Studio Battle 2013: Year in Review

As I entered 2013, I found myself struggling with my career path. I had begun to take positive steps toward a career plan instead of hopping around from job to job. I laid out a career plan for the next two years, and part of that plan was writing out goals for 2013. As I open 2014 in a much better place, I thought I’d revisit those goals, and take a look at some other highlights from 2013:

1. Create something new every day. 

I wrote this last year: “But I spent way too much time last year talking about creating things, and not enough time actually creating things.” This year, I took a big leap forward, and started actually creating things. While I fell short of my goal of creating something new every day, I relaunched my website, completed a well-received personal iPhone project, and completed several Startup Weekend projects, including my first ever mentoring experience with Startup Weekend: Youth Edition.

I also traveled quite a bit; once to San Francisco for HOW Design Live, for a creatively stimulating week. I created several new friendships in my journey there, friendships that I value tremendously. I also appreciate having a group of creatives I can share my frustrations and successes with. My relationship with the HOWies and the HOW Newbies might be the best thing that happened to me all year.  I also traveled to Los Angeles for a media-focused Startup Weekend, where our team won an award for Best Designed Product, which is always a personal goal of mine. 

2. Solidify my career path. 

I entered 2013 knee deep in my contract with UIEvolution, working on a top-secret project for Princess Cruises. In May, my contract ended, and in June, the project-a fully immersive, on-demand television product-launched on the new-generation Royal Princess, the newest ship in the Princess fleet. Launching out of Southampton, England, the product was well received by several reviewers, and was the high point of my professional career at that point. 

A few weeks after my contract with UIE ended, on the strength of my Princess work and my Liqr iPhone app, I found myself in employ with with Capitol Hill agency Substantial. I was super excited to join that agency. After all of my career struggles, I found myself working on a dream project, at my dream agency. I thought I’d found the place where I was going to be for a while, if not the rest of my career. 

It didn’t work out. 

But I didn’t let the setback set me back. I dusted myself off, and got back on the grind. I will always be proud of how I responded to that adversity. A few years before, getting fired from that job two months into it would have left me in a puddle in my office that I probably still would be in. But I’ve come to learn that you’re defined not by your successes, but by how you handle adversity. I didn’t let it keep me down, and as a result, I found myself in quite the unexpected position-being wooed. By several major media and software companies. 

I’ve long been a fan of Hulu, and have been a subscriber to HuluPlus for a number of years. When I was working on the Princess project, I drew a lot of inspiration from the HuluPlus platform. So when the opportunity to apply for a design position with Hulu, here in Seattle, I leapt at the chance. It would be a dream job. Before I knew it, I had passed the phone screening, and aced the phone interview, and the recruiter was preparing me for my final in-person interview. And not only were they interested in hiring me, they were interested in hiring me for their Los Angeles studio. I’d never even visited Southern California before, and here I was, one interview away from potentially moving there. 

Unfortunately, I bombed the interview. It was a nightmare. But there were several positive takeaways from the experience. One, the creative director gave me a ton of incredible feedback both on my presentation and my portfolio. He was very impressed with how prepared I was, and the quality of my work, I just didn’t have the right answers for some of the questions they had. Two, according to several people within the company, very few people even get to the final interview stage-and to date, the job still hasn’t been filled. Three, for the first time in my career, I felt like I belonged. I felt like I could hang with other creatives, as opposed to always feeling like I didn't measure up to them. While I was going through the process with Hulu, I was also getting courted by Google and Microsoft, which is a pretty damn great feeling. So while Hulu was ultimately a miss, I feel like I came out ahead in the end. 

Currently, I’m working that contract gig with Microsoft. I'm working on large touchscreen experiences-a position that they held for me while I went through the Hulu interview process-and while it’s not exactly in the field where I want to be, I’m learning a ton, and have set up a good foundation for my 2014.

3. Refocus on my health. 

There were a lot of ups and downs in this department. On the downside, I bookended my 2013 with two trips to the emergency room-chest pains brought me down in January (which wound up being an anxiety attack) and a severely high blood sugar brought me down in December. On the plus side, I started working with a personal trainer, with a goal of ultimately losing those 100 pounds I need to lose to get off my meds. To date, I’m down almost ten pounds, though there hs been some bouncing around with my weight due to new medications. But my personal trainer is great-he holds me accountable without being overbearing, and we’re ramping up to some intense workouts. When I started back in August, I couldn’t even complete the first workout-I was wildly out of shape. Now, I look forward to my workouts, and I’m looking forward to building on my successes. 

So that’s a wrap on 2013. Tomorrow, I’m going to lay out my plan for 2014. It’s a plan that builds on the foundation I set up this year, but also a plan that is highly detailed and focused on some long-term goals, both professionally and personally. SPOILER: I’m going to be writing and sharing a lot more. Stay tuned!