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Lessons from Walking Matilda

I spend the first hour of my day walking my dog, Matilda. Matilda is a sweet, independent pit bull I adopted when she was about 2. We walk over to our local coffee shop, chat with whoever is in the shop that day, get a puppoccino (a little cup of whip cream topped with a tiny treat), grab an 8oz drip to go, and then take a long stroll through the neighborhood. 

Fueled by a bit of caffeine and fresh air, these strolls are a time where my mind does a lot of thinking and dot connecting. One thing I tend not to think about though are the steps I’m taking. I don’t give much thought to where my feet are landing or which direction I’m headed. However, the weather we’ve had in Chicago has forced me to change that.

We’ve had over two feet of snow the past few weeks, along with freezing temperatures. The sidewalks and roads are a mix of patches of ice, deep puddles where some has thawed, and layers of slush. After a few slips, I realized I had to pay closer attention to where my feet were landing.

Acting (Walking) with Intention

With the unpredictable conditions of the streets and sidewalks, every step I take is considered and intentional. I’m constantly looking for a secure place for my feet to land and then taking a look at what’s ahead. It requires Matilda and I to walk slow enough so we can observe and reroute when an obstacle is ahead. And because I’m not walking solo, I also have to think about her. Is this puddle too deep? Is this snow drift too high for her to climb? 

So much of this feels connected to the process I’m going through now as I try to develop the purpose and values of Blank Studio. One of the values I’m trying to tightly define revolves around acting and speaking with intention. Being forced to slow down our walk and consider where we were going, what we were doing, and how we were doing was a great way to reframe this value and provide some clarity around it.

When you slow down, you’re able to consider the actions you are taking. You’re able to think about the process as a whole, and also each step in that process. Everything is done with a purpose and is  not just a mindless, routine task. 

When I think about this as it relates to the a team, it gives everyone a clear role. Through that role, they hopefully will see their value to the larger picture and take pride in their actions. And with a clear role in a clear process, they will also know what the expectations are of themselves and their team. 

As it relates to the clients we serve, I hope the clarity in our process and our intentions offers them calm and confidence. I hope it demystifies the design process — and through that they feel a strong sense of transparency and collaboration. 

I’d be curious to know — are there any day-to-day parts of your life that you view as metaphors for your values? I’d love to hear about those!

Last Note

I started this newsletter in October. My plan was to share a new newsletter every other week, but I was struggling to 1) find the time and 2) writing something I felt was worth sharing. While I’m still not sure what the frequency of these will be, I am going to start blocking out time to write every week. My goal is that, as I write, I start to form clear, intentional topics or stories to share in a newsletter format. The last thing I want to do is fill your inbox with the rough drafts that fill my Google docs!

Thanks for reading.

Random Notes

We launched a mini-site while we build the real deal. On it, we have a couple case studies we're excited to share, as well as a few other surprises. Please explore, quick around, and share any feedback you may have!

I've been watching a lot of old concerts on YouTube because I think I really miss seeing a live show. While going on a deep dive into Oasis sets from the 90s, I came across this "feud" between Noel Gallagher and Jay-Z. In 2008, Noel shared his opinions about Jay being asked to headline Glastonbury. "I'm sorry, but Jay-Z? No chance," Gallagher complained in April. "Glastonbury has the tradition of guitar music ... I'm not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It's wrong." It was a beyond stupid comment that made him seem extremely out of touch. But my favorite part of this is how Jay-Z responded -- by opening up his set playing guitar and singing Wonderwall. I'm going to channel this energy for any shadiness that comes my way.
Wander Wonder is a newsletter where I intend to be open and thoughtful on my journey as a business owner, creative director, and human being. Whether you want to start a discussion about something I wrote about or just have a general comment on a topic, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks for subscribing and reading. ✌
- Mike Duesenberg, Creative Director and Founder of Blank Studio