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Illustrator – check out Kim’s latest work

Wow! That’s all I can say.

We highlighted Kim’s work before, but these illustrations are new!

She’s working on a new portfolio and we wanted to share some of them here. So beautiful!

Wish her luck as she takes her work and works toward getting it published!

Girl with pig
Girl with pig

Aren’t these truly beautiful?

Girl crying with pig
Girl crying with pig
Illustration of kids playing on the back of a truck
Summer on the truck
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Villagers Paula and Michelle – Creative Craft Site – Bugaboo Corner

Graphic of Bugagoo Halloween stuff

Paula and Michelle   Picture of the Bugaboo sisters

Website: http://www.bugaboocorner.blogspot.com/

Etsy Store: http://www.etsy.com/shop/Bugaboocrafts?ref=em

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/Bugaboocorner/

We’re excited to highlight two sisters who have come together to create a site that offers creative tips for their readers. Whether it is for a holiday, the kids going back to school, organizing the home or just celebrating life moments, they’ve found a way to infuse their creative talents and ideas into actual products.

Great creativity. Constant posting of new ideas. Focus on a particular target audience. Selling through an Etsy shop. Using Pinterest to get their ideas spreading. And, even a book club for those with the same interests as Paula and Michelle.

All creative ways to spread their message and hear back from their readers using some of the most popular ways to share crafty ideas in the year 2011!

Can’t wait until they start using YouTube to show us how to make these things in a video format! Hint! Hint!

Check out how they change their site banner to match the Halloween season! Smart move considering Halloween is one of the most popular holidays for purchasers in the last few years.

Graphic of Bugagoo Halloween stuff

Welcome to Nudge Village Paula and Michelle!

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Elegance – may be something missing

Book cover of the In Pursuit of Elegance book

Book cover of the In Pursuit of Elegance book

I’m just halfway through this book and am so excited about it that I have to post this right now!

This is a must for anyone that wants to convey a message, catch people off guard, make something truly remarkable – all of us, right?

He talks at length (but in an engaging way) about what he conveys in the tagline – “why the best ideas have something missing.” There is something about minimizing, removing, and simplifying that sometimes brings the most amazing results. Unexpected results. He calls this elegance.

As an example, he shares the Laweiplein experiment. Dratchen, a Dutch city, has a junction/busy intersection referred to as Laweiplein. Hans Monderman, a Dutch traffic investigator turned engineeer, designed this intersection. Basically, he took away all the signs, stoplights and sidewalks.

What…..

Yep, took them all away. And, in taking them away created what Matthew May (the author) states “great safety in danger.”

The awareness of the drivers went up. The awareness of the walkers went up. The awareness of the bikers went up.

Did anything go down?

Yes. Accidents!

There was something about having less, that forced drivers, walkers, and bikers to be more aware. They couldn’t rely on all the usual suspects (signs, lights and lines on the road). They had to rely on their own mind and judgement. They had to act smart and use their brain!

He shares another example where participants in a study were given a new camera ad in three forms:

  • Picture with no words
  • Picture with a few key pieces of info
  • Picture with lots of detailed information

What did people respond to best? The middle option – the one with just enough information. Many people call this the “goldilocks effect.” Not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

Do I dare share one more example?

Did you watch the last episode of The Sopranos? I didn’t, but apparently it caught everyone off guard. The screen went blank at the end of the hour and everyone assumed it was a temporary blackout or other issue. It wasn’t. It was just an unexpected ending. At first people were mad, but then they started talking about it, trying to find the meaning and starting online discussions about all the implications.

What does this mean for you – a producer of ideas, products and services?

The psychology of elegance is an interesting thing. You must appeal to people. You must get them to select you over someone else, or in addition to another product. You must stimulate their interest.

So, here are three points made by Soman and Menon (researchers that performed the picture test above):

  1. Arouse curiosity by demonstrating a moderate gap in the observer’s knowledge.
  2. Provide just enough information to make them want to resolve their curiosity.
  3. Give them time to try to resolve their curiosity on their own.

This book goes into all kinds of topics related to elegance, psychology, marketing, engineering, painting, fractals, etc. Like I’m not even done with the book yet and so I’m sure that there are far more topics.

My summary isn’t elegant, but I’m hoping that I’ve accomplished #1 and #2 above and that you’ll go read the rest of the book – or at least go off and read a better review. (-:

Follow-Up

Just finished the book! The four main principles are:

  • Symetry
  • Seduction
  • Subtraction
  • Sustainability

Check out the book to learn the details!

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Villager Mary Kay – In-Brief Video

Graphic of Mary Kay's face

Mary Kay Alegre 

Graphic of Mary Kay's face
Artwork by Mary Kay

Website: www.inbriefvideos.com
YouTube: youtube.com/inbriefvideos
Facebook: Search “In-Brief Videos”

 

What motivated you to start your own business?

A couple years ago I saw an instructional video that I loved. It was different from anything I had ever seen.  I wanted to make something like it. After letting the idea simmer, my husband and I tried making our first video in 2009.  We got out an old video camera, learned about lighting and sound among other new things, and found a topic. When the video turned out to our liking, we thought we’d try making a business out of it.

When did you realize you had talent in this area?

This is my dream job. I wanted to be a graphic designer when I grew up, but pursued a career in international studies and adult education instead, which I love too. So, now, sitting at my kitchen table drawing paper cut-outs that will educate and entertain audiences on topics of importance, like trade with China, and public health issues-I’m living the dream!

Do you do this full-time or part-time?

Part time, it is a perfect part time job—with morning and afternoon school pickups. If I (cross my fingers) get too much work, I’ll find people to work with me-and remain part-time.

What lessons have you learned along the way?

I worked in an office for about 10 years. When the little ones came along it was great to work online, from home. Recently, once the kids were off to school, I had to decide whether to go to work full time (job security, but in a “cube”) or try to launch the business (flexibility, creativity, no job security!). My practical side often wins out on decisions like this, but this time I didn’t let it. I concentrated on my priorities of a work/life balance, and told my husband to hang in there while we lived on only his income.

artwork from the InBrief videos
Artwork from the InBrief videos

We told all our friends and family about our first video via email. We posted it on YouTube. Everyone liked it. Friends shared it. The word was spreading. I prepared for an onslaught of contracts. It didn’t happen like that.  But, I’m very happy with our long “start-up mode”.  I’ve learned a lot, read a lot, and have had time to envision the company focus.

At first I did everything on my own. Created my own very basic website, tried to design a logo, etc.  I read a lot about marketing through social media and business development, but had a hard time knowing when and where to start when it came to my own business.  After getting some contracts last year, we felt we could invest in an outside company to help us. It was a great decision.

How do you market your business?

We’re using online social media and social networking as much as possible to spread the word about our videos and our company–Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn. We plan to add meaningful content to our blog on a regular basis, and to create a new video for public viewing every several months. Also, we’re looking into get involved with local organizations whose members might have an interest in videos like ours.

Any special offers to share with our readers?

Find us a new client, and get your video made for half price through 2011.

Can we come back and interview you again in a few months to find out what “next steps” you’ve taken in your business adventures?

Of course.

Welcome to Nudge Village Mary Kay!

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Villager Brian – Training Solutions

A picture of Brian teaching

Website: http://4-elearning.com

Brian started Strategic Learning Solutions in 1994. He’s shared some of his background below. Very interesting to see how little opportunities crop up and lead us in new directions. Brian’s shared some great advice in his comments below. A picture of Brian teaching

Why did I start my business?

I’d always thought about being an independent consultant, after years of consulting for other companies.

My big break came when I resigned my position as a consultant to the Department of Energy (DOE). I had been developing a training program on “Conduct of Operations” for senior DOE managers, and had just started teaching a series of workshops on the subject. My replacement was hired and for two weeks I coached him on the program and how to teach the lesson plan.

On my last day, the replacement was supposed to teach his first class, when out of the blue, he quit. This threw the contract into a state of panic, my manager, the two of the clients managers and I went to lunch to discuss the situation; at Spago’s in Caesars Palace no less. They tried to get me to withdraw my resignation, but I’d already rented a house in Florida, the moving van was packed and gone. The next suggestion was for me to take the project as an independent consultant to complete the remainder of the scheduled workshops.

I accepted their offer; this was the beginning of Strategic Learning Solutions.

For the next six months, I alternated between three weeks in Las Vegas, and then three weeks at home. After that I picked up a six-month contract auditing the Alaska Pipeline Corporation. Since then I’ve had four large contracts with Lockheed Martin, a second contract with the Alaska Pipeline Corporation, three contracts with a GPS Duratek, a waste management company, a year long contract to write procedures for the Trojan Nuclear Plant decommissioning, and IT companies like CSC and ActioNet and more recently to design/develop training programs for guards and staff at the GEO Group, a private prison system.

How do I market my services?

  • Networking – Every contract I’ve signed has come about through networking. You live and die by who you know and how well you stay connected. I can’t emphasize this enough, you’ve got to stay connected and speak or write to everyone on your contact list at least every six months; if nothing more than to say hello and find out what they are doing. I’d also remind everyone that this relationship is a two way street, your contacts will help you if you help them. I keep notes about what everyone is doing and if they ask for something, I try to deliver.
  • Deliver what you promise – Make sure you deliver on your projects. Most of my contracts come through people I’ve worked with before. They remember that I delivered projects that met or exceeded expectation, and were on time and within budget. One word of caution here is to avoid “Scope Creep” on your project (or at least document it well). Clear, honest, and frequent communication with your customer is essential to making a project successful.
  • Relationships – Get along with everyone you work with, especially in the clients organization. You are not the star of the show, your customer is. Do anything you can do to make your customer look good. Go out of your way to be friendly to everyone, especially those that are difficult to like, you’ll be surprised how often this effort is rewarded.

Was it worth the effort?

In a word, Yes. Being able to set your own schedule is my personal favorite, but there are other perks like having lots of new adventures. I’ve worked on contracts from Portland Maine, to Portland Oregon; contracts in Alaska and contracts in Jamaica; contracts as diverse as the Lockheed F-16 and F-22 programs, decommissioning the Trojan and Maine Yankee Nuclear Plants, conducting cause investigations for defects in chemical and nuclear weapons storage containers, designing training for prison guards and lots of other interesting projects. I like change and love travel, so this has been the best of all careers for me.

There have been challenges and some periods when I would have liked a steady job. Fortunately, the challenges were overcome and the periods of uncertainty were short.

Welcome to Nudge Village Brian!

You’ve offered excellent advice to our village!