Wednesday Weigh-in: Team ME’s Secrets to Staying Focused

In a world filled with texts from friends, cubicle cross convos, Twitter updates and cute cat videos, meeting multiple deadlines seems nearly impossible some days. #teamME is here to offer up the secrets that keep us on track Monday through Friday.

Try One of Our Stay-focused Secrets:

“Keep a master list of action items with due dates, set aside blocks of time on the calendar for in depth strategy sessions, and turn off the phone and email when on deadline.”

– Marie, President + CEO

“Sometimes you have to eat the frog and do the ’worst‘ thing first.”

– Stephanie, Senior Account Manager

“I’ll sip water all day and get up frequently for a refill or take a mini mental break by jumping on social media or reviewing current events. I also put in ear buds and listen to my favorite country artists to lift my mood!”

– Missi, Art Director

“The calendar drives the to-do list, but knowing how to reprioritize is key. Getting caught in meetings may mean pushing to-dos to tomorrow.”

– Mark, COO

“Drink a glass of water every one to two hours. It keeps me hydrated and refreshed so I can concentrate.”

– Jeanna, Account Manager

“I turn my phone upside down – I glance at it far less often when I’m not distracted by every update, and I can still get important calls if they come in. I also re-read this article about stress, resilience and happiness and it recharges me. Every. Time.”

– Mindy, Senior Project Manager

“I make a list at the end of every day, in order of importance, for the following day. It helps me feel confident that I can conquer the next day, as well as frees my mind of work to-do’s, so I can enjoy my family time when I get home.”

– Erin, Art Director

“Every morning, after getting a cup of coffee, I review my list of things to do for the week and organize them based on project deadlines. I write a short list of the most urgent items on a post-it note that I keep directly in front of my keyboard. I cross off items as completed.”

– Leah, Art Director

“Four words: Spotify’s ‘Productive Morning’ playlist.”

– Angela, Account Executive + Social Strategist

Let us know what works for you! Tag @murphyepson and tell us how you make the most of your work day. While you’re here, take time to get to know a little more about our team and the work we do. Or, “like” us on Facebook to stay in touch!

Wednesday Weigh-In: We <3 Columbus

­­June 14th is much more than just another hump day. It marks a holiday observed by the diverse and unified, electric and eclectic Midwesterners also known as the residents of Columbus. June 14th is “614 Day” and #teamME is celebrating by talking about our favorite things about our City.

 

Here’s a few of our favorite things about Cbus:

“Columbus feeds wanderlust-hungry humans. It offers endless places to go and things to see, wrapped up in bite-size neighborhoods. It’s one of the few cities that feel just as much like home as it does new and unknown.” – Angela, Account Executive + Social Strategist

“A culture of collaboration for the greater good. It’s the Columbus way!” – Marie, President + CEO

“Wow, there are so many. Its openness, Jeni’s ice cream, the parks, Northstar Cafe, the trails, the art scene. I could go on all day…” – Stephanie, Senior Account Executive

“The Ohio State University! – Leah, Art Director

“I love the Short North. So many restaurants and shops to choose from. I can park and make a day of it!” – Missi, Art Director

“From sunrise to sunset and coffee to cocktails, Columbus offers everything you need to make the most of your day. I always feel like there aren’t enough hours in the weekend to experience everything Columbus has to offer! Especially now that festival season is in full-swing.” – Rachel, Account Executive + Social Strategist

“Where do I start?! If I absolutely had to pick one thing (but seriously why would I ever want to) it would be the beautiful parks and greenspaces. There are so many, from tiny to immense and urban to suburban. And, there’s always a lot to do at them from rock climbing and trails to concerts and fitness classes. Or, just loungin’ of course!” – Mindy, Senior Project Manager

“I love that Columbus is a large metropolitan city with all the amenities, but still has a small-town feel.” – Nick, Assistant Project Manager + Planner

“There’s so much to do in Columbus, and it’s all so accessible. I love that I can be downtown in 20-25 minutes to enjoy dinner with husband. Or take a short drive to multiple different parks with my twins. Moving here from Chicago, the ease of getting around, and ability to experience the unique neighborhoods makes life in Columbus so much easier!” – Erin, Art Director

 

How do you celebrate 614 Day? Tag @murphyepson and tell us how you make the most of #lifeincbus. While you’re here, take time to get to know a little more about our team and the work we do. Or, “like” us on Facebook to stay in touch!

The New Urban Crisis

Nick Hoffman, a member of #teamME, Recently attended a captivating lecture on the new urban crisis and the disparities that threaten our cities through the Ohio State University’s Discovery Themes Lecture Program. The guest lecturer, Richard Florida, presented a glimpse of his research and findings in his new book, titled The New Urban Crisis, followed by a post-lecture panel. Florida is currently a professor at the University of Toronto, senior editor at the Atlantic, best-selling author, and former Ohio State faculty member.

The new urban crisis interests MurphyEpson because much of our work is with cities and, like our clients, we are devoted to bringing people together to make improvements for the greater good. Keep reading to hear a recap of the event through the lens of Assistant Project Manager + Planner, Nick Hoffman.

 

The Old Urban Crisis

Florida explained that the urban crisis of the 1960’s and 70’s in the United States centered on the deindustrialization of our economy and years of expansion and flight of whites and affluent into the suburbs. The economic changes, loss of industry and people left a hole in our cities. This model has come to be known as the “hole in the donut”. The missing center within our cities led to the loss of revenue, manpower, and services; not to mention an increase in social issues like crime, violence, drug addiction, teen pregnancy, and infant mortality. It has taken time for many of our successful cities to adjust and refocus their strategy; though some cities still haven’t rebounded, and many will never be what they once were.

 

The New Urban Crisis

The increase of inequality and rising housing prices are two key issues that still trouble our cities. These issues are coupled today with the gentrification of our cities, increased income segregation, and the disappearance of the middle-class and middle-class neighborhoods. The new urban crisis is also affected by the concentration of high tech development in specific areas of our cities (creating winners and loser neighborhoods), and an increase in poverty and other social issues in the suburbs. This crisis is only exacerbated, as Florida points out, as our nation has also become polarized, snapping back and forth between different philosophies and agendas every four to eight years.

 

5 Dimensions of the New Urban Crisis

Florida states that there are five key dimensions that contribute to the New Urban Crisis:

  • Growing Economic Gap between Superstar Cities and Other Cities. A small handful of cities contain a disproportionate share of the innovative industries, high tech start-ups, and talent which creates inequality.
  • Crisis of Success. While superstar cities thrive they also experience a series of set-backs which include unaffordable housing prices for blue-collar, and service workers.
  • Disappearing Middle-Class. One of the widest-felt issues of the growing inequality in cities surrounds the disappearance of the middle-class and middle-class neighborhoods. Between “1970 to 2012, families living in middle-class neighborhoods declined from 65 to 40 percent.”
  • Suburban Poverty. Today’s suburbs are much different than those in the 1960’s and 70’s; today there are more poor people in the suburbs than there are in cities – 17 million versus 13.5 million.”
  • Urbanization in the Developing World. While thousands flock to urbanized areas in developing countries, they do not enjoy the same standards of living compared to the developed world.

 

Ohio Mayors Weigh In

Florida then facilitated a panel discussion with Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, and former Youngstown Mayor and Obama administration official Jay Williams. The discussion centered on the issues Ohio cities face, and what they are doing to combat this urban crisis.

Mayor Ginther discussed how the Smart Columbus initiative is helping to tackle some of these issues and generally becoming more inclusive in decision-making. He discussed the use of new technologies in trying to make citizens’ lives better, specifically through more reliable transportation and workforce development, with a focus on ladders of opportunity for those neighborhoods in poverty. Mayor Mihalik echoed the fact that transportation is also key in smaller cities like Findlay, since 50% of the workforce commutes from outside the county. She recognizes that the industrial jobs are not coming back and development is needed to transform the business and landscape to match the hip urban areas that people today desire. Former Mayor Williams stated that cities like Youngstown need to redefine themselves. There is a physiological effect on citizens as they wait for their city to take off again like parts of Columbus and Cleveland have. Williams said the key is managing the shrinkage and applying new strategies at the neighborhood level.

Florida then discussed how we, as a society, really are dependent on each other. He asked former Mayor Williams, a recent Obama administration official, “is there any hope in Washington D.C. that we can work together?” Williams replied that “there is hope, but there isn’t a one size fits all fix. There are many different places and economical situations facing these communities but all have the same aspirations.”

Mihalik said it all starts with the mayoral ticket (having strong and knowledgeable leaders), power at the local level (compared to the state and federal level), and toning down the pollical rhetoric. Ginther also discussed a disconnect between the federal and local and state levels, and reiterated that all neighborhoods need to have an equal footing. Ginther also emphasized there is a need to invest in opportunities through private-public partnerships, affordable housing, education, transit, and focusing on children from birth to age five.

 

Overcoming the Crisis

Florida hinted at seven action items in adverting this urban crisis. These strategies include building tax reforms, investing in infrastructure, investing in affordable housing, expanding the middle class, investing in people through job training, engaging in global efforts of emerging world urban areas, and empowering communities and local leaders.

Florida’s overall solution surrounded a theme of “urbanism for all”. He urged for stronger collaboration between cities and regions, because we are connected regionally and work better together. Our country needs to take a hard look in the mirror; yes we are divided now, but both sides need to recognize that we are different. To solve this crisis, we need to set aside our political, cultural, racial, societal, and religious differences and work together.

Finally, I leave you with a quote at the beginning of Florida’s The New Urban Crisis that resonates with our work at MurphyEpson to bring everyone to the table to design urban improvements:

Cities have the capability of providing something for everyone, only because, and only when, they are created for everyone.

– Jane Jacobs, The Life and Death of Great American Cities

 Nick Hoffman is our chocolate-loving, Buckeye-cheering, Assistant Project Manager and urban planner. If you live in Columbus and like Raising Canes or Chipotle, you may have seen him standing in line.

Wednesday Weigh-In: April Fools’ Day Shenanigans & Stuff

If you can’t laugh at yourself and the silly curveballs life throws your way, you’re doing it wrong. It’s a cornerstone characteristic in marketing agency pros because every single day has its own set of unique challenges and changes. Don’t get us wrong, we are suckers for random acts of kindness (especially when it comes to helping save the puppies) but we can appreciate some April Fools’ Day humor just as much as the next prankster.

Without further ado, here are our favorite pranks, publications and foolish moments related to April Fools’ Day.

 

Leah: My husband’s birthday is on April Fools’ Day and no one believes him when he says it’s his birthday.

Missi: I love the show “The Office.” Jim always played the best pranks on Dwight. My favorite was when he put his stapler in Jell-O! Classic, but still hilarious.

Rachel: I was quite possibly the most gullible child to walk the earth circa 1998. My two older sisters who thought they were fluent in French convinced me to go around the neighborhood and knock on our neighbors’ doors saying “Bonjour! Je m’appelle ‘chien.’” I later found out it meant “Hello, my name is ‘dog.’” #LittleSisterLife

Stephanie: Hmmmm. I think the radio DJ faking an on-air heart attack was probably the best prank I’ve listened to.

Angela: When I was twelve, I tried to prank my mother (I know, I know, bad idea). I put a rubber band around the handle of the kitchen sink’s hose and when she went to get herself a glass a water, she got a shower instead. We had a good laugh! But I’m still sleeping with one eye open. Payback must be coming soon, right?

Nick: When I was five years old I told my Dad his shoe was untied. He looked down at his shoe and it was still tied. I shouted “April Fools!”

Cam: My graduating class put alarm clocks in our lockers and set them for 12pm-2pm so that alarms would go off in our school’s hallway every 15 minutes!

Marie: The Onion always nails it!

Mindy: A couple of coworkers I used to know would routinely take turns swapping out keyboard letters when the other was away for vacation or work. I sat in between them so every so often I’d get to hear “Dammit Teresa!” or “Dammit Ron!”

Erin: My husband and I were both design majors at OU (Go Bobcats!!), and we would stay up really late in the design lab working on projects. If I would step out for a minute, he would take a screen grab of my desktop and make it my background image. I would panic, thinking my computer was broken when I couldn’t click on anything. I would turn around and he would be laughing. You’d think I’d learn, but it literally got me EVERY time.

 

May the odds be ever in your favor this April Fools’ Day.

#teamME Lends a Paw for National Puppy Day

Is there anything better than a puppy? We’re convinced the answer is a firm “no.” And if your answer is anything but a firm “no,” we would love to have a thoughtful discussion with you over coffee on your thoughts. Because we need to get in on whatever you’re thinking.

Lucky for everyone on earth, today is National Puppy Day. This means that we get to celebrate our favorite wet-nosed, clumsy little fluff balls in all their puppy-breath scented glory. It’s also a day to help save orphaned puppies across the globe which is always a cause we can get behind.

To celebrate, #teamME donated items for the Capital Area Humane Society (CAHS) to show our appreciation for all they do for our furry friends. For over 130 years, CAHS has worked to combat animal cruelty, help animals in need and advocate for their safety and well-being. A few members of our team have adopted a pup from the CAHS and only return to work to praise how wonderful and knowledgeable their staff and volunteers are.

Find a way to lend a hand, a paw or your resources to your local humane society or shelter and celebrate National Puppy Day with the fur babies who matter most.

Learn more about the many ways you can donate to the CAHS here.

How-to Communicate with a Graphic Designer for Top Notch Results

Hiring a graphic designer to help with your brand’s marketing needs can be a daunting task to someone who struggles with articulating creative concepts. You may have ideas swirling around in your head but find it difficult to deliver it in a way a designer can understand (and vice versa). Over the span of 15 years, I’ve learned that building a relationship with a client from day one and keeping the communication as precise as possible will result in both parties being happy with the results. Some preparation ahead of time will not only help the designer see your marketing needs more clearly, but it will also help with the bottom line.

Define the Project

Before the meeting, knowing what materials you’ll need is key. Are the pieces digital or in print? Is it a logo, a brochure or a website? Do you already have a brand established? Are you looking for a re-brand or a refresh? (Here’s how to know the difference.) In any case, bringing examples or documents that support your vision can help the designer bring forth a product you’ll love.

Fill Us In

At the first meeting, give an overview of what your company is about. Key messaging or a mission statement is also a helpful way to direct a designer’s understanding of the business. Be as specific as possible, including who your target audience is. Discuss some ideas about what the project is or a rough idea of what you would like it to be. Be open to a brainstorming session that will allow for creativity to flow. To avoid any confusion later, it’s a great idea to discuss all the logistics of the project from start to finish. This would include concepts, drafts, editing, deadlines and production.

Get the Ball Rolling

If you need inspiration, here are a few ideas that clients have brought to our meetings to open up the conversation:

  1. Pinterest board for inspiration
  2. Website pages you admire
  3. Key words or phrases of the look or feel you’re going for
  4. Paint swatches from a hardware store of color palettes you enjoy
  5. Sketches on paper/napkins
  6. Logos from other companies and why you like them
  7. Documents with your company’s messaging and mission
  8. Photos of your company’s office and environment

 

Next time you are meeting with a graphic designer, hopefully these tips and advice will open a creative portal that will make it an easier experience for you and the design team. For more on working with creatives, check out our write-up on 3 Tips for Working with Creatives.

 

Wednesday Weigh-In: Thanks and Giving

The MurphyEpson team believes in credit where its due. From snaps at our weekly production meetings to showing gratitude to the one who gets the coffee brewing each day, we believe in “thanks.”

But for the time of year filled with turkey, mashed potatoes, football and those we hold near and dear to our heart, we wanted to express our thanks in a special way.

Here’s our Thanksgiving edition of Wednesday Weigh-In on what #teamME is thankful for:

Mark: I’m thankful that the team does GREAT WORK every day!

Missi: So many things to be thankful for that I could write a book but if I had to narrow it down to a small list, it would be these things:

A healthy, bright and kind-hearted daughter

An amazing career with awesome co-workers

Great friendships that help me get me through life

Leah: Cozy Saturday mornings on my couch with coffee, cats and my laptop. And cookie dough, because why not.

Elizabeth: I am so blessed and thankful for my relationships with family and friends, including those with fur and four legs. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Cindy: The chance to do meaningful work, family, friends and a healthy body (not sure about the mind sometimes!) so I can travel to some pretty fun places.

Nick: I am thankful for my family, friends, church community and chocolate.

Rachel: I’m thankful for my coworkers who get me through long days, friends who get me through long weeks, my precious pup who gets me up for early mornings and macarons and meditation that fill in the gaps.

Jeanna: I’m grateful for my work/life balance!

Erin: I’m thankful for the countless memories made on a daily basis as my little twin girls grow to understand what the holidays are all about. Like the fact they can now say “turkey, gobble gobble!”

Cam: I am thankful for a college internship with co-workers who make me laugh, 51 amazing housemates that support my skinny pop addiction, a short commute from home so I can visit my two gorgeous puppies whenever I’m in need of puppy snugs, a family that keeps me smiling and excited about the little things (like clean crawl spaces and potluck dinners) & the Buckeyes!

 

We hope you have the happiest of Thanksgivings and find time to reflect on what you’re grateful for.