Grow: THAT is the answer

_Note: also posted on “The Blog Studio”: blog._

After consulting with a number of people I know and trust, I’ve made the decision to move ahead and grow my business. Current challenges have to be overcome, and future opportunities abound. I need great people here to work with me.

Today Michael Caputo and Lucia Mancuso joined Richard and I at TBS world headquarters. Mike is an excellent designer, with a keen eye for balance and placement. His work has an elegance that fits well with my aesthetic. He’s pretty handy with xhtml and css too.

Lucia joins us as project manager. She is here to save me from myself. Ask any of my current clients, and they’ll tell you what I mean. She’s been here for a day, and already there’s a sense of control returning. Lucia will take over the tasks that I don’t particularly excel at or enjoy. This will allow me to focus more on design and managing the overall creative direction.

I would like to thank my clients for having the patience to stick with me during this nutty growth spurt. I’m writing this publicly to preemptively let the blogosphere know we’ve “experienced slippage” in many of our recent milestones. If you’re going to hear about problems with my company, I want you to hear them from me.

I’ll tell you honestly: I misjudged my workload. I hadn’t factored in the slack to allow anything to go wrong. Hence, once somthing did, it spiraled into a nasty storm at a wholly inopportune time (of course).

The addition of Mike and Lucia to the team is specifically to help us get back on track. As a result, we’re not going to be starting any new work until Dec. We are booking work though, so if you have a project you would like to discuss with us, please do so sooner rather than later. This will ensure we can get it on the schedule as early as possible.

There’s lots of lessons here, not the least of which is “be careful what you wish for”.

Journey of Hope

During the second world war, 30,000 Jews managed to escape from Austria and other parts of Europe, and made a new life for themselves in Shanghai. Not much has been told about their story – so the friendship that exists between the Jewish and Chinese people is not widely known.

The Journey of Hope exhibit, which opened last night in Toronto, tell the story through the eyes of people who were there, and those who are still there. It’s a fascinating adventure story, made poignant by it’s daily routine and apparent normality.

I was extremely honoured to be asked to design the web site and interactive kiosk for the traveling exhibit. The site and the artifacts on it tell the story much better than I can. You can have a look for yourself by clicking “here”: or on the screen shot below.

Photos of the fall – Life, Death… All that stuff

I love the fall. It’s the whole death and rebirth thing that gets me. While up at the farm this weekend, I took a few moments away from web design to snap some photos.

These were taken using my Olympus C5050 with the focus set to macro.

This first group is of milkweed pods. The plants are green, then, when the frost and rains come in the fall, they rot and turn black. As they rot, the pods pull open, revealing a snow field of silky white seeds. The life/death/rebirth metaphor doesn’t get much more obvious than this. Still, obvious or not, they’re great visuals.

The remainder of are a study in trying to hold your hands still while taking macro shots. The colours in this group are simply incredible.

Growing pains, part 1

This is the second time I’ve been involved in my own business. The first offered many (sometimes painful) lessons. One of the most important lessons I learned was to *know what I didn’t know*. This is harder than it sounds.

We’re ego driven creatures (must… let… ego… go….). We like to be right. Occasionally to our peril. This time around, I’m a bit older, and a bit wiser. I don’t want to be right. I want to succeed. But maybe just a little too much.

We’ve been over-run with quote requests and new work. This is an incredibly unbelievably wild thing. See, I’m still stuck on the fact that anyone actually reads this. So to conceive of people contacting us because of _my blog_… Well, it just doesn’t compute! Odd confession, but there you go.

Because I’m so new at all this, and because I’m driven, and because I’ve spent the past 3 years barely, _barely_ scraping by, I’ve been prone to say “hell ya!” when asked to take projects on.

It’s been an amazing experiment in testing one’s limits. Somehow, despite the pressure I’m managing to produce some amazing work. I know that if I keep on going at this pace though, something’s going to give. (One could argue something has – I’m scared to step on a scale, but I’m at least 20 pounds heavier than I was 3 years ago).

So, I’m going to take my own advice: I’m going to admit that I don’t know my own limits until I’ve broken them. I have a file folder filled with x-rays and a closet filled with braces and crutches to prove it. I’m going to listen to those closest to me and back it off a bit.

The terrifying, horrifying reality is that means I’ll have to say no to new work. If I do, I fear I’ll never get another job. Cliché, I know. Still…

*So, to summarize:* cutting back before burnout is a good thing.

Does this mean I have to give up Neil Young?

To Grow or Say No: THAT is the question

Ok dear readers, I need your help. I’m looking for your recommendations on consultants. Not so much “consultants are good” or “consultants are bad”. More along the lines of “Bob is a really great consultant to web firms facing rapid growth”.

Do you know any Bobs?

Gorgeous light

We took advantage of the weather yesterday to walk down to the beach. Toronto is an incredibly beautiful city, a fact I often forget. These pictures were taken about a 20 minute walk from the office.

I was taking a picture of the flower when this bee decided it wanted part of the action.

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz. (Sorry, it’s Monday morning, that’s the most original tagline I can come up with at the moment)

Youth and death, juxtaposed.

Refferal spam makes me shake my head

So, do they really think that because they’ve spammed my referrer logs I’m going to click on Who are these geniuses? Is there a more useless waste of human potential than dreaming up referrer spam? I don’t think so…

The Blog Studio soft relaunch

The Blog Studio relaunch has gone live. There are still a couple of broken links lying about, and a “coming soon” or two to boot. We’ll be cleaning all that up, plus adding new features over the next couple of days.

Click “here”: to see the site for yourself.