The Creative Life

Posted by on Oct 17, 2013 in Blog | No Comments

I started Punch Design for a bunch of reasons:

  1. Out of desperate necessity.
  2. Because it was time to be my own boss.
  3. Because I believe in what I do, and I think it is worth sharing.
  4. Because the idea was equal parts thrilling and frightening.

Let’s take on each of these separately:

Desperate Necessity

One morning last November, the Executive Pastor of the church came into my office just after I arrived at work. He closed the door, sat down with me, and said, “we just can’t afford you. Having a Creative Director on staff is a luxury, and we cannot afford luxuries right now.”

Losing your job is never an easy thing. It took a few hours to recover, but it wasn’t long before I was ready to move on to whatever was next. Here’s why:

  • “We can’t afford you” is a positive message with a difficult side-effect. On the positive side, it communicates, “you have high value.” Who doesn’t want to hear that? The difficult side-effect is obvious already: it also communicates, “you’re too expensive for us.” That’s hard, because it also means, “go find somewhere else to make a living.”1
  • I loved working at this particular church. I know this probably sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s the truth: working there and loving it made it easier to leave. It wasn’t immediate, but it didn’t take long for me to look back warmly at the time I was there. It was good! And worth celebrating!
  • I needed to find work. We are a two-income family. There’s no way around that—at least not for now. My wife has a fantastic job that she loves, and the sky is the limit for her in terms of where she ends up, but we live in an expensive part of the world, and we give our kids a lot of opportunities that they wouldn’t have if we didn’t work. So I (desperately!) needed to get moving. No time to mope around.2

So I was desperately needy. And the choice I made was to start a company instead of looking for another job. More on that later.

My Own Boss

I have been incredibly blessed as an employee. I’ve had a pile of jobs3 and I can’t think of one boss that I didn’t like. That’s not normal, I know.

  1. There are two solid lessons buried in there that I have applied every time I’m negotiating a contract for Punch. First, don’t undervalue yourself; if you are excellent at what you do, ask to be compensated appropriately. Second, don’t take jobs where the value proposition isn’t there for your client. A good friend of mine who has a sizable budget and plenty of need for my skillset looked at me the other day and said, “you know, with your rates, you’ve priced yourself out of some jobs, right?” “Yes,” I replied, “and those are jobs I don’t want, because it’s likely that no one would be happy at the end of that contract.” 

  2. One of my favorite people at the church I was leaving taught me to have a “next play” attitude about the world. It comes from the world of sports, but it works anywhere. Did you get knocked down? Stop thinking about it. Learn something from it if you can, but then let it go. Next play. Did you lose your job? Next play. Lose a contract? Next play. Land the biggest contract of your life with the best client ever? Next play. Don’t rest on your laurels and don’t drown in your defeat. You are a maker. Go make something of the world. Next. Play. 

  3. I’m a product of the modern world . . . of course I’ve had a ton of jobs 

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