Why One 10 Graphics?

There are times when, honestly, I don’t know what to write about, and currently I am in an Entrepreneurial Training Program where I have to write about my business, my mission, my market, and, the hardest thing to do, myself. So today, I practice pieces of the business plan for One 10 Graphics, LLC.

So to start, how did I get here?

I got here, honestly, by having children. I should really thank the two people who have become my absolute world, my daughters. Thank you, Lydia and CJ, without you, I wouldn’t be here. Why are they responsible for my business plan? Because when they were little, I was working at a local college, and once they arrived, I realized, I couldn’t leave them to go back to work. Sorry Carroll College. My daughters are the reason we moved north to be closer to family, the reason we gave up our life in the Milwaukee area, and ultimately, the reason I became a freelancer. For 12 years I scooted along helping businesses and individuals with small design jobs all around central Wisconsin, from universities to local businesses to more famous clients like the winner of the bachelorette. I held my own.

In the world of Graphic Design, if you step away from the arena, you lose a lot of headway in software advancement, technology, trends, and knowledge in the skills that designers use everyday. When I started in the business, Quark Xpress was the upcoming piece of software with CorelDraw being a counterpart. When I came back to the business, after about a year, no one was using those programs anymore. Monster Adobe had literally bulldozed the graphic design industry with some seriously robust programs. I hadn’t touched an Adobe piece of software, ever. Then I realized, I had to keep my foot in the door of this industry or I would be completely obsolete. So I started to freelance, and eventually bought the very first version of Adobe Creative Suite (the last version before CC was 19 so 18 versions ago, lol!). At that time, it was pretty pricey, but I knew it would be a good investment.

Currently, there are still leaps and bounds of advancement in the industry, but luckily I have enough knowledge and skills to be dangerous. Do I want to take on the national scene by storm and become a household graphic design name? No, I don’t. I do, however, want to help people who don’t know where to start with their new businesses or feel they need to step up their brand to compete with their professional counterparts. It starts with an idea. Then maybe a logo, then maybe a color palette, then maybe a visual feel, then maybe some business cards, an email signature, and a couple of social media platforms. A T-shirt or two, some consistency and just a little bit of money. It is not rocket science and high caliber work should not break the bank. So that is why I am here, and I can help you reach your small business or startup goals. One step at a time.

Why am I so special?

Honestly, sometimes I don’t think I’m so set apart from the pack, but that is not the way to think if you want to run a business. People and former employers have told me that I am a leader of my pack, I have won a few awards, I have revamped full brands, I have simplified content, freshened colors, simplified workflows, updated websites, put pizzazz in everyday blah campaigns. taken many photos, tried very hard to hone skills, AND, this is a big one, admitted when I don’t have the skills to do specific jobs (but found someone who could).

Part of my skillset is finding vendors to complete the job. Because I have been working in these communities for 18 years, I have run across many printers, sign companies, vinyl companies, promotional companies and many more. I can get you from concept to completion. I also have the willingness to learn and adjust to the ever changing market. I also have been doing this gig for about 29 years. I may have an idea of what works and what doesn’t work.

The other thing about me that sets me apart, I have diagnosed OCD. Why is this even relevant? Because I will think (and truly obsess) about your goals until I can solve your problem. The name of my business, One 10 Graphics, comes from that fact. One of my former bosses once told me, don’t give 110%, only maybe 90%. Nope. Not me. I will always give 110% and no less. If I can’t solve your design problems, I will find someone that can. I am not in this to be cutthroat with my competitors. I am in this for your business. To get the job done. I will sit in my jammies all day working on your projects, I will work on the weekend to get the job done, I won’t sleep at night thinking of what I can do to help you succeed.

Don’t believe it? Try me.

Lastly, the One 10 Graphics, LLC mission: To help small and startup businesses in northcental Wisconsin build their brand to get professional traction in their local markets, and in return, build and increase the economies of our small local communities. At One 10 Graphics, LLC, I am in my business to solve your small business branding/design problems, and will solve them, by helping you conceive, design, create, troubleshoot, and complete your projects. From logos, business cards, letterhead, product lists, menus, banners, billboards, stickers, labels, brochures, newsletters, programs, tickets, magazines, books, folders, sales pieces/viewbooks, promotional items, T-shirts to social media/digital advertising. I can handle majority of your branding needs, and if I can’t, I will find somebody that can. I want to help. Please give me a call. Yours truly, Becca Kaegi of One 10 Graphics, LLC.

I am an idiot

These are some of the words I tell myself. My husband calls himself a knucklehead. My daughter calls herself dumb. My friend calls herself fat. I tell myself “I can’t do it” on a regular basis. I don’t know about you or them, but if I keep up this negative self talk it will eventually take me down.

I am a worrier at heart. Even when I go on vacation, it never goes away. My brain is constantly visualizing a car crash or having some internal conversation about how everything is going to go wrong. Three years ago, we went on a vacation with some of our close friends, and these friends know my freaky tendency to worry. We decided our mantra (or really the thing we told ourselves) for the whole vacation was “It’s going to be fine.” Whenever I would start stewing about anything, they would all tell me, Becca, “it’s going to be fine.” And guess what, It WAS FINE. Matter of fact, it was one of the best vacations we’ve had.

For most people negative self talk becomes a habit, and most don’t even realize they are doing it. Recently, because I know I have this habit, I decided to start listening to the voice in my head. Come to find out, it is not very nice. After 48 years (and many years of therapy) I have finally learned negative self talk breeds fear and doubt. This speak will inevitably creep into my mind, and like the movie Inception, will plant a seed. Like fertilizer, the more of those negative thoughts I have, the more the fear, self doubt and poor self esteem will grow.

And now that I own a business, to be totally honest, there have been many days I have thought “what the hell are you doing?” “you are going to fail,” “you can’t do this” or “YOU ARE AN IDIOT!” One thing I know for certain, if I keep talking to myself this way, I will achieve a self fulfilling prophecy of failure.

So let’s try this again: “I absolutely can do this, and I will succeed!”

Let me be clear. I will make mistakes, I will have doubts and at times, I will be fearful of what lies ahead, BUT the only path to my success (and the future of my business) is to believe in myself and my abilities. That starts with the way I talk to myself.

You are not an idiot. You will succeed and you can do it. Try it with me.

Grunt, grunt, please, thank you.

Yesterday I was traveling for work with a young coworker, and we had stopped for food on our way home. My coworker ordered, said please and thank you, and oddly enough, I noticed. Why did I notice? Because I don’t hear it much anymore.

In my free time, I tend to hang with a bunch of parents of pre-teen and teenagers. I’ve started to see parents not correcting their children for being abrupt, demanding, or not asking nicely for things. I once saw my good friend’s daughter scream directly in her face and literally bark orders. Honestly, If parents don’t teach our young people how to be nice/polite, it will spill into their jobs, their relationships, and become part of the way they communicate, and ultimately, into our society.

With all the fast new technology and the instant methods of communication, today our busy, no rest, ‘get it done’ lifestyles demand short succinct communication, and sadly, we have lost the art of common courtesy. We are inevitably headed backwards in our methods of speech. If something is not done, with all the cellphone staring, fast-paced everything, demanding stressful way of life, we WILL go back to the dark ages, with short bouts of demanding words that feel like you got clubbed in the head, like a caveman.

Niceties and politeness have been lost, on the job, as well. I went back to work after raising my kids, and my first week back in corporate america was a literal rude awakening. Everyone was pushy, demanding and exquisitely impolite. I would get these emails with no personal address, no signature, no please, no beating around the bush, with a coarse tone. It shocked me, and I ultimately had to ask my coworkers to ask nicely or I wouldn’t do what they wanted. On the job, everyone’s plates are spilling over, and people are in rush, rush, rush mode. And somewhere along the way, we stopped asking nicely. We stopped saying please, thank you, excuse me or you’re welcome.

That is not good. Pretty soon, no one will want to talk to each other and all we’ll do is grunt (ironically like cavemen). Losing all aspects of polite in life and on the job.

Trust me, you will get more out of your employees or just people in general if common courtesy is used. I don’t care who you are. From the president to the intern to your next door neighbor. Could you please be nice? Ask politely? No demands, no grunts, just a simple “hello,” “please,” and “thank you” will do. Everyone can still “get it done,” but with a little more positivity. It makes doing the job and just living life a whole heck of a lot easier and it won’t feel like we have reverted to the communication of cavemen.

The Real deal.

I met a deck salesman yesterday that I liked very much. He shared bits and pieces of his life, and we related on many different levels. Here is the thing, I know this is part of his pitch, but I also know he enjoyed the meeting as well. Even though he may not get the sale, it was an enjoyable conversation. The guy had come all the way from Milwaukee (a three hour drive) just to give me an estimate.

The price for the deck was not cheap, but we may do it just because of the salesman. He was genuine. I knew more about this guy in an hour and a half than I do about people I’ve known for 20 years. We laughed, we showed each other photos of fun things in our lives, and we talked about our families. He may just get this sale. Why? Because he was the real deal.

My question to you: How much do you share of yourself and your personal life in the workplace? Do people at work really know you? Do you share details about your personal life or do you keep your personal life separate? Do you get to know the people? How do you gain the trust of your colleagues? Are you a different person at home than you are at work? Are you genuine? Are you the real deal?

People spend a lot of time at work. Let’s do the math. There are 168 hours in a week. If you are lucky 56 of those hours are sleeping. For waking hours, we have a total of 112 hours. If you put in a 45 hour work week, more than 40% of your life is spent with the people you work with. My question to you is this: if almost half of your life is spent at work, shouldn’t you get to know the people you work with? Wouldn’t it be a much more positive experience if you trusted the people you spend almost half your life with?

In June, I went to a conference for creatives, and the main takeaway of ALL of the speakers at this conference was, be the real deal. Share your personal journeys. Build trust in your work environment by getting to know one another. Trust is built by showing people who you really are, and that involves more than just who you are at work. “Trust is built when someone sees that you truly value them as a person and not just as an employee.” ~Betsy Allen Manning. Be your own genuine self inside and out of the office.

I’ve been in the workforce for over 32 years and this I know to be true, the only people I’ve trusted in the workplace are the ones who were their genuine selves. They shared their lives outside of work. They talked about their families. They talked about the fun they had last weekend, what they did last night, and not just about the work. Although sharing your personal world leaves you vulnerable, it also lets people in. It builds trust. It helps you get to know people.

Don’t get me wrong, work needs to get done, and you can’t spend all of your time talking about life, but being your genuine self, getting to know your colleagues on a personal level, being able to trust people, having a positive relationship with people leads to creativity and productivity when you are doing your job. Trust is the only way to have a healthy work environment. Being the real deal, being your genuine self is the only way to build trust.

Pajama day?

Yesterday morning I woke up, rolled out of bed, and sat directly in my work chair in my pajamas. I did not move for seven hours. Holy lord, my back hurts today! Matter of fact, my massage therapist just sent me yoga moves I can do from my desk chair. Yes, they exist.

A piece of advice from the desk of the self employed: don’t spend all day in your jammies. Here are some other tips that will help you stay productive in your self-employed work day.

First off, I rarely get dressed, and although people may be jealous about that, don’t be. Staying in your pajamas all day is gross. Rolling out of bed with hair looking like a squirrel nested there, and directly sitting at your desk to start work is not good.. Forgetting to eat lunch because you are working, not listening when your spouse gets home from his day job because you brain is still working, drinking wine while working, and getting up at 3 a.m. to work, all bad habits. Having your work space in your bedroom, another not-so-great idea.

That whole last paragraph has a pattern … work, work, work. Most self-employed people really never stop working. Mind you, I’m doing well and my business is rolling along, but the sea of self sacrifice for the self employed can be dangerous waters to tread in. Habits are hard to break.

Here is my advice, and trust me, I have to work on this problem too, schedule all of the items of the work day. Write down the list of things that need to be done. Start out the day with maybe a cup of coffee, and then go for a walk. Clear your head. Meditate. I have this great app called HeadSpace … whoop, hold on, my alarm is going off!

That’s another piece of advice. Set alarms. At least twice during your work day, set alarms that remind you to get up and stretch, maybe do some desk yoga?

Back to the list, after your head is cleared, GET DRESSED. There is something to be said for dressing for work even though you aren’t leaving the house. Especially if you are meeting with clients, lol! Make sure to wear some of the clothes that have been hanging in your closet (especially to make sure they don’t get those weird hangar bumps, ha ha) because there is something to be said for dressing for success. It helps get you in the spirit of rocking this self employed gig.

Now it is time to churn out the work. Go down the list and try your best to check the items off the list (or spreadsheet, if you prefer). Don’t worry if you get sidetracked and only get a few things marked off. Let yourself off the hook, and just write it on the list again for tomorrow, but give yourself deadlines on the items that need to be done. If you don’t and you are like me, you will procrastinate, and some of the list items will live in a wormhole and never get done. That is a huge piece of advice, deadlines and intentions. Write them down, aim for them, make sure you keep focus on the tasks at hand. Bright shiny objects and dirty windows are huge distractions when working at home! Try to put the home chores at the end of your day or designate a day during the week for the home projects, but keep them out of your workday.

When 5 o’clock rolls around, end your work day. Don’t say, “just a few more minutes.” A few more minutes turn into a few more hours, and before you know it, it is ten o’clock at night! Everyone in your house is sleeping and you’ve just missed some of the most important parts of the day. I’m sure you don’t want that. Those are the best parts.

In the self-employed game, it is really important to regiment your day by making a list, setting alarms, getting dressed, churning out work, writing down and sticking to your deadlines and intentions, and last but not least, ending your work day at a reasonable hour so you can go and enjoy the best part – life!

I feel weird.

Has anyone told you, you’re weird? Good. Let me say this very clearly, WEIRD IS GOOD. Weird is great. Weird IS the new normal.

Have you ever spent anytime thinking about what sets you apart from everyone else? Your niche, your talent? This is your weird. Your weird should be embraced. Why? Because it makes you … well, you.

Do people look at you like you have two heads? Do you like to break out in dance in a crowd? Do you have ideas that go against the grain? Do you like to draw strange new creatures? Do you count beans as a favorite pass time? Do you giggle at strange jokes? Do you laugh at funerals? Do you arrange random objects into fun new shapes? I could go on. There are so many things that set people apart from one another. Your job is to find it. Find your weird.

Weird can be creative, mathematical, sexy, or organized, but it is 100% (or 110% lol) you. How many things in life can you claim 100% ownership? Who you are, your quirks, your habits, your strengths, your weaknesses are all part of your weird. Own it. Like a snowflake, no one is the same and everyone can be set apart by something. That something, that weird, is what makes you shine. I was told once that I was ordinary. It rocked me to my core. Someone thought I was ordinary? My answer to that, you just didn’t like my kind of weird. And if ordinary is your weird, make it the weirdest ordinary of your life.

‘Positive deviance,’ ‘opposition is validation,’ and ‘disruptive expression,’ are phrases that I’ve heard at conferences this year. Speakers basically telling us to be weird, go against the grain, disagree, speak up, have new ideas that make people look at you like you have two heads.

I have all sorts of weird. I have two heads on a regular basis. Sometimes my weird drives people away. Sometimes my weird is so alluring, I have to ask people to leave. Here is the thing, weird, no matter how extreme, will always be with you. You can try to push it down, store it in a box, sweep it under the rug, but no matter what, weird will always be part of you. I am weird. I’ve started to embrace my weird at 48. When will you start?

Soul for Sale

How much of your soul will you sell to take on a project? How far will you go to make a buck? Do you ignore the ache in the pit of your stomach? Do you let people get away with bullying to get the job done? Do you fuel the fire with rumors? What is it all worth to you?

One of my clients, back in the day, asked me to do a job that was somewhat unconventional. When I received the project, I realized the unconventional job was promoting assault rifles.

Ugh.

Part of me was like “just do it for the money.” The other part of me was screaming “run for the hills!” Yes, I took the job. As time passed, the project got bigger, the request for more kept coming, and the ache in the pit of my stomach grew heavier and heavier. How much of my integrity would I give up for a job?

Then it hit me. I cannot sacrifice that much to make a buck. I called up my client and quit the job halfway through. I hate assault rifles, I won’t promote them.

This example was extreme, but it is a type of “gut check” that happens in the corporate setting daily. Jobs questioning ideals happen often. Bullies strong-arm projects everyday. People get treated poorly on a regular basis, and the hot rumors are spread at the water cooler frequently. Unethical and immoral behavior in the work place is real and happens daily.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not “holier than thou.” I have done all of these things and let’s be honest, so has everyone in every corporate setting everywhere. Here is my point, hopefully people live and learn.

Ask yourself these questions: do you listen to your gut? If a job goes against your beliefs, will you say “no?” If you hear something unethical happening in the workplace, do you go to HR? Will you report the bully? When you hear rumors at the water cooler, do you keep them to yourself? Answer all of the above questions in your head before doing the job, ignoring the behavior, or spreading the rumor. It comes down to this, should you sacrifice your integrity?

No matter what field you are in, you will be faced with the question of whether or not to take on that job, speak up about an unethical situation or behavior, or fight for the people getting treated poorly. My advice: Don’t sell your soul. Keep your integrity intact. Listen to your gut. Do the right thing. Times are changing and so is the workplace. Corporate America has become very lean, but also, very cutthroat. Stay true to who you are, and don’t let the almighty dollar buy your soul for cheap. It is not for sale.

Time for change?

If you are old enough, in your head, you will hear Peter Brady’s voice when you say “Time for change.” The episode of the Brady Bunch where the singing group was nervous that they couldn’t perform because Peter’s voice was changing. The family went on to sing in the episode, using Peter’s cracking voice to their advantage. Obviously, it was a very memorable episode and brings up an excellent point. Change is GOOD, and you will survive change.

I’ve always asked myself, why are people are so resistant to change? Let’s think about this for a second. Keeping things the same is comfy and comfy is easy, it is a warm fuzzy blanket. It is heading down the same familiar path day after day. Some people love comfy, because change is scary. Wandering into uncharted territory, down a different path without your blankie, there might be lions and tigers and bears, oh my. There also might be new ideas, new life, undiscovered brilliance.

Here is my point: If change doesn’t happen, new ideas, new life and all of the amazing undiscovered brilliance would not happen. Make sense?

Resistance to change is a gargantuan road block of life. If change did not happen, there would be no love, no marriage, no children, no job, no house, no home. Change is GOOD. My husband likes things to stay the same and gets cranky when I suggest change. He says “I don’t like change for the sake of change.” My answer to him, always is, if there was no change, we wouldn’t be together and we wouldn’t have had our children. Life is change and change is life.

Change is everywhere and is good in all realms including work. My worst pet peeve in the work environment is “Because that is the way we have always done it.” If you believe this in a work setting, then you might as well put your feet on your desk and cover up with that comfy blankie because that is how much successful work you are going to get accomplished … absolutely none. Change is the reason new ideas are implemented, employees succeed, and why companies grow. New ideas, new processes, trying new things, troubleshooting, round-tables, team building. All of these involve change. Don’t fear the change, because it is what moves a job and a company forward.

In the words of Barack Obama, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Don’t wait for change. Be the change. Take the chance. Express the idea. Fall in love. Get married. Have kids. Take the job. Sing the song. It worked for the Brady Bunch, trust me, it will work for you.

Pen eaten by virtual monster.

In a world where the virtual monster has become king, is it OK to use a pen and a piece of paper? Are notes on the computer more effective or should we write them down? Although a computer is faster than the written word, the answer, emphatically, is to WRITE IT DOWN.

This the question, in this day and age, of whether we are “all in” in the virtual sense or if pen and paper can still work. Let me be MORE than apparently clear: the pen and paper are more important now than ever before. There have been studies of how writing things down not only helps the brain develop and help tremendously with memory, but it also helps people achieve goals (Writing down your goals). If you need help remembering a task, if you want to achieve certain goals, if you have a great idea and want to make sure it happens, WRITE IT DOWN.

Sadly, children are actually losing the physical muscle capacity to write. They have taken cursive out of the curriculum. I have teenagers that forget to do tasks all the time. My response to them: WRITE IT DOWN.

In the article The Power of Writing things Down they talk about how writing things down boosts your memory, makes your thoughts last, shows you’re accountable, shows you’re serious, and mostly helps you work/organize your thoughts. The last one, in my eyes, is hugely important. Majority of jobs listed today have “attention to detail,” and “extremely organized” as skills. We, because of technology, are losing those skills. The simple task of writing it down.

For people who don’t know me, I have diagnosed OCD also known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so I constantly obsess about everything. My family cannot talk to me if I have something I am obsessing about or taking all of my attention. The power to get something off of my mind is paramount to my health. In the article 8 Powerful Benefits of Writing Things Down, they talk about exactly that. With the number one reason to benefit from writing things down: helps you record everything that has your attention. For me, that’s a life changer.

I say this to all people who are pushing for everything to be virtual, actually I beg you, please don’t take away the pen and paper. It would be detrimental to my health, detrimental to my teenagers memories, and really, detrimental to all humans, their goals, their ideas and their memories. It is a dying necessity that the virtual monster is eating up and we need to stop it. WRITE THAT DOWN.

Fake it until …time is wasted.

The infamous “Fake it til you make it” mindset might be the reason our workforce doesn’t seem to be accountable anymore. Although everyone has had to exaggerate their skillset on occasion, this mindset has now gotten us into muddy waters on who can actually do the job rather than who says they can do the job.

“Fake it til you make it” mentality is actually costing more money by having to outsource, having to hire extra people and by wasting valuable time in the process. Instead of initially knowing the skills or employees gaining the skills to do a task or project, much of the task lists are being outsourced and/or more employees are having to be hired. This goes against the lean way of doing business. Accountability is free and is proven to ensure the job is being done. Or as I said in my last post, these “fakers” are passing the buck or throwing people under the bus which is wasting valuable time. All that time could be saved by actually knowing how to do the job or getting the correct training to get the job done.

It has been said that the “Fake it til you make it” thought process is a way to build confidence. OK, I’ll give you that. This ends at building confidence in yourself. You is kind, you is smart, you is important … but know how to do your job. In knowing how to do the job, people have taken this “fake it” process to a whole new level.

What about practice makes perfect? Working hard to get the experience hence gaining the confidence to succeed. I guess my point is this: don’t fake it, just do the work to build the confidence. You can’t build something out of nothing, and fake is nothing. Being real is better, being accountable is best.

Learn the skills. Find the right people to do the job. Hold them accountable for the job they are supposed to do. If you don’t know how to do it, admit it, and get some training. Don’t fake it. You’ll be better in the long run as will your integrity.