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Avoid adding to your list of failed side projects

This post was originally streamed on YouTube and Facebook Live. You can also subscribe to the podcast via RSS, iTunes, and Google Play Store.

I’m curious to find out how many of you have a closet filled with failed side-projects? I know I have a hand-full of them. However, my failed projects all seem to be the same.

They’re all blogs.

In fact, I think I’ve attempted to start a blog exactly four times over the past 8–10 years, and each of them failed a couple of weeks into their launch. I’ve come to recognize patterns in myself and how I run my projects. Time and time again I’ve seen the scope of my idea snowball into something so big that I can’t possibly keep up.

But starting a blog sounds simple. You write something and then hit publish.

Then why do I keep failing?

Like you I immediately turn my attention towards searching for the perfect domain, designing and developing a site, optimizing SEO and other marketing tactics.

All of these great and necessary tasks pile on until they create a mountain so big that I lose track of my initial goal. It can be easy to forget your purpose when you add this kind of pressure on yourself.

What I’ve learned is that I can move fast and adjust over time if I can just stick to the original idea. All of the other tasks can come later. My latest project, #dailystandup, started as a rough live-stream. Weeks later I’m now streaming directly to YouTube and Facebook using the same audio and video feed, recording and processing a podcast, and as of today writing a blog post.

That’s right, I’m writing again.

You might think I’m crazy for wanting to add another component to the #dailystandup, but it’s something I believe will help bring value to you and help me learn more about myself in the process.

This time there’s no pressure, no agenda, and most of all no more excuses. I’ll write about productivity, projects, and design related news. Simple things that interest me.

The best part about my 5th attempt at a blog is that I’ve already built a habit of producing and shipping content every day by remembering my purpose.

Heads down and focused

This post was originally streamed on YouTube and Facebook Live. You can also subscribe to the podcast via RSS, iTunes, and Google Play Store.

In this episode, I talk about organizing projects with Asana for the sake of order not scheduling. I’m also focused on making progress on projects before the end of the week.

Thank you Design Inc!

This post was originally streamed on YouTube and Facebook Live. You can also subscribe to the podcast via RSS, iTunes, and Google Play Store.

In this episode, I touch a bit on the news that came out of Design Inc. yesterday. I had the opportunity to watch them build the platform from a distance and even spoke with the team at various stages. I know how hard they worked and it shows. They were able to produce high-quality work for a good amount of time. It’s not often you see great people pull together to build a team as strong as this one.

Fear: The reason why you don’t…

  • launch your product.
  • promote your skills and services.
  • create something you love.
  • build that idea.
  • speak up about an issue.
  • act with conviction.
  • write and publish your next post.
  • shoot and publish your next video.

Fear? Fear of what? Fear of being called out by your peers and told that you aren’t good enough.

The ironic part is that nobody is paying attention or seeking us out to do that. We’re all so wrapped up in our lives and issues that the worst thing that can happen to you is “nothing”. Not getting a reaction.

If not getting a response was the worst thing that happened to you, then it wasn’t that bad after all, and you didn’t have anything to fear, to begin with.

In that case, I’d say that you either unveiled your project in front of the wrong audience or you just received a 2nd chance to go back, make it better, and relaunch the whole thing again without anyone ever knowing.

I won’t let fear stop me and you shouldn’t either.

It’s time I take my own medicine and refocus on content creation

If you’re reading this, chances are you have some place of your own where you write about your creative process or other development and entrepreneurial adventures. You’re most likely a great writer. You’re diligent in your process and after years of writing have developed an audience and schedule for publishing your words of genius.

Well, I’m not you.

In fact, that’s not many of you at all. Most of us wish we could say it was true. But how often do we do something about it?
There are millions of creative people with a message online and even more start daily. Anyone can start a vlog or other in 5 minutes (even I did it), but only a few start with a message that matters.

So far I’ve been one of the millions with a message that doesn’t matter. I can’t even tell you that I tried and failed. That would be ok because I could then follow up with something interesting that I learned from the experience. Instead, I have to tell you that I didn’t try. It’s been sloppy and inconsistent at best.

That’s not ok. That’s not who I am today nor is it who I want to be tomorrow.

It’s time for a change

The reasons for creating content are endless, and I even encourage clients to do it. It’s time I take my advice for a change. I’m restarting my online content, and these are my reasons why.

1. To tell a story

The best way to connect with someone is a story. When you write or produce a video, you enable opportunities through your words and expressions. And the more you do it, the better your stories become, and the stronger your connections grow.

2. Become an expert

Writing is the best way to show knowledge of a subject. It’s also the only way to communicate with others without having to be present- much like you, and I are doing right now. The truth is that we all build an image of each other based on each encounter whether we are present or not. Your writing and your audiences encounter with it will have just as much weight as personal interactions do over time.

3. Identify an audience

When you write, you will inevitably build an audience, and it’s not always who you think it is. It’s easy to assume who our audience will include the people that we follow or interact with daily, but they may not always fit our audience in return. Our perspective of this is based on the people immediately around us and writing will help provide a wider perspective than we are used to.

4. Develop products

A part of my goal is to use writing as a way to teach, but also to help think through services and products I develop. Often we learn more as we teach.

5. Improved storytelling

Everything in life requires communication. Especially design. Improving communication will not only help create better designs, but it will also help you present and sell your ideas to clients and other stakeholders.

What does it mean to do something that matters?

Like success, deciding what it means is entirely up to you. You should look at your goals and decide what your reasons for doing something are. For me, it means creating content that will be meaningful to you and has the power to make an impact on my businesses.

Branding Hart — a brand-new face in healthcare

This post was first published on the Healthy Thoughts blog for Hart.

We’re living through an incredible time during which the growth of the internet allows us to extend the reach of valuable services and maximize the impact they have on our lives.


When I sat down to write this post I wanted to talk about the various facets that come together to create a brand. Not necessarily a step-by-step or how-to, but rather an illustration of the complex makeup of a brand.

With my phone on DND (do not disturb) and placed just a few inches out of arm’s reach, tea in hand and the warm glow of my desk lamp, I was ready.

Or so I thought.

As I began to write, I realized I am only three months shy of my four-year anniversary at Hart. My words, while filled with what I believe to be foundational truths in branding, came with a heartfelt message.

What follows is more of a whimsical path behind the creation of our brand. I, like many others, have poured ourselves into crafting it. Whether you’re a designer, developer or one of the many friendly faces using our products, I hope you will find some value in this story.

Behind a Strong Brand

Have you ever felt like you were being talked at rather than talked to? Or maybe you were the recipient of what came across as a hollow message.

That’s the exact feeling most people have when they encounter a brand unclear of what their identity and design are supposed to be.

However, brands are just like people. They can be amazing creatures capable of even greater things. Complex in their makeup. Similar to people, you can generally capture everything that makes up a brand under two major areas: identity and design.

A brand’s identity is the voice and tone used to deliver its message during each interaction. It has everything to do with how a brand communicates with its audience. It includes how the brand sounds in a variety of situations — from the first encounter through the education of their mission, sales process, support and the journey as you progress through each of their products. You can even include smell under a brand’s identity in cases in which physical locations come into play.

A brand is a set of promises as perceived by its audience. It is born when you begin a relationship with it and create associations which may include factual and emotional truths.

Then you have what most of us are familiar with, which are the aesthetics of the brand. The overall look, style, colors and various artifacts that adorn the brand all fall under design.

As a whole, it’s the combination of identity and design that a brand should use to help guide their audience through a set of experiences. It’s the combination of these interactions that help paint the final picture. All coming together to solidify what your brand truly represents for your audience in their minds.

Like a person’s personality, brands are created through patterns, not repetition.

The Challenge

My first assignment at Hart was to rebrand the company and its products. The task included a new name, logo, color palette and other assets required to support the brand. It was a complete rebuild from the ground up.

The best things about taking on this project were the availability of time and the lack of restrictions.
After my initial studies, I found our challenge wasn’t going to simply revolve around creating an identity for this brand, but around helping to reframe the way people viewed their health.

Today, people are accustomed to using devices or apps on their phone to track their activity or log daily food intake. In fact, the majority of the population reports being far more interested in these kinds of features over any clinical ones. But the truth is that both consumer and clinical data are important to one’s health.

With that in mind, our brand needed to feel familiar and trusted by everyone who interacted with it. Our brand should reflect the goals and ideals of every individual as they would like to manage their health and live their life, with our identity playing a supporting role in that process.

How Hart Came to Be

Our approach was simple. Create complete transparency between our identity (tone and voice) and the person experiencing it. While we aim to create memorable moments with our messaging, we prefer to take a backseat with our identity, allowing the person using our products to create an emotional attachment because it reflects an accurate view of their life at any given moment.

Our brand and products are as personal to you as they are to me.

The process began with a common word association exercise. But unlike most lists that seem to run on, I capped ours at a single word:

Beautiful.

Beauty, like many things in life, has a different meaning to each of us. It evokes different emotions while capturing everything we want to say at the same time.

Hart is a short, warm and smile-inducing name. Coupled with our logo, it creates a lasting and memorable impression on those who interact with it.

We rely on a lot of white to create clarity around the message we deliver with highlights of our brand color, “Blu,” to intertwine our brand in as a gentle reminder inside of each interaction.

And just like in life, we had to round it out with a secondary palette of primary colors to support the brand in any situation that called for it.

One of the most impactful parts of a brand is when it’s finally applied and experienced in the real world. For us this comes in two very key points of interaction, both as users are onboarded into one of our apps and when they see it in full motion with a video.

A Brand Promise

Once it’s all said and done, the assets created serve merely as tools to help tell this story. The story of a team with a mission to change the way you interact with your health and the way you navigate the many networks that care for it — clinics, hospitals, fitness centers, therapists, health insurance companies, employee wellness programs and the many connected apps and wearables we all use. All available within Hart.

A brand is a set of promises as perceived by its audience. It’s born when you begin a relationship and create associations with it, which may include factual and emotional truths.

A brand is then not completely ours to design, but to shepherd as a living organism. By focusing on patterns, rather than repetition, to deliver the experience of your brand, you allow for critical moments in which your audience will create these emotional associations and solidify your brand through its identity and design.

My goal as the creative officer is to ensure we keep that promise.

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