Data, code games, lucky people, time management, and when painful management makes cool less cool.

We’ve all seen enough bar and pie charts in PowerPoint but they’re still a visually powerful way to communicate information if done well. But with the amazing amount of information available to us now – too much, really – there’s so much more we can do with it to tell compelling stories. We don’t need to settle for the boring pie. Infosthetics and Visual Complexity are two inspiring resources for taking a deep dive into what’s possible with a little imagination and effort to make data useful. As a communicator, you owe it to your audiences to make the data you want to share more memorable and tangible. Use it to tell a powerful, relevant story – not just drown people with chart after meaningless chart.

Just like the first web pages were mere brochures, many of the first uses of QR Codes are for connect print to online, taking you to a landing page or website. But Nick makes us think about how we can use them to create magical customer experiences that make customers want to engage further. He encourages us to think about them as an experience delivery platform and that their future success lies in how marketers use them. If customers found them boring, what makes them think yours are any different? Good thoughts here!

We think successful people must be somehow lucky. But they’re not. They do things differently. And they often fail a lot before they ‘get lucky’. Erik Calonius looks at what these differences are. There’s nothing like a major life event or illness to put things into perspective, sharing the story of Steve Jobs and his pancreatic cancer. With a sister who just began treatment for breast cancer, this hits closer to home. For Steve, it’s about living every day with gusto. And Erik notes that lucky people keep their minds open. They get out of the weeds and stay curious. This brings me back to Carol Dweck’s great book, Mindset – and the differences between people with open and closed minds.

Building on what separates lucky people from the rest are the habits of successful entrepreneurs. These are people who have vision and effectively manage competing priorities to make things happen. In a world of constant distraction a key skill here is effective time management. This interview with @CASUDI who I’ve come to know via Twitter and had the privilege of meeting recently for lunch provides a glimpse into effective time management. She’s a master at juggling many different businesses, passions and thus priorities and as you’ll see has a keen zest for life. You wouldn’t know it from the VW Golf I drive but I have a secret passion for cool cars and can appreciate the experience of driving a well-tuned machine. The flip side is you should be working on creating a well-tuned brand.

I’m a big fan of Twitter and the connections and friends it’s helped me make. And it’s become an instrumental tool to the work I do as a communicator as well as a great news source. So I was a little disappointed to hear about their management woes. But also think there’s a lesson here for all of us: no matter how great your technology or passionate your customers, you need strong vision and cohesive leadership to execute and sustain. The lessons and pains here echo throughout many businesses. If you’re one of them, this is proof you’re not alone and a wake-up call to take corrective action. #LeadershipChat on Tuesdays is a great place to start!

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