63 posts tagged doing good work


My dad has a saying, “You get what you intend, not what you hope for.” How many things in our lives are we actually intentional about, though? In the creative (and development) world, I consistently see studios grow beyond their optimal size. Our culture rewards it, and often our internal drive is to be bigger because we’re told that bigger is better. But is it?

I haven’t been distracted by pushing a boulder up the wrong hill. I get to focus on doing really great work for excellent clients.

Like Berger & Föhr, I’ve been intentional about operating as a shop of one—I’m a bit of a design and development multi-tool. Some projects I team up with others (like Berger & Föhr) and other projects I handle by myself. I may not be this size forever, but it has been an intentional choice and a lot of rewarding things have come from it. The biggest bonus, though, is simply that I haven’t been distracted by pushing a boulder up the wrong hill. I get to focus on doing really great work for excellent clients. And, contrary to popular belief, my access to bigger and better projects has often come as a result of my practice size, not at the expense of it.

How intentional are you about the size and goals of your business?

Bypassing Wall Street

Yes, it takes longer—the term “slow money” is brought up later in the article—but can you think of a better way of investing money than in things “we can touch and/or impact and understand”? Money is just money, but this type of investment strategy can’t help but be rewarding on many other levels.

Testimony of Mike Rowe

Most of us are lucky enough to not need to work a physical job, but that doesn’t mean the work of a physical craftsperson isn’t absolutely vital or society. I think Mike’s right. We’ve discounted this type of work too much. Why don’t we still teach Shop in high school? Why do we perpetuate the myth that vocational school and apprenticeships are somehow less worthy? The world might be more global, but the downsides of that globalization are placing a premium on local craftsmanship and local products.

After Back to Work 013

(emphasis mine)

Yup. Guilty as charged. I seem to have a knack for hanging onto fear—and worse, often fear that doesn’t look like fear—and using it to prevent myself from moving something in my life forward. That bit that says, “You’re not allowed to do ‘x’ because…”? The ending is often different: “you need to feel bad about ‘y’” or “‘y’ is more important because it’s what people expect of you” or “you don’t deserve to do ‘x’” etc., but the result is the same. You can’t make good things happen from a place of fear. It’s immobilizing.

Friends vs. Subscribers

I don’t know if I’ve ever explicitly stated why I run this blog, but this touches on why: I run it for myself. It’s the only way to stay interested in it. I post things because the act of posting them, making some commentary on them, etc. is good for me. It helps me remember things I value and learn new things as I construct arguments and defend them. It’s for me. If any of you out there somewhere get some benefit from it, that’s a bonus.

The New Design

(emphasis mine)

I agree with Naz, but I’m perplexed as to the label. Why is it “New” design? Isn’t this just design? Hasn’t this always been what a good designer is, well, good at? I’m not picking on him directly either, because I can see why this seems like a revelation. I remember, as a much younger designer (I’d still like to consider myself young, if you’ll grant me that), having to fight for involvement in strategy or surprising clients and coworkers when I showed a bit of business acumen and understanding of the task at hand outside of the purview of just making it “pretty”—and this was long before my main workload was comprised of web and software applications. If we’re not solving problems, what are we doing? What have we been doing?

Back to Work #11: Johnny Heuristic

A great episode of Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin’s Back to Work this week. If you feel like your stuck trying to figure out what’s “next,” maybe give this one a listen.

Fuck You. Pay Me.

This is getting linked to from everywhere, so, if you haven’t seen it yet take this as a sign that you should probably watch it. I won’t say much, other than that I’ve made many of these mistakes and I’ve also had good contracts save my ass a couple times.

It’s Saturday and I bet you can find 40 minutes to watch or listen. If you are in client services or have ever contemplated going out on your own, you owe it to yourself. Like Monteiro, one of my biggest pet-peeves is that designers generally avoid the business of business. We talk big talk about wanting to do good work, but part of doing good work is handling the business end professionally. We owe it to ourselves—and to our clients.

An Excerpt from The Book I’m Writing

Although I remember a time or two that Blankenship has hinted either on Twitter or his blog that he’d like to write a book, this is the first confirmation I’ve seen that he’s actually writing one.

I have no idea what it’s about—though I have some guesses—but I’ve been following his blog for years and he’s certainly on my short-list of folks that I’d like to see some longer-form thinking from. Good stuff.

Bring me stuff that’s dead, please

Interesting perspective. I like it. Sometimes staying relevant—in the pop-culture sense—is really just a popularity game, while the real work that makes real breakthroughs and real money is quietly being done out of the spotlight.