From Good Enough to Phenomenal

#Plywords from Chase Andrews if Terminus Wake Park

How do you create experiences that inspire others and get people involved in what you're doing?
I’ve always been one to live for great experiences. It has shaped a lot of my life and who I am. I push to make a good experience great and am constantly looking for a way to take the great to the next level. If you can create a personal connection with the experience it makes it that much better.

I’m not sure if you have lost someone close to you or not, but if you have you know this feeling: The feeling that the experience didn’t happen if they don’t know about it or if you can’t tell them about it. The experience may have been fun but the connection with that person is really where the experience really takes off. I was 19 when I lost my dad to cancer. You see our BIG thing was being on the lake together. He was a professional show skier and I was on my way to being a professional wakeboarder. I remember the first time I landed a new trick wakeboarding after he had passed. I didn’t realize it then but the first thing I would do was to tell my dad. Him knowing and being a part of the experience made it that much better… plus I got a candy bar for every new trick I did! Sharing experiences with others is what we live for.

I believe that every single person coming to one of our facilities is looking for “more…” More of something. More fun, more relaxation, more family time, more excitement, more adrenaline, more connection, more community, more acceptance, more peace, maybe even more quiet. Its our opportunity and challenge to figure out what a guests’ “more” is. If we can figure that out I think we just found the trick to their great experience. I say “trick” because we actually have to do something about it. Knowing doesn’t do anything, we have to “do.” If we can make their experience next level they will be back for more (and probably want to share it with their friends and family). It may only take one person to make the experience next level! -It may be a mom who is tired from the week and wants to let the kids ride while she sits in peace and quiet (i better make sure I have a spot for her away from the music).
-It may be dad wanting to spend time with his son because he finally has some time away from work (what could we do to make that kid remember the day even more?)
-It may be someone trying to get over an addiction and they are trying to find a new community.
-It may be a kid who hasn’t found where he fits in. (we can call him by name and encourage him. Maybe he will conquer a fear and learn something new about himself that day.)

What does it look like for you to push through good enough and make your work phenomenal
Good enough is simply us doing our jobs. For the Terminus team it might be checking someone in, getting someone their rentals, handing someone a handle, etc. Being phenomenal to me is taking advantage of the opportunities in front of us. Our eyes and ears have to be open. We have to be actively looking for those opportunities. If we truly care to see them and act on them, then people will take notice and feel it. If we are not taking care of ourselves and enjoying what we do, we will not be inspired to share that inspiration with others. We encourage our staff to ride, to live out their own adventures. It’s that passion for adventure that people take notice of. Our guest is currently living an adventure while they are with us! Our staff has the opportunity to join in on that adventure and have a part in the guest's’ story. Or…. They can just hand someone a handle and be left out of the story.

An Artist's Process from Okorie Johnson

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Okorie shares with us his process of creation. We also want to challenge you to spend the next few minutes that follow to listen to his music and let it be the soundtrack to what you're doing. We have a feeling you'll be wowed.


 

 

I used to be an English teacher. And even though I am a cellist/artist now, I think I will always be a teacher deep down.  I love the classroom.  I love the exchange of ideas, and I especially enjoy the back and forth of conversation.

I try to bring aspects of the classroom to my live show - not so much to teach my audience anything, but to involve them.  

I was coming of age at a time in education where we were discouraged from being the “sage on the stage.” Instead, we were to create “student centered classrooms,” which are beautiful things.  They’re noisy, the students are engaged and constantly contributing, and ideally, they should be full of laughter, joy, and insight.

That’s also the perfect picture of an audience to me  - the fourth wall is merely a formality and the audience is joyously contributing to the show and growing from it.  I try to create this experience in my set.

In every Epi.phony show I play, I build in three interactive features.  One is an improvisation, sometimes with suggestions from the audience.  Another is a busking set, where I try to surprise, delight, and entertain my audience out of a few more dollars by playing popular, well-loved songs that they don’t expect a cellist to play - lots of mirth and laughter there. The third, however, is the most interactive and rewarding for me.  It’s called Storytime.

Storytime is a collaborative experiment where I provide the music and my audience provides the meaning.  

  1. I play a chord progression that I think is especially narrative.

  2. I invite my audience to close their eyes and to let the chord progression conjure up for them a person, setting, or a time.

  3. I tell them that I will improvise over this progression, and as I do, I ask that they pay attention to the image in their head, watching as if they were watching a movie.

  4. I improvise over the progression, creating a little bit of unexpected drama along the way.

  5. I end the improvisation, cut the house lights up, and poll the audience for their stories.

  6. For those that don’t get a chance to share out loud, I post a video of “storytime” to my social media pages, and encourage individuals to share their story digitally after the show.

Folks are sometimes shy at first, but I never have enough time for all the stories.  At some point, the dam just breaks.

Storytime does four things:

  1. It allows the audience to personalize some part of my show.  Each person can create and take home a memory that is theirs alone.

  2. It allows all of us to share something - the progression, the improvisation, the stories.  All of that becomes something that we have created together rather than something that I have exclusively shared.

  3. Because what people share is so creative, emotional, and narrative, we all get to travel boldly into the realm of storytelling  - which I think is the highest achievement of art.

  4. Each person who dreams up a story has named - or rather worded - what they felt, and hopefully will remember the song, the feeling, and the moment long after it ends.

People who don’t get a chance to share with the group find me afterward and gleefully share their stories.  People see me weeks later, at other shows even, and share those stories.  Almost everybody becomes part of producing the experience and the memory of Epi.phony, and it’s super special.

I love that.  It brings that best of the classroom to the best of the concert hall.  And with everybody helping to make the show, the room feels lighter and I couldn’t be any happier.

Okorie Johnson of Ok Cello


WOW: In Life and Leadership from the founder of Sseko Designs

“WOW. It's one of my favorite words, in fact! I want to be a WOW leader, not a HOW leader. At a certain point in the creation journey, HOW becomes necessary, but by creating a culture of curiosity over criticism we can intentionally make space for the ideas that will eventually WOW. When creating, ideating and executing, I love to keep a single end user in mind. Who is she? What makes her come alive? What would make her say, 'Wow. I feel like this was created just for ME.'
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The moment we try to soften our edges or tone down our idiosyncrasies to please the masses or to create something that is more palatable, I think we lose the ability to create truly unique products or experiences that will resonate deeply with anyone, let alone those we're most excited about creating for. I try to remember this truth as it helps me tune out all the voices competing for attention and approval and helps me focus instead on creating something that is TRUE, even just for myself and one other.
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That's when the magic happens ✨✨✨.” -Liz Forkin Bohannon of Sseko Designs
 

The Art of Living a Focused Life

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By JEREMY BLUME
Public Relations Executive
Co-Founder of Bearings

A richer, more effective life takes intentionality, thought, sacrifice and focus. Think of a silversmith who refines ore over and over through fire, drawing out its impurities and molding the metal with careful attention. The craftsman uses focus to bring the silver into its most brilliant and valuable state.

The art of living with focus is hard to do in our modern age. With easy access to almost limitless possibilities, our discipline of choice is put to the test. And, if we are honest, most of us will admit that unlimited options do not generally favor productivity and fulfillment.

When left unfocused, our zeal and drive can leave us overcommitted and overextended, ultimately diluting our effectiveness. By taking an edited, concerted approach, we can live with a clarity of purpose.

Streamlining our method to working and living enables us to say “yes” to the best of what makes us come alive and say “no” to that which slows us down and distracts us from the fulfillment of our mission. Each day we have opportunities with our finances, relationships, time, technology, health and resources to choose the less convoluted path.

A sharp focus on our vision for what could be and what we are wired to accomplish is immensely freeing. It gives us a filter for how we invest in our days and it establishes an understanding of what is possible. And when we under-promise, then over-deliver, we bring gratification to those we are serving.

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If you’re unclear about where and how to focus your time and energy, here are a few initial questions to ask yourself:

What am I wired to do? (fulfillment)

What do I do incredibly well? (skill)

What can I do that no/few others are doing? (distinction)

What does the world/my world need? (value)

Now that we have heard from Jeremy, we encourage you to take at least five minutes and focus on the questions above. Instead of thinking about all the distractions we can eliminate, process what it is that makes you come alive. When we set aside time to be intentional, we are able to refocus our energy and find clarity in our purpose.

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Mindset from a Founder

Our mindset can get in the way of progress. As problem solvers, when we’re in the daily grind of making ideas happen, measuring outcomes, building community around our solutions and managing cash flow, it can feel like the burden of the mission we’re pursuing outweighs the joy of bringing that solution to life. Our mindset determines our outcome. It anchors us in the possibility that things can be better. This week we will hear from different voices with different mindsets, and we hope each person challenges your thinking.
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Today we have the opportunity to learn from Dana Spinola, Founder and CEO of fab’rik, in a quick seven question interview. When our team thinks of people who inspire our work and challenge our mindset, Dana is one of those people. She works incredibly hard to create a culture of WOW in all that she does, from her company to her non-profit to her family and friends. Join us in learning from Dana.
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1)   Share what attitude or mindset means to you and why it’s important in your work and your daily life.
Mindset is how you approach your life, your day or even a challenge. When you wake up in the morning, you are either ready to take on the day or want to run from it. I feel it’s so important as a leader to have a positive mindset because it sets the entire tone and culture of the organization you are leading. When your mindset gets off track, it can easily side track everyone that is pursuing your same mission. So every once in awhile when I wake up and want to run from a day, I head to yoga, to a devotion or simply change my schedule to get reconnected so that I have a better chance of approaching my day from a mindful, thoughtful place.

2) Are you the kind of person who looks at a glass half empty or half full? Explain.
The glass is always full and almost pouring over in my mind. There is just so much beautiful opportunity every day to try to make the world a better place I can almost get lost in it. When I approach life with this perspective, it makes everything an adventure and a chance to dive in and use all the gifts I’ve been given. At fab’rik we call this our WOW culture. If we forget to put a dress in a customer’s bag, we could lose them forever OR we could look at it as an incredible chance to make a customer for life by driving the dress to her house, with a bottle of champagne and the necklace we saw her trying on. I approach my personal life the same way, if my five year old tells me he misses me and I’ve been working too much, instead of letting guilt jump in, I pick him up early from school the next day with his bike packed and spend 4 hours just the two of us.

3) How do you adjust your mindset when you come up against a challenge?
When it comes to business challenges I almost feel like the terminator in the end of the movie when he is being shot at and keeps getting back up and moving forward. I have NO idea how I do it, but honestly was made with this relentless endurance to fight for my company and everyone that works in it. However, I’m not even going to pretend I’m that strong when it comes to people and feelings. I’m a very passionate person so there are times when I feel like life just isn’t fair and get the wind knocked out of me. Thank God I have an incredible wise counsel, with my husband leading the charge, that I share so honestly with and can course correct my heart and get me back on track.

 4) What does it look like in chaos?
I think I operate better in chaos than in calm. I love when there are crazy deadlines, back to back meetings, big executive decisions to be made, 4 kids that want to play and a husband to make dinner for. That is my calm. I know that some people love a schedule, predictability and don’t like change. Things staying the same and not evolving is one of my biggest fears. I love growing, learning and adding new things to mix of my chaotic world. So figure out your happy place, your calm-even if it’s chaos, and spend time there every day!

5) How do you lead your team in this area?
I try to lead my team with transparency and honesty. I find when I pull them into my world and share that I am going through chaos, heartbreak, stress and just hard times they can relate and pull together our army and hold each other up. I used to try to figure it all out on my own, act like I had it all perfectly handled and pretend peace just oozed from my veins, but once you share with your team that you are human, it creates a bond and encourages everyone to cheer for each other and share the same. If you are going to be a leader, why not let them know what to expect in life and they too will overcome it all. I literally staged by own intervention with five members of my team to check in and see how I was leading and share what I was going through. It was terrifying until I learned they loved be able to lift me back up and get back to leading our mission.

6) What perspective do you want them to have on their work and life?
Our core values define the perspective I hope my team has on work and life…..DREAM big, HUSTLE hard, stay INSPIRED, WOW everyone and CELEBRATE the big and the little things.

7) What encouragement do you have for the Plywood Community as they work to make this world a better place?
It’s impossible to do everything but unbelievably easy and impactful to slow down long enough, look around and cheer someone else on. Every single small gesture, random act of kindness, listening ear, “you’ve got this” text, morning prayer goes farther than I ever knew. The people that stopped to encourage me along the way are the real heroes. The ones that slowed down their own ship to help mine are the ones that make this world a better place.

Plywood Pursues: A Better Board

Earlier this year, Plywood People hosted an event for non-profit leaders called Plywood Pursues: Building a Better Board.

We learned from seasoned board chairs Chris Bledsoe and Jim Dudley along with Plywood’s executive director Jeff Shinabarger, and we began with this bold statement: “The health of a non-profit organization is easily understood by the health of the board.”

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We discussed board recruitment and expectations, how to host effective board meetings and how and what board members should be giving to the organizations they are serving. It was a great evening of learning alongside others. 

The evening was made possible by our partners Sun in My Belly who provided an incredible venue and dinner for the group, and the always-amazing Kim of Holland Daze who supplied the floral decor. We hope you will join us for a future event!

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Plywood Presents is Not for Me

A few years ago, I had just hired a handful of employees at the quirky marketing company I had founded. I was pregnant with my second child, and I was living in a small town a few hours outside of our home in Atlanta thanks to my husband’s military orders.

I didn’t really know another business owner, and I sure didn’t know another young mother who was raising babies along with their business. I had no idea what I was doing.

And I was lonely.

Thanks to encouragement from a friend, I bought myself tickets to Plywood Presents that summer, an event that I most definitely did not feel qualified to attend. I didn’t feel cool enough, connected enough or successful enough to be there, but I was lonely enough, and strangely, that little bit of desperation was all I needed to overcome my insecurities.

I found myself in a room of people who shared exactly what my weary soul needed to hear, from the magazine founder on stage who talked about receiving negative feedback (oh, that’s something other people experience too?!) to the marketing employee at a non-profit school sitting next to me, telling me about her challenges communicating about a school that’s never really been done before (oh, everyone else’s work isn’t just easy?!).

The encouragement seeped in like osmosis, just sitting in that room surrounded by so many people who had ideas and experience and  –what I realized was most valuable of all – a community of people who walked alongside them.

Plywood does an incredible job of curating those who share on stage, but Plywood also draws such a unique crowd of attendees that those who are sitting in the seats around you are likely the most incredible of them all.

So if you are a dreamer, a problem solver, an activist, a leader, a world-changer, an entrepreneur … Plywood Presents is for you. But if you are a scaredy cat, a failure, a self-doubter, a “nobody”, a lonely young mother with no business experience … Plywood Presents is so very for you that I get emotional just writing this out. (Buy your ticket here, and we’ll connect you to someone else so that you’ll know at least one other person there.)

I look forward to the stories of connections and inspiration that will come from this year’s Plywood Presents. My story was one of these a few years ago. Will your story be next?

- Callie Murray, Community Manager for Plywood People

Structure for Creatives by David Choe

Meet our friend David Choe, founder of Cuz.

Rhythms are a paradox. Through the repetition of notes and sounds and beats and their intentional and specific construction, rhythms move people. It’s fascinating to think that something so methodical and structured like a rhythm can cause something so fluid like the tapping of toes and the swaying of bodies.

In my world of strategy and design and creative work, rhythms often look like process. Creative people hate the idea of processes and structure, but without them there’s almost too much to consider.

For example, when someone tasks you with creating a brand, the thought of it is daunting. Where do you even start? This is when rhythms and process often come into play. Instead of putting a bunch of notes on a score hoping it creates something beautiful, it’s painstakingly considering each note and line, and their interactions with one another. It’s forcing yourself to put boundaries on your creativity. Putting your ideas into processes and boxes gives you something to push up against. It creates something for you to break and to change.

When stuff hits the fan and deadlines pile up, revisions seem endless, and people are tired, there’s a temptation to forsake rhythm for completion, and the work suffers.
It takes discipline to dig in and get back into the groove despite the mess that is going on around you. Rhythm and a person’s ability to keep it, is what seems to produce the best kind of work. To create work that means something to someone, maybe even move them.

At Cuz, rhythm is a bigger challenge for us, because we do all of our work on nights and weekends. But that’s also a part of our magic. We have even more limitations than the normal creative agency and in order to produce amazing work, we have to be more disciplined, go deeper faster and hold ourselves to even higher standards. You can be assured that because of our limitations and our convictions about our clients, we will be working harder and smarter than the rest.  For us at Cuz, there is only one option- to move people and we won’t stop until that happens.

On Rhythms by Photographer Rachel Iliadis

Rhythm: a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.

It is the arrangement of habits and daily decisions that will ultimately determine the direction of your life (no pressure). As we see in the human body and nature, it provides the framework and foundation for life to move peacefully amidst chaos. We all live and breathe in these rhythms for better or worse.

As a 28-year-old INFJ(P) mom of two entrepreneur married to my polar opposite, I’m constantly on the quest for the ever elusive concept of rhythm (read any semblance of balance or sanity). But as it turns out, trying to create a harmonious life out of two unique personalities while parenting and running a small business has proven to be quite the challenge. Surprise!

I am a visionary and idealist. I live wide-eyed and openhearted, oftentimes prioritizing spontaneity over schedules and the future over the present. The big decisions over what culture might classify as mundane (laundry, taxes, bed time routine, etc.) Routines don’t come naturally for me.

For instance, when my oldest daughter Penelope was 2 days old, my mom asked me about our schedule, to which I quickly replied, “We’re not those types of people. We prefer flexibility. The constraints of a schedule have no place here.“

What I didn’t understand at the time is that a lack of an intentional rhythm oftentimes translates to disorder, and if we’re honest, wasted time.

Fast forward three long, sleep deprived years and one giant epiphany later, things look much different. Instead of waking up and letting life take me wherever it wants, I set intentions for each day and determine the course (with limitations of course). The result? Peace. Productivity. Health. And, my mind finally has the space it needs to create and process with clarity.

Even though my personality naturally gravitates towards go-with-the-flow spontaneity (the jump in a van and drive wherever the road takes you kind), that lifestyle wasn’t grounding when the storms came. It left me feeling anxious, depressed and unprepared. In our family, we’ve learned that implementing a slower pace of life with more boundaries is necessary for our holistic health.

Turns out my mom was onto something.

It’s important to remind ourselves that the now is all we have.  All we’re given. Live the story that you want to read when you’re older. And in order to achieve this, I believe you must mindfully define your goals and then establish rhythm and routines to slowly achieve them.

These singular, repeated notes of your daily decisions will create the song that is your life: either a harmonious symphonic masterpiece or noise. How do you want it to sound?

To check out Rachel’s lovely work: racheliliadis.co

Rest and Work by Joshua Becker

Written by Joshua Becker, from his Blog Becoming Minimalist

It is no coincidence that most of the major world religions exhort human beings to set aside time each week for rest. And even those who would not consider themselves religious still speak to the value of rest. As humans, we all have physical limitations.

There is a danger in our world to self-exalt ourselves over our limitations – to claim that we can work without rest. There is great danger in losing the natural rhythm between rest and work. Great danger for our physical bodies, our emotional well-being, our relationships, and our spirituality. Simply put, we must guard the natural rhythms of life.

Minimalism provides more opportunity for valuable rest, refreshment, and enjoyment. Removing the relentless pursuit of physical possessions from our lives frees us from the pursuit of the almighty dollar. Removing unnecessary physical possessions from our lives frees us from the burden of caring for them. Removing clutter from our homes allows energy to flow more freely. And removing the value we place on physical items allows us to redirect our values and priorities.

So take a deep breath or better yet, take a nap. And return to the natural rhythms of work and rest.