A few things I’m really proud of.
Life is full of experiences. But there are a few experiences that stand out as milestones, the kind of experiences that shape us, teach us and provide us wisdom and insight. And then there are the particular experiences that stand out as the ones we're most proud of. It's not often we get to acknowledge the great things we create. But it's those things that we want the world to know about that make up who we are.
Here are a few of my proudest moments:
Top Design: 18 years of a successful design agency
I’m most proud of my design firm Top Design. We were in business for nearly 18 years and at its peak were an 8-person operation. This was truly a dream come true. The studio focused on music and entertainment work for the first decade and then shifted to focus on cause-related organizations and special events. During the history of the agency, the clients we served included The Grammy Awards, Quincy Jones, Capitol Records, Universal Music, BMG Music, Sony Music, City of Hope, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Toyota Motors. Our studio was unique, with a special zen-like philosophy and energy that kept us balanced and happy. We were always profitable and loved coming to work everyday. In 2007 I closed the agency and decided to dedicate my life to coaching other agency owners to reach the same level of joy and happiness with their business that I had achieved with my own.
During our 18 years in business Top Design completed more than 2500 projects for over 300 clients. From independent musicians to the top of the Billboard charts, from simple logos to large scale branding programs, from grass roots organizations to corporate giants.
Here is a short video showcasing some of my favorite work from our studio.
Co-creating Marketing-Mentor & Creative Freelancer Conference
When I was just starting my design firm and only two years into getting serious about my business, I went to the HOW Design Conference at met Ilise Benun who was speaking there on self-promotion and marketing. It was 1993 and Ilise’s first speaking gig ever as well as my first conference attendance experience. Ilise and I became fast friends. She was the muse and inspiration that helped spark the love and joy I found in marketing my own business. Ten years later, we teamed up to create Marketing Mentor, a coaching and consulting enterprise for creatives. It was a beautiful partnership. Over the next five years we taught workshops, published articles, wrote a book together, produced a conference and helped hundreds of creative professionals learn how to market their creative business. I'm proud of what Ilise and I created together with Marketing Mentor. Thousands of solo creative professionals now have a resource for advice and tools for their marketing. That's a beautiful thing.
My year in cooking school
In 2007 I decided to fulfill a life long dream. As long as I can remember I’ve always loved being in the kitchen. I love food and I love to cook. It's an art and a hobby for me. I always said that if I didn’t end up in design I would probably be a chef. So I decided to take a fearless step and enrolled myself in culinary school to become a certified chef.
For eight months, I spent every day at the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles, California. Five days a week, 6:00 am until Noon. It was one of the most challenging experiences of my life and incredibly rewarding. Cooking school taught me a great deal about teamwork, leadership, planning, presentation, communication and of course… food! I graduated with top honors and although I don’t plan on opening a restaurant, I’m known to host some amazing dinner parties and teach cooking classes to my friends. I’m pretty proud of that.
Founding the LA Chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild
In 1999, I helped found the Los Angeles Chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild and served as the chapter president for four years. It was fulfilling for me to be an active part of this important organization. Our mission of supporting the rights of graphic designers and creators around the country was the fuel that helped us grow the chapter from twelve initial members to over 400 in just two years.
Leading the Guild’s LA Chapter was an amazing leadership experience. It provided me an opportunity to really understand the needs and fears of creative people when it comes to business.
I’m proud of the educational programs we created at the Guild but most of all, I’m proud to have been part of the initiative to change the California State Sales Tax laws for printing and graphic arts, knows as Regulation 1541. Together with fellow guild members, we lobbied and got the law changed to exempt artists from paying unessacery sales tax.
Facing my fears
I'm not much of an extreme sports athlete. My physical activities range from hiking to yoga. When I had an opportunity to go river rafting at one of the country's roughest rivers I felt terrified simply thinking about it. So I knew I had to do it. I believe our fears are there to teach us about taking risks and not compromising by always being comfortable. Facing our fears is where growth and change happen. I'm pretty proud of myself for having the courage to get on this river and face the waves. It turned SCARY into EXCITING!