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The Newbie Anniversary

I thought I'd write down some things I've learned about managing projects and directing creative endeavors in the design/development industry...

I think I’m at the point where I can’t say I’m ‘new’ anymore…

I tell the story often enough that if you know me, you’ve heard it. The day that Chris pitched this crazy idea that I should join his web design/development business. My instant reaction was “sure, sure… I know this is a pity job!” and he swore it wasn’t (I believe him now!) So he just showed me the email address he created for me and slowly backed away.

That was about two years ago today. I still tell people I’m “new to the industry”. It occurred to me today that we’ve officially known each other for 9.5 years, been married for 5 years, and business partners for 2 years. I think time frames and categories can be so relative, but I really don’t think I can call myself ‘new’ anymore.

So, as I find myself in the retrospective state I thought I’d write down some things I’ve learned about managing projects and directing creative endeavors in the design/development industry:

  1. On-boarding is the most important thing ever. It can make or break your project, your creative process, maybe even your soul. Those pesky details when you’re on-boarding any creative project are what you’ll be digging around for later in the process if you don’t take the time to get them down now, so get them all down already.
  2. Copy editing isn’t re-writing, it’s mining and refining and yes, you need it. Maybe the best decision I made early on was to contract with a copy editor. She’s gonna probably have something to say about me not getting her help with this, but she has also taught me a thing or two about my own writing, so I hope I’m doing her proud with the inner Sarah Bee Edits voice in my head right now telling me not to get too thousand foot view with my writing. (Shout out to our village member, Sarah Billings!)
  3. Waiting for other people to do their part should be part of the plan. They wait on you too! Plan for it. It’s just how it goes… no worries, the project WILL wrap at the exact right time it is meant to. In other words, faith in your project and people is also part of this whole business here.
  4. Don’t overlook the strengths and the values– they inspire the creativity. They are the special sauce when you get stuck creatively. They are a guiding light at times when it doesn’t look quite right, but you can’t put your finger on what’s off.
  5. There aren’t silver bullets for marketing, generating revenue, winning new clients over, strategy… no fancy button, either. Just a LOT of work, analysis, and then deciding to keep what worked and maybe try something else. OH, and more work. But don’t forget to have fun with it. It’s fun, I promise!
  6. People are the most important part of who you are and what you do. I wouldn’t still be here if it weren’t for the opportunities I get every day to get to know our people… there are some seriously incredible people behind the businesses we design for and they are just as much a part of the process of designing as our actual designer. It’s more than just code, pretty colors, or a killer message–it’s about people and connecting people with other people! People.
  7. Gratitude can help you float the hope boat. We practice it each week in many different ways… and find it easy to remember what we are thankful for when we hit a roadblock or challenge. It helps us sail the seas of uncertainty that come with starting and running your own business! It keeps us real and keeps us connected. I do think this is industry specific, by the way! But it also is a life truth.
  8. I freaking love working with Chris Breimhurst. I don’t think this is industry specific. Sorry not sorry. People always ask me if I like it because we’re married and all, and that doesn’t seem to interfere with our working relationship! (haha) But in all seriousness, he’s a great creative partner and smart as all get out– (Chris if you’re reading this, don’t turn too many shades of red. Just own the talented Designer that you are already!)
  9. Dreamer is a job title. I have been in Chris’ phone as ‘Dana Dream’ for as long as I’ve known him. It’s nutso to think about it, but Dreamer is probably the most accurate and true-to-myself job title I’ve ever had! I wake up each day and delve into seeing what others see in their business or profession and start to see those possibilities– the things a thoughtful and sharp design and strong development can do for their mission and their vision. It’s been an incredible stepping-into-my-own job title situation, here. I can’t wait to meet someone else who ALSO holds this job title — I know he or she is out there!

So maybe this is me raising my own Pennant… owning that I’m Dana the Dreamer just a LITTLE more than yesterday. Whatever it is, I felt compelled to write it down and treasure this unique place I find myself: Not a newbie, not an old head… just here, loving the work I do each and every day.

No. 4

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