Creative Distractions (Part 1)

Since reading Greg McKeown’s Essentialism, I’ve become conscious of how I spend my time. If you want the Cliffs notes version I recommend watching Greg’s Google talk.

The book explains the importance of focus and the spending your time in the most productive way. By having a selective criteria for what is essential, you can channel your time, energy and effort into making the highest possible contribution. Helping you achieve the goals and activities that matter most.

I was a real “a-ha” moment that I shouldn’t (and couldn’t) do everything, rather I should choose the most important things and give them my full attention.

As a visual person, the idea of Essentialism and the disciplined pursuit of less, is encapsulated by this diagram:

You only have so much energy and time, focus helps make the biggest impact

You only have so much energy and time, focus helps make the biggest impact

So does mean I don’t care about blogging anymore? 

No! Not at all! I still love blogging and sharing the advertising that inspires me. But what’s important to me is learning and growing as a marketer and having an outlet for my creativity. Often blogging fulfils this need, but sometimes I get busy with other creative distractions. And when that happens, then I need to remember that the purpose is to grow as a marketer. Not to publish a predetermined number of posts per week.

It’s been two months since I blogged, so I thought I should share what I’ve been up to and what these creative distractions have taught me.

Wellington Marketing Meetup

I was envious of the great Wellington tech meetups. I wanted a similar environment for marketers to learn, share wisdom and discuss their challenges. Turns out I wasn’t alone in this desire. So I started the Wellington Marketing Meetup along with some like-minded marketers. The group has been running for 3 months with a positive responses, waitlists and a growing membership. I’ve met loads of fantastic people and learn from some inspirational marketers. I’m excited that we’ve been able to offer a regular, free learning event for marketers.

Personally, the stand-out talk to date was Paula Jackson, ex-CMO of Xero. Paula shared her experiences creating and growing the marketing department for the successful SaaS company. This talk resonated with me as I could see many similarities between the early days at Xero and where SilverStripe is currently. You can see Paula’s presentation on the WMM SlideShare page. One great reminder, you must demonstrate your values at every customer touch point. A brand is not a colour or logo. It is how you feel interacting with a business.

We’ve scheduled our next two events so make sure you RSVP and come say hi!

October Meetup – All about content marketing

Our October speakers will share advice creating valuable content, how to get it to your target market and how to know if it’s working. We’re lucky enough to have both Marcus Wild from 90Seconds and Shona Riddell a freelance content strategist sharing their many years of wisdom with the WMM group.

November Meetup – Thinking outside the box

The November meetup is at our office neighbours Flick Electric. They’ve been doing some creative campaigns to grab attention in the crowded electricity market. Flick Electric has also been all over the media lately so I’m looking forward to hearing a bit about their PR strategy from Jessica, their GM Marketing and External Relations.

I’m also taking the plunge and speaking at our November event. I’m planning to share my experiences marketing open source software, how to win over developers and create ROI when you give your product away for free.

To join over 200 over Wellington marketers, RSVP for our meetups here!


A year ago I went to my first tech conference as the marketing manager of SilverStripe. It was nerve-wracking attending the male dominated PHP conference but it turned out to be a lot of fun. One thing that helped me cross the divide between the PHP developers and the marketer was sketchnotes.

Sketchnoting is visual notetaking method. You don’t need to be an artist as the focus is understanding not beauty. I take sketchnotes during conference talks which means that I draw very quickly to keep up. While this may seem like a distraction, it actually helps me concentrate (keeping me from the real distraction, my Twitter newsfeed!).

Here are the notes I took at the PHP NZ Conference last month:

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Some advantages of sketchnoting over normal notetaking:

  • Better understanding – when you combine both words and imagery (called dual coding) it helps learning
  • Improved recall – written notes help you remember talks better than typing. This interesting study found that when typing you tend to record verbatim what a presenter is saying. Handwriting is slower, ruling out writing every word. This helped subjects to remember talks better when tested later. Handwriting notes force you to listen, comprehend and summarise.
  • They’re more attractive – even though the aim isn’t the best drawings sketchnotes are naturally more interesting and engaging that a full page of text. I often refer back to my sketchnotes, rarely to my standard notes.

This video is a good intro to sketchnotes:

While I started sketchnoting to better understand technical talks, a pleasant side effect was it helped me meet other conference attendees and speakers. I tweet my sketchnotes during conferences and it’s always a great icebreaker. It also helped me get my head around new topics…

Here’s an example of sketchnotes from SXSW that covers a Greg McKweon talk:

Sketchnotes Essentialism

I’ve also started a Tumblr page to document my sketchnotes and share higher resolution versions with other conference goers. You can check it out here:

So that’s two creative distractions that have kept me from blogging lately, given this is a long read already, I’ll update you on two further pursuits tomorrow: Learning to code and creating a Batman mural.

In the meantime, if you’ve reached this far, let me know if you’ve ever tried sketchnotes – and how you found them?

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