Friday, August 28, 2009 1 comments

Everything I Know I Learned from Reality Television

Sometimes, when I'm really low, I decide that the best thing about this period of funemployment is my 10AM date with Live with Regis and Kelly. And my 11AM date with Kathie Lee and Hoda. And my 12PM date with, um Blind Date. Try not to judge - talk to me when you get the pink slip, okay?

And while I'd rather melon-ball my eyes out than admit love for the hot mess that is Project Runway (and by that I mean, the single best thing that has happened to LifetimeTelevisionForWomen EVER); recently, I've developed a certain respect for shows like The Bachelorette, America's Next Top Model, and yes, even Flavor of Love.

If I may? Imagine Flavor Flav is a highly coveted job in PR, or publishing, or pizza making. Instead of submitting a written list of your media placements, literary achievements, or past pies alongside the lists of a thousand other literal gold diggers, why don't we job seekers just show up at Flav's house, mix, mingle, complete a few challenges, and the last one standing gets an offer?

I'm serious. Forty Agency here in Phoenix claims to have hired most of their crew based on personality and precociousness, and is currently seeking video in leu of of curriculum vitae. So why not take that kind of thinking to the next level? While I don't know that a cool video always equals a top notch Account Exec, or a poor video always nets a poor Director of New Business, I do know that real competition brings out in people something that very few other things in this world do: Their True Nature.

And isn't that what makes a good employee? It isn't really about where they used to work, or what their title was or wasn't, or the resume style they prefer. For many jobs, it's about who they are, how they handle themselves in professional situations, whether they have the aptitude for the job, and the ways in which they demonstrate the skills they have.

So what about it, Hiring Managers? Why not hold an event when you need to fill your next position? Perhaps an open house of sorts - where current staff and potential staff convene to determine who really is Your Company's Next Top Hire. I'd be there with my wit, wisdom and worldly wiles... competing to get the most face time with your top executives, sizing up the weaknesses of my peers and proving via my skills and personality that I can do the job. Or at least, that I deserve a second date.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 3 comments

Creativity Begets Creativity

As a creative person, do you ever feel it's "feast or famine?" One day, despite barely escaping Death by Caffeine your best idea involves laying on the couch, and the next you are so prolific in your work that Apple should be knocking down your door with offers of exorbitant consulting fees, a plush office and a company hybrid jet (flown by Brad Pitt and serving only calorie free hot fudge sundaes of course). How does this happen!?

There are plenty of credible studies on the concept, but in my experience, I've found that on my best days there are two constants: The presence of other creative people, and a variety of projects and stimulus. Trying to design something cool alone in my house all day almost always results in ...not much, but a day split between writing projects, design projects, baking, cleaning and happy hour with friends more often than not finds me happily creating into the wee hours of the morning.

This humble theory o' mine was clearly exemplified last week at Creative Connect, a meeting of designers, writers, photographers and artists in the Valley. While I'm the first to note the sheer ridiculousness of a bunch of egotistic, narcissistic, hipster Creatives out to "network" [read: get some gainful employment]; last week, when I was finally able to (sort of) let go of my own egotistic, narcissistic, hipster tendencies and actually look up from my fruit and cheese and beer-because-I'm-making-a-statement, I was pleased to discover a handful of great people I already knew (the lovely and talented Jennifer Bates and Lynelle Grimes among others) and a few I'm happy to have met there.

I soon found myself drifting around the room with a little group making hilariously snarky comments to each other and I started feeling less like I should have stayed home and more like the smart, creative, connected person I know I am somewhere under the nervous smile and vintage jewelry.**

Part way through the evening, true Drifting Creatives Martin Hooper and Gavin Braman - think Flight of the Concords do Graphic Design - introduced themselves: two new graduates from Texas "designing their way across the country." Picking up simple design projects to pay for gas and food and crashing similar networking events in each town, the two are building for themselves an interesting and diverse resume, and documenting their experience in short video diaries and via Twitter. Bravo guys - this is the kind of innovation and intelligent risk taking that I'm most inspired by. Here you are, practicing a wide variety of design and media in your day to day life, and seeking out other creative people in which to give your work some context.

As the beer and wine did their thing on us all and we started to relax, I began hearing some really great ideas come out of my little posse. Suddenly things around us stopped being intimidating and started being worth doing or at least dreaming about. I myself went home that night and promptly googled Improvisational Cuisine (called Posh, a Scottsdale restaurant definitely not on my list of Cheap Dates but profoundly enticing all the same, is owned and run by hometown boy done good Josh Hebert) and began plans for a "Please Hire Me" singing telegram to be delivered to wherever those drifting boys end up.

It got me thinking, shouldn't there be a place where creative people, employed or otherwise, can go - to work on individual projects in a communal space? Where they can bounce ideas off each other and pick up Photoshop tips, share music and be inspired and inspire others? The thing is, I think Chandler has one. Has anyone heard of Gangplank? From what I understand, the organization among other things, offers a free place for web professionals to work on client projects. But what constitutes a web professional? What constitutes a client project? I'd like to check it out but I'm short on moxie these days - do I need an invitation? Is it some sort of Manson-esque religious cult started by Steve Jobs and requiring an Ipod? Am I supposed to bring offerings of organic free trade coffee to appease the design gods? Will anyone sit by me if I don't have the right PBJ on White Wonder Bread in my Saved By the Bell lunchbox? What if I'm not cool enough? Or talented enough? How will I ever make it through seventh grade! Oh oops, excuse me while I shove back my junior high insecurities.

Hopefully, it is exactly as it's manifesto pontificates: a place for people who value collaboration over competition. Let me know if you've been there, and what you think.

Peace Love and Woodstock my friends - enjoy the anniversary of ideals by putting them to work in the Desert.

**Shameless Plug! I've got a mortgage to pay!

Sunday, August 9, 2009 1 comments

Car Talk: An Ode to Dads, Brothers, and Good Friends' Husbands

It had been seven years since she rolled off the lot,
shiny and new, with love she was bought.

Seattle to Phoenix and all in between,
Mexico, Kansas, and Colorado she'd seen.

A few came before her, less shiny or new
each well-taken care of by "Dad" - Woo Hoo!

"Gwendolyn the Golden Girl" was the name she was given,
fast and furious was the way she was driven.

A ding here, a dent there - who cares she'd had fun!
She felt invincible - forever she'd run!

Alas! Disaster struck when it least was expected
perhaps she'd have been better had she not been neglected.

It's true - there were times when she had needed some care
but unaware went her owner, without that "Dad" there.

"Dad" had been great, he'd kept all their cars right
but explain he did not, and so on came her "check engine" light.

Day by day and bit by bit
lots of things started breaking, and a mirror - it just split.

Away from the door on the driver's side,
The plastic had warped and shook on each ride.

So to save money and time some epoxy was sent
into the gap and worked like cement.

Oh Joy! What luck! That mirror- it was stuck!
As was the window - quite tight (What the Fuck!).

Add that to the list of woes Goldie had,
at that last crappy mechanic - her owner was Mad!

But out of the desert came a hero, a friend!
It was Ike to the rescue - a hand he did lend.

He picked and he prodded, listened and thought,
and helped diagnose the diseases she'd caught.

He told her owner what needed to be done
what to say to the mechanic who'd messed up a ton.

And guess what else that awesome Ike did?
He fixed that glued window - he did! Yes he did!

So into the night that little car sprang,
with a spring in her step - and nary a clang.

She ran through a drive-thru, her window rolled down
not having to open her door like a clown.

So thanks my dear friend for lending your hubby,
to fix my little car, and in the midst get quite grubby!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 0 comments

Cheap Dates - Part 2

I have a confession to make.

I talk a big game about our culture's unhealthy reliance on "things" and "stuff." But when I set out to live cheap last month, I was secretly thinking "yeah, like I'm really going to SHOWER for this." But now, as I sit here in my room, overwhelmed by all the amazing community-building, inexpensive opportunities for fun and fiber, I am taunted by Lazlo The Chihuahua who has positioned himself ever-so-subtly next to a plaque reading: "It's Not Shopping, It's Retail Therapy." Even my dog thinks I'm a fraud.

While he may be partially right, that I may still love the "cha-ching" of New Shoes Being Purchased, today I am proud to announce that I am now 100%, no-holds-barred, hook, line and sinker, fully bought into the movement I'm fond of calling The Great Cheap Date.

To be part of The Great Cheap Date, one must be willing to put in just a few extra minutes online or lingering at the coffee shop bulletin board to find that awesome out of the way happy hour, a free independent film screening or bingo tournament that isn't necessarily advertised in old town Scottsdale.

And I'm not the only one pushing for this kind of life. Every magazine I open these days has a list of things to do with little or no cash. And since I've become interested (read:obsessed) with living cheap, I've been inundated with ideas and articles thoughtfully clipped out and mailed to me from all parts of the country. Thanks mom, for Woman's Day Magazine, June 2, 2009 Issue, Page 78.

Keep in mind that a Great Cheap Date doesn't have to be of the romantic kind (although lets be real, aren't those the best kind?) but can be with a friend, family member, professional network or even alone. Sometimes what a soul needs most is a little Me Time. And since it is a blistering 111 degrees today, stay in and feed the need.

First off - a few online fun sites along the lines of "time-wasters-I-would-never-consider-doing-on-the-clock-if-I-actually-had-a-job" type:, the site that helps you make the real important decisions in life, Benign Objects and Design Delights when you feel like swooning over something other than Colin Farrell, and Not Your Grandmother's Crossword Puzzles. There's CheapHealthyGood written by the very funny and very hungry Kristen Swenssen and a new favorite of mine Lords and Ladies of Leisure - which touches the soft spot I have in my heart for the unemployed.

And how about learning a new skill? Split the cost of with a friend and you may both master Photoshop, Dreamweaver, or even Microsoft Word! The best software tutorial I've ever seen. What about mastering the Art of the Mixtape? Remember those? When just the right mix of songs could tell that hot professor why you - a design major - did so well in his Calculous class or when you found out your best friend's boyfriend was a cheating sleaze and needed Carrie Underwood, Hinder, and Brandy and Monica to tell the story? The perfect mix is important, and done right might just score you some home-baked brownies, or at least some brownie points.

And when the inevitable happens as it often does - Twitter gets too many tweets, Facebook times out, no one has emailed you in at least an hour and your laptop battery bleats out its last charge - THROW A PARTY! Not a lavish affair, but a rocking, fun, casual get together. Think board games and BYOB, a Wii Tennis tournament and night swimming. Give it a theme - Margaritas and Mustaches, Christmas in July, 80's night, 60's night - anything to get people to connect and laugh and take the edge off our money woes for awhile. Better yet - host a Swap Party and you may find yourself a new pair of shoes cute enough that you don't even miss the "cha-ching."