The one skill you should look for when interviewing freelancers

"So what is the secret for hiring good freelancers?"
I currently have 12 freelancers under my payroll from all over the world (2 personal assistants, 6 transcribers, 3 graphic designers, 1 web engineer) and have worked with over 100 freelancers on an ad hoc basis. I mostly hire freelancers via global crowdsourcing sites like oDesk (currently Upwork), Elance or
I am constantly asked "the secret" in hiring good freelancers. Especially since you're never going to meet them face to face. My answer? Communication skill.

How to Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs

Group ideation processes, when well designed and well facilitated, are capable of generating a host of highly attractive creative options, and occasionally truly breakthrough solutions, to virtually any business challenge.
- Bryan Mattimore
Last November, a Japanese multinational company asked me whether I had any suggestions for a full day training session for its 4 Asian branches (China, South Korea, Taiwan, and India) during its annual Asia week. I had no hesitations: “Let’s do an ideation workshop!”
I had facilitated full day ideation workshops for a global motorcycle company’s Japanese dealerships last spring and helped them come up with three “kick-ass” ideas to improve customer experience. I was excited about conducting the same type of workshop, teaching creative-thinking tools and techniques to help participants come up with innovative yet practical ideas, with a more diverse group of participants in English.

The answer is inside the company

Group ideation processes, when well designed and well facilitated, are capable of generating a host of highly attractive creative options, and occasionally truly breakthrough solutions, to virtually any business challenge.
-Bryan W. Mattimore
Have you ever hear of the word "Ideation Facilitator?" Ideation is a word derived from "Idea" and "Creation." The role of an ideation facilitator is to gather all stakeholders in one place and conduct a day or two workshop, facilitating a problem solving session coming up with new & innovative ideas to virtually almost any business challenge companies are facing today.
Recently, I read a book written by an ideation facilitation guru called the "Idea Stormers." I tell you, this book is just blew my mind!

oDesk, a site that will scare you off

“I'm making in a week on oDesk what I made in a month as a schoolteacher, and I get to spend far more time with my family.”
-A freelance copywriter in Pakistan (exempt from the Economist)
If you haven't heard of a site called oDesk, you definitely need try this out. You have every reason to be scared this site. Whether you know it or not, everyone, especially living in the developed world, is currently being affected by this site.
I've been using this site for nearly 2 years now and I tell you, the more I use this site, the more I get scared. oDesk, which has boomed in the past couple of years, is a global job marketplace where you can tap into talents from all over the world. In short, it's an outsourcing site where you can basically outsource anything. Yes, anything!
Whether you want someone to do research for you over the web, create a sophisticated database system, or create a logo, you will be able to find someone to do this about a tenth of a price you're currently asking for if you live in the developed country. You can hire a Harvard MBA class freelancer for $20 per hour to do work for you.

How to differentiate yourself

This (book) is not a how-to. The reason I find how-tos discomfiting is that there is always the slim chance that people may actually take them on faith. What business-people need today is a fresh set of insights, not a fresh set of instructions.
–Youngme Moon
Last year I read more than 80 books in all genres. If asked what was the best one, I would no doubt answer “Different (by Youngme Moon)”.
I first heard this book through audiobook. While listening to this book, many new ideas came to mind so I had to basically stop the book many times to write down the ideas. After I finished listening to it, I found the book so inspiring that I listened to it again. Ideas kept flowing in so I decided to buy a copy of the book. This rarely happens…

Find your own “Why”

When you compete against everyone else, no one wants to help you. But when you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you.
–Simon Sinek
“Do you compare yourself with other people to see who is inferior and superior?” This was a question asked to me the other day when I attended a seminar called “Management of emotion” held by one of my friends. We were discussing about “contempt and insult”, which is one of the four factors that hamper smooth communication. “I think I do.” I answered and felt a little embarrassed.
Having been born during the second baby-boom in Japan, everything was about competition. I’d always feared that once I stopped competing, I’m out. In fact, even at the age of 37, I still have a habit of saying “Oh-huh, what’s next?” every time I finish something rather than saying “Phew, I deserve a break.”

Art & Communication

When you see in a special way in which experienced artists see, then you can draw.
--Betty Edwards

After getting an "F" in art at 8th grade, I've always avoided art. Getting an "F" was like told "you f*ck at 'art' and you should never even mention the term ever again!"
But what I experienced a couple of months ago totally blew me off. It changed my perceptions of the way I see art and the way now I see the world.
First, I would like you to see my picture of my "artistic" right hand I drew the other day. Yes, I can hear you! "What the hell? What's that mummy hand doing here? You really deserve an 'F'." But I tell you. A miracle happens the next day...
Before the "miracle," the quote above is from the book "Drawing from the right side of the brain" written by Betty Edwards.

Business Model Generation

"Whereas a conventional artist starts painting a canvas knowing what she wants to paint, and holds to her original intention until the work is finished, an original artist (with equal skills) holds a deeply but undefined goal in mind, keeps modifying the picture in response to the unexpected colors and shapes emerging on the canvas, and ends up with a finished work that probably will not resemble anything she started out with."
-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Two years ago, I was asked by another training company to facilitate a 2 hour workshop (this was done in Japanese), extracting new business ideas from its client (corporate) employees. At that time, I was asked to use Mindmap(R) as a tool and I think it went fairly well. But more than that, I found myself enjoying doing this. Ever since that day, I've been thinking of ways that I can stage an atmosphere where creative ideas just keep flowing in.