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2012 in Review and Top Lists!

By | General, Movies, Music | 3 Comments

There goes another year! I don’t really want to write this, but I should. I’ll regret it if I don’t! So, goodbye 2012 and welcome 2013. I’m going to try to remember all this stuff and I hope I don’t leave anything important out!

Notable happenings from 2012:

  1. I formed a new band called Campfire Conspiracy. It’s me, Matt Witt and Scott Mumaw. I play drums. You can find us on Facebook and Bandcamp. As of this writing we have no public material, we’ve only been a band for 2-3 months and we’re still writing songs and recording them. But we’re probably going to sound like high energy, catchy punk rock.
  2. I started taking piano lessons. As of now, I’ve had three lessons. It’s not something I really considered until the new band started and I wanted to write better songs. I’ve always been self-taught in music theory and songwriting and make music electronically since 2000. But I’ve had success taking lessons over the years with drums and breakdancing and I felt it’s the fastest way for me to learn.
  3. I got braces! Actually it’s a thing called 6 month smiles. They are clear braces. I got them at the end of June, I still have them on but they should be coming off soon! My teeth are definitely straighter.
  4. WMC Fest 2012 was great. Just watch this video and you’ll see. We had about 1,300 people attend this year and we overfilled the speaker auditorium forcing us to decide on a new venue this year. 2013 is shaping up to be another good fest, but I’m always worried about getting it done. With each new fest, there are new challenges to overcome. My most worrisome is budget – notably venue costs and finally being able to pay some of our core staff.
  5. I was on TV and NPR the same day I turned 30!  This was crazy. I got to meet Kenny Crumpton after running into him at a local dive bar while we were planning WMC stuff. He then featured WMC Fest in his kickin it with Kenny show in the morning. Later that day I had to run off to the Ideacenter downtown at Playhouse Square to chat with Dee Perry on the Around Noon Show on NPR.
  6. Big changes with Go Media staff. We lost Adam Wagner to a sexy new job in San Francisco and Adam Law decided to move to Seattle to pursue his dreams. We also lost our project manager Heather Mariano because she is having a baby in 2013 and wants to take care of him full time while she pursues her own photography business. In response to all this, we’ve hired Bryan Garvin as a front end web developer, promoted Liz Hunt to Arsenal Product Manager, hired Sarah Traxler as our new PM, and Aaron Roberts as a junior designer to start in 2013. We also hired Jenny Kelley as our Account Services Director to build Go Media’s first dedicated sales team. All these changes are actually quite refreshing even though it sucks to lose friends.
  7. Bill got schooled. My business partner at Go Media attended an elite business development course at Yale from AIGA. He also did the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses course at Tri-C and really amped up his formal business training. This has actually helped him transition OUT of being a designer and more of a business person. Working ON Go Media instead of IN it. The biggest affect this has had is Bill had to write a serious 5 year growth plan. Something we’ve never done. He also assigned team members as “owners” of each of our properties (like WMC Fest, Arsenal, MockupEverything, etc) and each one was responsible for their own growth plan. And to help, each person has a dashboard of metrics they must track every month so we can gauge the success of our growth plans. It’s a lot of work to set up, but it’s been very helpful so far. I think it will be key to our growth in 2013.
  8. Kim got back into music. When my wife Kim and I got together, we shared a lot of similar music tastes. She turned me onto bands like Taking Back Sunday, The Used, Thursday, Bouncing Souls, The Promise Ring, etc. We made mix CDs for each other all the time and those songs define our moments together. But over the years she’s gradually fallen out of always being on top of music and discovering new bands. Even though I’ve always been into it. For awhile we didn’t have music in common much. But lately, she’s gotten really into Spotify and she’s been discovering bands left and right. She’s buying CDs again and we’ve been listening to music while we make dinner. We’ve never had music playing around the house before but now we do. It’s great! I’m excited that she’s excited. We even went to see New Found Glory play at Grog Shop for their Sticks and Stones 10 year anniversary tour. It was a lot of fun!
  9. Bands I saw live were The Menzingers, NFG, Light Years, Into it. Over it., Algernon Cadwallader, Blueprint, Ohio Sky, and more at WMC Fest.
  10. Made a Beastie Boys music video. Watch it!  It’s a fan-video of me, my wife Kim, and her bro Greg. It was a blast.
  11. I learned the Windmill! This was one of my big goals for the year and I did it! Here’s a video. 
  12. I got a new dance floor installed in my house. See video. I haven’t practiced on it much because I’ve been focusing on making music, but I will use it more in 2013.
  13. I danced at my first hip hop jam. Whew!
  14. I started breaking with Daisun Santana. I will be doing more of this in 2013.
  15. I went on vacation with Kim to North Carolina. We visited Asheville, went hiking, visited Chimney Rock and many waterfalls. We then spent a few days on the beach at Outer Banks! This was a good getaway but we had to do sooo much driving. If there’s one thing I learned, trying to do too many things in one vacation is exhausting. Next one we take, we want to simplify it.
  16. More speaking engagements: I spoke at Columbus Creative, WMC Fest 2012, the AAF Luncheon, Launch house, and Bad Girl Ventures. I also did some social media coaching for the BGV and some portfolio critiques at CSU.

Here is my top list for 2012

[twocol_one]

Fav Movies and TV Shows

  • Homeland (TV)
  • Breaking Bad (TV)
  • Dexter (TV)
  • Disappeared (TV)
  • Becoming Santa
  • Pulling John
  • The Antics Roadshow
  • Freaky Eaters (TV)
  • Solved (TV)
  • My Strange Addiction (TV)
  • Special When Lit: a Pinball Doc
  • The American Scream
  • The IT Crowd
  • Trollhunter
  • Louie
  • Indie Game: The Movie
  • The Unloved
  • Make Believe
  • America in Primetime
  • Last Days Here
  • 30 for 30: Birth of Big Air
  • The Woodmans
  • Nat Geo: The Appalachian Trail
  • A Horrible Way to Die
  • V/H/S/
  • Being Elmo
  • Uncle Kent
  • The Freebie
  • Cold Weather
  • Registered Sex Offender

Fav Podcasts

  • Adventures in Design
  • Go Media Podcast
  • Limited Resources (Magic)
  • So Many Insane Plays (Magic)
  • This American Life
[/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last] Bands in my Playlist

  • The Menzingers
  • The Dopamines
  • New Found Glory
  • Handguns
  • Taking Back Sunday
  • The Story So Far
  • Cloud Nothings
  • Face to Face
  • Crucial Dudes
  • 88 Fingers Louie
  • Banquets
  • Yo La Tengo
  • Save Your Breath
  • Latterman
  • Anti-Flag
  • La Dispute
  • Title Fight
  • Far from Finished
  • Broadway Calls
  • blink-182
  • Dropkick Murphys
  • Dan Padilla
  • Hot Water Music
  • Red City Radio
  • Box Car Racer
  • The Copyrights
  • Punkin pie

Books I Read (listened) in 2012

  • Trust Me, I’m Lying
  • The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle
  • The Believing Brain
  • Authentic Happiness (only partly)
  • The Art of Battle (breakdancing book)
  • Steal Like an Artist
[/twocol_one_last] [hr]

Wow that was exhaustive, but fun looking at my history.  Take it for what it is!

Looking ahead:

2013 is already here and I feel behind. I haven’t really thought about my goals at all.

  1. WMC Fest 2013 – getting more refined. First time all in one building. Should be another barnstormer!
  2. I am really excited about my new band. I’m taking music more seriously this year. Learning piano, studying music theory. In the end I’m writing punk songs, but I want to be able to do it better!
  3. I plan on taking two breakdance classes per week. One with Daisun and one with Swift Ali. Daisun just opened up his CityBreaks studio to group classes so I’m totally taking advantage of that. My goal this year is to just keep practicing. Nothing big.
  4. I want to go on another vacation with Kim. Someplace calm. Relaxing. Lazy.
  5. Hope to see Go Media see positive returns on all the hard work we did this year on systems, metrics, and growth plans.
  6. On the Map CLE is taking off and I think OTM 3 will be huge.

On the Map 2: Nov 9

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On the Map series 2 premiere takes place Nov 9 at Go Media 4507 Lorain Ave. Cleveland, OH 44102. NOTE: Doors open at 5pm, Screening takes place at 7pm. — http://onthemapcle.com

Cleveland is ‘On the Map’ – Go Media Video series shines spotlight on innovative entrepreneurs and organizations.

Find out why Cleveland is ‘On the Map’ – from food to furniture, our city resonates with creative thinking and furious pride! Join us Friday November 9th for our second annual On the Map video series screening and party – celebrate our city and the people that are working tirelessly to make it rock.

Go Media proudly calls Cleveland home. Like so many lifelong residents and transplants alike, we revel in the cultural, architectural, and natural amenities our great city has to offer. We see potential in what some would call blight and we recognize opportunity for change and a prime climate for sustainable growth in our local economy.

And we aren’t alone! On the Map spotlights just a handful of other businesses and organizations that are following their passions and making Cleveland a better place to live, work, and visit.

We invite you to our celebrate with us at our warehouse offices in Ohio City on Friday, November 9th. Join us to eat, drink, watch the video release, meet fellow Clevelanders, and even put your business or organization on the map!

Be Better than Yesterday

By | General | 2 Comments

I heard this quote recently and it resonated with me. It fits with a lot of projects I have going on in my life but it fit with my workout/fitness aspirations the most. I want to be a really good bboy. I want to be physically fit. But looking in the mirror or seeing video of myself makes me kind of dissapointed that it’s not happening faster. I can easily get discouraged or talk myself out of practicing or working out. It’s too easy to let a day slide. It becomes a few days, then it becomes a week. Then it’s REALLY difficult to motivate myself to practice again after not having done it for a while. This quote reminds me that it’s just that simple. Try to be better than the day before. Don’t watch those battle of year videos with amazing bboys who seem lightyears ahead. Sometimes that’s really demotivating. Just focus on trying to learn one little thing you didn’t know yesterday. Refine and practice what you already know. Just get slightly better. Do it every day. It will all add up to something in the end.

Breakin’ in the New Year 2012

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On New Year’s Eve, Kim and I went down to Mantua to our friend Drew’s house. Mantua is the town I grew up in, and once a year at NYE my old school friends (some call it the Mylkhead crew) get together like a big family reunion. Aside from the usual snacks and drinks and partying, there usually are some interesting “lectures” on a whiteboard and some sort of dance party in the basement. Here are some photos.

2011yearinreview

2011 in Review and Top Lists!

By | General, Movies, Music | 2 Comments

So there goes another year! Goodbye 2011 and welcome 2012. For my movies and music lists I went ahead and included 2010 as well since I totally didn’t do a recap post then. Enjoy!

Notable happenings from 2011:

  1. WMC Fest 2011. Just watch this video and you’ll see. It was a vast improvement from year one and the 20/20/20 format worked really well. Lots of great energy, feedback, and buzz and this has got to be one of the most positive things going for me right now. 2012 plans are already underway and we should be launching the new website in the next 1-2 months.
  2. Bought a new car! A 2011 Toyota Prius to be exact (see photo). So far, I love the car. It’s got great gas mileage of course, which I liked from owning a hybrid vehicle before, but it’s also just plain fun and it’s got some nice modern stylings which I like.
  3. Published my first book! Thread’s Not Dead came out in April in ebook format and in October it was released as a hardcover.  Watch this lovely video of the event by Purple Films. This was a major accomplishment and it’s still weird to say that I’m an “author.” I suppose that’s more accurate than saying I’m a writer, even though I write a lot!  But after 8-9 months of planning, writing, designing, and executing, I finally put it out and I’ve managed to sell nearly 1,300 ebook bundles, 266 Kindle editions, 39 Nook editions, and over 300 hard copies so far.  (I had to login to about 5 different sites to get reports on all these sales, it’s a pain in the ass I must say. Amazon has 3 different admin backends btw!)
  4. Kim and I celebrated 3 years of marriage. We went to downtown Kent, which was home of our 2nd date. We went to the University Plaza theater to see a movie, just like we did on our 2nd date back in 2003. The movie we saw was called Contagion. In 2003 it was Bruce Almighty. Fun fact!
  5. I celebrated one year of breakdancing class. I started taking breakdancing classes in Aug/Sept 2010 at a studio called Rock City Dance in Middleburg Heights. It’s taught by BBoy Swift Ali. This has been seriously some of the most fun I’ve had, despite it being exhausting. I love breaking and I love learning the dances. I just want to keep getting better. You can watch some of my practice videos here.
  6. Our pet bunny Cocoa died. This was extremely sad for Kim and I as he was our first pet. We had him for 5 years and to see him pass away was heartbreaking. He got sick with an ear infection and after several vet trips and tons of medicine later, he just wasn’t improving. He had head tilt and eventually couldn’t even stand up. He would wobble up, fall over, tumble and roll violently in his cage and it was awful to watch. He finally passed away one evening while Kim and I cried as we pet him during his final breaths. This was the first time a pet died in front of me and it was hard to deal with. I am sad just writing this. We then got Cocoa cremated and his remains preserved in a special bunny urn with a small pouch with a lock of hair and his paw prints to remember him. We will miss him!!
  7. I spoke in Columbus, Georgia with Von Glitschka. This was super fun, as I was invited to an event called Columbus Creative Artist Roundup 2011. I talked about Side Projects, Synergy, and Self Promotion. Mike and Karen were awesome!
  8. I won a AIGA CLE Design Award. I don’t really submit my work for awards, but our goal was to get more involved in AIGA so I was encouraged to submit work for their CLE Design Awards in 2011. I won for the site I designed for wmcfest.com.
  9.  We launched On the Map. The brainchild one of our designers Chris Comella at Go Media. It was a video series that profiled a handful of people and brands to make mini-documentaries about and screened them in our studio last November. The project seems to be taking off and we are really excited about its future.
  10. Built out our kitchen at Go Media. We finally installed real cabinets and a kitchen sink for the “break room” in our office. Washing dishes in the bathroom sink sucked!
  11. We got our first cat! Kim and I adopted our first cat, which we call Cookie, from the Cleveland APL. She’s super friendly and playful, although sometimes a little needy and hyperactive!  But it’s cool to have some more excitement in the house!
  12. I became an Uncle to Leihetta! My brother Jon and his fiance Felicia had a baby named Leihetta and she’s so cute!  My parents are happy to finally be grandparents.
  13. More babies and more marriages. My business partner Wilson and his wife Rachel gave birth to Audrey Violet earlier this year. My former By Bread Alone bandmate Eugene Lin got married, my long-time friend Dan Haylett and his wife Gemma are pregnant and so is my former college roommate Jeff Barton and his wife Shelly. Congrats to them all!
  14. We did some updates on the house. We got the living room completely made over with advice from an interior designer. We were stumped with what to do with it and it was never getting done so we asked for help. We got it painted, got a new sectional sofa, and other stuff. We bought a nice futon for our spare bedroom for overnight guests. We got part of our basement waterproofed. We also got new flooring and a toilet in our half bathroom. My wife Kim posts on her blog about our updates sometimes.
  15. I started doing Yoga. A former elementary schoolmate of mine April Arotin reached out to me to help her with a flyer for her new yoga studio she was opening. I was happy to help and she offered me some free Yoga classes in return. That was great because I’ve been wanting to try Yoga to supplement my breakdancing training and I love it.
  16. Got Back into Magic: The Gathering. My brother Jon started playing Magic and got me to dust off my cards and that was enough to fuel the fire. After WMC Fest I was pretty burnt out like normal and needed a hobby to distract me from the design world. It was refreshing!  I started playing Magic in 1995 or so and stopped around 2004. So it was a good 7 years of new cards and rules changes I had to catch up with. But fortunately, there is a PS3 game called Duels of the Planeswalkers that successfully brought the experience of playing Magic to a video game. That helped a lot. I made a new friend Gene Tanner who has helped me build some pretty competetive decks like Zoo and Merfolk in Legacy and Wolf Run Ramp in Standard. The Innistrad prerelease was a blast and I remember what it was like to be obsessed with Magic. The good ole days!

Here is my top list for 2011 (and 2010 because I missed last year)

[twocol_one]

Fav Movies and TV Shows

  • $100 and a T-Shirt
  • Abel Raises Cain
  • Amazing Race (TV Series)
  • Antichrist
  • Ballast
  • Beautiful Losers
  • Best Worst Movie
  • Blue Valentine
  • Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary
  • Catfish
  • Come and See
  • Dexter (TV Series)
  • Dogtooth
  • Down to the Bone
  • Enter the Void
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
  • Fishing with John
  • Fish Tank
  • Forgetting Dad
  • Frontline: Death by Fire
  • God’s Country
  • Harpers Island (TV Series)
  • Hoarders (TV Series)
  • Hunger
  • Impaler
  • In a Better World
  • IT Crowd (TV Series)
  • Lorna’s Silence
  • Melancholia
  • Paradise Lost 1 and 2
  • Paranormal Activity
  • Pirates of Silicon Valley
  • Premonition
  • Second Skin
  • Tabloid
  • Talhotblond
  • The First 48 (TV Series)
  • The House of the Devil
  • The Parking Lot Movie
  • The Road
  • The Room
  • The Wild and Wonderful Whites
  • This American Life (TV series)
  • Thumbs Up (TV Series)
  • Toy Story 3
  • Troubled Water
  • Winnebago Man
  • Winter’s Bone
  • Witch Hunt
  • Zero Day

Fav Podcasts

  • Content Talks
  • MtG Cast (various Magic podcasts)
  • So Many Insane Plays (Magic)
  • Stuff Mom Never Told You
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • The Big Web Show
  • The Documentary Blog Podcast
  • The Pipeline
  • This American Life
  • Yale University Psychology Lectures from Paul Bloom
[/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last] Bands in my Playlist

  • Anti-Flag
  • Beastie Boys
  • Blink-182
  • Box Car Racer
  • Cherry Cola Champions
  • Dropkick Murphys
  • Forest Swords
  • Four Year Strong
  • I Call Fives
  • La Dispute
  • Metavari
  • New Found Glory
  • Parachute Journalists
  • Red City Radio
  • Save Your Breath
  • Set Your Goals
  • Signals Midwest
  • Spraynard
  • Such Gold
  • The Story So Far
  • The Wonder Years
  • Title Fight
  • Transit

Books I Read the Past Two Years

  • A Book Apart: Elements of Content Strategy
  • A Book Apart: Mobile First
  • A Book Apart: Responsive Web Design
  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
  • E-Myth Revisited
  • Freakonomics
  • Getting Things Done (partially)
  • Good to Great (partially)
  • How Pleasure Works
  • How to Launch the Shit out of Your eBook
  • Linchpin (partially)
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Overcoming Shyness and Social Anxiety
  • Rework
  • Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard
  • Thank You Economy
  • The Four Hour Workweek
  • The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest (partially)
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Power of Less
  • The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs
  • The Return to the Little Kingdom (partially)
  • The Tipping Point
  • Think and Grow Rich (partially)
  • Trust Agents
  • Yes! 50 Proven Ways to be Persuasive
[/twocol_one_last] [hr]

Wow that was exhaustive, but fun looking at my history.  Take it for what it is!

Looking ahead:

2012 is shaping up to be a busy year already.  Here are some things already planned on the calendar:

  1. Releasing 3 more songs from my band Parachute Journalists and then closing the book on that chapter. Maybe there will be a new band in the future?
  2. WMC Fest 2012 to be bigger and better!
  3. On the Map event will itself get “on the map” and more people will know about it.
  4. My wife Kim will finish her Paralegal education and get her certificate.
  5. Going to Montreal with my wife for Montreal Meets 2.
  6. More home improvement updates like fixing the furnace, cleaning air ducts, new kitchen faucet, etc.
  7. Finish and post a Beastie Boys music video that my wife and I are doing for fun.
  8. We will build out a private workout area at Go Media. We bought equipment at the end of 2011 and will receive it in 2012. New employee perk and we also got some funding from COSE Wellness. Sweet!
  9. I’ll be better at breakdancing for sure, but I don’t know how much better. We’ll see!
ambition

Re: The Curse of Ambition

By | General | 3 Comments

I recently read Brandon Rike’s blog post “The Curse of Ambition” and it struck a chord with me. Instead of commenting on his blog I wanted to write a follow-up blog entry.  He talks about getting older as a designer and what happens when you finally have something to lose that you never did when you were younger.  True, when we’re just starting out trying to make a name for ourselves we put in the extra hours because every small bit of success felt exhilarating and it was an addicting cycle. As designers approach their 10 year anniversary of being a professional, they’ve been there and done that. They’ve proven to themselves they can make a living doing design. But that feeling of “there’s got to be something more” creeps in.

I’ve had many conversations with creatives who are feeling this. They feel like they’ve gotten jaded working for clients or being relegated to the production lackey at their in-house design job when they have much bigger ideas brewing. Their ambition is oozing and they need to break out.

I surround myself with people who ooze ambition. When I read books harping on quitting your day job to pursue your passion, I kind of roll my eyes anymore because isn’t that what we’re all doing anyway?  Perhaps I have tunnel vision when most of the people I follow online are visionaries and inspirations that did this years ago. They don’t have a suffocating day job, so their problems aren’t about how to tell your boss to shove it so you can go full-time freelance or finally start your own company. (As a “boss” with employees, I also have a different opinion on this…) We’re already doing that and we know people 10 years younger than us who are doing that as well.  Kids are starting their own companies while they’re still in high school.

For the ambitious creative out there (probably you), we have different problems than most people. We’re starting to get bored and we fear getting stagnant. We fear getting complacent and losing all that we’ve built up.

Brandon has a unique perspective because he’s had extremely steady freelance work for years. Not everyone can say that. But I feel his “pain” when he wonders how to find time to do the other stuff he loves like music, writing, or even renovating his house. At Go Media, we’re cursed (or blessed?) with an overly ambitious staff where side projects are dreamed up almost daily. We struggled for years finishing internal projects because we kept launching new ones only to see them stagnate in development and die once the adrenaline of a new idea wore off and realized we needed to pay the bills.  This idea is common. We all know someone who has that great idea that will be the next big thing. I have been reading a lot of Zen Habits the past couple of years and really buying into the fact of having fewer goals and fewer projects. Your energy and time are a limited resource, so when you spread yourself thin over multiple ambitious projects, you’re going to see a few of them suffer and some of them die completely.  That’s actually ok, BUT I have found tricks to managing my own (and my team at Go Media) fiery ambition.

Is ambition a curse or a blessing?

Many outsiders probably think that I’m crazy to even debate this because we seem to do so many things. Of course it’s a blessing, without ambition we wouldn’t be able to work for clients, create and sell our own library of stock art, run a blog with 23,000+ subscribers, develop and use our own project management app, put on events like Weapons of Mass Creation Fest and On the Map.  That’s not counting other side projects like FAIL Sticker (which we sold to Merchline last year), Shirtmockup, and soon to launch MockupEverything.com.  We realized a long time ago that being a client-only design firm was just not for us. We realized that while many of us get our kicks and enjoy expressing our ideas through our clients, most of us have our own personal goals. My colleague and former bandmate Adam Wagner has a serious passion for music and sound engineering. Through our encouragement, he spends most of his after-hours time recording  and producing bands on the first floor of Go Media in his self-made studio he calls Bad Racket.  And designer Chris Comella has fed his appetite for wood working and product design with his woodshop 2nd Shift.

So this IS a lot of shit, don’t get me wrong. We are like the poster children for the overly ambitious and I’m not bragging here.  Being overly ambitious really IS kind of a curse. Because it’s like you are never truly happy with who you are, you are constantly trying to improve. There’s a constant sense of inadequacy that you feel you are trying to overcome.  I recently read an article about Quashing the Self Improvement Urge which focuses on that inadequacy that ironically plagues us fortunate Americans. Always trying to prove yourself to the outside world and feeling worthless unless you’re being productive on your goals. This feeling of guilt that happens when you realize you haven’t updated your blog in weeks or having posted a tweet in a few days. Am I falling behind?  Or when you’re happy doing client work while you watch your peers launch a new startup or side project that leaves us in awe.

But honestly, being overly ambitious isn’t the problem. The problem is the inability to harness that ambition.

Like I said before, we don’t lack ideas. We don’t lack inspiration. We have so much of both that it feels deflating not being able to make something of it. If there is one thing we lack, it’s the capacity to do it all.  Scott Belsky of Behance wrote a book called Making Ideas Happen, which I highly recommend and it helped me launch the first ever WMC Fest in 2010. How to harness this ambition is something I have spent a lot of time thinking about. I’ve recently spoke at an event about Side Projects, Synergy, and Self Promotion where you must strategically plan out your hobbies and side projects to benefit each other.  In my band Parachute Journalists, I satisfied my urge to play drums and write music. But it was also an excuse to design “cool shit” that I couldn’t otherwise do.  Writing my book and starting WMC Fest weren’t completely unrelated to what I do every day at Go Media. In order to make them worthwhile, I need to make it work with my other projects. Every new project helps push other projects forward.

However, I must also disagree with that last statement. Every new idea or side project doesn’t have to have synergy with each other. It’s ok to indulge in hobbies that are outside of “work.” Last summer I revisted my obsession for playing Magic: The Gathering.  I honestly felt guilty because it wasn’t a “productive” hobby.  I actually had this thought, “I could spend time and become a famous and successful Magic player, would it help my personal brand? How can I make playing Magic productive? Should I start a blog about it?”

Ugh, why couldn’t I just play Magic without thinking like an entrepreneur?  

I had to slap myself and actually give myself permission to enjoy myself.  Once I let go, it was the perfect antidote for my burnout after WMC Fest ended. It was entirely outside of the design circle and I didn’t have to think about “being productive” or “making a difference.”  Sometimes you just gotta let go.

But now we’re nearing the new year and my desire for productivity and doing bigger and better things has resurfaced and it’s refreshing.  My ambition is ramping back up and I’m excited about it.

Some Advice For Brandon

I want to close with some advice for Brandon specifically. Start building a team!  I cannot stress enough how fortunate I have been to have other people around me helping push things forward while I focus on other stuff. I would never have been able to write my book without the backbone of my staff at Go Media holding down the fort while I spent several non-paying months writing the book.  You have told me about a few people you know who you could consider an ally or trusted collaborator that you could take under your wing in this regard. I am all for that. Do it!

Don’t feel like you have to do all this yourself. You have to let go of the reins a bit and start thinking of building team. If you’re on your own, you literally have to accept a dip in freelance income while you focus on a new idea and it definitely gives you anxiety and fear. If you fail, you have a lot to lose. But getting others involved greatly reduces that fear.  And also, be efficient. Don’t waste time. It’s better to launch and fix things later than it is to stagnate in tweaking all the details before you launch. Sometimes launch day never comes. I know from experience!

I hope this blog has helped some of you and gets a conversation started. If you feel the need to reply, try writing your own blog post, comment here with a link back to your entry.

New Site is Up

By | General | 4 Comments

I quietly launched the new JeffFinley.org site. It’s my personal portfolio and blog. After spinning my wheels on trying to design from scratch vs work from a WordPress theme, I ended up going with a theme. I chose Elefolio from WooThemes because not only is the Woo team known for their quality, support, and attention to detail, it featured the Tumblog style blog and easy to update portfolio items.

I also made it a point to track down every blog article I’ve posted since 2006 and archived them here. I used to have a blog called TheWetCat.com during my former Mylkhead days and I’d blogged on Myspace a little too. The only thing I didn’t include were all my hundreds of posts over at GoMediaZine.com. Perhaps I’ll make a list of blog some links to my favorite articles and tutorials. But for now, enjoy my blog, movie reviews, portfolio work, and my new about section which features a comprehensive list of what I’ve got going on these days. Hope you like it!