Book 3 – The 3 Volumes to help you make ideas happen by 99U

This is the third book in my countdown of my top 5 books around leadership, personal development, and self discovery. Find out what was first and second in my list.

What’s the book about?

Book 1 –

“Are you over-extended, over-distracted, and overwhelmed? Do you work at a breakneck pace all day, only to find that you haven t accomplished the most important things on your agenda when you leave the office?

The world has changed and the way we work has to change, too. With wisdom from 20 leading creative minds, “Manage Your Day-to-Day” will give you a toolkit for tackling the new challenges of a 24/7, always-on workplace.”

Book 2 – 

“Can you step outside your comfort zone? Bounce back from failure? Build new skills? Tapping into your true potential is no idle endeavor. It demands creativity, dedication, and a whole lot of hustle.

With wisdom from 21 leading creative minds, 99U’s Maximize Your Potential will show you how to generate new opportunities, cultivate your creative expertise, build valuable relationships, and take bold, new risks so that you can utilize your talents to the fullest.”

Book 3 – 

Are you ready to “make a dent in the universe”? As a creative, you no longer have to take a backseat. In fact, stepping up and embracing entrepreneurship is the fastest route to impact. But where do you start? And what sets the businesses that succeed apart?

We tapped 21 leading entrepreneurs and experts to share their best practices for launching a purpose-driven business, refining your product, delighting your customers, inspiring your team—and ultimately—making something that matters.”
– http://99u.com/book/making-an-impact

 

Why did I choose this book?

I stumbled across 99U a couple of years ago and just fell completely and utterly, head over heels, in love with them. Their philosophy. Their approach. Their purpose. Their website. Their conferences. basically, all of them.

99U is Behance‘s effort to provide the “missing curriculum” for making ideas happen by helping people make great ideas a reality, by encouraging everyone to act, experiment, fail, adapt, and learn on a daily basis. They offer and share an amazingly pragmatic, action-oriented insights from leading researchers and visionary creatives to empower people to make good on the ideas that have got.

And when I realised that they were publishing their own books, I just had to buy them.

So, when the third book was published at the end of 2014 I brought all three. And then I read them in the wrong order! But that didn’t matter. They didn’t need to be read from book 1 through to book 3. They could be read in what ever order you like.

I started with book 3 as this opened with the best chapter of the whole collection. The opening chapter was written by the brilliantly insightful Keith Yamishita, Chairman of SYPartners.  Now, readers of this blog will know that SY have had a huge impact on me and the person I am today, and the person I want to be tomorrow and in the future.

In this chapter, Keith encourages you to think about what your personal purpose is in life – and then share it with the world. So I did just that.

And since then, my personal purpose is guiding everything that I do.

But, the books are much more than that. They are built around 20 or so chapters of practical advice from people who have turned their ideas into actions. The chapters are action orientated, short enough to read on the daily commute, and focus on one thing – helping you be a better you.

 

What does the book look like?

   

mym-1


Why should you read it?

  1. If you want to move away from talk to action, you just have to read the advice of the 60+ people who have been there and done it – and see how they wisdom and experience can help you
  2. You will learn how you can make an impact in the world and leave your dent on humankind by learning in practical steps how to step up and embrace entrepreneurship as the fastest route to impact
  3. The books will help you focus on how you can manage yourself and your team to be a better you by harnessing your dreams, personal purpose, skills and beliefs to make a difference by bringing your ideas to life

 

Where can you buy it?

If you are in the UK, you can order the three books from Waterstones.

Alternatively, you can download them on your Kindle or as a hardcopy from Amazon.

You can also download them as an audiobook from iTunes.

Paper and Pencil, FiftyThree style

Followers of this blog will know that I love a good tool or two!

Whether it’s the awesome Unstuck & Teamworks by the amazing SYPartners or the brilliant Evernote, or The Knowledge by the very insightful & inspirational Carl Taylor or The Action Method from the turning-ideas-into-action guru Scott Belsky.

Well, over the past few weeks I’ve been working with another amazing tool – which is unbelievably free(!) as an ipad app – called Paper.

FiftyThree logo

Paper 

Paper by FiftyThree

Made by the rather talented bunch at FiftyThree in New York and Seattle, Paper is described as “the easiest and most beautiful way to create on iPad” where you “capture your ideas as sketches, diagrams, illustrations, notes or drawings and share them across the web.” Although I can’t confirm whether it is actually “the easiest and most beautiful way to create”, I can confirm that it is bloody good and would take some beating!

I’ve been using Paper with my cheap little stylus (under £3!) that I recently brought and I do have to say it is rather good. You can draw in pencil, pencil and paintbrush style. You can draw shapes. You can draw connective lines. You can handwrite messages. Or you can do all those at the same time!

I’ve been using it mostly to create the illustrations for Love Lights – my first poetry book – as well as for some sketches for redesigned web pages at work.

And I have fallen in love with it!

Here are some screenshots of the app:

paper-by-fiftythree-17-700x523

13-Paper-by-FiftyThree

download

Pencil 

FiftyThree_Pencil_Walnut_SideView

To accompany Paper, the team at FiftyThree have also made their own stylus-type-tool to use with the Paper product, called Pencil.

Although saying that Pencil is a stylus-type-tool, is like saying an iphone is just a phone.

It is so much more than a stylus.

I haven’t yet used the Pencil but watching what it can do is making me buy one very, very shortly! And when I do, I’ll blog about the experience, so watch this space!

See them in action

Here’s a short video made by FiftyThree which shows how a few of their customers are using Paper and Pencil:

How amazing is that!

See what people have done with them 

Go on, join us in working “to do life, better“.

Find your superpower

I’ve wrote quite a lot in this blog about how I used the SYPartners tools to find my superpower – and then how I started to live, breathe and be my superpower.

A superpower is:

A natural talent someone brings to the team when it’s most in need of help

I have been using the online digital superpowers tool through the Teamworks product to find my individual superpower and also the superpower of each member of my team.

Well, today, I received the brilliant Superpowers tool in its new format –

a deck of playing cards.


The cards were originally launched by SYPartners when they hosted an event during the 99U conference in New York City in April. Although I couldn’t attend the conference or be in New York at the time, I did see them being shared across social media.

And then today I got to touch and hold them for the first time

And straight away I loved the new format. Having them in card format makes them even more fun, even more useable as we can play the game anywhere, and in this digital world, it’s still nice to hold and touch something that has been made and printed. Especially when they are this good quality!

So I set about testing the cards by seeing what my superpower is again. And guess what, the cards identified my superpower again as creative thinking.


So I’m pleased to say you’ve done it again guys – what a great product to help in the fight for greatness.

If you would like to purchase a pack for yourself or your team, check out the Superpowers website at superpowers.sypartners.com.

Here’s to progress – and here’s to fighting for greatness.

Let’s do life, better.

Making Ideas Happen

As the annual 99U Conference (by Behance) kicks off – it seems like the perfect timing to start putting the lessons that I am learning from Behance founder Scott Belsky‘s magical book – Making Ideas Happen – into action!

making-ideas-happen

In the book – which I am only a third through – Scott sets out what he has learnt through years of research about how the most productive people stay productive and move from ideas to actions.

One of the biggest tips through the book is to see everything – and Scott means everything – as a project.

Work stuff – all projects. Personal stuff – all projects. Secret stuff that you don’t tell your husband/wife – all projects*

* But not recommended!

And whilst looking at everything as a project, Scott recommends breaking all the projects into 3 sections:

  1. Actions
  2. References
  3. Backburner

And when doing this – he recommends using a single method and system to manage ALL the projects.

So, today, that’s what I’ve done.

I’ve started using the brilliant Evernote as a single place to capture all my projects. I’ve downloaded the app onto my iPad, my phone, onto my laptop, and onto my desktop – with the great Chrome extension!  And I’ve starting creating my folders and notes.  And in each project I have the 3 sections – Actions, References and Backburner.

Already I have tick lists for the Actions. I have photos of post-it notes and e-mails saved for References. I have web articles saved in the Backburner.  I’ve created an ‘Actions for Today’ list.

And, I’ve taken Scott’s advice further.

I’ve created a ‘done’ folder so that when I’ve done the actions I can move them into the folder. Already I’m loving looking at what I have managed to achieve – and that’s just in 10 hours.

So I just want to say a huge “thank you” to Scott for helping me make my ideas happen. And to wish Scott, the team and everybody lucky enough to be in New York at the 99U Conference a brilliant few days.

One day I will be lucky enough to attend. Until then though, I’m going to be stalking the conference via social media.

Here’s to making things happen.

Here’s to progress.

Review of the week

This week my blog has covered superpowers, leadership, team, purpose and the first part of my 10 lessons of leadership.

Heres a quick review: 

There’s a lot about SYPartners in here – a post about why SYPartners have appeared so heavily in my blogs so far to share their inspiration approach and to give feedback to the people at SYPartners to keep up their belief. Check it out at https://iammichaelwatts.com/2015/03/14/theres-a-lot-about-sypartners-in-here/.

#InspiringTowardsLeadership – my first post about my 10 lessons of leadership. Check it out at https://iammichaelwatts.com/2015/03/16/inspiringtowardsleadership/.

What is a team? – my honest review of how my team felt, my plan of action for getting better, and some sources of inspiration sling the way – including the brilliant Simon Sinek. It also includes my biggest regret at the manager of the team. Check it out at https://iammichaelwatts.com/2015/03/16/what-is-a-team/.

Time to stop being a lone leader – a post about how I used Unstuck to help my stop being a lone leader, to trust and delegate to my team, and to stop trying to do everything myself. Check it out at https://iammichaelwatts.com/2015/03/18/time-to-stop-being-a-lone-leader.

Enhancing my superpower – a post about how I created a regular ritual to keep my superpower – creative thinking – topped up (including 99u), used regularly, and how I then turned the ritual into a habit. Check it out at https://iammichaelwatts.com/2015/03/19/enhancing-my-superpower/.

The importance of understanding individual perspectives – see how a simple question from Carl Taylor helped me to reshape how I was approaching my transformation programme. [This has also been the most popular post of the week!] Check it out at https://iammichaelwatts.com/2015/03/21/the-importance-of-understanding-individual-perspectives/.

Enhancing my superpower 

After finally understanding, identifying and having my superpower confirmed through the brilliant Teamworks strengths tool, I then used the action focused approach of the tool to create a new ritual for making sure I keep my superpower topped up.

I tried to design my ritual so that it was simple, doable and built on my passion – so it was a habit that I should be able to maintain:

I will spend at least one hour every week getting inspired and creatively recharged

I started to do this by using my existing sources of inspiration, by seeking new sources of inspiration, and by allowing more of my creative side out.

The place of the “missing curriculum” 

The first place I went looking was a source of inspiration that I had stumbled across whilst researching about SYPartners99u.

The thing that I loved about 99u from the first moment I came across it was its simplicity, it’s bold aims, and it’s practical approach. There were articles, there were videos, and there were links to a huge range of inspirational people. People who were creatives. People who were sharing their stories. People who I could look at and say ‘yes, I want to be like that’.

So I started with the videos. I started to listen to them whilst at work. I started to listen to them whilst washing up at home. I started to be inspired.

Then I started to read the articles, learning new techniques and habits. Learning how to move from talk to action.

I started to take part in some of their research projects – labrats – to test new ideas and thinking to help me to do life, better. Here’s a link to details about one of the labrats I took part in.

And then, more recently, I ordered their books. I started to soak them up. Reading them on the train. Reading them whilst taking my oldest boy to his swimming lessons. Reading them at night.

And then I started to share what I was learning with people via my second source of inspiration – Twitter.

The people are out there – you just need to reach out

As a fairly late comer to Twitter I had found a new world of inspiration.

Although I had toyed with Twitter before in a couple of guises, now I had a reason to use it, a purpose, a goal to achieve. I wanted to learn from other people like me – and Twitter allowed me to do that. I could connect with people from the UK, Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, the whole globe. Each person having slightly different ideas, but each trying to achieve the same goal – to make a difference.

I started to follow the discussions, learning and ideas that were coming out of some of the conferences and gatherings that happen across the globe – things like BIF, 99u and the many similar events that seem to happen all year round.

I also started to share what I was learning and producing as a way of giving things back to the people who had given me so much.

And this was the byproduct of my third source – me.

Stop reading and talking – and start doing

I started to use a more creative approach at work. I created a homemade note book to help. Something which every time I use it inspired me to think creatively and not to be constrained by the normal lines and boxes of a typical notebook.

And a funny thing happened. The more times I let myself think creatively – the creatively I approached all my work without thinking about it.

I had successfully created a new habit.

I was living my superpower.

What is a team?

In my blog I have written quite a bit about how I have been trying to transform my team into a ‘great team’. But one of the questions I keep asking myself is:

what is a team?

At its most basic, a team is a group of individuals being placed together in an organisation to deliver a specific set of tasks



And, quite honestly, that is how my team has felt at several points during my time with them. We were a group of individuals who were put together following an organisational restructure to complete a specific set of tasks. 

We had been physically located around a set of desks within an office. We had a reporting line established within the team. And we had a set of tasks and responsibilities set out in the restructure document for us to complete.

It was then up to us to define what our team looked like, how it felt, what the culture was, and what our team was about.

And this is where it went wrong.

As the manager of the team I should have been more proactive in working with the team to set us off on the right footing. Instead, I let the time drift away and so we as a team drifted on. We never took ownership of the work. We never set out who we were. We never set out what we were about. We never set out what type of team we wanted to be.

And this is the biggest regret that I have whilst working within the team.

At the same time I wasn’t putting 100% of myself in the team. I was looking to leave. I was struggling to balance work and life with three young children. I was struggling to work out who I was within the team. I had lost my purpose.

And this was having a significant impact on my team. And it was having a significant impact on me.

And I realised that this just had to change.

Great teams are just groups of individuals being placed together in an organisation to complete a specific set of tasks. Great teams work hard at the habits that make them a great team. They have a clear purpose. They understand themselves. They work hard at being a great team.

And that what u had to do. I had to work harder at being the leader of the team to help us become a great team. So I created a simple plan of action to help me change me, so that we can move towards becoming a ‘great team’.

Action 1: Be a better me

I knew that for the team to move forward I needed to be a better leader. I needed to bring the whole of myself into the team. I needed to be a better me. And I had to see this as my team. 

But before I could be a better leader, I had to earn the trust and respect of the team. I had to show them that they can believe in me. I had to give some of me to them so that they would buy into me as a leader. What I needed to do is brilliantly summed up by the passionate Simon Sinek in this video, Why Leaders Eat Last, from a 99u event:

Simon Sinek: Why Leaders Eat Last from 99U on Vimeo.

I needed to eat last in my team. I had to put them first. I had to become a leader of our team.

But before I could do that, I had to give our team an identify. 

Action 2: Give us an identity 

One of the things that dawned on me during this time was that the team didn’t have an identity. We were still just a group of individuals within a much larger team.

So that had to change.

I worked with the team to give our team a name. Something that pulled the different parts of the team together, was easy to remember, and said what we did on the tin. 

Under this name we had a shared identity. We had a shared belonging. We had an identifiable team. We started to use this in all our work. 

Now we had an identity, we needed a better environment.

Action 3: Create the right enviornment 

One of the responsibilities of a leader is to create an environment where others thrive, where the individual members of the team are supported to do better, and where the team members trust that their leader ‘has their back’.

These quotes from Simon Sinek have guided me as I have been working to create the right environment in my team:





I needed to set the right environment. I needed to empower and support the team. I needed to own our work. I needed to lead the team.

I needed to be a better leader. I needed to aim high for the team. I needed to lead my team to becoming a ‘great team’.

But, before we could do that, we needed to understand why we were there. What was our role in the organisation? How did we add value? What was our purpose?

So, we set about understanding and identifying ourselves better with the help of the Teamworks tool from SYPartners.

The 3 habits of great teams

As part of my inspiration building research into all things SYPartners, one of the videos I found really did connect with me. 

The video by the SYPartners chairman and founder, Keith Yamashita, was 20 minutes of pure gold dust.

In the video – The 3 Habits of Great Creative Teams – shot at the annual 99u Conference [more about them in a later post!] Keith expands on his ‘great teams’ quote by talking about the key elements that make up ‘great teams’. 

Keith Yamashita: The 3 Habits of Great Creative Teams from 99U on Vimeo.

Here’s a summary of the video:

When the your team is faced with adversity does it stand strong and act boldly or does it crumble under pressure? Based on his work with over 1000 teams, Keith Yamashita shares his insights about great collaborative environments including: have an awareness beyond your day-to-day, respect the unique talents of your team members, and actively cultivate meaningful one-on-one relationship

What did I take from the video? 

Increased belief that what I was fighting for was worth it. An even bigger love towards the power of understanding our individual Superpowers [including a massive desire to get a copy of those cards!!]. And a different way of sharing this message with the team. 

So, I sent a link to this video to the members of my team and asked them to watch, to think about the messages in there, and to think about what we need to do differently to become a great team. 

We now had a basis for discussions – both at a team level and at the individual level.

These discussions then led me to an interesting discovery. Although everybody in the team knew that they were part of a small team within a bigger team, when chatting with them, on a one-to-one basis, they all didn’t seem to (a) understand how their role & tasks fitted in with the purpose of the team, and (b) see any connection between their role & tasks and the role & tasks of their peers. 

And that had to change.

So I set about improving that understanding and bringing the different parts of the team together around a shared purpose and vision. And who would have guessed it, there was a new source of inspiration to help me with that. 

This is when I found a new blog of advice, support and ideas for people just a like me – a manager who wants to manage better and make their team better. What was that blog? It was another SYPartners product – called Teamworks.

Find out how I started to use this advice in my next blog.

The importance of purpose

Since I created my new ‘digital home’ towards the end of 2014, I’ve spent a lot – and I mean a lot – of time wondering what my first blog post should be about. So much so that I got stuck worrying more about making sure that it was a perfect first post, rather than thinking about what I actually wanted to say in the post.

After reading lots of great advice through the rather brilliant 99u book trilogy, I realised that it didn’t really matter what it was about, I just needed to write something. Something important to me. Something I cared about. Something I wanted to share with the world to make a difference and have an impact.

And during a chat with a friend I had the lightbulb moment – one of the most important parts of life for me is purpose. Purpose in my home life. Purpose in my work life. Purpose in everything I do. 

At the start of 2015 I was inspired by the amazingly insightful Keith Yamishita, Chairman of SYPartners, to think about what my personal purpose was in life. 

After a bit of reflection, I wrote down what it is. 

And then I published it for the world to see.  

My personal purpose is “to do life, better”. 

You can find out what this means by reading the How I am aiming to do life better page on this site. 

Why did I choose purpose?

Simple – if I don’t understand my purpose I feel lost, I feel vulnerable, and I can’t see what difference I am making.

A couple of years ago I had a period where I lost my purpose at work. Following an internal restructure I joined a new team, I didn’t feel a connection to the work, and I didn’t know what my purpose in that team was. And as a manager of the team, this then started to filter throughout the team. We lost our mojo. We just did the work. We just bounced from one task to another. Never finishing anything. Never being proud of what we were doing. We had conflict. We had confusion. We didn’t seem to know who we were or what we were doing or why we were doing it. 

This just caused a vicious cycle. We just kept going round and round not able to break the status quo.

And then over the new year holiday break of that year I spent a lot of time reflecting on what the problem was. And I realised – it was me.

I didn’t understand the purpose of me or the team, so the team didn’t understand the purpose of themselves or the team. So I decided that something had to change. I had to understand our purpose. More importantly, I needed to understand my purpose.

It wasn’t easy, but after lots of searching, lots of thinking, and lots of time spent challenging myself, I got to grips with it. Then it dawned on me. The reason I didn’t know my purpose was because I hadn’t put the whole of me in the work. I hadn’t connected with the work. I hadn’t connected with the staff. I wasn’t being me.

So I made a deal with myself – I had to get better. I had to connect with the work. I had to connect with the team. I had to be me. Or I had to leave. 

I decide to stay. 

So after the new year period, I went back to work fired up, all pumped up and ready to make a difference. 

To help guide me, I set out my purpose at the time –

to be a leader, to lead by example, to make a difference, and to give the team the direction it needed. 

And to do that, I needed a plan. I’ll set out what that plan was in my next post.

Use the comments box below to let me know if this resonates with you or if you have suffered the same.

Together, we can do life better.

Progress.