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The Most Important Thing Is to Begin: Lessons Learned at Mdw, Boulder

Team Xdesign
The Most Important Thing Is To Begin  Lessons Learned At Mdw Boulder

It was one inspiring presentation after another from digital rock stars like: Mullen’s Edward Boches, Goodby Partners’ Gareth Kay, Arnold Worldwide’s Matt Howell, Made by Many’s Founder Tim Malbon, and Google’s Ben Malbon to name a few.

It’s been a little over a month since the workshop ended. The dust from MDW’s August session has settled. I’ve stopped myself to reflect on what I learned in those two short days in Boulder and if we as an agency at Xdesign, Inc. are actually putting any of the lessons into action. It’s been a challenge. However, I was warned it would be. Edward Boches even said it as we were leaving at the end of the day: “You’re going to go home, back to your office, you will find yourself put on a deadline, and the energy of what you learned will pass by” He was absolutely right.

In my first weeks back it was just as he predicted. Being away from the office for a few days left a long list of work to catch up on, deadline after deadline days and weeks went by. However, we’re making the time to make changes; it’s too important not to.

Aside from freelancers, I represented one of the smallest agencies there. I got to meet great people, not only the ten incredible speakers but also professionals from across the globe of every age that came as students of the industry representing some of the biggest agencies in the world. That’s no exaggeration. Helayne Spivak sat next to me for the two days and was my partner in some of the breakout sessions.

There were so many lessons learned.

As the workshop ended, there were two ways to board the plane to return home. I could have been discouraged. I could have said well, this would be great if I was flying back to New York, Chicago, Boston, LA or any other large city. I could say, none of this will ever work in Baton Rouge at a small agency, the clients won’t buy into it. Or, you accept the challenge, you acknowledge there is a gaping hole in our market for the digital mindset. Sure, some agencies around town are working with social and digital media, but as a city, there’s a huge opportunity to do something. Something remarkable. It’s a challenge we are taking head on at Xdesign.

I realized something in Boulder. A lot of it is excuses. We as an industry are constantly making them. Excuses as to why something won’t work in the real world, or why the client won’t buy it, or why we shouldn’t do it; whether it’s time, clients, or your personal life; it’s just a lot of excuses. Jason Fried says it best in his book “Rework” “The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse. It’s a justification for not trying.”

Since I’ve returned to Baton Rouge after leaving Boulder I’ve started teaching for the Mass Comm department at LSU teaching Creative Advertising Strategy with a heavy focus on digital in addition to the role I play full time at Xdesign. My lessons at work and in my class are inspired by what I learned in Boulder. I’m learning as much from teaching as my students are. It’s exciting to be with students on a weekly basis to prepare them for this great industry. The students will be making regular posts, generating original content and begin building a community with their class blog. I hope that you learn as much from them as they will from you.

My mornings start earlier now, and nights go later. I’ve learned to work more efficiently and smarter. I’m making less excuses. Your future is entirely up to you. As an agency, we’re adopting some of the lessons of thinking small and staying in beta that were stressed in Boulder. It’s a start. Rather than spending 3 hours on the day I returned to the office from MDW to go over everything I learned; we are instead weekly discussing each of the many lessons taught at Boulder. We’re starting small. We’re finding some of the ideas are fitting us better than others. But that’s the point, you’ve got to start to see what works, with smaller decisions we can afford to change and adjust them along the way. If it doesn’t work, we ditch it, and we haven’t invested so much time in it that it hurts, we just learn and move on.

There’s never a perfect time to start. The perfect time never arrives, there’s always an excuse. It’s entirely up to you to make it happen. At Xdesign we’ve talked about having a blog for years, we’ve always put it off because we didn’t have the time, or didn’t know what to write, or wanted the design to be just right. It was all an excuse.

So here we go. It’s our blog, it’s in beta, and it will stay that way.

Get started. Don’t worry about failing. There will never be a perfect time to start. The longer you wait, the farther you’re falling behind.

The most important thing is to begin.

You’ll be hearing more from us,
-Hunter / @hunterterrito

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