i thought this article on productivity styles was super interesting. the core of the ideas here is that we work - and therefore add value - in different ways. i pulled the most important parts and included them here but suggest reading the whole thing if you have a couple of minutes. one of my biggest work and life philosophies is that the better we get to know ourselves the happier and more productive we are. if you know what you need, where you get your energy, your strengths and weaknesses you are much better able to manage yourself, your energy and your time. so! take a look at carson tate's take on four types of productivity. like any of these personality-ish test type of things, it is simplified. of course there are more than four! but go along with it and see if any of them resonate with you. if you get one insight from identifying with one category more than another, it's worth it.

illustration by oscar ramos orozco

illustration by oscar ramos orozco

The Prioritizer

A Prioritizer is that guy or gal who will always defer to logical, analytical, fact-based, critical, and realistic thinking. To increase her efficiency, she will time how long it takes to complete certain tasks in order to more accurately plan her days and weeks. She has never met a goal she did not like and applies a laser-like focus to ensure she accomplishes her goals.

She is so focused on execution that she doesn’t spend much time or energy on how it is completed. At times she has a tendency to be controlling and rigid, and may be known in the office for her drive and competitiveness. She hates chit-chat, missing data, or oversharing of anything personal. Her emails often are only a few sentences or if possible, just a few letters.

Contributions to the team: Analyzing data; Critical analysis and logical problem solving; Goal orientation, consistency, and decisiveness

The Planner

The Planner is the team member who thrives on organized, sequential, planned, and detailed thinking. Though at first glance he may appear as a Prioritizer, the Planner will immerse themselves in the details of a project, while the Prioritizer focuses on only the details that help him complete the project quickly and accurately. The Planner has never met a calendar or project-planning tool that he did not like.

He is not known for his spontaneity, and in fact has missed opportunities due to his resistance to deviate from plans. He has been known to write something on his to-do list that has already been completed, just so he can cross it off. He thrives on schedules and action plans, and is known for his timely follow-ups. He wants you to get to the point; he’ll read the fine print himself later. He hates attending a meeting without an agenda. His emails are detailed, often including bullet points and clearly stated next-action steps.

Contributions to the team: Action orientation and practicality; Finding overlooked flaws in plans or processes; Organizing and maintaining data and project plans

The Arranger

An Arranger prefers supportive, expressive, and emotional thinking. She is the ultimate team player and excels at partnering with colleagues to get work done. She is a natural communicator and deftly facilitates project meetings. She hates when people lack that personal touch or rely too heavily on data or facts. Arrangers are talkers; they love stories, eye-to-eye contact, expressing concern for others, and asking questions about the way a project or task helps others. They have been known to need to institute a personal chat budget, only allowing a few minutes of chit chat during work hours, and have to avoid adding one more person to the cc: line on their email messages. 

Contributions to the team: Anticipating how others will feel and understanding their underlying emotions; Facilitating team interaction; Persuading and selling ideas

The Visualizer

A Visualizer prefers holistic, intuitive, integrating, and synthesizing thinking. He thrives under pressure and is easily bored if he is not juggling multiple, diverse projects. A Visualizer focuses on the big-picture and broad concepts making connections. At times, he has a tendency to overlook details and tends to value the possibilities over process. His excessive spontaneity and impulsiveness can lead to breakthrough ideas, but can also derail project plans at times. A Visualizer has probably not seen the surface of their desk in years because if something is out of sight, it is out of mind. And, his emails tend to be long, filled with concepts and ideas.

Contributions to the team: Innovation; serving as a catalyst for change; Creative problem solving; Ability to envision the future, recognize new opportunities and integrate ideas and concepts

more here.

via swiss miss 


this one is key for designers but i think it applies to anyone who ever presents an idea. in essence, the lesson is that presentation matters, specifically context. context is key for people to understand your vision, and one step further, be excited about it. they have to visualize it and it's your job to help them do that. (remember the castles?) that might mean convincing a designer at your organization to do you a favor and put some time into an important internal report to ensure you get buy in. it might also mean spending time setting up an idea in a pitch deck, outlining your mission statement a little deeper and with stronger visuals, or using color to better highlight what numbers are going up and what numbers are dropping in a boring data report.

david airey's blog spoke to this recently. see below for an excerpt, and here for the full post.

"When Giorgio Armani was first shown Chermayeff & Geismar’s new logo for Armani Exchange (A|X), he rejected it outright. The designers later found out that due to Armani’s infamously busy schedule, the new mark had been presented to him between meetings, on a white piece of paper."

"The A|X directors of advertising and branding, Tom Jarrold and Matthew Scrivens, then suggested approaching Armani a second time (which they almost never do) with the entire Chermayeff & Geismar presentation, which showed the logo in such applications as magazine ads, storefronts, and billboards."

"Once Armani saw the increased visual impact of the new identity in context, he immediately approved it."

so, friends. remember: presentation matters. go the extra mile to help your audience (your boss, your client, your team) visualize what you're selling. and when it comes to presentation, if content is king, context is queen.



“as the story goes, walt disney had a key piece of advice to the executives planning the magic kingdom: build the castle first. disney understood that everyone involved in achieving his vision - from the madison avenue advertisers selling it to the guys hacking their way through the mosquito-infested florida swamp - needed literally to see the beauty of this vision to remind them what they were working toward. so the first thing to rear up out of the swamp was, in fact, cinderella’s castle, which, with its fluttering flats and whimsical turrets, was the very embodiment of the magic he intended to make.”

this is from a post on harvard business review's blog and an extension of a piece of advice i heard a couple of times during business school: build the castle first.

the advice boils down to this: leadership is bringing a vision to a group. with a new idea, people need to see something, have something to hold onto, they need to feel it before they can get on board.

hence, the castle.

in order to lead in a new direction - and break down barriers - you have to provide that *littlesomethingspecial* for people to build from. whether you’re selling friends and family on a new startup idea or building out a new venture within a corporate structure, think about building your castle first - the prototype, the logo, whatever your symbol may be. it shows people you’re for real and gives them just enough of the tangible stuff so that they can dream with you.

castle illustration by amy broadwell.


i wanted to share this video from pandora for two reasons: first, the video and the concept are awesome and second, the delivery was spot on.

first, the delivery: i get very few emails from pandora (usually just with station suggestions) so i’ve never bothered to unsubscribe. this week i got the email copied below and was struck by how effective it was. here’s why:

  • the subject line: “wow…” was simple but attention grabbing. it was also unlike most emails i get from them so it captured my attention.
  • the sender: the email was from tim westergren, the founder of pandora. their emails never come from him so again, it captured my attention. see a trend? you need to change things up in your communications in order to get the attention of your users.
  • the content: a one line intro that is personable and to the point, the link, a line about why this is at the heart of the brand’s mission and then an action. it’s basically perfect.

video and concept: when you “thumbs up” (aka “like”) something in pandora it adds it to your favorites and adjusts your station accordingly. but what if it meant something more?

  • the basics: you can “like” or “thumbs up” or virtually high five anything these days. it’s the most basic digital interaction. so, brands need to be thinking about how to make it mean more, and how to make it lead users to engage deeper (rather than just “like” and keep scrolling). this is one of the few places i've seen a brand try to do this.
  • the execution: it’s touching, it’s inspiring, and it takes the concept of pandora - connect with artists you love and fall in love with new artists in a few clicks - to a whole other level.
  • don't forget: give them an action! once someone engages with your brand they need to be given ways to continue to engage.

it will be interesting to see the traction #thumbmoments gets and where pandora takes this but for now, kudos pandora!


meet harry. harry’s is a very cool shaving company that breaks from the traditional model and brings you a “great shave at a fair price.” it’s a brand i really like: the main man in my life loves the product, they have a really clean design, they have a very consistent brand voice, and i love their website.

what i really wanted to share was their magazine, five o' clock, and talk a little bit about brands creating editorial content. harry's says the magazine is about “undiscovered moments, advice, and generally useful information for a well-lived life.” generally, i think the voice of the content works, it’s thoughtful content for the modern guy, and it’s on brand. i also give them credit for not throwing up random images and text: they have real photographers, illustrators, editors, etc. they’re doing a lot right but I think there are some small things they could do better that would make a big difference.

  1. focus your content. it’s too broad! narrow the content so your customer knows what he’s coming to the site for. also, “making today better than yesterday” doesn’t really mean anything.
  2. always tie it back to the product. if the post can’t be tied to shaving, grooming, getting ready habits, then it doesn’t work. there’s a post on apologizing, you guys. it’s too random.
  3. brand it. they have great posts about men they admire and their morning routines. this is great content! but there’s a missed opportunity here. they should be telling us what harry’s products these guys use, how often they shave, their favorite products to use alongside harry’s, and so on. the line between effective branded content and annoying product placement is thin, but it can be done. and when it’s done right, your content will work harder for your brand and your customer will get more out of your content.



i love this quote. of course, in some situations decisions have to be consensus based, made by committee. i think this quote is relevant in two ways though: first, as a leadership lesson and second, as a personal lesson. a former CEO came to speak to a class of mine during business school and he emphasized that you have to collect information from everyone - from the highest ranking person to the lowest ranking person in your organization, everyone should feel a part of the process and everyone can provide valuable insights. however, when it comes to making the final decision, as a leader, it's your job to weigh all of that information, take in all of the varied opinions, quiet the noise, and make a decision. i think the same applies as we make big life decisions. i have so many friends going through big life transitions right now and making big choices and i really think this is the best advice: first, take in opinions and advice from the people you trust, people who care about you, people who have been through what you're going through. and then, sit with yourself, quiet the sea of opinions and make the decision that feels most right for you.

original image (slightly edited by me) by (one of my favorite illustrators) monica ramos



i had a professor in business school who talked often about building a personal board of directors and it really stuck with me. the idea is to find people who have different things you need to navigate challenges and find your path, people who you can go to for advice, support, perspective, mentoring, expertise, etc. this image by tony buckland reminded me of that - figure out what you need, find the birds in your life that can guide you and build your flock of directors.

original image (slightly edited by me) by tony buckland