Monthly Archives: March 2012

NYC Day 1: Illi Boy at Ilili


Two shuttles after landing at Laguardia, I arrived at my grungy hotel, the Latham on 28th Street. I unloaded and immediate began to explore the city on foot. With my virtual assistant, Gaila Curry of the Expert Offices, in ear on my Bluetooth, I soon realized that it had been over 8 hours since I last ate. Gaila then directed me to the Ilili a few blocks south of where I had wandered.

Upon entering, the mirrored foyer and walls dressed in golden drapery evoked images of a Mediterranean palace. But as a designer, I was still fascinated by the logo that greeted me as I approached the restaurant. It was simple, elegant and told the whole story about what was in store for me inside. I had the option of sitting at a traditionally set table, but I could resist the allure of dining in the leather lounge area beside the stone slab table tops. Typically, this is a setting for groups, especially because of its proximity to the bar. Nevertheless, I was determined to indulge in the experience for myself. And indulge I did. I opened with a traditional hummus appetizer, as my waitress advised me of the differences between the two main courses that I was torn between: The Lamb Chops and the Citrus Trout. She admonished that the trout was for those who were looking for something different, and suggested the Lamb due to its simplicity. My travel tradition is to do something different each time I visit someplace different. So, I ordered the Citrus Trout alongside a Lebanese white wine.

After grazing over the pita pillows and hummus, I was introduced to a frightening presentation of the trout. Not unlike the rubbish on the street when I first laid eyes on the city of New York on trash day. Also, the dish was so flat that I was afraid my appetite would turn me inside out at the dissatisfaction of finishing the meal too soon. . . This was all an illusion. As I dove into the inside of the fish, I saw that it was not only meaty, but meaty on both sides and dressed with greens in between. With the orange citrus cells, the fish was mild, yet sweet and tangy. Accompanied with the grapefruit citrus cells, the dish had the audacity to bite back. The citrus tahini underneath provided me with a smooth transition between the two contrasting experiences. A nibble of the crispy almonds also provided a much needed reprise. In aggregate, I couldn’t have asked for a better precursor to what awaits me in New York. My first meal was symbolic of the culture I would soon be immersed within. Thanks to the Expert Offices for the outstanding recommendation, and thanks to Ilili for such an enchanting prelude to my adventures in the Big Apple.

Follow Through…Enough Said


“I’m a man of my word…”

It is upsetting that I have to even remark on a concept that should be a standard across all professions. But, there have been an overwhelming number of instances in which I have experienced, or have heard about experiences with individuals or companies that fail to follow-up. Of all times to set such a dreadful impression, why do so in the midst of an unstable economy? Why would a realtor not follow-up with a potential home buyer/renter that calls almost daily to inquire about a property? Why would a business professional not follow-up with a good lead that they encountered at a networking event or through referral? Simply put, they have lost the vision for success. Human nature dictates that we are interdependent beings. Don’t let the obsolete American Dream delude you, there is no such thing as bootstrapping your way to the top on your own. Don’t be blinded by the fact that many who came before you made the provisions for you to have an opportunity to get where you are because they had already envisioned where you’re going to be. . . or where you should be. You WILL NOT get there if you do not follow through on the opportunities laid before you. Don’t probe me as a designer, or any other professional, and lead us to believe that you are ready to invest in yourself and take your success to the next level, but never call back or return an email in a timely manner. The least you could do is send an email saying that you will follow-up or make a deposit/payment at a later date. Let yourself be fooled that you won’t be forgotten after a week being unresponsive. I want to help each and every one of you in every capacity that I can, but I refuse to reach a hand out to someone who isn’t reaching back. Allow me to see you tearing the stones away as you try to pull yourself out of the rut of monotony. Then, you will see me emerge as vividly as the rainbow that rose above Noah’s Ark in the midst of the monochrome storm that enveloped him. But, if you don’t follow through and build your own vessel to meet me on the waters, you will get nothing . . . and you will get nowhere.

Be easy

Brian


The Rhythym of Success, The Disharmony of Failure


Starting a new business is exciting. The thrill of new opportunities, the enthusiasm of making connections and networking can be very captivating. Enjoy it! However, you must remember to resist the temptation to be impulsive. Running a business is like making music. As erroneous as this advice might seem, especially coming from a man who has no musical talent whatsoever, it is the most illustrative anecdote to what I wish to share with you all. A close examination of your day-to-day operations will reveal that there are trends in the tempo of your marketing techniques and procedures which are correlated with the acquisition of new clients and the recurrence of loyal clients. For example, after posting a new advertising promotion, you may acquire a few new clients. The more you do this, the more clients and projects you will acquire, the less you do so, the less new clients and project you acquire. Thus, you can effectively manipulate the rhythm of your business.

It is imperative that you are aware of your company rhythm and pay enough attention to monitor these trends as closely as possible. Submerging into the buzz of business operations could result in “oversaturation” to the point that you become overwhelmed. At this rate, you may find yourself in a position in which your business is controlling you rather than the contrary. For instance, an event planner that is new to the industry may find themselves completely “psyched” when they acquire a new venue to host events and parties. So, they start planning and promoting immediately to host a “simple” party in two weeks with a $10 cover charge in a venue that holds only 300 heads. Most venues require a 50% deposit, and with excitement of having savings for startup, the planner immediately invests and pays the $500 non-refundable deposit. Essentially, they are now locked in and committed to the event, but there are some major problems here: 1) a DJ will cost anywhere between $200-$3000, 2) having a designer design, print and ship flyers can range from $150-$1000, and 3) with a 500 person capacity you can only make $3000 at the event unless you profit from the bar. The capacity to profit is marginal at best in this situation, but your tasks and obligations are high and can result in a great deal of stress and anxiety – key ingredients for a breakdown and failure.

Needless to say, this is an undesireable experience for most business owners. Don’t let your business influence you in this manner. We all have goals and places to be in the end. But, life is not about the destination – it’s about the journey and the moments in between. Control you ops tempo so that you can slow down and make the best of these moments and enjoy life. No matter how reputable you become, don’t be such a megalomaniac that you can’t stay in touch with your own humanity that reaches out to the “you” within the business owner. Enjoy what you do. Plan ahead. And take your time to find the right rhythm for success. #MakeYourself

Be Easy,

Brian

Time is Money?


I frequently mention to my new clients that my Modus Operandi is that I value business relationships over revenue. For this reason, I have no issue investing time for little to no money. Perhaps, only my mature audiences can understand why I do this, while my other critics rest on the idea that “Time is Money” – but really it’s not. In business, many associate the time they invest to be worth x amount of dollars and should be taken seriously, insisting that they are not in the industry of wasting time and subsequently money. Consider this: if the misfortunes of the world ever fell upon you such that you had not one cent to your estate, then time is all you have. Unlike money, you can’t make that back.

Years ago, I lived in the depths of society in the basement of an apartment on the south side of Chicago. I witnessed all sorts of misfortunes there, from young girls raped and beaten and a close friend of mine that was killed right before my eyes. One lesson that I’ve learned and can never forget is that you can’t take back time once it’s gone. You can’t make that little girl forget the time her innocence was lost, and you can’t give my friend time to make better decisions that would have kept him alive. There’s no amount of money you can spend, or any job you can work to earn back time.

So, why waste time worrying about money and what your time is worth when there are much larger things at hand? Don’t get me wrong, I know what my work and my time is worth. Hourly rates for graphic/web designers start at $25 per hour and project rates usually don’t fall under $500 at a minimum. So, why do I undercut myself? Why am I so humble? Don’t be mistaken, for a long time, I was in the business of making money myself. Now, I’m in the industry of making moments. Like the moment a small business owner who is just starting out sees their new logo for the first time and is so overwhelmed with elation, that they post it on every social network at their finger tips. And, like the moment when that new business identity affords them another avenue to generate the money they needed to pay back two months of late rent because there are no jobs on the market. . . the moment that their child doesn’t have to live with no home and in the chills of the wind because mommy has her own business now.

I don’t dream to have a large corporation, or a wealthy enterprise. I only wish to build relationships with lasting moments. In the end, I could die with a great deal of money in my estate. But, how much would last and what amount would be taken with me thereafter? None. But, the relationships that I build and the moments I create will become legacy. Every bit I will leave behind will not be circulated in treasuries eventually to become as invisible as credit. Rather, what remains of me will be circulated in the hearts in minds of people who didn’t envision another moment of good fortune until they met me. From this, I will not charge you with a request to make moments and not money. Instead, I leave you with a thought: if your time is money and money never lasts, then what are you truly worth?

-Be easy

5 Tips to Jump Start Your Brand


Hello, again! I will be posting my 5 Tips to Jump Start Your Brand. Follow these useful tips to get started with an effective brand marketing orientation to gain exposure.

TIP 1 – Get A Logo! Your logo is the face of your business. It’s the statement about your business that you want to give. Hire a graphic designer to design your logo because professional branding work yields better results. Make sure your logo excites you with pride because it sets the tone for the rest of your branding products. The style, colors and graphic elements will resonate in the rest of your brand products. Next, be sure to TRADEMARK YOUR LOGO! You should understand the value of protecting your business identity the same way you would with your own personal identity.

TIP 2 – Determine Your Niche to narrow the focus of your business branding campaigns. For example, a instead of marketing yourself as a “photographer,” brand yourself as a “wedding photographer.” A niche gives your brand orientation toward a target market – DON’T be a “Jack-of-all-trades; Master of none.” Master a niche to build a reputation -your brand. In other words, what you’re known to be proficient at providing for your target market.

TIP 3 – Establish Your Network! Build relationships with PROFESSIONALS both in and outside your profession. Making contacts in other professions will open up new markets for you to spread your brand far and wide.

Many frown at this, but offer pro bono and promotional services/products or barter with other professionals. Helping others in need of your services/products will generate hype about your business and promote your brand. Don’t offer free services/products too often and lose the ability to make a living because you’re known for rolling over at every sentimental appeal.

TIP 4 – Know Your Worth! Research what other professionals in your industry make for their services/products. Compete by not overpricing your products/services but don’t be the bottom rung of the ladder either. Be flexible! Provide multiple payment options for customers with various budgets (installments, deposits, etc.)

TIP 5 – INVEST IN YOURSELF! You should be enthusiastic about spending the money to design establish your brand. You can’t expect the cost to be cheap for designing a logo, business cards, websites & other marketing materials. Prepare to spend at least about $1000 – it’s a large investment, but worth it if you take time and FOLLOW THROUGH. Invest in accountants, business consultants and especially lawyers to help maintain and protect your brand. If you’re not willing to spend the money to build your brand, how can you expect your clients/customers to do so? Lastly, know your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t attempt things not within your skill set. Invest in tools to assist you.

I hope you enjoyed my 5 Tips! Put them to work as you build your brand, fulfill your dreams and Make Yourself!