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About Us, Life, Small Business, Strategy

Approaching Challenges with Humility and Expertise

Dennis Plucinik • March 7, 2024

If you read our email, you’ll already know — we’re back 🙂

We’ve made it nearly ten years in business, and I can say with certainty — it’s been a long road. Really I’m talking about the last few years in particular as you may have guessed. Most people likely didn’t read the email entirely (which is fine) but it’s important for me to share my vantage point from operating a business during the biggest economic disruption in modern history.

I promise we’ll end on a positive note, so don’t worry, I won’t bring up masks or washing your vegetables or any of that stuff.

Cutting to the chase, there are some important lessons I want to share:

Lesson #1: Balancing pride and humility.

Having both is critical for maintaining optimism and for making objectively informed decisions. I’ve always been optimistic. I guess it’s in my nature to see the best possible outcomes. At the same time, that optimism can be blinded by ego and pride. There are many things I am extremely proud of. I was fortunate to have built a company with some of the best people, not just technically, but genuinely good people. I am not proud to say I feel I failed them in that I was ultimately unable to keep them around.

The last few years have been difficult for obvious reasons but if I’m being even more honest, I recognize there were missteps I was making far before the pandemic hit. The pandemic just ended up being the tipping point.

In January 2020, we projected our biggest year on record. Our entire team was scheduled to begin working with several incredible global brands, which naturally seemed like the inevitable outcome of years of hard work producing award winning work.

Two months later we had lost every single contract.

Fast forward to closing our office and painfully letting every member of our team go over the next twelve months — a few things became apparent to me. Our team put in 100% right until the end and there was nobody else to blame but myself. After enough time I was able to also understand some of the elements of our business that would have prevented this, primarily having operated more profitably in the first place.

Lesson #2. Understanding the value of our work.

Regardless of how sweeping this AI revolution appears, demand for expertise and artistry will never go away. What we have always sold is dedication, craftsmanship, and trust. We should have placed more emphasis on that when choosing which clients to work with. The level of skill and quality we bring should be as obvious as the fact that this post wasn’t written by ChatGPT. Which is to say, it’s not obvious to everyone, but it’s obvious when it matters.

For that reason, I believe what we are offering is both timeless and worth pursuing.

So, what’s next? For starters we have a new team, and we’re approaching work in more optimized way. At the very least we benefit from enhancements from all these glorious new AI productivity tools. Most importantly, we will be very careful about who we work with and how. We will stick to the fundamentals and our principles instead of chasing buzzwords and taking shortcuts. We will expertly apply new technology where possible and continue exploring ways to improve our products.

I’m excited for the next chapter and I look forward to continuing to solve exciting challenges with you.

-Dennis