Its been a long week already and its only Thursday. I started working on a my latest clients logo around 9:30pm and its 11pm now. Whats crazy about this design stuff is how jazzed up I can get over it. When I first sat down I brought a cup of coffee and felt like just going to bed. Within a half an hour I was wide awake. I am so awake I am writing this post! It is such a high to create something that comes out ten times better than you dreamed of. I did three designs and each felt a little labored. They were all good but it took some effort to weed out the crap and get to those three. Then I had the fourth one just pop into my head, no effort, no thought, it was just there. I am not sure what you call it, inspiration maybe?
I am usually not that kinda guy. You know the guy that just completely geeks out over some minor thing and almost falls on himself trying to talk about. I feel like laughing right now, except my girls are asleep and I have to be quiet. Like those guys that are obsessing over the new “Rogue One” trailer today. Don’t get me wrong, I love Star Wars and its an awesome trailer! I mean come on, it looks like New Hope! Not the shitty prequels! But I am not the guy thats taking each scene frame by frame and analyzing it in a 30 minute you tube video. I do like the part at minute 1:10 were the classic storm troopers get blown up! Wait… Now I am doing it.
Anyway, the point here is I am totally awake after an hour and a half of design work on this logo and the thought has occurred to me. I have no idea what I will do if they do not fall in love with that fourth design. I love it, they have to love it. Now I wont be able to think about anything else until they call and say “We Love it!”
Social media and activism have a tenuous relationship at best. While it’s no secret that people love sharing news about injustice, it’s hard to do so without feeling like a “slacktivist.” In an effort to bridge that gap, Facebook(s fb) has rolled out a “Donate” button to help sharing turn into action for non-profits around the world.
According to a blog post announcing the feature, “Donate” was the direct result of Facebook’s donation system on behalf of the Red Cross during the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
“After seeing the generosity of people around the world toward this effort, we’ve been inspired to help everyone donate, at any time, to the organizations they care about most,” the blog post said.
Users need only go to the non-profit or charity’s page, and the donation post will be available at the top of the Timeline. Right now, users can only donate…
Just finished reading this wordpress blog about a Dad’s decision to NOT buy a gun. He had been making the same argument for it that I have, I need it when my daughter starts dating. Take a quick minute and read this, maybe it’s going to far but it’s made me think at least.
I have been a graphics and design guy since the late 90’s. It’s always been more of a hobby than work. My first business was called Critical Mass Graphics, I did websites and graphic design. It was more of a nights and weekends kind of thing but it did pay for a few new computers. When I was hired at a large plastics tooling company I started working with 3D modeling and design. Funny thing about that job, even though I have no design degree (or degree at all for that matter) I designed their new logo. That was 2002 and it’s still used today. While I was working there I taught myself 3D studio max and began rendering their tooling for artwork. It actually landed me a few gigs doing bottle design for the Waldorf Hotel in New York, Bath and Body Works and a line of kids plates for Berry Plastics. After that I moved to another company as the VP of operations while also working on all their marketing materials and catalogs. Somehow the design side had managed to creep into my life again.
When I moved on from that role to start my own business (now my third), the first thing I did was craft a logo and a website. In the world of manufacturing and engineering aesthetics is not really that important, at least not to the customers I serve. Other than that there was no design or creative work to be done and I kind of dropped out of that mind set for a few years.
When I joined the Sunrise Rotary club in 2008 I saw an immediate opportunity to dive back into websites, social media and design in general. To be honest, the club has no idea how to use any of it to their advantage. No fault of theirs, just the way it was. With a new routine of working from home for my day job, I have gotten into the (bad) habit of working on stuff for the club during the day. Everything from designing the fly the flag flyers and mailers to the clubs main website, districts Facebook page, clubs Facebook page and on and on it goes. I even delved into podcasting for a full year with 42 episodes of It’s Rotary. In all a lot of fun honing my skills again. For no pay of course.
So with all that, I want to turn my side line obsession into some actual cash. I’m not out to make millions on it, although that would be nice. But I would like to be able to point to something and say, ” I created that!” With my business I create profit and market share but nothing tangible (my day job). So it would be nice to actually create something.
I can hear my wife asking me, what’s your point honey. I am going to start small, continue to give away services to the charities I like, and build up my portfolio.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t immediately contradict myself with a rather lofty goal. This time around it won’t be Critical Mass Graphics, doing graphics and web design. Instead it will be ChadWaldo.com doing all kinds of creative work. I mean that’s what I am if nothing else, creative. My first project will be to launch an app that will show some of my skills. An iOS app called DCE (dice).
DCE is in development now and should only take a few weeks to complete. I have a few screen shots from the story board posted here as well. Once launched, I’ll be happy to take suggestions on how to improve it.
For over a year there have been grumblings that Apple is on the decline. With no new blockbuster products they were relegated to going the way of Microsoft. Well, here’s another mote in the eye for those that still think Apple has no where to go, but down.
My primary “job” has absolutely nothing to do with mobile sales. It has nothing to do with retail. It is about as far removed from the commercial sector as one can get. My business manufactures and distributes military goods for the US Military, Israeli Military and the Defense Industry in general. So when it comes to trying to save a small business money, like a coffee shop, you would think that I would be out of my element right? I’ll let you decide that.
One of the first things I learned, or actually finally understood about business, is that every business at its core, is the same. Every business has a goal, every business has customers, every business has some sort of process to move from one task to the other. In the end every business is in business for one reason, to make money.
There are several other factors that begin to differentiate companies of course. While a companies stated goal may be to give there customers superior quality or care, in the end they can not do that unless there making a profit. I took a nine week course through the Kaufmann Foundation called “Growth Venture” a few years ago. I was actually invited to attend and was given a scholarship making the cost, free. All I needed to do was agree to attend each Friday morning and actually do the work that was asked of me. The first meeting really set me back, my first impression was that I was in the wrong class. The other business owners in the class (12 in all) were of varying consumer levels. From a printer of business cards, a lawyer, a software developer, a distributor of electronic hardware, a goat milk farmer and two ladies that made gowns for clergy. Just what in the hell could I learn from these people that would help my company? How was this course, that was obviously designed for them, going to help me? Thankfully I stuck with it.
My “enlightenment” came on the second week of the class when the owner of the Roasterie paid us a visit and talked about how he got his start. Even though he was making coffee I began to see some similar issues he had during his start up. If cash is king, then cash flow is a universal problem. Solutions to the problem vary only slightly from business to business. There is a procedure, or as I like to put it, a scientific method that can be applied to every problem. I began to engage in the discussions more and started asking specific questions about each of the others businesses. The class became very useful.
As we moved into the next few weeks things really began to click. I started making analogies between there business and mine. I even got to the point where I could understand my own P&L and balance sheet. I always looked at it, weekly and monthly in fact, but it was greek until this class. I started to see that I had more issues with the company than I thought, scary. The easy thing to spot was that I was spending to much money per month, whether I compared that to income or not, didn’t matter. I knew I was spending alot of money, I had large projects in the works, it was to be expected. It was the forecasting over the next six months that made my heart stop. Looking around the class I realized I wasn’t the only one to be shocked by the huge numbers. I envied there numbers, easily one quarter of mine.
I had worked out that I needed an infusion of cash or I needed to cut back on spending, right now. The biggest problem had now become, planning. Turns out I wasn’t alone in that problem either. How can a small business owner find the time out of a busy day “running” the company in order to “plan” for the company? This was the hardest thing for me to come to grips on. I had five employees back at the shop, working on a quarter million dollars worth of equipment, making very precise parts. One mistake could cost me thousands of dollars, I had to keep an eye on them and keep those spindles turning. Turns out the two ladies that owned the clergy gowns company had the same thought. Before I could say this out load they beat me to it. One saying to other, “How do we keep our production girls turning the spindles and sewing while we sit and plan all day?” My eyes darted right to them, “Me to” I added.
Eventually I came to a decision to spend at least an hour a day on “forecasting” (planning). The time was usually spent over lunch, sometimes meeting with new customers, sales people and even a few owners of other machine shops. The time was well spent over that first year and opened my eyes to new possibilities and new problems.
I still use most of what I learned during that nine week course and enjoy looking over my notes as well. One thing that really stuck with me was to always be looking at new ways to do the same thing. I even spend 2 hours every other week throwing ideas off a colleague of mine, hashing things out as it were. The time is well spent, in the end I can not even begin to calculate how much money it has saved me, but I would wager that it has at least saved my lively hood. It also instilled a need to share what I have learned with others. Ever time I see a business using one of those small units that you swipe your card on I just have to say something. My wife has learned to put up with me when I start talking to the owner about how much money he could be saving by using Square or even PayPal instead. I just can not help but to ask, “How much was that little unit anyway?” I’ll save that whole conversation for another post. What it comes down to is that you can never stop learning, nor can you know from whom or what that knowledge will come from. Everything has a connection that is relevant to you, you just have to look.
Over the past several months I have been working on putting together and hosting a peace forum here in Lee’s Summit. Last Saturday it all came to an end at 3 in the afternoon as I closed the forum after a lengthy panel Q&A. I breathed a sigh of relief after packing my truck with all my gear and just stared out the window. There was so much information delivered over a 6 hour period that I was still trying to digest.
I still had some work to do that day before it was really over. The dinner wasn’t until 5 and I would be driving all four speakers down to the plaza to toast there efforts.
The short down time gave me a bit to look back on the day and begin to analyze. I guess the first thing that really struck me about the entire event was how interesting the four points of view where from each speaker. Every talk was like a mini TED talk on peace and kept me engaged. They were all great speakers but the one that still makes me think was Dr. Sharif Abdullah’s talk. He went thru, step by step, the process of how he worked with the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, to stop the violence.
Later during the panel Q&A, Dr. Sharif recalled sending out a young man to a meeting. It was always dangerous work, at any moment the person your trying to help, the person on the other side of the table, may decide its better to just shoot you. This young man, never came back from the meeting. After that incident he pulled back from all his work, determined to never send another person to there death. It took him four years to recover from that, I don’t think he will ever fully recover from it.
In these little personal moments, so much can be shared. I drove them down to dinner that night with Dr. Sharif following behind, riding with his daughter. She’s a sergeant at Ft. Leavenworth and drove over for the day to see her dad. I could not imagine what she has gone thru in her life, her father traveling all over the world, usually in harms way. She understood the sacrifices now, she has made a few of her own in her line of work. Dr. Sharif will be heading to Lahore next, a city in northern Pakistan, on the border with India. He chose to eat red meat at Jack Stacks, even though he never eats red meat. He said it was because the only food in that area was “Yak Burgers” and that he needed to get his stomach used to meat again. And I thought I made sacrifices….
On the drive down Russ Vandenbroucke sat in the passenger seat next to me. He’s a very tall, thin academic man. Spending most of his adult life either studying or teaching at a University somewhere around the world. Of the four speakers from the day, I had spoken to him the least and was looking forward to picking his brain. His talk looked at conflict more on the micro scale. Using the family dynamic or parent and child to illustrate his points on perception, he showed an image of an orange in a slide. He talked about two kids fighting over it, the typical scenario of two siblings saying “mine” back and forth. The parent coming in, taking the orange and slicing it in half, handing each half to each child. The first child shouted, thats not what I wanted! I wanted to juggle with it! The second child yelling, hey! I was going to draw a picture a whole orange mommy! The parent had made a decision that seemed right, but turned out to be wrong for both children. No one was happy in the end, not even the parent. The story was to highlight how peacekeepers and negotiators can inadvertently get involved in situations that they don’t understand and make choices that no one is happy with in the end.
He also told a story about an old Indian Chief, who sat around the fire one night with all his grandchildren. The chief told a story of two wolves that were forever fighting each other. One was always anger, taking what ever he wanted, un caring about the rest of the pack. The other was always patient, taking great care of the cubs and the pack. He told the children that each wolf lives inside them and the fight continues every day. With that he stood up and started to leave the tent. The children cryed out, “Who will win!” The old chief looked back at the children and said, “The one you feed”
We toasted at the restaurant with a glass of wine, I had a Corona of course. The evening was even more relaxed than the forum itself, with conversation drifting from every topic you can imagine. I had to explain what brisket was, briefly becoming an expert on BBQ. I am pretty sure that will never happen again. As it turns out, Dr. Sharifs daughter is a vegetarian, thankfully it didn’t bother her. Other topics were about Cuba and the recent lift on restriction to travel there. Rita Marie, another one of the speakers, has her institute in Costa Rica and talked about how eager she was to see Cuba one day.
I was surprised that I didn’t feel like the dumb kid at the table, I had every expectation to. After all I was sitting with four individuals who had not only seen more of the world than I ever will, but who also held multiple degrees as well. It wasn’t because I was witty, or even leading the conversation. It was more because they all had an ease about them, a way of making you feel like you had something interesting to say. (Even though I know I didn’t) It was a day I will not be able to replicate. A once in a lifetime moment to be sure, a day I hope I never forget.
While the event failed to attract a large crowd, it made an impact on those who attended. It made an impact on me, one that I hope sticks for along time to come. I don’t think I will become a peace maker in the way these four have. They are the trailblazers, but I would like to join the mop up crew.
Had a great meeting at my club this morning. We had two health care attorneys in from Spencer Fane to talk to us about ObamaCare. It was perfect timing for the topic as I just bought an audio book on the subject this week, ahead of my trip to DC. I have thought long and hard about politics at several times in the past decade. I have always followed the debates on health care as well.
In my junior year of high school I joined the debate club. The topic of argument for the year was HMO’s and PPO’s. for the whole summer before and the rest of that school year I studied up on the difference between the two. I was to come up with my own plan that would be a national plan based off which ever system I preferred. I choose HMO’s for some reason, really I can not remember why. The only thing I do remember with clarity that year is that I never came in first, nor did I ever do worse than 3rd. I went to at least a dozen debates. Even one at Rockhurst, the college not the HS. It was a fun year and I caught the bug for politics pretty hard.
I floundered in my senior year of debate, even thou I attended a debate camp over the summer. I didn’t study much and can not remember the topic of that years debates either. I was more interested in girls at this point. But the bug never left me. From watching the fledgling CNN network, to reading the AOL news page and listening to Rush Limbaugh. I was a political dork even if I tried not to show it. I would doubt if my closer friends even knew how much news I would read.
In college I declared my major as political science and in my first semester I took a course on the political relationship of North Korea and the US, from 1945 to 1980. I told you I was dork for this stuff. Life had other plans for me however and I came back to town without a degree and went into manufacturing.
To be fair manufacturing is in my family’s blood. My father and grandfather were both machinists before the family business was started. Somewhere in the background of all that I still managed to be keep up with the whole Clinton, Monica thing. I would have lunch with my dad at this little dive off Blue Ridge called Paul’s. We would have a tenderloin sandwich with onion rings and butterscotch shake, while listening to Rush Limbaugh. Not everyday, just every other day.
Even after I moved on from the family business I would listen to NPR pretty much all day long at work. My favorite is still SciFri with Ira. I have always hated Fresh Air however. I would listen just to see what crap would come out of her mouth next. I would still enjoy most NPR’s programming thou. Still do actually.
I am pretty conservative now, can’t help it. My grandfather always told me if your young and a republican, your stupid. If your old and a democrat your stupid. I think once you have kids you naturally get more conservative, at least on some issues.
With all this time spent following politics and news in general I suppose it’s time to start putting these opinions I have to work. What better way to start then to head to DC? I am taking my first trip with the ASAE this week to, yes, lobby some senators and congressmen. The ASAE stands for the American Society of Association Executives. One of the topics I’ll be discussing with Roy Blunt is the Affordable Health Care Act and it’s impact on small business. I can feel the politics bug gnawing at the edges of my mind again. I am not sure what it means and where it will take me, but I know I am going to enjoy it!