A scientific guide to creative juices [what they are and how to summon them]

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Does this happen to you?

It’s Friday and you’re sitting in an all-hands-on-deck staff meeting. The boss needs creative ideas for next quarter. “Concentrate!” You’re told. “Be creative!”

You concentrate with all your might, but you’ve got nothing.

The next day you’re outside cutting the grass. There’s the steady hum of the lawnmower engine, the rhythmic predictability of the mowing pattern. Your mind slows down, wanders. Drifts off. But suddenly.

Lightbulb.

Some creative idea nearly knocks you over. It’s brilliant. Where was that kind of thinking when you needed it in yesterday’s meeting?

The answer has to do with our creative juices. And the science behind them. And although “creative juices” isn’t exactly a scientific term, there’s plenty of science behind what we understand to be creative juices.

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How Talko uses iDoneThis + Slack + Talko for great daily standup meetings

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Building the future of communication requires a whole lot of — you guessed it — communication.

Especially when the team is spread out across three cities and two time zones.

Talko is a tool for holding one-on-one and team calls wherever you are. It’s designed to work great while mobile, including in and across highly variable mobile networks. The calls can be recorded, tagged and interjected with photos during the call. The whole call and supporting data is then stored and can be easily searched or shared. The company was founded by former Microsoft Chief Architect Ray Ozzie along with Matt Pope, who heads up product, and Eric Patey, who heads up engineering.

When the team at Talko gets together for their daily standup meeting, they turn to three tools to get the job done: Talko, iDoneThis and Slack.

Or as the Talko team wrote in a recent blog post on Medium:

“We use iDoneThis to log what each team member has done and will do. We’ve used and loved it for years now. By the time we do standup, we know that everyone has seen ‘just the facts’ regarding dones and to-dos. So we focus our standup time exclusively on issues, blockers or questions. It’s efficient.”

Talko is made up of 11 people, with about half in Boston and the rest divided between San Fransisco and Seattle.

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13 Business Cliches That Are Making You Terrible At Your Job

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At some point — long, long ago — someone would say “bull in a china shop” and you would actually picture the scene. Here’s this bull, all big and mad and energetic. But he’s in a dainty little shop filled with dedicate plates and teacups. You can picture it, you might even chuckle a little. And you would definitely remember that conversation.

But hear that same phrase today? You’d get the point, but the message doesn’t stick nearly as well. There’s no imagery to make the point extra clear. You register the phrase and what it means, but the benefits of the metaphor are washed out. You might as well be saying nothing. You basically are.

This is what a cliche is. And they’re insanely common in business. And they’re making you terrible at your job. Terrible? Yes. Talking in empty cliches makes you — and the things you say — forgettable.

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Why Remote Companies Are Doing Employee Perks Better Than Google

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Employee perks. The idea rushed into our vocabulary sometime around the year 2000. The world feared Y2K, it got foosball and laundry service. Since then perks at tech companies have covered all positions on the field, from the practical (catered lunch) to the silly (birthday parties).

Some perks — casual dress, equity — are so common in Silicon Valley that they don’t even seem like perks anymore. We take them for granted.

In your parents’ or grandparents’ day, insurance and sick days were the only perks needed. Even weekends and holidays started out as a wacky and progressive idea. Those days are gone. Today’s employees expect ping pong, pizza Fridays and bring your dog to work policies. Or at least that’s what we’re told.

In reality, many companies are evolving their understanding of what a good employee perk really is. We’ve gone from the early perks of the dot-com bubble (ping pong tables to seem cool and attract press attention) to the perks designed to help keep you sitting on your squishy exercise ball writing code all night. Now, a new kind of perk is emerging, and remote companies are leading the way.

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15 Beautiful Tools For Managing Time Zone Differences

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If you work on a remote team, there’s a good chance you’ve struggled with managing time zones.

With coworkers spread all over the world, it can be hard to keep track of what time it is where your colleagues are. Even if you’re not working remote, it’s easier than ever to end up doing business with someone in a different time zone.

As our world becomes more connected, our differences in time zones become even more important to manage and understand. Here at iDoneThis, we’re a small team and lucky enough to have all our U.S.-based workers in Eastern Standard Time. But our European colleagues are six hours ahead of us. It’s why asynchronous communication is so important. Because their work day is finishing up just as ours is getting started. That means there’s a short window of time for us to talk synchronously if we need to. And sometimes, you need to talk in person.

Here’s a look at some of our favorite tools for managing time zone differences.

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The 5 Daily Habits of a Terrible Boss

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About half of workers at some point have left a job to get away from their manager.

Not the work, not the clients or coworkers. The manager.

We’ve written before about how 95 percent of managers are wrong about what best motivates employees at work. Now we know that many managers are so bad they’re making half their employees leave the job. According to another survey, 19.2 hours are wasted every week — 13 during the workweek and 6.2 over the weekend — worrying about what a boss says or does.

It’s not easy being the boss. But terrible habits make it hard to be a good boss. Don’t be a terrible boss. Avoid these common habits of bad managers and maybe your employees will stick around a while.

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How Travis CI Is Fixing Company Culture By Taking On ‘Culture’

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Here’s a loaded phrase in the startup world: culture fit.

It’s a term with humble early intentions that has grown weeds and sprouted out of its container. It started as a simple way of talking about whether a new hire and current team would work well together. It’s grown into a loaded gun of baggage and misappropriation. It’s used to hire unqualified people and fire great ones.

Mathias Meyer, CEO at Travis CI, started to notice a problem with “culture fit” and the way it was implemented at many companies. It seemed to him like “culture fit” was doing the opposite, and holding company cultures back. Companies, if not careful, would create a monoculture, with everyone acting and thinking the same way. This is terrible for creativity and growth.

Or as Meyer put it in an excellent blog post:

“There’s one fundamental mistake in both using and looking for culture fit as a means for hiring: You’re assuming that your current culture is healthy and doesn’t need to be changed.”

I chatted with Meyer about his thoughts on culture fit, growing Travis CI and what they’re doing to create an authentic company culture.

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How Noah Kagan Taught Me The Two Simplest Things About Planning Growth

Every field has “that guy.” Everyone in the industry knows of them and their work. Many secretly try to emulate them — or flat out copy them. They are the person crushing it. They are the person your boss wishes they could have hired instead of you.

If you’re doing marketing for a startup company, that guy is Noah Kagan. Noah was employee #30 at Facebook and helped grow Mint.com into the personal finance juggernaut it is today. He is founder at AppSumo, which offers discounts on tools to grow businesses and websites. He’s built things you use every day.

And he probably has your email address.

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51 Free Tools To Start A Business

 

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Trying to start a business is never easy. Being an entrepreneur means sticking your neck — and wallet — on the line for a product you believe in. It won’t be cheap. There will be plenty of costs, some you’ve never expected. Thankfully, there are free tools to start a business available online.

We’ve compiled this list of free tools to start a business. Many of them we used here to help build iDoneThis. Others we wish had existed when we started.

Building a business will be one of the hardest things you ever do. But thankfully there are these free tools get you started building the business you’ve always dreamed of.

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How To Solve The 8 Causes Of Workplace Conflict

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The workplace is for work. You’re are here to get things done, grow the business, improve the world and get better at whatever it is that you do.

It’s not a place for squabbling with coworkers, managers and subordinates. But that’s what seems to happen. Workplace conflict is everywhere, eating up productivity and taking precious time away from the things that really matter.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The causes of workplace conflict are recognizable. In separate articles on workplace conflict, psychologists Art Bell and Brett Hart identified eight common causes of conflict in the workplace. Think about the conflicts you’ve had in the workplace. You’d be hard-pressed to find on you can’t trace back to one of these root causes.

It’s important to see workplace conflict this way, as a symptom of a great structural problem. That argument with the boss over coming in on Saturday isn’t really about coming in on Saturday. It’s about the misaligned expectations and poor communication that led you to have to come in on Saturday. In other words, the problem is bigger than the problem.

Thankfully, smart and innovative companies are changing the way we work — and eradicating the causes of workplace conflict at the source. Here’s a look at the eight causes and what great companies are doing about them.

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