Traveling has always been a big part of my life. I love to explore. Having ventured extensively around the South Pacific Rim and other parts of the world, I prefer a backpack to a suitcase, a hostel to a hotel and a street vendor to a white tablecloth (at least until I had kids). As I enter each new project, I treat it as a new adventure—diving headfirst into it and digging up the stories that make it unique.
With a background that relies heavily on both sides of my brain, I thrive on the transformation of information into something useful, usable and beautiful. As a trained graphic designer, I focus on balancing functional design with beauty. As a trained researcher, I concentrate on results, usability and thoughtful hierarchy and architecture. As a leader, I thrive on making connections and building teams and processes that allow for each member to learn, grow and succeed.
At the end of the day, my creativity is an outlet for better communication, faster adoption and a stronger bottom line. I believe design—like all forms of communication—should be crafted to an audience, created from knowledge and research, and projected with authenticity.
People: My world is ruled by three amazing people: Zoie, four, Jane, two, and my wife, Kate. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to share my passion for creativity with my daughters, who both have the penchant to remind me that beauty can be found in the simplest of every day things.
Places: While traveling in Japan, I was told that there are two fools in this life: one who never climbs Mt. Fuji and one who climbs it twice. Being on the summit of a massive volcano—whose iconic silhouette has been one of the strongest and most repeated icons in all of Japanese culture—and to watch the sunrise with hundreds of Japanese adventurers, was an experience that is impossible to replicate or put into words.
Things: If I could include skiing, fly-fishing, biking and a good movie as part of my daily routine, I would be living my utopia.
• While working for the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, I led the development of a business recruitment campaign (branding, design and content development) for a fairly large and hot company—Yahoo. The goal was to generate hundreds of jobs on a new Midwest campus. With our help, and certainly some amazing work on the client-side, Yahoo chose Omaha over several other cities. Being part of job creation is not something every Creative has the privilege of doing.
• I worked for Playground Destination Properties during some of the hardest times the real estate market has seen in decades. The honest and upfront series of campaigns and websites that I led the design and implementation of helped Playground sell over $40 million in resort homes in less than a year. To boot, the work was done on a marketing budget that was 15% less than that of previous years.
• In over eight years of managing teams, I have only had two employees leave on their own accord. I believe effective leadership begins with strong relationships, good listening, and an open mind. Some of the best creative direction I have received has been from a junior designer. I have learned that leading with encouragement trumps leading with fear, and that hiring people who challenge you will only help your team grow. For me, being a leader is not about being more experienced or more knowledgeable—it is about bringing people together to achieve more than I could alone.
• In 2011 I brought together a different kind of team—one to compete in the World Team Challenge (WTC), a two-day race created by blind adventurer, Erik Weihenmayer, the only blind person in history to climb the world’s seven summits. The WTC is a three-day, multisport adventure race near Eagle, which teams able-bodied with disabled athletes to mountain bike, white-water raft, run, zip line, climb and rappel, while navigating the rugged high country wilderness. The team I led had the ambition of completing the race together—as a unit—and more importantly, experiencing the ingenuity and heart of the human spirit that results from working collectively towards a common goal.
The race took place again spring of 2012 and the team I led this year wound up finishing 3rd place–a feat we were extremely proud of.
Here is a little video my good friend and teammate, Topher Downham, put together on our 2011 team: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=256jAPxIcFI