Thursday, March 22, 2007

Out Before You Hit The Ball
Been checking out some mind-expanding articles on design - how design is moving out from the exclusive territory of industry, fashion, architecture, and into conversations, politics, education. Why things are designed that sound bad, and why they can't be designed to sound good. And I thought about HRC's phone call, looking for me to donate money.

First, links to the cool places that have stirred my thinking:
Metacool's Sound Matters (the briefest post);
Bruce Nussbaum's "Are Designers The Enemy of Design?" in BusinessWeek
Logic+Emotion's "Designers Are The Enemy of Design."

Next, how the recent call started:
"Hello, may I speak to Mike A-."
"This is Mike."
"How are you this evening? My name is [fundraiser x] and I'm calling on behalf of HRC..."

Design-wise, this call is set up to fail. HRC only calls me for money. They may think the conversation's designed to foster my generosity, but since I've so familiar with this "design," it builds my skepticism instead. The conversation's opening gambit puts me on the defensive. "I'm calling on behalf of HRC" is designed to make me say "I'm sorry, I'm not able to donate at this time."

There's probably a document in front of the fundraiser, some kind of flowchart that shows the conversation's possible designs, which gives him ways to keep the conversation going. I think the caller tried to engage me further by mentioning something about HRC's work. However, telling me what I already know about the gay community's struggle for rights will not prime me for action.

So the batter is out before the ball even crosses the plate.

First step toward hitting a home run? Change the design of that conversation - maybe by starting with that sheet of paper in front of the caller.

On Creating Stuff and Making Things Happen
Singer-songwriter Christine Kane has on her blog a fantastic and wise post titled "Getting Discovered, Getting Discouraged, and Getting a Clue." It's essential reading for anyone trying to get "somewhere" via any number of creative and/or artistic endeavors, especially those of us who work on these things in our off-hours. With a 70 degree afternoon here in DC and Christine's words of encouragement, I'm once again feeling the itch to open up my laptop and work on Kickass Zombie Movie's fourth draft. As soon as I finish this blog entry.

Christine's advice spins out under the following headings:

Be real.
The Law of Attraction.
Work at your craft.
Stop waiting for permission, rescue or discovery.
(my favorite)
Leap and the net will appear.
Work at the business.
Overwhelm happens.

Naysayers suck. But they’re there. Deal with it.

I've been in the dark aura of the naysayers she describes. But when I get right down and look at it, I've much more often found myself bolstered by people who have not only taken an interest in my writing, they've financed, worked long hours, and committed themselves to spreading the visions of my characters in wider and wider venues. Which means I need to really just finished that Zombie fourth draft!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Short Circuit
I attempted to post last night, but I couldn't finish my thoughts. I'm experiencing a steep learning curve at work on some computer and networking items, and yesterday my head was jammed with all kinds of numbers and speeds and server types and... well, my circuits fried. It's fascinating to me that subjects I like or feel an affinity toward just float right into my understanding, while I have to work at areas of expertise I've never gravitated toward. But that's probably the way it is for most people. Today I could feel my nerve cells start to heal, and tomorrow's Thursday so the end of the week is not too far away!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tips On Soliciting Mike
HRC called me a few nights ago. I knew right off the bat they weren't calling me for an opinion though. No, it was your basic fundraising phone call. I usually don't give money via the phone, and tonight was no exception. I still feel sorry for the guy on the other end, and I can see him, rapidly going down the list of things to say when the potential donor on the other end tries to cut the call short. He got to "you do realize the important work HRC is doing on the Hill and across the country to gain rights for gay and lesbian citizens..." or something to that effect. But I just cut him off: "I'm not able to contribute anything at this time. Sorry." And I hung up.

According to Donor Power Blog, the main reason fundraising efforts fail is because the organization talks about itself, and not the potential donor (in this case, me.) I've been thinking about how the conversation could have gone differently, and why exactly I don't donate to HRC. And I've come up with some possible ways for HRC to approach me in the future.

1. Tell me up front on the phone call that you're not looking for money, but you want to know how I feel on a particular subject, like maybe General Pace's recent comments on Gays in America.

2. Verify my address and say you'll be sending along a card in case I would like to donate.

3. Ask me if there are any reasons why I wouldn't want to donate to HRC.

4. Tell me you know I live four blocks from HRC's headquarters, and find out if I A) have ever been in the building, B) talked to anyone from HRC, and C) would like to attend a function in the near future.

5. Find out how I relate to the issues HRC advocates for, such as "Protecting Gay and Lesbian Families," "Gay Marriage," or "the Military's Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy."

6. Let me know you're sponsoring speed dating in the neighborhood.

Truth be told, there's probably no good way to solicit me over the phone. I'm not even sure #6 would work. But I did go to the HRC site after I hung up, as I was curious about how the organization could involve me. I clicked on "Events," and was taken to a page giving "Events in Your Area." I clicked on Washington, DC. Here's what I found.

I think I did mention how close I live to HRC's national headquarters...