Threads Are Here

For a creative agency that spends lots of time thinking about social media (hey, that’s us!), today has already been a BIG day. As Twitter sputters out (and yet, still lives?), the all-powerful Meta saw an opportunity—and, last night, launched Threads, Instagram’s text-based updates platform. Within 7 hours, they passed 10 million users. 

So, yeah. This is big. 

We are all about early adoption and experimentation, so we jumped right on to experience the excitement. Here’s what we’re loving about Threads so far…

  1. It’s all about the text. We love a well-designed graphic or beautiful photo as much as the next person (helloooo, Instagram addiction). And you know we can waste hours watching memes and videos (TikTok sucks you in for a reason). But sometimes, you just want to say something—and words are the way to do it. In real life, we use words to connect, converse, debate, and engage. We’re excited to have a new place to do the same digitally. 
  2. You don’t need special skills (or tons of time). Since it’s all about the words, anyone can participate. You don’t need to tap in your designer or photographer. You don’t need to create a sweet flat lay or figure out how to animate static text into a Reel. You can just write what you want to say. And that’s exactly what people are doing. It feels a little bit unhinged right now (in the absolute best way—like kids on the playground without any rules), and people and brands alike are just going for it—with a level of kindness and civility that has long been absent on Twitter. 
  3. It’s connected to tools we already use. Threads is created by Instagram, so your existing username carries over to your Threads account. When your Instagram followers set up their own Threads accounts, they’ll be prompted to follow you there, too. Built in audience, check. 
  4. It’s designed for conversation. Social media at its best is a place where we can, ya know, be social. Yet much of my own social media behavior has become incredibly consumer-driven (I watch, read, absorb creators’ content—but the conversation is often lost). I’m hoping that Threads will create new opportunities for engagement, especially for nonprofits like yours! 
  5. It’s a cool new place to share your story. Some social media platforms are sizzles in the pan—becoming the hottest thing for a week or two before cooling off and eventually falling into oblivion (remember Clubhouse? I’m pretty sure it still exists…). Other platforms reshape our daily lives (looking at you, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube…). We don’t know what Threads will be, but we do know that it has BIG power behind it—and we know that regardless, the best time to take advantage of a new platform is when everyone is talking about it. So why not jump on Threads today and see what it’s all about? You already have words about what you do. You’ll take advantage of a super curious and excited audience. You’ll show your followers that you are tech savvy and on top of trends. And if your organization has an Instagram, you should be able to carry over your info and jump right in! 

Our invitation for you today is simple: Join the S+G team on Threads! We can’t wait to have a conversation with you! 

If you need help getting started on Threads—or on any social media platform—get in touch! We’d love to help you build a strategy, then execute on it with excellence, creativity, and fun. 

Lists for Living

In the corner of my living room, there is a cello. 

You might assume it is my 13-year-old’s—a logical guess given how regularly we encourage middle schoolers to try their hand at band and orchestral instruments. (The elementary school recorder, on the other hand, remains a mystery to me. Truly, why??) 

But no, the cello is not my teen’s school project—it is my 41-year-old husband’s current interest, inspired by a piece of advice from Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired magazine. 

On the occasion of his 68th birthday, Kelly compiled 68 bits of advice for his adult children and posted them on his blog. When he turned 69, he published 99 new lines of wisdom. And on his 70th birthday, he added 103 more. Now, his advice has been made even more widely available with the release of the full compilation (plus 150 more nuggets) in book form: Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier

Our family loves these lists—and when I started thinking about what I wanted to share with our +good community this week, I found myself back on the Kevin Kelly train. 

A few favorites from the original 68: 

  • Being able to listen well is a superpower. While listening to someone you love keep asking them “Is there more?”, until there is no more.
  • The more you are interested in others, the more interesting they find you. To be interesting, be interested.
  • Acquiring things will rarely bring you deep satisfaction. But acquiring experiences will.

And from the 99: 

  • Being wise means having more questions than answers.
  • Calm is contagious.
  • If you can’t tell what you desperately need, it’s probably sleep. (Can I get an amen?!)
  • History teaches us that in 100 years from now some of the assumptions you believed will turn out to be wrong. A good question to ask yourself today is “What might I be wrong about?” (Reminds me of the wisdom of Adam Grant’s Think Again.)

And from the 103: 

  • Denying or deflecting a compliment is rude. Accept it with thanks, even if you believe it is not deserved.
  • 90% of everything is crap. If you think you don’t like opera, romance novels, TikTok, country music, vegan food, NFTs, keep trying to see if you can find the 10% that is not crap.
  • We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, and underestimate what we can achieve in a decade. Miraculous things can be accomplished if you give it ten years. A long game will compound small gains to overcome even big mistakes.
  • Take note if you find yourself wondering “Where is my good knife? Or, where is my good pen?” That means you have bad ones. Get rid of those.

As a business, tech, and innovation leader, Kelly also knows a thing or two about management and creativity—and so much of his advice aligns with core tenets of our work at Swell+Good: 

  • Don’t be afraid to ask a question that may sound stupid because 99% of the time everyone else is thinking of the same question and is too embarrassed to ask it. (As a fully remote and asynchronous team, we remind every new hire that the worst thing they can do is not speak up when something is unclear. Always always ask the question!)
  • Art is in what you leave out. (The magic of design is in the white space.)
  • Be governed not by the tyranny of the urgent but by the elevation of the important. (There is no such thing as a marketing work emergency.)
  • Train employees well enough they could get another job, but treat them well enough so they never want to. (Start by treating your teammates like humans.)
  • Your work will be endless, but your time is finite. You cannot limit the work so you must limit your time. Hours are the only thing you can manage. (Hellooo timeboxing.)
  • Efficiency is highly overrated; Goofing off is highly underrated. Regularly scheduled sabbaths, sabbaticals, vacations, breaks, aimless walks and time off are essential for top performance of any kind. The best work ethic requires a good rest ethic. (This is the magic of team lunch.)
  • You can be whatever you want, so be the person who ends meetings early. (Or better yet, cancel them entirely.)

And finally, the piece of advice that inspired the cello: 

At a restaurant do you order what you know is great, or do you try something new? Do you make what you know will sell or try something new? Do you keep dating new folks or try to commit to someone you already met? The optimal balance for exploring new things vs exploiting them once found is: 1/3. Spend 1/3 of your time on exploring and 2/3 time on deepening. It is harder to devote time to exploring as you age because it seems unproductive, but aim for 1/3.

For my husband, this one bullet point on a list of 103 made him realize that the best (and easiest) time to try something new is right now. He didn’t want to lose his knack for exploring, but he felt it slipping as he got older—so he did the only logical thing. He fought back. He went to the music shop, rented a cello, and Googled teachers in our area. And guess what? You can do the same thing. 

Maybe your new hobby isn’t cello lessons—but I imagine you have something you might like to try. I’ve decided I’m going to give vegetable gardening a go (once Austin isn’t four billion degrees), and I am all about sampling new restaurants.

 What’s your “try something new”? And are you willing to actually go for it? 

As I wrap this up, know that while Kelly’s lists are great (and I align with so much of what he says), they aren’t the be-all and end-all. They are starting points. As he says himself, “Advice like these are not laws. They are like hats. If one doesn’t fit, try another.”

Just Do It

I’m big on work philosophies. Guiding principles. Little phrases I can repeat to myself on a weekly (ok, daily) basis to remind myself what’s true. And while my list changes fairly often, there are a few that always seem to make the cut: 

For those unfamiliar, “eating the frog” was introduced by Brian Tracy in his book, Eat That Frog!—and the premise is simple: You find a big, hairy, must-do task (hello, frog) and do it first. Basically, eating a frog will always be tough—so you might as well get it out of the way. 

The idea echoes countless other thinkers who have all boiled down their productivity advice to basically this: When you have something you need to do, just sit down and do it. 

It’s Anne Lamott’s famous “butt in chair.” 

It’s Jerry Seinfeld’s “Seinfeld Strategy.”

It’s Hemingway (or Khaled Hosseini or Haruki Murakami) writing every morning. 

It’s simply doing the thing. 

It’s brilliant.

And so hard.

It also happens to be exactly how this newsletter gets produced each week. When we decided to bring back +good about a month ago, we made a commitment to return to weekly sends. So with James Clear’s Atomic Habits advice spinning in my head (Clear is another advocate of daily writing, btw), I built crafting an intro into my week. And here’s how it goes…

The deadline approaches, and I need to write. So I do. Inspired or not, I put pen to paper (ok, fingers to keyboard) and I ruminate on whatever it is our team is pondering that week. 

Sometimes, I end up with something profound. Often, I end up with something okay. But do you know what I always end up with? Something. 

Like one of my favorite fiction authors, Jodi Picoult, once said: 

Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.

You can’t edit a blank page—you need to start somewhere. So start. Do the thing. 

Whatever your “thing” is. 

Maybe it’s a report. Or a spreadsheet. Or setting up that doctor’s appointment. (Side note: If you are a millennial and have not read Anne Helen Petersen’s incredible piece on Millennial Burnout, add it to your list. It explains so much of why even the most insignificant task—like calling the doctor’s office—can feel insurmountable.) Maybe you need to write an essay, just like I do. 

Find the thing that’s been on your list for way too long (and taking up way too much mental real estate), and just do it

Ready. Set. Go.

Creativity + FUN

On a cool, sunny morning not too long ago, I was out for a walk and I randomly selected episodes of two different podcasts I like and listened to them back to back. 

It was magic.

The topics were ostensibly different, but all I could hear was the overlap—the way the lessons described in each perfectly complimented one another and inspired me to draw connections. (I love when this happens!) 

First up: an episode of The Lazy Genius describing the importance of fun

Citing a book by Catherine Price, host Kendra Adachi laid out the three elements of fun—play, connection, and flow:

Play: Doing something for the sake of doing it—not to be productive, or achieve an outcome, or work toward a goal. For example, my husband is currently learning the cello. Why? Because he likes the sound of a cello. That’s it. There are no concerts or performances in his immediate future—he just likes to play the instrument for what it is. It’s been such a great example for me over the past few months (and he’s getting way better!). 

Connection: The playing helps you connect with something else—whether that’s a person, a place, a higher power, nature, or simply yourself. Think about team sports, or an art class, or taking long walks in the woods. 

Flow: That feeling where you lose track of time because you are in the zone. You aren’t thinking about other things. You aren’t distracted. You aren’t reaching for your phone. It’s magical—but it’s rare. 

Combine these three elements, and, at least for Kendra and Catherine, you’ll find fun. Easier said than done, right? 

(Sidenote: one of the prompts of the podcast was to think about something you’ve done recently that checks all three boxes—something that was truly fun for you. My answer? Escape rooms. No question. But that’s a whole other essay…)

The next podcast I chose was an episode of Kate Bowler’s “Everything Happens” podcast about creativity, with guest Liz Gilbert

And about one minute in, right in the intro, Kate said, “The joy of doing something for no good reason at all except that it is beautiful, or funny, or ridiculous, or makes us laugh, is to me one of the great acts of humanity.” 

Sounds an awful lot like play to me. 

Kate and Liz (of Eat, Pray, Love fame—and also the author of Big Magic, which you should definitely add to your TBR pile) go on to talk about creativity, but really, they talk about fun. They talk about play, and connection, and flow. They talk about doing things because you love them and they’re beautiful—doing things because you can’t imagine not

And instantly, I had a lightbulb go off: creativity is born of fun. Creativity is born of play. Creativity is born of connection and flow—it’s making beautiful things for the sake of the beauty itself. 

What a way to think about the work we do. 

Maybe, I, a person whose job is to “be creative,” actually have a responsibility to have more fun. Maybe I, a person who wants to think outside the box and develop great campaigns and create compelling pieces, need to, like Kate said, “do something for no good reason at all except that it is beautiful, or funny, or ridiculous, or makes us laugh.” 

And maybe you do, too. 

So this week, I have a simple challenge for you: choose fun. Play, seek connection, find flow. 

Because, as it turns out, choosing fun might look a lot like choosing creativity, too.