Learn how the connection between formative assessments in the classroom and the success of Stitch Fix can improve your business

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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

Imagine you’re a freshman in college again. It’s now the Spring semester and the culture shock of living in a place where everything is prepared for you, except for your bed and homework, has worn off. The lawn is always well-manicured, the cafe has an unlimited supply of your favorite cereal, and the sidewalks — well, the sidewalks could always be repaved after a snow-and-salt winter. But what you enjoyed the most were your professors who made learning fun. You were actually able to step outside of the classroom and see a theory applied in real life.

Now think about when you show up to that one class where the student is always early. They’re always first. Let’s call them “Early Emily.” Now, you’re not insecure enough to dislike Early Emily’s academic hustle, but you don’t care for her, “I don’t have time to make friends” attitude. …


A look at goals and systems, their connection between sports and business, and how to build a simple, sustainable system for your personal life

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There’s a difference between aspirations and goals. Aspirations are divergent, while goals are convergent. Aspirations ideate what you want to achieve, but goals articulate how you want to achieve them. And you need both. Aspirations without goals keep you in the realm of fantasy. Achieving goals without aspirations is merely survival living. If you’re not careful, either extremity will keep you suspended from being meaningfully productive — whether it is the lofty ideals or the unfulfilling, measurable details. If, however, you marry your divergent dreams with convergent measurables, you can, with some discipline, achieve what you want.

But will your achievements be sustainable? …


An overview of Christopher Bartley’s Hero’s Journey alternative to help people navigate real-life mistakes or humiliating experiences

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The Antihero in Literature vs. Real Life

I previously wrote about Ulysses S. Grant, a former U.S. General and President who was either celebrated for his military leadership or maligned for his seemingly wavering politics — sometimes in the same conversation. I considered him an antihero, but because of his historical persona, he may feel like a literary figure rather than a real person with real issues. This perception makes the difference between seeing a hero as superman saving the people of Metropolis or a fireman saving a family from a burning house.

In literature, the antihero is the central character in a story who lacks conventional heroic attributes like honesty, bravery, and moral integrity. It is still relatable in real life, but I’ve attempted to create more concrete parameters to help modern people relate to a more realistic persona of an antihero. …


Exploring the one characteristic that made Ulysses Grant one of the most misunderstood leaders and a real-life antihero

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Researching American history to find accurate anecdotes can be overwhelming to those of us who didn’t have a natural affinity to history when we were younger. That feeling of anxiety probably stems from all the mundane history and government classes from grade school. The enchanting stories we could’ve found intriguing were all deeply wedged between old century dates, dusty political structures, confusing battle names, and esoteric geographic locations.

Then again, so The Lord of the Rings, but the storytellers of those classroom textbooks were no J.R.R. Tolkien. Although few (very, very few) of my teachers tried to make history relevant, all I could hear was Charlie Brown’s teacher’s monotonous “Waah, Wa-Waaah” droning for 90 minutes. But perhaps some of us needed more than 90 minutes in class and a few hours of homework to sift through facts and dates to find the exciting narratives that make characters like Ulysses S. …


A moral introspection on peaceful protesting vs. rioting and a brief parallel to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “The Other America” speech

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Photo by Thomas de LUZE on Unsplash

As political unrest and racial tension continue to agitate and pull at the Liberal, Conservative, Black, and White threads of the United States fabric, there is one common thread that stitches them all together: Protesting. At some point, you probably asked what’s the aim of organizing a large group of people and raising picket signs in the middle of a road. How can this make a systemic impact? Was it accomplished with the distant hope of lawmakers seeing hundreds or thousands of people on social media or local TV news and motivating them to initiate changes from their public office? What about when a peaceful protest turns into a riot? …


Learn the striking connection between white space in design and our everyday interpersonal relationships.

Man standing in near window in white architecture
Man standing in near window in white architecture
Photo by Nick Herasimenka on Unsplash

As a designer, I never cared much about kerning, tracking, and leading until two things happened: I was properly introduced to Adobe InDesign, and I eventually took typography a little more seriously. Joseph Campbell would probably place this newfound attraction to typography in The Meeting with the Goddess stage of the Hero’s Journey. After getting a handle of Photoshop and Illustrator, a good friend of mine challenged me to add InDesign to the mix. I didn’t think it was an essential tool until I needed to crank out posters as the Public Relations officer of our student government on campus. InDesign powerfully brought all of my design elements together so seamlessly. …


Learn how GM’s engineering created Buick’s brand identity crisis and how the Domino’s Pizza approach can help them turn it around

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Photo by Dietmar Becker on Unsplash

When I saw the latest 2020 Buick commercial, my head turned away in disappointment ever so slightly with barely pursed lips — like Miranda Priestly’s pout scene in The Devil Wear’s Prada. It was as if I refused to be worked up by such a letdown. “Not again,” I thought.

The commercial starts with the driver picking up his friend for dinner. Surprised as she sits in the SUV, she rhetorically inquires, “Nice! This is the new Buick?” To which the driver corrects her, “You mean the new Alexa.” The “Buick vs. …


Learn how to use synecdoche and Gestalt’s Psychology in business and design to create buy-in from investors and clients

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Inferences have a magical power that references can never quite embody. Hearing, “A dinosaur is coming!” is one thing. Seeing the plastic cup of water reverberate in the beverage console of a safari jeep to foreshadow the dreadful tyrannosaurus is quite another experience. Anticipation builds when envisioning the scrawny showdown shadow of a 6 o’clock silhouette crawling towards the dusty, sandaled feet of Goliath before the boy David emerges with five smooth stones. We don’t perceive our world and surroundings all at once. Scientifically, we take in our world through inferences, imagination, and impressions. …


Learn how mapping eBay’s customer experience could have prevented the M&A headache with Skype

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History of Bidding and Messaging

Travel back in time with me to March 2000. The dot-com bust has begun, and tech companies are quickly collapsing, leaving behind a massive graveyard of corporate fossils to be excavated as case studies for years to come. During this turmoil, there was one fledgling startup that asserted itself as the most profitable e-commerce platform. Not even Amazon could compete with them at the time. eBay was king. A few years later, another company emerges from the peer-to-peer boom that has thrived during the dot-com debacle.

Skype then gets acquired by eBay two short years later. It might’ve seemed like a match made in Bidding and Messaging Heaven, but this brief union came at a detrimental cost. If eBay and Skype might’ve heeded the warnings of Jack Welch’s Six Sins of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A), both parties would have begun to avoid traveling down the road to perdition. But it would take more than Jack Welch’s wisdom to prevent what would end up being a significant acquisition failure. …


Develop better creative stories and personal growth with a knowledge of all 17 stages of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth

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You’re Most Likely Not Using the Original Hero’s Journey

When you think of the Hero’s Journey, you most likely have Christopher Vogler’s version in mind and not the original framework of Joseph Campbell. Sure, you may know that Campbell developed the first (and still the most exhaustive) version of the Hero’s Journey, but when it’s time to create or analyze a story, you’re likely using someone else’s structure. Here are the four popular versions of the Hero’s Journey you may be familiar with:

  1. Joseph Campbell (1949)
  2. David Leeming (1981)
  3. Phil Cousineau (1990)
  4. Christopher Vogler (2007)

Vogler’s Version was Originally Intended for Films

I reference Vogler not only because his approach to storytelling is the most recent and popular iteration, but because it was developed for film and television. That is why you’re more likely to use his framework. Unless you’re a bibliophile, you’ll likely be more exposed to the Hero’s Journey in films than you would in reading books. In an engaging 20-minute interview, Vogler said he intentionally created a version of the Hero’s Journey to align with the current movie structure of storytelling. The Lion King, for example, was treated with Vogler’s Mythic Structure. Films like Star Wars or The Matrix (my favorite movie) are typically analyzed with Vogler’s approach. …

About

Christopher Bartley

I write where UX Design and the Hero’s Journey meet. There, you’ll find redemption for the soul and system. www.bartley.group

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