A Decade of Digital Dominance
Ten years ago, the web was an ugly place. Full of unsupported browsers, pop-ups, slow connections and a sea of websites that lacked purpose and personality. This was also a time when customer service in the industry was an afterthought. Businesses were often at the mercy of working with barbaric web developers who frequently took advantage of them.
It was 10 years ago today that I decided to take a stand and commit myself to the betterment of the web through a company dedicated to pioneering a new era of web design. By building a business that would take the stress and fear associated with web design away, I hoped to create a brighter future for consumers, clients and future employees.
But at the ripe age of 23, I couldn’t possibly take on this monstrous challenge alone, could I?
Nope. I was going to need help and it came in the form of a lovable yet fierce green dinosaur.
This dinosaur embodied our strength, boldness, humor and the personality needed to stand for being different. We were going to be ferocious—and Mr. Zilla was the perfect mascot to help carry out this vision.
Even while I was working alone out of my bedroom, I had always communicated we instead of I. The name “Designzillas” was even plural, because I knew that it was going to take a team of passionate and extraordinary people to drive this change. Little did I know at the time that this team would soon become a family and would represent the heart of my life’s work.
Little did I know at the time that this team would soon become a family and would represent the heart of my life’s work.
10 Lessons I Learned Over the Past 10 Years in Business
Looking back over the past 10 years, I realize that there were a lot of things I learned that weren’t necessarily taught in business school.
At Designzillas, we’ve certainly experienced our fair share of highs and lows. But it’s through these lessons that our company has been able to develop an authentic culture that has continued to support our mission of evolving brands by evolving ourselves.
Here are 10 of those lessons that I picked up along this journey:
- Personal Vision: Not just the importance of a clear company vision. But you need to have a vision for your future self. Being able to see your future and visualize how life will be can provide clarity for what you’re working towards personally.
- Change is Constant: As an entrepreneur, it’s important to know that you can never really settle and there is no such thing as “comfortable.” The market changes, competitors come and go, industries mature, products evolve, personnel fluctuates, customers transform, economy alters, etc, etc… Get used to it. In fact, embrace it.
- Trust Your Gut: There will be moments and opportunities that can feel too good to be true. And they most always are. Always trust your gut and your instinct—especially when deciding who to work with and who to say “no” to). That’s what got you here in the first place.
- Respect the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You can’t get away with leading and managing like a tyrant. You need to create a culture of mutual respect for one another if you’re looking for a breakthrough. You’ll always get out what you put in.
- Marathon vs. Sprint: You always have to be thinking about the long-term vs. short-term wins. Consider your legacy and make the hard choices for the organization’s future even when it’s uncomfortable right now.
- Always Mentor and Seek to be Mentored: As human beings, we have a lot to learn and a lot to offer. Foster a culture that supports mentorship; there’s no greater fulfillment than through helping others.
- Empow-wow-wow-erment: If you’re looking for your staff to pour their hearts into your organization, you’ve got to trust them and empower them to make a difference.
- Roll With the Punches: You’ll get knocked down. It will hurt. Keep fighting and roll with the punches. And every now and then, give yourself a kick in the ass—you’ll need it.
- Authenticity Matters: Don’t expect to find happiness if you’re pretending to be someone you’re not. You’ll attract the wrong crowd and find yourself living a miserable life. Be yourself and foster a culture that allows people to be themselves.
- Stay Hungry: Remember why you started this fight. Keep the passion alive and give yourself the room (and encouragement!) to keep going. Stay hungry and keep hustling.
Turning the Chapter on the Next Decade
After a tremendous 10 years of entrepreneurship behind me, I couldn’t be more excited for the next decade to come. As a leading digital growth agency in the Southeast, we will continue to push the web forward and challenge the status quo. By creating authentic digital experiences through data-driven design and technology we will continue to connect the hearts of brands to the hearts of their consumers. Designzillas will remain at the bleeding edge of the industry and we will always scratch, claw and fight for a better tomorrow for our customers and employees.
To all those who I’ve had the privilege to work with over this past decade, thank you. Thank you for believing in me, this company and the importance of our ferocious partnerships.
There is still much to learn and I am so honored to wake up every day with the same fire in my belly and passion in my heart to make tomorrow a better world online for our users, customers and incredible team.
Hugs and high fives.