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Whether you are a professional creative or a for-fun creative, there are days when you feel as though you’ve exhausted all inspiration around you. No amount of brainstorming and doodling excites you to pursue your creative field. Fear not! You are not any less creative because you’ve hit a minor slump – it happens to the best of us. What you might need is a healthy dose of offbeat inspiration.

IN NATURE

Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? Either way, try to find inspiration from nature. Observe the way that the animals move, the sound of the trees rustling, or how the sunlight is reflected off of various surfaces. Could these natural occurrences be incorporated and translated into your latest project? We may often forget, living in a concrete jungle, but we live in sync with the nature around us. Take a cue from the original creative, Mother Earth!

IN OPPOSITE INTERESTS

Do you have a finely curated following on your social media of people who inspire you? Are they the top executives and directors in your field of interest? Branch out and let people from different fields become an inspiration. Sure, entrepreneurs will benefit from listening to TED Talks from other well-established innovators before them. However, seeking stimulation from outside sources may teach a valuable lesson and add a different angle to your project.

Finding inspiration itself shouldn’t be the hardest part. There is so much that we can learn and absorb from everything around us! However, we need to approach it with an open mind and a desire to be inspired.

 

HOW TO

Coffee at meetings is an industry no-brainer by now, but there are some days when even your third cup of joe can’t keep you awake. There are no immediate, magical cures, but try the following practices for your next meeting

If you’re attending the meeting…

Take active notes

Remember this age-old practice? Although it may not seem like it, note taking is a “physical” activity that uses your muscles and keeps your brain stimulated! Pro tip: try the original pen and paper method. It’s less distracting and more awakening than a computer.

Start talking

We don’t suggest chitchatting to your neighbor during the meeting, but we do encourage participation and collaborative discussion. Talking will switch your brain out of the slump mode and back to work. Plus, now you can’t zone out and fall asleep!

If you’re planning the meeting…

Think about the environment

Hosting a meeting in a sunny, yet cool environment will deter your attendees from nodding off during your presentation. Also, try and avoid long meetings during the hours of 2 PM – 4 PM when your co-workers are feeling that post-lunch fatigue.

Schedule in a stretch time

Even if it’s for a minute, forcing your participants to get up and stretch will wake up the snoozers and provide everyone a quick pick-me-up. Feeling adventurous? Shake out the stress by making silly noises! Everyone will have a good laugh, guaranteed.

Lastly, if you know that you have a long meeting day ahead of you, get some more sleep the night before. There is no healthier cure than a good night’s rest.

offsite_focus_groups

Focus groups have been an age-old practice in the marketing industry since its inception in the 1940s. With the evolution of technology, it has become tremendously efficient and easy to collect consumer feedback. However, a traditional focus group meeting can provide much more information than online surveys and questionnaires could ever reveal. Read ahead for valuable reasons why off-site focus groups matter.

Reactions don’t lie

Hosting a focus group in person will allow the facilitators to learn the consumers’ primary reactions rather than their well-thought out, complete sentence feedback survey. Their non-verbal reactions can reveal how the consumers truly feel about the product. Are they saying one opinion, but are their faces expressing another? How did they react when you first presented your product or idea? Gathering honest, constructive feedbacks from focus groups will not only benefit the future of your product, but also save your company money in the long run.

Engage consumers with one another

A focus group is not an individual activity! So, make use of an offsite meeting space to facilitate and connect the members of the group. Creating a conversation around a topic of interest can spark new ideas, which can be informative and useful for future productions. A dynamic group setting can take the edge off the awkwardness to produce genuine discussions and high quality control.

Comfortable environment

An offsite location for your focus group presents a more welcoming environment as opposed to the stark walls and one-sided mirror of an office. Participants of the focus group should feel comfortable so that they can share their opinions and give feedback freely. While the office setting might give off interrogation vibes, an offsite meeting will ease everyone’s nerves and create a conversation rather than a Q&A.

Spring images

The temperature is consistently over sixty degrees. The sun is still shining past 7 PM. The fountains are flowing with water. Spring has finally sprung in New York City! Everybody is itching to be outside and forget about the grueling winter that never seemed to end. As we welcome a new a season, let’s take a look at five ways to reboot your creativity.

 

GO OUTSIDE

Now is the time to enjoy the beautiful weather. Forget those puffy jackets and snow crushing boots. Instead take a book or a sketchpad, and sit outside for a moment to observe what is happening around you. Maybe someone or something will inspire you in an unexpected way!

 

BE ADVENTUROUS

Do you have a bucket list of things you want to do, but have not been able to? New experiences can provide you with new perspectives. Whether it is rock climbing or trying out an unfamiliar recipe at home, be adventurous and immerse yourself.

 

REORGANIZE YOUR SPACE

Spring-cleaning is in full action and it’s time to dust off the winter blues. Reorganizing your space will not only enhance the feng shui of your space, but also change the way that you perceive your environment. Seeing with fresh eyes can influence innovative ideas.

 

POWER DOWN FOR AN HOUR

We are constantly stimulated and endlessly connected to everything around us at our fingertips. How about powering down all the technologies for an hour and enjoying the time to yourself? Let your mind, not your iPhone, do all the thinking.

 

SWITCH UP THE MEETING SPACE

Just because it’s a “boardroom” it doesn’t have to make you bored. Offsite meetings can boost your creativity and seeing ideas in a new setting can influence you positively. There’s plenty of sunshine and white walls for brainstorming here at SoHoSoleil!

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SoHoSoleil curates meeting spaces to elicit the most creativity possible. By focusing on feng shui that spurs innovative thinking, SoHoSoleil has carefully crafted the ideal workspace in each of our lofts. Take a look at some of the key choices we focus on when designing a meeting space to cultivate creative thinking:

1. Décor choice
For a clear and focused mind, work in a clean and uncluttered space. Does that decorative vase enhance the elegant feel of the room? Perhaps. Does it have any use or relation to the meeting? Probably not. Remove anything you do not need and keep to minimalistic décor.

2. Color Choice
The meeting room should be composed of mostly shades of white. Go crazy; you can go from “egg shell” all the way to “cream”! Pastel colors are also acceptable as both these color pallets elicit a simple and fresh vibe. Bright colors can be added to this unassuming color base through accent pieces such as vibrant pillows.

3. Art Choice
Unique art placed around the space will enhance the creative factor in the room and boost inspiration. The art, however, should be kept to a minimum; the room still needs to retain a sleek, clean feeling in order to enhance focus.

4. Door choice
To stimulate an open mind, make sure your workspace is open. This means keeping doors open, hallways clear, and making sure passageways in general are not blocked.

5. Nature choice
Try to incorporate elements of nature into your meeting space. This can take the form of a few potted plants around the room or simply leaving the shades up on your windows and letting lots of natural light shower the space.

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Rachel Soleil, lifestyle curator and concierge, shares 10 favorite places in SoHo:

APOTHEKE 9 Doyers Street #1

Take a stroll down one of New York’s most hidden streets. Behind a beat up façade and inside a former opium den, you’ll find an apothecary-themed cocktail bar. Apotheke’s carte du jour is divided into categories such as Health and Beauty, Stress Relievers, Pain Killers, Stimulants, and Aphrodisiacs.

GREECOLOGIES 379 Broome Street

Greecologies, a Greek Yogurt Bar in NoLita, crafts traditional homemade Greek yogurt the old fashioned way: on-site using locally sourced grass-fed milk. With a variety of unique topping options such as carrot, sour cherry, rose petal, and bergamot, there’s something for every palate.

PAPA POULE 189 Lafayette Street

At this très bon rotisserie chicken restaurant, you can eat in, take-out or have food delivered. Papa Poule’s menu has full, half, and quarter birds with side sauces of grébiche, béarnaise, barbecue, honey mustard, jerk, chimichurri, and aioli.

BAZ BAGEL 181 Grand Street

This Grand Street diner exudes a cool Floridian vibe. Take a seat at Baz’s counter for, bagels rolled by hand, smoked fish, and matzoh ball soup, just what the Jewish doctor ordered!

SUNS TEA SHOP 70 Bayard Street

Whether you’re a consummate tea drinker or curious about the intricacies of Chinese and Japanese herbs and teas, Sun’s Organic Tea Shop is the place to go. It’s difficult to find a retailer in Manhattan with as vast a selection as the proprietor Lorna Lai!

MIN NY 117 Crosby Street

On cobblestone-clad Crosby Street, you’ll find MiN NY, one of the world’s only bespoke perfumeries and apothecaries. Come in for a one-on-one consultation and design your own signature scent.

AMERICAN TWO SHOT 135 Grand Street

American Two Shot is part boutique, part gallery, part café. It caters to the city’s 20 and 30 somethings who appreciate a carefully edited selection of perfumes, vintage clothing, greeting cards, and an authentic Nicaraguan Flat White.

THE SHIP 158 Lafayette Street

To get to the The Ship, you’ll travel through an unassuming doorway and descend a flight of steps leading to a sexy little underground cocktail den.

DIMES 49 Canal Street

At this new micro eatery you can fill up on your share of splendid acai bowls, life changing salads, and unexpectedly delicious BLT’s, all with a side of fashionably attractive patrons that make for killer people watching.

MICHELE VARIAN 27 Howard Street

Tucked away on cozy Howard Street, Michele Varian is home to an adorable gift shop with antiquated jewels, hand-sewn pillows, and whimsical animal art. This is the perfect stop if you’re looking to bring home either an original piece or an eclectic collector’s item.

Lifestyle Curator and native New Yorker, Rachel Soleil has her finger on the pulse of city. Her background as a managing hotel concierge and as a consummate foodie has given her the where with all to get any job done.

http://www.rachelsoleil.com

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Meetings have a strong potential to be stressful, there’s no denying it. The event, however, does not have to cause you to lay awake at night hoping you calculated the correct ratio of mini quiches to meeting attendees. Follow this cheat sheet for pre, during, and post meeting planning tips to make your next meeting a breeze.

P R E

Setting
Select a venue for your meeting that epitomizes what you are hoping to achieve. Wanting to create new ideas? Select a creative and unique site. Looking to cultivate some stimulating discussion amongst employees? Opt for a space that encourages openness, such as a large room with plenty of natural light.

Grub
The lunch break can be like a breath of fresh air after hours of meeting and as such, food expectations can be set high. Try to reflect that “breath of fresh air” in the catering choices, opting for healthy foods instead of greasy meals. Healthier dishes will keep meeting attendees energized and focused, helping them to resist the common lethargic afternoon haze. Don’t forget to order plenty of water and coffee! Especially coffee. Definitely go heavy on the coffee.

D U R I N G

Content
Create a detailed agenda of the meeting that includes times of each session, topics, and who is speaking. This agenda will help employees to stay focused and will put some pressure on meeting facilitators to stick to the times allotted. This way the meeting is more likely to stay on track and to end on time, something everyone can appreciate.

Provisions
During the meeting, you should have every piece of supplies that you could possibly need ready to go. That includes post it notes, markers, pens, blue tac, poster paper, flip charts, easels, tape, etc. As the brainstorming gets more and more intense, it is inevitable that the need to post things all over the walls, doors, windows, you name it, will also increase.

Tech
Make sure to have at your meeting site: laptop, speakers, mac adaptor, and projector. That mac adaptor may seem small and insignificant, but it is often the most talked about piece of equipment; the phrases “does anyone have a mac adaptor?”, “where is the mac adaptor?”, and “someone get me a mac adaptor” are constants in the meeting room.

P O S T

Enjoyment
This is easy to forget because, hey, you just planned the entire meeting, why go past the closing remarks? Post meeting get-togethers, however, offer prime employee bonding time. After the meeting, going out for drinks or for dinner can be a great way to decompress after a long day as well as to interact with coworkers outside of the meeting environment. Sometimes the content of the post-meeting conversations can be just as beneficial as the discussions in the meeting itself.

SoHoSoleil is happy to welcome Lauren McGeough from Deb’s Catering as our newest guest blogger! Deb’s Catering is one of New York’s most creative (and delicious) catering options for meetings and events. Check out what happens behind the scenes at this full-service catering company!  

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After the Deb’s sales team weaves its magic – creating that perfect menu and capturing the tiniest event details for you, the operations department swoops in … it’s execution time! We’re the team that oversees the achievement of each catering order – handling the behind the scenes ins and outs that help bring each invoice to its delicious, perfectly plated fruition. There’s a lot of paperwork to be done (menus and ingredient lists and schedules, oh my! …fresh bread orders and paper goods, too!), last minute orders to turnaround tout de suite, exotic ingredients to track down, and New York City traffic delays to circumnavigate! We’re reviewing each order to be sure nothing is overlooked – that every fine detail is captured – every wish granted. We take great care to make sure Deb’s delivers “big city homemade” food to your table.

Deb’s vendors play a big part in the big city homemade flavor you enjoy!  Deb’s has gone to great lengths to find and pair with vendors who provide quality – flavor abounds! Those ‘Between the Bread’ rolls and breads are baked and delivered fresh each morning by Hudson Bread. You can smell the love and warmth as they are freshly sliced! Then there are the delectable pastries, croissants, mini bagels, and muffins that accompany each continental breakfast, delivered fresh each morning from CeciCela and Featherstone Bakery. And who can forget those sinful desserts from vendors like Margaret Palca Bakes, Randa Bakery, Treat and Sweet, Zarris, Chris’ Cookies, Carousel Cakes, and Sweet Sam’s Settepani, that end each meal on a such sweet note! 

I can’t say enough about the Deb’s delivery staff, who never fail to impress me; they’re true professionals (timely, courteous, veritable set-up artists). A well-honed machine (with Hector at the helm), they navigate New York City streets (oblivious to inclement weather conditions and grid lock) and negotiate building security and freight elevators like ninjas in Deb’s gear.  They steal through this City with grace and ease, Deb’s catering bags and boxes in tow, to ensure that each order gets to its location on time. And it doesn’t end there, these men are masters at the art of presentation. Each plate, urn, carafe, chafing dish, utensil arranged just so! It really is bewitching to watch! The only thing more magical is the big city homemade feast they leave behind….

Image by Andrés Nieto Porras from Palma de Mallorca, España (En el SOHO Uploaded by russavia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Image by Andrés Nieto Porras from Palma de Mallorca, España (En el SOHO Uploaded by russavia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
After hours of planning and preparing, the meeting is finished and was a resounding success. It’s time to celebrate the accomplishment and relax with your coworkers after the big off-site. Lucky for you, SoHoSoleil is located in the heart of New York City’s trendy SoHo neighborhood, i.e. there is no shortage of options for exciting places to go after the meeting. Here are some of the best nearby spots to celebrate after an off-site meeting at SoHoSoleil:

–   Hotel on Rivington
With both a Mexican tequila bar and a premiere restaurant, the Hotel on Rivington is a client favorite for post-meeting celebrations. A 15 minute walk from SoHoSoleil, the tequila bar, named Viktor and Spoils, is known for unique cocktails. The fashionable environment makes the bar a chic after work spot. The restaurant, named Co-op Food and Drink, is known for its locally sourced cuisine. Patrons are encouraged to share dishes and to eat family-style, making the restaurant a fun place to go with a large group after a meeting.

–   Balthazar
Balthazar is a classic and should definitely be experienced on at least one SoHo excursion. The upscale restaurant, located just down the block from SoHoSoleil, is famous for its delicious French food. Although be warned, this brasserie fills up and it can be difficult to get a table, especially with a large group. Reservations are a must.

–   Momofuku Milk bar
Want a little celebration but don’t have time to go to a restaurant or a bar? Head over to the Momofuku Milk Bar counter for some unique desserts. The SoHo counter just opened this past September and sells treats such as cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies and soft serve cereal milk ice cream; as you can tell, cereal is a common ingredient in the desserts. For adventurous and one-of-a-kind treats just five minutes from SoHoSoleil, Momofuku Milk Bar is the best option.

–   Fanelli’s
For an all around casual and inexpensive meal or drink, try out Fanelli’s. A SoHo favorite, the low-key bar has been serving up burgers and beer since 1922. The bar operated as a speakeasy during the Prohibition era but now the neighborhood classic is hardly a secret.

–    The Mercer Kitchen
For a trendy and very SoHo-esque restaurant, opt for The Mercer Kitchen. Downstairs there is an open kitchen and a communal table layout, establishing a unique dining experience in a sophisticated setting. Upstairs you can find a sleek bar serving specialty cocktails. Take the ten minute walk from SoHoSoleil and you will find the restaurant has classic dishes in addition to unique and creative concoctions.

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It is pretty incredible just how un-necessary it has become to physically meet with others. You can host a conference call with participants stationed in varying countries, you can partake in an interview while lounging on your living room couch, you can even interact with your dog in your kitchen while sitting at your office desk. It’s amazing. The question is, however, should we reject seemingly unfashionable face-to-face interactions? Should we follow the transgression of technology to overcome the meeting place and rely on webcams and online platforms? We argue no. The benefits of in-person meetings simply cannot be beat, even with a fancy HD video camera and impressive high-powered speakers. Check out some of the benefits of in-person meetings and determine for yourself whether a webcam can compare to physical interactions.

Connecting beyond a shared login

Meeting in person causes your discussion partners to appear like the living, breathing individuals they are, rather than just a voice or a head bobbing on the screen in front of you. Before and after a meeting are prime opportunities to get to know co-workers, inducing a sense of trust and community amongst meeting participants.

Building more than Skype minutes

Although your computer may be heating up after an hour of Skyping into a meeting, odds are your ideas are not. Meeting in-person allows for enthusiasm between employees to build. Ideas can be bounced back and forth, creating an exciting and lucrative dynamic.

Response time faster than a G-chat

When you meet all together in the same room, there are no delays between questions and answers, there is no freezing or static, there is no 20-minute wait period between emails. Meeting in-person makes for a much more efficient meeting. Ideas are shared, input is given, people can jump in and out of the conversation as they like, and then, the meeting is promptly over.

Noticing more than the percent of your laptop’s battery

With an in-person meeting, you have the ability to notice whether people are engaged in the meeting through their posture and their gaze. You can also gleam whether a topic is being beaten to death by the amount of yawns circulating around the room. In-person meetings allow for regular, unobtrusive opportunities to check the consensus of participants.

 

 

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