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Post #1313

Week 242

Tuesday was super incredible. Kari’s been studio manager for three whole days (she works one day a week), and she’s already running payroll. She’s an incredible cultural fit, I’m really pleased.

Also Tuesday I was surrounded by conversations about different projects. Kendrick! Ashdown! Bonnier! The studio can tip from total silence to conversations bubbling about multiple projects. It’s a joy to sit here and hear Nick figuring out some element of hypnotic ambient iPhone interfaces, Tom and Matt B chewing over Ashdown, sketching and prototyping, and an ad hoc crit bouncing between Campbell’s computer and the whiteboard, reviewing and drawing. Trying to conjure up the feeling of it now, all I can see is the mid afternoon tropical storm in a rainforest, intense and noisy, blood heat, it fills you brim full and overfilling, verdant and electric. And then suddenly it subsides and there’s a humid air with crystal clarity, and the invisible and deafening sound of insects.

I don’t care if you don’t understand. It’s awesome to be in the room.

And then the rest of the week, wow, what can I say. Great meetings with great opportunities. But more than that, the pipeline is good. Two small projects that have emerged over the last few weeks are both going ahead. Two huge ones moved excitingly closer. And two other huge ones are tantalisingly close to landing. We’ll have to choose between them, which is tragic, but there are worse problems to have. But we’ll have to be careful. Some projects are all-consuming, and if we grow much more then that’s maybe too fast — we’d risk our culture. So, you know, jigsaw the projects, make sure we don’t grow/shrink/grow/shrink but maintain core teams, that sort of thing.

This bit of bringing work in is hard. Fortunately Jack and Matt J do it really well.

So you know I came into the studio the other weekend and did planning, scenarios and strategies? It was so I’d be prepped for quick decisions if a bunch of these things came off. And happily, I feel prepped. It turns out we live in scenario 4.

And so this is maybe a good a time as any to declare an end to the era we’re in at the moment, the one that started back in August 2009 at the birth of BERG, the one we’ve called the Escalante. Goodbye! It’s been great!

We’re not at cruising altitude, but we’re the right animal now to keep climbing. The past couple of weeks have been focused more on execution than positioning. Super good. We’re having the right conversations with friends and clients, the foundations have been laid, blah blah blah. It was funny — on Tuesday I brought my old 2006 sketchbook in the studio. I’d dug it out to read the first business plan I wrote for Schulze & Webb, from September 2006 when we started taking it seriously as an enterprise. I’d divided the plan into short, medium and long term, and thought about what would characterise our work, our clients, and what we’d need to do to get there. And you know what? We’re just about lifting into the “long term” section of that plan. Not bad.

So yeah, to speak at least for me and Jack and Matt J, we’re exhausted, have had nights this week not sleeping because everything is happening at once, a beautiful nightmare as Jack said, it’s riding the crocodile, it’s an emotional roller-coaster, or rather emotional pinball, whew – the future doesn’t arrive gradually but in giant sloppy waves, in/out/in/out another rhythm, deep blue water then bare wet sand, smacking you and washing through you, then pulling you under and out before rolling in and over again, a Pacific rip-curl that punches you and takes your breath away – and goodness I hope it all really comes off because there are some terrific projects out there and we might just get to be part of them.

Hello life in Scenario 4.

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