25 Years Owning a Graphic Design Agency: Top 10 Lessons


The Graphic Design industry has changed a LOT in the last 25 years – several times over. We’re talking about the transition from print to digital, the gig economy, the introduction of social media, and even the mind-blowing creation of stock photography.
(Anyone remember the days when you had to go out and photograph your own textures? )

In part 2 of another exciting Angry Designer double episode, we reflect on the challenges we’ve faced over 25 years owning & running a Graphic Design Agency, some of our most memorable moments, and our top 10 lessons for businesses.

Join us this week for part 2 of another nostalgic special as we pull back the curtain on 25 years in the Graphic Design business!

Episode Transcript

Massimo: What's up, angry designers. Welcome back to part two of the 25 years Z Factor Rain. Um, our experiences, what it took to take us this far, and, um, again, how to actually embrace some of these tips for you guys and use them for yourselves. We're gonna cover some topics, like highs and lows of the past 25 years.

Massimo: Um, some of the biggest changes in the industry over the past 25 years, how it's changed from one extreme to the other. And of course we're gonna leave off with our top 10 or 11 ish tips or learning lessons that we Z Factor would provide to everybody else, whether you're an agency or anybody else. So sit back, grab yourself a drink, whether it's bourbon, uh, or milk.

Massimo: Doesn't matter. Um, and enjoy. Go.

Massimo: You are listening to the Angry Designer where we cut through the industry bowl to how Frustrated graphic. Designers survive and thrive. [00:01:00] Another challenge that I think I was going through and even up until maybe five, six years ago is this whole, I always felt like I needed a partner. Oh. You know, and, and again, and because of it, it's like everybody wants to be your partner when they got nothing else to fucking lose.

Massimo: That's right. You know, oh, look at you. You got a great business. A brand customers, I'll be your partner. Yeah. I bring so much experience. I don't have any money and you know, I'm gonna need a paycheck right away. A big one, but I, I can be, and I'll help you. We'll do this, this, we'll do this. And this was a cons, a constant ongoing theme.

Massimo: And it's just like, I wanted it so bad. And the final one, which you knew like, I mean, we tried the other startup and I totally got royally screwed on that. Mm-hmm. And I think it was after that, it was just like, fuck this. I'm, I'm doing this. I came to the conclusion. Yep. Nobody, don't, don't need anybody else.

Massimo: Nobody, nobody's gonna help 

Shawn: you. Yeah. They're, they're gonna help themselves. Yes. Basically, right? Yes. That's exactly it. So 

Massimo: that don't bother. Yeah. Yeah. 

Shawn: But again, this is a lesson. Oh. And it was fine. 

Massimo: It's hard learned. It's a good thing. And the best, and again, the most growth [00:02:00] is when I accepted that factor.

Massimo: That's right. It was like, you know what, like, no, I'm. I don't need a partner. Yeah, right. We'll run this on our own. I've got an awesome team. Mm-hmm. And and that's where I was like, I've changed my focus. Yeah. More on the team as opposed to trying to find someone else to help me run shit. Exactly. So cuz that that really never worked out.

Massimo: Mm-hmm. Maybe for the better, maybe. Yeah. I'm more difficult to deal with than I thought. I dunno. No think that's what it is. Um, other challenges, no doubt. Early on challenges, I always knew that this is the agency I wanted, right? Mm-hmm. But when you're young and you see everybody else going out and partying and having fun, right.

Massimo: It's that whole sacrifice that we talked about with James. About With James, right. Made by James. James Martin. Yeah. You know, that it's like you had to consciously make these sacrifices. Mm-hmm. And you knew like, all my friends would be going out partying, you know, found a new club, or going to a new place or a new vacation.

Massimo: I was like, no dudes. I'm growing my business. Mm-hmm. I've gotta, it's Saturday night, I'm sorry, I gotta go work. You know, I've got a big job I gotta do. And, and they're like, no, your friends 

Shawn: are like, what the fuck? Fuck is wrong. You right. They would outright make 

Massimo: fun. No, [00:03:00] I'm must, 

Shawn: I'm not a 

Massimo: computer working, not working.

Massimo: And I'm just like, you guys are assholes for even doing that. Fuck you. Right? But then again, here's the same, we're really friends. Cause then it's like when I finally upgraded and got a bmw, they're like, look, 

Shawn: holy shit, I'm so 

Massimo: cool. They took a BMW and he's just 

Shawn: like, wow. I, he's still ran on you 

Massimo: right. But I mean, again, it's like, it's, it's unbelievable.

Massimo: Like, I mean, you, you have to be prepared to sacrifice this shit. You totally do. And I was okay with it. Yep. Apparently other people weren't, but I was okay with it. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, now it's like, I don't know, you know, this isn't bragging, but I don't know anybody my age that can be like, I've had a business for 25 fucking years.

Massimo: Yeah. Right. It's like people are like, oh, you do what? You have a a design firm. Design firm. Oh, that's cool. Oh, nice. When did, when did you start that? Right? Do you have any employees? Right. And then, but the funny thing is, oh, when you, did you just start that, do you work from home? And I'm like, no. We're 25 years in business.

Massimo: 25 years. And when we got, I got employees. I'm not by myself. They're like, [00:04:00] holy shit. Yeah, you're big time. It was just like, Why would you think I'm not? Yeah. You know, and, and again, maybe it is, maybe it's the inch thing, right? Like it's, but here's the 

Shawn: thing too. Yeah. It's like we mentioned this back in the earlier part of this podcast, media focus mm-hmm.

Shawn: And Brighthouse. Mm-hmm. And all these agencies, where are they now? 

Massimo: Mm-hmm. Well, that was it, right? Like they're gone. They're gone. Yes. They are gone. Of, of that list of like 34 agencies. There's only 1, 2, 2, 2, 2 that still exists. One though is like in behind this wall. You don't even know what they do back there.

Massimo: One is huge. Yeah. And no. And the other one that's huge isn't even huge anymore. Oh. They're not. They have downsized to like they are sized, they've downsized. Yeah. Holy shit know. So that's what I mean. Like, we've managed to ride this out. We have continually evolved where a lot of them didn't. Right. And a lot of them, and so it kind of, it, I mean, that was a huge thing, right?

Massimo: Yeah. Like we were, we jumped from all print to, you know, we embraced digital when it happened. Right. We took that next step. Yeah. Like [00:05:00] there's, there's, but 

Shawn: that's the thing is being aware of that kind of stuff and, and you have to. Pivoting when, when, when you need to. Yeah. And maybe some of these, and I'm, I, I will guarantee that some of those agencies did not do that when they were No, absolutely not.

Shawn: It's just like, and, and we even know of one in this unit that somehow manages to do this without doing any web, web 

Massimo: stuff stuff. Right. She's still going strong and, and good for 

Shawn: you. Yep. If you can. Absolutely. And obviously I think she's doing well doing that sort 

Massimo: of stuff. So it's finally in the past two years, she has finally embraced web.

Massimo: Yeah, no. So she's doing. Yep. Yep. A hundred percent. Right. So that's awesome. So, yeah. And I mean, good for her. Cause I was, and I, and I, I was flat out said, I'm worried, dude, I'm worried for you. I really have to, cause you really need this plus. And then I was like, plus you're, you're missing a huge revenue stream that i's 

Shawn: just gonna say, that's a huge market 

Massimo: to be Yeah.

Massimo: Tapping into you. Right. And she is. And, and they have. So that's good. Yeah. I'm happy. Yes. Oh, okay. Yeah. When did that happen? Was this like, It was like, like literally just as everybody was coming outta Covid and business started up again. And then I was like, okay, well you've made it through Covid. Yeah. Now [00:06:00] let's talk.

Massimo: Yeah, let's get this. And um, yeah. And it was, and for a little while, I mean, we had the opportunity to work together. Mm-hmm. But in the, in the end, I think, um, they brought it in-house, which is the best thing anyway. Yes. That's smart. Because again, then they would just be like, It's not the kind of work we wanted to do anyway.

Massimo: Right. That would've been just helping out in the short term. Right. They have like a comparable staff 

Shawn: to what we have, right? Uh, they did. They did. No, I'm I, I'm sure they didn't survive that. No. At all. Yeah. In Covid, which again, here we go. We got a two year fucking pandemic and we're still hiring. Oh dude.

Shawn: Yeah, it was, that was great for me. Yeah. Possibly. This is the thing. Good. We managed to make that work because of the space that we're in. Right. The space 

Massimo: that we're in, we had a good niche. Mm-hmm. We had an expertise and then we were able to ramp up as we had to. We, we were able to, you know, get in there and just grow.

Massimo: Yes. Right. 

Shawn: Yes. Which was great. Like, that's the thing with the niching, with the tech side of things, tech. Is always gonna be with 

Massimo: us. I, I believe it is. It is. And then again, we were, you know, not only were we tech, but then we really focused on the broadband space and in the broadband space. Exactly. Which we all know during covid times, that's that kind of shot through the roof.

Massimo: Right. Big time. [00:07:00] So again, it worked. And again, it still is. Yeah. Even now with the recession, this is, that's, that's the looming recession that's coming over top of everybody. Yeah. And then this still 

Shawn: a strong space. The US is earmarking billions of dollars. Yep. To put. Broadband to everyone 

Massimo: in the us everybody.

Massimo: Right. So again, so for the next 10 years, 

Shawn: yeah. All the broadband companies are going, Jesus, 

Massimo: yeah. Yes. This is what we want. So again, good. It's totally fine. We're in the right place. We are really in the right place. Yeah. Yeah. And I think the last challenge, which is something that we. Still struggle with today.

Massimo: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Being the fucking underdog always. How is that a struggle? It's a challenge. It's always a challenge because I mean, to be the underdog, you're always kind of given scraps. You're always having to fight a little harder, get scrappier, get more creative, right? Mm-hmm. And again, this experience that we've gone through, you know, recently with some of our existing customers Yeah.

Massimo: Has always been, yeah. You know, there's always been bigger agencies in town. Yes. Yes. There's always been better agencies. Yes, because we were quirky. We were always a little different. And this is done, this hasn't been prior to the whole tech scene happening here. Mm-hmm. This [00:08:00] was not a very edgy, cool town.

Massimo: It was kind of fucking boring. Right. And it really was the texting scene. Really? Yeah. Yeah. 

Shawn: So damn square. 

Massimo: Right. How can we, it used to be called Berlin next door. That's right. Um, yes. No, it was, so again, it was, we were always, always, always having to position ourselves differently than everybody. We were always an underdog.

Massimo: And it got to the point where when we pitched ourselves, we pitched ourselves as, we're different than these guys. By doing this, we're different than these guys, right? And we're just as good as the giant companies that you can spend. 250 grand. Four. Yep. But we're smaller, more agile. And you'll only have to spend a hundred grand with us.

Massimo: That's right. And we would, we would, we would intentionally play on that whole under underdog. They're 

Shawn: good fucking, but they're not. But they're not 

Massimo: cheap. Yeah. And that's, and that was it. That's, 

Shawn: that's what 

Massimo: you want. That's what you wanna hear. Right. You know what, and that's what I always said. We are able to produce the exact same quality work they can.

Massimo: Yes. You just don't have to pay all, you don't have to pay all the fluff and overhead. Exactly. And you know, the ex exuberant, you know, [00:09:00] Team fees and 20 people on a meeting. Yes. Every meeting, every week, you know? Mm-hmm. Plus focus groups and this. 

Shawn: Yes. We don't need that shit. Exactly. Would that other, that other fucking agency that we deal with, man.

Shawn: Oh man. They, they ever put the screws through our client. Right. 

Massimo: So it's like I. Enjoy being the underdog. Yes. And I think, think it's great. Think it has worked well for us. Yes. Right. It's 

Shawn: completely worked well for us. Yes, exactly. Because exactly like you said with Blackberry, I think that was probably one of the, one of the best examples of that is you go in, find that space that needs, yeah, that needs help.

Shawn: And then worked with that. And so one team goes, how did that happen? Yeah. How did you do this? Right? These guys did this. Oh, I'm gonna reach out to these guys. You know what I mean? It, and it spreads out. Yeah. Would you say it was like 12 different segments of Blackberry that you were working with at the 

Massimo: time?

Massimo: 12 different departments. Right. That's awesome. And it was funny, and I remember, yeah, it's just, and again, it was a matter of just kind of trying to. Dig in and find out how to [00:10:00] solve their problems. That's right. That's right. And, and 

Shawn: not focusing on the big pic or the bigger stuff that's already taken care of.

Shawn: Why would you even worry about that? Right? Yeah, exactly. Right. Like if it's all that's already done, I'm not gonna, it's fun. It was fun. It'd be 

Massimo: nice, 

Shawn: yeah. If you get, be the main, main advertising, uh, unit for Blackberry, 

Massimo: but, but you know what the thing is, it's like. I don't like that. The reason why I didn't like that, right, mm-hmm.

Massimo: Is the B2C side of this whole space Yeah. Is very critical. Yes. Right. A, those agencies are always under scrutiny on if their campaign didn't achieve, then you're didn't do Yeah. You're always under magnifying glass. That's where when you're doing the B2B stuff Right, right. You're a lot more tactile. Yes.

Massimo: You're a lot more Grier. Right. You floated under the, you floated under the radar. Yes. Right. And it's like, it's not, it's not like a, if a brochure or, um, you know, a sales sheet or something doesn't go as great as, as it should. Yeah. Well, you're not under scrutiny. Right. It's like internal teams or this, it's a lot different vibe.

Massimo: Yeah. And I love that it allowed us to actually build a creative agency. Right. But in not the same kind of stressful [00:11:00] environment. Yes. Right. So I think it, I mean, again, I think it played well for us. Yeah. That's why I was just like, I don't care if you have another agency doing your B2C stuff. Yeah. We've never been bothered that I want your B2B stuff.

Massimo: And that's something different that those guys can't do. If people are like, you're right. And 

Shawn: that's Yes. And that's the thing is some of those major. In or, uh, those major, um, they didn't want it. They didn't even want that in the first place. Exactly. It's like, ugh. 

Massimo: Exactly. I'm not doing that petty shit.

Massimo: And we, and we've lasted 25 years by doing that, right? Yes, exactly. So we were, we were happy to take the scraps. Yes. It's just like, that's right. 

Shawn: Just give 'em to me. But that's the thing is you take the scraps and you make, or what, what is, what's that saying? You, uh, making a silk purse of a sow's ear or something like that.

Shawn: Right. You know what I mean? It's like Absolutely. That's exactly what we do. We get the shit stuff, but fuck man, does it ever look good? We make it work. We do, we make it work. 

Massimo: Yeah. That was a lot of fun. Wow. I'm not gonna lie, it's been so cool. So the past 25 years. Yeah. So this is what I think it's cool.

Massimo: Like we we're kind of in this, I, I think right now, the times that we are dealing with right now. Mm-hmm. Are equally as [00:12:00] exciting as the past 25 years. And what I mean by that is right now there's so much AI in this and there's so much question, right. I think what the next 25 years in our industry is gonna be so fucking groundbreaking.

Massimo: Just like past 25. Mm-hmm. Like when we started. To now this, we have gone through so much. Okay. So those challenges that we've talked about, you know, but we having to go through, there were so many big challenges just to survive, and this is why I think those other 30 plus agencies disappeared. Mm-hmm.

Massimo: Right. So the first big, most obvious challenge, of course in the past 25 years, a disruptor. The biggest disruptor for most agencies is going from. All print to all digital. Right. Like it fucking, the the industry swung so fast. Yeah. Right. Because all of a sudden, you know, everything was print. Yeah. Which is why, you know, we love print so much, we have a, a soft spot for it.

Massimo: Cause that's why we started. Totally. That's exactly it, right? Yes. But then it just sw and it's just like, you know, it all changed to these, to the Innerwebs. Right. And, um, [00:13:00] and, and again and companies weren't able to even, you know, keep up at the beginning stages. Yeah. Let alone. As it went on further and further and further.

Massimo: Right, exactly. Like if they didn't jump on the web early on, they wouldn't have understand what a content management system was. Yep. They wouldn't have understood databases. Right. And again, you wait too long. Well fuck throw, you know, social media to mix, you're screwed, you're done. Yeah, right. Exactly. A lot of agencies in initially, Had no idea how to fucking comprehend that.

Massimo: Exactly. Right. Exactly. So the past 25 years, that was monumental. Yeah. In this space, right? Yes. Again, you used to work for a daily newspaper. Yeah. Yes, yes. And I remember that daily newspaper used to be like two pounds thick. It was. Now, I don't even know what it is. I think it's just flyers that come to our door.

Massimo: You're right, it is like, it is, it's pretty bad. Right? They all work from home. Yep. There's no all, there's 

Shawn: no building anymore. Right. I know. Incredible. Which, which is, but, but this is the kind of thing, and I, I'm going to guess that half of these agencies went fuck the internet. Mm-hmm. [00:14:00] It's not gonna be a thing.

Shawn: Mm-hmm. I don't care. We'll, we'll survive on print. Yep. You know what I mean? Yep, yep. Exactly. And, and, and that's where you mis 

Massimo: make the mistake. Absolutely. They made so many and they didn't, they didn't evolve. Right. Instead of embracing it 

Shawn: or even Yep. 

Massimo: Exploring it. Yes. At the very least. I know, I know, I know.

Massimo: We jumped on that immediately. Yes, you did. As soon as we could. And we were like, let's just figure out how to do it different than exactly, because. Everybody else at that time, when we did it, when we jumped everybody else who's creating websites, they were all like programmers. So early websites were approaches where we took what we learned how to do offline and we put it online.

Massimo: Yes. And that was why Right? Outta the gates that put us ahead of everybody else. Yes. Right. Yeah. Yeah. So that, anyway, that going from, you know, print to digital. Or our c y K two rrgb. 

Shawn: That was a huge thing. See, previous podcast, geez. People are still touchy 

Massimo: about that one, eh? I know. Um, another thing, big disruptor, right?

Massimo: Yeah. Um, logo designs like, uh, logo design companies like 99 [00:15:00] designs. Mm-hmm. And Fiverr and all that shit. Right? That all came in and it seemed like for a little while it was a race to zero. Yes. Okay. Yes. That happened in the past 25 years, right? Mm-hmm. All of a sudden the world just opened up with this digital, and then you started seeing all these and everybody was like, well, what the hell?

Massimo: Right? Like it devalued logos for a little while. It brought down the price. It devalued 

Shawn: designers. Absolutely it did. You know, I saw this one post. Absolutely. It did. This one post that said I could teach you how to be a designer in five minutes. Yeah, yeah. I'm like, Fuck you. Fuck you. You can't. 

Massimo: You know what the hell?

Massimo: You'll well, and, and I'm still reading that shit. Right? I know, but it's just like, it's this whole offshore idea. Mm-hmm. When that happened early on. Right. That was another disruptor, right? Mm-hmm. Offshoring. Right? Right. E, everybody heard offshore and they're like, oh my God. Now I can get a logo. Wouldn't charge me three to 3000.

Massimo: I can get it for $5, five bucks on Fiverr. Right. You know, and it was just, it was horrible, right? Mm-hmm. But that was a huge thing that, again, put a lot of people, cuz they didn't know how to deal with it, right? They didn't know how to compete, they didn't know how [00:16:00] to sell against it. Right? Yeah, yeah. And for a little while, people were only looking at that final product, right?

Massimo: Yes. But I mean, again, Wrong way to look at it. Mm-hmm. Right. Because you, if you're looking at just the end result, well, you can't sell that. You can't, it's hard to put a value on that. Yeah, totally. It's how it gets to there. That's where the value is, right? Yes, yes. But again, you know, sites like 99 Designs or Five, or like that really, really hurt the industry in the past 25 years.

Massimo: Totally. Yeah. Um, but again, it. Made it work. And same with offshoring. Right? Like a lot of companies didn't know how to handle that, right? Mm-hmm. And they thought they were in competition. Right. But, you know, we embraced it right away. Mm-hmm. We were like, you know what? If this is what's happening right now, let me find a team offshore Yeah.

Massimo: And have them work with us and help us. And we, we did experiment with that. Right. Totally. I can't say worked a hundred percent always. Mm-hmm. But we did create some incredible partnerships that. Did help us over the years mm-hmm. Help us with big projects ongoing and you know, we still have those relationships in place.

Massimo: Yes. In fact, we still use like two of them. Right. Yeah. Ongoing on a regular basis. And this goes back [00:17:00] 15 years ago, right? Yeah. Yeah. So again, offshoring was a big thing. Mm-hmm. Another big thing over the past 25 years, stock photography. Honestly, when we started, okay, your options were, take your camera and go shoot stuff.

Massimo: Yes. Pay a fortune. Yes. To have it printed and eight, eight by tens, and then scan it. Mm-hmm. In your scanner. That's how you, this was the process. You needed a picture of a building, you needed a picture of a bridge. You would go do that, do that, and, and again, Sh, everything looks so shitty because you weren't always a good photographer.

Massimo: Even the people who, who said they could never, yeah, yeah. No. Right. I remember sometimes you'd take the day off of work and you'd go around and just shoot textures. Yes. You'd, yes. Go around and shoot carpet tile. Yes. You'd shoot a close up of a bridge. That's that whole gritty, and then the bulls. Right.

Massimo: Pebbles, water, whatever, asphalt. Yes. And then you would build up this li and you would create your own. A library of, library of digitized. Mm-hmm. Cuz it was so expensive to do that, right? Yes. Yes. Then you could [00:18:00] buy a scanner and start building it yourself, right? Mm-hmm. And then came. Photo disc. Yes. Do you remember?

Massimo: I remember, yes. So again, you would actually spend three, four, $500. Mm-hmm. On a cd. Yep. With a hundred images on it. And they were very, very nice quality images. They were great for a little while. You'd see 'em everywhere on cat food. Then you'd see 'em in an insurance company, and then you'd see it, you know, like a.

Massimo: On a billboard. And they were all for these different rent. Yeah. Because it was so expensive. Exactly. But again, photo disc was massive. It was huge. Yeah. And I, dude, I had a photo disc library of like 25, 30 CDs. Like we had like shit, oh, we had like 20 grand worth of just photo disc CDs and then, you know, and it was crazy to think that that's how you used to get higher quality.

Massimo: So it went from you shooting it yourself and digitizing yourself. Yeah. To buying these. Discs. Yeah. With all these images on it. Yes. Already done clipped out. Some of them clipped out on white, which was [00:19:00] great. Yes. Yeah, it was fantastic. Right. Yeah. It was funny cuz I remember that that's, that's what really defined so many, it, it felt like you were just like at another level when this shit came up.

Massimo: Yeah, totally. And it was 

Shawn: so, it was so inspiring at the time. Yeah. I remember because it was, this was the kind of thing that you didn't have access to that at that time. Absolutely. Right. And you're just like, holy shit, this is great. I can throw this 

Massimo: into, oh, it was great. I again, yeah. And then of course from there came online stock photographer, right?

Massimo: Yes. What we have to, when the webs came up and, and, and the speeds became a little bit more accessible, but like, wow. People now, designers now have no idea how hard it was. Difficult to get a good image. Yes. Fuck. Now you don't even have to buy a real image. You can, AI created yourself. 

Shawn: This is true. You totally do that.

Shawn: Or there's so many free options where you could just download 

Massimo: stuff if you want. Know what I mean? Oh my God. But again, incredible. Yeah. Far. Yeah. In the past 25 years, that's come. I know. I know, right? Like again, that fonts, fonts, fonts. So this is 20, 25 years ago. Yeah. I don't know whether this is 

Shawn: a good thing though.

Shawn: Well, fair [00:20:00] enough. No, 

Massimo: it's not. But it's like your computer only had like 12 fonts installed. That was it. The system fonts, the max system fonts. Then you would have to buy discs. Yes. CDs with like a library of another a hundred fonts. Yes. And then you'd have the old Western font. You'd have like the beach font and it was just ridiculous.

Massimo: You would double click and download 'em one at a time because this was just something so crazy and cool back then. Right. Exactly. 

Shawn: Then you'd find a way to. Fit it in for whatever you were working on. Yeah. 

Massimo: Right. You would use that Western font. You'd somehow use that in a bridal ad. Okay. You would. Oh, shit.

Massimo: But I mean, now, no, it's like there's millions of fonts anywhere. There's a font somewhere. Okay. Maybe not millions, but there's a fund for virtually everyth everything. Yeah. Right now. And now you have the ability to make your own fonts and, and oddly, Now that there's all these fonts out there. Mm-hmm. I'm telling people to go back and [00:21:00] pare it down.

Massimo: It's only like a 

Shawn: basic six. What? What? Yeah. What does Vin Vanilla say? I think it was six or seven fonts. Six or seven fonts. That's all you really need. It's fucking right. I mean, know I, I can't even debate that. 

Massimo: That's just like this. I know, I know. But it is funny the how far fonts have come past 25 years.

Massimo: Insane. Right. Okay, this is one ready accessibility to design. Okay. And what I mean by this is before the internet was to what it is now. Yeah. How did you get inspiration for work? Oh, 

Shawn: yes. Okay. Right, right. 

Massimo: Yeah. I, so back then, this, this was, yes. Yeah. I was just gonna say, uh, chapters, which is, I guess, uh, yes.

Massimo: The Canadian version of Indigo. Right, right. Yep. Had like, The biggest magazine section. Oh, oh, right. And you would go there on a weekly on design basis, right? First thing. Yeah, you're right. You'd go to design, you'd pick up communication arts. Yes. Pink Pure Print Magazine, right? Yes, yes. Um, designer Magazine.

Massimo: Yes. Graphic designer. You would leaf through all these? Yes. This would be your routine, right? You would, was like porn For me, it was. I [00:22:00] love, I know. Fucking magazine. Yes. This is how I learned about David Carson. Right. Oh. Because again, I didn't know who he was, but I knew who his work was back then. Because Ray, right?

Massimo: Yes. Yes. Because again, I was into, you know, skateboarding, BMXing, that was my, the whole culture I grew up in. Yeah. So I'd always gravitate to that look and feel. And this, the surf magazines. Yes. Still have some of those. So again, that's how you would look through that. You'd get your ideas for ads Exactly.

Massimo: By going through those. Yes. And I mean, it was great that, you know, chapters back then allowed you to, you just, 

Shawn: you read they had, they had like sitting areas Yep. Where you could just pick up magazines and up leap that communication arts and just kind of read it. Yeah. And 

Massimo: that's how awesome you used to get inspiration.

Massimo: You had a big project, you're like, well, where do we start? Well, let's go to chapters, let's go over there. Yeah. Right. Some people, people were like, oh no, I, uh, I find inspiration through, you know, the environment or through going for a walk. I'm like, okay, well I don't want everything to look like a tree, so I'm gonna go check out what other designers are doing.

Massimo: Right. So it was so. Fun. And honestly it was, it just, yeah. Even now I think about it and my heart just races Yes. Remembering [00:23:00] Yes. Flipping through these magazines. Right. Going through them. Yeah. Um, a new new magazine would come out, right? You'd wait for 'em or heaven forbid if you bought them. Yeah. Because the design magazines were 

Shawn: all like 30 bucks.

Shawn: They were really expensive. You, you really had to commit if you, if you were interested. There was stuff that I would just, like, this is the greatest thing I've ever seen. I'm gonna shell out this 30 bucks. Yeah. For this. Because I want to just keep looking at it. 

Massimo: But you know, it actually won me a lot of points.

Massimo: Um, cause I would take dates there, right? Really? You'd take dates there and then, you know, we'd, we'd go to chapters for dates and you'd have you coffee, you'd chat, right? Yeah. I'd go through the magazines, right? And then all of a sudden I would forget about the date and I'd be like, oh, design. It's so almost sudden you'd give them the cold shoulder and they're like, look at me, look at me.

Massimo: And then it's like, and then all of a sudden you're shelling out 30 bucks on a magazine and they're like, wow, this guy's, he's, he must be rich. As poor as fuck. Exactly. But it was for a project so I could justify it. It just, it all seemed to work. Yes, exactly, man. I had a lot of dates. At Starbucks or at chapters.

Massimo: At 

Shawn: [00:24:00] chapters. Totally. You know, it's funny because that student that we've had in here Yeah. The, the intern that you love so much, I, I was looking through that book that he was Yeah. That. Drawing book. The comic book. The comic book, yeah. Comic drawing. Do you like that? And it was just, oh dude, that was, I've got 

Massimo: like a whole bunch of those.

Massimo: Really? And those were probably back from 20 years ago. Look at the date on that one. I, I was just gonna say, I, I got so many of these old drawing books, how to draw comics, how to draw comic books. Yes. Characters, superheroes, perspective, like per all that, right? Yeah, it's great. And again, I used to always buy it like I.

Massimo: Started buying books right from the get-go. Yes. And I always had them. Um, and again, I got a lot of those at home. Those 

Shawn: are, that I was, it's fun, right? I was leafing through that and I'm like, 

Massimo: oh my God, if you could do the shit in that book, dude, you would be a fantastic illustrator. That would 

Shawn: be so cool.

Shawn: Right? Yep. And I'm just like looking at that and I'm like, Aw, man, this would be great to do, to do this kind stuff. Mm-hmm. But yeah, like that again is a source of great inspiration for us as Absolutely. Right. Just [00:25:00] leave that, that, and there's something. There's something so awesome about having a book in your hand.

Shawn: I know. You know what I mean? I know, I know. It's, it's great. And I think we've kinda lost that and some of the designers that we've interviewed in the last couple of podcasts, Peters and James, you know, drawing, they're drawing their logos and stuff like that. It's like, wow. 

Massimo: That's, I know, right? It's kind, it's such a great organic, it feels so, and, and, and honestly that, that pencil to paper feeling, it just is, brings it back.

Massimo: I've been using pencil again and it feels so great like a pencil. Not even a pen, not a right, a pencil. And it just, I'm doing my notes sketch. It just feels so nice again, right? Yes, it's good. It's good. Yeah. Yeah. It's definitely worth it. But it was just, it was a cool experience that now accessibility to design.

Massimo: I mean, now a Google search will get you, Every designer from the beginning of time. That's right. Until an example of the work in high res. Mm-hmm. For inspiration. So again, it's not that it's better or worse, but it was just a very different, you know, how it evolved over the past 25 years, right? Yes, yes.

Massimo: Another thing that evolved is the [00:26:00] accessibility to learning. Right. Because again, 20, 25 years ago, your options as a graphic designer was either school. Yep. Right. Or through these magazines, just trial error and build it out yourself. Right, right. Yep. And again, nobody was sharing, nobody was helping. Right, right.

Massimo: That's true. It was. It was. Everybody just seemed like it was so, they were so, you know, typed Yes. And And didn't want you to succeed. Yeah. They didn't want you to know their secrets as though there was only like five customers in the fucking world. Yeah. Where now it's like you can go on YouTube to learn, right.

Massimo: You can go on all these sites at Demi. Like, it just, it never ends. Yeah. Right. So how far that has come over the past 

Shawn: 25 years? Totally. If we, if we had a couple of old bearded dudes telling us how to do this when we were young. Yeah. Wouldn't that be awesome? It would be really cool. Would be like, oh geez, that would be so good.

Shawn: But yeah, you're right. There's so much available to anybody if you're willing to look for it. Right? Absolutely. Yeah. We didn't have that. 

Massimo: Another thing that came crazy far, the past 25 years, the community like, oh yes. The [00:27:00] design community. Yes. And I have to say that. Like 20, 25 years ago, designers, they, they were so closed off.

Massimo: Mm-hmm. They didn't wanna share secrets unless you worked in a team. Yes. Right. And then you were kind of growing with each other's abilities. That's great. But other than that, it's like everybody was a lone wolf and learning on their own. Fending for themselves. Yep. Right. It's really kinda shitty where now it's like everybody is so positive.

Massimo: Yes. They wanna help each other. Yes. They wanna show each other how to do shit like. That's really fucking cool. That's awesome. Guys have it so good right now, right? Yes. Really, really, 

Shawn: it is true. This is, and and maybe this is the, the, the glory days of design. Yeah, absolutely. I, I don't know, like we, it's hard to say what AI is gonna.

Shawn: Gonna dictate for us, but yeah, fair enough. I mean, I mean, right now it just seems like a great spot Absolutely. To, to be in. 

Massimo: Right? Yep. And ultimately the biggest disruptor. Mm-hmm. Obviously over the past 25 years in design, social media. Ah, right. Because again, early on social media was, you know, very basic rudimentary MySpace, I think was the, you know, [00:28:00] start actually that was I think the first before Facebook.

Massimo: You're right. Right. You're right. And I mean, now it's like you can get 'em. Pinterest and get ideas. Mm-hmm. You can hook up with people on Instagram. Yeah. You can watch people on YouTube, like dribble, social media dribble, like for every social media's huge. Yes. I think it's probably the massive, biggest, biggest change in this space, which basically encompasses everything on this list from images to inspiration to community.

Massimo: Yeah. Like and again, that was at the tail end. Yeah. Of this whole 25 year span. Yeah. Of what it was from then till now. So it's crazy to think, I can see why a lot of companies didn't make it through, cuz there was a lot. Of hurdles. There's, it was constantly, right? 

Shawn: Yes. There was a lot thrown at us at this.

Shawn: Yeah. There really was at the beginning of the, yeah, there was in, in the odds, I guess. Totally. Oh my God. So, yeah, it's, it's surprising and not surprising in the same kind of breath that some agencies didn't make it. But others kind of thrive, right? Yeah, absolutely. But it's that pivot, I think 

Massimo: is the, is the key.

Massimo: Well, and again, and we keep telling everybody, you know, that one of the most important [00:29:00] things is to constantly be willing, keep curious, be willing to take on new work, new ideas, keep trying new things. Yes. You can't just give up and say, as soon as you become com complacent. You're dead in this space. Yes.

Massimo: You are 

Shawn: done. Yes. An interesting story. My wife is telling me she just got a promotion. Yep. So she was like, Woohoo. Yeah. Woo woo. So she's like, I don't know what I'm gonna do with this kind of thing. And it's like Moss and I always talk about this. He always tells me this. He's like, if I'm talking to a new client on Friday, I will be an expert by Monday.

Massimo: Monday. Yeah. You know what I mean? If I don't know what you need to to know Friday, if I dunno know 

Shawn: what it's, yeah. I'm gonna figure it out and Yeah. 

Massimo: I'll let let you know. And there's no shame in that. 

Shawn: There's no but, but I think this is, this is the age that we're at. Yep. That gives you that spark to do that.

Shawn: Mm-hmm. Like as a kid, maybe you're not. As keen to do that. I don't, 

Massimo: I don't need to know that. I think you would learn. Yeah. No, no, I don't. I I don't think it's even, I mean, the ability to pick up stuff a lot quicker, there's no true. It just doubt this is true. Um, I think that they might have issues with focusing.

Massimo: Yeah. But you know, it's, it's true. It's like, and [00:30:00] I flat out will tell customers, even now I. I don't have the answer for you, but I will. But I will on Monday. Exactly. This is with me for 48 hours, I'll have everything. And it's true. I will. 

Shawn: Yeah. I will know this. Yeah. And 

Massimo: or I don't know. I don't know what your site's built on right now.

Massimo: Yeah. Give us 48 hours, I'll tell you. We'll figure it out. Everything that's wrong with it on Monday. Right. That's exactly 

Shawn: it. And that's that adaptability that I think is key to be being in this space and And successfully, yeah. Being in this 

Massimo: space. Right. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. You can't, you can't be scared to pick up new skills.

Massimo: No. Right. That's what keeps this funding exciting. But this is what's good about it. I know, I know, dude. I know, right? 

Shawn: It's like sometimes, you know, I'm talking to clients and things, it's like, well, we don't know how we're gonna do this. And it's like, 

Massimo: yeah, exactly. Right. Okay. Okay. All 

Shawn: right. Just, just give me, just gimme some time.

Shawn: I will figure this out. You know what I mean? But also there's like a. Oh, 

Massimo: Sean just 

Shawn: had a moment. Yes. You just feel, you feel it. Move a little, you know what I mean? [00:31:00] I think it just 

Massimo: moved. That was me in the magazine aisle at chapters all the time. That's why we would always sit cross like it. 

Shawn: Oh, David Carson.

Shawn: No, but yeah, that's, that's what gives us. Yeah. You know, our inspiration for, for doing this. Totally true. Right? It's the challenge of it. Oh, it's who'd wanna do the same thing over and over and over and 

Massimo: over again. I know, right? How boring would that fucking I fucking be Suck. Well, not, not designers anyway, not creatives.

Massimo: I think for creatives, no, I'd be the death 

Shawn: of us. It would, it really would be. Yes. 

Massimo: Absolutely. Yes. Cool. So memorable moments. Oh, that I can share. Oh, good. Over the past, you know, 25 years, right. Hiring Sean. Yeah. Number one. Worst decision ever. 

Shawn: God, I wish I'd done that. 

Massimo: You know, there's been a million, but again, about the agency side, some of the stuff that felt like it was huge.

Massimo: Monumental. Yes. Right. Like huge for agency stuff. Mm-hmm. Right. Our first office. Oh, over top of the oil shop. I [00:32:00] love that. So, no, and the funny thing is you saw the full office. Yes. But the first office was actually small. It was 300 square feet. Oh my God. It consisted of two tiny offices and a little vestibule.

Massimo: That was, you know, honestly the size of, of half this office. It was this individual little, our podcast room, like it was so small, it was 300 square feet. Nice buddy. It was. It was mine. It was awesome. And I was like, that is, and that's how we started. Yes. Right. And it was so cool. We felt so grown up and there's three of us cramming this tiny spot.

Massimo: But it was a huge upgrade from my parents' basements. Yes. Big time. Right? Cause that's where started, right? It started. So that was a memorable moment. Yes. Okay. Another memorable moment Yeah. Is when we grew so fast outta that little office mm-hmm. That we. Basically rented the office next to us, which was three times the size.

Massimo: That's cuz it was down the hallway and we yet, and we cut open a hole between the two. All of a sudden it was like, you knock down the wall, [00:33:00] it falls. And you're like, yeah. And it was like you'd see the dust going up and you're just like, We fucking arrived. Like that was massive, dude. It was massive. 

Shawn: That's 

Massimo: awesome.

Massimo: I remember. I remember that. Wow. And it was just so 

Shawn: fucking close. How big was that space 

Massimo: altogether? In total? Altogether with both sides? Yeah. It was under a thousand square foot under a thou, so it was, yeah, 


Shawn: under. I don't remember it 

Massimo: being huge. No, it wasn't. It was. It was just, was that the whole top floor of that?

Massimo: No. No, because besides it was the driver training center. Below us, the oil change shop. Yes. It was the most random location and I still, I drove past it a coup like couple weeks ago to my kids. I'm like, look up there. Right there. That's where Z Factor started. That used to be dad's office, and they're like, what?

Massimo: On top of an oil shop? It's like, fuck yeah. It was so great though, to remember that shit. Right? Awesome. Yeah, and, and again, we would work all day and because we were all young and in, you know, 20 somethings, we would hang out at night. We would, you know, drink, we would like, have music. We would smoke [00:34:00] in there cuz that's what you would do.

Massimo: That's what you would 

Shawn: do. Right? 

Massimo: That's just 

Shawn: cool. Oh, what's that? What's that bar that's on the other side? Was that there all that time? 

Massimo: Oh, uh, Morty's. Morty's remember? And they moved, you go to Morty's, they moved the other side. Yeah. Yes. Yep, yep, yep. Yes. And then of course a big memory was when we then outgrew that and went to the first garage.

Massimo: The first wait, which was, that was the, there's two garages. No, no. Well, this is technically the garage. Oh, this is a garage? This, this, this is, this just doesn't have the garage door. Oh. So yes. Okay. We upgraded from that little office, which we rented. Yeah. To then we worked and saved up enough and actually had the garage You rented 

Shawn: above 

Massimo: the oil shop?

Massimo: Yeah. Oh, you did buy And then we t buy, actually buy, buy. No. And then we. Bought the garage. Right. The unit and decked it out and built Must Awesome. And built place. Must been awesome. It was so much fun. Yes. Cause I built that with my, I remember built that with my dad. Yes. Right. And he helped. And my uncle came and helped with the drywall.

Massimo: I remember like sitting there, you know, working all day and then going there at night. And building. And building. Yes. It's just so awesome. That was good, man. That's great. And then of course, This space? Yes. It's funny [00:35:00] cuz I, the big, the big, big memories, it just seems like every time we'd upgrade spaces it was like a new company.

Massimo: Mm-hmm. All over again. Mm-hmm. Yes. So I remember getting to this and this was like both good and bad cuz when we got here, everybody was fighting that day and there was like internal, like fights with the, some of the team members. Really. It was, it was a mess. We were, we were going through some like, again, cuz I, I didn't know how to manage people and it was just, I was like, guys, I just wanna design and have fun.

Massimo: Why? Why are you 

Shawn: guys being babies? Why is this an issue? Babies. 

Massimo: Fuck. Yeah. But I mean, again, but again, the space was so beautiful. It was so cool. Yeah. This was that next level place. Yes. And this was, this literally was the next, we had big customers, and another big memory was when we got our first billion dollar customer.

Massimo: Right. And again, that was like, Mind blowing. Yes. Okay. Huge. But even more mind blowing was when we got her a second because, and again, that just, that was like a whole holy shit. Yeah. You know? Yeah. We just proved that we could do it again. Yes, yes. Right. It wasn't by luck. Yeah. [00:36:00] And we are good enough and we now get another, A second one.

Massimo: Right. And done it again. Yeah. And again, it was just like, it was like literally, it was such a, Big accomplishment. Mm-hmm. Because it just meant that now we had a process and we were being able to repeat, and now we've got a few. Right? Yeah. Um, and, and again, it's, but that was the ultimate goal. Yes. Right?

Massimo: Because again, everybody was like, you know what, how did they view success? Right? Mm-hmm. And, and for me, I guess throughout this whole process is Yeah, because success is very personal. Yes. Right? And, but I mean, when you're competing with all these companies locally that are all. B2C companies and they brag and great places and look at us cuz it's also very showy.

Massimo: Mm-hmm. Right. For me it was just like, no. When we get a billion dollar company as a B2 B agency, that's huge. As a huge, and then when you're able to replicate that again, again, again, like it was just, that felt massive. Yes. Right. That felt massive. Yeah. And another big memory, I think this one that made me feel great was when someone sought out our agency Yeah.

Massimo: And then found me and was like, You are the [00:37:00] expert in tech. Mm-hmm. You're the person I wanna deal with. I don't want to deal with this other agency that pitched me. Right. I wanna deal with you. And they sought us out. Yeah. And that was another huge memorable, I mean, there's a lot of personal moment, don't get me wrong, that's, there's so many awesome memories of us, the team, but this is about the age agency.

Massimo: Yes, yes. That's what this whole conversation is about. Yeah. And, and again, the memories I have with you and the team outweigh all of these. Even fucking yesterday's was so fun with the escape 

Shawn: room. It was so nerdy. I 

Massimo: loved it. But I mean, business wise, yes. That's great. These were some, some of the great, and this was, this was when I, you know what, it validated everything we did.

Massimo: Yes. Right. And it's just like now. Now we are the experts. Now this 

Shawn: is, you know. Yeah. Yeah. It felt really fucking cool. That's absolutely awesome. Because Cause you worked so hard to get your name out there. Yes. Right? Yep. And this is the kind of thing, and exactly like you said, it's personal relationships.

Shawn: It's customers for life and this is kind of, somebody's gonna talk about you and say, oh, you know what you need? Yeah. You need these guys. You need these guys. Yes, [00:38:00] yes. Absolutely. That's where you want to be. Yeah. That's the kinda shit that's like, yeah, I felt so good. Yeah, totally. That's 

Massimo: great. So, okay, how about this?

Massimo: We're gonna end this, yeah. Okay. Second episode. We are gonna end this with. My top 10 lessons Okay. For business. All right. Okay. And this is coming from a designer? Yes. Not a business guy. Yes. Okay. So there's no, no business bullshit here. 

Shawn: Okay. But don't, don't let him fool you. He is a business guy. He knows 

Massimo: his shit Well, okay.

Massimo: Maybe, maybe, maybe only from trial and 

Shawn: error. No. Okay. He does, he does 

Massimo: lesson number one. Okay. Clients for fucking life. Yes. Okay. Lesson work on making your client a rockstar. Yes. And I'm not talking about the actual business, but the person you are dealing with cuz that person that has been our biggest source of leads.

Massimo: We have never looked for business. Nope. That's why our website looks the way it does because it's just like, I don't wanna put my shit out there cause I'm too busy. Fuck it. Who care cares. Right? [00:39:00] It's, it's like, you know what? We keep our customers so happy. Yes. We help them grow, we help them excel within their, we got bigger things to do.

Massimo: Right. And then they're like, fuck, they took us, you know, they took me from like, you know, an entry level marketing to the VP of marketing. Mm-hmm. And now I'm at a bigger company. I'm gonna call them up and they're gonna do the same. Right. Exactly. We spend more time like helping our customers become rock stars in their businesses.

Massimo: Yes. They take us along. Yes. So every client relationship, you gotta make that customer your, like priority Yes. To make them love working with you and, and everything, everything about that 

Shawn: relationship. Totally. And this continues our little robot friend. Yep. Absolutely. He moved one of the, the marketing guy, I think it was.

Shawn: Mm-hmm. He moved on to another place and it was just like, what's the first thing he does? I'm gonna drag this fucking awesome right design agency right along, right along with me, right to my new place. We've, we've worked together. Holy, 

Massimo: we've had great success. Yes, let's do it again at another company, right?

Massimo: Yes. That's the biggest sign Yes. Of like, appreciation and, 

Shawn: and that's one of those kind of things. It's like not only do we do, we get our. We get our, we get [00:40:00] shit done. Yep. That's what we do. But it's, I think we provide peace of mind to people. You know what I mean? I agree. Like this is the kind of stuff where it's like making can rely.

Shawn: I don't wanna worry about this kind of shit. I know these guys are going to, they got my back. This is the kind of stuff where, this is why people bring us 

Massimo: along. Totally. We totally Right. Yeah. And they do. They can count on us. Right. Because customers need you to deliver. That's exactly right. They're not looking for perfection.

Massimo: They're looking for delivering. Yes. Deliver something. Exactly. Exactly. That's number one. Number two, always, always, always try to solve problems. Mm-hmm. Try to solve the customer's problems. Mm-hmm. Don't go in there and just do what you're told. That's right. Right. Do what you're told. Keep them happy. Look for bigger problems to solve.

Massimo: We're designers, we're supposed to solve fucking problems, right? I mean, that's how we got in this whole land and expand model, right? Mm-hmm. I believe in that, right? We got into Blackberry. Mm-hmm. Right? Not only did we go in and, and, and take care of the job that we were brought in for, but then it was just like, well, whoa, whoa.

Massimo: You guys got a bigger problem here. Yes, there's other issues. I got a solution, right. That I think can help. Yes. And we did. We dug deep and that fucking [00:41:00] blew us up into that place. Right, exactly. So again, always look for problems to solve. Right. In your customer's businesses? Yeah. Always. Yes. Number three.

Massimo: Nice. Always be hustling. Always be hustling. H a b H, baby. Always be looking. Keeping your eyes open. Ears open. Yes. When you're talking to your customer, you can hear and listen for them to talk about a problem. That's how you know you can solve it, right? If you're not always hustling. That whole fucking opportunity can just fly.

Massimo: Right? You right. The 

Shawn: devil is in the details, right? Seriously, dude. Yes, absolutely. Listen to what they're saying. Listen. Big ears. Yeah, 

Massimo: right. I should be on here, but no, no. This agency wise, I think, I think that's what you're talking about though. Well, all right. Um, number four. Okay. Sell your process, not the final product.

Massimo: Right. Okay. Because everybody's always thinking, you know, well, again, in, in the experience, what's always made us different is people are always focusing on the final logo, right. The final brochure. And it's like, no, no, no, no. Let's, we've got a bigger [00:42:00] process involved here. We listen, we. Ask questions. We dig deeper.

Massimo: We build something custom for you. Right. This is how we overcame all that offshore stuff. Mm-hmm. How we overcame the 99 design stuff and how we still price ourselves today. We're not selling a final logo. Mm-hmm. We're selling everything, the process up to that logo. And then we sell the process after the loader after.

Massimo: Exactly. Okay. So that little deliverable mm-hmm. Is just one small part of the bigger picture. Okay. So remember that. Right. The profit is in the process, not in the final product. Okay? Mm. Nice. All right. Number five. Okay. Create your own fucking luck. Okay? Seriously create. Wow. Your own luck. I hate when people are like, you're fucking lucky.

Massimo: You're lucky. He's like, you're a fucking idiot. If you think I'm lucky, because luck is when. What is it? Opportunity meets Meets preparation. Yes, exactly. Okay. It's like I'm the kind of person who's walking around looking up at the sky for that bag of [00:43:00] gold to fall because you got some idiots who are walking around looking forward, looking at their feet, looking at people walking by them, and a fucking bag of gold could hidden them in the head.

Massimo: Mm-hmm. And they wouldn't even know because That's right. They couldn't catch it. They weren't looking up. Yes. Okay. I'm the kind of person who's constantly looking up in this guy. One eye up. One I forward and, and my hands are out, and I am waiting Yes. For that bag of gold. That's right. Now, don't get me wrong, I've been kicked in the nuts many times while I'm looking up, but that's just part of the process, right?

Massimo: You have to be prepared Yes. To take opportunities, but if you spend every fucking dime you have, you know, because you're partying, buying a new computer. Mm-hmm. Buying new clothes. Buying a new car. Yeah. Well then when that opportunity comes to buy a list of customers from a web company that comes when that opportunity comes.

Massimo: You can't take it. Yeah. Right. People are like, oh, you're lucky that you're lucky that came to you. I was like, dude, I had the fucking money to buy that. Yes. I was saving my balls off for that money. For an for this opportunity. Opportunity. Exactly Right. Yes. So again, you have to create your own [00:44:00] lock. That's right.

Massimo: And people don't understand that Right. Lock doesn't exist. Yeah. Again, cuz you gotta be ready for that thing to 

Shawn: happen. That's exactly it. And there's, there's, there's a knowledge base that's that you know, this, you're in this space, you know exactly. Kind of where this thing is gonna go. Mm-hmm. You have to take a little bit of ob, a little, a little, you know, maybe just a little risk.

Shawn: You do it. It's good. It's it's good. Right? But yes, always be looking up. You always, 

Massimo: instead of always be looking up, you know, focused on your feet, dude. Even if you're lucky enough to win the fucking lottery. Yeah. You still gotta buy the ticket. Yes. You still, how many fucking people are like, oh, I wish I just won the lottery.

Massimo: Well, what I think of that, did you buy a ticket? Did you even buy it? Well, no. What's the point? Well then don't tell me you won. Who 

Shawn: win the fucking lottery? It's not luck. I did that. I was supposed to do, 

Massimo: oh, number six. Yeah. Okay. And this one we spoke a lot about this one. Mm-hmm. Embrace the land and expand model.

Massimo: Yes. Okay. Love it. Love it. No matter how big or small that customer is that you have once [00:45:00] you're in there. Mm-hmm. Once you're into that company, whether it's a little, little cafe, a little restaurant, or a giant company. Mm-hmm. Right. Find other ways to expand within that company. Yes. Find other other ways you can help.

Massimo: Other ways design can help. Yeah. Other ways you can help in that. Company. Right? Yeah. Like literally just because you got that one job, your job isn't done. Mm-hmm. Figure out how else you can kind of get your tentacles out like a fucking octopus and get strength all the areas of that company. Mm-hmm. Land and expand has grown us into every single company.

Massimo: We, we don't stop at that one job. Nope. Just cuz somebody gave us a data sheet job. Well then we're asking who's working on your presentations. Yeah. You know, we can help on presentations. Yeah. What about your, you know, your PowerPoints? Mm-hmm. What about your website? What about this? What, once you're in there and you're starting to develop a relationship Yeah.

Massimo: Expand into every corner of 

Shawn: that business. Big time. And there's absolutely plenty of opportunity to do that. So. Do it. So do it, do it. 

Massimo: Do it, do it. Number seven, make yourself [00:46:00] indispensable. Mm. Okay. Yes. And again, become as sticky as possible. Yep. And this is not quite the same as land and expand, but land and expand.

Massimo: Leads to making yourself indispensable. That's exactly it. What happens, just like it did at Blackberry, and again, ultimately Blackberry, we did get ejected, but it wasn't because of anything marketing wise. The whole company. The whole company, yeah, but it still worked out. The thing is you get deeper and deeper in the company that it becomes very hard for them.

Massimo: To not to not to keep you. Yes. Right. Yeah. You're part of their company, you're part of their ecosystem. Yeah. You know, you're someone that people there just now randomly will pick up the phone and call and contact for help. Right. You gotta figure out how to make yourself indispensable. Mm-hmm. Whether that's, you know, leaving knickknacks all over the place there with your phone number, right?

Massimo: Mm-hmm. Whether it's constantly giving them. Free information, whether it's like offering to just show up at company picnics Yes. And getting to know the people. Right. You gotta make yourself indispensable to these companies, so it makes impossible Exactly. For them to get rid of you. Exactly. 

Shawn: And going in the extra mile with a client is always, is always great too.

Shawn: Right. Always. Always. Because they're gonna like, [00:47:00] oh, oh shit, these guys are, you know, they're, they're gonna deliver what they said they were gonna do, but also, hey, they expanded on that. And that's exactly, that's very cool. I, I like what they were thinking 

Massimo: here. Mm-hmm. Number eight mm. Make mistakes but make them once.

Massimo: Okay. You have to always, okay. You can only learn by making mistakes. This is true, and this is how the first fucking 12, 15 years of this business worked, cuz you didn't know what other way to do it other than make mistakes. Exactly. But if I wouldn't learn from every one of those mistakes, if I didn't make every mistake a learning opportunity.

Massimo: Mm-hmm. Right. I wouldn't be where we are today. That's, we wouldn't be 25 years in business. That's right. We would've stopped at year 12. Right, exactly. Anytime you make a mistake, treat it as a learning opportunity and figure out how the hell not to do it again next time. Right, right. So make mistakes, but just make them once.

Massimo: Make them once. All right. That's right. Number nine. Perseverance. Yep. There we go. You need perseverance. Stick it out. Fuck dude. Honestly, and I, no matter what, like more [00:48:00] than anything, and everybody says, you know, what's the, the secret to running a business this long? It's perseverance. It's getting through it all.

Massimo: Yes. Because, you know, if you give up, you know, or are, are you fall after the first like little, you know, bump that you've, you know, come across, dude. Oh, like, oh, oh, poor me, dude, not poor me. Fuck off. No business, right? Let alone this business is for you. Perseverance. He's a must for any business owner, right?

Massimo: Whether you're an agency owner, whether you're just a restaurant, whatever, you've gotta get through all the tough times. Yeah. And you have to keep pushing through, even if 

Shawn: you're a graphic designer. Yeah. Hundred percent. Perseverance is number one. 


Massimo: Absolutely. 

Shawn: Keep it going. Yeah. You know, that's, this is the thing.

Massimo: So, yeah. And last but not least, you have to be. Yourself. And own it. And own it. I, if I had taken all that energy that I had, trying to be what other people, what I thought other people wanted, wear a suit to be from my parents to customers. Mm-hmm. Dude, I, I, I, geez, I'd be, I don't even know where I'd be right now.

Massimo: I wouldn't be doing [00:49:00] this. This is true. And I wouldn't be happy. Everything changed when I said fuck it to the world. Mm-hmm. And I, you know, took down, I. Burned the suits. Yep. I put up that obnoxious, you know, garage website with the flames and the, the trucker girls and the rigs and, you know, it was, it looked like it was the fucking backdrop for a kid rock concert.

Massimo: Okay. And I was like, screw it. This is what we're gonna do do for now on. Right. And that was the day I never wore a suit after that. I, you know, I was just like, this is who we are. Yes. And it has been, Nothing but uphill since then. That's right. I embraced who I am, I embraced us our individualism and just 

Shawn: grew it from there.

Shawn: That's right. Yeah. And that's kind of cool too because it's, it's, it kicks against the norm, what you would expect, right? Mm-hmm. Everybody thinks, and, and, you know, everybody thinks design is, is fucking Dawn Draper, you know, and Mad Men and that kinda stuff. Suits and 

Massimo: stuff. Yeah. Which are pretty cool. 

Shawn: But it's great.

Shawn: That's that's great. And that was the sixties. These, but this is a different 

Massimo: time when we're talking about, it's very different time. Right. And we're honestly [00:50:00] authenticity now. Yes. Huge. More important than huge ever. Yes. And again, you're not gonna be perfect for everybody. That's right. But you'll be perfect for the people that you want to attract.

Massimo: That's exactly it. And that's key. Yes. Yes. Yeah. Yes. So more than anything, number 10. Be yourself. Authenticity. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. So, oh, there's this Z factor. Lessons for business. All right. 10 lessons. There's a lot there. That's great. I'm sorry, I made this a two part episode. Holy shit. But I'm so fucking passionate.

Massimo: Yeah. About what we've built, what we have, our customers, our philosophies. 

Shawn: It says a lot in this space. To be 25 years. It's kinda shocking. And going strong. Yeah. Going and going strong. As strong as ever. Stronger than ever. Stronger than ever. You're right, you're right actually. Which is good. And and we've given examples of how many, how many have fallen in the wake of So true.

Shawn: There's a lot of agencies. So true. That bit the dust, but so true. 

Massimo: You made it, you made it work, man. Yeah, we made it. And again, yeah. I'm not gonna shy away from saying I owe a lot to you, the team. A hundred percent. Cuz I, I, [00:51:00] without, without the team thought the awesome group yesterday. I would, I even said yesterday, even when I went home, when I was talking to, you know, my wife, I was like, I couldn't have solved that puzzle, you know, in that escape room with anybody else 

Shawn: other than the people other than these guys I 

Massimo: was there with.

Massimo: Exactly. Because it was such an amazing team. Exactly. And again, you need, you need that. That's probably a really good lesson actually. That's probably, that should have been the most important part is surround yourself with Awesome. People that you'd love to see on a regular 

Shawn: basis. That's there's no, yeah.

Shawn: And, and this is the kind of stuff that's like, this is not created in a vacuum. Right? Yeah. There's, there's a lot of people involved that make this so true, make this work true. But I would say the key is leadership, and I think that's, Yeah, that's the kind of thing. It's, you know, 

Massimo: but then it's putting it on me and I don't wanna do that either.

Massimo: Let's just leave it at that bed, you guys. That's why I'm happy enough with you guys. 

Shawn: Stay tuned for my podcast on leadership. Then I'm going solo. The angry designer.[00:52:00]

Massimo: Too late, Sean. It's called the Angry Designer Podcast. 

Shawn: Too bad. It's the angry designer. Anyway, dammit. Did Sean Designer. I don't know. I I to be determined the name. 

Massimo: So, um, I hope this, this hasn't been too painful. It's been a double episode. I'm, I'm really sorry, but I, I think that there's a lot to have said and, um, I'm really proud what we've all done.

Massimo: You've done a great thing, you know, like 

Shawn: this is, This is, this is, it's fun. Again. It's, it's an amazing feat. He's, which is cute, right? For such an old fucking guy. Oh, but not 

Massimo: old does. Look old guys go visit the YouTube channel. Like that guy does not look old. Not old for the record. Totally not old. Not old.

Massimo: 50 50. No, no, we don't speak at it. Oh, we don't. 43 for the seventh year. 40 for the seventh fucking year, 

Shawn: I forgot. Yeah, 

Massimo: that's right. 43 for the seventh year. So listen, by all means guys, if you like the. This, you know, give us a thumbs up. Say, Hey, I like this. Leave us a review somewhere. Um, share us with anybody you know who has a business.

Massimo: Cuz I think a lot [00:53:00] of these ideas don't even, uh, need to apply to just agencies. But, you know, whether you're a freelancer or, or an agency, I think there's lots here that, that, that hopefully can help inspire everybody else moving totally forward, I hope anyway. Yeah. 

Shawn: Who, man, that was awesome. All right, buddy, 

Massimo: who, well, happy birthday to Zed Factor and happy birthday to you.

Massimo: Nope, let's tomorrow. 

Shawn: But everybody wish. Moss a buddy. Happy 

Massimo: birthday. Thanks buddy. Thank you everybody. And thank you for continually to listen to this podcast. Yes. Because honestly, this, this is, this has been some of my highest moments. Yes. Yeah. Over the past 25 years has been positive. Is not on the 

Shawn: list.

Shawn: Maybe that's number 

Massimo: 11. Well, that's, that's, that's definitely a huge high Yeah. This podcast. But again, this podcast is barely starting. Are you kidding? We got a long way to go and there's a lot of things hopefully planned, but, um, it's just, ugh. Yeah. Take it all. Take it all in. Everybody took it all in. 

Shawn: Yes.

Shawn: Enjoy it. All right everybody. My name's Massimo, 

Massimo: and my name's Sean. Stay creative. Stay.[00:54:00]

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