This is Technical.ly’s How I Work series, where we take a look at the tools and tips the region’s founders and technologists use to get through the day. If you’d like to be a part of this series, email us.
Monica Kang is the founder and CEO InnovatorsBox, a creative education firm.
“Creativity tends to be one of the most underestimated skills in the workplace. Yet research shows that it is one of the most powerful,” she said.
Through a variety of services, the firm works with companies to help tap into employee creativity. The nine-member team prides itself on its own creativity, too.
“At InnovatorsBox we are relentlessly curious,” Kang said. “With each workshop, speaking engagement and consulting assignment, we partner with our clients to help them transform their teams, their leadership and their culture using the science and strategy of creativity.”
The firm is headquartered in the Cardozo neighborhood of D.C., which serves as a base for global travel. Kang said the firm is in the process of establishing a second headquarters in South Korea.
Technical.ly asked Kang about what tools and strategies she uses throughout her work day. This is how she works.
Technical.ly: InnovatorsBox focuses on creative education. How do you bring that to companies?
Kang: Research shows humans learn best through experience, when incentive and reward is clear, and where challenges are slightly hard but reachable. So we go to the drawing board in understanding our clients’ pain points and motivation to curate a creative experience where they will learn by doing, be inspired to build new habits, and empowered to rethink how they problem solve.
Oh. and we never overlook the element of fun. If it’s not fun, we’ll swipe next.
What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any company-related work?
Each morning I reflect on my bold mission and daring vision — which is to empower one million individuals to unlock their creative potential. I do this while I exercise and journal. This practice of intention-setting helps me stay positive, curious and motivated.
How often do you check your email, and do you use any program to get to “Inbox Zero”?
Unless I’m traveling and at a client site, I check email regularly as my clients are global. I love learning so to get to zero with all the newsletters and updates I receive isn’t one of my goals. Instead, I focus on having “zero emails that I have to respond to” as a way to manage my workload. And since I’m often inspired after traditional 9-to-5 hours, I love using Gmail’s Schedule function.
For ongoing projects, how do you keep track of your progress?
Surprisingly Google documents. I use them to share my big vision and detailed plans, and also to manage projects, deadlines and priorities. I love that the platform is trackable so everyone on my team can easily add their comments and ideas. My team and clients all work in different time zones and have different communication preferences. This works so far because we are a team of nine but I know it won’t be the case if we were to grow to a company of 100!
When you need to take a break, what are you turning to?
Anything that can help my mind unplug — reading, taking a walk, running errands that are not in front of a screen, closing my eyes, stretching. The key is to let my mind wander a bit. I always try to carry something with me so I can capture my notes. I tend to generate ideas during these “breaks.”
Where do you turn for inspiration when you’re feeling low?
I love listening to stories. Whether it’s watching a movie, listening to a podcast, reading a book, or catching up with a friend, I get inspired when I am in active listening mode and learning something new. Whether it’s a story about an entrepreneur who fought challenges or a romcom, I always walk away thinking about a different perspective, wondering what I can do differently, or challenging myself to learn from this moment. So when I feel low, I honor the space stories create for me.
What’s your gear?
I always carry my iPad, iPhone, notebook and pen for taking photos and documenting. Inspiration can happen anywhere and I always want to be ready. I also remember things better when I’m taking notes so I always have digital and manual writing tools on hand. If I don’t have paper, the napkin at your event is what I’ll be using to take notes and capture my next big idea!
What’s one time-saving tip you have?
Understand how connected each action is. Instead of responding back quickly to that email or task, seek to understand what the purpose is and evaluate how and when to respond. Sometimes it may be best to schedule a call or a meeting instead of activating a never-ending email chain. Knowing how to manage digital communication and respecting the reader’s time and attention has been a powerful way to save time, to avoid simply staying “busy” and to be more strategic and thoughtful. This affords me more time to day dream, ideate, and stay focused on the big picture.