Musings & Greetings for 2013

January 3, 2013 - One Response

Dear Readers;

I’ve been feeling a tad guilty about not writing my New Year’s post…other projects have taken my attention elsewhere, and then, Presto, my husband shared this poem which he received from a client. We don’t know who the author is but appreciate the smart words…

Here you go…

A New Year’s wish for you and yours,

 May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your

 ophthalmologist, your psychiatrist, your cardiologist, your urologist,

 your proctologist, your gynecologist, your podiatrist, your plumber,

 and the Income Tax Department .

 May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your love handles, and your

 stocks never fall, and may your blood pressure, your triglycerides,

 your cholesterol, your white blood count, your weight, and your

 property assessments never increase.

 May you be sensitive to the needs of others and may you create within

 yourself integration of your own needs.

 May you laugh at yourself and realize if you were supposed to touch

 your toes while exercising, the Lord would have placed them further

 up, and may you realize the reason so many people take up jogging is

 to hear heavy breathing again.

 May what you see in the mirror delight you and what others see in you

 delight them.

 May someone love you enough to accept and forgive your faults and be

 blind to your blemishes, and tell the whole world about your virtues.

 May you live in a world at peace, with an awareness of the beauty of

 every sunset, every flower, every child’s smile, and every wonderful

 astonishing beat of your own heart.

 If by laughter I can cause you to wipe one tear from your cheek, that

 is my only reward – the government takes everything else!

 Above all, may you continue to smile, may your life be filled with

 laughter, and may you never forget the words found in the Book of

 Proverbs, “A gloomy spirit rots the bones; but a merry heart is like

 good medicine.”

 Be happy & grateful to be alive and having loving family and friends !

Hope you have a healthy, happy, prosperous, sweet New Year!

Laurie Tema-Lyn

Practical Imagination Enterprises

laurie@practical-imagination.com

 

 HAPPY NEW YEAR !

 

Musings On Things Upended

November 4, 2012 - Leave a Response

Dear Readers;

There’s a giant evergreen lying on its side in the little koi pond right outside my living room window. It came crashing down Monday night in an 82 mile an hour gust of wind from megastorm Sandy. At first, we thought a limb crashed into the pond; with morning’s light we realized it was the entire tree, exposed roots and all, that fell. It’s disturbing, the vista is dramatically changed, and yet it’s also lush and exotic—as the dangling limbs make the pond look a bit like Rousseau’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Fortunately the tree didn’t hit the house, nor kill any of the fish—although we sadly discovered a “smushed” giant frog. As I clear debris from the back yard today I can see the enormity of the upended root bed and the crater left behind. 

In a way, this tree is a vivid metaphor for other things that seem upended these days. 

Within the market research profession, many are calling into question the question “Why?” Does pursuing this question bring the results of accuracy and relevance on which we have depended in order to ferret out insights into decision-making? Behavioral Economists like Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow suggest that consumers don’t really know why they make decisions—though they can rationalize and give a plausible story to support their actions. According to Kahneman there are two modes of cognition taking place—which he names System 1—which reacts quickly and automatically to facts, faces and simple problems and System 2 which thinks more slowly and deliberately. His work and others have enormous impact for how we design our research; and may be a contributing factor to the heightened interest in ethnographic or observational research to witness behavior and derive insights.

On a marketing front, some of my clients are now embracing the work of marketing scientist Dr. Byron Sharp and the researchers of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, who present data and thought provoking arguments in How Brands Grow. The key message of that book: widely held marketing practices are entirely wrong! For example: they say, we’ve all been taught that brands vary tremendously in loyalty. Not so fast, according to Dr. Sharp–“loyalty metrics for competing brands are quite similar.” 

These provocative thought leaders remind me that I need more time and reflection to identify implications for my business practice. 

And, as my back up generator hums along nicely in the background, I am also reminded that at this moment in time, nothing can be taken for granted.

While I feel most fortunate that my home and family are unscathed, it feels like a confluence of forces are catapulting changes and upheavals personally and professionally.

By nature of something being upended, you can’t return to the way it was before, you have to integrate the changes. So how do you use “upendedness?” I believe we can do this in two ways—one is to find alternatives for those necessary functions that were disturbed, and the other is to innovate uses of resources, priorities, etc.

The positive can happen if we continue to come together as professionals, colleagues, friends, neighbors and human beings to share our questions, assumptions, resources and to support each other’s endeavors. 

I see signs of that “lushness” in my environment.

 Laurie Tema-Lyn, laurie@practical-imagination.com

Practical Imagination Enterprises, http://www.practical-imagination.com

Evergreen in the Koi Pond

November 4, 2012 - One Response

Evergreen in the Koi Pond

Musings: Another Market for Stir It Up! Recipes for Robust Insights & Red Hot Ideas

October 11, 2012 - Leave a Response

I returned from the QRCA national conference in Montreal this week fired up, feeling the joy from the learning and camaraderie. There were many great presentations from which to choose, and the informal meetings and conversations provided me with nuggets and new ideas I want to explore.

I was personally thrilled to hear such wonderful feedback from colleagues who have been using my book, Stir It Up! Recipes for Robust Insights & Red Hot Ideas (Paramount Market Publishing, Inc.) and getting great results to the exercises.

But an unexpected new market was suggested. John, a retired 8th grade teacher from NY, told me he had been devouring the book during the conference and thought many of its suggestions would be outstanding to bring to the classroom. His perspective was that many of the exercises as well as the principles would resonate with important programs about creating conversations, encouraging diversity and anti-bullying.

What an exciting suggestion! The education market is not something I have particularly focused on in the past—and while my sister and niece are teachers, the feedback I’ve heard from them is that the management requirements of the current NJ core curriculum make it hard to find time for creative exploration.

So I’m putting this out to the universe. Here’s a sample exercise from the book—Who’s Your Muse? I’m giving a shout out to you teachers—to check out the book and do let me know if you think these ideas and suggestions could be useful integrating with classroom activities!

My best,

Laurie Tema-Lyn
Practical Imagination Enterprises
908 237 2246
laurie@practical-imagination.com
Stir It Up! cover

Whos your Muse

 

Musing: Sleepless in Sydney, and the pitfalls of living 24/7

August 22, 2012 - One Response

Dear Readers;

I recently returned from conducting research in Sydney, Australia. I found it a lovely place to visit and work with welcoming people and a beautiful environment, where water and harbor play center stage. I was thrilled to have the experience, but it was not without challenges.

While I travel regularly for work and pleasure, this was my furthest outing and I struggled with the 25-hour (door to door) travel each way and the 14-hour difference in time zones between Sydney and back home.

 Though not a great sleeper, I’m generally pretty resilient and was stunned to find that even on the last night of my time there I only managed to get 4-hours sleep. Massage, warm bath, herb teas, meditation, relaxed breathing, eye shades, comfy hotel bedroom–nothing much seemed to help me get into Slumberland each night, though I was physically and mentally exhausted. It was en route home that I found more clarity about what was making it so hard to get my body to adapt to time “down under.”

I was living in that 24/7 clock, trying to be attentive to work and activities in Sydney and also, being in contact with my NY clients and my family back home.

I’d wake after a short couple of hours sleep and when my normal back-to-sleep routines failed, I’d look at my i-Phone by the bed, see the long list of emails waiting and would respond. From bed to phone to laptop, trying to snatch some rest if not sleep and then the cycle again and again each morning. It seems so obvious in hindsight how “dangerous” my phone had become as a trigger for mental engagement in the middle of the night!

The good part of this was that some early mornings I think my level of creativity was pretty high, as ideas were flowing out of a semi-dreamlike state to alertness. But it took a toll on me.

As I’ve returned home, the transition has been easier and swifter. Aside from the comfort of being back on my turf, I put the phone and laptop in another room and my mind is not wondering what the time is or what is going on in the land 14 time zones away.

My advice to myself and other world travelers…put the phone and laptop as far away as possible. Do not let yourself be seduced into peeking until it’s morning… wherever you are at the moment! 

I welcome hearing about others’ strategies for dealing with long distance travel.

Laurie Tema-Lyn

Practical Imagination Enterprises

laurie@practical-imagination.com

Musings: Themes & Trends of the 2012 Fancy Foods Show in DC

June 26, 2012 - Leave a Response

Dear Readers;

I haven’t begun to sort through all my notes from two intense days wandering the aisles of the NASFT Fancy Foods Show that was held in Washington, DC last week. This was the 58th summer show; I’ve attended about 19 of them in the past, although I missed the last two years because of work conflicts.

It’s always a thrill, and an overwhelming sensory experience to be immersed in so many different cultures, categories, worlds of food and beverages. A glance at the exhibitors and attendees tells the melting pot story: stiletto-heeled couture attired “beautiful” people doling out the finest in caviars; Birkenstock comfy vegans touting the latest longevity ingredient filled power bars; traditional Mennonite families presenting meats, cheeses and wholesome delicacies from the family farm; elegantly suited men seated in small booths making food import deals from all over the globe– Italy, Turkey, Tunisia, Poland, to name just a few. Spend some time at the Fancy Foods Show and you travel the world! The problem for me is that sensory and belly overload happen pretty quickly, so I’ve learned to take in the show in small morsels of time and walk in with pre-set lenses of categories that I most want to explore. Of course when it’s over, I regret that I couldn’t do more!

The aftermath of the Show is rich with reviewing notes, making connections and sending ideas off to various food and beverage clients, reading the pounds of literature that I gathered while there and the mountains that will come later by email and hard copy …for years.

This is my no means an exhaustive list, but some starting points of what was most interesting to me. In a sense not a whole lot was really NEW. In spite of my two years away; I saw more of a continuation of trends I’ve been following for years. Here are a Baker’s Dozen of my notables…

  1. A macro trend is how BIG and diverse some formerly “staple” foods have become—like salt, mustard, butter, and jams.  Now, hundreds (perhaps thousands) of varieties of each have been developed to appeal to every palate and pocketbook.
  2. “Single” is a new buzzword. Single source, singe origin, single variety, single garden tea, and single muscle meat. That seemed new to me, especially in the diverse categories in which it was singled out! Coffee, chocolate, wines, olive oil, meats, cheese, were just a few.
  3. Salty and sweet, savory and sweet like sea salt flavored chocolates were in abundance. That’s definitely a flavor profile that’s become more pervasive from where it was a few years back. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream flavor Salty Caramel, just one of many yummy examples.
  4. There was a lot of excitement in frozen desserts—ice creams, gelato, sorbet, with celebrity chefs like Mario Batali presenting a taste luxurious line including Roman Swirl and Blood Orange.  The real surprise for me though was just how much I liked the beer flavored gelato!
  5. The combination of upscale and down home seem beautifully melded in Good Taste Kitchen’s Brie & Fig Mac & Cheese, and also in David’s Peanut Butter and Jam Bites (enrobed in Belgian chocolate.)
  6. The quest for innovative good taste while watching calories was still very present with items like Skinny Dippers Plantain Chips.
  7. Nostalgia was in the air with foods, messaging and old-fashioned package designs, like the Scrumptious Pantry’s “Do you heirloom…?” catsup and pickles.
  8. The food as medicine theme still in vogue with items like: Get Burning Herb Tea for metabolism. And Republic of Tea’s: Get Young and Get Probiotic teas
  9. Whimsy was present with products from the Truffle Pig including little mint chocolate chip bars sculpted to look like a little pig.

10. Waters plus were certainly present with many players including Aloe Water, Goji Water and CocoWater from Thailand.

11. Growing gets personal with Bissinger’s handcrafted chocolates and their campaign of smiling faces…”Do you know Who Grows Your Cocoa?”

12. In the “mysterious technology” department I put Enzo’s nitrogen sealed, extra virgin olive oil. Honestly, I have no idea what that does, but the package was gorgeous!

13. But the piece de resistance perhaps, not for my taste buds, but in terms of strangeness was Blackwater Fulvic Enriched Mineral Water.  This is a fulvic and humic acid electrolyte drink, a natural organic complex of 77 micro trace minerals and electrolytes.” In short the drink is supposed to energize and revitalize. I can’t tell from personal experience whether or not it delivered, but I can say how odd it felt to me to be drinking black water. Now I sometimes drink black coffee, even iced, so I’m not prejudiced against a dark liquid. Part of the disconnect for me was the lack of other strong sensory and aroma cues that I would normally expect from a dark colored liquid (like red wine, for example.)

There’s more to tell…in future articles.

My net out recommendation: even if you’re not in the food industry, you might find the experience and the ideas inspired by spending a day at a food show like this well worth the time and effort. Mark your calendar for next Summer. The Fancy Foods Show will be back at the Javits Center in New York.

Bon Appetite!

Laurie Tema-Lyn

laurie@practical-imagination.com

Musings on The Right Ambiance… For Love and Meetings, Part 2

March 2, 2012 - 2 Responses

A few weeks ago I posted 5 Top Tips for designing creative meeting spaces, here are 5 more. And, if you want to learn how I’ve put this into practice in qualitative research, please follow the link at the end to my new article, in QRCA VIEWS.

6 Touchy “toys” bring color, delight, help relieve stress and can inspire

Some people just think better when they are doodling or fiddling with things. When I’m conducting an Innovation Session, I bring along a toy chest of items: pipe cleaners, Play Doh, Nerf like materials, squishy balls, funny glasses, and kaleidoscopes. These are items that I may use in specific creative exercises or just invite people to play with as they choose. I’ll sometimes use them in a research setting and have had great results with populations that are generally not thought of as being particularly creative or communicative. The toys help people relax, and when they are relaxed they let down their guard and are more forthright and candid respondents.

7. Aroma can enhance productivity! Just the way a real estate agent will suggest that a home seller bake bread or cookies to make a home more attractive, you can consciously use aroma for certain effect in a meeting. An orange pricked with cloves might add just a little boost to flagging energy, a diffuser with soothing essential oils like lavender can relax. A vase full of flavors can also bring color and pleasant aroma.

8. Of course you need good food for thought! It’s rather amazing how much food and liquid refreshment can be consumed by an ideating team. Variety is ideal. I make every effort to have “good brain food” that isn’t heavily laden with sugar and fat.

9. Get off campus! Physically moving away from company premises can do so much to improve results and help participants view challenges and opportunities differently. If you have to work at your offices, set clear ground-rules to ensure that typical distractions do not invade your meeting. Collect phones and pagers (or at least have them set to vibrate). In exchange for this distraction-free zone, give participants breaks throughout the day to deal with those emergency office issues.

10. Great space doesn’t have to be expensive. One reason why team meetings are run at home base is to save money. If you can get away, consider alternative venues to high priced conference centers. One type I particularly like working in is a Bed & Breakfast. The article linked below highlights focus groups conducted in such an environment. Other “non traditional” venues include a children’s or science museum, gallery, botanical gardens, ski lodge, golf club house. If a participant is a member you can usually save a lot of money. Recently a few companies have started offering loft spaces and private homes for meetings. They can include catering and audiovisual equipment. I worked recently in a NY loft space and while it wasn’t inexpensive, it more than paid for the quality of the team’s output.

Want more?         

http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?i=101595&p=30

 Laurie Tema-Lyn, Practical Imagination Enterprises, 908-237-2246, laurie@practical-imagination.com

 

Musings on The Right Ambiance…for Love and Meetings

February 13, 2012 - Leave a Response

If you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day you just might be thinking that special meal with your sweetheart will not be at the local diner, but a setting where the food is good, the lights are low, the music soothing, the ambiance encouraging to look into each other’s eyes and have intimate conversation.

In similar fashion, creating the right ambiance for a meeting when the goal is the exchange of information and ideas, is critically important. I’ve written and spoken about this at length over the years –it seems to be a topic of frequent interest among my colleagues and clients– so I will highlight 5 Top Tips for designing creative meeting spaces here, and offer another 5 in my next post.

  1. The power of the circle: set the room up for eye contact and democracy. A circle (like a campfire) or a U-Shape arrangement of chairs immediately signals a more intimate setting for people to be candid with each other.
  2. A room with a view…natural light supports us physically and helps prevent fatigue. And a glimpse of the outdoor world often helps to expand thinking and be more open-minded. A few years ago I ran an innovation session at an historical village with large windows on three sides of our room. We had a beautiful vista of snow-covered fields…and then a big surprise as two baby goats came right up to the windows. An unexpected source of inspiration for our project on new confectionary products!
  3. Comfortable chairs, and a variety of seating helps prevent “fanny fatigue” and keeps people more relaxed and engaged. If your meeting is longer than an hour, ask people to get up and move to another chair or couch in the room—it prevents getting stuck physically and mentally.
  4. Weave in some Music—whether you like Hip Hop or Opera, a little music interspersed through a workday can do a lot for a teams’ creativity and productivity. I like to use the music purposefully to add excitement or energy to an activity, or to help relax and put participants in a more reflective mood.
  5. Adding color and visual stimuli—whether it’s a wall full of pictures that can “inspire a thousand ideas” the ways words alone may not—or setting up colorful paper, crayons, markers and Post Its on the meeting table offers an invitation to doodle and express ideas in different modes.

Hope this offers you a little food for thought!

And have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

 

Laurie Tema-Lyn, Practical Imagination Enterprises, 908-237-2246, laurie@practical-imagination.com

Musings: A Toast to 2012

December 31, 2011 - One Response

Dear Readers;

As this year comes to a close I’m sharing with you all an absolutely delightful piece I received the other day from trend mistress Robyn Waters, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of collaboration.

Tip: This works best with glass in hand, standing up, speaking up, and grooving to the rhythm!

A Toast to 2012

To standing out

To fitting in

To going out

To staying in

To working out

To getting thin

To speaking out

To going within

To looking out

To jumping in

To toughing it out

To giving in

To figuring it out

To going on a whim

To doing without

To playing to win

To letting it all out

To taking it all in

To not selling out

To believing in

To living out loud

To beginning again.

 

To Friends,

Wishing you an Outrageously Inspiring New Year!!

Laurie

 

Thanks Robyn!

Musings: Letting Go to Receive the New

December 11, 2011 - One Response

It’s that time of the year to reflect on what has transpired. The “good, the bad, the ugly,” so to speak. No seriously, it’s all good if we take the hard stuff as learning from which to move forward and re-create.

I’ve started my end of year reflections; am enormously grateful for my life, love, family and opportunity to continue to grow creatively and expand my work. I’m amazed at the joy and energy I experienced in wiritng my book, Stir It Up! Recipes for Robust Insights & Red Hot Ideas, and the very positive responses I have received from readers. I hope the book has a long life and provides value for many.

And I’m noticing habits, attitudes and things that clutter and get in the way of moving forward. The literal clutter like an office full of stuff waiting to be filed because of the busy-ness of this amazing year. And the mind clutter.

I’m vowing to spruce it up; one step, one day at a time!