Expert’s Corner: The Dyana Discussion

Dyana Valentine, self described Speaker, Group Wrangler and Functional Muse, will be presenting at this year’s HOW and InHOWse conferences. Below are some of her insights and responses to the HOW Expert’s Corner queries.

What factor plays a bigger role in a new project – lack of time or a small budget?

I see a lot of folks enter a new project with the outcome in mind, but not the availability mindset/perspective to take it on and make it happen without big adjustments or after-the-decision drama.  I think this falls in the lack-of-consideration-for-time category. For most seasoned teams and creatives, there is certainly the experience to determine the impact of a project, but often the outcome (e.g., new revenue stream, creative inspiration, organizational goals) is the decision-maker, not the impact it will have on other workflow.

Do you have a pet project – a side business or a charity to which you donate time or services?

I’m on the board of two great non-profit organizations and volunteer at a local after school reading and writing program. I found that after years of being of a certain kind of service, to clients and students, I felt drawn to be of service to a larger effort or cause. I participated in fundraisers here and there, tithed my income in multiple directions, but it wasn’t satisfying. I wanted to be part of something, be more involved. So, when I was invited to join two working boards, I made the time and am so deeply fulfilled by the action. It feeds my creative service hunger!

What does Chicago bring to mind? What do you plan to do while you’re there?

I’m committing myself to soaking in the multiple Design Week conferences and with five speaking gigs during the week, I’m not sure I’ll get out of the hotel much. I am open to adventures and invitations, thoughJ. One of the biggest treasures of being in a group of self-selected, like-minded creative folks is that we create on the spot collaborations (including play time!). For SURE, I’ll be joining a morning walk crew every day of the conference, so keep your eye on the twitter feed for meeting times.

Can you tell us a little more about your Conference topic? What personal or professional experiences led you to this topic?

For HOW: Well, to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t talk my way out of a paper bag during the first few years of my business. I would stutter and ramble when someone asked me “What do you do?” I saw many of my clients do the same thing—it was painful to watch. I got so frustrated always changing what I said, trying to read other people’s minds (what would sound good to them? What might they want to pay me for?)—it was totally exhausting and rarely went well. I started to do mini workshops with clients and teams on how they talk their walk. It started out as a tutorial on presentation skills—but really, when it got down to it, everyone (and I mean every one of my clients) needed help translating what they were really good at into conversational language that they could use to introduce themselves, sell their services/products and to cultivate compelling marketing language. So, over three years and 500+ clients later, Pitch Perfect™ was born! See you there.

For InHOWse: I’m going to be helping inHOWies work the network at the conference this year. For years, I spoke at conferences and watched folks sit with people they knew, chose the same seats day after day and I thought: Look Around! You have the opportunity to expand your network, your mind and your creative practice—just by getting up and saying HI. Now, I realize not everyone is as social as I am, nor are they necessarily at a conference to “meet new people.” But I do believe that we are showing up for our careers and ourselves, and that we could all use a little playtime and creative collaboration. So, I’m creating some fun games (for the extro and introverts) to get folks interacting.

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