But, I can’t even draw?

But, I can’t even draw?

But, I Can’t Even Draw?

why creativity goes beyond artistic ability

Creativity. It’s a funny old word, isn’t it?

I remember being fifteen and getting ready to take my GCSEs. A select few of us were called off the playground and into a meeting at lunch time. How annoying when I have a goal to keep for my team! But me and my fellow odd-bods turned up at the meeting to be met by the head of Maths and Physics. Odd it seemed. The message was clear:

You won’t achieve anything with Art or Drama, so you are wasting one of your GCSE choices. Instead, we are encouraging you to do more ‘traditional’ subjects. You won’t get anywhere with art…. let me repeat that… you won’t get ANYWHERE with art.

This meeting stands out in my memory. The rest of my puppy fat memories have slowly ebbed away to be replaced by serious, important work and fatherly knowledge, but that meeting echoes about my brain. Why?

For the record I ignored what those teachers said and I’m really glad I did.

It wasn’t just my teachers, I heard it from my friends too. “What are you going to be when you’re older? An artist?” they scoffed. It did, annoyingly, lead me to question exactly what I would do with fine art in the future.

So why was life like that for a young creative? And how many other young creatives have led a frustrated work life because they didn’t follow their dreams?

I’m often labeled as a ‘creative person’, but this sits uneasy with me as I feel that everyone is creative, or that a creative label adds pressure. It’s like being introduced as the funny friend, “go on… tell us a joke”… PRESSURE!

The problem is we like to pigeon hole people, but everyone needs their little box. This essentially means you grow up thinking you are either analytical, organisational or creative and artistic. This can be dangerous. By denying your basic instinct to create, we limit ourselves to a world of possible careers and choices.

How many other people class themselves as ‘not creative’ because they don’t practically demonstrate it through the use of an artistic skill (which, for the record, take as much practice as any other skill. No-one comes out the womb being able to draw).

I spent years learning the artistic process that I demonstrate today, because intrinsically I want to explore different ways to do things, and this is often easier to achieve from a blank slate. Not everyone applies their creativity this way. Some of the most creative people I know would be classed as ‘analytical’ instead of ‘creative’. Take our head of data, Chris, as an example. He knows his stuff. If you have a question about data or website tracking then he is your man. But what makes Chris stand out amongst his peers, is that he applies his technical knowledge and creatively uses that to solve problems. And that is all creativity is. The ability to see something from a different perspective. To deconstruct it and to come up with new solutions. To think about a problem the other way round and, therefore, find creative solutions quicker than the so called ‘non-creatives’.

It’s clear to me that creativity isn’t as simple as being able to draw. If you have never practiced drawing then I would be surprised if you could draw naturally. Tell me any other skills that require no practice and I’ll introduce you to my friend, the flying pig.

Right now I am sitting in the ball pit at work, listening to 90’s guitar music on my noise canceling headphones, drowning out the noises around me so I can focus on what it is I want to say. Creativity needs the right environment to flourish, as well as intent to push boundaries, whether that’s through the power of paint on a canvas, or words in a blog. Even the tasks that I think of as boring and mundane, are achieved by applying an upside down way of thinking, and that’s the key. Everyone is capable of thinking about things differently. To some it comes more naturally, and by naturally I mean through years of practice.

Problem solving is a skill that isn’t going anywhere. You can’t automate it or outsource it like you can traditional subjects. If you want an accountant then use ebooks. Looking for someone to draw up a last will and testament? There’s an app for that.

My maths and physics teachers were wrong. Infact, as the world spins faster and faster into the digital age, the ability to think as humans do (creatively) will become the skill of choice amongst employers. Technical skills can be taught easily enough, but for innovation, to progress the world and to make change, creativity is the only thing that sets us apart. And that cannot be automated or replaced with AI.

So, my message is clear, whether you think you can draw or not, we all have the potential to use the grey matter in our heads to approach a subject, life difficulty or problem from a different perspective. To look at the objective and to challenge the norms. Don’t discount the levels of creativity inside you, instead, find your own practices that help bring the right side of your brain to the attention of others.

By hook or by crook my fine art degree has led me to an organisation that utilises everything I have to offer. I head up a team of creatives who are responsible for not only producing creative content, but for finding solutions and approaches to things that other people haven’t even considered. It’s nice to know teachers are wrong sometimes.


For tips on how to improve your own creativity or the creativity of your teams, check out the SGM blog on implementing creativity.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

(My wireless headphones just died…. Instant creative block.)

Danny Windsor

Danny Windsor

Brand & Marketing - Head Boy

Follow us on social media for blog updates and more kick-ass learning content to grow your digital skills!

3 things for brick & mortar businesses to do to quickly get online

3 things for brick & mortar businesses to do to quickly get online

3 things brick & mortar businesses can do right now to get online From Google My Business and local search, through to social media and website build... [wpseo_breadcrumbs]It's hard to know where to start as a physical business getting online, making digital and...

Eat that frog – Stop Procrastinating

Eat that frog – Stop Procrastinating

Eat That Frog – How To Stop Procrastinating

stop procrastinating, start doing!

“I want to be more productive” you say to yourself as you rearrange your paper clips into colour order. Perhaps this isn’t the best use of your time? Yeah… it’s time to prioritise your workload.

Some of us are natural procrastinators, and you’ll know if you are one because you’re probably reading this blog in an attempt to prolong doing another task, tut tut. Putting off the bigger task until ‘later’ because it’s going to need a little more effort than you can be bothered to put in at the beginning of the day.

Yeah sure, we’d all rather spend the morning trawling through not-very-relevant-to-work Twitter accounts instead of writing that board report or replying to the 106 emails in your URGENT folder. But you know what? Sometimes we just need to eat that frog.

Eat that frog

Now we’re not speaking about a French delicacy here. You don’t have to chow down on a ribbity little rubbery… thingy. The saying of ‘eat that frog’ is all about knowing that if the first thing you were to do at the beginning of the day was to eat a live frog, then you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day. Apply this metaphor to the most challenging, or least enjoyable task of your day. This should be the one you’re probably procrastinating from right this second, one that will have the greatest impact on your day/life/project/team etc.

There are two ways you can approach this. Either write  out a ‘frog list’ the night before so you can be ready and raring to go in the morning, or get into the office ten minutes earlier than usual to write it then. Once you’ve checked off a ‘frog’ or two from the list you’ve got the remainder of the day to devote to the other tasks. You’ll not only get more things done quickly, but the right things done on time!

This is a metaphor you can apply to not only your work life, but your personal life. Procrastinate the procrastination. Find yourself being more productive with this process and once you stop putting off the ‘frogs’ you might even find you have the time to make a post-it note Dalek too.

Head Boy Danny at Giant Campus recommends: ‘Eat That Frog’ by Brian Tracy

Eisenhower Matrix

Now, if you fancy a slightly more intricate design to your to-do list-age (that’s totally a word), then we recommend you have a look at an Eisenhower Matrix.

Invented by Dwight D. Eisenhower during his presidency, this principle helped him prioritise the many tasks he had by what was urgent and what was important. Now, over half a century later, many individuals, teams and businesses use this principle to work out where to focus their efforts first.

Prioritising your tasks by urgency and importance results in four quadrants with different working strategies for each. Sitting as a table that looks like:

First step for this process is to write out your to-do list somewhere, with as many big and little tasks you can think of. These tasks can range from ‘Finish and send sales pitch to so and so’ to those much loved ‘post-it note mosaics’. If this Matrix is for you, then you can even fill that list with personal reminders, such as to ‘book a coffee date with Ben’.

Got your list written out? Now it’s time to transfer it from that pretty, marble effect notebook into the matrix and decide whether you’re going to take the blue pill, or the red pill. Ayyy.

Nope, now you’re going to fill the matrix with your tasks by scoring them. You can do this by assigning them a number between 0 – 10 on how important and urgent the task is and then plotting it into the quadrants. This will give you very clear and defined things to action. Or, simply, you can put them into each quadrant without scoring, this will still result in similar looking quadrants, but without a structure of first, second and third in the important and urgent section. This is all down to how you work.

urgent/important

The tasks that sit in the urgent/important section are your ‘do first’ actions that you should really do today. For example, get that pitch doc finished and sent (deadline of 5pm), or getting a client’s report over to them.

not urgent/important

The tasks to the right of that, not urgent/important would be tasks that you can schedule to do later. For example, defining a long term business strategy or, you know, that long-term plan to restart gym activities.

not important/urgent

In the not important/urgent section you would place tasks that you should look to delegate to others. You shouldn’t use this as a way to get the meh tasks off your list and onto someone else’s, as tempting as that may sound. For example, booking travel to your client meeting or putting in an order for a load more post-it notes.

not important/not urgent

Last, but not least (well, by definition, maybe least…), the not important/not urgent section. Here is where you filter out the time wasters. These, unfortunately, are probably the things you LOVE to do or do the most. For example, checking social media just to see ‘what’s happening’, or sorting through your desk drawers because they’re overflowing.

 

Head Boy recommends: check out Google Garage’s bonus material on productivity at work.


When it comes to being more productive with your workload, follow one, or both of these methods and watch as that checklist gets ticked off faster and more efficiently.
Amber Vellacott

Amber Vellacott

Content Marketing Lead

Follow us on social media for blog updates and more kick-ass learning content to grow your digital skills!
3 things for brick & mortar businesses to do to quickly get online

3 things for brick & mortar businesses to do to quickly get online

3 things brick & mortar businesses can do right now to get online From Google My Business and local search, through to social media and website build... [wpseo_breadcrumbs]It's hard to know where to start as a physical business getting online, making digital and...

7 things you can do to improve your digital marketing right now

7 things you can do to improve your digital marketing right now

7 Steps To Instant Digital Marketing Success

things you can do RIGHT NOW to improve your digital marketing

With a new year upon us, make it the year that you can make the most of digital.

Firstly these are not ‘hacks’ or ‘cheats’, instead, these are suggestions for things that you could do RIGHT NOW, literally the minute you finish reading this blog. Legitimate things that will improve elements of your digital marketing. If you are a new business or are just taking your first steps online, this information will be invaluable for you.

UTMs

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module, but unfortunately, this is not a way to track sea urchins as they… urch(?) their way across the undersea internet cables. Rather, is a bit of code that is attached to a URL that can be paired with analytics tools to track performance. You might notice them sometimes when clicking on ads. A long series of characters at the end of a website url.

UTMs allow you to see where your traffic is coming from, whether that be tracking which post on social media led people to buy or fill in a contact form, or which ‘buy now’ button on your site has the highest click rate.

These are a great way to monitor the effectiveness of, and improve your digital marketing campaigns, by tracking what works and building upon that to grow future campaigns.

UTMs can look pretty long and clunky once you’ve included all the information that’ll inform you of where the traffic has come from. But fear not, most UTM builders come with URL shorteners or you can use programmes like Goo.gl or Bitly without affecting the info.

 

Update your social bios

Your social media bios are some of the first things your audience will see when looking at your profile. Make it snazzy and make them love what you’re all about with those few, select words, that describe how good you are and what you do.

Keeping these up to date is important in keeping your audience on their toes. Use it to notify them of new things you’re doing and maybe even tailor it to the time of year or content you’ve recently released. It’s your chance to capture their attention, promote your brand and give a taste of your ToV.

Remember, different platforms have different character allowances. Twitter and Facebook allow just less than 200 characters, whereas Linkedin will allow around 2000 characters. Make sure each bio is written slightly differently, tailored to the type of audience on each platform and to what actions you’d like them to take.

Set up GMB

We’ve written before about the importance of utilising local search. One of the best ways to do this is to set up your Google My Business account (As well as Bing’s version, Bing Places for Business, incase they use this search engine). The main purpose of this listing is to help customers find and interact with your business. It helps to improve your SEO and ranking, and is a listing that is optimised for mobile users too. See more about setting it up and the benefits in our Local SEO blog. It takes less than half an hour to get this bad boy set up, so why not do it right now?

Compress your website images

Compressing the images you put on your website can help increase the loading speed which will positively benefit your digital marketing efforts in multiple ways. There are many speed checkers out there, we like to use Google’s TestMySite.

Don’t compress them to the point where the quality is compromised, but know that that website speed is a contributing factor towards your SEO. Half of web users expect a site to load within 2 seconds or less, they tend to abandon the site if it hasn’t loaded within 3 seconds. Unnecessarily large images can negatively affect the speed of your site. For example, if you have image buttons, compress them slightly. These do not need to be high res! Your product images should be of good quality, but that random picture of a duck hidden in your ‘about us’ page probably could do with compressing.

Add client testimonial feedback to your website

Got any client testimonials laying around? Well grab them quick and pop them on your website. Whether that be a video or a quote, testimonials can instil a sense of confidence within potential customers when looking to buy your products or services. If you aren’t able to create a section to put these testimonials on your website, you can place them on your Google My Business through the dashboard.

If you aren’t collecting testimonials, then build this into your follow up process. It’s always good to get feedback, and gives your customers the opportunity to share opinions that may help you to improve your service.

Test hashtags on social to see which resonates with your audience

Adding hashtags to your campaigns can drive engagement. Whether that be #digitalmarketing or #officecat. Using hashtags means you can join in the conversation that the rest of the web are having, even giving you the opportunity to share information and opinions on things people might not even be searching for.

Have a play around with a couple of new and different hashtags on Instagram and Twitter. Make sure they’re relevant to your content, but see which drive more engagement and have a look at integrating this into your social strategies from now on. Use tools such as Hashtagify to analyse the hashtags popularity, trends and correlations.

When using hashtags, consider your brand and ToV. If you’re a fairly formal brand, then hashtags like #wtf and #icanteven probably aren’t for you.

Use answer the public to see what type of q’s your audience are asking

Spend some time looking at Answer The Public to see the types of things your audience are searching for. Use this as inspiration and list out five blog/content ideas that’ll enable you to answer the things you’ve seen.

Content marketing is all about creating things that people will find interesting and adds value to wider conversation. Content that answers queries you’ve found in Answer the Public should be useful and engaging, and can result in page views and shares of your content online.


Now you’ve done these, watch your digital marketing flourish and return you with actionable insights for the next campaign! If you’ve still got a spare moment, why not check out our top recommended e-learning platforms to help your understanding of digital.

Amber Vellacott

Amber Vellacott

Content Marketing Lead

Follow us on social media for blog updates and more kick-ass learning content to grow your digital skills!
3 things for brick & mortar businesses to do to quickly get online

3 things for brick & mortar businesses to do to quickly get online

3 things brick & mortar businesses can do right now to get online From Google My Business and local search, through to social media and website build... [wpseo_breadcrumbs]It's hard to know where to start as a physical business getting online, making digital and...