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Filtering by Tag: business

alt summit 2013 : the recap

Ampersand Design Studio

We're home from our second year of attending Alt Summit and our heads are still spinning just as much as the year before. For those of you who did not get a chance to attend, the below picture is pretty much what the majority of the conference looks like. For two days, all attendees can pick between multiple sessions of talented and knowledgeable speakers – it's really impossible to decide what sessions to attend because we sort of wanted to attend them all!

It really is a lot of information for your mind to take in though. The first day, we attended classes like Collaborations with Sponsors, Hiring Help, Blog to Shop, Personal Branding, Work Life Balance, Getting Your Online Life Organized and more....so, as you can see, Alt can get your brain rolling in so many directions from our business brand itself, how to incorporate our blog and shop together, to ways to make our actual blog profitable, all the way to how to take great photos for awesome original content...and with so many talented people in one place, it's hard to stop yourself from dreaming up collaborations! It's a lot to take in in one three day period! We know there are a ton of Alt Summit round-ups going on right now, so we just wanted to touch on a few of our favorite quotes that are sticking with us and share some pictures with you! (Thanks for following along on instagram with us, too)

• Just be true to yourself, be true to YOU —from the Collaborations With Sponsors panel by Mitra Morgan, Merrilee Liddiard, Camille Styles, Annie Selke, Jenny Komenda

• Think BOLD, Think BEAUTIFUL, Think BIG —from the Collaborations With Sponsors panel by Mitra Morgan, Merrilee Liddiard, Camille Styles, Annie Selke, Jenny Komenda

• Follow your passions and you WILL be successful – Stay focused! —from the Collaborations With Sponsors panel by Mitra Morgan, Merrilee Liddiard, Camille Styles, Annie Selke, Jenny Komenda

• one fabulous speaker, Jasmine Star's husband said to her, " I would rather see you fail at something you love than succeed at something you hate" on deciding to quit her job and follow her passion. love this.

• take weekends off and schedule vacation time (what? novel idea, eh?) —from the Work/ Life Balance panel by Michelle Hunt, Morgan Shanahan, Kirsten Grove, Christine Castro-Hughes

• be a good boss to yourself —from the Work/ Life Balance panel by Michelle Hunt, Morgan Shanahan, Kirsten Grove, Christine Castro-Hughes

• make life happen (list things you'd love to do in order to help them come to life) –Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks

• journal, read and collect without judgement –Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks

• start saying NO —from the Work/ Life Balance panel by Michelle Hunt, Morgan Shanahan, Kirsten Grove, Christine Castro-Hughes

• Personality leads to a platform, a platform leads to trust —from the Collaborations With Sponsors panel by Mitra Morgan, Merrilee Liddiard, Camille Styles, Annie Selke, Jenny Komenda

• You can't be successful unless you know what success looks like for you — Jasmine Star

How cool is this "Relax & Unwind" sign from the Bing lounge? Well, so we sure did make a bit of time to unwind and have some fun with friends new and old! The smilebooth photobooths are just expected at Alt now – we'd be disappointed if they weren't there :)

From the Girls with Glasses Show Method Smilebooth, we partied it up with these lovelies: Ali from A Dash of Details, Michelle from Second Street East, Jessica of Wednesday Custom Design, and Jessica of Dahlia Lynn!

The highlight of this particular Alt Summit for us was one of our keynote speakers, the legendary designer and one of our idols, Stefan Sagmeister of the now Sagmeister&Walsh! If you aren't familiar with him yet, just go for it, google him and learn everything about him and how he has changed the world of graphic design. He's phenomenal and always reinventing and pushing boundaries that others don't think to touch.

His current project is The Happy Film, a film about happiness that we had the privilege of getting to preview a 12 minute short version of. Many of us were in tears and I think it's safe to say that everyone in the room was moved in some way. Here are a few thoughts that we are taking home with us from Sagmeister.

How to be Happy in Design (Wishlist)

1. Thinking about ideas & content freely with a deadline far away

2. Traveling to new places

3. Using a wide variety of tools & materials

4. Working on projects that matter to me

5. Having things come back from the printer done well

6. Designing a project that feels partly brand new & partly familiar

7. Working without interruption on a single project

8. Getting feedback from people for whom we do the work

"To look at the world and see what's wrong with it is a lazy way of thinking"

"When you don't have butterflies in your stomach, it's a sign that you are just doing the same things you've always done."

"We see the future through our current eyes."

"Having guts always works out for me."

"That's a serious amount of apples you have there" (this one only to be understood once you have viewed his new film, but will always make us smile.

On the final day, we were honored to have our very our roundtable discussion about Going Into Business with Friends! We had an awesome turnout and made many new friends from our little talk. If you're interested in a little overview and worksheet, head on over here.

And, as always, one of the best parts about Alt Summit is getting to hang out with old friends and get to talk face to face with friends that we have only be in touch with virtually before. Whoever says that the digital world doesn't form true friendships is completely mistaken in our book. We have grown friendships that have started by a blog comment, a twitter conversation or following along on instagram! A few of our friends in the photo above: Ali from A Dash of Details, Michelle from Second Street East, Jessica of Wednesday Custom Design,  Jessica of Dahlia Lynn, Gaby of The Vault Files, Rachel of Pencil Shavings, and our long time bestie and best roomie ever, Meg of Meg Biram!!

Oh, and yeah, this happened. Jessica Alba (yes, THE Jessica Alba) was there to promote her non-toxic, environmentally-friendly company, Honest Co. and we had to say hello to thank her for this tweet about our neon ampersand!!! Thanks again, Jessica! She's just as sweet in person as you would imagine her to be!

all photos taken by us, or from the Alt Flickr stream taken by Brooke Dennis

alt summit talk: Going Into Business with Friends

Ampersand Design Studio

Well, we have returned home from Alt Summit 2013 inspired and full of new info! We'll do a full recap of our highlights, but for those of you who were there and wanted to come to our talk but didn't make it, or for those that did not get to attend at all this year, we wanted to give you a high-level summary of the information we shared in our own roundtable, "Going Into Business with Friends". We were friends before we started Ampersand Design Studio together and we have done many collaborations with friends for business as well. Over the years, we have learned many things that we SHOULD'VE done, WISH we would've done, and then there are the things that we HAVE done that just worked! SO, we compiled a little list here to share with you and if you are considering going into business with a friend, we have a pdf worksheet that you can download as well.

Just click here for the download: Going Into Business with Friends Worksheet

And here are a few tips we've learned along the way:

DEFINE THE BUSINESS Are you a good fit? What is your business idea/new venture and why should the two (or more) of you collaborate on it? Write it down and make sure you’re on the same page. What will each of you contribute to it?

STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES choose someone who compliments your strengths and weaknesses and be honest about what those are for each of you so there are not big surprises. Know yourself well. Things that bother you now will be amplified (tardiness, disorganization, etc.)

TEST IT OUT ­— Don’t quit your day job  (just yet) Pick a trial period, perhaps while you still have other employment to decide whether it’s a good fit. Again, get it in writing.

DEFINE ROLES and make sure they are written down/clear. Who will handle the finances, the PR....even miniscule things like who will take out the trash! If your skill-sets are similar, will you hire someone else to handle areas you’re weak in?

OPERATING AGREEMENT Establish ground rules and get everything in writing up front­. Everything may be rosy right now and you feel like you’ll be besties forever, but the sad reality is that it just isn’t always the case and if you have the proper paperwork in place before you enter a partnership, you will have those guidelines to refer to, which will make saving the friendship much more likely. hire a  good attorney. Plus, this is a great place to agree on things like, what happens if one of you gets pregnant (how does maternity leave work?) or gets a divorce (will the spouse have claims to any of your assets?), how much vacation time do you each get? These are all things that it’s better to iron out up front. Also worth considering: what to do if one of you isn’t pulling his or her weight? How will you determine this is the case and what will you do at that point? (we have a check-in point every three months for feedback).

EXIT STRATEGY "No one wants to talk about getting divorced while you’re planning the wedding..." Just like with conflict resolution, having a plan in place in case one of you wants to leave the company or the business fails will make things less stressful overall, plus, discussing these issues up-front will illuminate how you see things in general and may give you insights into how the other person see the business long-term. Issues to consider include: amount of notice required, how $ will be handled Third partner example

LEVEL OF DEVOTION What kind of lifestyle do you each want, how much time will you commit? (Are you starting this company for more flexible hours or are you ready to work above and beyond the 40-hour week?)

DEFINE SUCCESS (together) Will you be happy with this being fun money on the side of a day job or is this your life’s dream career?

COMMUNICATION It’s a lot like a marriage— communication is critical. our partnership works because we each really try to do more than the other person and go above and beyond. Get input from each other for any major decisions, especially those involving resources.

RESOLVING CONFLICT First, think about how the two of you handle conflict in your friendship. If you get past things and can be open and not sacrifice your relationship, that’s a good sign. it’s important to establish how you will resolve conflict before an actual issue arises and while you are level-headed. Have this in writing as well. If there are two of you, you will often have a tie when you have different opinions. Do you bring in a third-party? It’s good to have a mentor or advisor in these cases to get an objective opinion.

OUTSIDE OF WORK Remember to maintain the friendship outside of work. Try to not always talk business.

SCHEDULE A TOUCH BASE Re-evaluate/ Touch base from time to time. The fact is, it doesn’t always work, priorities change or life events might readjust priorities: pregnancy, moves, or a simple change of heart, etc. Always give fair warning if one of you is considering a different direction.

If you’ve found that perfect match, CONGRATULATIONS!!! It’s not always easy and people will try to deter you (for good reason), but if you plan ahead and put your friendship first, you can definitely make it work and then it really can be the best arrangement possible.  It can be fun to have someone to share the high points with and better to have someone to go through the lows together. We both feel that our business is so much more than the sum of our talents. Every project we touch becomes stronger because we’re both giving our unique input. It has been the absolute best possible situation for us – we wish you all luck! Feel free to contact us with any questions: hello@ampersanddesignstudio.com.

– Morgan & Carrie