Is it any wonder that 2.5 Million Laptops Later, One Laptop Per Child Doesn’t Improve Test Scores [STUDY]

“A new study suggests that 2.5 million laptops deployed in classrooms across 42 countries don’t have any effect on academic performance.”

Ahh…huhh…so…. DUH —it’s not the kids, or the tools, let me guess? that leaves the Curriculum (i.e. Eurocentric, totally rational, with out of dated concepts of rational linear non creative, com·pet·i·tive, dog eat dog dominate ruling class, racist thinking) Yes, that must be it! it’s the way that these kids are taught which, last time I checked was based in Prussian Horse training…breaking the spirit of the child so they DO NOT question Authority.  Is it any wonder that there is no change happening in these classrooms. Was it not McLuhan who said back in the 1950’s – we need “classrooms without Walls”


Social Media, Creativity and Innovation in Canada

I was watching the Lang O’Leary exchange last night from my comfy berger chair with my laptop connected to a twitter tool – when I heard the CEO of the Canadian Business Development Bank — discuss the dismal failure of small and medium sized businesses to innovate and it dawned on me that I could be facing a tough market for a long time simply due to the prevailing Canadian business mindset which is very conservative and risk adverse. As a single entrepreneur, I am not going to be able to shift that anytime soon. I did not do the survey or write the report that says Small & Medium sized Canadian business gets a D for Innovation. The fact that we are ranked 14 out of 17 worldwide for our lack of creativity and innovation is however, shocking. “Yikes”, I said outloud. The cat jumped up. I almost dropped my laptop. Could it be that bad? Way worse than what I had thought but totally in line with what a good friend, who works with Google insiders, said to me some time ago about the state of Canadian business – “They are doomed on their own local markets, if in the next 5 years, they don’t get connected with their consumers online”.

While Marketing is an integral part of business- its first role being to determine if there is even a market for a product – it never fails to amaze me the number of businesses who still think that they can rely on word of mouth as a viable long term strategy for marketing their product or service in a high technology city, province and nation.

Technology of course is the most innovative of industries as it relies on that “analytical computing machine” which has now connected the entire globe in a web of communications. Technology, Communications and Media have now merged in cyberspace and for the most part small Canadian businesses are nowhere to be seen along the information highway (remember when we actually called it that here in Canada?) while the virtual social media space is becoming more and more crowded with consumers, your friends, family and business associates, all piling on in search of information on health, wealth, love and stuff to buy – Canadian businesses are nowhere to be found….not in search, not in the social networks. They are lucky if they have a website, out of date, static, boring with a contact phone number.

I have been blogging on this topic for some time now. In fact, over a decade ago I was in much the same position trying to sell business owners on the idea of having a website. At the time they could see no advantange to cutting print costs or being found on the new medium of the internet. It was a hard sell. Much the same as it is today.

Now that a business should have their marketing focused online you would think that the need for those who are creative thinkers, indeed the creative class would to be embraced, employed and hired to work with them to create a new level of productivity and success. Sadly small businesses are missing in action and if you are tying to secure work a larger client make sure that you have a freshly minted undergrade degree in marketing from a University which did not even touch on social media or have you study the history of media aka MCLUHAN in Canada. Even though creativity (dare we say ART/Apple) and TECHNOLOGICAL (electronic/MS) innovation has transformed BIG business culture over the last three decades, heaven forbid they actually hire someone with the knowledge, skills and experience of this history who could base their innovative marketing strategies on the nature of media, someone who could engage in the type of experimentation needed to sail the uncharted waters that are the sea of Social Media.

With a virtual “tsunami” of tools, apps, methods, numbers, metrics, stats, strategies available today where even medium-sized businesses think that being creative means having a personal facebook account with pictures of the last party you went to or a blog filled with some sort of trivia that reminds one of a content farm.

Feeling depressed about the D GRADE Canadian businesses got on innovation, I googled for a quck fix – the phrase “quotes on innovation” for something positive and the search engine pulled up, guess what? — Quotes on Creativity and Innovation. It seems you cannot have one with out the other. Duh? And yet time and time again I am smacked down for being too creative and too innovative…

So while I stuggle to “sell” the idea of social media to small and medium sized business in Canada at least I now know who is to blame for the conflict. It is not is not my problem, I have an ART SCHOOL Education, I know how to innovate, how to problem solve, how to imagine, how to visulize, how to be flexible, be open, be transparent, be engaging. The problem lies with the make money mindset that has no idea how to connect with consumers in the 21st Century when their is an oversupply of goods and a lack of attention from consumers who are now in control!

This time, I am on the side of the banks. While I may have very little capital in the bank since no one wants to fully engage me to execute any serious social media in Canada — they preferring to sit on the fence and watch their customers disappear down the information highway instead….I will do as I have done for decades now. I will ride out the wave working remaining in the moment of the NOW Revolution of Marketing.

It may be too much to ask for a “standard” small business to innovate on its product offering…but it would be nice if they had the vision to innovate in when it comes to their marketing strategy. Same old product, new way to market and sell it. Now there is an idea.

There are only two options here you either adopt social media or you are swept away. Time waits for no man or woman. Above us is the global connected techosphere where the big boys play. Learn the rules of the game and pay to win Canada. FYI, the name of the game is not HOCKEY – forget the pre meditated brain injuries in this game it is all about BRAINS, Creativity and innovation!

Happy Creative 2010! Get your Search On!

When considering what to do over Christmas I came across a list of best books for 2010

Reviewing the list I was both shocked and surprised to find the top three books were about Creativity and Ideas but happy that I could download 2 of the 3 of these books on my ipad through the KOBO application.

I was shocked because these book are NOT reflective of the current state of the Canadian business world at all – and I would hazard to guess that is the case in small town USA as well. While I am still waiting for the trickle down effect on Richard Florida’s notions of Creative Culture in Toronto, with a new mayor who aims to run the town for profit only and whose first words were that the “party” around the notion of “green” is over it is back to the basic Burger culture with all hopes of a larger sphere of cultural influence extending outside the core of G20 Ground Zero to the burbs resounding like a large methane fart….

For the most part small businesses do not even have a budget for the most creative part of their business plan loosely called “marketing”. Further — they totally miss the tie in between creative sales and marketing, never mind the fact that social media is NOT free, you have to pay someone who “gets it” to do the job of curating all that stuff….

I was surprised because the recessionary mindset loves to bash the Creative even though they are the only ones with the talent to generate ideas in the new knowledge ecomony, witness Google giving its employees 10% raise for Christmas and 26 year old Mark Zukerberg being names TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year”

If I were to sum up the 2010 year with respect to the number one discussion with my clients -sadly it had nothing to do with Search and Social Media always revolves around a struggle over ideas and creativity. This is contrary to the very notion of the creative act, which is about FLOW. Again and again we reach an impasse where my creativity is questioned over their knowledge of their business offering. This encompasses everything from the smallest decision on ad word copy or to large campaign concept. It hurts my head, heart and mind as I never win the duel and it makes me wonder when the 50K I invested in ART school training will EVER be recongnized as having any validity whatsoever…

“Success benefits the body, but failure develops the Mind”

And yet I soldier on, with sword in hand a daughter of ART the Farmer.. I read an article yesterday on the web that asked why Big Business is having so much success in Social Media and the answer is the same as it was in the old days of Advertising – Big companies employ small Creatives, like myself – who have “unique” ideas and who go to bat for them at the boardroom table and argue passionately for their right to execute them in order to engage users with the brand and ultimately drive sales…go figure, what a concept…duh…

It is not the BIG company per say that embraces the idea of Creativity, rather – it is individuals within the organization or those hired by the organization to create ‘buzz”, generate new ideas and execute them. They take the risk and the big company funds it. Win or loose Big Biz has no choice for someone must be reading the books on how Creativity RULES – I would guess it is what McLuhan called the “print bastards”. Creativity is not an experiment, it is a business imperative. Read the top three book on the list above and tell me if this is not the case argued again and again….

What happens with small businesses is that they have the “employee/employer” mentality in which only the BOSS has really good ideas. They may hire marketing “experts” but do not want to surrender even for one minute their vision for their brand…and so it quickly turns into the “I am paying you to….scenario” to which I reply with attitude, “paying me to do WHAT??? the same old same old?” And yet – the expecations at the end of the day are that you will elevate them to ROCK STAR status.

The reality is that small business in Canada is so far behind the times that it is not funny. Not only should they take on a true leadership role and “delegate” the task to those who have expertise in the area of idea creation — in 2011 those BIG companies who are really progressive will be hiring creative types who know how to engage the audience, get them to interact and make applications for just that purpose.

Speaking of creative companies, Google is celebrating it’s 10th Anniversary in SEARCH and has created a great little application on You Tube that let’s you get your “Search On” Check it out by Googling You Tube / Search On. Here is my contribution to the Search On Stories…. Time is ART 2.0 Just as it was in the daze of Disney — I believe in happy endings in which good triumphs over evil….lol…

Unbounce those landing pages for Creatives

It has been ages since I last blogged….in fact, I am overdue on the promise to write a review on Florida’s  book “The Great Reset.” WHY ? well, dear creatives, but I have been buzy creating – oh yeah….for real….not just the old selling and marketing talk mumbo jumbo…. but creating actual landing pages
for a client based on finally having mastered the sales process. For the last 30 days have been spending all my time on line with UNBOUNCE!

With who you say??

I confess it is a love affair with landing pages, how do I love thee, let me count the ways…

1.  Your EYES are WISIWG – This sums up my philosophy for usablity when it comes to apps designed for creatives who have to get it done ASAP and need the freedom to change their minds while under the gun….oh and did I mention the beauty of the “margin of error” which means that you can decide to rearrange a bunch of content at the last minute and and in doing so might just discover that …oh boy…. that just looks so much better over there, why did I not think of that? Well – that is just it —when you are using a product that really engages you in creating you don’t think about where it is that this or that is gonna have to go —- instead you have the freedom to move it around and suddenly one thing suggests another way of being…oh yeah baby we see eye to eye…

2. Your Face is Web 2.0  – the Interface of Unbounce – when you are working all day in an online environment it is nice that it looks so fresh and clean! I Love the look and the feel of Unbounce…

3. Your Name…..unbonce…unbounce….works for me even on a conceptual level… it is not just a physical attraction. The name Unbounce….is…kinda like a double take in animation… look one way and then you look the other…you try it one way then you try it another. Trained as a classical animator the imagery that the name conjures is the reverse of my clients worse fear —the user landing on a page and immediately bouncing off it – horrors —-rather I see it play out like a slow mo rewind…kinda like this video 

4. Your excellent Intelligence – Over the last 30 days I have used Unbounce as a educational tool, too. It is so easy to do the mock ups and show the client what may or may not work. As we do the push and pull dance between client’s vision and design reality I can just do the real thing in unbounce and then send them a link …it sure beats sending the client an actual sketch no matter how inspired. What business man can relate to a sketch these days?

a bit of a landing page sketch for client

A bit of a landing page sketch for a client

5. Your Nationality….last but not least I must confess I have a softspot for my art college town – Vancouver.. and well…..Unbounce is a Canadian start up company.  Ironically I left Vancouver over a decade ago to live in TO —  because of its easy access to technology. Still we don’t have anything around here that comes close to your offering. RIM does not count…. too big, telco….and besides, Unbounce offers mobile landing pages too…

My next mission is to find a client who wants one of those so this love affair can continue!

the Clash of LEFT Brain vs RIGHT Brain Selling Styles….

Surfing around on a lazy Saturaday morning and found this video on Left Brained vs Right Brained Selling. Very intriguing…did a google on the topic and found this link entry intitled….Left Brain, Right Brain, NO brain….

I guess there is hope for me yet……and this may explain why all my LEFT Brain clients have fired me (and I have sued them) before I have a chance to exhibit my NO BRAIN BRILLANCE!!

It is  as the articles states SELLING ” in a zone that Zen types call, “No-Brain.” A Quick read of this article gives  insight into why I remain in the SALES arena in spite of every RIGHT brain meglo maniac that I have dealt with who has the adaucity to give me some stiff necked BS on why I am not making the grade before I even have a chance to IMPROVISE and do the thing I learnt in ART School when studying Animation…thinking on your feet and acting out in harmony with the background environment, visualizing that then creating a FELT sketch, into a drawing into a FULL BLOWN Animation. As Homer Simpson would say:   duh!!