Automation Apps, Leadership in Sales, and Free Information

What are automation apps?

Automation apps are internet-based technology platforms designed to do things autonomously. The free automation apps I use now are for customer service and involve email newsletters, calendar events, progress reports, and help chat. I use apps that work with my Squarespace website and implementation was relatively quick: Acuity Scheduling, Pure Chat, MailChimp, and Google Sheets. I like automation applications because they give customers an immediate response and enable people to take action while also saving administrative cost that means more billable hours.  

Leadership tools, free and paid options

What you might notice is that many of these automation technology platforms are free to use. This is the case for all of the applications I have listed above. (Paid options, for businesses that need more support and use.) The idea that the basic services should be free in low-income brackets aligns with the transition going on to stabilize infrastructure and promote sustainable community development.

We need more people who have leadership skills to meet the needs of the future as changing economies and ecologies impact large segments of the population. Sharing information and resources is key. The transition has been taking place, like it or not. We have seen the impact of an internet of things in music industry CD sales, newspaper sales, and other digital media products and services. 

Building automation for the future 

What these kinds of new technologies share is distribution and visualization of data in real time based on a persons activity and interaction. While tracking technologies are tricky, they do play a significant role in visions of the future, as explained in a documentary by VICE on the internet of things and the third industrial revolution.

Reflecting on automation and the future

How do you use automation in your daily life? You might use automation several times every day like when you pump gas at the station, take cash from the bank machine, book your yoga class online, or purchase something on Amazon.

What do you imagine the future to look like and how do you see leadership? I imagine a future where the quality of life is optimized for all being on the planet. That requires a great deal of collaboration and communication to distribute the right things at the right time. Making the best of the work at hand is an art, a creative life is an adventure with many free and intrinsic rewards!


Playing with 360 Photos and Videos

Complex relationships between devices, software

What is super cool about spheres and the VR world is that you can't represent it as anything else without significant distortions. We are not at the point, yet, where 3D objects can holographically display to the viewer. Even if when a virtual world is constructed using 3D models, we still view them on a flat screen. I like this visual trick because a perceptual experience can directly illustrate the nature of consciousness and the translation processing of the mind, hopefully opening people up to embrace new possibilities.

When you are looking a 360 image on a device, you see from inside or outside of it. It is as if you are looking at the shell of a sphere. (The tricky part about viewing 360 images is that the device and the application combination make a difference.) Check out this guys video on an old school painting for a 360 viewer to get a sense of the distortion map between a sphere and flat surface.

Working with the Giroptic iO 360 camera

Working with one specific camera, the Giroptic iO 360 designed for iPhone, the images can be viewed as a real 360 video in only three applications; youtube, facebook, and periscope. You can watch the video flat, but it’s kind of strange. Here are a couple of screenshots of what the 360 video looks like if you watch it flat. The video is distorted, and it is kind of like looking at a paper map and not a globe.


Watching a 360 video in VR

 Watching a 360 video on a mobile device is best. If you have not done it before, it might seem mysterious. In truth the mind is mysterious, and the real magic happens in your brain. The technology in the Merge headset I'm using is fundamentally a magifying lense. The camera turns into two screens, and the VR headset is a little helmet t that makes sure the screens are the correct distance from your head. There are also some crazy strong plastic lenses in there so that you can focus on the screen up close. When you watch the YoutTube video on your phone, a particular icon will show up, and you can click to view it in VR mode. 


What is in the sky and on the floor?

When you watch the YouTube video with your mobile device (see below), then you *should* get the 360 video experience. You don’t need a VR headset, but you do need a compatible web browser application. Many people are familiar with these videos, and they are popular also on Facebook. You have to turn around in place and move the camera like it is a portal into another world. You can point the camera anywhere you want to look, like up and down. There is not a whole lot to see when you look up and down in most videos.

 Looking Up

Looking Up

 Looking Down

Looking Down

A sample 360 video

While cleaning up and doing a reorganization of tools and supplies I recorded a few minutes in 360. What do you think of the 360 video? Is it more fun and engaging in moving your phone around wherever you want while the video plays?

Artistic 360 images

After understanding the nuts and bolts, here are a two artistic 360 images. (I'm still working on creative video sets.)

#Freestyle social media graphics, positive promotion in 2018

It's the end of January 2018, and I'm posting images from my social media brainstorming on social good posts for the year. My post also illustrates a creative process, which you can try to emulate on your own, or hire me to do for you. In summary, the steps are:

  1. Write down all ideas, at a time when it feels important.
  2. Do online searches to expand the idea, collect your favorite.
  3. Analyze what you like the most, recreate the core design.
  4. Design materials and format for use, schedule, and publish! 

1. Brainstorming 2018 social promotion


What gets me motivated is experiences of waste and what makes me depressed is scarcity. By thinking about what consumes my mind the most, I'm identifying what issues I would like to work through this year. My goal is a greater understanding of what actions I can take to result in positive change. The problems I'm thinking about are:

  • Work less, get paid more. How much should I work?
  • Work smarter, not harder. What is the value of free time?
  • Relax, stress kills. What can I do to live a good long life?

2. Expanding with incremental change

I reflect on my brainstorm with a more calm mind and see I'm very polarized in my thinking. I have a black and white view of issues when in reality there are many colors.  My mind is highlighting differences, but I can easily break the limiting perspective into more possibilities. I do this by illustrating change, as I have in the example below, simply by adding one middle image to the picture. I start with a polluted city, in the center I add a seaside town, and finally an isolated cabin in the mountains.

Ideas about change in scale can be more magical and also dramatic when we look at examples of living creatures. In thinking a little more about what concerns me, I feel so uplifted by images of natures metamorphosis. Images of biological change are inspirational to me because I see life is full of sudden and magical changes. Here are two pictures that show changes in a frog and a moth. Isn't is amazing?

3. Analyzing and recreating a Good example

The women's march inspires me because they made many images available to be used in promoting their causes. There are many creative signs made for this movement too. As direct inspiration, I'm emulating it by publishing this post. 

These are the graphics style notes I made about their work:

  • Limited color
  • Graphic/illustration image or just text
  • Call to action, strong unifying theme
  • Focus on face

4. Formatting, scheduling, and publishing

The result of this project is six square images to use in social media to promote critical thinking. Along with the graphic, I will include a quote and a reflective question in the social media posts. 

The social media graphics include my passion from the initial brainstorm, but also cover research. I selected black, yellow, and purple as the primary colors. Yellow and purple are opposite each other on the color wheel and represent the kind of polarizing thinking associated with the tension in motivating forces. I selected graphics of heads with different colors and style to illustrate changes in thinking, diversity, and personality.

Reflective Questions

  • What creative technique is the most relaxing?
  • If you work less, what would you create in the free time?
  • Where can you freestyle express yourself to release stress?   

Inspirational Quotes

  • “Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”  ― Robert T. Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad
  • “I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.” ― Mary Oliver
  • "Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind." — Virginia Woolf (A Room of One's Own)

Promotional graphics

Click here to download all six jpg files. I'm sharing with under the share-and-share-alike creative commons license with no commercial use. Please join me in promoting creative mindfulness this year, and if you like these graphics, please share them.



FestForums Santa Barbara

FestForums in Santa Barbara was held at the Fess Parker Hotel right on the beach and I was invited as part of the Nature Track Film Festival team. As a first-year film festival, attending the FestForum was really helpful. I highly recommend this event to anyone who is interested in event related technology, entertainment and management.

FestForums® is a conference for ALL FESTIVAL industry leaders that takes place biannually in Santa Barbara, CA and New York City.  Addressing cutting-edge technology, talent, ticketing, sponsorships, scheduling, merchandising, operations, sustainability, charitable work, innovation and safety, FestForums® brings together festivals and events of all sizes for collaboration and professional development.
 The large screen made it easy to watch the speakers from any distance in the room.

The large screen made it easy to watch the speakers from any distance in the room.

Top marketing examples and takeaways from FestForums

The event industry is meeting cultural and business needs to provide lucrative and valuable experiences that last a lifetime. Many industries collaborate to pull off big events with economic impact and although the rewards are big but so is the investment!

A big topic at the conference was ticketing and infrastructure challenges related to the demand for Internet-based services at locations that might not have reliable electricity. Another major topic was about the cultural challenges like security. Security is a concern on a large scale, like mass shootings. It was also a topic because of the #metoo movement and sexual assault

Link to more info on my top takeaways:

The Gestalt principle used to manipulate people with images

The mind can plays tricks on us and Gestalt principles can be used to manipulate people. Psycologists try to understand how and why we can’t always trust what we see at first glance. Learning how you see is valuable if you are interested in understanding yourself and the world better. The Gestalt theory of study has been critisized by other scolars, but the idea is widly known. Gestalt is where the saying, 'The whole is other (not greater) than the sum of its parts.' comes from. The basic components or parts of any visual image are described in terms like shapes, points, lines, and curves. Our brains look for patterns and there are many terms to describes this, such as:

 Classic Visual Tricks

Classic Visual Tricks

  • Similarity
  • Continuation
  • Closure
  • Proximity
  • Figure/Ground
  • Symmetry and order
  • Read more about the theory

An example of looking closely at an image

I selected this image from my Facebook feed as an example of manipulative and false images. What seemed off to me when I looked at this image was the odd mix of religion, sports, and politics. In political images for campaigns, manipulative images are everywhere!

 Politcal Image from Social Media

Politcal Image from Social Media

What Makes the image suspicious?

  • Position and scale of politician
  • Surprising and surreal size of crowd
  • No credit or photo attribution

This image of Berny Sanders stuck out to me because it is different from others. He is wearing more casual clothing. The size of the crowd and arena is very surreal. On closer inspection, I noticed that the Facebook image had no linked source. Curious about when and where the photo what taken I did a google image search.   

Doing image research and looking closely

With a google image search I quickly found an exact match to a Tumbler blog site where again there was no attribution to the photo, but there was a comment about the large crowds at his March 2016 rally in Salt Lake City. A quick search for news from that event revealed that this image was not taken there because Bernie dressed differently. In taking a closer look, I realized that it was two images collaged together.

 Detail showing audience scale mismatch

Detail showing audience scale mismatch

Becuase of the similarity, continuity, and desire for the closure of the area, the two pictures merge into one. Also, the drastic difference in scale between the crowd and the projection of Bernie make the smaller differences between the crowd shots less noticeable. By doing a google search for the top section, I immediately found a match and photo credit in an LA Times article from August of 2015. The bottom from Bernies time in Portland. What more, the original images show the real perspective of the journalist’s viewpoint and scale of the audience. The text in the top photo is actually mirrored and that indicates he is behind the projection.

My marketing plan notes for 2018

As a visual designer, my business is a sole proprietorship which is an enterprise owned and run by one person where there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business entity. I review my marketing at least once a year and use LivePlan to manage it. The graphics below are from last year. I will be making new graphics for 2018 based on these notes.

The marketing strategy

 Marketing mapping

Marketing mapping

My marketing strategy matches Foreverbird Studios brand position. Foreverbird Studio advocates meaningful connection, sustainable design, and original creative work.  To communicate this I use intimate content marketing strategies, and that means I publish original content in my name and write in a casual, conversational tone. However, I don't talk about myself all the time. I talk about the people I collaborate with and creative work that inspires me. You can meet the people I collaborate with on my Creative Community page. 

It's taken me years to figure out my strategies, and it is still a work in progress. Reporting shows I had a spike in people liking my content even though I had a dip in visitors. More likes and comments are what I want to see, and I'm not concerned about a dip in overall page views. Imagine a bull's eye target, and the small center is also the most valuable. I intend to reach people who appreciate what I do. In 2018 I will be publishing less frequently but spending more time on each article.

The marketing budget

Screen Shot 2017-12-19 at 5.27.58 PM.png

A marketing plan usually is about 7-10% of operating costs. If you are a startup, that could be upwards of 30%. Most of my marketing is person to person networking. I do not do any paid advertising, but I do promote some ads in social media. 

I  benefit from my past work in content marketing. I have been blogging for eight years, so people find my site from search, social media, and direct links. I expect to have over 6k people in 2018. To put that in perspective, Yelp recently charged me $14.74 per click. If I planned to pay Yelp for 6k visitors, it would cost me $88,440 next year in advertising.

The most significant cost in my budget is my time. In 2018 I plan to spend about $30 on event fees and 8 hours of my time each month. 

The sales funnel


It's vital that my marketing efforts lead to sales because I need to make money. Sales and product pricing is the area of marketing I will be working on and my focus is on in-person sales in 2018. I will continue to optimize and clean up my online and retail presence by writing user experience cartoons. I plan to translate these so I can utilize the new MailChimp automation email capabilities.