Being a Designer is not …

I recently ran a contest on Freelancer.com for a new logo for my company. The results were shocking and by shocking I mean terrible. This experience has led me to come up with a short list of things that does not qualify you as a designer:

  • Putting the client’s logo onto a picture of a teeshirt,  a business card, a screen, or any other surface. 
  • Adding a “premium font” and typing the client’s name with it
  • Showing off your composition skills by taking stock clipart and putting it next to a font you had on your system
  • Sending some unrecognizable shape and passing it off as a logo (or artwork) without any explanation
  • Having a friend show you how to change the client’s logo using Photoshop and then passing a colorized version of the client’s logo as a fresh new design

I’m sure there’s more but I still am without a new logo so it’s time for me to go back to work.

Startups versus Corporates

In switching to the Entrepreneurial lifestyle from years of a corporate one, I’m surprised by how many differences there are between startups and large corporates. Here’s a quick list of things I’ve noticed:

  1. Scheduling

    Entrepreneurs manage their meetings w/o sending meeting requests; the corporate world views this as an anathema and sends the mtg request. Not sure which one I like better … I suspect the corporate approach is more effective at driving participation but the entrepreneurial one plays into the cultural ethos of the individual being responsible for their acts, actions, and in this case meetings.

  2. Tech Stack

    The technologies that startups/entrepreneurs use is massively different from corporates. Corporates like Java and .NET, startups like Ruby, PHP, and Node. It’s not that there isn’t some overlap but it’s shocking how much lack of overlap there is.

  3. Individual versus Group contribution

    Entrepreneurs like group dynamics but they love individual performance. A startup typically starts as a few bright young things and in those early days each individual is a huge part of the whole so ensuring that each individual is an individual performer makes sense. Corporates focus on change through teams and reward leadership and group success not to the exclusion of the individual but with the focus precisely backwards from the startup.

  4. Passion

    Every successful corporate that I’ve seen has some very passionate leaders that help it to succeed. Every successful corporate department has those few individuals who just love what they’re doing. On the whole, though, corporates are filled with people who are working for paychecks. On the startup side of the equation the percentages are very different. Entrepreneurs tends to be passionate creatures and they’re almost universally taking financial risks doing something they believe in … which it turns out is a powerful feedstock to passion. The people who come and work for the founding team are also typically passionate people as they are often working “for the idea” and with belief in the equity value that still needs to be created. Admitted the high price point of the contracting market combined in a funded startup can lower this passion-equation somewhat but in general I would say any startup (funded or not) stacked up against a corporate will have a very noticeable variation in passion.

Well that’s a start at least. If anyone has any more I’d be interested to hear from you.

Document Processing

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Just bought the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M with the idea of getting away from paper and helping to ensure I get through physical mail (which I’m notoriously bad at). It’s day 1 (really day 1/2) and I have two general statements:

  1. This is a great scanner. Small and compact yet high quality construction. It also does high quality job of scanning and at a high speed (20 pages / minute). This makes me feel very good about the purchase.
  2. The software that comes with it is VERY basic. Surprisingly so. A few more tweaks here and there and the STP dream would have been much more realized than it is currently. Overall the workflow seems a little hokey and awkward. Too bad as it really takes away from the hardware which is great!

To take point 2 a step further, I must say that the Mac seems to be the forgotten platform when it comes to document processing. A majority of the software vendors only have a PC version and those that have both have very watered down versions for their software. Annoying really. I have VM Fusion so I guess I could run this software but it really kicks my OSX Mojo and adds some annoying complexities into address book management for the business card scanning. As if my ire wasn’t evident already let me just finish by saying the business card software that comes with the scanner is complete shit. I mean it scans in business cards double sided and then has no idea that these images are double sided. Huh? Now you have to manually associate these cards? Actually no … there’s no way to do that either. Dumb asses! Wow.

Usually when things are bad there’s at least one overly priced option that you can break out your cold hard cash and fill in the gap. Not in document processing. Either do it on the PC side or expect to have some compromises built into your workflow.

Startup bootcamp

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I’m attending the London Startup Weekend. Today was day 1 which ended at 1am and I have to be back in the offices at 8am. I guess no one said it would be easy but I’m going to need a weekend to recover from my weekend.