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Focus Lab Panel52:49 with Bill Kenney, Matt Yow, Alicja Colon, and Erik Reagan
Focus Lab was started in 2007 by Bill Kenney and Erik Reagan as a collective side job for the two. Three years later it had blossomed into a full time job and thus began the Focus Lab people know today. In the four years since, the company has grown and evolved in a number of ways. This panel takes four team members from Focus Lab and talks through points and questions about what moving parts have been needed in the company's growth thus far.
[MUSIC] 0:00 [SOUND] Thank you guys for having us out here. 0:03 Hope you had a good lunch. 0:13 I think some people are probably still eating lunch or maybe waiting on lunch. 0:14 Gonna hit the City really harder this time of 0:18 the day, there's a long wait a lot of times. 0:20 But let me introduce myself. 0:23 My name is Erik Reagan and I am probably, of the Focus Lab 0:24 team, the least recognizable name here cuz I'm a developer at a design conference. 0:28 But it's okay. 0:34 I I met Bill about seven years ago. 0:36 He's my business partner. 0:38 He's the one y, you, you've probably seen with a little Lego, you know, head. 0:39 Avatar. 0:43 But I wanna tell you a little bit about us, a little bit about myself. 0:44 And then these fine folks who are on stage with me here, and and then share a 0:47 bit about some stuff that we've learned in 0:51 the time that we've been in business and growing. 0:54 Like I mentioned, I'm a developer. 0:57 I'm, I'm I started writing code HTML when I was. 0:58 I don't know, probably about ten or 11 years old. 1:02 It was a fun hobby for quite a while. 1:04 Music was kinda my thing, though. 1:06 And then that flip-flops around late high school and, and college. 1:08 And music kinda became the hobby and this code 1:12 thing actually started to become a career path, a profession. 1:14 I was making a dollar or 2 here and there. 1:17 And around that time I met Bill, not long after that I 1:20 met Bill and we, I responded to an ad of his online. 1:24 He was a designer looking for some flash help. 1:29 You guys remember flash. 1:32 It was pretty good. 1:33 And I happened to do a good bit of flash 1:35 work and so we got together at an Applebee's and. 1:37 Decided that we actually were on seemingly similar paths. 1:42 We wanted to quit our day jobs at some point 1:45 and run some type of creative shop and we said well 1:48 really Bill just said why don't we try this together 1:51 and I said, okay, cuz honestly it was about that simple. 1:55 We were not the smartest. 2:00 To and just kind begin like that but thankfully its worked out so far. 2:03 We have definitely grown and evolved a lot. 2:07 I actually don't even write a lot of code anymore. 2:10 These days with focus lab I do more of the business 2:13 development and I guess operational things at focus lab and build steps 2:15 into steps away from some of the operational things that we 2:22 used to share and he focuses a lot of his time on. 2:24 The art direction of the team. 2:28 So he's in charge of the of the entire design team. 2:29 All the stuff that goes out of the door. 2:32 You see a good bit of that. 2:34 We try to make some noise on Twitter and Dribble and 2:36 other places and so basically the stuff that goes out initially it 2:39 was just Bill and now as we've grown its its one of 2:44 seven or eight designers or something something like that at this point. 2:48 With us at the event, we've got some other team members who you might see around. 2:52 copywriting, brand strategy, project management on stage here. 2:56 We've just got a lot of representative of the team and it's just great. 3:00 So that's, that's kind of Bill in a nutshell. 3:04 Matt is a designer on our team that does a lot of branding work. 3:06 He was one of our earliest team members to 3:09 join in, so he's gonna kind of bring that perspective. 3:10 On the stage today. 3:13 And then Alicja came in not long after Matt, and she is 3:13 our project manager and a, a fabulous photographer if I may say so. 3:16 But she's not really here to talk about 3:21 photography, so I had to plug that in somehow. 3:22 yeah, so we've, like I said, we've come a long way. 3:25 We've learned a lot of things. 3:28 One thing I want to blanket this, this little panel with, though, is. 3:30 Is that I personally feel like we are as a, as a 3:33 company and as individuals we are not at any destination as focus lab. 3:37 I feel like we're on a very similar path and journey that a lot of you guys are on. 3:43 And we've had the opportunity to learn some 3:47 lessons from our peers and from our friends. 3:50 And then we've had some opportunities to learn lessons 3:51 the hard way by just totally falling on our faces. 3:54 And so we wanna take some today and share 3:56 some things that we wish we could've known earlier. 3:59 So we, we polled Twitter. 4:03 We polled, I think Mikey retweeted a little for us as well. 4:04 We put something on our blog. 4:07 Trying to figure out what kind of question you guys might have for a company. 4:08 mean, we're a small company about 15 people or so. 4:12 But, Questions that you might have in going from either you know a 4:15 solo free lancer or just like a couple of folks into growing a company. 4:19 Do I want to do this or not? 4:23 What's it like? 4:25 What are some of the challenges? 4:26 So today we're gonna bring that to you and 4:27 this is just from our stories, stuff that we've learned. 4:30 It's not gonna be applicable to every single person in the room because a lot of 4:32 times you're just gonna have to make up 4:37 your own call and, and live your own journey. 4:38 But we're really, really happy to be here and 4:40 to be able to share some of this with you. 4:42 So with that what I'd love to start off with is a pretty a pretty simple. 4:44 Beginning of the story for Focus Lab when Bill and I were just working 4:51 together would, I guess, would you tell us just about what, what the transition has 4:54 been from the point when it was just you and I, you were the only 4:59 designer, and what, what's it been like as your, as the design team has grown. 5:02 What, what's changed in your responsibilities and things like that. 5:06 >> Okay. 5:09 I'm gonna go back a little bit further as well. 5:09 >> Okay, how about you go back a little bit further than that, 5:12 >> [LAUGH] 5:13 >> [LAUGH] >> I think that'd be great. 5:13 So I grew up on Martha's Vineyard, 5:16 Massachusetts, a little tiny island off Massachusetts. 5:18 I decided that I wanted to get off of that 5:23 little tiny rock so I did my undergrad in Tampa, Florida. 5:25 I guess the reason I am telling you this is you will 5:29 see my path was very, kind of, spur of the moment and organic. 5:32 I think the company growth has been that way. 5:35 So that will be the, the, kind of overlying umbrella message with this part. 5:38 So I did my undergrad in Tampa. 5:43 I still had no idea what I wanted to do. 5:45 I was kind of a terrible student until I became an art major. 5:46 And then it was really easy for me. 5:49 And then I could be a total asshole all the time and 5:50 still do really well in school so it was like the best fit. 5:53 I decided I was just gonna get my masters degree cuz I was still kinda lost. 5:58 I didn't know if I was gonna be like a starving 6:01 artist or how am I actually gonna make money at this thing. 6:03 So I moved to Savannah, and that's kinda 6:06 the key, that's where everything started to happen. 6:08 So I moved to Savannah, Georgia, I worked a ton of really shitty jobs but 6:11 I started freelancing a little bit, and 6:15 I'd realized that there, there was money there. 6:16 I was like, wow, I can get paid, like, twenty bucks an hour. 6:18 To make terrible business cards. 6:20 Or I can work for like 12 hours at a company, and like answer phones. 6:22 so, I started getting freelance work. 6:27 And that's when I needed a developer cuz I, also 6:30 realized that I did not wanna be a developer, ever. 6:32 So I had my own little website that I built in Dreamweaver. 6:36 It was so awesome. 6:38 So or like color pencils on it. 6:39 I was like oh I'm so rad. 6:41 I'm like a designer. 6:42 >> So awesome. 6:43 >> [LAUGH]. 6:44 >> And I've put a little ad on 6:44 there that said looking for development help, flash help. 6:45 Eric and I met up and I think the 6:48 partnership is a huge part of why we're successful. 6:52 You hear a lot of partner stories which are a nightmare and I 6:55 think people are very scared to get into a partnership at that point. 6:58 I had like, a couple freelance clients and even people like, friends and 7:02 family are like, are you sure you want to like, partner with somebody? 7:04 Like, I have nothing to lose. 7:08 I don't even have like a business yet. 7:09 >> [LAUGH] >> I have this one little crappy website. 7:10 And we just hit it off. 7:14 It was perfect. 7:15 I mean really, that was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me. 7:15 So far really that's like a huge kick start to 7:20 my life besides the fact that I got engaged last Friday. 7:24 [SOUND]. 7:28 >> Everybody give it up, give it up. 7:29 >> So we started as two people about four years ago. 7:32 We consider the birth of the company about four years ago. 7:35 That's when we moved into our office that's 7:38 when we changed our company name to Focus 7:40 Lab and really started to go after it and now it's crazy to think that we're 15. 7:41 I know that's some people grow faster than that but that 7:47 was a comfortable kind of growing pace for us and the 7:50 fact that we we have 11 people here today is pretty 7:53 crazy to know that me and Eric were sitting in a little. 7:56 Tiny office with two IKEA desks four years ago trying to figure 7:59 out, like, how are we gonna pay the rent the next month. 8:02 >> And how do we put the table together. 8:04 That was the hardest. 8:06 >> Right. 8:07 [LAUGH] Eric broke nearly all the legs. 8:07 I'm like, dude just stop. 8:09 [LAUGH] So that's kind of, that's where I came from. 8:11 That's how we met, and I'll talk a little bit more about the growth. 8:14 Even and more things that we're gonna talk about. 8:18 So, I, this part of the question that was posed, that 8:19 I haven't got to yet, is the transition from being the designer. 8:24 Like the dude. 8:29 To actually doing nearly no design. 8:30 To everybody else that has come with us today doing all of the design and. 8:32 What, what's that kind of transition like. 8:38 Is it really comfy? 8:40 Does it suck becoming like a business man, and then 8:41 all of a sudden, well I don't really do design anymore. 8:43 Like this isn't really why I got into the game. 8:45 It's definitely a hard transition. 8:48 For me, I'm okay with it. 8:51 It's kind of this battle that you just constantly have 8:53 to fight where some days you just wanna do design. 8:55 And you don't wanna have to worry about, like, planning and 8:57 meetings and all, all this other crap that happens in business. 8:59 But then some days I'm really happy to 9:03 have fifteen people around me that do awesome shit. 9:05 And I can just be, like, wow, this is great. 9:08 This machine just kind of runs itself at this point. 9:09 And some days are harder and some days are really easy. 9:12 I don't think its for everybody though. 9:15 Honestly I think that, its very clear to me why some people would just want to be a 9:17 designer and just be a designer on a team where their only task is to be a designer. 9:21 They don't want to be a manager. 9:25 They don't want to have to lead people. 9:26 They don't want all the other, shit that comes along with that. 9:27 I'm pretty easy going so I just roll with the punches so I can kind of deal 9:33 with it but there are certainly days where wow I do just want to be a designer today. 9:36 So that's a really tough transition. 9:40 I think that would be the one thing that i would say if you are 9:41 starting a business or a designer just to know there is no way to avoid it. 9:44 You gonna wear like 50 hats. 9:48 And you're gonna do everything. 9:49 That's another key part of the business though, 9:52 with Eric doing most of the business element stiff. 9:54 I'm still able to lead the design team. 9:57 So I still am in my comfy spot. 9:59 I'm not like in full on business mode. 10:01 Which is really [INAUDIBLE] where I'm comfortable and where I want to be. 10:03 So its a tough transition, but you just got ready to roll with the 10:07 punches or you need to recognize really early on that's just not for you. 10:12 Like you just want to be a designer. 10:16 You don't want to be a big business owner. 10:17 And have to do all the other things that go along with that. 10:19 >> I think a lot of the a lot of 10:23 what's kind of propelled us to a point where we're able 10:24 to build a team at a certain pace has been the 10:27 opportunities that we've had with with just projects and clients relationships. 10:30 I have, I personally think we're pretty darn fortunate to work with 10:36 a lot of the people we able, we're able to work with. 10:38 As a, this is, even as an industry, guys. 10:40 We're, it's unreal. 10:42 The, the people we rub shoulders with. 10:44 The companies we work for. 10:46 The change that we can see and make happen. 10:48 But in particular with us what, what's been our approach to trying to. 10:50 Trying to get connected to clients we want to work 10:54 with you know, getting getting the projects that that we want. 10:57 What's that been like? 11:01 >> Its a big transition. 11:02 [CROSSTALK] >> I can speak probably. 11:03 You have to go through that kind of road of lots of 11:08 clients who don't want at all but you need to make money. 11:11 You need to monetize on that whole thing. 11:14 You get to the point where you don't need to make as much money 11:15 like she was saying before there's talk where you can take on the parts 11:19 that you really want and you don't need them strictly for cash but for now 11:22 we're in this really great position where we kind of control the game. 11:27 That's kind of like where you hit that kind of we're finally there. 11:33 I mean, we're still small and. 11:36 We're not doing like all these super amazing things but we 11:37 are in a power position now finally, where it takes four 11:40 years to get to that point where you don't just have 11:43 to go out and be like sure I'll do your, plumbing brochure. 11:44 We'll keep on using plumbing. 11:48 Hopefully no one's a plumber here, >> Thanks Daniel. 11:49 >> All that type of work you have to go through that though cuz 11:53 you have to get to the point where you You figure out that you 11:55 don't have to rob yourself anymore so you raise your rates and you're like 11:59 oh wow people don't run away like some people actually want to pay more. 12:01 They're like excited to pay more. 12:04 Oh shit I wish I knew that like four years ago. 12:06 So you start to learn all these things and you finally get in that 12:09 power position where you start to negotiate 12:12 and you can actually talk about value. 12:13 And you can have real, raw conversations with big CEOs, just 12:16 as normal people cuz you're not really threatened by them anymore. 12:21 And then they love that type of conversation. 12:23 Then they're, like, we really wanna work with 12:25 you guys cuz you're real people at that point. 12:26 I think that's a big push for us. 12:29 We don't wanna be this huge agency. 12:30 I don't even really like that word for our company. 12:32 It's more that we're just a collection of really awesome people. 12:35 Doing awesome stuff. 12:37 >> Yeah, that's, that's good. 12:39 So we have a little bit of slightly my perspective, and some of Bill's as well. 12:40 So Matt, let's jump to you. 12:45 Matt joined us not really too long after we hopped 12:47 in our office in the coworking space we were in. 12:51 It was about 220 square feet. 12:53 It was just me and Bill so it felt like a huge room. 12:55 And then Matt joined us, not too long after that. 12:57 One of the first folks to join in so Matt would 13:01 you share just a little bit about I guess what it's 13:05 like to dive into this I almost want to air-quote the 13:08 word company, we were just kinda like two guys doing some stuff. 13:11 What it was like to dive in with basically no. 13:14 Process, or border line idea of what we were doing. 13:18 >> yeah. 13:21 Is this on? 13:23 This is on. 13:26 There we go. 13:27 [LAUGH] I was sitting in between them on that IKEA desk as well. 13:28 So for some context, I was bringing my laptop in and sitting 13:32 in between them, eventually, fast forwarding 13:36 a little bit, someone else would sit. 13:38 Between us, right? 13:40 >> [LAUGH] Yeah. 13:41 >> We got six people into that room. 13:42 We were in that room for three years. 13:45 So that's how you ride it out and 13:47 you don't spend money, and you don't [CROSSTALK] 13:48 >> Yeah. 13:49 >> Create debt. 13:49 You don't do any of that stuff. 13:50 Just work on your 13 inch laptop and you just crank shit out and you make money. 13:51 And then your like wow, we can do stuff. 13:55 >> And it smelled weird. 13:57 >> [LAUGH] >> But that's cool. 13:58 So to answer Eric's question. 14:00 >> There wasn't a strict design process when I got there so it was kind of the fun 14:02 part of diving in early, getting started, like Eric 14:09 said, not long after they got started helping to 14:12 see some of the trial and error and write 14:16 some of that process and document what we were doing. 14:18 Again, just for some context of where we were. 14:22 our, one of our early branding projects was all contained on one Illustrator file. 14:25 That could deserve a laugh if you understand that that's 14:32 horrible, so eventually we started using multiple files in different folders. 14:35 It was structured to what we were doing. 14:40 So now you get it. 14:42 >> It was the wild west in the beginning. 14:43 >> It was one, one file. 14:45 What if we lose it? 14:47 >> [LAUGH] >> Right. 14:48 Okay. 14:49 [CROSSTALK] >> Backup. 14:49 >> Oh, wait, what backup? 14:51 Great. 14:52 >> So anyway, that was maybe one or two projects, and that was my fault. 14:52 So that's, that was an error to a trial. 14:56 We moved forward. 14:58 And it's. 15:00 That was then and it's still crazy to 15:02 see how much we're editing our process even earlier 15:03 this year continuing to write and document what we're 15:06 doing, what went well, what could we do better. 15:10 Always observing that and moving forward. 15:13 I think growing a team shines light on all the shit you need to fix. 15:15 And there were like 15 people a lot of things can go wrong. 15:19 So the process has to be pretty clean. 15:22 When its me and Eric we can kind of fly by 15:24 the seat of our pants and do whatever the hell we want. 15:26 >> Yeah. 15:28 >> So that yeah that's part of it. 15:28 >> So as we were growing we recognized like even 15:32 in just the last presentation you wear a lot of hats. 15:36 You have to if you want to keep things going. 15:40 Keep money coming in and paying your bills. 15:42 So Bill and I wore all of the hats at first and 15:44 the ones that didn't get worn those were just things that got neglected. 15:47 One of the hats that's occasionally got put on but usually we just 15:51 kind of like shake it off and not bother with it was project management. 15:54 Not a good hat to ignore and so not too long after [LAUGH] yeah not at all. 15:57 Not too long after Matt joined us, Alicia also joined us as 16:03 a Project Manager, and that allows us to start I guess going in 16:07 a more, more of a direction specialization than generalization because we had to 16:11 do these things and we weren't really doing too many things really well. 16:16 We just, we're doing a lot of things. 16:20 Okay. 16:21 So, we added Matt, that freed up some of Bill's time and made us, 16:22 it gave us the ability to do more work at one time but adding 16:25 Alicja was, was the first time, when we said, okay, we are gonna hire 16:28 someone who doesn't do what we do, which is a really weird thing to do. 16:32 >> Mm-hm. 16:37 >> Cuz you don't know what you're looking for, at least we didn't 16:38 but Alicja came in and started working with us as a project manager. 16:40 >> And she came in to the wild wild west that we've 16:45 been living in, and it was up to her to fix it. 16:47 [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH]. 16:50 >> To make it better. 16:51 So I guess just tell us about the madness 16:53 you came into and how that started to evolve. 16:55 >> Bill was probably my biggest challenge. 17:00 [LAUGH] He's definitely the wild, wild west guy. 17:03 I mean, he's very organic in the way that he works. 17:07 And I, I was a designer. 17:10 I wen to school, I have my BFA in design. 17:11 I was a photographer before that. 17:13 I understand the creative process. 17:15 So, but at the same time, one of my previous bosses also told 17:18 me that I was the most organized creative they've ever met in their 17:21 whole entire life, so that's why, you know, this whole project manage it, 17:24 management thing especially in the design side of things really worked well for me. 17:28 So I came in at. 17:32 And after orientation which pretty much was 17:34 dinner downstairs, you know, or lunch, you know? 17:36 And I was like huge prego and I was like okay guys, I can work for a month and then 17:38 I need maternity leave and then I can come back and they said yes which was crazy. 17:43 So then. 17:49 Pretty much like the next week it was like, 17:51 okay, we have a deliverable that's going to go out. 17:53 Its not really going to go out. 17:55 You need to tell the client why 17:57 and reschedule the deliverable and client meeting. 17:59 I was like why didn't it go out it was like [NOISE]. 18:04 Bill likes to do that a lot. 18:09 [SOUND] >> I didn't know that. 18:10 I'm learning things right now. 18:12 [LAUGH] >> Schedules are so loose. 18:14 Calendars are like. 18:16 >> So really that, that was my biggest thing was trying to figure out 18:17 a cadence, with the agencies that I worked before hand, it was also like. 18:22 You know we've scoped five weeks for a project 18:25 but then the client never got back to us. 18:28 And it's like, well do you have a cadence with them? 18:30 Did you tell what that expectation was? 18:32 No. 18:34 Well this is how you do it. 18:34 So we started do that at focus lab. 18:35 We started figuring out. 18:38 Okay, we are going to do this. 18:39 And then we're gonna do this. 18:41 And then we're gonna this. 18:42 And it's always gonna be on the same day. 18:43 They're gonna expect the same type of deliverable with different stuff in it. 18:45 And this is how the meeting is going to go. 18:49 So that was one of the first things that we changed. 18:50 Introducing that cadence insanely helped us. 18:53 I even, Bill even though he fought it tooth 18:56 and nail, later on, like a year later, he 18:59 said you know what, that cadence thing actually really 19:01 works even for creative blocks because you have to deliver. 19:05 You still have to deliver something. 19:08 So it's like. 19:10 Force them to push it through, so that was really cool. 19:11 Another thing that I did was hours. 19:14 We need to figure out how much effort something is gonna take. 19:17 If I want to properly scope a project, if I want to properly to make sure that we're 19:21 gonna get paid for what we're doing, if I 19:25 want to make sure that this next project is gonna. 19:27 Like start when we told them they were gonna start. 19:30 I need to know how long it's gonna take and I 19:32 need to know how long thee people are gonna do it. 19:34 So that was another thing where it was like, I know you track 19:37 your hours to get paid, but let's now track your hours underneath the project. 19:39 So that was also something that I still kinda sometimes have to remind Bill to do. 19:45 [LAUGH]. 19:48 >> You see where the issue is here. 19:51 >> [LAUGH]. 19:52 >> And then another thing that I added, too. 19:56 Was something that I realized we lost a lot of time in, was. 19:59 We are chatty Kathys, believe it or not. 20:04 And if you haven't spent any time with anybody, like with us the focus lab, 20:06 you just know that we like to talk and we like to have a good time. 20:10 Bill leads that ship well. 20:13 He is so charismatic. 20:15 Clients love him. 20:17 I mean he is amazing. 20:18 That's where I can rip on him a lot. 20:19 But in client meetings, oftentimes we'll forget to talk about stuff. 20:22 Like literally. 20:26 >> Like work. 20:27 >> Yeah, yeah. 20:28 >> [LAUGH] What we're doing. 20:28 >> Yeah. 20:29 It's like that display type, did she like it? 20:30 You know, like we, we wouldn't know. 20:34 So like during the week, we wouldn't have the direction that we 20:35 needed in order for that week to be the most efficient it was. 20:39 And so, creating an agenda before hand. 20:42 And this isn't something that your Project Manager really 20:45 should do solo, like I can do a little bit. 20:47 I can go through since I was a designer, I understand. 20:49 I sit in the middle, and I'm in those internal meetings. 20:52 And so, I also have like a communications and marketing background. 20:54 So, like I, I did a lot of grand strategy before summer came on. 20:58 So, like I was able to kinda help with all that stuff. 21:01 But really if a project manager doesn't have that or even 21:04 now I go to Matt and I'm like Matt what questions do 21:08 you have for this client to make sure that we go 21:10 over it before the meetings so I have those things written down. 21:12 So we follow the nature and the flow in the meeting but then I have all 21:16 these questions that I'm going to be answering if at the end of it if it's not. 21:20 And that's really the biggest things that I've changed. 21:25 >> Yeah it's it's kind of bizarre for me and I'm guessing Bill as well to look 21:28 at from where we are today, look backwards even 21:33 just a couple of years and compare the difference. 21:36 It's pretty unreal. 21:40 As we've added people we've had to, sort of come up 21:42 with a way of how do we hire someone and when do 21:47 we hire someone so why don't Phil talk just a little bit 21:49 about how we've how we've approached when and why to hire someone. 21:52 >> Okay I just want to kind of piggy back off what 21:57 Alicia was saying so at that point when we start to realize. 21:59 Okay, we are all not good at certain things. 22:03 So you have to hire people that are better than 22:05 you, and put them in a position to do their job. 22:08 So Alicia comes in, and she starts to kinda 22:10 of refine everything, and make everything a real process. 22:14 As opposed to it just looks really good, and it doesn't 22:16 matter if it took an extra week, the client's still happy. 22:18 You can't really roll that way forever. 22:20 So then you realize like okay I'm not really good at that. 22:24 So she needs to run that ship and then I don't question her, 22:26 I can suggest things but ultimately she becomes my boss at that point. 22:29 So if I have a project on my plate she's telling me 22:33 when its due and what I need to be doing and that's fine. 22:35 You know as long as the ship is moving forward 22:39 I don't, I don't have to be leading the ship. 22:41 And even in the design side of the team like 22:44 I don't want to be the best designer on the 22:47 team I just want to build an amazing team the 22:50 end of the day that's what's most important to me. 22:52 So that goes into hiring people, so hiring people is 22:54 kind of an interesting thing to I think that's one 22:58 of the first big hurdles that you go through when 23:00 your trying to like grow a small team or company. 23:03 When's the right time? 23:05 Can you afford it? 23:06 You never really feel like you can afford it. 23:08 And what I'll say is you're just gonna have to do it start slowly. 23:10 Don't get somebody that's like crazy expensive but get somebody that's willing 23:14 to come on to the team, work at a decent hourly rate. 23:17 You still wanna be respectable to them. 23:20 Our hourly rate has always been really good, so that was our first hire. 23:22 Didn't really know what the hell he was going to do. 23:26 I was like we're just going to hire someone. 23:27 We'll find them something to do. 23:29 It just feels like we need somebody else. 23:30 I'm a big team person. 23:32 That probably goes back to the lets become partners I don't even know you. 23:33 So we met with Matt and we took him out to lunch and we 23:39 asked him the terrible question of how much do you want to get paid? 23:42 That's like the worst question ever. 23:45 Coming from like a company that you wanna work 23:47 at cuz you don't wanna like piss them off. 23:49 So, he gave us a number and we said no 23:52 we're gonna pay you more than that and you're hired. 23:53 So that kind of goes to paying people well. 23:55 You, you're only gonna get the right people if you do that. 23:58 So that's one way of hiring. 24:01 We didn't really know that we needed Alicia. 24:04 I didn't know how much was broken in kind of the process, but I 24:06 just knew, and Eric knew that we didn't want to answer that many emails anymore. 24:10 That I needed to be designing and he needed to 24:13 be deving stuff, so somebody needed to start doing other things. 24:15 And we didn't really know what a project management role was. 24:18 So we brought in Alicia and then after like three weeks we're like 24:22 holy shit how do we live without that and go full time and. 24:24 Just start owning this thing. 24:28 Some of the other guys on the team have been as simple, as guys and gals. 24:30 I love your personality, and I don't know what you're gonna do, but you need to 24:35 be part of our team, cuz you're gonna 24:38 be part of this machine that we're gonna build. 24:40 And I just want you to be a part of that. 24:42 And I know there's value in you and I just, we'll figure it out along the way. 24:43 So Summer's probably a really good example of that. 24:47 We didn't really need a copy writer, which 24:49 became a Rand strategist which we really need now. 24:52 I just knew that I loved Summer and her personality, 24:55 and she just needs to be a part of the team. 24:57 I had no idea that she had two Masters degrees, and all this other crap, I 24:58 just knew she was really cool and she needed to be with us, and I'm like, wow. 25:01 >> It's really good crap. 25:04 >> Good crap. 25:06 >> [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH]. 25:06 >> And then there are other specific roles which is going to be like Charlie 25:08 when I'm drowning in a project and Matt was just a branding guy we needed another 25:12 web UI guy, so there's a very intentional hire posted a thing out there lots of 25:17 resumes come through talk with him love his 25:21 personality work looks great he gets hired so. 25:25 We go about it both ways, but it's still, I still kind of lean towards 25:28 the, it seems like we as a company and that's, this is not true for everybody. 25:32 But we're gonna option to hire more for, we don't fully need you yet. 25:37 But we want you on the team. 25:42 And then there will be some intentional hires as well. 25:43 >> Yeah, I think we tend to hire more 25:47 for the traits people have than the skills people have. 25:50 >> Yeah, I don't need a bunch of rock star designers that have terrible attitudes. 25:52 That's, so Miles is a really good example, if you guys, you have to go to our. 25:58 Our website you have to go to the blog. 26:02 And every new member we make them write. 26:04 >> We make them write. 26:06 >> Yeah, exactly. 26:07 [SOUND] She cracks the whip. 26:08 She actually makes them write it. 26:10 We have them do a little introductory. 26:13 I'm Miles. 26:14 I just joined the focus lab team. 26:15 This who I am, this is what I do. 26:16 He's a good example of I talked to Miles, we had a 129 residents in 26:18 two days from a dribble shop that I put up that said we are hiring. 26:24 Which I responded to every single person on that, and I'm really proud of 26:28 that and that's the only pat on the back I'm going to give myself here. 26:31 It took forever, and Miles if you, if you're 26:34 just purely looking at resumes, and portfolio work and stuff. 26:39 Not even on the radar really. 26:45 I mean his work was good but he didn't even really have like a website. 26:47 He had like a dumped account. 26:49 I don't even think he had a Dribble 26:50 shot and Dribble's not everything just because I have 26:52 a ton of followers on there but just that's just like what I would go to right? 26:53 So I would be like okay, let me go to Dribble and see if I know 26:58 this dude and I was like wow he 26:59 doesn't even have a Dribble account but that's cool 27:00 He crept up to the top to the 129 resumes, he got 27:05 to the top ten people that at least wanted to talk to. 27:07 And then I emailed him. 27:11 I said, you're gonna be in the top five actually, and I'm gonna 27:12 schedule a phone call with you, and he was the last phone call. 27:14 He was the last guy I talked to. 27:17 And then I emailed him back like the next day. 27:18 And told him that he got the job. 27:21 And of course, he was like, out of mind. 27:22 And then, it's in that blog post. 27:24 You have to read that blog post. 27:25 It's like a total tear-jerker. 27:26 But, the point is, I'm gonna hire, way more 27:27 on the side of, that you're gonna come into 27:32 the team and out of media value, the personality, 27:34 and you're the type of person, I want around us. 27:37 Not skill set. 27:40 Like you can have a I need you to have a good base skill set but we can build that. 27:41 We can make that better but I can't fix a shitty person. 27:47 So like I don't want a shitty person. 27:50 >> Different professions for that. 27:52 >> So that's hiring I guess. 27:55 >> So just in that bit of a story you heard 27:57 multiple team members names, and so, going back to you, Matt. 28:00 what, what's it been like? 28:07 You were the first one to join to just 28:08 kind of start working alongside Bill with some brand stuff. 28:10 Now we have somewhat of a distinction between 28:13 kind of a brand team and a UI team. 28:15 But what, what's it been like for you, as a 28:17 designer, as the staff has grown if you had to. 28:19 Compromise anything or or like adapt to anything new 28:24 or different or change your own habits or traits? 28:27 Like what what's it been like for you? 28:30 >> Its been a growing experience. 28:33 Cuz everyone comes on the team with their own processes 28:34 and methods and experiences to go about doing their work. 28:38 So to have them. 28:42 [INAUDIBLE] 28:43 They do is really good, it's a good opportunity for us 28:45 to grow and with Alicia scheduling and planning, we have design reviews. 28:49 So having more people is, is helpful because 28:54 they can give their input into what we're doing. 28:57 So at first when I was working off that one file. 29:00 That you remembered? 29:04 No one really reviewed it. 29:05 Bill saw it but it just kind of went out and that's where it was. 29:06 Now we have more than one file and we have more than just me. 29:09 So multiple people are looking at it. 29:12 There's good feedback. 29:14 Stuff is much better because of more eyes and more design input on that. 29:15 >> Nice. 29:20 >> Its fun for me as the guy who's not 29:22 on the design team to watch all of the changes 29:24 there because I've known Bill for seven years or so, 29:27 I've known Matt for was it three or going on four? 29:30 >> I don't remember. 29:34 >> It's kind of strange, it's you know something like 29:35 that And just to watch not only us as individuals 29:37 change but as we, as our team grows, how we 29:42 work with one another, or how we work with clients. 29:45 It's been really fun. 29:46 One thing again with the context here, us wanting to share 29:48 some things that we wish we knew a few years back. 29:51 We brought in Alicia she actually reached out to us. 29:55 Alicia and I had worked together in the past. 29:58 At a church in Savannah. 30:00 On the same team, I was doing web development, she was doing graphic design. 30:02 So I already knew Alicia and she reached out just about project management stuff. 30:05 Like Bill mentioned, we hadn't really considered it. 30:08 And so she just said, hey do you have 30:12 this need, and we foolishly said, we don't know. 30:13 >> If we really have the need. 30:17 [LAUGH] 30:18 >> But then she came in But most of what she's 30:19 been doing with us has been in the context of this team. 30:22 So, Elisha, I'm, I'm wondering if you can share? 30:24 If, I guess for, from a solo-designer perspective, or from 30:27 just a small team of one or two or three people. 30:31 How can someone integrate project 30:35 management practices without actually hiring somebody? 30:37 Because hiring can be kinda scary, and you might not know if you need it. 30:40 So. 30:43 If you had to give some tips or 30:43 suggestions for those people, what would you say? 30:45 >> I think it would go back and harken to the first thing that I really said. 30:48 And nothing about Bill, but it was more about the hours. 30:52 Start figuring out, what hours you're tracking for your clients. 30:55 In order to properly scope future projects, you have to 31:00 have past projects estimations, and data already done so having that. 31:04 There's also some really great projects management 31:10 tools out there that are really simple. 31:13 One that I would definitely say is like Team Gant. 31:14 Understanding that there are dependencies between projects, and also 31:17 people understanding that this project this phase of this 31:22 project has to be done before this one and this one has to go to this other person. 31:26 Or proofing, what have you. 31:30 Just be able to flow a project and see, and change it. 31:31 And real time is gonna be really helpful. 31:36 And then also a big thing is just those internal meetings as well. 31:39 I mean being, being able to schedule things out, being 31:44 able to create that culture of a cadence and a rhythm. 31:46 That is expected it's really, really just increases time efficiency. 31:50 >> One, one thing I realize pretty quickly 31:56 when Alicia joined us is our communication sucked. 31:58 Like, we were not good communicators. 32:01 And I think that's something that we're, at least I know I am. 32:02 This is a company though, continuing to get better at. 32:06 But if there's one thing that I would suggest is take a 32:09 step back and just look at how you communicate with your clients 32:12 if you're working with you know someone that's hired you to do 32:14 something or if you work on an internal design team at a company. 32:16 Just look at how you communicate with others, and the better you 32:19 know the people you're working with on a project or a staff. 32:24 The, the better you're going to be able to communicate with these 32:27 people and it might even feel like going to school but go buy 32:29 a book or something about it or read some, sure there's been some 32:33 stuff written online on blogs and surely somebody on medium's written about it. 32:36 But there's just a lot of good stuff that could teach you how to communicate better 32:41 and almost speak to someone in the style 32:46 that they would mm, most, easily hear you correctly. 32:48 One of the things that I hate most about email 32:54 is that you can't hear, you can't hear the person. 32:56 You can't see the person. 32:59 And all it takes is for Bill to be having a bad day, for me to 33:00 send him an email and he just read it in the tone of his bad day. 33:04 And it's just it's totally misinterpreted and all 33:09 I said was let's grab lunch like you know. 33:11 >> [LAUGH]. 33:14 >> So just, just considering how much better we can all be at 33:15 communication as a whole that as weird as that might sound can make a 33:19 huge difference in your process, and how smooth things go just how you 33:23 communicate to the clients and kind of pitch your work and things like that. 33:27 And Alicia's spot on with the bottom line 33:31 aspect of the hours, the hours and the cost. 33:33 From a project management prospective, it's really easy to, as a 33:36 designer or developer, just to be so honed in on your 33:40 craft, and making sure that these things communicate the things you 33:43 want, that they stand for the things they are supposed to. 33:47 You get to the end, and you realize that 33:49 you made ten dollars on the whole project or something. 33:51 Like that's not going to keep the lights on. 33:54 Watching the bottom line is really important, and 33:55 having some type of project manager stuff in 33:58 the play is is going to help their one of the things that I wish I knew 34:00 even now I mean every every three or four years 34:06 out now I'm kind of getting curious about this stuff. 34:09 But I would have loved to have known a little bit more 34:11 ahead of time about how much it cost to just run a company. 34:15 When Bill and I started, it was just a side job. 34:18 He worked out of his house, I worked out of my house. 34:21 We had full time jobs. 34:23 Our cost, being designers and developers, was make sure you 34:24 have a computer, make sure you have an internet connection. 34:28 And then maybe the occasional software. 34:31 I mean, of course we paid for, Creative Suite. 34:33 >> Of course we did. 34:35 >> [LAUGH] >> Of course we did. 34:37 And so there's that, there's that beast bear of a cost. 34:38 Adobe's here, right? 34:41 So, yeah, we, yeah. 34:42 >> Also a client now, careful. 34:44 >> Careful there we'll we have subscriptions we're good, it's all kosher. 34:48 But knowing kind of how much does it cost with us early on? 34:53 It costs virtually nothing. 34:55 We're in an industry where getting started as a company is so easy. 34:57 Which is why so many people give it a 35:02 shot, and rightfully so but getting an idea of how 35:03 much a company would cost ahead of time in maybe 35:06 like a next stage would have been really good me. 35:09 So basically I just want to share some of the high level figures of what 35:12 its cost focus lab, and this is going to be different for a lot of companies. 35:17 Depending on if you're a services company or a product company. 35:20 If you do you know hosting or if you have Apps that you also host as well. 35:23 There's just a lot that could go into it that's different. 35:27 We are strictly a client services company. 35:29 We don't do any hosting, we don't do any marketing, email marketing stuff. 35:32 It's basically we need computers, we need software, we need hours to build stuff. 35:36 And then we fill our clients. 35:40 They get the results. 35:42 So, that's kind of the simplicity of what we do right now. 35:43 And that's what we've pretty much done for four years or so. 35:46 So in the first year when we say we 35:50 officially started Focus Live, which is four years ago. 35:53 We were in a coworking space, we had that 220 square feet. 35:55 We spent about $600 on Ikea desks, and we 35:58 had our own personal computers that we already had. 36:01 Just brought into the office. 36:03 I, I don't oh, I don't even want to 36:05 talk about your laptop, the condition that thing was in. 36:07 I won't go there. 36:10 >> A cat peed on it. 36:11 >> He can go there. 36:12 >> So this is actually a pretty good story. 36:14 So I'll just [UNKNOWN] >> Go for it man. 36:15 >> So my room mates cat I didn't know it but 36:17 he used to come and pee on my laptop all the time. 36:20 >> I just didn't know where this like weird residue was coming from. 36:23 So there would be like yeah this is going to get gross. 36:26 After lunch, I saved it. 36:29 So I'd be like, what is this, like where is that coming from. 36:31 Like, where is this yellow crap coming from. 36:34 But it was like really thick and gooey. 36:35 So one time, I finally figured out, I was like, oh my God, it's that damn cat. 36:37 I didn't really, I didn't like her cat at all. 36:40 So, I got this really good idea that I was gonna, it was like messing up the screen. 36:43 So like on the bottom of the screen it had like a little water 36:48 like damage, so I was going so I was going to dry it out. 36:50 I was going to like dry up the water. 36:53 So I got a blow dryer. 36:56 >> [LAUGH] 36:57 >> And I like kept it on the area but 36:58 I like I kept moving it back and forth like really 36:59 you know like when you're spray painting you don't want 37:01 to hold it in one area cause it will like drip. 37:03 So like I kick him. 37:04 I can't let it get too hot. 37:05 So I like move it around a lot. 37:06 And I was kinda like, you know, dicking around, looking around. 37:08 And I looked down, and I was like oh shit. 37:11 Like all my F1 through like F6 were like melting and curling up. 37:13 Oh, I just made it worse. 37:17 And that, that's what I used to work off of. 37:20 >> Yep. 37:22 So, there wasn't a lot of, there was not 37:23 a lot of overhead into, starting focus lab there. 37:24 We spent a little bit of money on a desk. 37:29 We spent, a trip up to Atlanta and then 37:32 back to Savannah just from getting the IKEA furniture. 37:34 And then we had our rent which was about 900 something bucks, I think. 37:38 And we had a parking garage that we had to have passes for. 37:43 >> And we had a deal with the place that we didn't know if we would make it. 37:46 More than one month. 37:50 >> Right. 37:52 >> So we were on a month to month contract in our little 250 square foot room. 37:52 >> Yeah we, we, we negotiated the, the, the annual term, at the month 37:56 to month, rate, because we had no clue if we were going to make it. 38:01 We said, if we don't make it, we'll pay you 38:04 the difference, but, this is all we can afford we think. 38:05 [CROSSTALK] >> Yeah and it worked. 38:08 So we were in that room for three, four years 38:11 three years and it was literally a 1,000 bucks to 38:14 to have rent internet was included so there was that 38:17 and then we had to pay for things like base camp. 38:22 We did have, we did do some hosting stuff of 38:24 our own site, so we had some small fees there. 38:26 It really is only a couple of hundred bucks though. 38:29 For the software that we use at the time. 38:31 And then if a computer I don't think we replaced a computer for quite some time. 38:33 Because we weren't really making much money. 38:38 So we were it cost us at most $2000 of actual operating expenses to get by 38:40 and then Bill and I had to at least take some money home to keep food on the table. 38:47 Good news for me is I had just moved out of my house in with my in-laws. 38:52 They invited me and my wife and family to move in just 38:57 as we were paying down our debt to just kind of get 39:00 financially in a better place that we wanted to be in and 39:05 they said I know you don't need to, you got your job. 39:07 You're the doing the stuff, but why don't you 39:09 just consider moving in we got the space, so, we 39:11 said, okay, I'm a math guy I did the math I'm like okay, I'd be a fool not to do 39:13 this, I can pay this stuff off way faster, 39:17 so, thankfully I lived with them and didn't have any 39:19 rent because we, we had some times where Bill and 39:22 I had to even put money back into Focus Lab. 39:25 Because we just weren't making enough. 39:28 >> And I was single at that point so I could live on next to nothing. 39:30 Not eat for days didn't matter. 39:33 >> so, so it was any where from a few 39:36 thousand to, you know, $6000 of income probably for a month. 39:38 Once we got into some steadiness, and we 39:43 were living off of that with our operating expenses. 39:46 I had a wife and a daughter and Bill was single. 39:50 So some context there. 39:52 >> It was very month to month. 39:53 >> Yeah as we started to grow. 39:54 We added people. 39:57 So Matt came on. 39:58 Someone who's not here his name's John. 39:59 He was the first developer we brought on. 40:01 he, he, and Matt and John came on around the same time. 40:03 And so we started to learn what is it like to pay someone else on staff? 40:06 What does that cost me? 40:11 And how much do we now have to make in order to 40:12 pay those two guys and then pay our bills and then pay ourselves? 40:15 Alicia came on and so we, we just adding and adding people. 40:19 And so this cost was growing, so. 40:22 If I had to give kind of like annual pinpoints here it, initially it was 40:24 few, a couple thousand dollars, it cost us to actually just do what we were doing. 40:29 And about a year later, it was probably about 11 to $12,000. 40:33 If we didn't make 11 to $12,000 a 40:38 month, if we didn't collect payments for that much. 40:40 We were probably in a little bit of a bind 40:43 and another year later that was creeping up almost double. 40:46 It was like we needed about $20,000 or so of income 40:49 just to pay our bills, to pay our people and stay 40:51 afloat and now this year the, the with the trajectory we're 40:54 on by the end of the year we'll probably have spent. 41:01 I am jumping from monthly to annual so 41:03 this is gonna sound outrageous but we're probably 41:06 gonna be closing in on about half a 41:08 million dollars in payroll which is mostly Matt. 41:10 >> It is mostly Matt. 41:14 >> Yeah. 41:15 It's mostly Matt. 41:15 We weren't supposed to, the other guys, they don't. 41:16 >> Yeah. 41:18 They don't know what you meant. 41:19 >> Sorry guys. 41:20 So. 41:22 Point being we have within the, within the operating expenses of focus 41:23 lab in a fairly short amount of time it's grown a lot. 41:28 It costs a lot to run the business which is why I've stepped away from 41:31 code and focused a lot more on kind 41:34 of what I guess is considered operational stuff. 41:36 Make sure that things are in a certain order and, and running smoothly in 41:39 some capacity to, to keep us afloat It's, it's payroll, it's software as a service. 41:43 I, I'll probably throw something up on our blog at some point. 41:50 Looking at all the things we use right now it's kind of crazy 41:53 we spend hundred of dollars a month just on apps, base camp harvest 41:57 >> Trillo. 42:03 >> Well Trillo's free but it's crazy. 42:04 >> That's a good one. 42:06 >> Trillo is. 42:07 We spend, we spend a good amount of money just on the apps. 42:09 But those apps make such a big difference to us with 42:11 our process and, and they have such a return for us. 42:14 So it's important and it's helpful and I think that we keep 42:17 a pretty good eye on the stuff that we spend money on. 42:20 Then there's stuff like this, we are, four of us here speaking this week. 42:22 We've got six or seven others here with us. 42:26 All of that costs money. 42:28 Bringing people together. 42:30 There's just a lot that's going into it that I 42:31 wish I knew about and I don't have that that 42:33 could be an entire each of these questions could be 42:36 its own you know session or presentation what have you. 42:38 So if any of you are curious about what that might look like for 42:42 you, what to think about, what expenses are there that I'm not even considering. 42:44 Or am I paying for something I really don't even need. 42:49 I love to talk about that kind of stuff, so if you wanna grab 42:52 me sometime after I'd be more than happy to, to talk about any of that. 42:54 >> I just, I just want to say one thing, a business thing. 42:59 When you start to think about like a, half 43:01 a million dollar payroll, like don't think about that. 43:02 Now. 43:05 You're not anywhere close to that. 43:06 >> No. 43:08 No. 43:08 >> You need to just start doing shit. 43:08 Like in the beginning. 43:09 We didn't worry about like, oh gosh, in 43:11 four years like payrolls gonna be really expensive. 43:13 Like, you shouldn't even be thinking about that crap. 43:15 You should just be finding a way to go out 43:17 there and make money and do stuff that you like. 43:18 So in the beginning it was harder for Eric to quit his 43:20 job and go after this venture cuz he's a very numbers based person. 43:23 Where I'm like, I'm single, dude we don't hardly have to make any money. 43:26 We'll figure it out. 43:29 Like I, I'm, I'm more of a jumper. 43:30 So we would go back and forth with 43:33 our accountant, [UNKNOWN] we had an accountant back then. 43:35 and, Eric would always pose the question, like are we ready now to go into business? 43:40 Can he quit his job? 43:44 He was married, he had a kid. 43:45 A lot more responsibility than I did. 43:47 So it took us a while to get to that 43:49 point and finally the account was like, listen you can 43:51 do all the numbers you want and even if the 43:54 numbers add up it doesn't mean you're gonna be successful. 43:56 It really comes to your personal drive and like 43:59 are you going to make it happen or not. 44:00 So then we left that, in the car ride back I 44:03 was so stoked and Eric was like, we're gonna do it, dude. 44:05 I'm gonna quit my job I'm gonna go after this. 44:08 And he had told his wife like, it was gonna happen in maybe 44:09 six months to a year and then it happened like the next week. 44:12 Good luck with that, she's gonna be pissed. 44:15 >> She was behind me all the way. 44:19 Just for the record. 44:21 >> So I just wanted to piggy-back on that. 44:23 Don't worry about the numbers. 44:25 And yes, running a business is expensive and all 44:26 that, but you just kind of like find your way. 44:27 And then it grows into this beast, and it still kind of 44:29 shocks me on what we need to make to operate and all that. 44:31 But that doesn't make me not want to do it. 44:34 You know, I still, I love the team. 44:36 I love having everybody around. 44:38 We pay everybody really well. 44:40 That's, like that's what's important to me. 44:41 I am not trying to say, oh we make all this money now. 44:43 I want to take a ton of it. 44:46 Or you know it's just kind of, it's just building the team at this point. 44:48 That is just another expense. 44:50 >> Yeah. 44:52 Well, one of the questions that we got was about, in particular about, I think 44:53 it was from someone who we've, we've known and been connected to for a little while. 44:58 They've seen the growth that we have had and the pace that we. 45:01 Done it at the question was, how have we maintained a certain 45:04 level of quality and consistency as we've grown, as we've added different people. 45:08 So can you talk a little to that, Bill? 45:13 >> Yeah so quality is king for us. 45:15 I don't think that everything that we put out there is amazing. 45:18 But that's kind of the one thing that I. 45:21 Preach most important in the company. 45:23 So we have a lot of standards that we live up to. 45:25 But at the end of the day, it has to be quality 45:28 work cuz that's the only thing that's gonna keep us moving forward. 45:30 We can be the best communicators and we can 45:32 plan the best and do all these other stuff, great! 45:34 But like, the work is average, then we're gonna 45:36 plateau and we're just gonna be like this average company. 45:38 so, quality is huge so I stress that. 45:41 I think. 45:44 It's probably just known when people are coming into the team anyways. 45:45 Like, okay, these guys really take stuff serious, so it should be good work. 45:48 They don't just put out kind of middle of 45:50 the road websites or branding work, or whatever it is. 45:53 So how do you maintain it? 45:57 I think you have to be realistic and understand that there's 45:58 going to be ups and downs, so the more people we hire. 46:00 And the more people that have different skill 46:03 sets and different personalities and different family lives 46:05 and all this other crap that there's gonna be kind of this up and down wave. 46:08 But as long as it's a really high kind of up and down that's okay. 46:11 I think there's so much pressure probably internally from all of us 46:14 cuz we're all really good at different things that we don't wanna fail. 46:19 Like internally it's not even client pressure. 46:24 I think the work that, a lot of the work that we do 46:26 if we're refacing something it's like, it's a no brainer it's gonna better. 46:29 We're overhauling something that's so terrible anyways that 46:33 we're gonna knock it out of the park. 46:36 So then that standard is just held from us. 46:37 Looking at each other going like dude, you could have done way better than that. 46:40 That's kind of shitty looking. 46:43 You know and that and that's normal conversation. 46:44 There's nothing wrong with that so we kind of hold each other to that. 46:46 It just works. 46:51 I mean I definitely preach it but I don't 46:52 feel like I have to whip everybody all the time. 46:54 >> Yeah and to add to that though so like 46:57 Johnathan Howl's probably the latest guy that we brought on. 46:59 >> Yeah. 47:02 >> Literally within like a week or two ago. 47:03 >> Like three weeks ago. 47:05 He's here somewhere. 47:05 >> Yeah and so we don't give him a project, go John. 47:06 So we don't give him a project like right out. 47:09 Like you're not going to lead a project as soon as you come into the team. 47:11 There's so many things to learn about like how does 47:14 Focus Lab handle the way that we go through a project? 47:17 How do we talk to a client? 47:21 Even how do we collaborate I think is 47:24 also something that, like a person needs to learn. 47:26 So we almost, no wait. 47:29 We don't almost, we do. 47:31 We put them together with another designer on a particular project. 47:32 So Miles did this as well, with Charlie. 47:35 So we are not like just letting him dive 47:38 headlong and he doesn't really know what is going on. 47:40 Charlie has established the style you know, 47:43 foundation of a particular website or UI. 47:47 Then Miles can take those design conventions and move 47:50 into like the secondary, tertiary pages with that and all 47:53 along he's also learning the name conventions of the 47:57 PSD layers that Charlie and our Focus Lab standards are. 48:00 >> So in that piggy back. 48:05 We really foster that collaboration. 48:07 They learn but then also eventually they can lead their own projects. 48:10 >> I think there is a fine line within our 48:13 company which is, I want everybody to have a voice. 48:15 So I want our company to be, you know, as flat as possible. 48:17 So anyway, John can suggest like, hey I think, you know, our 48:21 meetings are kind of shitty and they should be run this way. 48:23 He's only been in the company for three, he can say whatever he wants. 48:25 We don't want to throw people into the deep 48:29 end, but we give them a ton of control. 48:30 So, John's only been with us for three weeks. 48:33 He's already meeting clients. 48:36 He's in client meetings. 48:37 And if he has shit to say, say it. 48:39 I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna mute you. 48:41 You might say something crazy and then 48:43 afterwards I'm like, just don't say that again. 48:44 Like, that was really bad. 48:46 >> Oh my goodness, the stories we have. 48:48 >> So, we let people have a lot of freedom, creative freedom, 48:50 all that stuff, cuz I want them to feel ownership in the company. 48:52 I think that's really, really important. 48:55 If you're gonna grow a team you have to let people have ownership. 48:57 And it doesn't literally have to be ownership but they have to feel 49:00 some sense of, I'm kind of helped make and shape this thing too. 49:03 I am not just kinda like answering to Bill 49:08 when he tells me to like, you know, make it 49:10 this type face and make it this point size 49:12 and I just go over there and move pixels around. 49:13 Like I want all of the team to 49:15 feel incredibly free to kinda do all these things 49:17 but we also don't take a new guy and just throw them on the biggest project we have. 49:20 Where they're gonna be set up for failure and they're not going to be 49:23 happy and they're gonna be stressed to 49:26 death and I'm gonna be disappointed in them. 49:27 So we start them out slowly. 49:29 So that's probably another, that's a good point to how to maintain the quality. 49:31 >> Obviously we only have so much time for 49:36 so many questions and so many ideas to talk about. 49:38 So just as we wrap up some stuff up here the one that I want to leave you guys 49:41 with, that we all want to leave you guys with is It's one of our standards. 49:45 We have a set of standards at Focus Lab that 49:51 what are traditionally considered focus or company values and so 49:54 we call our standards cuz we rather hold each other 49:57 to standards than shove each others values down each others throats. 49:59 So we have these set of standards and the 50:03 one that that's probably closest to my heart is. 50:05 That we, we work to live. 50:10 We don't live to work. 50:12 And the idea that's behind this, I think is something that's really important to 50:14 hear, and I've already heard it from a few people on stage which is fantastic. 50:17 But we are all. 50:22 We are all people who happen to have some similarities. 50:24 Obviously we're all at this design conference to 50:27 talk about similar things we're working on, and 50:28 how we can, things better, what we can learn, and what we can teach one another. 50:31 But this is, this, what we are doing right here. 50:34 Is one small part of a life as a whole. 50:37 You each have so many different things that define you. 50:41 And we wanna encourage you to not let that be just your work. 50:44 Yes, your work can be a part of your life. 50:47 It's a, it's a, it is a big part of what you do. 50:49 We spend a lot of time working. 50:51 If you look at 40, 48, 50 hours a week 50:52 or something, that's, that's a lot of time over your life. 50:54 But don't let that just be what defines you as a whole. 50:57 You need to have some margin in your 51:00 time, some, some hobbies, some family, some friend time. 51:03 You know, it's all gonna be different for each of us. 51:06 When Bill and I started Focus Lab, it was very different. 51:09 He had a totally different schedule than I did. 51:11 And that was totally fine. 51:13 He worked more than I did and, and that was a 51:16 representation of just what his family life was like at the time. 51:20 And now he's starting to, he's in to that 51:24 mode where that's even changing and evolving but each 51:26 of you has a story that you're living, a 51:29 life that you're living, don't let work consume that. 51:31 It's really easy to be excited about all of 51:34 this stuff that we're sharing, that our peers are sharing. 51:37 on dribble and hey look at this new app that I'm building on, or 51:39 working on this app I'm gonna launch, test this thing out I just built. 51:42 You know I wrote this book or this blog, go do this thing. 51:46 It's, it's really exciting, it builds a lot of energy when 51:49 you do that but if you're not careful it will consume you. 51:51 So be very conscientious of how much time you actually spend working and just make 51:55 sure that you also live your life and enjoy it, to live a nice healthy one. 52:00 We have a lot of things we'd like to talk about only so much time here on stage so. 52:05 In the tight fight room where all the vendor 52:09 tables and booth stuff is we have a table there. 52:12 So we're going to hang out there as much 52:15 as we can and in between talks after stuff. 52:16 Catch us in the mixers. 52:19 Well, we want to get to know you guys and if 52:20 any of you have questions in relation to the stuff we talked 52:22 about or stuff we didn't even touch on today we'd really 52:25 love to get to know you and get to talk to you. 52:27 So just come grab us we'd love to do that. 52:30 Thank you for the time though. 52:32 >> I was just going to say I have more cat pee 52:33 stories so you're totally going to want to go in that room. 52:35 >> Yeah more, yeah that's right. 52:38 A lot to hear there's a lot to hear. 52:40 So anyways thank you guys for your time, really appreciate it. 52:42 Thank you. 52:44
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