Valorem Consulting

| Tags: Design

originally posted by Jamey Baumgardt: (link) - please comment at original post

As I mentioned in my previous (and very first) post, I’ve been doing this for about 15 years now.  Doing what, you ask?  Well, I guess you could say I work in the tech industry.  Specifically, I started out as a web designer all those years ago, back when only nerds and college students were using this thing called the Web.   To me “web designer” is a catch-all title that can mean a number of things, and at the same time, nothing at all.  Since the birth and explosive growth of the Internet much has changed, of course, and my career path has subsequently taken an interesting turn or two, to say the least.  At various times I’ve run my own small boutique firm, freelanced out of my basement, worked for large ad agencies, and been employed in-house with software companies.  I’ve participated in the creation of websites and web-based applications for numerous Fortune-500 companies.  I’ve been at the forefront of emerging technologies, and I’ve been among the first to implement these new technologies in real solutions for real clients.  I’ve worked hard.  I’ve had fun.  I’ve created off-color animated parodies of sitting presidents just because I could.  And I’ve also designed and produced countless standard boring run-of-the-mill banner ads, which are the dregs of interactive work, if you ask me.  But hey, it puts food on the table.  It’s good to eat, you know?

And trust me, I’ve seen some pretty lean times.  I remember during my freelance period there were many summer months, post-dot com bubble bust, where there was no work to be had, anywhere.  I worried like hell about paying my rent, each month dreading as the first of the new month approached, fretting over the bills stacking ever higher on my desk next to my dusty, unused mouse pad.  More often than not I’d ditch the home office on the hottest of days and head to Lake Washington for a swim and some sun.  If I was going to worry about making ends meet, I might as well do it at the lake, right?  Somehow though, I’d always get some work just in the nick of time.  Something new would come in right as I was about to run out of savings, and rent would be paid, and the fridge would be stocked, for a few months more at least.

Over these 15 years I’ve met, worked with and worked for many people, and many different kinds of people.  Some talented, some not so much, some well-meaning, others… well, let’s just say there are some not-so-nice people out there.  But I suppose that’s true no matter what you do.  Something I find amusing is my friend’s and family’s perception of me and what I do.  They think I’m a big nerd.  The minute I talk about the web, or web design, they roll their eyes, or their eyes glaze over with disinterest, or if it’s my father, his eyes close and the snoring ensues.  What’s funny is that I don’t consider myself a nerd at all.  It’s not that I mind being thought of as nerdy.  It’s actually quite a compliment, if you ask me.  I think years ago I actually aspired to be a nerd, but I never quite hacked it (pun intended).  I admire nerds.  I can’t do what they do, but part of me wishes I could.  I enjoy my Apple iPhone, but I wouldn’t know how to begin to build an app for it.  I used to be able to build killer Flash applications, but got completely lost and left behind with the release of ActionScript 3.  I helped build (and code!) one of the first eCommerce websites for Microsoft back in 1997, but if you asked me to do something similar today, my eyes would probably glaze over.  It’s a difficult task to keep up with and keep on top of the technologies as they come out and change and morph and evolve.  The people that can do this, the nerds and geeks, if you will, are wicked talented, in my book.

Jamey as a young wanna-be nerd

Jamey as a young wanna-be nerd

Having worked with so many different people at so many different places, I would postulate that there are two kinds of people in this industry: those who have a passion for it, and those who know how to make money by leveraging this passion and talent.  Ten years ago I would have deified the former and eschewed the latter, but alas, my days of unbridled idealism, along with my youth, have passed.  No, I now see that both types are necessary if any business is to be successful and prosper.  The trick is to strike the proper balance between the two.  If you have a lot of talented and passionate peeps, but no one to guide the ship and build the relationships that bring in the work, you’ll get nowhere fast.  On the other hand, if there are too many leaders at the top taking too many pieces of the pie, you’ll end up with disgruntled talent taking their passion elsewhere in search of greener pastures.

And of course, always make sure you’ve got a healthy stable of nerds on staff.  🙂

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