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Susan Meier Hamilton identifies the need for solitude and how to find it in a noisy world.

Once upon a time, I spent 8 hours a day completely alone, working from home. I am an introvert who needs solitude to recharge my batteries and focus, and I enjoyed that. These days, the vast majority of my time is spent in the company of 4 other people who are, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, also now working from home.

It’s been an adjustment.

Of course, togetherness is good. But creativity experts and academic researchers agree that some amount of solitude is one of the key prerequisites for creative productivity.

I’ve developed some quirky hacks. Sometimes I work in the bathroom, because it has a door that locks. (It’s a large bathroom, so this is not as gross as it sounds.) I use my devices to create virtual boundaries – it turns out the very presence of earbuds is enough to deter all but the most tenacious of supplicants. Never mind that I can’t concentrate if I listen to music while I work. No one but me knows there is nothing streaming into my ears.

Solitude is really about autonomy. Autonomy is a particularly important precondition for creativity, because creativity is all about being independent in one’s thoughts and actions – even when we’re collaborating.

The quest for quiet is not unique to remote work in a pandemic, nor is it limited to introverts. Businesspeople of all kinds in all work settings often lack the solitude and autonomy necessary to think creatively. Interruptions from phones, meetings, and live humans continually impede the free flow of ideas.

In one large pre-pandemic study, 60% of people said they were most creative in private environments – calling into question all those open office plans. And let’s not confuse ‘solitude’ with ‘solitary.’ 30% of those who preferred private spaces said they were highly collaborative there.

You may not want to lock yourself in a bathroom or fake an obsession with Spotify. I get it. Here are some other ideas for how to find the solitude you need:

 

Key points include:

  • Finding privacy
  • Taking time out to “hear” ideas
  • The creative benefits of relaxation

 

Read the full article, Searching for Solitude, on susanmeierstudio.com.

 

 

In this podcast, Susan Hamilton and Ethan Beute discuss brand psychology and how your breakfast cereal makes you feel about yourself. 

Much like having a relationship with another human, a lot of it is about how that other party makes you feel about yourself. Or how you are able to see yourself via that other party.’

You know, I think the customer experience is very much about the relationship that you are building with your customer. In fact, I often define the brand as the actual relationship, and the experience is an important part of that. And the relationship can be on many platforms, and many formats, but it’s that feeling that you have when you’re connecting to the brand, the product, to the people that are involved, and I think that’s the most important thing about your company and your brand, is that relationship that you’re building. 

So, I think it’s really interesting and truly goes beyond what we, as humans, traditionally think of as relationship between person and person, and I think what really drew me into branding actually, coming out of a pure strategy background, was seeing how people had these really intimate personal relationships with brands where they didn’t have connections with people. You know, it wasn’t  a retail situation it was cornflakes! Right? It was a product where they had never met any of the people that worked for that company, personally interacted with any of those people, but they had an actual relationship with that product that made them feel a certain way, that made them loyal to that product, that made them, you know when social media became more vibrant, that made them want to engage with that product, and I remember thinking in the early days of Facebook, how poetic it was that people were friending brands on Facebook. And I thought that was such a nice metaphor for that relationship that people have between themselves and those products, before you even get to the people in customer service, or the retail environment.

 

Points of discussion include:

  • The relationship between brand and customer experience
  • What people are really afraid of about creativity
  • The pervasive contempt of design as a waste of time

 

Listen to the full podcast, From Cornflakes to Customer Experience, It’s All About Brand, on CustomerExperience.com.

 

 

In this inspiring podcast, Susan Hamilton Meier and Ross Swan talk about how leadership sets the tone and direction of a brand. 

Branding requires leadership. One can start or have a company with great products or services and doing well in the market. But a brand can be nebulous or inconsistent and it really requires a top-down perspective to define what is it that ties all the products, the people behind it together and what the brand stands for. So that the people on the other end, who are receiving the messaging and using the products or services have a clear understanding of what and who the brand is.

A brand is a reflection of its people and the people reflect the leadership they have.

For larger companies, the challenge is that there are multiple stakeholders and brands. Which results in having a lot of things to align. When dealing with multiple people managing multiple brands, for a company, alignment is really challenging. Simply because people have different perspective.

It’s a two-fold exercise. You have leadership, you have employees which form the corporate brand, then you have product and service brands. The products and service brands have to be congruent with the corporate brand. It’s the congruence that brings about the extent of success.

 

Key points include:

  • Leadership, focus and clarity of message
  • The different branches of the brand
  • Working backwards

 

Listen to the full podcast, Leadership and the Brand Impact, on SoulInspiredLeadership.com.

 

 

Susan Hamilton unlocks the beautiful paradox hidden in the boundaries that constrain us, whether physical, intellectual, or emotional, and reveals a few obstacles that have stimulated creativity. 

At the moment, many of us are encountering more constraints than we have ever experienced in our lifetimes. Options and freedoms of all kinds are limited. Your summer vacation plans? Canceled. Back to school in the fall? Not so sure. Even a simple trip to the grocery store has become a somewhat complicated maneuver.

But there may yet be reason to rejoice. We might just be entering the most energized and accelerated period of innovation in recent history.

It may seem counter-intuitive that constraints spark innovation. It flies in the face of the traditional approach to strategy. With the classic SWOT analysis, for example, you identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats an organization faces in order to exploit the strengths and opportunities and mitigate the weaknesses and threats.

But those weaknesses and threats may, paradoxically, be what activate your imagination and unearth opportunity. Constraints encourage idea generation by applying focus and urgency to the task at hand. Through the lens of constraints, you can think about how your limitations can be turned to your advantage.

Artists do this when they choose to work exclusively within a particular structure or medium. Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) famously wrote Green Eggs and Ham after Random House founder Bennett Cerf bet him that he couldn’t write a children’s book with just 50 different words. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein when she found herself trapped indoors during an unusually cold and stormy summer near Lake Geneva with nothing else to do.

 

Key points include:

  • The Great Depression
  • Video conferencing apps
  • Core incompetencies

 

Read the full article, The Beauty of Constraints, on SusanMeierStudio.com.

 

 

When interviewed on the P is for Profit podcast, Susan Meier exposes the biggest myths about branding, identifies what a small business can do to establish its brand and create a competitive advantage, and explains how to make your business relevant to your target audience.

A visual artist is just a fancy way of saying, I make art, like, sketching, drawing, sculptures. And that’s what I studied in my undergrad, visual art and making art as well as art history. So it’s a little bit of a zigzag path from there to strategist, isn’t it? But the way I, the path that I took started out with management consulting, which was really just a leap of faith, first job out of college. 

And okay, I’ll try something new that I don’t know anything about, but sounds pretty interesting. The way the company described it, I worked for the Boston Consulting Group which is, you know, a terrific company and they really gave me a great education. And the way they described what they did and the job that I would be having was like solving puzzles, which is something I like to do. 

And in general, I guess I’m a curious person, I like to try new things. And so that was how I jumped off into a completely new world, much of which I was totally unprepared for. But like I said, it was a great learning experience. And where I came out of that, with this really strong interest in branding because I had the opportunity to do a lot of customer research as part of their consumer goods practice. 

And I found it fascinating how people had these really intimate emotional connections with the products or the brands that they were using. And I wanted to learn more about that and get involved in that. And when I discovered that there was this whole discipline or industry called branding, which looked at that connection, that relationship between humans and brands and also have this visual component because, you know, an important component of expressing your brand is design. I thought, wow, that’s for me.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • How Susan defines brand
  • Branding myths busted
  • Small business branding

 

Listen to the full podcast, Susan Meier | Small Business Branding, on the CFO Project website.

 

 

Susan Meier was recently interviewed on the Expert Insight Interview where she shared her expertise in brand strategy building.

The world is rapidly changing, and many things are being disrupted or reinvented. While various activities are paused at the moment, it’s the perfect time to reflect on your business and brand. It is the first step on the road to finding the right strategy and determining the place of your brand in that new environment. Reflect on every aspect of your business, from your team, products, and offers to its purpose, values, and uniqueness. Think about what your brand stands for and what you want it to stand for, so you can assess what kind of future you want.

 

This interview includes points on:

  • Brand reflection
  • Audience assessment
  • Building brands with promise

 

Watch the full interview, How to Build a Brand with Promise, on the  SalesPop website.

 

 

In a recent interview on The Transformative Leader Podcast, Susan Meier discusses the importance of integrating creativity at work even, and especially, in jobs not traditionally considered creative.

I always had these two very strong, for a long time, parallel and separate tracks of things that I was interested in. I was always interested in the arts, both in making art and studying the history of art, and then I was also really captivated by the problem solving analytical thinking piece that drew me into consulting. And that was my first job as an undergrad at the Boston Consulting group. So I loved the nature of my work, but that job by itself didn’t activate that visual piece for me, so for many years I had these two parallel worlds where I would go to my art studio, I would paint, I would exhibit my work, inhabit a space with a completely different set of people from this other world where I was in management consulting and working with Fortune 500 companies, making spreadsheets, thinking about operations and logistics. And then I discovered branding.

 

Key points include:

  • Merging the creative with the analytical
  • Why activating both sides of the brain is key to unlocking creativity
  • How integrating creative and artistic practices into standard business processes can prime the brain for innovative thinking and solutions
  • How creativity and fulfillment are related, at home and at work.

 

Listen to the podcast, “Embracing Creativity in the Workplace”  on the Ghannad Group website. 

 

 

Susan Meier was recently interviewed on The Growth Zone where she shared her expertise on good branding strategies and how to upscale brand visibility.

Brands of all kinds are seeing a huge need to rethink and reinvent in the new context we’re faced with. The game has changed, but the basic rules remain the same.

I encourage people to step back from that (social media), before you build your platform and presence, you need to think about who you are and what’s going to be really interesting and meaningful for the customers you serve. So I encourage my clients and those entrepreneurs and small businesses that I advise to start thinking about themselves. So often, myself included, we start with the products or service is, we know what it is we have to offer, but around lies three different things, the way that I see it: who you are as an individual and what you bring to the table, what is that DNA, what are your core values, dig into your specific identity so that you discover the origin story before you dive into your products and services. That’s going to start the process of understanding what really makes you different.

 

Points discussed include:

  • The myths about creativity that hold us back
  • What makes a good branding strategy?
  • How can the creative part of branding stay on track?
  • What are Susan’s tips to scaling one’s brand visibility?

Listen to the podcast, What makes a good branding strategy?, on The Growth Zone.

 

 

Susan Meier was recently interviewed on this podcast where she dives into creative myths at work to dispel the ideas that creativity and strategy are at odds. 

I think that we live in  world where we are surrounded by these myths, which, when we say them out loud they sound silly but we’ve kind of bought into, like the starving artist, or the writer who drinks too much, and so we kind of think of creativity in the back of our minds as something that may be a little playful or childlike or frivolous and not something that serious people do. And this shows up at work for business people, as almost a fear of showing their true colours. So, I encounter people all the time who are serious musicians or accomplished writers who hide that part of themselves at work, because they want to be taken seriously as a the tech entrepreneur  or whatever they are in their so called real job, and I think that this is a real missed opportunity, because, of course, the things that make us successful as creatives are exactly the things that make us successful in all kinds of work.

 

Points discussed include:

  • Tips on creating a brand
  • Branding for the individual
  • Self-assessment 
  • The evolution of Susan’s career

 

Listen to the full podcast, Creative Myths at Work, on the Creativity Coach podcast.

 

 

Susan Hamilton Meier shares her thoughts on the merger of analytical and creative thinking and the processes and tools she has designed to help teams problem-solve more creatively.

I turned up at the Boston Consulting Group, probably as the only hire who had never opened a spreadsheet before, so that was interesting, and I ended up, by virtue of that, getting assigned to projects where I did a lot more people skills, so I did a lot of interviews, I gravitated towards their consumer goods practice, and it was actually after they put me through business school, and it was actually after business school, which was around the time when companies were trying to work out what their brands meant in an online environment that I discovered the discipline of branding and that very interesting question of what your brand means. 

 

Points covered in this talk include:

  • How she became interested in branding
  • Discovering the discipline of branding online
  • Consumer research and branding
  • The driving forces behind brand loyalty

 

Listen to the full podcast, Brand Strategy with Susan Meier, on the Dream Business Radio podcast.

 

 

Susan Meier was recently interviewed on the Change Creator podcast on the fundamentals of building a brand.

In her nine years of helping companies build their brand identity, Susan has always set aside a portion of her portfolio for these smaller projects despite them being less lucrative for her. The payoff? They inspire her and she learns a lot from them. She enjoys contributing to entrepreneurs who are just starting out. That aha moment when the small, independent professional who has come to her for help realizes what their true identity is, who their audience is, and how they empathetically connect with them is something Susan finds truly rewarding. She refers to these elements as the three pieces of branding.

 

In this interview, Susan discusses:

  • Discovering and leveraging uniqueness
  • The pitfalls of social media
  • Advice for early stage entrepreneurs

 

Listen to the full interview, Electrifying Your Brand Strategy to Amplify Your Impact, on the Change Creator’s website.