Blog : Thoughts

Projects with Purpose

Projects with Purpose

When do you feel most engaged, fulfilled, and inspired by your work? Do you feel like your work has purpose? These are the questions I am pondering for myself. I’m playing with a new slogan of Projects with Purpose and wanted to talk with you about what that means and the process I took to get here.

I had a friend date with a fellow business owner today and it is always interesting to see how we describe our work and how it’s perceived by others. While both of us have been working in the same areas, I feel like for myself I am talking about it in different ways and am looking to see how it is perceived by others. My focus has been marketing strategy, planning, and project management and recently I’ve decided to put my project management foot forward. (I still do my other work yet I have found that there is more of a demand for marketing project management.) With this decision being made, this is where we get to the fun part of any client discovery work, where we have an idea of who we are, what we are doing, and why and then we connect the dots with the customer. (This process can just as easily be done in the reverse and start with the customer.)

With this clarity in direction, how am I talking about my work now? How am I better engaging with my customers? Well this is where I could use your help. I have a few ideas and want to test them with you. I’m all about sharing the work that goes into the work and this is where I’m at now.

I’ve determined that there is an umbrella and 2 buckets that I feel like explain what I’m doing for project management.

Umbrella: Projects with Purpose (this is my why and what motivates me)

Bucket 1: The type of projects – video, website, exhibition, program, events

Bucket 2: The industries I’m passionate about – art, travel, fashion, food, sustainability, innovative companies (working in a field of exponential growth)

Where I’m at right now is turning this to a cohesive story that resonates with my target audience. (Which honestly needs to be refined as well as it is a mix of business owners, collaborative partners like agencies, and ideally C suite contacts for the larger scale projects I want to work on.)

What was the process I took to get here?

  • Client discovery work for myself – who are you, what are you doing, why are you doing it
  • Talking to others – having conversations with fellow marketers and business friends about my ideas
  • Storybranding – I’m a big fan of this process of following what makes a great story and translating it to what makes a great brand (in particular having a character, who has a problem, that gives them a plan, that calls them to action, that leads them to success etc.)
  • Notecards – writing out my goals (more like feeling statements of what I want) on notecards to have at home and the office for me to see on a daily basis (I’m a visual person and the act of writing it down and seeing it is very helpful for me)

What is next? 

  • Turning these ideas into a story (will be working with a writer on this:)
  • Refining target audience

What is my ask? 

  • Does projects with purpose resonate with you?
  • Where do you see a need for contract/freelance project management in your circle of business?

I welcome your thoughts on this direction and what is resonating with you! I’d also love to hear what you are pondering. Looking forward to starting a conversation.

All the best,

Dani

 

P.S. I have it on my mind to also do a post or Facebook Live on the future of work, how I can be an agent for change in my community, my grand plans for Dani Inc, The Healing Tree Circle (a healing center I’m collaborating on with others) and my other business idea Moonwater. I’m thinking big right now and have lots of ideas I want to chat about!

 

The 3 P’s + Strategic Project Management

The 3 P’s + Strategic Project Management

There’s a few questions that keep popping up for me lately, what do you actually do and when I talk about my experience people often ask why I closed Joy Works Marketing and how what I am doing now is different. I finally feel like I have an answer for those questions! As you know I love to pose questions in return, so what questions keep popping up for you? What patterns are you seeing?

It was on a walk after a chat with a friend about my work that I realized how to clearly and concisely communicate how what I am doing now is different from before. I call it the 3 P’s. They are Personal, Project, and Partner.

While Joy Works Marketing was based on having a team of contractors, my work now is based on partnerships. I’ve formed a web of partnerships for my  work and that includes other agencies and marketing collaboratives (like SheWolf, a women’s marketing collaborative).

The next P is project based, instead of doing ongoing marketing, I focus on project work. Ideally I’m working on a project for 3-6 months and it could include a website redesign, large scale video production, launch of a new campaign, product line, or program, or rebranding.  

Lastly, I feel what I am doing is more personal. You are working with me and my partners rather than a traditional agency. Hopefully that better explains the difference between my previous and current work. If not, please let me know! I want to be able to explain this to people:)

To answer the other question of what I actually do – I am calling it strategic project management. I love to help business owners with their marketing strategy and planning and that includes creating content calendars, brand documents, and promotional plans. Then after providing more clarity and direction in the strategy phase, I like to switch to planning and project management and make sure the strategy is seen through. Ideally I’m the person you talk to first before you give direction to your social media manager, email marketer, or other marketing folks. That way we know they have a solid foundation in the strategy in order to do their best work.

Businesses that have no marketing team or 1-3 team members are a fit for my services as I can help them on special projects. Most marketing people and business owners are so entrenched in day to day management that when a special project comes along like a website redesign or new launch they don’t have the capacity to give it the attention it needs. That’s where I help with strategy and planning and make sure it’s seen through to completion.

So how does this help you? Ideally this gives you an idea for new collaborative ways of doing business and when you have your next major marketing project you think of other ways to move it forward through partnerships and bringing on folks like myself to assist you. I know it can be overwhelming to manage your day to day marketing plus larger projects that come up. There is a way through the chaos though!

What Is Going On Here?

What Is Going On Here?

I am reading Good Strategy / Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt and would like to share my notes with you. The key point is in the title of this post, ‘What is going on here?’. The key to strategic work is figuring out what is going on. Not just deciding what to do, but the  problem of understanding the situation.

All of the below are my organized highlights…

Bad Strategy

First, let’s talk about what a bad strategy looks like.

To detect a bad strategy, look for one or more of its four major hallmarks:

  • Fluff. Fluff is a form of gibberish masquerading as strategic concepts or arguments. It uses “Sunday” words (words that are inflated and unnecessarily abstruse) and apparently esoteric concepts to create the illusion of high-level thinking.
  • Failure to face the challenge. Bad strategy fails to recognize or define the challenge. When you cannot define the challenge, you cannot evaluate a strategy or improve it.
  • Mistaking goals for strategy. Many bad strategies are just statements of desire rather than plans for overcoming obstacles.
  • Bad strategic objectives. A strategic objective is set by a leader as a means to an end. Strategic objectives are “bad” when they fail to address critical issues or when they are impracticable.”

If you fail to identify and analyze the obstacles, you don’t have a strategy. Instead, you have either a stretch goal, a budget, or a list of things you wish would happen.

When a leader characterizes the challenge as underperformance, it sets the stage for bad strategy. Underperformance is a result. The true challenges are the reasons for the underperformance.

A leader may successfully identify the key challenge and propose an overall approach to dealing with the challenge. But if the consequent strategic objectives are blue sky, not much has been achieved. The purpose of good strategy is to offer a potentially achievable way of surmounting a key challenge. If the leader’s strategic objectives are just as difficult to accomplish as the original challenge, there has been little value added by the strategy.

Good Strategy

Good strategy requires leaders who are willing and able to say no to a wide variety of actions and interests. Strategy is at least as much about what an organization does not do as it is about what it does.

The kernel of a strategy contains three elements:

  • A diagnosis that defines or explains the nature of the challenge. A good diagnosis simplifies the often overwhelming complexity of reality by identifying certain aspects of the situation as critical.
  • A guiding policy for dealing with the challenge. This is an overall approach chosen to cope with or overcome the obstacles identified in the diagnosis.
  • A set of coherent actions that are designed to carry out the guiding policy. These are steps that are coordinated with one another to work together in accomplishing the guiding policy.

Good strategy is not just “what” you are trying to do. It is also “why” and “how” you are doing it.

A Letter to Fellow Startup Ladies

A Letter to Fellow Startup Ladies

How often are you asking yourself big questions about the decisions you make day to day? I know for me it’s not often enough. I read books, listen to podcasts, have engaging conversations with friends, yet it’s when I am quite that I’m able to process all this information. It could be a walk in the woods or when I’m at home by myself, this is when I decide it’s relevance in my life, what I want, and ponder the decisions I’m making. So what am I pondering now?

The role of women in the startup ecosystem. I know tech is the hot subject, but let’s just start with women in the startup scene first. Then we can touch on the tech aspect. Yes, we all know there is a gap. What I want to talk about is what we do within that gap and the choices we make.

I’ve founded several businesses over the years and been active in the startup scene off and on through them. I never considered my businesses startups though, they were just businesses. Some I sold, others closed, and some left to go inactive. It wasn’t until recently that I really felt like I was in the startup scene. Why? What made me feel like I was really in startup land? Maybe it was all the pitch events I’ve gone to recently or the fact that I am now starting another venture. It’s been 3 years since I started my last new venture and the world as a whole seems to be moving so quickly let alone the lighting pace of the startup world. I feel the energy and restlessness of the other startups and founders and how hard everyone is working on their idea. It’s intoxicating. Yet it feels very much like a machine. The machine of venture capitalism, of accelerators, pitches, how to raise funds, the list goes on of topics and systems that are set up to support start ups. Don’t get me wrong, this is all great. It’s just figuring out how to navigate it that can be challenging.

Now I will bring it back around to women in this crazy ecosystem. I want to talk about in particular the types of businesses women are founding and the support for those businesses. I myself am founding a new lifestyle business and I’ve seen many other women lean towards that or product based businesses. Tech is still dominated by men. I say that with no connotations, it is what it is right now. The issue here is that a lot of the support for startups goes to tech businesses. I know of some programs that focus on women or creative ventures, yet the top dollars and resources are still for tech.

As a women in this strange startup world I feel like our choices are to stick to our ideas regardless of what the industry leaders or ‘experts’ say or to start a conversation with them about how we could take our product or lifestyle brands and techify them. I know there are other options, at the moment I see these as the 2 bigs ones in front of us. Stay with our original idea or start to experiment with how to modify it to fit into the ever increasing popular tech category.

I want to talk about 3 things around this decision to modify our ideas or product — power, criteria, and what I call the 3 legged stool.

Let’s start with the 3 legged stool. This includes your values, vision, and mission. This is your core, without this you cannot move forward. (As I am typing this I realize I need to redefine this for my own venture so I feel your pain around digging into this:) What I mean by values are the values of the new venture you are starting. For example, mine are connection, self-expression, passion, growth, beauty, and joy. This is what the business is built on and the filter through which I make my decisions. For vision, this is how the world is a better place because your business is in it, it’s inspirational and aspirational. For me, my vision is to see other women light up. You know the look when you see a woman truly happy and excited about something;) The mission is then how you accomplish your vision. (Still working on the wording for this myself.)

So how does this apply to women in the startup ecosystem? You need to know what these are for yourself in order to make the best decisions for you and your business. If you are debating on whether to seek funding, apply to an accelerator program, or bring on a new partner, these are your guiding posts. Will the core of the business still be the same if you decide to do X, Y, or Z? Keep these values close to your heart, they are non-negotiable.

The next is criteria, how are you and your business being judged and by whom? What is their experience and perspective? I feel like it’s important for anyone not to take anything personally but especially women in this space. Too often I find myself on the feedback loop from hell (I should have applied, why am I beating myself up for not applying and the circle continues) or having a list of coulds, shoulds and have tos running through my mind. The startup space is fierce and there is competition for attention, funding, and spots in programs. Yet take at step back and ask yourself what criteria are decisions being made by. Do the decision makers have this freely available? Also, what criteria are you making your decisions by? It goes both ways.

Lastly, remember your power. Yes you. There are more and more opportunities for startups each day. There may be a day where they are vying for your attention rather than the other way around. Either way, you have a choice on what to do with your business, time, and money. Don’t be intimidated by the credentials of so and so or start to say ‘No, I couldn’t possibly do that’. We are all a little crazy for starting businesses in the first place so we might as well own it. Remember that your power lies with you, not because of any external validation. Yes those are nice, and also fleeting. Everyone that you may look up to or be slightly intimidated by had to start somewhere too.

With these 3 things in mind, your power, criteria, and the 3 legged stool, I find it much easier to navigate this space. I just keep showing up in my own way, that’s what will change the space. Everyone being themselves and not someone they think other people want to see. That’s how the gap will start to change, because each of us fabulous, entrepreneurial women are showing up as ourselves. Not trying to be like anyone else.

Also, going back to my original question of options… How have I changed my business because of the ecosystem? I’ve actually started to toy with the idea of adding internet of things to my idea. It’s in progress yet I know which aspects of my business are non-negotiable and I am playing with the rest. It has taught me to see things in new ways and ask myself tougher questions. Don’t be afraid of these changing dynamics and the focus on tech, start to ask questions and think about where you want you and your business to be.

Ultimately there is always a place for lifestyle brands, products, and any other underdogs in the startup scene. There is a space for it because you say so. Not because of what anyone else says. That has been my lesson. If I want to see more handmade products, then I need to support that. If I don’t, will that go away like my favorite book stores too? We all have a say in these things. What will yours be? What big questions are you asking yourself?