Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Changing education paradigms

September 12th, 2013

A great video follow up to the post below. Thanks Jamie.

What my son taught me about principle.

July 22nd, 2013


My oldest son started playing club soccer this year. He is a goalie and a very good one at that.

As they prepare for the fall season, the coach has been taking them to the local recreational leagues to play against older kids as part of their training. Since club teams practice more and are more advanced, they will sometimes play against kids that are 1-2 years older, and sometimes more than a foot taller.

A few weeks ago they played against a red team that cheated and put a 14-year-old on the field. My son’s team was beat up pretty bad that day by these older kids (Final score was 10-2).

Last Saturday they were set to play the cheaters again. It was the morning of the game when my son and I left the house early. He tells me, “Daddy, I want to win so bad against this team because they cheated against us. I’m going to do everything I can to help my team.”

My son proceeded to deliver the most inspired day as goalie that he has ever had in his illustrious 1 year goalie career. Diving for the ball, I’m sure he saw over 30 shots that day. His performance was simply inspired.

I remember one particular save seeing my son in traffic, airborne, fully extended and tipping the ball wide. I felt privileged to watch. But inspired by what? He was inspired by principle! He didn’t need any other reason. The team had cheated and he knew what needed to be done.

It didn’t need some complicated explanation or purpose. He stood for what’s right. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. Amazing, considering they lost 10-2 in the previous battle. Even though they didn’t win, he stood for what’s right. It didn’t need some complicated explanation or purpose. It was principle.

When’s the last time you did something purely on principle?

The people you meet and the books you read.

June 27th, 2013

LukeMysse_booklist books

I was reminded a couple weeks ago about a great quote by the late Charlie ‘Tremendous’ Jones. He said “Five years from today, you will be the same person that you are today, except for the books you read and the people you meet.” .

Last night I returned from an amazing trip to San Francisco for the HOW Design Live conference. As a speaker I had opened and closed the Creative Freelance conference on Saturday / Sunday but then stayed to take in some sessions of HOW Live.

It’s crazy when I think about how I only see some of these people once a year and yet we pick up right where we left off. So much inspiration has come from this group, I can certainly say that I’m not the same person because of them.

I’m going to issue a HOW Live challenge. People and Books.
1 – Share a book that you’ve read in the last year.
(I just emailed out a my Book List to a couple people that asked for it after hearing me speak. Post what you’re reading right now twitter.)

2 – Introduce someone to someone else.
(You know when you meet someone and say “oh you need to meet blank” but then you get busy and forget? Let’s stop forgetting and actually send that intro right now.)

Rediscover Inspiration

December 13th, 2012


I always laugh at how early the buzz starts for HOW Design Conference, seems like only yesterday we were in Boston. Before we know it June will be here and another HOW conference upon us. I’m honored to have been asked to open and close the HOW Creative Freelance Conference in 2013. My talk titles are set and I’ve started the preparation already (it always feels weird to start this early).

The conference title “Rediscover Inspiration” is very pertinent for me this time of year. December has always been a big reflection month, as I’m sure it is for many. It’s a time to look at what got done (and didn’t) this year and what the hopes are for 2013.

If I had to be honest, the last couple years have been about deep rediscovery for me. I don’t think I’ve ever been as motivated and clear about my path as I am now, but it took a lot of pain and hard truth to flush that out. In the end if we want to “Rediscover Inspiration” we have to do the work. It can be hard, but we have to do the work.

A friend of mine said something a couple months ago that still stings a bit, he wasn’t referring to me but I certainly felt it. He said “That’s the problem, most talented people don’t want to work”. Ouch! But I think that statement holds true for a lot of creative people. To stay inspired it takes hard work, lots of work. To rediscover inspiration it takes some soul searching, sometimes going into places we don’t want to go. But most talented people don’t want to do the work, it’s easier instead to rely on ability.

If we want to rediscover inspiration we have to do the work. Darn.

Taking a bike ride with Elvis.

August 20th, 2012

I had an amazing encounter  yesterday with a guy named Elvis while riding bike on PCH.

The story starts back in November of 2011 when I read a post on the Brooks Saddle blog  (Elvis Munis Takes the Long Road to Promote African Development). Inspired by what I read I connected with his page on Facebook and have been loosely following along.

Now I have to admit, I didn’t see anything in my stream for a long time so I sort of forgot about the trip. On Saturday morning however I noticed a picture on Facebook of Elvis standing near the Pacific. After further examination I realized that I had been in that exact spot near Carlsbad.  I realized their was a good chance he would be passing through OC on Sunday on his way north so I quickly left a comment. After some back and forth I made plans to ride out and meet him the next day somewhere on PCH.

That night I was sharing the story with my friend Ron who happened to be riding south from Dana Point the next morning. While waiting on PCH Sunday morning I got a call from Ron letting me know that he had found Elvis riding with a guy named James, they were making their way through Camp Pendelton together. I agreed to ride down to Dana Point to meetup with the pack (on Single Speed MASI 🙂

We met up and enjoyed a meal together in Dana Point. It was amazing listening to his stories about riding up through South America, about meeting cartel in Columbia and being warned about some of the dangers in Mexico. Also hearing about mechanical issues suffered in the middle of nowhere with no proper bike shop nearby.

I also enjoyed hearing more about his cause. His goal is to raise enough money to send 10 Tanzanians to college to learn about conservation. He went on to talk about the importance of conservation in Tanzania, how the country relies so heavily on safari tourism which I had never really thought much about. I believe in conservation sure but I never really put it together with prosperity the of a nation. Makes complete sense that if one of their biggest industries is tourism that they need to educate future generations on the importance of conservation.

After our brunch I got to lay down some miles with Elvis riding with he and James up to Seal Beach. It was great to see so many other cyclist ride up and chat with him about his trip. He was always ready to hand out a small card with the URL and very gracious.

At a gas station near Seal Beach we said our goodbyes. I ended up putting in 75 miles on the single speed in the heat but as Elvis said “this heat feels like vacation compared to riding from Yuma” which he had done just a few days prior.

His 2 year journey will cover 28,000 miles and 47 countries. WOW

You can read more about Elvis or contribute:

A dying breed – back when people actually made stuff, with their hands, and it was amazing.

May 16th, 2012

Inspirational work by David A Smith. His attention to detail and pride in personal work is amazing and so lost in our modern use of design technology. A client may never appreciate the thought we put into things as designers but that shouldn’t matter, do it for yourself and for the craft we share…even if nobody notices. Amazing clip, well worth the 15 minutes.


December 12th, 2011

My TEDx Irvine talk “Transition”.
Special thanks to the TEDx team for asking me to speak and for putting on an amazing event. If anyone has ever wanted to know what’s in my heart, this talk is as transparent as I’ve ever been about where I want to go.

RIP Steve

October 6th, 2011

He was a modern DaVinci, the Thomas Edison of my time. Without his inspiration I wouldn’t have the tools to make my living. Without his vision I couldn’t communicate with family and friends the way I do. The list of products he brought to market is staggering, the influence of those products can never truly be grasped. To name a few: a graphic based interface, the mouse, a computer friendly and approachable, the iPod, iPhone, iPad, Pixar. He changed the way we hear music, the way we watch movies, the way in which we interact with each other…the list goes on and on. RIP Steve Jobs your inspired leadership will be missed.

– posted from my iPad

I’m a Sucker for Spirit.

June 20th, 2011

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for spirit. I love when people do what they love and I will go out of my way to show my support. It’s why I have an office full of artwork. It’s also why I buy the brands I love. Something about their brand spirit is contagious to be around and that is great for business.

One such brand is fellow graphic designer Steve G. from RDQLUS Creative. I met Steve last year in Denver at a conference I spoke at. After watching him interact with his fans, I can say that his spirit is definitely contagious. It’s not only in how he interacts with people, but also in his work.

I recently picked up a couple of t-shirts from his store. Not only do I love the designs, but like the artwork hanging in my office, I will be reminded of the spirit that went creating them each time I don my RDQLUSthreads.

Focused on Culture

June 3rd, 2011

A few weeks back, I had the privilege of speaking to a great group of IT service company owners at Kaseya Connect in Las Vegas. My talk was titled “Branding Your Companies Unique DNA” (if you’re interested, you can download the simple slide deck here).

Over the past couple of weeks, some of the content has sort of settled in and I wanted to take an opportunity over the next few posts to address some of the questions that were asked at the end of my talk and in the hallways after.

One of my points in the talk was about how company culture is very much a part of your brand, which brought up a great question: “How do you retain culture as you become a bigger company?”

As I thought about this question a bit deeper, I came up with a few pointers based on what I’ve seen in the marketplace, mainly as I’ve witnessed with some of my favorite clients and how they lead the companies that they own.

1. Share your vision
Even when your company is growing, you can still share your vision for the future and keep your staff in the loop. This can be hard if you’re growing at a quick pace and your schedule is always full, but I think at least once a quarter, you should rally people together either in person or virtually and share how things are going from a top level. Show them that you have vision and that you understand where your business is and where it’s going.

You might also start an internal blog or email chain where you can talk candidly about things that are happening in the business. This could be especially helpful if you are larger than 25 in staff or running a company with multiple locations.

Either way, people want a leader that has vision. If you have goals for the company, share them with everyone. If you’re working with a new business consultant to better the company, introduce that person to your staff. If you’re working on a new product, let everyone know (not just the sales staff).

We all need to be a part of something big. So, let your people know how deeply you care about them and the future of the company.

2. Go to the front lines
I think back to the days of knights and swords when kings used to lead armies into war. Think about how much different our world would be now if this was still the case. A staff loves a leader that is willing to charge to the front lines with them. If you as a company owner are still willing to go to the front lines, that will inspire your people. It shows that you are in the trenches with them, even if only for a little bit. When was the last time you went out on a sales call? Or took a customer service phone call? Or helped clean up after an office party? When you as a leader show that you are happy to get your hands dirty, you give your company a sense of togetherness. Don’t just stop with you, though. Encourage your managers to get in the trenches with your people too.

3. Share time
I know someone that used to put together a team of walkers for the Race For The Cure event every year. They would invite staff, clients and vendors to participate in the event together and they provided a cool t-shirt for everyone involved. Whether it’s participating in a charitable event or having a quarterly company lunch, you should make a conscious effort to do things together as a staff. Ask your staff for suggestions; maybe they’re already involved with a charity that you can volunteer with. Making an effort to spend time together takes time and resources, yes, but your brand culture will thank you for it. And if you can involve clients, even better.

Some final thoughts …

Study companies that have gone before you, and ask your colleagues and fellow business owners what they do to build their culture. Read books about great companies (“Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh is a great one to start with). Also, ask your marketing people for ideas on how to engage staff. I’ve played part in a few fun internal campaigns with the sole purpose of building some excitement amongst a company’s staff.

One culture caveat: while I haven’t seen it happen very often, it is possible to completely ignore common sense and your company’s financial health for the sake of culture. Like anything, you can swing the pendulum too far the other way. But I believe you can have culture and make money, no matter the size of your company.