Hello & welcome. My name is Colin and I design, create, write, and think on this little corner of the interwebs.

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If you do it for the sake of loving it, and you don't care whether you're seen or not, or paid or not, all that stuff will come. But enjoy the process! If you start doing things for the sake of selling up front, for rewards, then it's going to catch up to you. The other guys not chasing money are going to outdo you in the end, because real innovation and grit come from loving the process.
Rodney Mullen

In an era where it seems like the Silicon Valley has lost its way, skateboarding legend Rodney Mullen hopes to be able to do something about it.

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♫ Lights & Motion — Chronicle

I can’t get enough of this album right now, it’s like a sonic adventure for my ears. I have been listening to it over and over again and I’m annoyed at myself for only recently discovering it. It’s available wherever music is sold, and even for use as a part of your video score on The Music Bed.

Being so easily distracted by words in music, wordless music has become the soundtrack to my working life. With writing and designing all day I can’t have any other words floating into my ear canals else I’ll just start typing those words out without even realizing it. This music style gives my brain a rhythm to type to and, for whatever reason, helps my brain flow stay in a groove.

Wizardry I say—wizardry.

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Ten Things I Wish I Knew Sooner Rather Than Later

Just stumbled across this and had to capture/share it. This is some sage advice from a very wise woman in the branding and creative field. I feel like I might need to repeat this to myself every day (perhaps multiple times).

  1. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks.
  2. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.
  3. Work very, very hard.
  4. Ask for opportunities.
  5. Finish what you start.
  6. Say “yes and” to almost everything.
  7. Busy is a decision.
  8. Confidence is overrated.
  9. Learn and build from your failures, but…
  10. It is only a failure if you accept defeat.

Debbie Millman (From her talk at The Melbourne Writers Festival 2014)

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Terrible Precedes Greatness

It’s frustrating being bad at things. It’s infuriating. The insecurity inside me of anyone seeing my work in its premature state makes me a little bit antsy, no matter how much I trust the person. However, at some point along the way we’ve all been terrible at everything we do. Every single one of us didn’t know how to not poop our own pants for years. However, in the following years we begin to have our worth, our value, our perception of ourselves shaped by the measurement of the quality of what we produce. Our merit is what we’re told makes us valuable. 

We are told there is a bar, an expectation, and goal that we’re supposed to achieve that makes us acceptable as adequate. Perfection becomes the idol that we strive to please, yet rarely achieve. In school, taking risks isn’t praised but is actually wrong, because our course is set for us and all we’re supposed to follow it through obedience. If we’re not behaving, we’re reprimanded. We subject huge stretches of our formative years to the scrutiny of our academic system that is supposed to make us into the best version of ourselves, however it really just accentuates within us the fear of failure. Not being good enough, is something we believe so strongly about ourselves that we may not even realize there could be an alternative. 

This has been most challenging for me as someone who’s chosen a creative job, and my entire purpose is to create things that have never existed before. The pursuit of a good idea is really difficult and batting 1000 is essentially impossible. If I’m honest, the thing I need to be doing most is pursuing bad ideas, because in those bad ideas, lie some good ones—amongst the good ones, there might even be a great one. But bad ideas are bad, right? We’re expected to keep those to ourselves, for fear of ridicule and laughter from our peers and managers. But what if we have to get those out of the way as we dig for great idea? What are we so afraid of? 

Bad ideas are the key to great ideas. Even when it comes to painting, drawing, graphic design, skateboarding, whatever you want to be great at—you have to be comfortable in sucking terribly before you can be great. You have to be willing to push through the potential embarrassment of being wrong, in order to eventually be right. You have to be terrible before you can be great. 

I’m feeling this the most with drawing right now. My understanding of form is awful, my ability to capture emotion is pathetic, my ability to communicate movement is a struggle at best, but it’s worth it because if I can eventually be comfortable with being terrible, I might eventually get better. If I get better, I might eventually get good—and that,is the goal. I can’t be great now, I have to terrible first. I have to push through, even though it goes against everything I’ve been taught.

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Agile Teams & Meaningful Decision Making

Small agile teams equipped and empowered to make decisions can make a difference in ways that consensus and bureaucracy couldn’t even dream of.

I wrote this on my AquaNotes this morning and since it’s a morsel too long to tweet I had to get the thoughts out of my head about the subject. It’s not profound in and of itself, but the opposite of it is the natural drift of growing and successful organizations.

Most often, small teams are what are able to make things that matter. The ring of collaboration is a short circumference, it’s vibrant, exciting, effective, and additive. Ideas get better in this because the banter is more conversational and less oration-like. Ideas are able to be bounced off one another and plussed rather than a “you listen while this person talks, then this person, then this person” style.

I’ve found a lot of success in situations where it’s a small group of us bantering about copywriting, conceptual art, storylines, and the like. However, when I’m in cast of too many, consensus becomes the goal (or inevitable outcome), and it becomes increasingly difficult to walk out making a ground-breaking idea.

I don’t have research for this, other than my experiential evidence, but so far, for me, it rings true. The thought of “Running something up the ladder” can seem normal in a corporate world where you’re not entrusted or self-trusting enough to make a decision, but that’s not how innovation occurs.

Often, new ideas are hated by at least half of a group when they first come out, because risk and new are scary. But those who believe in ground-breaking, normal-busting, exciting new endeavors are those that take organizations from good to great. I want to be a part of that kind of pioneering. Anyone can be a maintainer of the status quo, but it takes effort, handwork, wit, and an agile group of like-minded people to make something truly remarkable.

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