Leveling (10)Up

Let me begin with the big news: tomorrow morning, I start my new role as Associate Director of Business Development at 10up, a web design agency that makes finely crafted websites and tools for content creators like Microsoft, Time, ESPN, and Adobe. The title is a mouthful, but basically my job will be to understand the needs and challenges of our clients and then to put together creative ways of solving them. Technology, strategy, and empathy.

A little over a year ago, I left my full-time job at Simply Recipes and hung out my freelancer shingle. There’s always some fear of the unknown you face as an entrepreneur, and I was especially sensitive to that fear since I hadn’t been a full-time freelancer since 2009 and the web design industry has changed so much since then. (I had to binge-learn NPM, Node, and Gulp in a weekend!) But 2017 ended up being a good year for Plasticmind Design. I had enough work that it nearly covered my full-time salary from the year previous; and as an added bonus, I got to work on some great projects with some incredible teams.

I worked with J Cornelius and the Nine Labs crew to launch the redesign for the Committee to Protect Journalists (which was especially relevant after Meryl Streep’s shout-out at the Golden Globes). I worked with Dan Mall and some other really smart folks on the Superfriendly team to rethink and redesign Harvard Business School’s Digital Initiative site. I worked with Phil Hollows and the FeedBlitz team to help redesign and re-architect their application UI.

At this point, you’re probably wondering: if it was such a good year, why take a full-time job?

It’s a fair question, and the simplest and best way I can think to answer it is this: focus. At almost any point during this year, I was switching gears between significantly different disciplines. In fact, at any point during a given day, I found myself switching gears between significantly different disciplines. I’d be creating complex application UX flow charts in Sketch, then attempting to recompile PHP, then creating responsive SVG images, then front-end debugging Javascript errors, then hacking Movable Type templates, etc, etc. I know this is common for many people in this industry, and honestly, I kind of enjoy the variety. But the switching costs were high for me, and I had a hard time passing those costs on to the client.

In the middle of all this switching, 10up approached me with this opportunity to focus my time and attention on one thing: business development. To be honest, at first I wasn’t sure I was the right fit for the position. It just seemed like it might be out of my wheelhouse. But after several great conversations with some of the folks on the 10up executive team, I got a better understanding of what they’re looking for from that position: meeting with clients, listening to and understanding their needs (real and perceived), connecting them with the technology or solutions that make the most sense for them, defining and measuring success, making them feel valued. This was everything I loved most about the work that I do: technology, strategy, and empathy. This is my sweet spot.

It’s still a big change for me, since I’ll be focusing solely on the strategy and not the one building things out. But I’m excited for the challenge and very excited about working with an A+ team like the good folks at 10up.

Up, up, and away!