Reflecting on The 100 Day Project

For the past 49 days, I have been participating in The 100 Day Project. I chose to draw doodle quotes because I love to draw, even though I confess it is not a strength. The result has been the development of confidence through the daily ritual of taking something I have read or thought about and committed it to paper.

Today’s doodle quote was a question pulled from John C. Maxwell’s Good Leaders Ask Great Questions:

Day 49 of The 100 Day Project. #100daysofdoodlequotes #the100dayproject

A photo posted by Chris Martin (@cmstudios) on

Follow the remainder of my progress or see day 1 through 49 here:

Meeting People

I love to drink coffee with friends and talk about what’s going on in our lives. I love to sit around campfires and dream about the possibilities of the future. I love to meet new people and hear their stories.

Even though I would classify myself as an introvert, there is a major part of my life that needs to hear the stories of other people. When I take the time to ask questions of others face to face, they become more human. They are no longer a collection of words on a screen in front of my face. They are real. You can hear their cadence and their breath. You can feel their intensity and their pause. You can sense when the conversation is over.

How often do you try to meet new people?

Ode to Perfectionism

Oh the perfectionist I’ve become. Frightened to put forth new work into the world. Crippled and broken.

Oh the perfectionist I’ve always been. Comparing my worst to the greatness of others. Crippled, broken, and afraid.

Oh the perfectionist I will always be. Crippled, broken, afraid, yet hopeful.

Doing Your Best

You can always do better.

But not because there are others better than you.

You can always do better because you are a work in progress.

In Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives, the authors write that each person is strong, capable, and that accomplishments are an “expression of inner conviction.”

You can always do better because you are not perfect. You never will be.

There is a yearning for the very best, the full potential that the coachee can experience. And when that connection ignites between today’s goal and life’s potential, the effect is transformative. . . . The accomplishment is a message about who the coachee can be. (Kimsey-House, Kimsey-House, Sandahl, & Whitworth, 2011, p. 7)

You can always do better because what you learn is useful for the future. It will be proof that you can do what you set out to do.

Only the fool will stop believing that he or she can no longer do better.


Putting You In A Box: Titles, Labels, Genres, and Other Miscellaneous Classifications

Corporate America loves hierarchies and titles. So do databases and schools. Classifications of any type–titles, labels, genres, and other miscellaneous words created by systems–are useful for putting data in its proper context, allowing for humans to interact with the information accordingly and correctly.

The danger is when we attempt to classify human beings in the same way as information.

We automatically minimize a person’s level of contribution and worth to fit their pre-described label.

Some systems do need people that have abilities in certain areas that many do not have, but in a system where labels determine output and worth, humans will always be expendable.

The ROI of Creativity

As a person who makes, builds, and creates digital products that rely upon creativity, I am constantly thinking about how to increase the value of creativity and what the ROI of creativity actually is.

The temptation over time is to increase hourly rates so that I can get paid for my time and what I put into a project. However, if all I ever get paid for is my time, how will I ever know the value of my creativity and ultimately my work?

Time is not an accurate indicator of the value of creativity. If a creative solution appears quickly, say in 6 minutes, and I charge $100 per hour, I just made $10 on an idea. What if that $10 idea generated a cool million for the client?

How about a more accurate scenario? A development firm charged $10,000 to create an eCommerce website for a small business that in the first year resulted in an increase of $4,000 to business. What would the return on investment be for the business?

Calculating Value (The Business)

According to Investopedia, ROI measures “the efficiency of an investment” by first calculating the investment’s profitability (subtract the cost of the investment from the gain of the investment) and then dividing that result with the cost of investment.

In the eCommerce scenario above, the ROI calculates as: (4000 – 10000) / 10000 = -0.6 or -60%. Typically, a positive ROI is desirable. Most people want to get more money out of an investment. In this case, the business lost money in the first year.

From a business perspective, the money spent on creative work must be recuperated over time (the amount of time depends on each customer and prompts another question that deserves its own post: What is the lifespan of creative work?).

Ultimately, if creative work can quickly generate a profit for a customer, you as the creative person wield power over other creative companies and individuals. It becomes a tool in your sales kit to close the next big project.

Calculating Value (The Creative)

However, when it comes to the creative person calculating value for themselves, the variables are often not economical or based in time. There are intrinsic motivators that drive the work that is being done: Am I learning something new? Do I love this idea so much that I am willing to make next to nothing to see it through to completion? Could the successful execution of this project grow the relationship with the client to the point where I get more work than I thought previously possible?

The Trick is Balancing Extrinsic and Intrinsic Value Systems

Creative entrepreneurs must balance extrinsic and intrinsic value systems in order to stay in business over the long haul. They must understand both the economical decisions that result in cash flow (so devastatingly important) and the creative decisions that result in growth and new opportunities (equally important).

Without a healthy balance, you risk stripping the soul of your work bare or being so broke that you have to quit in order to find a better paying job.

Charlton Heston on Film Technology in 1979

In a 1979 interview with Charton Heston in Conversations at the American Film Institute with The Great Moviemakers, he has this to say about technology:

Technology has given us so much more opportunity to do unusual things that you couldn’t do with a camera before. The equipment is lighter, more portable; the film is faster, the lenses are faster. Everything is more readily available to you, and directors sometimes tend to get caught up in exclaiming how wonderful a shot is. But what is it about? How does it serve the story? I remember something Wyler taught me. I had come back from seeing some film and was saying how well directed I thought it was, and he said, “You have to be careful with that. If everybody says, ‘Isn’t that well directed?’ it means they weren’t paying attention to the story.” The direction should not call attention to itself. Neither should the acting or the writing.

This quote is even more true today and there are many more aspects of film production we can add to this list: color correction, motion graphics, computer generated imagery and effects. We can even add other industries that are affected by this thought: design, web development, app and software development, video games.

It all comes back to story. Want to stand out? Tell a story that really matters and affects people. Everything should serve that central goal, not the other way around.

Fresh Ideas & New Directions

In a vacuum, it is difficult to come up with fresh ideas. You have to go somewhere either digitally or physically. Searching the Internet is great, but there is often a lens of comparison, inferiority, and distraction that occurs site after site, tweet after tweet, like after like.

However, when you venture out into new places, you come across ideas that can direct you to try something different. You meet new people who have their own ideas that inspire you to go down an unfamiliar path.

One way to solicit ideas is to ask. This is what is done at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center: “Leave One, Take One.”

If you need an idea to act on…

A photo posted by Chris Martin (@cmstudios) on

Unplug and get out into the world. Meet new people. Listen to their dreams. Encourage them to continue walking towards the completion of their goals.

It’s amazing what can inspire you if you go searching instead of staying alone in your cubicle, office, or house.

The Journey of the Creative Career

During a coffee meeting with a friend, who is a photographer, I was struck by the notion that the expectations creative people place upon their lives and careers is insanely unattainable. In fact, these expectations are dangerous and have the potential to ruin the longevity of the creative person’s career as well as negatively impact their lives.

Example: we love to compare ourselves to 30 year veterans and say that we are equally as good, even though we have only spent 30 weeks and completed a few online tutorials practicing our craft.

Example: we fight for the label (professional) and validating the ownership of said label (this is what a professional does), instead of putting in the time to make great art.

Could it be that the journey to a successful career is found in learning the foundations of our trade and then consistently and constantly building upon that foundation over time?

Could it be that the expectations of being great today will limit our greatness tomorrow?


It’s Time To Get Over Yourself

Throughout the past few years I have taken moments to reflect upon all of the things that I’ve done in my life, business, career, and education. These moments of reflection feel me with pride and a sense of accomplishment. Occasionally I feel the tinge of arrogance (okay, maybe more than a tinge at times) and embarrassment.

But as I get older, what I am able to do as an individual isn’t very impressive. I want to do more. I want to be more. And that requires me to trust other people (which is incredibly hard for me to do). I have to get over myself.

I want to find kindred spirits that are building something greater than themselves. I want to find the challengers, the dreamers, and the doers who are creating something more than we could do on our own. I want to be called out for my weaknesses. I want to be raised to a new level by aspiring to be as great as the people who surround me.

I believe that my work could be better and it’s going to take someone else’s voice to break through my own barriers and excuses.

It’s time to get over myself.