serviam reviews

A couple of reviews regarding the last issue of Serviam for Ursuline Academy.

"This publication has been very well received - Bravo!" (Patrice Howard, UA)

"This latest issue of Serviam magazine has been incredibly well received by our readers, especially the Ursuline alumnae, who count on Serviam to stay in touch with what is happening at their alma mater. The feedback has all been positive and has created an excitement about the school's new Strategic Plan. We enjoy working with Lisa because she really listens and pays attention to every detail which results in an excellent publication. Thanks Lisa!" (Barbara J.Lavalle, Director of Advancement)

serviam magazine

layout page 4
I am really excited about one project that is making its way to the Ursuline Academy community now — the Serviam Magazine. Another makeover was called for, and my focus was to create a clean design which continued make use of color but did not hamper the readability of the magazine. (Pictured at right, page 4)

When creating a design, it’s important to create a good structure with repetitive elements. I chose a 3 column setup and used rounded green (PMS 625) boxes which bled off the bottom of the page on the left hand pages and off the top of the page on the right hand pages. Lowercase headers were used to introduce new sections; on left hand pages the headers were set above the rounded
page 20
box and on the right hand pages were set over the box. The headers were generally set in an opaque tint of the main color.

Inconsistency creates chaos, but too much consistency creates boredom. At some point you have to break the mold a bit — or altogether — so I chose my change-ups carefully. For example, on page 20 (pictured at right), the color scheme became a gold box with some purple text, fitting for a page on spirituality, but in keeping with the basic formula. When reviewing my photographs ( for shots of spirituality, Patrice Howard ’04, UA’s Director of Communications, decided to write an article on Liturgical Dance, an aspect of spirituality that had not been strongly featured before.

page 21
For page 21(pictured at right), we chose to highlight UA’s drama club using Dan Busler’s excellent photography ( Dan takes amazing performance shots and he gladly supplied us with photos he took at two UA plays. I chose a simple red curtain for the background from, made the box on the right a transparent black, and used yellow text which brightened the page and also complemented the yellow tones in some of Dan’s photographs.

On pages 15, 18, and 22, I dramatically altered the formula or dispensed with it altogether. On page 15, using a backdrop of the famous UA rhododendrons, I created a straight-forward collage of photos shot by Patrice (who took the Serviam cover shot) and myself. After discussing the layout a few times,we went with a full color back and simple white frames around the pictures. Other info on the page echoes elements found throughout the magazine.

Page 18 retains some of the elements from other pages, the round photo bleeding off to the left, the intro header, a pull quote, but we added a light yellow back and brought in a touch of other colors in the header and subhead. In addition to those brick and blue colors just looking right, they are also similar to the colors of the Haitian flag, apropos for an article on service in Haiti.

Patrice wanted a travel picture collage for the trip to Washington D.C., and the focus was on fun. I dispensed with the standard layout altogether. There were so many cool photos, shot by Patrice, from which to choose. I settled on six and set them in frames to give them a Polaroid feel. Handwritten text beneath the photos, a bit of a sassy attitude, a touch of stars on the background photo, and stripes for the main text completed the look. The page was built in Photoshop and imported into the layout program.

Pages 15, 18, and 22 are pictured below.

page 15
page 18
page 22

The Serviam Magazine is 28 pages, and it includes an extra 12 page Strategic Plan with its own cover shot. The cover shot is one of my best and a personal favorite. (Pictured at right.)

While it looked great in its original state, it did require a little alteration to suit the requirements for the cover. More on that “magic” another time. For the strategic plan, we wanted to use a layout to differentiate it from the magazine, but the colors and design elements utilized in the plan “recall” those elements found in the magazine, which results in a more smooth, less jarring, transition.


procrastination nation

If you have difficulty accomplishing important tasks, and you complete projects at the last possible minute or miss deadline after deadline, small changes can get the job done.

Having trouble getting things done? A study on procrastination by Dr. Piers Steel at the University of Calgary showed that a whopping 95 percent of us procrastinate occasionally and 20% procrastinate consistently. Steel has studied procrastination for a decade or more and believes we procrastinate because we are “hard-wired” to “value pleasures today more than pleasures tomorrow.” Whatever the cause, here’s what you can do about it.

Identify the source of your procrastination. Are you afraid you’ll blow a project, so you put it off until the last minute, congratulate yourself on a job done well, but think you could have done even better with more time? Do you feel that your work is never good enough for you? Are you afraid of success? Do you tend to value the short-term payoff versus the long-term reward? Do you lack a set routine or the energy to meet your goals? Understanding why we put things off allows us to begin to make a change.

Identify how you procrastinate. Some people ignore a task, hoping it will go away, especially if is intimidating. Others over- or under-estimate the amount of time a project might take. Do you substitute a less important task for the task at hand? Take the endless break? Do you get stalled on one task of a project, which leaves less time for other, equally important tasks? Do you just not know where to start? When you are aware of how you procrastinate, you can better control that behavior.

Create a productive environment. Set up a space that’s conducive to work, but do not get caught up in spending time making the workplace “perfect.” Your workplace should be low on distractions. Limit your time on e-mail and surfing the web, two of the largest modern time wasters. Do your most important work when you are at your best. Some people get more done early in the morning. Others might do their best work mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Before you quit for the day, plan a to-do list for the important items that need attention the next day. Then you’ll start with a plan in the morning.

Challenge your excuses. If you only have an hour, you can still complete a few small tasks for a project, or some piece of a larger task. Waiting for research? Ask yourself if you have enough information to make a start on a project, and then research further if necessary. While it’s nice to have a tidy office, cleaning often becomes a means of procrastination rather than preparation for more important projects. If all you need is your brain, a pen and paper, or computer, and those are at hand, get started.

Take small steps. Break projects into activities, activities into smaller tasks. For example, if you need to put together marketing materials, an initial activity might be to hire a designer. That can, in turn, be broken down into tasks such as: call three associates and ask for a reference, spend no more than one hour online searching for designers, call three designers, set up meetings, etc. Then decide what tasks you will put on today’s to-do list. Each task you cross off your to-do list brings you one step closer to the final result.

Set mini-deadlines for yourself. If you are used to the agony and thrill of getting something done at the last minute, set mini-deadlines for yourself. If a project is due in four weeks, set deadlines for project tasks throughout that time period.

Eliminate Distractions. Turn your e-mail notifications off. This way the ping of new e-mails won’t lure you in to checking “one” e-mail, then cleaning out your e-mail box, or surfing the web. When you need to focus, turn your cell phone off and catch up on voice mail at scheduled times. Don’t allow yourself to go off on tangents. Keep some paper to jot down any “things I need to do” that could pop into your head so you can quickly return your focus to the job at hand.

While you may never be completely cured of procrastination, you might be amazed at how much more you get accomplished with a few small changes in the way you work.

© for Smart Business Matters

demanding, but fair

I write for a business newsletter, Smart Business Matters, about all things business. That, in addition to years in the business world, made me even more attune to the leadership “buzz word” that came up time and again when coworkers spoke about Walter Cronkite. I couldn’t help but think, as I listened to commentary on Walter Cronkite, how much I had taken for granted growing up with him on the nightly news, telling us the way things were. I knew he was a great newsman, and I certainly shared his enthusiasm for space travel. Glued to that TV set, I was, when the Eagle landed 40 years ago.

But this weekend I came to realize more fully what a real impact he had on the television news industry and how fine his leadership skills must have been. As Morley Safer put it, Cronkite was “Demanding, but fair.” Since the above mentioned newsletter has a little bit of an international subscription, it wasn’t the best place for the article I wrote this weekend, so I thought I’d post it here instead.

Demanding, but fair. How many times have you heard that phrase uttered, often with a note of respect and pride, by employees about their bosses? Wouldn’t it be great if more employees had that type of leadership? Every manager can take a few leadership cures from “Uncle Walter” who has been referred to often as “the most trusted man in America.”

Leaders are passionate about their work. First and foremost, Cronkite was passionate about his work, and he never lost site of the fact that his work was, as it has been said countless times by many, to report the news, not be the news. Leaders love what they do and are driven to learn how to do it better. Their love for the job often shows in their work ethic and in the standards they set for themselves and others.

Leaders are team players. Cronkite managed and led a team of field reporters who respected him because he supported them. He has been referred to as “a reporter’s best friend” by newswoman Katie Couric. He never forgot what efforts others had to go through to get the news “right, fast, and first.” Leaders guide and support their team, knowledgeable about what hurdles their team has to face to get the job done and helpful in clearing those hurdles.

Leaders communicate. Cronkite set the standards for television news and his field reporters knew what those standards were. He demanded the best, but was quick to heap praise when his correspondents delivered. Newswoman Lesley Stahl said, “We wanted to please Walter. When he was happy, we were happy. When he was unhappy, we heard it.” Leaders communicate their standards to their team, challenging themselves and their team to do better. They let their team know when they’ve got it wrong, and praise, praise, praise, when their team gets it right.

Leaders set the tone. “A leader sets the tone,” said newsman Bob Schieffer. “And Walter always set the right tone. He set the right standards and set the right enthusiasm.” Leaders who are focused on the next task and goal, always striving to improve, approach their work with enthusiasm, communicate their standards, support their staff, and create a cooperative work environment which provides a model for everyone else to emulate.

Leaders listen and question. Cronkite listened to everyone, from Presidents to the people, and was determined to get first-hand information. He always had another question about the information he received in an effort to better understand the news, and often revised his delivery to accommodate last minute updates. Leaders listen to what others tell them, weigh the information they receive carefully and ask questions, and often implement the recommendations of others to improve themselves and the quality of their work.

Leaders take on new challenges. Walter Cronkite became a television reporter at a time when television reporters were considered “showy” and inferior to radio and print reporters. He was able to get in on the ground floor of an industry and shape that industry for the better. Leaders look past the conventions of the day, see opportunities where others see limitations, and move forward to embrace new challenges and technologies.

Leaders never lose their sense of humility and humor. As serious as he was about his work, those that knew him spoke often of his humble nature and sense of humor. Speaking of his first time behind the camera, Cronkite once said, “I just fell into whatever I do naturally. I never took any elocution lessons, no diction lessons. I might have been a pretty decent broadcaster if I had. But what you see, I’m afraid, is what you get.”

What the world saw and what the world got was pretty darned good, wouldn’t you say?

color of the year: mimosa

Pantone, an authority on color and the primary provider of professional color standards for the design industries, has selected a warm yellow–”Mimosa”–as color of the year for 2009.

The color was chosen for its expression of hope and reassurance in a time of uncertainty. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, spoke of the color yellow’s reflection of the “nurturing quality of the sun.” Yellow is the color of “enlightenment” and Mimosa is expected to be a “hue that sparks imagination and innovation.”

Mimosa, and any yellow in general, is an attention getter, and it pairs well with any other color. It appeals to men and women and to people of all ages.

A yellow background for brochures, newsletters, and flyers will be sure to attract attention to your marketing piece. Yellow can also be a great accent color for logos and marketing material. If used well, yellow might be the perfect accent color to freshen up your marketing materials, signage, and website.

We can all use a little hope and cheer this year, and yellow may be just the trick; expect this popular color to crop up often in design and fashion in 2009 and 2010.

Need to freshen up your marketing materials? Start here!