July’s Theme is Underdog.

An underdog questions and expands what’s considered possible. When others expect them to lose, underdogs must lean on their self-trust and hard won experiences to envision and fiercely assert new realities. They do not dwell on what’s expected of them, but instead focus on what’s not expected of them. In “A Letter to My Nephew,” James Baldwin writes, “You were not expected to aspire to excellence. You were expected to make peace with mediocrity […] Take no one’s word for anything, including mine, but trust your experience. Know whence you came. If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.” Whether you’re an underdog yourself or you know someone who is, you can help raise the bar. Recognize that every day is an opportunity to participate in life-affirming problem solving and to, and that every moment is an opportunity to engage creatively with your sense of what is possible. Call in and deploy your experience, your intuition, and your voice. The arena of change is calling. Our  Edinburgh chapter chose this month’s exploration of Underdog, Astrid Jaekel illustrated the theme, and it’s presented globally by Mailchimp

CreativeMornings Chicago welcomed April Friendly, speaking on this month’s theme of being Insecure with a talk called, “Re-Imagining What Is Possible.”

“When you trip, your community will lift you back up!”

April  shared with us her background in community organizing and activism, urging us to truly stop and think about what our community can look like  and re-imagine what is possible. “To be liberated, is to be your  human-ass self… keep responding…and when you trip, your community will  lift you back up.” Through poetry, photos, and personal insight, April electrified and motivated attendees to work together for the collective  good, sharing with the audience how organizing works and the causes that  are important to her—ending mass incarceration with The People’s Lobby  in Chicago, Illinois. April is working to abolish systems of injustice.  “People do not belong in cages,” said April, “Jails are petri dishes of  disaster… and [we] need to call out companies that are using inmates as  slave labor.” Instead of being insecure, she asked our community to  have the belief and hope that we can all create something good together.

Graphic by @letskeepdrawing

Black Lives Matter.

To the Black members of our  creative community: We see you. We hear you. We stand with you.

We are heartbroken and angry by the treatment of Black people and People of Color in America. We will make it clear with our actions moving forward that there is no grey area when it comes to racism, violence, and injustice — and we will not tolerate it.

Everyone is welcomed.

We support our Black speakers, Black partners, and Black creative members. We believe in giving a damn and promise to continue to use our platform to amplify the voices of Black creators. We have a collection of past events that you can access that reflect important themes such as justice and that showcase our talented Black community. 

We are here to support you.

We will continue to further amplify the voices and projects of Black business owners, creators, writers, directors, activists, and others in our community. For our first step, we have compiled and shared a list of informative resources, tools, and platforms that we have found helpful in beginning this journey.

We stand with our Black community and Black creatives in the fight against racism and violence, and we urge us all to do the same. 

If you have suggestions or feedback please contact chicago@creativemornings.com

— The CreativeMornings Chicago Team.                            

Helpful Resources and Tools 

CM Chi Talks to watch;  Abena Boamah-Acheampong, Saya Hillman, Elijah McKinnon, Adé Hogue, Aymar Jean, FM Supreme (aka Jessica Disu), Neal Sales-Griffin, Paul Octavious

Show some love to our partners, Stylin’ Out Network, Dj Mike Caliber

Chicago black owned businesses to support

Why it’s not enough to be non-racist. 

Justice in June: Commit to an action a day to become more informed.  

Listen to the Black Lives Matter Playlist.

Educate yourself and ways to help (via Black Lives Matter).

CreativeMornings talks on the theme of Justice, Equality, and Empathy.

Baratunde’s World-Saving Books Bookshop is an online bookshop on Black history, taking action, children’s books, and more.

It’s Nice That compiled a list of petitions to sign, funds and charities to donate to, and resources for educating yourself and those around you.

20 actions White people & non-Black People of Color in corporate (and otherwise) can take to show up for Black people right now.

The White Shift is a new podcast and resource for committing to justice and ending White silence.

Anti-Racism resources

Watch the movie Just Mercy for free

June’s Theme is Insecure.

Insecurity shrinks our optimism, beliefs around potential, and blinds us to how things really are or how they could be. We project our greatest fears when we succumb to the negative ways we are conditioned to react.

How can we start to overcome insecurity and strengthen ourselves?

According to author Leo Babauta, we can begin with a small dose of courage: “A bit of courage. Just in small doses, to start with, but it means a willingness to set aside all the distractions for a little bit, and just focus on what you’re struggling with.”

By observing and seeing, we can catch the early moments we allow our insecurities in. Pay attention to when you are being driven by insecurity and notice what exactly makes you contract. The secret is that the path out can be found in the patterns we have repeated thousands of times.

Ignite a small dose of your courage and fiercely protect its flame. Commit to breaking one limiting belief at a time. With good work and focus, you’ll soon be able to spread your wings and fly higher.

Our Louisville chapter chose this month’s exploration of Insecure, Rachael Sinclair illustrated the theme, and it’s presented globally by WordPress.com.

We’ve started something new and we’re really excited about it.

FieldTrips are meetups to interact, learn and collaborate in an effort to level-up your creative life.

Built on top of our 20,000 monthly attendees at CreativeMornings  talks, FieldTrips are designed and organized by amazing individuals and organizations from within our community. They are offered in the same  spirit of generosity that has powered CreativeMornings events for the  past decade.

From  coffee breaks to workshops and yoga to talks, CreativeMornings Chicago extends its platform and welcomes you to host Virtual Field Trips. If you have something creative to share, we encourage you. Apply! Let’s continue to inspire each other and reconnect.

Apply to Host a Local FieldTrip.

#Illustration above by Monica Rief. #creativemornigs

The past few weeks have had most of us Working At Home for the first time. How is that going for you? If you’ve had some trouble adjusting, here are some general starter tips to help ease into the Way We Work Now:

1. Stake Your Claim

Roll out bed and set up on the couch with your laptop, a box of donuts, and the TV remote? Nope, designate a dedicated Work area. Ideally, a separate room with a door. A desk set-up in a corner, an armchair off to the side with a good light source; any space that will signal to you and your cohabitors you are “at work.”

2. Set Your Boundaries

Found your spot? Great, start with your “regular” company office hours. First, no commute! Use that time to get ready for your day, then step into your office. You are now at work. 

Designate a 4-hour time period as office-hours for reading and responding to emails, Slack, Zoom meetings, phone calls (uh, what are those?). It should be the time when you interact most with others professionally. Managers should designate a period that is convenient for all on the team, especially if there are members in different time zones. 

The other 4 hours are uninterrupted production hours: write that proposal, design the layout, edit the photo shoot, schedule the next event. Modify this time to best suit your energy level. For example, I work best in the mornings, so 10:00 am–2:00 pm are my production hours and 2:00 pm–6:00 pm are office hours. That is not to say I don’t produce work during office hours—I just know my mind tends to wander in the afternoon.

3. Communicate

This is the most important tip to keep everyone on your team on the same page. Set up a to-do workflow. I prefer a combination of Trello, Slack, Dropbox, and Zoom, but there are many other options. Whatever combination of tools you use, key points are What/How, Who, and When.

  • What is the goal (and how is it reached)?
  • Who is responsible?
  • When does this need to get done?

Write it all down and then use it! Modify as needed. Perhaps you will discover some things are unnecessary or too complicated. Talk with your team. You might feel like you’re over communicating with your detailed messages, especially if this is not your normal way of interacting with your clients and colleagues, but when it comes to e-chat, more is better than less. Use the due dates! That will help with the scheduling boundaries you’ve set above.

Essentially, as everyone is practicing social distancing, we can’t rely on the visual and physical cues that get us through our workday. Designating a map accessible to all, with clear priorities and best practices will do wonders to keep everyone productive and sane. 

Christine DePedro is a Creative Project Manager and Consultant with more than 30 years experience producing print and digital content. She was the first Art Director of The Cambodia Daily newspaper and produced the first digital iPad edition of Condé Nast BRIDES magazine. Christine is currently the Volunteer Coordinator for CreativeMornings/CHI and photographs street art from around the world @streetsmart_chi.

Hit me up at control@ticktick-boom.com for individual or corporate consulting on remote workflows and best practices. 

“When in doubt, take the steps you need to follow the path of your own joy. This path is your purpose.” April is #CMpurpose. This month’s theme was chosen by @Indianapolis_CM and illustrated by @jasonratliff.

Our guest speaker for February is Marian Cook, a kickass woman who is a voice in emerging technology and innovation. Currently, Marian is a Principal at Slalom Consulting and she also leads a gubernatorial advisory board composed of heads of innovation from large corporations in the State of Illinois. 

Checkout my interview with Marian and learn how she invests in herself and why she got started in tech. Hope to see you at our #CMinvest event on Friday, February 21 at Fjord Chicago.

1. February’s theme is Invest, how do you invest in yourself? There are many ways, such as focusing on what’s next on a macro level (future trends, technology convergence, etc.), taking on new and challenging work, actively working on my thinking skills, reading, and surrounding myself with people I admire and can learn from. Foundationally, though, I invest in protecting the sovereignty of my mind.  I block off time for deep thinking, deep work and daydreaming about what’s possible in the world of ideas. 

2. What initially drew you to the tech industry? I always want to know what’s next. My father, as a mathematician and physicist, set a great example of deeply desiring to understand the universe. As a little kid I remember playing in the halls of Argonne National Laboratory, where my dad worked, so I was always surrounded by men and women who were insatiably curious..

3. Creatives often draw from life experiences, identities, communities, interests. How have your experiences or the like have shaped how you approach technology? My philosophy has always been to seek what’s next. We’re a fascinating and inventive species living in an astonishing time! Take a step back and look around you. It is thrilling. Yes, scary, but also thrilling. The world is a rich buffet of ideas, options and opportunities. I want to know what’s next!   

4. How do we create more equity for underrepresented communities to be represented in the tech industry? This is a tenacious and complex problem. One of the ways to solve this problem is by being aware of who is in the room and making sure that we invite others in. Always bring others along.

5. How do you manage your time? Science shows that handwriting makes you process information differently and remember better. I hand write my to do list daily. I don’t cut and paste it day to day. I want to think about and prioritize each item on that list and how it relates to my bigger goals. Strategically and proactively managing task lists and aligning your tactics with your strategy is perhaps the most important task you have.

6. What is your secret superpower? My curiosity! I am curious about how my brain works. I actively study how to learn and how to think.

7. Who is another creative person / organization in Chicago that we need to know about? Eva Maddox, an interior designer who is the pioneer of branded environments.

8. Where do you find creativity in Chicago? In the neighborhoods of Chicago, I enjoy photography and capturing street art such as murals and graffiti. Such powerful inspiration unleashed!

9. Lastly, what’s a dream project/ collaboration for you? I would love to put together a team for the Learning Global Grand Challenge organized by Singularity University and tackle social justice issues.

Blog post by Social Media Manager, Brenda Uribe

February’s Theme is Invest. “Convert your doubts into positive currency and bet on yourself.” Our Hong Kong chapter chose this month’s exploration of Invest and Bao Ho illustrated the theme.