professional development

MONA-isms for your business

Kirsty Dunphey /

If you live in Tasmania and you haven’t been to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) yet I simply can’t fathom why (it’s free for all Tasmanians and worth a drive across the state and more). If you live near Tasmania, you won’t regret hopping on a plane or ferry to see it (even if you aren’t a typical museum lover).  And, if you’re far, far, far away, maybe add it to your bucket list – it’s that good.

MONA is architecturally spectacular, deliberately shocking and utterly entrancing. I’ve been numerous times and my most recent visit was with my 12-week-old travelling buddy. MONA is the first thing I recommend visitors to the state go to (and that’s saying something – we have a whole lotta amazing stuff in this state).

When visiting this time, I tried to look at what David Walsh has achieved at MONA to see what could be replicated in any business (that is, a business that doesn’t have a multimillion dollar budget and a penchant for putting up genitalia on the walls). Here’s what I came up with:

Be real

As you stroll around MONA listening to your personalised iPod, which gives you all the museum guff on each piece of art that takes your fancy, David Walsh often comments on the pieces he loves and his take is, how shall I put it, not very museum curator-esque. He uses real language and when hearing it, I can imagine he is speaking just to me.

Non-MONA example – S Group, a boutique architecture and design company here in my hometown of Launceston. Their website starts off very much as you’d expect from an architecture firm, but trail your mouse over the photos and read the profiles and you see personality and realness pouring out.

Be social

As you walk around MONA you can ‘love’ or ‘hate’ the artwork with a click of a button on your iPod and, if you’d like, you can get a very awesome map of your journey complete with full social media integration emailed to you.

Non-MONA example – I was chatting with the founders of Flat Tummy Tea recently, who are also based in Tasmania. I commented on how fast their Facebook page followers were increasing. Now the founders are a bit younger than me and, while I use Instagram, I must admit I had no idea what kind of power it has from a marketing perspective, especially to a younger demographic. Bec mentioned how fast their Instagram following has grown and it’s awesome to see how they’re tapping into a young demographic with real-time testimonials like this. Why is Instagram hitting a younger demo? Check out this recent Mashable post called ‘I’m 13 and none of my friends use Facebook’.

Be noticed

MONA strives to be something people talk about. From the pink flames on the busses that can transport you there to the in-your-face controversial artwork, much of which has no common thread other than the fact that David Walsh likes it.

Non-MONA example – lately, I’ve become a little obsessed with Jessie Walsh’s project called Forty Days of Dating – check it out, but be warned, you might get stuck there for hours. Jessie’s day job is as one of the founders of Sagmeister & Walsh – a design company (no doubt benefiting from lots of extra interest after Forty Days). I can’t help but keep going back to their website because the front page is a live webcam above their office. Simple and a little addictive, much like Forty Days of Dating (which has just been picked up by Hollywood).

So that’s just three things – be real, be social, be noticed. I could go back to MONA for 40 days straight and find umpteen more things – but I also see them when I get great service at my petrol station or have a conversation with a friend about their son. If you open your eyes you can R-E-D anywhere (read this to find out what I mean by R-E-D).

From broke at 19 to retired at 27, Kirsty Dunphey is an entrepreneur, mother and author, and lives by the motto Memento Vivere (remember to live).

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