Monday, March 31, 2014

One of the biggest issues designers and creative people can and will come across at some point in their career, is creative block or just a general lack of creativity. Sometimes this can strike at the worst possible times... like "what can I write for a blog post" or when a project is extremely time sensitive. It would be awesome if you could just tell your brain "Alright, I need to be creative right now" sadly, this can't always work, and you can't force yourself to be creative when you really need to be because you will end up with a something that isn't good.

Having suffered through creative block at times, I have figured out some strategies to get past the block and to be more creative. Below are some tips that help me overcome creative block:

Do Some Research
I like to review what others are creating and consider how I could apply some of their techniques to my own work.  I also research design trends ongoing, to be sure I am up to date on what is current in my industry.

Sketch Something
My sketches don't have to relate to what I am working on, but this activity always gives my brain a jump start.

Listen To Music
I'm not sure why this helps, it just always does.

Relax and Get Away From The Computer
Taking a break, going for a walk and just getting outside, will often provide me with fresh inspiration.

Work Outside Of Your Habits
This may include working late at night, but as much as some people don't like staying up all night, I can honestly say that some of the best/creative design ideas I have thought of have happened after 12 a.m.

Here are some resources to reference:

You The Designer
29 Ways To Stay Creative
Awards For Design, Creativity And Innovation

Ian Fader
Graphic Designer 
CCI Studios

Friday, March 14, 2014

Real estate is a game. Counter-offers, exclusions, conditions, all carefully constructed for the buyer and seller to get what they want. This game of cat and mouse is getting easier thanks to modern technology.

The Canadian Realtor website is a great resource for buyers and sellers. It shows listings for houses, townhomes, and condos in MLS with galleries of pictures and all the details about the property. The site allows buyers to look for properties at their leisure. This becomes important since the listings are updated in real time and there are advantages to submitting the first offer on a property.

When deciding on an offer price, buyers can use the property listings to determine what prices houses are selling for in the desired neighbourhood. The same technique can be applied by sellers to choose an appropriate listing price. This information is just a rough guide. A real estate agent can get a more accurate picture since they can access the actual selling price of some properties, not just the listing price.

There is also an app available for iOS and Android for access to the same listings on a cell phone. 

The ubiquity of cell phones has changed the way we communicate. Buyers and sellers can communicate with their real estate agent at all times, especially important when there are deadlines. “Irrevocable at midnight?!”, no problem.

For less important discussions, text messaging is a convenient platform. When both your realtor and mortgage specialist are available via text messaging, you can ask any quick question at 2AM. And possibly get a response so you are able to sleep!

Documents are often sent as email attachments now, rather than with a fax machine. This allows all the parties to view the document wherever they are. No need to be glued to the fax machine.

The modern house hunter uses these tools to make the process of finding a home painless and enjoyable.

What tools have you used in search of your dream home?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The culture of our company is so important to all aspects of the products and services we provide our clients.  Cultivating an atmosphere that encourages contribution and creativity everyday allows us to be thoughtful on the spot, easily develop fresh unique campaigns and quickly provide solutions.  We believe the most critical component of this culture is clear, effective and respectful communication.  Below are some standards we value for our internal communication.  By following these standards the quality of our internal communication increases, which inevitably impacts the external communication we have with our clients, suppliers and friends.

Here are the top communication rules we live by:

1) Never Assume Anything - If you are unsure whether or not someone else is completing a task, or you have questions about what is required of you in a task, ask and double check.  You would hate to get to a deadline and something is not completed because you thought someone else was handling it, just to find out you were suppose to be the person responsible.  Take the initiative and make sure everyone is on the same page.

2) Tone Is Everything - The way you deliver your message will affect how people react to it.  Asking a question in a kind genuine tone can work in your favour to better engage the person you are communicating with and hopefully encourage them to share all the details you are looking for.

3) Take Ownership - If you make a mistake, own it, learn from it and move on.  Do not make excuses.

4) Provide Detail - When you are making a request of someone, provide them with as much information about the task as possible.  This will save everyone time, as you will not need to go back and make additional requests on the same project component.

5) Please And Thank You - It sounds simple but using please and thank you with your teammates is something that can easily be forgotten in our jam packed days.  It is amazing how using please and thank you can contribute to a positive working environment.

That is it!  This list may seem simple, but sometimes the simplest rules are the ones we tend to overlook!

We would love to hear from you on what rules of communication are valuable to your corporate culture, please feel free to share them below.