The Value Creators Podcast Episode #25. Jacqueline Porter on The Power of Visual Design

Visual design is an important element in value creation, especially in telling a brand’s or a business’s story in a way that engages with customers and communicates shared values. Visual designers are multi-talented artists and storytellers with an acute understanding of customers and their emotional responses to visual cues. Our guest this week is Jacqueline Porter, an accomplished professional in her field and a very successful business owner in her own right.

We explored the business of design and creativity from the challenges within design education, and the drawbacks of rigid design frameworks and the value of subjective, creative approaches. A notable reference to a transitional figure in design Steve Jobs shows how simplicity and creativity – rules and no-rules – can work together.

The conversation moves to the realm of implementation in branding, exploring the delicate and shifting balance between fixed and flexible elements. Jacqueline advocates for constant evolution, telling a story with a dynamic interplay between exploration and exploitation for sustained success. Consistency is achieved with creativity, empathy, and adaptability.



0:00 | Intro

02:28 | Jacqueline’s Defines Visual Design: Inclusions, Exclusions and Importance

03:54 | Nike Example: What Represents a Good Design?

05:32 | Jacqueline on Branding: Advertising’s Impact

06:54 | Professional Approach: Visual and Wood Synergy in Business

09:28 | Clients Don’t Know What They Want: Process VS magic

11:02 | Lum Spirits Story

15:51 | Color Palette: First Step for Visual Representation of Lum Brand

20:09 | Visual Design Mastery: Empathy, Psychology and Branding

21:23 | History of Rules VS No Rules

22:54 | Newtonian Economic Thinking and Bauhaus Analogies

24:42 | Steve Jobs Simplicity is a Transitional Example

26:27 | Designer Examples: Getting Outside of the Box

29:05 | Crack is Wack

32:22 | Implementation of Design

34:50 | Wrap Up: Fixed and Flexible Idea

Knowledge Capsule:

We can all think of excellent elements of great visual design:

  • They become an important part of our lives, our thinking, and our engagement with the world.
  • Jacqueline chose the Nike swoosh to illustrate.

Subjectivity in Design:

  • Design is a field where the subjectivism we advocate in value creation is uniquely valuable.
  • Every customer will respond personally and idiosyncratically to visual design stimulus. It will mean something different to different people.
  • Understanding the psychology of subjective value is a skill for designers.
  • Breaking traditional rules can generate more acute emotional responses..

There was a 20th century movement to make design obey objective rules: “good design”.

  • Bauhaus is associated with the “good design” concept, with prescriptive rules about function, simplicity and order.
  • When these rules were taught in design schools, it raised concerns about students becoming replaceable, like interchangeable parts, due to strict design boundaries.
  • New approaches like the Stanford D School approach left these rigidities behind, introducing the same empathic process for design as we use for value creation: understanding customer emotions, preferences and contexts comes first.

Steve Jobs as a Transitional Example:

  • Steve Jobs, despite being rules-oriented, broke conventions creatively.
  • Achieving simplicity in design while incorporating complexity in technology.

Examples of Breaking Design Rules:

  • David Carson’s defiance of good design ideals led to influential graphic design in Ray Gun.
  • Exploration of unconventional layouts, upside-down pages, layered typography, reflecting punk culture.

Great design can have huge social impact:

  • “Crack is Wack” : Keith Haring’s appeal from the heart about the crack cocaine epidemic..
  • The powerful impact of design in raising awareness and creating a call to action.

Empathy and Emotional Storytelling:

  • Hunter and Jacqueline discuss the recurring theme of empathy in effective design.
  • Emotional storytelling through research and understanding user experiences.
  • Jacqueline described the storytelling journey of Lum vodka seltzer from “illuminating the night” to “illuminating life” led to a major visual rebranding.

Brand Design and Implementation:

  • Discussion on the balance between fixed and flexible elements in branding.
  • The need for consistency in brand recognition while allowing for creative evolution.
  • Embracing constant change and evolution in design.
  • The balance between exploration and exploitation for sustained brand success.

Visual design parallels value creation in its leverage of creativity, rule-breaking, empathy, and constant evolution in the field of design and branding.

The Value Creators Episode #24. Amanda Goodall on The Power Of Expert Leaders

In our ongoing series investigating leadership in business – coming from the skeptical perspective of “Is there such a thing?” – we meet Amanda Goodall, a professor of leadership at Bayes Business School, City University of London, specializing in the influence of leaders and managers on performance, shares insights from her book “Credible: The Power of Expert Leaders.” 

She has a new perspective on business leadership. It’s not a general management function that can be taught in an MBA course. It can’t be learned from leadership courses. It can’t be implemented by management consulting firms. Leaders must first be experts in their field and the core business of the firm.

Amanda shares the importance of experts in providing a clearer sense of purpose and fostering a longer-term organizational perspective. The dialogue concludes with a call to establish expert-friendly environments, and emphasizes the removal of impediments to harness expertise for organizational success.


Knowledge Capsule:

Evolution of Management:

  • Amanda discusses the historical transition from individuals working their way up through the industry to the influence of Taylorism in the 1940s.
  • Taylorism introduced a hierarchical structure, separating workers from managers, marking a significant change in organizational dynamics.

Role of Business Schools – making leadership generic and generalized:

  • Highlighting the initial existence of business schools that provided specialized education tailored to specific industries.
  • Business schools transitioned towards offering more general degrees, such as MBAs, contributing to a generic approach to leadership and management.

Management Consulting Firms – promoters of generic leadership:

  • Management consulting firms became promoters of generic leadership principles, differing from business schools.
  • The irony is that these firms, despite promoting generic leadership, are led by individuals who are internal experts, having worked their way up within the organization.

Metrics Obsession and Bureaucracy:

  • Amanda emphasizes that metrics and measurements control more and more aspects of the business. Where non-experts don’t understand the core business, they use metrics for assessing performance.
  • This results in a metric-obsessed and bureaucratic approach, impairing decision-making processes.

Importance of Expert Leadership:

  • Expert leadership contributes to a clearer sense of purpose within organizations.
  • Expert leaders win the respect of those they work with, precisely because of their expertise, and create a more collaborative and collegial workplace.
  • Expert leaders are more likely to invest in research and development, contributing to a longer-term organizational perspective.

Creating Expert-Friendly Organizations:

  • Amanda emphasizes that expert-friendly organizations recognize and cater to the needs of core workers, valuing their expertise.
  • Expert-friendly organizations can remove unnecessary barriers to expert direction, such as excessive rules and bureaucracy, to create an expert-friendly work environment.

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #22 Cynthia Kay on Small Business, Big Success

We live in a video age, which opens up a vast array of entrepreneurial pathways. Video is a field for open-ended free creative expression, as well as for tightly managed business tools built for ROI. It’s the ideal field for creative entrepreneurial small business innovators. Cynthia Kay of CK and CO is both a business founder and CEO of a video production business, and a consultant and advisor to small businesses. She shared some of her insights and a preview of her 2024 book Small Business Big Success. 


CK’s business resources site:

Books you can buy now:

Cynthia Kay’s upcoming 2024 Book – Small Business, Big Success:

Knowledge Capsule:

Value Proposition:

  • Like any other entrepreneurial business, a video production business needs a compelling value proposition.
  • A value proposition is always about meeting customer needs – what need are they filling by paying for video production?
  • No matter how creative, video production must offer a customer value that exceeds perceived costs. It must make customers feel proud and fulfilled, and give them a sense of standing out from the crowd.
  • This often includes educating them on how to use a supplier’s services, e.g. the many different benefits and values available from one video shoot.

Operational Excellence:

  • High creativity does not in any way reduce the need for a video production business – or any small businesses –  to prioritise operational excellence.
  • Customer expectations of excellence are high, no matter the size of the supplier they choose.
  • CK advocates the use of top notch systems, procedures, and automation to enhance overall efficiency. Build the back room to be as strong and dependable as possible. Every business can deploy the best systems.
  • Owners must be in the operational trenches.

Return on Investment (ROI) Challenges:

  • Calculating  ROI in creative fields is a challenge – but must be done as part of the customer value proposition.
  • There’s such a thing as subjective calculation – e.g. recognizing the role of anecdotal evidence in demonstrating the value of creative services.
  • Focus ROI on the things that matter for customers.

Being the Best in Business:

  • Whatever business you are in, set out to be the best.
  • Making – and living up to – such a claim can be based on multifaceted performance.
  • Consider factors such as understanding client needs, building strong relationships, and optimising the utilisation of budgetary resources.
  • One of CK’s propositions is to be the best at getting the most of a client’s budget, whatever size it is. That’s an excellent “best” claim.

Small Business Success Strategies:

  • Pick your customers carefully – pick those who will love you and those you can grow with.
  • Commit to building relationships over time.
  • Build great teams that are right for the client, and turn them loose.

Supporting Small Businesses:

  • Cynthia Kay not only runs a small business,she plays a big role in helping others and in supporting small businesses in general.
  • She’s actively involved in associations and support groups, and urges other small businesses to do the same.
  • She gives her time to the facilitation of roundtable discussions, and offering advice on common challenges faced by small businesses, including scaling and team development. These kinds of discussions can yield enormous value for participants just by sharing experiences.
  • It’s good for small businesses to support other small businesses and build the business backbone of the neighbourhood, the town, the city, the state and the nation.

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #21. Forging New Relationships Between Entrepreneurs and Capital with LaSean Smith

LaSean Smith outlines a business investment partnership built on permanent capital, emphasizing long-term commitment and trust-building between an investor/source of capital and a business. The discussion covers disciplined methodologies, leadership transitions, and a unique compensation approach using Phantom Stock Shares. LaSean predicts a rise in smaller, values-based companies, and underscores the significance of audience and automation in acquiring and revitalizing brands. 

There can be a shift towards stable, smaller businesses connected to communities, challenging the trend of dominance by larger and larger corporations.

CAGR Investments:

Knowledge Capsule:

Permanent Capital Strategy:

  • There’s an investment strategy and a business strategy based permanent capital. It’s not widely used but has broad potential. It emphasizes the importance of long-term commitment by both the investor and the business. Short-term operational demands are entirely left to the business CEO.
  • LaSean Smith explains the advantages of having an investment structure that accommodates a longed shared journey, building a high degree of trust and confidence.

Operational Approach:

  • LaSean highlights a disciplined methodology to tighten business processes and leverage content-based marketing to assist companies. 
  • Small and mid-sized businesses often miss the great efficiencies available by automating processes. And they waste resources on direct sales and inappropriate marketing tactics.

Leadership Transition:

  • Permanent capital is a long-term investment; it works when there is a corresponding long-term commitment of current operators.
  • Some CEOs may want to avoid continuing in the business, especially in cases where technical founders find themselves dealing with aspects like sales and marketing, which they may not enjoy. Relieving them of that burden may extend their tenure.

Phantom Stock Shares:

  • Permanent capital embraces a unique approach to leadership compensation using Phantom Stock Shares – aligning incentives by granting bonus or dividend shares that compound in value until the leader leaves the company. This helps in providing a simple ownership structure and shared incentives without diluting ownership equity for the investor.

Cash Flow and Value Creation:

  • The conversation delves into the concept of cash flow and value creation, discussing how businesses can fade over time if not innovating. Lasean emphasizes the importance of adding technology and content marketing layers to ensure longevity.

Audience and Automation:

  • The concept of audience and automation is highlighted as a critical factor in the success of businesses, especially those acquiring old brands. Engaging content marketing towards a target audience allows for driving brands through existing supply chains, reducing customer acquisition costs.

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #20. Julie Kantor and Felice Ekelman on How To Thrive With A Hybrid Workplace

The nature of work has changed, so how we manage it must change, too.

As businesses barrel along into the fast-changing digital age, we find that the very nature of work has changed. The new name for the office or the factory is the hybrid workplace. Not only where we do work, but how we do work has changed, and how we synchronize work with each other has changed the most. For the firm, productivity is at risk. And all the standard approaches to business that we’ve been taught are outdated. Take management as an example. How do you manage a hybrid workplace and workforce. Our point of view at The Value Creators is that management is an old-fashioned concept we have to discard. We need something new. 

The Value Creators podcast hosted two of the best experts to address the challenges of the hybrid workplace, Julie Kantor and Felice Ekelman. They are co-authors of the book that will provide the background to our discussion today: Thrive With A Hybrid Workplace: Step-by-Step Guidance from the Experts.

Personal Websites:


0:00 | Intro

03:06 | Old System VS New System: Work-life Balance & Remote Work During the Pandemic

09:55 | Hybrid Work and Leadership in a Post-Pandemic World

14:02 | Hybrid Model: Nine to Five Model is Gone

16:42 | Hybrid Workplace: Seven Seas Framework

22:53 | Hybrid Policy: How Are We Managing Change?

24:50 | Culture of change: Importance of Face-to-Face Connection

28:07 | Communication, Collaboration, and Leadership in a Hybrid Work Environment

34:46 | Coaching as a Fundamental Part of the Hybrid

37:27 | Smart Goals: Well-Being in the Workplace

38:48 | Productivity in the Hybrid Workspace

41:34 | Hybrid Workspace: Compliance Load

46:12| Wrap up: Where are we heading?

Knowledge Capsule:

We need to re-think the idea of productivity in the world of Hybrid Work:

  • Leaders are struggling to measure the productivity of knowledge workers in a hybrid setting, as traditional metrics like presence in the office are no longer applicable.
  • Early data emphasizes the risk of lost productivity – performance is lowered.
  • There’s a big need for leaders to clearly communicate what excellence in performance looks like in a hybrid work environment is emphasized.
  • But driving hybrid work performance faces compliance challenges:
    • In a hybrid workplace, compliance issues may arise, particularly if employees are working from different states. Local laws may apply, leading to complexities in compliance.
    • Issues related to measuring hours worked, especially for non-exempt employees, pose challenges in maintaining accurate time records.
    • Issues of perceived equity can easily arise.
  • Therefore clear expressions of intent are imperative:
    • The complexity of managing compliance and policies in a hybrid work environment requires intentionality and thought from employers.
    • Inconsistencies in enforcing hybrid work policies can lead to litigation and allegations of discrimination.
  • Hybrid work leads to a new Future of Work:
    • Not just the way we work will change, but there’ll be changes in business models, such as the Chinese business model, RenDenHeyi, which emphasizes decentralized value creation through relationships and connections more than reporting relationships and structure..
    • The integration of work, home, and personal life is expected to continue. Management must include a focus on mental health and well-being.
    • Technology will change the nature of the hybrid workplace even faster, with advancements like mirror boards for synchronous collaboration.
  • Employers should look at hybrid work as a great opportunity to create new value for employees:
    • The shift to a hybrid work model presents a significant opportunity for employers to differentiate themselves and demonstrate flexibility and trust to employees.
    • Employers who successfully navigate the challenges of hybrid work have the potential to be seen as best in class.
  • Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace:
    • The book, “Thrive with a Hybrid Workplace,” focuses on the concept of thriving in the context of a hybrid work environment.
    • The emphasis is on how employers can create a workplace where both employees and the business thrive.
  • Looking to the Future:
    • Predicting the exact future of work is challenging, but the integration of flexibility, trust, and well-being will continue evolving towards more employee value.
    • Employers have the opportunity to create a workplace that fosters trust, flexibility, and ultimately, thriving.

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #18. Anthony Iannarino on The Negativity Fast

We all suffer from negativity. That’s a business risk for entrepreneurs, since we are in the business of running lots of experiments, some of which will work and some of which won’t. If we process the learning negatively (“I should never have tried that” versus “One more useful piece of knowledge”) we open ourselves up to unproductive disappointment instead of the energizing excitement of discovery.

Anthony Iannariono knows the problem, and knows the solution: take a negativity fast. Just like cutting bad food choices from your diet to improve your metabolic health, you can cut negative thinking to improve your emotional health. He discussed his book, titled The Negativity Fast, and shared his insights with The Value Creators podcast.

Show Notes:

0:00 | Intro

02:30 | Dangers of Negativity in Entrepreneurship and Evolutionary Biology 

07:06 | Major Triggers: Stress and Optimism Bias

10:44 | Exploring Internal Dialogue in Anthony Iannarino’s ‘Negativity Fast’ 

14:09 | Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

16:28 | Empathy as a Key Exit from Negativity 

19:35 | Detailed Insights on Empathy by Anthony Iannarino

23:44 | Idea of Radical Acceptance

27:04 | Value of Feedback and Solutions in Entrepreneurship

30:47 | Practice Gratitude in detail by Anthony

34:25 | Emotional and Metabolic Health: Keys to Overcoming Negativity

37:38 Positivity and Negativity: A Matter of Choice

39:26 | Does Positive and Optimistic Approach Link to Better Performance?

41:36| Wrap up: Practical Advice and Mind Hack by Anthony Lannarino 


The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques To Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear And Boost Success.

Knowledge Capsule

Human beings are hard-wired for negativity.

  • Our negative emotions are stronger than our positive ones.
  • It’s a result of evolutionary biology: fear and the flight instinct have evolutionary value in keeping us alive.
  • Everyone has negative feelings at some point – positivity is about balance, not elimination.

Stress and change are triggers.

  • Entrepreneurs must embrace and pursue change – recognizing that change can be a major source of stress.
  • Anthony christened entrepreneurial change ACDC: Accelerating, Constant Disruptive Change.
  • If we allow it to stress us, we risk lower productivity and efficiency in all parts of our life.

We can talk ourselves into a negative state – and out of it.

  • There’s a voice in your head that takes the negative point of view.
  • It may not be your own – it’s a composite voice of the rules you’ve been told to follow and the expectations set for you by others.
  • There’s the voice of the worrier, the critic, the victim, the perfectionist and others.
  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) guides us to talking ourself out of a negative state with positive affirmation.

The entrepreneur’s number one tool – empathy – is the best weapon against negativity.

  • At The Value Creators, we always emphasize the power of empathy in identifying others’ needs we can meet with innovative value propositions.
  • Other people often bring negativity into our lives; empathy helps us regulate our own emotions while compassionately dealing with theirs.
  • You may believe others are pushing your buttons, but often you are pushing these buttons yourself.

Stop complaining.

  • Complaining can cause us to adopt a negative mindset, even if we didn’t have one before.
  • We adopt a victim mentality, which is a forfeiture of freedom and autonomy.
  • Complaining can harm our relationships – and all value comes from relationships.

Focus on solutions, practice gratitude, and learn reframing.

  • Positivity is a choice. If we focus on designing solutions rather than identifying problems, we choose positivity.
  • Gratitude can help us be more positive. It focuses us on positives, and it can be practiced.
  • Anthony recommends The Three Blessings: write down three successes or three good things from your day, including why they went well. Keep this up.
  • Reframe all adverse events positively as your chance to improve and do better.

Eliminate the negativity of politics and social media from your environment.

  • It doesn’t help us to mindlessly engage in politics or social media controversies.
  • We sell our attention, and it has a high cost – fewer conversations and poorer relationships.
  • Don’t get sucked in.

Anthony’s book provides a lot of specific techniques for practicing these principles, and a list of resources for learning more about them and about yourself.