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Last week I spent a few days at the inaugural SoDA Academy held at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn which featured a well curated 2-day curriculum of content designed by Farrah Bostic (brilliant planner/strategist).

A lot of people sometimes say conferences are a waste of time, especially the didactic kind where people talk at you for 2 days (eg: snooze fest)—however SoDA was designed as an immersive, workshop style—my fav.

It’s all about what you want to get out of it. I often attend professional summit //slash// sessions for these 3 reasons:

  1. Validate what I’m currently doing is on point
  2. Uncover micro trends, cultural shifts and new approaches to solving creative business challenges
  3. Meet new people (it’s ALWAYS about the people)

A photo posted by Jess Seilheimer (@jaeselle) on

A few takeaways…

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I want to clear something up. I take issue with this latest post stating Execution Eats Strategy for Lunch.

Good strategy is just as important as good execution. To achieve success, one can’t exist without the other.

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BK Museum 3 exhibitsNote to reader: this has very little to do with anything digital. It’s still cool though. ~10 min read

It’s not everyday a museum captures three things I love, all independent of one another; street art, sneakers and the intimate power of words. I ventured to the Brooklyn Museum today for a glimpse of all 3 and was not disappointed.

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks
(because words)
The Rise of Sneaker Culture (because Adidas! Jordans! Vans!)
FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds (because LES street art, obvi)

Captured my day mostly through photos, I snapped things that touch my heart, inspired me and/or drew on nostalgic times.

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That phrase can make you smile or cringe, depending on who says it.

Nothing makes me more frustrated than entering a room, tasked to think, with no structure behind it. That is not a brainstorm. That is a shitstorm.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always been a structured thinker. What is the problem we are solving/what do we want to achieve? What are the insights we can work from? What do we want to leave the room with?

I’ve always prided myself in setting a room up for success. I’ve read myriad books, observed others and honed different techniques and exercises to facilitate brainstorms that elicit seeds, nuggets and big ideas from people’s minds. Aligning ideas with a specific objective takes work and a lot of planning. It takes knowing who’ll be in the room, what their strengths are, what their attention span is. It takes the right depth of insights to drive the right type of thinking and ideation.

I’m pretty good at it.

However, sometimes even the biggest overachiever has to admit they can’t do everything themselves. (No really its true, we can’t).

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right brain left brainGone are the days when planners *just* research, analyze, theme and provide insights…and stop there. I’ve always had a very strong belief that the best planners & strategists who have made things (eg: digital products & experiences) have the best real world insight and experience.

I am the type of planner and creative strategist who loves to identify a need/problem and make something to solve it. I spent most of 2013-2014 solving my own need to scratch an entrepreneurial itch and I was able to work on some amazing initiatives & projects which included launching a startup called Birdi on Indiegogo, something I have never done before. So, like anyone interested in #DIY or #HowTo I started with the experts– Indiegogo themsleves; who have a seriously strategic playbook on crowdfunding. We were also extremely privileged to have access to Sonny Vu as a mentor and advisor (if you’ve even seen or heard about Misfit Shine, you’ll know why this was an absolute gift of knowledge).

Last September 2014, Planningness PDX focused on the entrepreneurial mindset, startups & the maker movement. I had a great opportunity to share what I had learned, and present best practices in a session titled:

How to Launch a Crowdfunded Product
– Crowdfunding Trends
– Crowdfunding 101
– Marketing Playbook
– Case Study: Birdi
– Breakouts (mock product campaigns)

Planningness PDX 2014 // How to Launch a Crowdfunded Product from Jess Seilheimer

I haven’t hacked anything major from inception to delivery in a few months and that itch has returned. I’m hoping Planningness 2015 (held May 14-15 in the awesome city of Toronto this year) will bring forth my favorite collection of creative strategists, planners and makers and provide me the inspiration I’m craving.

I believe in sharing what we learn amongst the open ideation community. Please use the comments section below to hit me up with any questions and I hope to see you in Toronto in a few months!

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