I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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For more, check out the archives.

I don’t have a prank or joke for you today. But, I do have a new post on the SMB Marketing Guide blog. It’s a short, but practical, guide on how to write a positioning statement. I even wrote it like a poem.

Here’s a little teaser for you:

Your product is one among millions.
With so many products, why should a customer choose yours?
Positioning answers this question.

A product’s “position” is the place it occupies
in the customer’s mind.
All products have a position–
even if it’s the position of “unfamilia” or “irrelevant to me”
or “not very good”.

Successful products are both relevant and highly ranked.
They stand out. They have a unique position.
The purpose of “positioning” is to create and articulate
what makes your product unique.

Check out the full post: How to Write a Positioning Statement.

Note: Some of the lines wraps are looking a little funky in the post. I’m working with the editors to fix it.

It’s a tough question to answer.

But let’s try to answer it anyway—visually! Check out Dubberly Design Office’s new concept map, A Model of the Creative Process:

Here’s DDO’s brief description of the concept map and poster:

The creative process is not just iterative; it’s also recursive. It plays out “in the large” and “in the small” ––in defining the broadest goals and concepts and refining the smallest details. It branches like a tree, and each choice has ramifications, which may not be known in advance. Recursion also suggests a procedure that “calls” or includes itself. Many engineers define the design process as a recursive function: discover > define > design > develop > deploy

For a closer look, head on over to the site and download the PDF.

Designers and collaborators on the project include:

  • Hugh Dubberly
  • Jack Chung
  • Shelley Evenson
  • Paul Pangaro

Note: I also work at DDO!

When hunting for a job, it’s really easy to woo only the key decision makers: creative directors, senior designers, managers, supervisors, and partners. Since they decide whether you get hired or not, that makes sense.

Just don’t forget the receptionists, too.

Why?

Because they’re the gatekeepers to the decision makers. More importantly, they hold a wealth of information and can answer questions like:

  • Are you hiring?
  • Who’s in charge?
  • What’s it like to work at the company?
  • When’s the best time of year to drop off my portfolio?
  • What’s the dress code? What’s should I wear to the interview?
  • Where else should I apply or send my portfolio?
  • How many other applicants are there?

How do you get them to talk to you? I take the common sense approach. Have a conversation. Be interested in their opinions. Respect their time. Build a relationship. In short, treat them like real people. Like they’re your best friend.

The same goes for office managers, secretaries, assistants, and other administrative staff.

So go ahead, pick up that phone and start practicing.

I know you thought I was dead and buried, but I’m slowly crawling my way out of a grave of cliché depression and angst. Thankfully, it’s not all’s gloom and doom. I’ve got good news to share:

I now have a gig with HP on their new blog, Small Business Marketing Guide. It’s only for the next few months, but I’m super excited. I’m scheduled to write five post about branding and marketing, and my first post is already up. Check it out:

Head on over and show me some love in the comments!

Oh, I’m feeling pretty guilty about writing over there and not here. So I’m working hard to post more LifeClever goodness for you.

Addicted to book cover design?

Get your fix at The Book Cover Archive, a collection of 1000+ fairly well-designed book covers. Curated by Ben Pieratt and Eric Jacobsen, the site features work by prominent designers such as David Pearson and Chip Kidd.

I quite like the site’s clean and simple layout. Each book get its own landing page with details on its designer, art director, author, genre, and publisher. There’s even a handy Amazon link to buy the book directly. (Don’t worry watchdogs, the site explicitly discloses its Amazon commission.)

It’s a great start to a more comprehensive site, but I’d love to see a larger number of books included, especially older vintage book covers from the 50s and 60s”or even earlier. After all, it is an archive.

For some more inspiration, check out Joe Kral’s collection of Penguin and Pelican book covers on Flickr.

I’ve been pretty bummed about the development death of my favorite Mac utility, Quicksilver. But now I have a glimmer of hope. Nicholas Jitkoff, Quicksilver’s original developer, has just teamed up with Google to create Google Quick Search.

It’s still a prototype, but the resemblance to Quicksilver is unmistakable. No, it doesn’t yet have the awesome array of actions and commands as Quicksilver, but with Google’s backing and an eager development community, I expect robust goodness soon.

Note: I’m starting to feel a little better.

The Grid System

Antonio Carusone’s got a new site dedicated to the ever wonderful grid. Aptly titled The Grid System, the site’s filled with articles, tools, books, and templates to help you design grid systems for both web and print. Perfect for the anal retentive designer.

Clearly inspired by Khoi Vinh’s Subtraction, the site’s design is clean and conforms to a strict grid. If you’re curious, you can even make the grid visible.

Antonio’s goal is to create “the ultimate resource in grid systems. So far, he’s off to great start.

Thanks to Sean for sending this my way!

Note: I’m still alive. I’m working through some emotional and personal issues right now. Thanks for bearing with me.

I’ve got a little post about dating on the Digital Nomads site. It’s not one of my usual topics, but it does relate to working better and more efficiently. Really. Check it out:

Date more to work less

Be sure to leave some juicy comments, so I can feel loved.

Instead of asking or demanding for what you want, simply state your goal and ask, “How can we make this happen?”

Here are some examples:

Instead of:

“Can you give me a raise?”

Ask this:

“I’d like a raise. How can we make this happen?”

Instead of:

“Can I be your boyfriend”

Ask this:

“I want to be your boyfriend. How can we make this happen?

Instead of:

“Can you sell it to me for less?”

Ask this:

“I’d like the price to be lower. How can we make this happen?”

Why the rephrasing? It lowers the chances of a flat-out rejection. At the same time, you increase the possibility of collaboration on reaching your stated goal; if the other person can’t give you want you want now, it’s easier to negotiate how you can get it later.

Asking “How can we make it happen?” shows guts and diplomacy without seeming demanding.

Try it the next time you want something from someone else.

I’m going through a bit of a blog crisis, so I’ve been looking more closely at the About page on this site. The word “we” is all over the place. Which is weird, because I’ve been going solo for awhile.

I do wish I had a team of magic elves maintaining and pumping out content on this site. But since it’s just me, I’d be lying if I keep using “we”.

So it’s time to put the “I” back into this old blog. I know I’ve been inconsistent in the past, so I’m now making it my official position.

I’ll be posting a new About page this week–proudly written in the first person. There’ll be a few other changes, too. ;-)

If you own a solo blog, tell me: do you use “I” or “we” when writing?

I’m now rested (fairly so, at least) and back in the swing of things. I’m working on refocusing the site, and posts will now be more frequent.

Also, I now have a little stint on Dell’s Digital Nomads blog. Check out a few things I’ve written recently:

Thanks for your patience. ;-)

Hey everyone, I meant to post this earlier, but had trouble with my Internet access:

I’m taking a much needed vacation and will be out for the rest of the month on a Southern adventure in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia–yikes!

I know I haven’t been posting much lately, but I promise I haven’t totally checked out! After reading Merlin Mann’s recent posts on the dismal state of productivity blogs, I got a bit embarrassed about the lack of focus on LifeClever. I’m doing some blog soul searching and hope to come back recharged and in full force.

Thanks to everyone for sticking with me.

Lately, all I do at lunch is talk about work. And by talking, I mean bitching. So instead of a nice leisurely lunch filled with lively conversation about politics, film, or just the weather, it’s another trap to fill my head with work stress.

So here’s my new rule for lunch: stop the shop talk.

That means no complaining about clients. No agonizing over schedules. And absolutely no discussion about anything else work-related. Lunch is not the time to reflect about work. It’s the time to eat, rest, and relax. Remember, lunch should be a micro-vacation.

I know I haven’t been blogging as much as folks would like. Thanks to everyone for bearing with me, as I try to balance my blogging duties with my working duties.

Amazon Universal Wish List

Amazon’s Wish List feature just got way more clever with the Universal Wish List Button. The newly introduced tool lets you to add any item on any website to your Amazon Wish List–even products not sold on Amazon.

Just drag the button to your browser’s bookmarks bar, and click the “Add to Wish List” link when you see something you lust.

It’s perfect for letting your friends and family know about absolutely everything you crave. And, of course, the convenient link to buy the product doesn’t hurt.

I’m in love with this feature, but man, Amazon is truly weirding me out. Two days ago, I was fantasizing about this exact functionality, when I randomly discovered it on Amazon’s site. Are they reading my mind?

Your morning just got a little cuter with Pantone’s line of swatch-inspired coffee cups. With a range of vivid hues and shades of espresso, they’re perfect for hardcore designers who crave a dose of design in the morning.

I’d really be swooning if they were available in every Pantone color. It won’t happen soon, but I can still dream, right?

Isolator

Can’t concentrate because you’ve got a billion windows opened?

Check out Isolator. The clever Mac app dims background application windows to keep you focused on the current application. Couple it with Menu Eclipse to dim your menubar, and you’ve got a distraction-fighting dynamic duo.

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