Happy Paperback Book Day!

Paperbacks

I love to read, and my passion for books has been a lifelong one.  Many years before texting and walking was a dangerous nuisance, I was walking to school and home again with an open book in my face; I never wanted to put a good story down, and I could pretty much read anywhere, including car trips in the near-dark, when the only light was from intermittent highway streetlights.

In addition to loving stories, people are my business, and as someone who is constantly curious, I’m always on the lookout for wisdom about what makes people tick, ways to understand them better, and ideas about how to partner or coach them more effectively.

Crystal and I are both avid readers, and we are always on the hunt for books that move us, bring us information we can use, reveal a new or better way of looking at things, or provide ways to better understand ourselves.   As an entrepreneur, it’s tempting to throw myself into a pile of “business” or “leadership” books, but I find it challenging to find ones that suit my reading style AND bring me the information and insight I’m looking for.  A few that I’ve enjoyed that do both include Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, anything by Malcolm Gladwell, and Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie.

What’s great is that skilfully crafted characters from fiction and journalism stories often work just as well, if not better, than business books to reveal insights about leadership, trust, relationships, self-awareness, and other aspects of human behaviour.

Some of my recent favourites include The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, The Sisters Brothers and Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt, Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shafer and Annie Barrows, and Moonwalking with Einstein with Joshua Foer.   There is also an ever-expanding list of incredible “young reader” novels that aren’t just for teenagers, and with one of my sons I am re-reading The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.  I also feel the urge reveal here that my two favourite books of all time are The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

If you’re a TED Talks fan looking for additional insight for evolving your leadership style, there are great speakers who also write, including Gladwell, Simon Sinek, and Brene Brown.  I am in the middle of Brown’s I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from What Will People Think? to I Am Enough.  Looooong title; fascinating topic.

This summer, I’m planning to tackle a few more from my ever-expanding book pile, including Quiet by Susan Cain, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine.  Happy Paperback Book Day, everyone!

Do you consider yourself a Reader?  Is reading included on your resume as a hobby?  Do you muscle your way through to the end of books you don’t enjoy, or do you give yourself guilt-free permission to cast an unsatisfying novel aside, unfinished?  Are you a sucker for a great story?   We invite you to share your favourites with us!

 

 

Project Spotlight: Uegama Architecture

Uegama Architecture Website

 

Web design, brand identity and business stationery? Lots of fun! This month’s project spotlight focuses on our friend and client, Jen Uegama and her business, Uegama Architecture. We worked with Uegama Architecture to create new branding, business stationery and a website for their company. Uegama Architecture specializes in creating custom architectural solutions for residential and commercial projects. Client-centred design is a core tenet of the Uegama Architecture brand and Uegama Architecture’s participation focused design approach was evident in our process. Having worked with Jen on projects before we knew her collaborative style would allow us to create branding that felt true to her and her business.

We created a logo to be used across online and print collateral. This logo was used for business stationery (including a business card), an email signature and a new website. Uegama Architecture’s website reflects their preferred design style – clean and simple.

Uegama Architecture Business Cards

Our goal was to create branding that reflected the Uegama Architecture brand while still providing a site that was functional and recognizable. Having an easy to navigate site will allow an increase of traffic and attract more potential customers. We created a layout that was intuitive and user-friendly, with splashes of bright orange and pictures of Uegama Architecture’s work. The site is personal, yet professional.

Are you looking for a brand refresh but still want to keep it true-to-you? Send us an email at hello(at)projecthouse.ca and lets chat about how we can develop YOU and YOUR brand.

The Point of No Return

Etch-a-sketch day got us thinking about the point of no return when working on a project.

This week was Etch-a Sketch Day…do you remember those?  While we posted that as a fun little “throw back” to the toy, we got to thinking about the idea of working on something really hard and then having to wipe it clean, and how that might actually relate to our business! While much of what we do and the projects we work on certainly have much more permanence than the artwork on an Etch-a-Sketch, the idea of starting something and having the ability to wipe it clean is quite refreshing. How practical is that though? Is there a point of no return? If a project is not going the way you want or isn’t going to result in the desired outcome, is it realistic to “shake things up” and just start fresh?

 

This question brings to mind a project that we worked on earlier this year, which was a branding and website project for a new company. We went through our discovery phase where we asked all the relevant questions about client needs, target market + demographics, marketing objectives, etc. Once we received approval of our mockups for the client’s new materials and website, we began site development work.  About a week or so into the project, the client had a significant change of heart and asked us to redesign the logo and website again –  the bottom line was that the design we had been working on was not a fit with who they were as a company. The client had always felt a little bit conflicted about their new brand and struggled (as many companies do) to identify their target market, as well as how to best present themselves to potential clients. This had all come bubbling up in a variety of ways.  With the company now “open for business,” there was a pressing need to get the site up and running as quickly as possible, and with new and prospective clients coming through their door, they had realized that the target market they had imagined they were trying to reach no longer made sense. This meant that the edgy, modern vibe we had been going for no longer seemed appropriate.

 

The project came to a halt, and we went back to the drawing board, presenting a variety of new ideas to our clients to help them really dive into what they were looking for, and we ended up landing on an entirely new brand and web design. While this was a potentially frustrating process for everyone, as hours and hours of work had already gone into the original design and website development… we ended up with a design that is far, far better, meets their true needs and company vision, and represents their brand more harmoniously than the previous version.

 

Did this restart take more time? Absolutely! Did it cost more money… Yes it did:   double the design time and double the efforts does cost more money. Was it worth it in the end?? Without question! I have no doubt in my mind that pulling the plug and starting over was the right course of action, and our client wholeheartedly agrees.

 

The question that I’ve been mulling over, however, is this:  at what point would it have been too late…or is there ever such a thing? I suppose if we had launched the website, designed marketing brochures, and printed business cards, that would have probably been too late – pulling the plug at that stage is confusing for clients and customers, can be perceived as a lack of organization and professionalism, and so on.  Once you present your brand to the world it’s pretty hard to go back a month later and launch something altogether different. That being said, if something just doesn’t work, no matter what stage, is it better to just shake the canvas clean and start over?

 

As with any major decision like this, there are always a multitude of factors that need to be weighed and reviewed, such as:

1. Time of course is an obvious one – sometimes you just have to get the job done and you have a schedule to meet, so “good enough” might just have to be acceptable.

2. Costs are most certainly a factor. If you’ve already budgeted for what you can afford, and have invested a whole bunch of money into a project, sometimes you just don’t have the option to stop and start all over again and incur new fees .

Once you order custom furniture and it’s on its way, you can’t send it back. If there are mistakes, or if the client has a change of heart, it can mean having to get rid of one set of expensive furniture and reordering new pieces, which can be an extraordinary cost.  If you’ve signed a contract for a new piece of software and you are locked in for 2 years, you may not be able to walk away from that investment. In addition to the hard costs initially, if we just run with this software example above, future costs and operating costs also need to be considered. If your current solution will lead to wasted hours and hours of additional resources, then perhaps in the long run it’s better to cut your losses now. It’s good to run the numbers for a few potential scenarios ahead of time, in order to make sure you are making a sound decision.

3. Importance and priority should certainly be a factor in deciding whether to start over again or not. I am inherently a perfectionist, so for me most of the time “good” just doesn’t cut it. That being said, there are projects where you just don’t have the ability (or time, money, staff) to start all over again and you need to see your idea through. You might not think it’s perfect, but how important is this particular item, and how important is the distance between “good” and “great”? Does it warrant the necessary time, energy, or resources that it will take to start again from scratch? Is your current solution good enough and will it get the job done and not cause undue hardship for anyone? If yes, then maybe it’s best to leave it alone.

 

So in the end, while the idea of just shaking that etch-a-sketch and starting fresh is certainly appealing, and is absolutely warranted in some cases, be sure to “think before you shake”…lol!   Do this by factoring costs, time, and importance into your decision. Talk to your colleagues and get their opinion; maybe you are missing a piece of the puzzle. Run your numbers, look at your business goals, ask your clients or customers.  And trust your gut.  After all is said and done, however, don’t be afraid to start something over. If your gut is telling you that something isn’t right and that in the long run you are going to have to spend more time and energy to dig yourself out after taking the wrong road, then pull the plug, wipe the slate clean, and start a new sketch!

Happy Canada Day!

Canada Day

Happy Canada Day to our beautiful country!