Archive for the ‘Guest Columns’ Category

Guest Column: A Geek for Digital Art

Monday, December 12th, 2011

While I was in Atlanta on business recently, I was able to spend some time with a friend who I hadn’t seen in some time. Now retired from a distinguished business career, she is able to focus full-time on her real and long-time passion: art. Gay is an accomplished artist in several media; her article below addresses one that involves computers. For those who aren’t particularly into art, I encourage you to read her practical advice about how you, too, can combine your skills with your passion. And do check out Gay’s work on her web site (below). Enjoy!

I am a “geek” for digital art and I don’t care who says what about it. It is a natural extension of my creative education, my talents and professional experience, in both photography and information systems. To be able to combine these in creative ways is a thrill of a lifetime.

By using digital photographic techniques and automated tools in new ways, I am exploring and refining new creative territory. The power of computers allows me to take risks; push the edge of current art forms, while maintaining the respect for the essence and guidelines of traditional photography and fine art.

I have dubbed the new art form “refacimento,” (pronounced ree-FATCH-i-men-toe.) The term was first used by William Safire, in On Language, NY Times Magazine, 02-15-09, and is defined as “the radical refashioning of a work of art, often by computer.”

First, I observe what is in the world and construct an original, objective photograph. Then I take the photographic image into my computer and hands, as an artist; and the subjective magic begins. Thus, by constructing a photograph, then deconstructing and reconstructing it using technology, I am enhancing the human experience of the objective scene and magnifying the natural art. The subjective enriches the objective. The camera and computer technology are my tools, much like the watercolors, or oils of the painter. See my web site for samples of my work.

But not everyone is convinced that what I do is art, because, they say, there is a machine (the computer) involved. However, if we take a look at history, we see that Claude Monet and Pierre August Renoir both used dabs and dashes to create many of their masterpieces. George Seurat came along and developed a system which reduced the dabs to dots. Paul Klee, in the 1930’s used a grid of muted colors; over which he painted a mosaic of shapes of 5 centimeters along one dimension; and then added what he called the linear elements. He likened each element of his paintings to a theme in polyphonic musical composition. Polyphony, he said, was “the simultaneity of several independent themes.” We could say that Klee actually created the first pixels, because that is what pixels allow us to do; they allow us to look, with great specificity and depth, at the reality behind the art. Then, using various computer tools, we can change that reality to suit our individual artistic expression.

But, is my effusive declaration, “Follow Your Bliss” enough to help you apply creative tools in your professional life?

I say it is. For, by nature, we are creative creatures. It is that creativity that facilitates our survival….in life, in business and in art. I took to my cutting-edge endeavor out of a desire to combine my skills and life-long interests. You can do the same.

Make two lists. The first contains those things that you have always had an interest in or wanted to do, but never got around to; the second contains those skills that you currently possess that have been your bread and butter.

Now, spend various pieces of time (it usually takes more than one) exploring how you can cross-match items between the two. Can you do the accounting for a belly-dancing society? Handle the interviewing and hiring for the rodeo? Volunteer to do marketing for a local theater company?

By combining your business skills with your avocational interests, you can pave the way for a transition to doing only the fun things, either as a vocation, or as a retirement interest. This method lets you test the waters before making a big break for something you’ve dreamed about, but perhaps may not actually like when you try it.

And you’ll discover other things that you hadn’t expected. This cross-match thinking will help you look at other situations from new perspectives and allow you to create solutions where none were occurring.

Copyright, 2011, H. Gay Allen

Guest Column: Top Ten Leadership Tips for Succeeding All Around

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

If the past year didn’t work out exactly as planned, you’ll be happy to know that you can still make things right. Here are some tips to help you succeed all around.

    1. Move forward by looking backwards-Have you been successful because of your leadership or in spite of it? I’ve watched time and time again, companies and leaders succeed in spite of poor management skills. Now imagine the levels of success they could have achieved if those who were in charge had great leadership skills? Or even good leadership skills. Gather feedback about your management style and adjust accordingly.

    2. Lead by example-Behave, as you would want your employees to behave, but also understand that your role is different from that of your employees.

    3. Surround yourself with the right people-Hire for fit, train for skill and if the opportunity presents itself, hire people who are better than you. Be prepared for the arrival of new hires so they immediately feel connected to the organization.

    4. Stop the blame game-It’s always someone or something that is at fault. But in the end, the buck stops with you. Sure, you may not have inherited a stellar team, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for mediocrity. You have the power to inspire people to exceed expectations. You also have the power to release people who aren’t making the grade. What you don’t get to do is blame everyone else for your team’s failure to perform.

    5. Cut your losses early-Mismatches happen, no matter how good you are at interviewing. Take action quickly to avoid having the rest of the team distracted by a poor hire.

    6. Invest in yourself and your people-Can you name one organization that has cut their way to exceptional customer service? I can’t. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is. If your firm prides itself on customer service then invest in more people to reduce the wait times, especially during peak calling hours. And while you are at it, give your employees the tools and training they need to provide exceptional service.

    7. Build on Strengths-Everyone focuses on improving weaknesses. You can distinguish yourself by paying particular attention to areas of strength, as this is where you’ll receive the most return for your investment.

    8. It’s better to be respected than loved
    -As human beings, we have a natural tendency to want to be loved. But what happens when your desire to be loved interferes with your ability to lead? Effective leaders recognize it is more important to be respected by their people than adored. They make the tough decisions that are needed to secure the future of those around them, including their direct reports.

    9. Your success depends on the success of others-To succeed as a manager, you will need to shift your focus from “me” to “we.” Going forward, your success will no longer be measured by your individual contribution. Instead, you will be evaluated on your ability to create and maintain a highly engaged team that is willing to give it their all.

    10. Find a coach or a mentor-You are ultimately responsible for your own success. If you are lucky, you may get approval to attend a training session this year. It’s a start, however training isn’t going to ultimately get you where you want to go. Find a coach or a mentor who can swiftly guide you through the landmines that exist in every organization.

© 2011 Human Resource Solutions. All rights reserved.

Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions ( and author of the highly acclaimed book Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta’s monthly newsletter, HR Matters.