June 5, 2014

Book review: Issue 21 of UPPERCASE Magazine

Filed under: Book review — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:00 am
UPPERCASE 21 and my patterns

Issue 21 of UPPERCASE and a pattern I recently printed

OK, a few things: UPPERCASE is technically a magazine, not a book. However, I believe the quality of content and creativity in each issue qualifies it as a book. Second, I haven’t even read the whole issue yet. But I saw that the new issue is underway, so I wanted to make sure people could get their hands on this one!

UPPERCASE is an amazing magazine, full of design and art inspiration (not to mention created and published by a small staff). Having just taken a screenprinting on fabric class that developed my obsession for patterns, Issue 21 and its included Surface Pattern Design Guide made it a must-buy.


If you are a pattern lover, hurry and get this issue now!

Buying info | Issue 21 of UPPERCASE, Spring 2014


September 25, 2013

A book that helped me “make my ideas happen”

Making Ideas Happen by Scott BelskyLast week, I wrote about how Evernote helped me launch my new business, typebaby. Now, Id like to share a book that helped me turn my ideas into reality: Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision & Reality by Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance.

This book has been a fixture on my desk for almost a year. When I was preparing to launch typebaby, I read the book in my car while my son was napping. I read a few pages before I went to bed. And I flagged lots of pages.

Here are a 8 takeaways that I found especially helpful:

1. Break projects into primary elements

Belsky calls this the “Action Method” and it involves breaking down your project into Action Steps, References and Backburner items. This was important for me, as I was getting overwhelmed by everything I needed to accomplish prior to launching. I also liked his tip of writing your Action Steps in short phrases starting with action verbs, i.e. “Mock up a sample of…”

2. Create an energy line

I recently wrote a post on the HOW Design Creative Freelancer Blog about creating an energy line and how it was helping me prioritize my projects. This book is where I learned about it and I still update mine weekly.

3. Let go of dead-end projects

“You must be willing to kill ideas liberally—for the sake of fully pursuing other.” As a creative person, I really struggle with this. I have so many ideas and want to pursue all of them. This book made me realize that I couldn’t (and shouldn’t) pursue all of my ideas. But if was really attached, I could just put an idea on the backburner and return to it later.

4. Reduce time spent on “insecurity work”

Belsky says, “Along the journey to making ideas happen, you must reduce the amount of energy you spend on stuff related to your insecurities.” This is a powerful statement. Whether it’s launching a product or writing a blog post, I’ve had insecurities pop up that kept me from moving forward.

He goes on to say, “We seek information to make our anxiety go away.” I know I’m guilty of over-researching. I postponed launching my product line until I felt everything was perfect (according to my unattainable standards). In fact, it was my husband who finally said to me: “just do it, already!”

5. Don’t go it alone

The book emphasizes partnerships. Not necessarily a business partnership, but collaborations with people who have complementary skills to help you move your project along, or like-minded people who can keep you accountable. I found this very helpful and I still reach out to my mentors and accountability buddies.

6. Seek out your competition

I thought this was an interesting concept. Belsky writes, “Ideas often have the tendency to lie stagnant until we are jolted into action by either excitement or fear.” It’s true. Watching your competition is crucial for all small business owners—and it can be a great way to push your idea into action. As Belsky says, “Seek out competition and be grateful for it. By embracing [it], you will stay at the top of your game.”

7. Go public and create accountability

When you feel accountable to your idea, you are more likely to push through and make it happen. I like to discuss my ideas with a few trusted friends who I can count on to regularly ask, “So, how is [your new idea] going?” If I know someone will be asking about it, I am more likely to focus on it.

Publicly announcing your idea also shows your commitment to it. As Belsky writes, “Only after publicly committing themselves did [leaders of new companies] experience full support from their communities.”

 8. Keep perspective and an open mind

Belsky notes how creatives can get caught up in “visionary narcissism.” We get so caught up in our idea, we are unaware of what’s been done before and consider our idea totally unique. Keep an open mind when relating with or following people in your industry—you can learn from them. As Belsky writes, “Not much is entirely new, and yes, we can adequately  learn from the past.”

Have you read Making Ideas Happen? What were your key takeaways?


October 15, 2012

Book Review: Mom, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco & Cat Seto

Filed under: Biz Mama,Book review — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

I’m a fan of the “Inc.” series of books (Craft, Inc., Creative, Inc., Blog, Inc.) for creative businesses. Mom, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Cat Seto is a great addition to the series (and my bookshelf).

What’s in the book

Mom, Inc. offers useful tips and information for moms starting or running a business. Ideas such as writing a Mom Statement and finding support networks are useful for moms just started out as well as seasoned biz mamas. I’m part of a local mompreneur group and find it so helpful.

They also talk about ways to balance work and children—which can be tricky, especially for new moms. And if you are a mama-to-be, you will appreciate their timeline for preparing your business for baby’s arrival and after.

What I love about the book

I love the authors’ clear, honest writing style and appreciate them sharing their knowledge and experiences. Both Meg and Cat are not only successful designers and small business owners but also moms, so they are an inspiration to myself and other biz mamas.

I also enjoyed reading the stories from well-known biz mamas, such as Skip Hop’s Ellen Diamant and DwellStudio’s Christiane Lemieux. As a fan of their baby products, I was inspired by their stories of starting and maintaining their successful businesses.

Mom, Inc. is currently a fixture on my desk…marked with many sticky notes!

Read more Biz Mama
book reviews.

October 3, 2012

Book review: Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs by Jill Salzman @foundingmom

Filed under: Biz Mama,Book review,Small Business — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 1:15 pm

Though I’m an experienced small business owner (12 years) I’m still a newbie mom (14 months), so I’m always eager to gain insight from more experienced biz mamas.

Jill Salzman is one of those mamas. She’s an entrepreneur with several businesses under her belt, founder of the fantastic mom entrepreneur group Founding Moms, and recently wrote the book, Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs. Whew!

What’s great about the book

The book details typical small business topics such as taxes and trademarks, however she also discusses things that biz mamas find challenging, such as finding “me time” and getting dinner on the table (prepping meals in advance has become a lifesaver for me!)

The book is a fast read, a must for busy moms. It’s organized into a series of tips, which you can easily go back to and reference.

Most of all, I appreciate the positive (and humorous) tone of the book. Being a business owner and a mom isn’t always easy, but a sense of humor and positive attitude can make life so much easier.

Who should read this book?

Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs is a useful (and entertaining) guidebook for both new and seasoned biz mamas.

July 20, 2012

Book review: Visual Marketing by Anita Campbell and David Langton @visualmktgbook

I love marketing. I love designing marketing pieces for my clients. And I especially love marketing my own graphic design business. Sometimes I think I dream up personal projects or side businesses just so that I can market them. (In case you’re wondering, this is my current budding side business).

However, it seems that not everyone enjoys marketing as much as I do. And I think I know why: most marketing books are text-based.

Visual Marketing by Anita Campbell and David Langton is different: each page is illustrated with a successful marketing campaign or solution. The book is divided into three chapters: web/electronic, packaging/3D, and print/branding.

For people who “don’t have time” for marketing, The “Takeaway Tips” on each page offer specific ideas you can easily incorporate into your own business. For the skeptical folks, “Success Metrics” offer proof that this stuff works.

After reading the book, I had lots of new ideas for marketing my graphic design business. I especially liked the tip to use a profile photo that expresses your personal brand (pg. 13). And I was also pleased to see one of my favorite packaging designs included (Help Remedies, pg. 80).

I only wish the book was in full-color, but it’s easy enough to locate many of the examples online to see them in color.

This book is a must-have for new business owners as well as seasoned pros looking for marketing inspiration.

Happy marketing!

February 22, 2011

Book Review: 365 Thank Yous

Filed under: Book review,Communications — Tags: , , — lidia @ 9:32 am

After hearing it mentioned in a segment on the CBS Evening News about writing thank you cards, I was compelled to pick up a copy of the memoir, 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik.

After reaching a low point in his life, the author decides to focus on the positive: writing a thank you note every day for a year.

Written as a series of anecdotes followed by corresponding thank you notes, the book is a quick, uplifting read. As you follow the changes that occur in the author’s life, you observe the power of gratitude in a way that is both remarkable and inspiring.

Being a longtime fan of thank you notes, I can relate to the author’s experience with how expressing gratitude changes your mood. How can you be angry when you’re feeling grateful?

I think this is a must-read for everyone. Imagine how much happier we would be if we took time to express our gratitude to everyone who touched our lives? And not just business associates, but old friends, doctors, store owners, even your favorite barista. Perhaps not all of us can achieve the author’s lofty goal of one thank you note a day—but how about one a week, one a month?

Give it a try and see what happens.

Share your own comments about how writing thank you notes has changed your life.