Stylist – a modern magazine for smart women

By April 13, 2014 Inspiration
stylist magazine

When I lived in London, one of my favorite magazines was handed out for free every Wednesday and was the highlight of my commute to work each week. This publication is called Stylist which is a bold, stylish and inspirational magazine aimed at smart women.

I discovered the other day that Stylist is now available for iPad and I downloaded every single issue available.

You may at first glance think that this is you average “female interest” lifestyle magazine. But it’s not. Together with Elle UK (with their thought provoking articles mixed with high fashion and their “does feminism need a re-brand campaign”) this is actually a much needed weekly boost of female power.

Sure Stylist contains the usual content such on topics such as beauty, fashion, food etc. But it also contains ideas, interviews with inspiring females from all corners of the world and of all possible professions.

Stylist dares to bring up uncomfortable subjects and write smart articles about them. The misogynist lyrics in pop culture made me – living in blissful ignorance since I do not listen to radio or watch telly – choke on my morning coffee and made my blood boil. Or this weeks issue, made me think about the social curse of the word “fine”whereas some weeks ago I could cheer on Somayya Jabarti the first female editor of a magazine, ever, in Saudi Arabia.

So if you’re a woman who liked to be both entertained and educated, maybe sometimes a bit enraged. And want to enjoy a well designed and inspirational publication – Stylist Magazine is for you.

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How to write a project proposal: general advice

By April 11, 2014 Project Management
general advice on how to create a project proposal

Your project proposal is the foundation for the agreement between you and your customer – you want your customer to be fully aware of the details and understand your process and why it benefits the project in question.  The project proposal is also the foundation for your project plan. Once you’ve done this, the majority of the work for your project plan to use within your company is already done.


The most important note is that a project proposal is also a receipt for you and your customer that proves that you fully understand the peculiarities for this project and how to best serve the customer.

The following points are some general advice in short about creating a project proposal:
  • Express your gratitude and excitement about the project in the proposal.
  • Keep a project proposal short and simple, covering the crucial details.
  • Be transparent and explain your process and why this benefits your customer and end result. Why will your process deliver value to them?
  • In short, you can add why your company/skills fit the customers need.
  • Don’t use complicated language. If so, insert a word index, just in case as a polite gesture. You are being hired by someone that needs your services, that’s why you might need to explain some things in simpler terms that you might usually word things while talking to your industry peers.
  • Try to include visual elements where possible to explain processes/time plan/etc. This helps the customer and you to understand the project better then pages and pages of text to be interpret and understood.
  • Add preliminary timings to your project process.
  • Send your proposal as PDF document.
  • Always state how much time the client has to send feedback if they want to proceed within the preliminary time plan.
  • If possible, deliver the project proposal in person, or send it over and request a meeting or set-up a phone call to answer any questions, to ensure that you understood the customers assignment properly. A follow-up also ensures that you can gather any feedback on your proposal and amend this quickly – to get the final agreement in place.

 

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How to prepare for a successful project start

By March 25, 2014 Project Management
How to prepare for a successful project start

This post is written for anyone who wants to start project operations from scratch and focusses on four basic pillars that is helpful to have in place before you start taking on work, i.g projects. This article is particularly useful for anyone within the digital service and delivery area (Design, copy, web, software, marketing etc).

If you haven’t seen my post on my philosophy on project management, it can be a good start, before heading further in on my project management series, so you get a better understanding of the perspective I’m sharing from.


project managment process
1. Understand how you work – define your process & why it’s valuable

Many freelancers and agencies have stated in short how they work on their website. This is a great way to get your potential client to understand how you work and get a gist of and if you two are a good fit for each other. Have a think about what workflow you need inhouse as well with the client, in order to perform and deliver your best work.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What information do we need from the client for the work we are delivering? Craft a questionnaire which can be a foundation for a creative brief. If you deliver different services and solutions, do this for each service you provide.
  • What happens after you have obtained all the information you need? do you have different phases? if so – define them and the value of each phase for the project/client?
  • Do you offer reviews before final delivery?
  • How far does your process stretch?
  • What happens when you deliver? how do you usually deliver? when do you invoice? do you offer support? etc.

TIP: For your website you can strip your process down to it’s simplest form, with any common denominators you can find and try to visualize this if possible.

Now – try to map out the journey within your company – and do the same as above but with an internal focus:

  • What information does your team need to be able to do their best work?
  • What tools do you and your team need? how and when do you use them?
  • How do you conduct meetings and follow-ups?
  • Do you have a checklist – if so where?
  • What is the most effective flow for the work, as you can see it now? (could and should be assessed and improved as you go along)
  • How do you save files? create guidelines for the team to follow to avoid that your server become a time and motivational draining black hole!
  • Do you create any documentation on the service and solutions you offer?
  • How do you deliver your final product?
  • Will you evaluate the project? if so when and how?
project managment document
2. Get relevant documentation templates set-up and in order

Create templates for the most common documents that you will need. Having an template with headings set-up saves time and will enable you to hit the ground running when the work comes your way.

NOTE: that all of these documents may not be relevant to you. Pick and choose and add your own to the list.

  • Client questionnaire (for website and as a editable pdf/word doc)
  • Process outline
  • Proposal/agreement
  • Your rate card
  • Project plan
  • Time plan
  • Action list/checklist/tasklist
  • Invoice
  • Meeting minutes
  • Project report
  • Presentation outline
  • Evaluation form – internal and for client
  • Any other documentation templates relating to your product/service

project managment tools

3. Get your tools in place

Get whatever tools you need in place, everyone should have log-ins etc set-up and ready. (Software, Google Drive, DropBox, email etc). I’m still amazed that these type of simple tasks are not done prior to a new project start. Hence the mention.

For easy tracking of projects, I advice you get a system for your projects where you assign each of them a number. Track time spent on each project in some way. Either the old fashion way in a spreadsheet or by using some kind of time tracking tool. (see list below)

project managment folder
4. Get your folder structure in place

Decide how you should organize your company files on your server. Get guidelines and have someone be the single point of creating these folders (usually the project manager) and follow the structure to save time, avoid confusion etc. A common way to start is to create a folder for each client, then; a folder for each project with corresponding project number (use this on invoices etc) and then follow-up with relevant  sub folders.


Free tools:

Google Drive Great for sharing documentation, action/checklists etc that your team can access and update.

Paid for tools

Basecamp Create and share action lists/checklist (and more)

Studiometry Track time spent on projects, create invoices etc.

DropBox For your files, delivery etc.

Timely Plan your time, rather then track it. Timely turns time reporting the other way around – plan your time instead of report it. (I haven’t tried this but I’d like to, I like the concept!)


Illustration credits to the noun project as follows: Document by Maximilian Becker, Folder by Sergio Calcara, Tools by Lauren Gray.

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A view from WebCoast 2014

By March 17, 2014 Life Through My Eyes, Nerd alert
webcoast 2014

WebCoast is an annual event for people who love and/or work with the internet. The fabulous thing about WebCoast is that it’s an unconference, meaning it’s created by the people who attend the event. That makes it really special.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to attend the entire three day event. However I was lucky enough to be able to attend a couple of hours on the Friday afternoon and the majority of the Saturday. These are my key takeaways from the sessions I attended on Saturday, as well why I think WebCoast and the whole unconference concept is such a great idea.


Everything about WordPress.com

A session from the company behind WordPress, Automattic, where they spoke about the differences between wordpress.org and wordpress.com. My key takeaway was to check out JetPack which enables you to get some of the nifty features from wordpress.com on your self-hosted install of WordPress. Such as enhanced distribution of your content.

Persona ”Cash Course”

I listened and learned more about how to build personas around a specific product or service. How to aim at the source and how to use an inspirational way to visualize the personas using a infographic kind of style. Key takeaways was:

  • Understand your target audience (interest, needs, background, habits, technology)
  • What is interesting for the target audience with your product/service?
  • What pain points does the product/service ease for the target audience?
  • Once you have compiled your information, verify by interviewing your customers or conduct a survey online

One of the speakers offers free tools and templates on her website for doing this type of work (Swedish only)

Digital networking (Nätverkande digitalt)

Advice mixed with hands-on exercises where we got to engage with the people around us. That was an ice-breaker if any :) . My key takeaways – before an event – ask yourself;

  • Why are you at the event? What is the purpose with your attendance?
  • Who do you want to meet? can you check out a list of attendance in advance? and make contact or any research?
  • If you are nervous of speaking to other people and initiating contact, try to find common ground over coffee or anything inside the event space that you can talk to the other attendees about, then take it from there.
Digital Story Telling

The key takeaways was:

  • That the personal stories are what really engages and captures other peoples attention.
  • When working with compiling and writing your story, set limitations in some way, i.e could be that it should fit on a A4 sheet of paper for example.
From blogger to  revenue manager

A business owner shared how he used his company blog to as a tool to deliver value to his customers by addressing their pain points in his blog content and by doing so drive leads for his business. He shared the strategical work behind all this, the flow of his communication, the different digital channels which are more important and when in his customers path to purchase. Interesting and inspiring. They should have an extra applaud for being able to switch and find another room, hold the presentation even though the technical stuff didn’t work in the new room.

Zentreprenör 2.0

A group session, where we all pitched in with our worries and advice on how to reduce and handle stress in our daily lives. Followed by trying some yin-yoga together. I left feeling refreshed and happy because I got to listen to other people sharing their experiences on this subject which was somewhat comforting to me.  The shared advice included:

  • Switch your phone to flight mode
  • Have email checkpoints throughout the week. Keep them.
  • Make a done list
  • As a manager, create a to-do list with the following categories; necessary, desirable and delegate (delegate should be the largest on your list)

A quote that I will carry with me, and do some more research on to really get any stats etc on is that “no implementation of change works without time to reflect”. I find that to be true.

Work 2030

Group session where we imagined and brainstormed around our work-life in 2030, how our day would start, what the world around us would look like and be, by the year 2030. I hope for the future that the signs I detect, both on and offline, a kind of a slow awakening in the human consciousness in regards to the earth and it’s inhabitants, will continue. I see a change in peoples choices and mindset.


My favorite things about WebCoast are:
  • The people, the community. The journey people are on, their stories from their current location. That makes the knowledge everyone has to share so much easier to assimilate as well as their stories exiting to hear.
  • Everyone is allowed to hold a session – with that you get a mix of experiences and levels from which you can obtain knowledge.
  • You don’t need to be an expert to hold a session, you can share your perspective and experiences from the place you are at, at the moment.
  • That there are loads of women. From my years working in UK, I was always one of very few women attending any digital events. I wish I had more time to talk to all the fabulous women which I met. I want to know more like minded, and different minded females!
  • The passion. The creativity.
  • The spirit. Open, friendly and so beautiful and authentic.

On the minus side was the food this year, when you run around, talk to people and try to assimilate new insights, your body and brain requires fuel. Unfortunately it was the typical and oh-so-common scenario, my food was reduced, i.e the diary products and dishes with diary and or meat where removed and nothing replaced what was removed so to speak – to make the dishes vegan.

I’d love whipped soy cream on my dessert, or vanilla soy custard (it’s a very low cost to buy and you can buy it anywhere). Or to be able to eat the green salad that was offered with my food, or a cold sauce to break up my meal. It doesn’t take much time, nor cost any more money – to do the options that contain meat and diary – free from these ingredients.


Looking back, this is what I thought about WebCoast when I was first there, back in 2012.

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My philosophy on Project Management

By March 13, 2014 Project Management
My-philosophy

This project management article series are perfect for someone who wish to know more about project management, regardless of context. I will cover the basics of project management in a way which is easy to follow, set-up and adapt to your circumstances. To start it all of, I’m sharing my philosophy on project management.

If you want to study particular methods such as Scrum or Agile, this article series is not for you since it will not cover any particular methodology.

This is for anyone who wish to get more effective in managing your work, planning or just plain old “getting things done”.


My first hands-on experience with managing projects stems back to the beginning of my freelance career, where I had to manage everything myself from client communication to doing the actual work. Back then, design and illustrations.

Everything I know I’ve learned in relation to working within the vast digital industry. Encompassing both creative, development, support, marketing, software development and being the end-customer – where I collaborated with a digital agency to reach a specific goal. The latter gave me the valuable experience of being on the non-agency end so to speak. Gaining valuable insight on what the customer expects and appreciates.

Through the years I’ve transcended further and built up knowledge on managing both large and small tasks – in another other word; projects. I’ve never adhered to a particular method or process. Rather always been in a position to manage projects in a way that suits the specific situation and implemented my previous lessons going forward. I constantly learn and refine as I go along. I never consider myself “done” in terms of learning new things in relation to project management and my work. As I work solely (so far) in the “digital industry” there is always something new and exiting to learn.

To further illustrate how I think about project management, I have broken it down to 5 steps which are not a linear, but for me an ongoing circle of progress:

project managment process


 Lets me elaborate:
1. ASSESS

This is where I work on understanding and listening to the customers request. What are their needs? What challenges are they looking to solve. I try to gather as much information about the task and tasks at hand as possible. I try to look at the assignment from every angle and assess possible solutions and do any initial research if needed. Either this is something that I can do myself or its a team effort, gathering everyone who is needed to pitch in with their specific experience.

Outcome: a brief, knowing and understanding what the request and customer requirements are, what we are doing and delivering.


2. DEFINE THE SOLUTION

With all the information on the table. Could be paired up with a brief, the request, a list of problems to solve for a customer. It’s time to define what the solution is. What work needs to be done to solve the customers request, how long does it take, what is the process, the budget, deliverable, team and so on.

In some cases, to deliver a specific solution, requires the work to be done in stages and now is the time, where I define the phases/stages and the goal and specifics for each stage.

Outcome: time, and outline to solution or solutions, a project proposal with project plan/process, costs, preliminary time plan and deliverables. A goal or goals and assumptions to verify with the customer.


3. DO THE WORK & DELIVER THE SOLUTION

This starts with a project “kick-off” – usually including both the customer and team. Where we go through the project process, crucial points and any deliverables that are required throughout the process of the project.

Then it’s just as simple as executing the project plan, follow up with the team and the customer when needed and delivering the solution.

However, during this period, it may be the case that the solution may need to be altered. Or further requirements are discovered. Then I work with the customer and team, to understand what is best – either to change the direction and solution for the project (with the adjustment of all the specifics such as time and budget etc) or to collect whatever new needs the customer have and make a plan for how to solve these once the current project is ended.

Outcome: working solution delivered to a happy customer and in some cases an outline for further work.


4. EVALUATE

So when the work is done, take the time to evaluate the project and work done. Get constructive tangible feedback from the team on what can be improved and ask what worked well.

Don’t forget to do the same with your customer. If things work out really well, you can get your hands on a few words to use as a review/testimonial.

If it has not been brought up yet – this is a perfect opportunity to discover if there is any more needs from the customer or input from the team on further work to enhance the solution which is delivered or help the customer further.

Outcome: acknowledge what worked well, list of things to improve internally and from the customers perspective. Outline for further possibilities for helping the customer i.e further work.


5. LEARN AND EVOLVE

Once the project is evaluated from both team and customer end. Ensure that the knowledge you acquired is stored appropriately, i.e any documentation is updated, invest in new tools, change your process, switch the team around, define which actionable steps that can be implemented from the feedback from both team and client – then take them.

Celebrate what worked well.

Outcome: new knowledge stored, improvements implemented or in the process of being implemented.


In closing…

I also want to stress that I don’t see my job as a project manager to be one of administration. I see my responsibility to be helping the team, to ensure they know what to do and that there are no distractions in their work. That they have the tools, info etc in place to be able to do what they do best.

Secondly I think it’s really important to be updated on the type of project I lead. I need to know more then the basics, thus I think it’s really important for the project manager to be both a skilled organizer/planner, a positive leader, a problem solver and someone who has knowledge about the type of project they lead. I think that a project manager that have a background in development will be much more skilled in leading a development project then someone who has a mere business degree. There is a layer of knowledge missing. Everyone can be good a business – to say the least the people who has experience within it, but project management is not just about the business and the administrative end of things. Its about delivering value and leading people towards creating value. Along that way there will be challenges and you need IMAGINATION within the industry I work in, because many times we are imagining new solutions that does not yet exist.

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New beginnings

By March 6, 2014 Life Through My Eyes
new-beginnings

Sometimes, life happens and then it’s time for a time-out. So what I had to do – was to take a time-out from certain things. Being online was one of them.

The purpose was and still is that I can get back on track with all the exiting things I do – with kick-ass gusto and renewed energy.

This digital detox also gave me the opportunity and head-space to think about why I do things, how I do things and what can be done different and better.

I had to cut out the noise, to be able to hear what in the essence of things for me, the purpose. And hear my own thoughts for a while.

I have re-evaluated what I’ve written, why I write and what the purpose of my blog is for me during this period.

It comes down to what I want to contribute towards in the world and what I put my energy and focus on, there are  loads of things I love to do, writing is one of them. Writing is important to me; I write to remember, I write to learn, I write to understand and to process events, knowledge and feelings.

In the format of my blog I have a perspective to share, a vote in the form of a voice to add to what I think is important, to what I think should be heard louder in the world.

I want my voice to contribute towards another perspective, thoughts, a way of life, I want to share knowledge and to point out what I think is beautiful in this world.

 

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Digital detox

By December 8, 2013 Life Through My Eyes, Perspective
Jumping off the carousel

I’ve taken a breather from the digital sphere.

So see you later,

V

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Elegantly Vegan – now on AppStore!

By June 16, 2013 Life Through My Eyes, The vegan cookbook project

veronica elegantly vegan

Today Elegantly Vegan is finally available on AppStore. You can get your copy over here. Do it now (and don’t forget to rate it, 5 starts helps ;))

Its just so unbelievable and I cant really put words to everything I feel right now. Its a weird and wonderful combination of ecstatic, elated, exited, happy, grateful! Proud! all bundled up into one amazing feeling.

When I got the news today I instantly had to sit down with my iPad and iPhone and took a moment to just look at this in AppStore and just enjoy and savor this very moment. I will treasure this for the rest of my life.

Then I just went in to battle-maniac-mode-galore. Updating social media, sending campaigns, working with the website (which I managed to break or something in the process) scheduling tweets. You name it.

When you have worked on something for so long it kind of feels a bit surreal when its finally out there.

I did this because vegan food is so much more – it’s not only a wide assortment of beans – my mission is to change perceptions about vegans and vegan food – my goal is for Elegantly Vegan to do that.

 

elegantly vegan

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Weekly roundup: week 22 + 23

By June 9, 2013 Life Through My Eyes, The vegan cookbook project

elegantly vegan submitted to appstore

Lets have a cheaty cheat. The last two weeks have been a bit hectic (and some days quite difficult) for me – so some things have had to go. So here is a round-up for the last two weeks. Savoring the positive like delicious bon-bons:

Stuff done:

  • My spare time is all a flurry of writing press releases, emails,  researching and designing various marketing collateral.
  • Meeting my publisher for lunch scheming about marketing making my tummy tingle.
  • When I’m not creating I’m refining and polishing what I have done thus far.
  • I’m making lists like a a crazy not to forget what to do and where.
  • The book/app is finally submitted to AppStore for review, I cannot even convey in words how incredible this is!

 

I’m grateful for:

  • My brother. I visited his university to view his work for his master degree in architecture. I’m so proud over him. He will be one to watch in the architectural world, believe me. I think it’s really cool the way he has thought from all these (for me advanced) angles and created a new solution for an old house. A suggestion that encompass environmental, sustainability, heating and at the same time manages to challenge one to think about how we live today, in terms of space.
  • A great luncheon with my family at Clarion Hotel Post.
  • Adding a few social hours here and there, champagne picnics, weekend brunches, spontaneous lunch meetings and time with my friends put something back into me.
  • Sunshine!

 

bror-pressieMy brother at the luncheon at Clarion Hotel Post

bror

One of his interior sketches for the building he re-designed.

 champagne picnicMe and Emira.

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Weekly roundup: week 21

By May 30, 2013 Creativity, Life Through My Eyes, Vegan

Traveling
Stuff done:
• Tying a knot on my brain in regards to marketing of the book. It’s fun – I see so many possibilities as well as I get so much positive feedback. I wish there was more hours in the day then only 24!
• Trying to get the word out there about my passion project.
• Creating bloggers kits, presentations, instructions and other fun things to hand out, trying to explain it all :)
• A fun photoshoot with friends.

 

I’m grateful for:
• Time spent with my family over the weekend in the middle of nowhere. They have internet at their house – yay!
• Nature, sunshine and being outdoors. The area I originally come from is so incredibly beautiful and un-touched by humans. It always humbles me and grounds me spending time there. It’s like the small hobbit town in the Lord of the Rings trilogy :)
• My moms big kitchen. I get to really go off the wall with my cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. This week I managed to salvage a cupcake batch gone wrong into a yummy vegan cream cake with fresh berries and create my first vegan smörgåstårta. Fancy that!
• I got some time to spend with my camera – trying to learn the new interface and where everything is and what happens when I change the settings around.

 

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