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How to Conduct Highly Effective Meetings: Part Two

Monday, April 7th, 2014 and is filed under Blog.

Last week, we gave you the first five tips on how to conduct highly effective meetings. This week, the tips continue! 

6. Use Energizers – The most effective meetings leverage the energy of its participants, and we’ve found that a healthy dose of energy falls somewhere between droning PowerPoint lectures and a P-90X workout.  It is just as important to energize the mind as the body.  We certainly recommend getting people up out of their chairs once in a while, but the best meetings stimulate the mind.  Energizers can be as simple as small group breakouts that engage people in stories about their childhood or personal interests.

7. Manage Energy, Not the Clock – Say you have a break scheduled for 11:00 a.m., but you look around the group at 10:15 and see yawning and people checking their cell phones; give them a break now!  Time restraints on agendas are important for planning purposes, but they don’t have to control your meeting.  If a meeting has met its objectives well before the scheduled end time, there’s no use in stretching content for the sake of stretching it.  And believe me, people can tell when you’re just trying to fill time.

8. Appreciative Inquiry – Take some time to explore what has gone over well in previous meetings.  During the meeting, devote time to what is going right in the organization.  Don’t ignore the challenges, but some purposeful time around successes and duplicating those

9.  Require Feedback – Now that people are emotionally engaged and comfortable sharing their real opinions, make it a point to cultivate them.  Phrases like “What are you thinking that you aren’t saying?” are effective ways to gently push people toward providing authentic feedback.  Some of the best ideas and biggest “ah-ha” moments in meetings come from participants’ comments.  And great leaders are willing to take this feedback with an open mind, even when it is brutally honest.

10. End Early – Throw your attendees for a loop.  We have been conditioned to expect meetings to run over their allotted time, especially when we’re not looking forward to being there.  But what if you turned the tables?  Ending a half-day session 30 minutes early or stopping an hour-long meeting after 50 minutes provides not only a welcome surprise for attendees, but will also make them rethink some of their assumptions about the company.

Now that you’ve learned all 10 tips, which will you use today? 



Ten ways StudioThinkers Are Getting Healthy This Spring

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 and is filed under Blog.

It finally feels like spring has arrived in Cleveland! Studiothink is taking advantage of the nice weather and getting active. Watch out as the Think Hard, Hit Harder sand volleyball team storms the court this April at Panini’s!

Here are some of the other things the Thinkers are doing to get fit for summer and be healthier:

  1.  Joining a summer sports league
  2. Going on regular walks/runs in the metro parks
  3. Choosing healthier foods
  4. Exercising more or working out with P90X
  5. Participating in a half marathon
  6. Learning Yoga
  7. Biking for a good cause
  8. Getting more sleep
  9. Breaking bad habits
  10. Drinking more water

How are you getting fit or choosing to be healthier for summer? What’s your favorite spring/summer activity in Cleveland? Share with us using the hashtag #10years. 



How to Conduct Highly Effective Meetings: Part One

Monday, March 31st, 2014 and is filed under Blog.

Whether it’s a board meeting, annual retreat, company outing or staff meeting, every get-together in a professional setting is an opportunity to grow and develop.  Too often, however, this potential is left untapped due to a number of factors, including stale programming, lack of tempo and absence of collaboration. 

Make a conscious decision to be that leader and to be that team that gets the most out of every opportunity to bring people together.  Keep these simple suggestions in mind, and make every meeting a chance to do something great:

  1. Th!nk Inward – When planning a meeting, think about your own ideal meeting.  What would it look like? How would it make you feel? What would you be saying to yourself and others after it was over?
  2. Th!nk Outward – Put yourself in others’ shoes.  If presenting to a group of people you’ve presented to in the past, think about aspects of the meeting that worked well or that didn’t work so well. If possible, get feedback from them before the meeting.  If it’s a new crowd, consult friends and colleagues.  It’s amazing how willing others are to lend advice and ideas when you ask!
  3.  A/V in Advance – Like an oxygen tank when scuba diving, we don’t pay much attention to the audio and video systems until it stops working.  Setting up and testing A/V in advance will (in most cases) iron out issues and ensure a smoother experience.
  4. Communicate the “Why” – Why did you call this meeting?  What are your reasons for bring these people together?  Tell this to the meeting attendees.  It helps frame the meeting and begins to rally them around the vision.
  5. Engage Attendees Emotionally – Through emotional engagement, individuals are more likely to focus on the important aspects of the meeting. Regardless of the meeting topic, if you can align attendees’ intellects with their emotions, you will see a group that is hungry to share ideas and information.  To capture this level of engagement, you must create an environment where people feel empowered to participate and comfortable doing so.  In the best meetings, participants see each other not as job titles or rungs on a ladder, but rather as fellow human beings.

What do you do to keep your audience engaged? What do you think makes meetings highly effective? Check back next Monday to find out the next five ways to make the most of your meetings.



Studiothink’s Favorite Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

Monday, March 10th, 2014 and is filed under Blog.

As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary, our top ten lists continue! For this month’s list, we are prepping for next week’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Everyone has his or her favorite place to celebrate, favorite food of the day or nostalgic memory of a St. Paddy’s Day in the past. Here’s what the Thinkers have to say:

Favorite Ways to Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day

  1. Marching in the St. Paddy’s Day parade
  2. Studiothink’s annual St. Paddy’s day party
  3. Watching the parade along the route for general debauchery 
  4. Enjoying a perfectly poured Guinness (with a shamrock on top!) 
  5. People-watching… ANYWHERE.
  6. Corned beef sandwiches at Simon’s in Brecksville
  7. Irish Car Bombs (drinks not explosives)
  8. Listening to Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys
  9. Shamrock Shakes
  10. Wearing green!

Do you have special St. Patrick’s Day memories? What’s your favorite way to celebrate? Share your photos from the day with us and show us how you celebrate using the hashtag #10years.

Keep watching for our monthly top-ten lists and our Thinker Thursday posts on Instagram every Thursday at 10:10 a.m.!



Studiothink’s Top-10 Acts of Love and Kindness for February

Monday, February 10th, 2014 and is filed under Blog.

In 2004,  CEO Christine Lobas launched the Studiothink brand with a freelance designer and a vision.  Now celebrating ten years in business, Studiothink is a firmly established full-service brand management company offering marketing strategy, content marketing, public relations, graphic design, web development and culture development services.

To commemorate our 10th anniversary, the Studiothink team is “thinking big” when it comes to showcasing our mantra: “Listen. Think. Do.” Watch for our monthly  top-ten lists, and witness our company culture on Instagram during Thinker Thursday, every Thursday at 10:10 a.m, to see the creative juices flowing through the Studiothink office.

Launching the top-10 lists, Studiothink put together top-ten acts of love and kindness to be carried out in February.  

Here are a few ways to show you care this month:

  1. Pay for the order behind you in line  
  2. Visit a nursing home and have a meal with seniors
  3. Ask everyone in your office to wear something red for American Heart Month
  4. Leave an anonymous hand written note on a co-workers chair thanking them for something they did well, giving them a compliment or telling them how much they are appreciated
  5. Help someone shovel their driveway
  6. Invite someone eating alone at a restaurant to eat with you
  7. Help someone brush off his or her car on a snowy day
  8. Top off a strangers parking meter
  9. Write a handwritten letter/card/postcard to someone you haven’t talked to in awhile (handwritten, not email)
  10. Donate blood

What would you add to the list?

Up for a challenge? Show us that you completed something on our list, and challenge us to complete an act of love or kindness of your choice! Submit a photo on our Facebook page and tag it #ST10Challenge.



Ask the Thinker Series

Q: How does Offset Printing work?

Thursday, November 14th, 2013 and is filed under Ask the Thinker!, Blog.

Prepress

Before your jobs go to the printing press, there are several things that must be done to make sure it will look its best. Busy printers have to balance a tight schedule, so they want to make sure that each project is properly prepared to avoid problems at the press. If you’re having your job printed on an offset printing press, your printer will first take your digital files and make film negatives of them. These negatives will then be used to create metal plates through a process that’s similar to camera film development. If you have a four color (CMYK) design, there will be four plates — one each for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Once the plates are made, your project is ready to be printed.

Printing 

An offset press does a lot of things in a very short amount of time to properly execute high-quality printing. Sheet-fed offset presses and offset web presses use similar processes, though web presses use huge rolls of paper for high-volume printing, while sheet fed presses are just that — printed sheet by sheet — and are more suitable for short- or mid-range runs (250 to 50,000).

Regardless of the paper feed type, once it is loaded on the press, it passes under a series of rollers, two of which work together to put the printed impression on the paper. Before that happens, ink and water are applied to the printing plate, which itself is mounted on a roller. The ink binds to the part of the plate that contains design elements; the water is applied to the white space portion of the paper. Oil is mixed with the ink to ensure that the ink and water repel each other and there is no smearing or blotchiness on the finished product. The plate cylinder transfers, or offsets, the design onto a rubber blanket roller, which in turn transfers the design onto the paper. In four-color printing, this process is repeated four times (once for each color) before the printing is complete and the job is ready for finishing. Often, the wet paper is run through an oven to dry.

Finishing

Depending on what you are printing, you might require finishing services, such as binding and cutting. After your job is off the press, it will be put on another machine, such as a stitcher for stapling, gluing and other processes. Finally, it will be cut to size and packaged for shipment.

As you can see, graphic design is just one part of a very complex printing process. Each step of the process has a specifically designed benefit. Even though most offset printing presses work very much alike, the actual quality of your job depends on a number of factors, including your printer’s attention to detail and press maintenance, the type of press it’s printed on, the quality of the ink and paper and even the quality of your design.

 

Read more of Tony Giangrande's posts.

Tony contributes fresh ideas from a creative and technical design perspective, drawing inspiration from all forms of communication and a commitment to getting through the noise to get your message across.



Ask the Thinker Series

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Q: If I’m good at my individual job, is teamwork really that important?

Thursday, August 8th, 2013 and is filed under Ask the Thinker!, Blog.

Absolutely.

It’s about much more than simply collaborating with co-workers to complete a project. 

Teamwork is about something bigger than individual jobs or tasks; bigger than work or competitive athletics. It’s about the recognition that each of us operates as a piston rather than the whole engine.

When I think of the epitome of teamwork, I think of some of the world’s most iconic and fascinating structures: the Empire State Building, the Great Pyramids, the Golden Gate Bridge, the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai. These beautiful, yet complicated, constructions can be whittled down to a common thread—teamwork. Individuals operating with other individuals in small groups, larger factions and giant teams built these massive works of art together, as one.

I believe we build our own fascinating structures all the time, but not by ourselves. Even a painter needs materials, canvas and inspiration, which are all made possible by other people and their surroundings.  Collaboration is present in waking up to an alarm because electric companies keep the power on. It’s in the mutual reliance on fellow drivers to yield before making a turn across traffic. It’s in relationships, on teams and in the workplace.

If you perform your individual job at a high level, that’s a testament to you. Yet that’s in addition to the colleagues, clients, vendors, suppliers, customers, family members and/or consultants that contribute to your success. In the wise words of Jonah Hill from Superbad, “This whole thing is bigger than you Fogel!”

So keep building your fascinating structures, and keep in mind the teamwork behind them.

Read more of pete's posts.



Ask the Thinker Series

Q: How Can Employers Help Manage Stress in the Workplace?

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 and is filed under Ask the Thinker!, Blog.

Too much work stress over a long period of time has been found to have a negative impact on the workplace – productivity, retention, health, interpersonal relationships, engagement, job satisfaction, motivation, creativity/innovation, and the list goes on.

With wellness at the top of mind for employers, organizations trying to control steep health care costs, and the need for a highly productive and efficient workforce, solving the problem of work stress is a priority.  If we care about our employees, their well-being, and the health of our businesses, we must also start caring about work stress and helping our employees better manage it.

Employers can offer programs and resources to help their employees manage stress and help them achieve work/life balance such as employee assistance programs, counseling or coaching, wellness programs, paid time off, flexible schedules, family-first philosophies, time/priority/stress management educational programs, and added benefits like financial planning. Some companies have begun to offer on-site stress management therapies for example massage and yoga.

But stress management initiatives and programs are only part of the solution. What is often overlooked in solving the problem of work stress is the workplace itself.

It’s clear that work stress is often influenced by work itself and the work environment. Focus on engaging employees, managing and communicating with them well, recognizing them, listening to and using their input, making sure they fit into the right jobs, offering fair pay, providing advancement and development opportunities, and ensuring they aren’t too overloaded through more effective management of workload and problem solving. These are the common “pain points” among employees.

Oddly enough, the problem of work stress seems to have peculiar similarities to the problem of engagement and suggests that the issues are probably intertwined. Employers can make a difference and positively impact employees’ work stress by not only offering stress management resources and programs, but by truly creating a more engaging work environment and satisfying jobs.

Read more of Bev Vance's posts.

Bev's communication skills allow her to seamlessly oversee every aspect of Studiothink's daily operations. She assists with managing advertising, print design and web design projects and communicates with clients, coworkers and vendors to coordinate an overall marketing effort.



The Million Dollar Question

Thursday, July 11th, 2013 and is filed under Blog.



Ask the Thinker Series

Q: What does a Copywriter do?

Thursday, June 27th, 2013 and is filed under Ask the Thinker!, Blog.

A Copywriter is someone who elegantly blends language that sells, educates, informs and entertains. They create the words you find in advertisements, brochures, websites, billboards, scripts and just about everywhere else these days.

Unlike a standard writer, who creates their own characters and worlds, Copywriters must embody the essence and voice of the specific client they are currently writing about. And on any given day, their focus must shift between a number of industries, products, goals and media.

Beyond that, a good Copywriter knows how to dig below the surface and discover what the client really want to say and what the audience truly wants to hear. That means they must have excellent research skills and an even better eye for differentiating characteristics. They also take into account factors such as usability, accessibility, placement, length, etc. There’s a myriad amount of elements that must be taken into consideration, before a single word even hits the page. Writing is actually the last step in a lengthy process.

To boil it down, a Copywriter creates the right message, addressing the right audience, at the right time and in the right place. I guess you could say a Copywriter’s job is to get it right.

Read more of Steve Taylor's posts.



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