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Opinion Editorials

Is your business idea tattoo-worthy?

So many times we wonder if our ideas are good enough. Here’s a good way to tell if your idea is ready to go, or if it needs some revising.

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The sticker or tattoo test

Writing, like many other professions, can be highly competitive. Knowing when you have a good idea and knowing when you have a great idea, can often make all the difference in the world.

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In the case of writing, if your idea is good, you’re likely to be praised for it, but it will come with possible revisions, other items that should or shouldn’t be included, and so on; whereas if your idea is great, you may still need to do some revising, but it’s likely to be an instant win situation. Jon Acuff has a great way to summarize this: is your idea sticker worthy? How about tattoo worthy?

Are people willing to display your sticker?

In my opinion, these are great examples of how to judge your ideas, but certainly not the only ones. If your idea is sticker worthy, it’s likely to be a solid, well-founded, effective idea. It may require a bit of tweaking, researching, revising, and consideration to become tattoo worthy however.

Sticker worthy ideas are those that help us identify with something in ourselves or our lifestyles.

How many times have you been out driving and seen Crossfit, Apple, 13.1, Monster, Bose, Yeti, or other lifestyle-type stickers that identify what the driver is into, as well as -in a small way- how they identify with society as a whole. When your idea is sticker worthy, you have something solid. Who would’ve thought that an energy drink could spark an interest in branding consumers’ own vehicles?

There’s something there that people are identifying with and this is what makes an idea sticker worthy: it’s a solid idea that people can identify with by serving a need or fulfilling some higher purpose.

Or would they rather have it in ink?

If your idea is tattoo worthy, it’s one of those fantastic ideas that you should chase relentlessly.

When I began my dissertation at the University of Oklahoma, I wanted to merge my love of literature with my love of film studies. This wasn’t an easy thing to do at the time because you have to find professors that believe strongly enough in your idea to devote themselves to reading it, helping you revise it, and sit on your panel when the time comes to defend your dissertation.

Now, I could’ve chosen something easier, something 18th Century that I love equally as much, but I didn’t because I knew this was something that I was passionate about and I didn’t want to give up on.

Now, is it tattoo worthy? Possibly. In my academic field, my professors have said the research was “excellent” and to me, that’s tattoo worthy; but in the larger picture, it’s unlikely anyone else will want to tattoo my words on their bodies and I’m okay with that. Just because it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, doesn’t mean it isn’t tattoo worthy.

So what is worthy of permanent ink?

In my opinion, being tattoo worthy, means it’s fantastic. It’s solid. It’s marketable.

It serves a purpose and fulfills a need that people can become impassioned about when they experience it.

The example Jon Acuff gives is the Harley Davidson brand. So many people are passionately connected to this brand that they tattoo their logo, products, and mottos on their own bodies. That’s the very essence of powerful branding. People tattoo movie quotes, vacation destinations, and other things to which they identify or feel passionately about.

The message here is that when your idea is tattoo worthy, it is something other people will get behind easily. They will be able to see the value in your message or product and will want to get on board.

Not every idea has to be a sticker or a tattoo

Not every idea will have this effect and that’s okay. After all, there’s only so much room on the body for tattoos and only so much time in life to have “tattoo worthy” ideas.

Believe in yourself and your ideas. Don’t give up on your idea at the pre-sticker stage. Don’t give up at the sticker stage. If something gives you pleasure and you feel passionate about it, it’s worth pursuing wholeheartedly. Revise those ideas and get them to the tattoo stage and don’t be afraid to reach out for help in the process. The faster you get to the tattoo stage, the faster your dreams and ideas will be realized.

#TattooWorthy

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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decluttering

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer slowing you down? Does it make a simple job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment to improve your productivity.

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better equipment, better work

What is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes.

In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on StackExchange.com an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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