen friends so let's stay on target.
Love and Peace,