Tag Archives | books

I am in a Dip and I am going to Stick.

The Dip

I just completed reading Seth Godin’s, “The Dip.” An interesting little read that presented mostly things that I already knew in various pieces from a variety of sources. However, it is all distilled into a simple, quick, and easy read.

What I got out of this book was some clarity. I suspected I was in a dip and reading this helped bring that into focus. I am in a dip with my business. My business is in a state of stagnation. That is the best I can describe it. It’s not dieing, but its not growing either. The level of work with my business could be sustained, for what feels like, almost indefinitely. How can that be bad? I have work, I am making money, but I am not happy with how things are. I know there is potential for more. This business has not reached its potential.

After reading “The Dip” I actually contemplated disassembling my business–quitting it. In the book there are many suggestions about quitting, and the process of why to quit something. There is a purpose to quitting. It is to free you up to focuses energy on getting through the dips that matter. Of course part of the process is identifying what matters, but that was easy–at least for me.
There are other outside factors I will not get into, but suffice it to say that the alternative to being an entrepreneur (going back to punching the clock for a paycheck) was seriously considered for a bit. However, in the thinking surrounding this one thing became clear when I read the sentence, “Never quit something with great long term potential just because of the stress of the moment.

That sentence summed it up for me. There is great potential in owning a business. There is great stress owning a business–stress of the moment. Furthermore, I realized that there are things I have not done or tried with my business. To quit before at least trying would create a great deal of regret later down the road. So now I have a better perspective, a plan for action, someone to motivate me and keep me on track, and a timeframe by which to measure the efforts.

For now I will stick rather than quit.

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Less Than 12 Hours Left To 2007…

2007-08

2007 was a professionally prosperous and personally challenging year. I am glad it is about to go into the history books.

In business I learned a great deal about attention, focus, and negotiation. I made more money than I have any other year. I worked more hours on projects AND on non-billable projects. I learned that one should never compromise but rather negotiate–never settle for less than is fair. Get paid what you are worth. If you feel you are not getting a fair deal, get out. Don’t settle for less than what your time and effort is worth–you end up with bad vibes. I learned that when working on projects it’s imperative to keep people informed. Don’t let projects escalate and change outside of scope without a change order. Don’t think, “its just a little thing” because that will turn into a monster. I learned you can never ask too many questions, ever. I learned to make better, more informed choices. I learned that I need adequate time to create great work. I learned that I can get through a tough spot. I learned so much more than I can list here. Suffice it to say that I got more out of 2007 in terms of business knowledge and experience than any time before.

While in the midst of 2007 it sometimes it felt like hell I am glad to have had the experience. Here is to entering a new year with a whole new set of wisdom to reflect upon.

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Visualization Methods

Eye

I am a big fan of Edward R. Tufte who is hailed as one of the world’s leading analysts of graphic information. I’ve seen his lecture in person and it is worth attending. I own all four of his hard-cover books and have read the first three—the last is the next read on my list:

The books are certainly worth owning and reading if you are involved in using graphics as a way of communicating.

I bring up Tufte in relation to the post I came across today on another blog at Adaptive Path. The post has a link to something called the Periodic Table of Visualization.

This is a great resource if only for the wide variety of ways in which information can be visualized. This post, the reference, and the chart made me think of Tufte and the principles he promotes. Some of the examples that pop-up when you hover definitely could use some help with a Tuftean touch. One could classify some as “chart junk” but if one can put your Tuftean principles aside the collection has value.

I have added this page to my bookmarks on del.icio.us for the next time I find myself in a visualization dilemma.

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Design Thinking

Outside the box

The title is a topic I read about every so often in the blogosphere and sometimes mentioned in books. Fortunately this topic is gaining more attention in the mainstream business world. The idea is that designers of all kinds: graphic, web, industrial, interior, fashion, information, etc., play a critical role in society and business.

Designers are the creators of what people read, use, and see every day. The business world is now coming around to the idea that designers have more than just their end-products to contribute to the world–they have their process to contribute. The way in which they arrive at their final solutions is the gem. The distillation, the thinking, the analyzing all contribute to create that final piece, the deliverable, for everyone to behold.

Today I came across an interesting video posted on Bruce Nussbaum’s blog about Design Thinking. There are some interesting ideas and thoughts presented here. It’s worth a look.

You can watch the video here.

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Rock-em Sock-em Information

I have two pieces of conflicting information that are applicable to my business life right now. It’s time for Rock-em Sock-em Information.

Representing the blue robot is this blog post from Tim Ferris author of the 4-Hour Workweek (which incidentally is a great read and comes highly recommended). His post gives this post gives five reasons to be a jack-of-all-trades.

Representing the red robot is a small book I picked up at a conference titled Positioning Yourself: Defining Who You Want to Be by David C. Baker founder and principal of ReCourses Inc. specifically within this book there is an excerpt titled Specialization as a means of attracting clients.

The conflict comes in the form of deciding whether to keep my design firm position as a generalist, meaning designing for print and interactive media and whatever comes my way, or positioning my firm as a specialist solely in interactive media. . My background and skills are certainly in line with the ideals of being a jack-of-all-trades. I do enjoy reading and learning about a variety of things simultaneously. I agree with Tim’s blog post about “diversity of intellectual playgrounds,” and “boredom is failure.” And he makes a qualification in that last point, “over-specialization” guarantees boredom (more on this later). I love art, design and technology and have been immersed within them for the better part of 16 years. I love the intellectual stimulation that comes from the variety.

To reinforce this I went to an AIGA studio tour last night hosted by AIGASB at Studio 2050 with founder Glen Derbyshire. It was a really interesting tour. Glen spoke about the many “re-inventions” he has gone through during his career as a photographer, graphic designer and now in the role of ‘producer.’ Glen thrives on the variety of challenges that come his way. Interesting that I find myself at a point of re-invention with my business. Ah, but the conflicting information…

So now to the excerpt Specialization as a means of attracting clients by David C. Baker. David asserts that the key to attracting the best client is to position your firm the way they (the clients) want to see it. One needs to highlight the key points that are critical in the initial decision making process. Clients want to know that you specialize in what they need. But if you say “I am a plumber, an electrician, and a carpenter” and another guy says “I only do plumbing with 20 years experience” you most likely will pick the specialist. The catch is that by declaring that you are a specialist you will turn away clients and projects that could be fun to work on? Most likely, but by ‘being’ a specialist you may attract more work–more profitable work. And that is where I would like to head.

My thought about the conflict resolves itself this way. I will define my company as a specialist in interactive media. However, I will not turn away any type of traditional graphic design (i.e. ‘print’ work) should it come my way.

It appears as if neither of the robots got their heads popped off. We’ll call this a stalemate.

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