Thursday, April 20th | Karen Hershenson social links

lost in thought
with Karen Hershenson

Leader, The Clay Street Project,
Proctor & Gamble

I'm inspired by my kids.

To me, brilliant is work that is both emotionally meaningful and strategically effective.

When I'm having a creative block I lie on the floor and flip through my old notebooks or new magazines.

The best advice I ever received was to stop apologizing.

The very next thing on my to-do list is to finish my blog post.

My dream collaborator is Arianna Huffington.

At least once, everyone should try a physical challenge they never thought they could do.

The best way to unwind after a long day is singing loudly in the car.

If I had a one year sabbatical, I would try on different lives — a dealer in Vegas, a yoga teacher in Fiji, travel blogger in South America and perform in a play.

The most overused word in meetings today is pivot.

At the moment, I'm obsessed with "Hamilton: An American Musical."

I lead by asking questions.

The next stamp on my passport is Costa Rica.

Find out more about his participation in FUSE arrow © 2017 IIR Holdings, LTD. All Rights Reserved.
As design and brand leaders, we never outgrow our need for inspiration, new ideas and new connections.

The producers of FUSE: Brand Identity and Design are excited to announce that we’ll be bringing you the cutting-edge content and speakers to keep you connected to what matters year round. The FUSE webinar series takes you beyond the in-person event, and is curated for those with a relentless focus on creating design-led organizations. Each quarter, the FUSE team will bring you a 3-part series the will empower you to think and act differently.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017 – 2:00 – 3:30 PM EST
A recently Nielsen study showed that nearly 60% of product decisions are made at shelf.
Are you confident that your packaging design will not only stand out, but make that oh so important consumer connection? This 3-part webinar connects you with brand and packaging leaders who’ve find the magic formula for cutting through the clutter and standing out on shelf.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 – 2:00 – 3:30 PM EST
Savvy organizations must leverage purposeful design to drive social change and create a value-based identity- from sustainability to healthcare to education - and consumers are taking notice with their hearts AND their wallets. This 3-part webinar helps you drive an authentic narrative around social impact in order to build your next generation of brand advocates.

By: Karen Hershenson, The Clay Street Project, Procter & Gamble

I’m heading home from a weekend retreat of yoga, meditation and walks in nature. I have a new sense of clarity and focus. The mismatched ideas that have been bopping around in my head are now forming into tangible creative executions. It’s like when finally given a little space from the frenetic pace of my life, these stray ideas can self-organize into coherence.

We all know how hard it is to create from an overwhelmed mind and yet it is often our reality. There is a growing expectation to create on demand and pull from what feels like a dwindling source of inspiration.

In our work at the clay street project, we have guided hundreds of people through the creative process –- creating the conditions for them to find space and inspiration during business demands and pressures. Over the past 13 years, we have seen time and time again the power of mindfulness on creativity. At first, we thought you needed a lot of time – like my weekend retreat. But we are seeing that it is possible to build in creative bursts and clarity in even your busiest days.

Here are a few mindfulness approaches that are working for our teams at P&G:

Before consumer research, JOURNAL. Set a timer for 3 minutes and write down a prompt like “Right now I am…” or “What I’m most curious about with this research is…” Then write whatever comes to mind – don’t edit and don’t stop until the timer goes off. This practice will make you more aware of what is pulling your attention from the present moment and primes you to be more open to new insights.

Before the big pitch meeting, BREATH. Take 5 deep, full breaths. This will activate the vagus nerve, which acts as a balancing system to stress and increases calm – helping you think more clearly.

During a day of ideation, LEAVE THE PHONE AT HOME. Your ideas need time to incubate and connect. Every glance at your phone is an interruption to this process.

Our challenge we have given to ourselves, is how can we create the sense of space. But more and more, it’s harder for teams to take the all here in the “retreat-like” separation from the daily demands. Over the past 13 years, we have worked with teams for 3 months, 2 weeks and yearlong programs,
For those of you who attended, we hope you enjoyed FUSE 2017!

With help from our friends at Flood, we finished the executive summary in record time, so we wanted to share it with you. Download it here: http://bit.ly/2oFIsNf 

Earlier this month in Miami, the best in branding and design share their vision for the future, revealed the challenges that you must be prepared to face and provided you with strategies needed to succeed in this new reality.

Read the FUSE 2017 Executive Summary: http://bit.ly/2oFIsNf 

Stay tuned for updates on the 2018 event: https://goo.gl/EXppAF 

We hope to see you next year!

The FUSE Team

By: Monica Boeger, Owner and Creative Director, MonicaLauren design

After years of research, humans realized that animals, plants, and other elements of nature have always been solving human production problems and hold the secret to survival. Here are some examples of biomimicry in our world today: 

Monica is the Owner and Creative Director at MonicaLauren design based in Denver, Colorado. She has over ten years of professional experience working with clients from New York to L.A. in music and entertainment, travel and tourism, interior design, health, and apparel industries.

"Design fearlessly."

Ron Burrage, the head of design at the Hershey Company, closed his presentation with the above statement. Along with design thinking and creating innovation, being fearless in design has been a part of every conversation at Fuse in one way or another.

In a Q & A session, Kitty Hart asked brand icon Martha Stewart if she was afraid of anything. "No," she replied. "I don't really have any fears."

There are many ways that I am nothing like Martha Stewart, but this is at the top of the list: I can not imagine not having any fears. The call to "be fearless" does not make any sense to my 22-year-old self. "But what if I fail?" I say. "What happens if a client hates my work? Or if one of our designs becomes the subject of a negative article? Or if we lose money?"

It's easy for all of these successful people to tell me to be fearless, I grumble. They work for Hershey! And Universal! and Facebook! They have everything figured out already!

I, however, am just learning what Watson is.

But as I have more conversations and gain more experience hearing from notable professionals, I am realizing an extremely freeing principal:

Everyone that I admire has fears. Lots of them, probably. But they move beyond fear. They embrace it, rather than let fear paralyze them.

What I tend to forget is that the road to companies like Disney, Pinterest, and Kiehl's is paved with many roadblocks. Many moments of confusion, frustration and inevitably, failure. Even Martha Stewart, one of the most iconic personal brands, has had fear at some point.

Brian Robinson, EVP of Creative, Design, and Development at Universal Pictures, shared yesterday that people admired his resiliency more than they admired acts of winning. "It's time to lose," he said. "It's time to get knocked down so you learn to fight back."

Thanks, Brian. I will.

Today I met the brand icon, Martha Stewart. When I was in my 20s, I was intrigued by her. In my 30s, I learned from her. In my 40s, I envied her. Now, at the wonderful age of 50, I admire her. Why? Because she is fearless.

We’ve watched Martha build an empire, potentially fall from grace and emerge (wearing a stylish and sassy poncho) more bad-ass than ever. I use the term bad-ass with the utmost respect. I think Martha would approve because her drive comes from a deep desire to provide her followers with the very same recipes, home ideas, products and “Good Things” that Martha herself wants to have in her own home and life. When it comes to brand authenticity, there is no better example. In fact, she stated very directly, Martha Stewart the person, the company and brand are the same thing. Martha described what she does as “demystifying the difficult and simple.” Curiosity drives her as a person which fuels the company and the brand.

After the general session moderated by the amazing Christine Mau, we had an opportunity to have a more intimate session with Martha. Thirty of us gathered in a semi-circle with eager eyes fixated on Martha. I wonder if she gets tired of the attention, but she was so kind and patient to indulge all of our questions. 

Knowing this opportunity was coming, I labored over the last few days deciding what I would ask. This was a unique opportunity to speak directly with one of the most successful business women of our time. Excitedly, I asked the very first question. We sat 10 feet from each other, she turned her attention my way and I said, “Martha, thank you for the path you have paved for women in business. You seem fearless. Is there anything that scares you?”

With a little smile, Martha replied, “No. Personally, I’m probably not likely to skydive. But in business, nothing really scares me.” I was not surprised by her answer and I was not surprised that her answer came without hesitation. Martha Stewart oozes confidence and strength. She's been celebrated for her successes and yes, she’s been criticized for being arrogant. She's been roasted and parodied. With no shame or excuses, she even acknowledged that she's been called a b*&#!. Why? Because she’s direct, she knows how she wants her brand managed and she has the highest of expectations. 

As a woman in business, I understand the struggles that come with confidence and direct behaviors. I’ve felt the negativity and I’ve heard the B-word whispered behind my back for the same reasons. As questions swirled around managing this type of situation in the corporate world she said, “It's not a gender thing. It’s not so much about 'leaning-in' anymore. It’s more about doing things your own way with confidence.” It's a fearless behavior and I admire Martha for the leadership. 

In all, spending a few hours with Martha at FUSE today was delightful, educational and inspiring. She shared her perspective on leadership, how she has built a culture that fosters creativity and how she finds inspiration through travel experiences. While on a recent safari vacation with her grandchildren, she made a necklace out of water lily reeds. (Of course she did!) Someday she would love to have a pet Eagle. And when asked about a most significant business decision that she made in the past, she cites the collaboration with Kmart. With strategic vision, Martha worked hard to convince Kmart execs that their shoppers wanted, needed and deserved higher quality towel and bedding products. And boy, was she right. Her products flew off the shelves.  

Thank you, Martha, for sharing your insights with us. And thank you for the past 30 years of demystifying the difficult and simple. As one last fun note, are you curious to know a few of her favorite "Good Things?" When asked, she cited (1) painting garden tools a bright color so you can always find them in the garden beds, and (2) using a beautiful, stylish bottle to hold basic kitchen soap so it looks pretty on your sink. I agree, those are very Good Things. 

I look forward to what comes next from Martha. She shared a bit about a wine club soon to be launched. And I'm more curious than ever about her collaboration with Snoop Dogg. She says he's a really nice guy. Ok, Martha, I'll take your word for it. 😉

Director of Client Experience

By: Monica Boeger, Owner and Creative Director, MonicaLauren design

I have an embarrassing confession! For over 10 years, I’ve been working as a graphic designer, art director, creative director and everything in between. Today was the FIRST time the idea of designing a website as ADA compliant was brought to my attention thanks to the inspiring Steve Gates, global head of design at Citi. As he was enthusiastically speaking about Atomic Design and defining the best steps to develop the most affective brand and digital experience, he casually mentioned that, “the form fields and interactivity needs to be ADA compliant”. I literally sat up straight in my chair and said out loud, “I’m such an asshole”!

How was I NEVER aware of this?! It seems like such an obvious requirement and being in the professional creative world for so long, I can honestly say I’m embarrassed. Public buildings are required to have entry ramps and elevators, busses have lifts, cross walk lights make sound, signs and books are written in brail, ticket booths have audio options, why on earth wouldn’t a website be designed and developed to successfully communicate to those with disabilities? Gates’s presentation did not focus on this topic, but from this second - that’s all I could focus on. 

So, I started researching and found old news from 2010. Seven years later. Thanks Steve - really, thanks Steve - for saving me from further years of embarrassment. In September of 2010, The Department of Justice published the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design which says that all electronics and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities. We know the Americans with Disabilities Act became a law in 1990 and that it prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities in jobs, schools, transportation and all public places.

Of COURSE websites, apps, and everything else digital should be easily accessible to everyone. I was hoping I was the only designer living under a rock and not yet taken this into consideration with digital design planning, but as I’m sitting here trying to find research about how the ADA influences graphic design and development, I sadly can’t find much information or articles. Are other designers as unaware as I am? If so, we all need to be better.

The most helpful information I could find was in an article from techrepublic.com. I learned that the ADA applies mainly to businesses with over fifteen employees, which made me feel slightly better about my lack of knowledge as I work with small companies, but I still feel awful on a personal moral and consideration level. The article went on to say that small companies and freelancers can benefit by complying because they can potentially attract more clients and liabilities will be limited. The article also provided a digital criteria list from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

If your website or digital design meets everything on this list, then it most likely is easily accessible to people with disabilities:
  • Every image, video file, audio file, plug-in, etc. has an alt tag
  • Complex graphics are accompanied by detailed text descriptions
  • The alt descriptions describe the purpose of the objects
  • If an image is also used as a link, make sure the alt tag describes the graphic and the link destination
  • Decorative graphics with no other function have empty alt descriptions (alt= "")
  • Add captions to videos
  • Add audio descriptions
  • Create text transcript
  • Create a link to the video rather than embedding it into web pages
  • Add a link to the media player download
  • Add an additional link to the text transcript
  • The page should provide alternative links to the Image Map
  • The <area> tags must contain an alt attribute
  • Data tables have the column and row headers appropriately identified (using the <th> tag)
  • Tables used strictly for layout purposes do NOT have header rows or columns
  • Table cells are associated with the appropriate headers (e.g. with the id, headers, scope and/or axis HTML attributes)
  • Make sure the page does not contain repeatedly flashing images
  • Check to make sure the page does not contain a strobe effect
  • A link is provided to a disability-accessible page where the plug-in can be downloaded
  • All Java applets, scripts and plug-ins (including Acrobat PDF files and PowerPoint files, etc.) and the content within them are accessible to assistive technologies, or else an alternative means of accessing equivalent content is provided
  • When form controls are text input fields use the LABEL element
  • When text is not available use the title attribute
  • Include any special instructions within field labels
  • Make sure that form fields are in a logical tab order
  • Include a ‘Skip Navigation' button to help those using text readers
(via U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

While this list is helpful, it’s smart to ask people with disabilities test your website and report back with changes and improvements. Moving forward, I will be taking ADA compliant design into consideration and making a creative plan of how to work this stage of design and development into the workflow process.

Thanks for opening my mind, Steve Gates.

Monica is the Owner and Creative Director at MonicaLauren design based in Denver, Colorado. She has over ten years of professional experience working with clients from New York to L.A. in music and entertainment, travel and tourism, interior design, health, and apparel industries.

"Everything is people-centered."

The first day of Fuse is nearly wrapped up, and it's clear that everyone's focus is on one thing: creating memorable experiences for people. Not consumers - people.

Taking that to heart, below you will find easy and digestible summaries from a few of the presentations so far. Think theSkimm but with more uses of the word "innovation".

Christian Martinez: Communication In A Mobile-First World

Overarching point: Our desire to connect is what makes us human, and though the methods we use to communicate change dramatically, the desire for trust and community will always remain constant.

Key takeaways + stats:
-One minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words to our brains.
-It is estimated 75% of all mobile data will be video by 2020.
-90% of the information that we receive is visual.

So...what does this mean for me?
Visual language, particularly video, is essential for brands to make real connections with their audiences.

Memorable quote: “There is an expectation to take people with you on an adventure - our desire to connect is what makes us human. It has always been about trust and community.”

Vince Voron: Leveraging In-House Creatives to Inspire Innovation

Overarching point: Pay attention to all of the interactions a customer makes with your brand, and focus time, money, and resources into making those enjoyable and memorable.

Key takeaways + stats:
-Look for ordinary moments and make them extraordinary.
-Systems are needed to keep a company's design strategy in line.
-Individuals within a company can effect big change.

So...what does this mean for me?
Designers need to take a seat in the boardroom as well as invite the C-Suite execs into the design studio.

Memorable Quote: “Empowering passions in your company can lead to inspiring innovations.”

Brian Robinson: A Tale of Resiliency, Imagination, and the Power of Curiosity

Overarching point: Failure leads to resiliency, resiliency leads to creativity, and creativity leads to innovation.

Key takeaways + stats:
-An unbridled imagination is at the heart of innovation.
-We need to learn to be courageous and test new ideas.
-People respond more positively when they see resiliency in others rather than acts of "winning".

So...what does this mean for me?
If you want to build resilient teams, empower them to get knocked down.

Memorable quote: "It’s time to lose. It’s time to get knocked out so you learn to fight back. And it’s time to innovate at your most vulnerable moment."

Gillian Ferrabee: Engaging Your Audience Through Play

Overarching point: Play is necessary to grow and learn.

Key takeaways + stats:
-Humans are the only animal that play after adulthood.
-The stakes need to be at a comfortable level, because if they are too high we go into survival mode and creativity stops.
-When you're having fun and engaging in play, your brain remembers more and you are more likely to learn.

So...what does this mean for me?
If you want to learn and grow, both individually and with a team, there needs to be a comfortable environment to try new things.

Memorable quote: “Think about what you liked to do as a kid and try to do that thing for the rest of your life.”


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