There are 4 things I would like to reflect in my final blog, 4 things that made my stay at Kingston University memorable and useful, 4 lessons that I will implement in future.
“More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no MBA courses are given on the subject.”- Peter Drucker
One of the reasons I have decided to do my MA was the opportunity to build a wide network of useful contacts and simply collaborate with interesting people. Why do we need to collaborate? My answer is simple – because you never know what kind of help you might need and knowing the right people makes life easier. If this answer is too cynical, there is another reason for networking – it was determined that networking is one of the vital skills innovative people possess. However, networking might have different motives and intentions, and that is something that distinguishes selfish networking from innovative networking. Unlike chasing self profit like boosting career or accessing resources, innovative entrepreneurs look for opportunities to enhance their knowledge and extend experience. It is known now that creativity is about connecting existing things in a new way instead of inventing brand new things. Creative people know about it and intentionally look for networking which allows sharing information and exchanging ideas (Dyer, Gregersen and Christensen, 2009).
Networking is also about diversity. Knowing that, a lot of academic assignments are now based on team work which is aimed to encourage collaboration and exchange the experience. Working with people from different backgrounds is great, however the diversity of people is not enough to be creative and work productively. There should be a common passion all team members need to share in order to get started and progress later. The problem is hidden not in the difference between business and creative suits people. All conflicts arise from disbelief in what you are doing. After some time you can get on or negotiate with the most complicated person in the world. However, it will be impossible to work together on the project if there is no common belief in it, trust and accordingly motivation. That is something I found out through working in a team this year. The lesson I have learned – choose people who share the same interest and are as enthusiastic about what you are going to work on, as you are. And only then, look at their background, experience and skills. That is why nowadays employees are first of all looking for people passionate about the work they apply for since it is always easier to teach people and help them develop certain skills than ignite their passion and intrinsic motivation (Workshop on Pitching Yourself with Susie Galbraith of BLUEDOOR).
“Ideas that spread, win”- (Seth Godin)
According to statistics
– A corporate user receives and sends on average 156 messages a day (WARC, 2011)
– 1 in 5 couples meet online
– 1 in 5 divorces are blamed on Facebook (Youtube)
– the average European spends 11 hours per week on social media (WARC, 2011)
– Over 829,000 videos are uploaded every day on Youtube (www.businesstocommunity.com)
These numbers are startling just as social media itself, the use of which I started to discover during this course.
Social media is a quite new phenomenon which has already revolutionised advertising, marketing and many other industries. As recently as back in 2005, the Internet was remaining full of messages which did not have any meaning or exact purpose, and there was a lot of talking without trying to be heard. The appearance of such social networks as MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube have changed the content of the online world and shaped a completely new meaning and applications for the Internet. The way people and companies interact with their customers has changed and will keep on shifting with the further social media development (WARC, 2011, TED, 2008).
Our small business project gave me a good chance to experience the opportunities social media gives to develop a business. Through using such social media platforms as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter I tried to build our product awareness. Lisa Mayer’s workshop on Social media was of a great help as I obtained a better understanding of how social media works. Further are the main ideas and lessons I have learned:
> As a global tool for sharing knowledge and exchanging information social media brings a lot of new opportunities for entrepreneurship. It makes networking and spreading ideas as easy as never before.
> On the other hand, now that anyone can speak out and share experience, quality, customer trust and needs are becoming the priority (WARC, 2012).
> Social media is effective only if used skilfully. The following points are important to remember while organising social media campaign: defining target market; using brand personality and identity/being genuine – honesty is important to win customer trust; engaging content – igniting relevant conversation instead of a boring one way communication (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/223449, Lisa Mayer’s workshop on Social Media, classes with Mark Passera)
Dreaming & Working Hard
“And, when you want something all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”-
Having a dream can be a great driving force. It is true that sometimes we simply do not dare to dream or believe in our dreams. Without a dream there is no chance to reveal our unique calling. Meeting inspiring people is the best thing that can probably happen to a student who has a long way to go towards his dream career. This year we were lucky to have a lot of great guest speakers who served us as a great example of being a successful entrepreneur in a creative field. I will mention just a couple of them who left the greatest impression on me.
Wayne Hemingway presentation and speech on creative career day made me believe that anything is really possible if we dare to dream and work hard on it. Wayne Hemingway is a famous English designer and a co-finder of fashion brand Red or Dead. His story of success started with a small market stall in Camden back in 1982, when he and his wife had no money and just decided to empty their wardrobes, and sell their clothes. Later they started buying used clothes and shoes at incredibly low price, remade it and sold at 20 times higher price. By the end of the first year in the market they already had 16 stalls. After Wayne started designing his own style clothes while his wife was responsible for sewing it. Soon they received a huge order from Macy’s, a big store in the USA. Now Hemingway Design specialises in designing a wide range of things – architecture, clothes, furniture and so on (Wayne Hemingway presentation on Creative Career Event).
We also had a great class with Rob Fitzpatrick who I believe has inspired many of us and gave a lot of valuable advice on starting up a business. It was him who encouraged me to pay more attention to blogging as a great tool for marketing your business. These are the main ideas and lessons I have attained in regard to blogging:
> Blogging needs practice and regularity just as any other job
> Blogging helps to analyse and understand your business better as every next blog is a chance to test your ideas
> Blogging needs time to develop and create traffic
> A blog with good content will eventually pay off (Rob Fitzpatrick, http://thestartuptoolkit.com/blog/category/featured/)
After all it means that explaining is not enough, examples are necessary to illustrate things and motivate. That is why meeting people from creative industries who managed to go a long way to make their dream come true, will stay with me as the most vivid memory and the best motivator to keep on working.
Although dreaming is useful, but might be not enough to make things happen. Hence, working hard, experimenting and sometimes failing is crucial to reach anything. We might be working in the wrong direction, however, that is the only way to find what works and what should be changed. Our actions are a direct testament of our thoughts. Therefore, as long as we want something and keep on working towards it, the right circumstances, events and people will be there to help us.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.” – Steve Jobs
There is still no exact answer where creativity comes from, what fosters and kills it. Since all my modules during the first year were mostly related to creativity topic I would like to sum up what creativity became to mean to me.
Creativity is a collective process. It is not individualistic, but a highly social process. It flourishes as a result of individuals being imbedded in systems and networks. Therefore, I think it is wrong to associate creativity only with individual talent. Creativity should be understood as a whole process.
Informative It is said that creativity is not an inborn quality, instead it can be developed as a result of fostering the following skills – networking, questioning, observing, experimenting and associating (Dyer, Gregersen and Christensen, 2009). There is a common element in all of these skills – all of these skills require excellent information management. Possessing information, data and various experience is crucial as it shapes a ground for developing associations, connecting ideas and thus generates creativity.
Creativity is a hard work, passion, curiosity and courage. Unlike many people think creativity is not easy, it requires a lot of work and persistence. As Thomas Edison said, ‘The only difference between me, that’s supposed to be lucky, and the fellows that think they are unlucky is that most fellows try a few things and then quit (Bilton, Cummings, 2010). However, passion and genuine interest makes work easier. A lot of successful entrepreneurs started their businesses just as a hobby, simply out of interest. Finally, curiosity and courage build creativity. A desire to understand and not being afraid to try and fail is something that is typical for creative people
(Seth Godin, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPuYqH_zPJg&feature=related).
Now I am happy to understand better what creativity is about, as I know where it might come from, where to look for it and how to generate it.
My Future Plans AFTER ALL
As I am a part-time student, unlike most of the students on my course, I have one more year ahead. Therefore, I believe, many things which will inspire and direct me after leaving Kingston are still going to happen next year. At the moment I have highlighted the topics and areas I would like to study and work on more. These are social media – my next step is getting hands on experience in that area. Probably as a result of our academic blogging, I am now starting to work on organising my own blog and later web site. Apart from that, I have started to think on my own business. The lectures we had, but most importantly the guests we had, have given me certain confidence and inspiration to start my own business. I already have a couple ideas about the business. Therefore, my next year together with my academic commitments, will be devoted to the further research of the business idea I have. To make the idea work I will use the lessons I have learned and talked about before…
Collaboration/Networking – finding the right people and building relationships
Social media – developing my own web site, blog, Twitter, Pinterest etc
Dreaming&Working Hard – never stop dreaming and keep on working towards making it true
Creativity – staying curious, hungry for everything new and just keeping my eyes open