New Lantern

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New Lantern blog

Welcome to the New Lantern blog. Our goal is to shine light on leading innovators and creative artists, and how your business can learn and profit from them. Companies large, medium, and small can benefit from employees who think more creatively. New Lantern may be just the source of inspiration your company needs to spark more innovative products, services, and processes.


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Archive for Tag 'passion'

Find Your Creative Place

Posted by on March 30, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Do you have a creative place? It’s the place where you feel you are at your most creative and productive. It may be a bench in your favorite park, a special nook or room in your house or spot in your yard, a quiet desk at a library, a small bistro table in a busy Starbucks, or a spot at work where no one can interrupt you.

Frankly, your creative place may not be a physical location. It could be a particular state of mind. It could be a certain mood, time of day, or the type of music that you are listening to at the time. It could be something you do such as driving or walking. Or it could be any combination of the above.

Every employee has at least one place that focuses the mind and puts them in a more inspired state. Not a state that will necessarily lead to a nuclear fusion breakthrough, or the next generation of computer chip. But it could be a state that helps them think through a more creative presentation, design a more environmentally-friendly container, improve the profitability of a company service offering, or find a more efficient way to process expense reports.

A company’s challenge is to help find those places for employees where they can be more innovative. Most companies insist that employees produce results in sterile environments under rigid conditions. Ask yourself this question: if you were using your own money to fund a composer to come up with a great score for your next blockbuster movie, would you insist that he or she do it between 9 to 5 on a Tuesday in the small conference room down the hall? I don’t think so.

I realize that organizations may not have the flexibility or the resources to put their employees into their most creative physical spaces. But with a little bit of ingenuity, leadership, and guts to try something different, they could clearly get employees to a better place or frame of mind.

Let New Lantern help your company find its creative place. It could be the beginning of a more beautiful and productive relationship between you and your employees.

(Back by popular demand, the above posting appeared originally in April 2009.)

A Foot Fetish

Posted by on December 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm

I admit it. I have a foot fetish. It’s not exactly what you think. My love for feet is of the inanimate kind – stone feet sculptures, that is.

I just returned from my second trip to Rome this year. And based on my well-trained and traveled eye, I must say that Rome is probably the foot sculpture capital of the world. Everywhere I turned, there was another marble-carved foot. They were in museums, shops, piazzas, flea markets, and basilicas. Stoned feet in every direction.

The largest foot sculpture I’ve ever seen was in the courtyard of the famed Musei Capitolini, the oldest public museum on the planet which dates back to 1471. (This date is not a typo.) The really big and old foot is shown above. The courtyard also showcased a number of other large marble body parts, such as fingers, elbows, and heads.

The museum’s shop had a small marble replica of the big foot, which I wanted to buy, but my husband — as always – gave his standard complaint: “It’s too heavy to carry home.” Most of the time I ignore him, but given he ends up carrying the heaviest bags, I relented this time.

Of course, I regret not buying that foot. Its image is now plastered inside my head. I think I need therapy.

But great art, even in the sculpted foot variety, has a way of possessing the mind and soul.

And whether you call it a fetish or a passion, the positive effect of art and design can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

This effect just might help you ultimately lap the competition by a mile – give or take a foot.

Putting the “T” in Virtual Team

Posted by on May 14, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Over the last three years, I have used this blog on a number of occasions to note the value of telecommuting or teleworking. I’ve called on corporations and organizations to look seriously at telework programs, which can lead to happier employees and greater productivity.

While telework programs are not the panacea for all workplace ills, they can serve as one important tool for motivating certain employees, increasing work-life balance, and increasing retention rates of top performers.

There is one challenge, however, that managers need to address as today’s employees spend more time working remotely from home or from other distant offices: maintaining the sense of team.

High-performing individual contributors can serve as a huge asset for any organization. Yet, the value of this asset is greatly diminished if these contributors are not effectively collaborating with team members toward a common business objective.

Also, there are immeasurable benefits that derive from a strong sense of team that cannot be overstated. Visibility to other team members and their accomplishments tend to increase the game of other teammates. Competition breeds increased performance. Case and point: a sprinter running the 100-yard dash against one or more competitors will almost always clock faster times compared to running the sprint alone.

Fellow team members also learn from one another in important ways. An employee that might excel in one aspect of her role can serve as a good role model for other team members – if there is visibility to these winning traits.

So how do you overcome the obstacle of geographic distance when at least some members of your team are working remotely?

First, leverage all the new collaboration and technology tools to increase your team’s “visibility” to one another. Thanks to fast, inexpensive broadband today at both work and home, relatively high quality VoIP (online) conference calls – including real-time document sharing and video – are easily within reach for your organization. Granted, these technologies are still no substitute for face-to-face collaboration, but they can play a critical role to the team experience.

Second, build regular face-to-face meetings and events into your annual budgets. Utilize existing office space or, better yet, a thought-provoking venue to spur creativity, team cohesion, and a more memorable experience. I’m not talking about a windowless, subterranean hotel conference room. Instead, seek out unique offsite meeting spaces such as an artist’s studio, a museum space, or conference room at a professional sports facility.

Third, include a fun, non-work event in every offsite retreat. It can be a team-building exercise; an informal round-table discussion or reception with a leading innovator; a nice dinner at a hot, new restaurant; or an inspirational training session. The point is to create synergies and chemistry within the team through shared experiences.

In short, use today’s telework and virtual office programs to reduce overall costs while increasing individual employee productivity — but not at the expense of eroding the team dynamic. Bring your team together at regular intervals that suit your company’s needs, and put them in intensive, idea-inducing environments.

You’ll soon find yourself building a winning team, which will take your company to virtually any new height.

Lumières, Camera, Action!

Posted by on March 22, 2011 at 7:05 pm

On this date in 1895 two French brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumière, first demonstrated motion pictures using celluloid film in a private viewing in Paris, according to InfoPlease.com. Later that year, the brothers held their first public screening of their cinematic invention on December 28 at the famed Le Grand Café in Paris’s Opera District.

The Lumière brothers were not the first inventors to develop motion picture techniques. Yet, film historians consider the Grand Café screening to be the birth of the cinema as a commercial medium where admission was charged. The screening actually debuted ten short, 50-second films, the first showing workers walking out of the Lumière factory.

Auguste and Louis inherited their passion for film and photography from their father Claude-Antoin Lumière, who ran a photographic firm, where both brothers worked. Based on this experience, the brothers patented a number of significant processes prior to the film camera itself, including the perforation of film that allowed it to be advanced through the camera and projector. They received their patent for their cinématographe camera and projector on February 19, 1895.

In 1896, the Lumières took their cinématographe on a world tour including London, New York, Buenos Aires and Bombay, and the “moving images had an immediate and significant influence on popular culture.” (Wikipedia.org)

Strangely enough, the brothers then turned their attention from moving pictures to color photography in 1903, proclaiming: “the cinema is an invention without any future.”

Whereas the Lumière company did quite well throughout much of the 1900s as a major producer of photographic products in Europe, the name “Lumière” eventually faded after its merger with the Swiss company Ciba in 1961, which later became Ilford France.

Ironically, “lumière” translates as “light” in English, such as the glow that comes from a newly invented movie projector or a New Lantern.

What’s in Your Tackle Box?

Posted by on March 8, 2011 at 8:10 pm

It’s been almost 40 years, but I can still smell the fish and the worms, and hear the waves splashing against the pier pilings at the Caspian seashore where I would fish as a young girl. I spent most of my summers as a child vacationing in a small seaside town in northern Iran with my family; and I would routinely sneak down to the piers to fish and talk to the fishermen. I loved to fish.

I would always look for an old fisherman with the largest and most impressive tackle box, and would stand beside him with my small fishing rod. I marveled at the orderly compartments of his tackle box and all of its contents: bobbers, weights, hooks, pliers, bottle opener, extra line, rubber worms, and a variety of colorful jigs.

Every item type had its own place in the multi-tiered box. I discovered over time that the most successful fishermen were meticulous in their preparation, and were ready for all contingencies.

I reflect often on those summers at the seashore and my fishing outings, and the life lessons that came from the experience.

Plan for every contingency. Meticulously prepare, and seek to find joy in what you do. Admittedly, my weak spot has always been the meticulous part.

These same traits would benefit you as a corporate manager. Make sure your tackle box is amply stocked, well-organized, and ready for anything that may come your way.

Likewise, approach your job or next project with the experience of a wise fisherman and the curiosity and enthusiasm of a young fisher girl.

Cobbler to the Gods

Posted by on August 24, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Nike CEO, Mark Parker, is featured in Fast Company’s September edition cover story, “The World’s Most Creative CEO.” It chronicles Parker’s internal rise to Nike’s chief executive and his recipe for success by using “elite athletes, artists, and his own shoe designs to drive a $34 billion business.”

Parker is not a household name outside of Nike and the sports industry, compared to co-founder and chairman, Phil Knight. Knight was CEO for almost 40 years until he stepped down in 2004, when he brought in an outsider from S.C. Johnson, William Perez, to replace him. Perez lasted only 18 months before hanging up his cleats, saying that the culture at Nike was too difficult. That’s when Nike turned to Parker, a long-time Nike executive and über footwear designer.

Parker came to Nike in 1979 as a product designer and footwear tester. It wasn’t long before executives realized his talent in creating some of the most memorable and profitable Nike shoe products in the company’s history. His creations have adorned some of the globe’s most celebrated athletes, including John McEnroe, Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, and Kobe Bryant – a veritable “cobbler to the gods” as described by Fast Company.

An avid marathoner himself, Mark Parker knows a thing or two about athletes and footwear. Most important, he brings a creative mind to the CEO role, which he continues to nurture every day. According to the article, he “regularly hosts dinners for about 25 artist friends to just talk and kick around ideas.”

It’s no surprise that Parker stays laser-focused on Nike’s design and R&D work. He frequents the company’s secretive “Innovation Kitchen” sessions, an internal think tank of sorts, “where athletic ambition, art, and a bit of mad science are cooked into the stuff that made Nike the dominate player in sports shoes and apparel.”

Parker also spends a lot of time and attention on sustainability and cutting product waste. And, Parker recently outlined some pretty big goals of increasing sales by 40 percent by 2015. He’ll have his work cut out for him, but stretch goals and competing hard are nothing new for a company which aligns itself with world class athletes and sports.

If you want a little insight into what makes this successful corporate executive tick, take a look at his choice for the new company mission statement nine years ago: “To bring innovation and inspiration to every athlete in the world.”

Since becoming CEO, Parker has also developed nine “maxims” that he wants to serve as guiding principles at Nike. His favorite is No. 6, “Be a sponge. Curiosity is life. Assumption is death.” Parker says that was one his grandmother taught him.

Parker’s approach demonstrates that curiosity and a hearty appetite for creativity are a powerful combo for Nike — and for any other company seeking to compete and win.