• What We Learned This Year 2012 #20: Legwork Studio

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    Not to sound cliché, but 2012 was an amazing year for us. We saw new challenges and accepted new opportunities. We grew our staff, but not too much. We became very aware of our capabilities and pushed them to the limits. We hit the skateparks during lunch, formed Andrew WK cover bands, did kegstands, and worked our asses off. We think of ourselves as a family and we thought it made sense for each individual Legworker to share a lesson learned, check out our little retrospective at this link.

    To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

  • What I Learned This Year 2012 #19: Melanie Pruitt

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    I learn small lessons every day. One of my continuing lessons – and it can be a tough one – is to be less aware of myself and more aware of others. This can be something as simple as holding the door for someone or noticing a slight flicker in someone's eyes that lets me know they need some encouragement. I've learned I'll never be "the best" at my craft, and I'm ok with that. I'm content with being aware of my surroundings.

    To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

  • What We Learned This Year 2012 #18: Quick Left

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    2012 was a dynamic year for us: we changed the make-up of our executive and leadership team, grew (and shrunk, and then grew again) our sales and marketing teams, penetrated new markets and created new revenue streams (training, expansions to other markets). We continued to find out what's in our wheelhouse and (maybe more importantly) what isn't and refine our emphasis on customer service. We took risks, made key hires and acquired some big-name clients along the way. We contributed more open source than ever and continued to stretch our legs in our fabulous office space in the heart of downtown Boulder. We put a sign on the window with large, bold type explaining exactly what we do in a single sentence. Most importantly, we've set the table for even better things to come in 2013.

    Here are a few other observations:

    • There can be a kids table and an adults table–everyone ends up having more fun that way anyway!
    • Unfortunately, we had to part ways with a co-founder. We learned that growing up is hard, but pushing through difficult times leads to even better things on the other side.
    • Presentation is just as important for internal communication to your team as is for external communication for your customers and partners.
    • Apropos to that last point, gray area and ambiguity can undermine even the best efforts.
    • Learning from your mistakes and staying positive will always get you further than pointing fingers or promoting a doom & gloom attitude.
    • It's important to figure out what you are really good at and staff accordingly to fill in the gaps, rather than trying to "hero" it through because you're "supposed" to.
    • As we grow and get more smart problem solvers, better process and become scalable, it's important to remember how we got here, by being scrappy and taking risks, and having a passion for the craft.
    • We love doing this, we love working together and we've got a lot yet to learn. We are excited for 2013!

    Happy New Year, Love, Sam (@wookiehangover) and Ingrid (@electromute)

    To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

  • What I Learned This Year 2012 #17: Mandy Stevens

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    As I look back over the last year, I’ve learned a little about a lot of things. The one notion that seems to find itself in everything is this:

    You have to want it. Whatever it is, you have to really, really want it. You can’t just picture it or visualize it or set your sights on it. These days that’s not enough to make it real. At least not in my world. You have to want it so bad that you’re inspired enough, intensely driven and even frighteningly pressured to do everything it takes to get the most out of life. Professionally (as a full-time freelancer), it has meant continuing to commit to every project as if I’m one of your die-hard employees even though I might not get a call back. Personally, it has meant putting everything on the line (my husband and I opened The Desk in April, a coworking café in Capitol Hill) and taking a hard look at what I thought really mattered to me and realizing I’ve never been more wrong in my life.

    What I’d like everyone who might still be reading this to realize is that when you really want it, what tends to happen is something you could never imagine. That’s why all the visualization techniques in the world don't work all that well. When you want something–I mean really want something–you actually wind up with so much more than you could ever hope for.

    And for that I’m thankful and wish everyone a new year chock-full of that beautiful thing called want.

    To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

  • What I Learned This Year 2012 #16: Ryan Johnson (from Vladimir Jones)

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    The truth is, our problems are rarely as ominous as we make them out to be. And sometimes, what people want most...is an armrest. Allow me to explain.

    So this year, I boarded a plane. I was lucky enough to be seated in the bulkhead. In the moment, of course, this barely made up for the burdens of our business that sat down with me. Now, if you have been on an airplane lately, you know every flight is overbooked. So, the guy in 6A and I eyed each other optimistically, while noticing 6B remained empty. The steward was about to reach for the microphone, announce that it was time to cut ourselves off from the world and close the door just as 6B showed up.

    He burst through the door like a German Liberace.

    Swinging his briefcase at the heads of the unsuspecting first class passengers. Apologizing, “Entschuldigen sie bitte,” to each row in a heavy German accent. iPad, magazine, newspaper and iPhone clutched in his non-assault hand. Red-faced and sweating it was as if he--in his bright red jeans and silver high-tops and Wham! backup dancer t-shirt--had suddenly realized he wasn’t at the airport to just drink beer and stain his t-shirt with mustard. He was at the airport to catch a flight. He had clearly sprinted from the bar to do just that.

    He hurriedly settled in. For the next two hours we waged an epic battle over the armrest. He would lay claim. I would counter with the deep breath draw in, expand and push. This year, I learned that in the chess match for the armrest, he whose elbow is closest to the seat back has the leverage. And he who has the leverage wins.

    I learned how to remain fake-sleeping while sustaining near-full blown punches to the bicep and forearm. I also learned that maybe the German in 6B needed the armrest more than I did. That maybe my problems aren’t that all-consuming. Maybe by providing the one thing people need, you’ll win in the end. These lessons reminded me once again that we work in a business of compromise.

    This year, I learned that true wisdom is the ability to know which fights are worth fighting. Which of those compromises are worth making. Or not. I learned that the armrest can stand for a lot of things. A laugh. An opportunity. A belief. A team. I learned that my job is to make sure people on both sides of the armrest feel like they have all the comfort they need. And then some.

    I learned that often times the fights not worth fighting are the most stressful. The most unfulfilling. But, the easiest to turn into leadership opportunities. I learned that knowing the fights to fight makes all the difference.

    However, that day at that time, I chose not to subscribe to those higher notions. Not to relent and give up my hard-fought position on the armrest. I denied all aspirations to attain loftier ideals. No, this day I chose to win that particular game of armrest. I don’t know why. However, my win was acknowledged as the plane headed in for its final descent. As the landing gear opened into place, my eyes opened to 6B looking me squarely in the face. He boldly declared out of frustration in his heavy German accent,

    “Du knowest, zie awmvest ist un give und take.”

    I responded almost unconsciously in my very much feigned German accent,

    “Zat ist vie you give und I take.”

    I learned one more thing this year: sometimes, it’s too much fun to mess with people who tuck bright red jeans into silver high-tops.

    To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

  • What I Learned This Year 2012 #15: Ana Bogusky

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    How I look at things is

    all that matters:

    My family is breathtaking and delightful.

    My work is inspiring and satisfying.

    My history is comforting and interesting.

    My health is precious and wonderful.

    My being continues to be reminded of all of this.

    To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

  • What I Learned This Year 2012 #14: Jessica Grenier

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    The journey is what makes the trip. My husband and I recently took a trip to Peru and Ecuador and on that trip we were fortunate enough to do the 4 day hike along the ancient Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Many people choose to take the train and get there in a few hours, however, we chose to go the long route, which the ancient Incan people walked daily, in hopes of experiencing how they lived. After 4 days and 3 nights of hiking and camping, we crossed through the long awaited Sun Gate. Upon finally arriving at our destination, we stopped, took a look around, and realized... Machu Picchu wasn’t that great. Granted, it was stunning and powerful and visually extraordinary, but it didn’t compare to the 3 days of getting there.

    So, yes, the destination (Machu Picchu) was great, but what we enjoyed and will remember the most was the journey that took us there. The challenges, struggles, smiles, laughter and peaceful moments were what made the entire experience so special and memorable.

    As a photographer and business owner, I’m constantly striving to make it to my next major goal. There is always the pressure of not knowing where your next paycheck will come from or if you’ll accomplish the shoot at the high standards you set for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in stressful moments and zipping from one job to another, never taking a break or time out from work. But instead of rushing to get to that next milestone and expand business, I think it’s especially important to take note of and appreciate all of the incredible moments and events along the way. This may sound simple, but that's not always the case.

    Just a few other things I learned on this particular journey...

    Endurance. Push yourself and you’ll be astonished at what you can do. The most amazing results can come from the most uncomfortable situations, when you are not sure of the outcome.

    Laugh. In times that are difficult a good laugh will ease all pain.

    Hard is good. This may have come out wrong (eeek!) but what I mean is our work is not always easy, in fact, it’s rarely easy. But if it were easy, not only would it be less satisfying, but everyone would do it. The challenge is what makes it so great.

    So take my advise and don’t take the train!

    I’ve attached a collage of a few candid photos from the journey, not the destination. They may not be photos you love or of people you know, but for me they represent a learning experience and an adventure.

    To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

  • What I Learned This Year 2012 #13: Haley Turner

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    A friend once told me “A comfortable life is not a life worth living.”

    At that moment, I knew exactly what she meant. While my life was pretty easy-going, I was in a rut. There was no challenge to anything I was doing. I felt like I was just existing. I hated it.

    So two years ago I picked up my life in the Deep South and moved out to Colorado. I had a pretty steady freelance career in Atlanta, but I was bored out of my mind in my personal life and something had to give. Why Colorado? The cooler, drier weather, the down-to-earth attitude of its residents, the adventurous lifestyle, and the enormous mountain range that perches like nature’s cathedrals on the horizon. (They still take my breath away.) Everything about this place was exactly what I needed.

    I know people thought I was crazy to give up my cushy Atlanta freelance connections for the wild frontier. However, I’m still taken aback when people tell me “You were so brave to do that.” I wasn’t being brave. I was propelled by my restlessness and a need to get away from the predictable. I think, as creatives, we need to constantly challenge ourselves and strive for something better. Otherwise, that muscle between our ears atrophies.

    So far, moving my life out here has been good for me. For my creativity. For my soul. I have found plenty of opportunities to get outside my comfort zone and I’m never bored. Has everything been perfect? No, but I didn’t come out here so life would be easier. I came out here to see what I was made of.

    If anyone else out there is looking to shake things up, move to a new city or even just change jobs, I say go for it. Fear is a self-imposed feeling and you have control over that. Even if you stumble, you’ll find the fortitude to pick yourself up and keep going. It’s the scars from those stumbles that make us interesting. And give us great stories to tell.

    I’m so glad to be out here in Colorado. Thanks for reading.

    To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

  • What I Learned This Year 2012 #12: Dave Schiff

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    I learned that there's no substitute for good old fashioned give-a-shit. I used to think it was possible to manufacture a pretty good facsimile, but there's nothing quite like the real thing. Call it what you want. Expressing shared values. Aligning around a cause. Believing in what you do. It's all give-a-shit, and there is nothing more powerful when it comes to connecting with consumers, forming partnerships with clients, and attracting top talent. There is no fee or line item on a scope of work for giving a shit, but all the "core competency" in the world is useless without it. As an organization or an individual, it's the most formidable thing you can have, and the most valuable thing you can offer.

    To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

  • What I Learned This Year 2012 #11: John Winsor

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    2012 has been a crazy year. V&S has added a dozen new clients, grown the team by 50% and taken on Havas as a new investor. Likewise, I’ve added a new role of Chief Innovation Officer at Havas along with being CEO of V&S. The dual role has given me some wonderful insights as we all try to figure how to build an agency in a world that is constantly being shaped and reshaped by technology.

    Here are 14 guiding principles that I’ve been thinking about for 2013:

    1. Identify what wants to happen and help it happen

    2. Serve the people

    3. Be a social business with a purpose

    4. Ask forgiveness not permission

    5. Prototype don’t present

    6. Open systems beat closed systems

    7. More transformation less innovation

    8. Do less with less

    9. If you’re going to fail, fail spectacularly

    10. Architecture is more important than execution

    11. Learn how to code

    12. More signal less noise

    13. Small ideas are better than big ideas (thanks @garethk)

    14. Bottom-up not top down

    To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

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