I secretly always wanted to be a firefighter. I wanted to be physically strong and mentally calm under pressure to help people hold it together in a time of crisis. I wanted to save all the kittens from all the trees.
Alas, I'm just a nerd with a computer.
And my business is brimming with the finest fellow nerds in town.
When my team sighs in frustration with their tasks or yells at their computer while coding, I like to remind the crew with a smile that "Unfortunately, none of us are firefighters. We're not saving lives." Nothing that bad will happen if the logo we make isn't coming together quite right without taking a break and coming back to it later.
This has been a good reminder for myself lately, too.
The stress of entrepreneurship weighted my soul for the past year. 2017 was a huge year, and I carried the brunt of it so no one else had to. Then, as the snow around me started to melt, so did the stress.
I remembered that this company is ridiculously fun.
The work we do at Wheelie, while not crucial to humanity, does make life easier when done well.
Great design explains things. Great video connects with the human heart. Great strategy amplifies brands above their competition. And of course, great project management creates lasting relationships with the human beings who choose to partner with us.
Recently, I hosted the first ever Wheelhouse Workshops event: Action sports photography workshops for women. It went extremely well and was more meaningful than I could have imagined. More on that in another post...
We had pro photographers as coaches: Re Wikstrom and Abby Cooper. We had athletes as subjects for the on-snow day: Katie Kennedy, Nirvana Ortanez, and Sierra Swan. And we had the big guns, Roam Events, help organize the event, with sponsorships from Alpha Coffee, Camber Outdoors, and SCOTTFreeski.
Getting other people stoked to create and pursue their dreams reinvigorated my sense of gratitude that I get to create for a living, even though these days, that mostly means creating jobs for others instead of directly creating artwork and video work. It's a good life.
I slammed my truck door closed and caught a whiff of myself in the parking lot on my way to work. "I smell bad," I thought, inhaling the remnants of yesterday's campfire and the three days worth of mountain bike dirt stuck to my skin.
I caught my reflection in the window of the Battery621 building on my way up on the ramp to the front door. My trucker hat hid the dried sweat in my hair. Kind of. I had new bruises and dried mud on my not-so-recently shaven, tan legs, and my shirt was wrinkly from being stashed in the back of my truck after a rainstorm. It smelled musky. Gross. Was I wearing mold? As my steps reached the front door, I noticed my muscles were sore from putting down miles and miles of trail around Monrach Pass and Crested Butte, but that one made me happy. It was a great weekend in my favorite part of the world. I smiled.
I don't belong in a city, but here I was on a Monday morning at 6:45am in Denver.
I made it. I showed up. That counts, right?
It's 7pm, and I can hardly keep my eyes open. My dog is sleeping beneath the coffee table, and I'm tempted to crawl under there and join him. I've been putting in WORK lately, and it's about to pay off for the whole crew. I work a lot of jobs at my own company these days. I'm growing Wheelie, because growth is fun, and my business intuition tells me that my pattern of wandering is organically weaving itself into something strong.
Entrepreneurs are wild. They thrive in risk. Business is no different than picking the way down exposed terrain.
I look back at the last ten years of my life-- the powder days, the late nights, the laughter, and the bonds between friends with matching goggle tans and knee surgery scars. I drove an old Subaru containing everything I owned from mountain town to mountain town, meeting daring, loving people along the way. Chefs with wild eyes and unbeatable sushi. Nocturnal snowcat operators who spent their nights combing the snow like a zen garden. Veterinary technicians who fearlessly pulled porcupine quills out of the roof of Rottweilers' mouths. Bank tellers covered in carnage from mountain bike crashes. Some of us just aren't meant for proper civilization.
I feel like we should do something big this year, something with lots of fire and a few minor explosives, but just continuing to grow and create awesome projects for our clients seems like a good plan, too.
Stay posted to see what we come up with for this monumental event...
I’m really into goal setting.
I always thought of myself as Type B, but I think I’m further on the Type A spectrum than I realized, or running a business has made me that way.
Setting goals works best if you get really specific.
I do this in three phases:
2016 was a big year for Wheelie. It was our 7th year in business, and it was a big one.
Owning a business can be overwhelming. As I planned for 2017, I realized that sometimes it helps to glance backward instead of forward. Like a stereotypical business owner, I'm almost always looking forward, battling complacency, thinking big, and seeing what opportunities for creativity I can tease out of the mundane. I analyze everything and constantly focus on how to be better, more efficient, and more effective. But sometimes, to move forward, you have to look backward.
And that's when I realized how big 2016 has been.
Last January, we moved into a new office on Wisconsin Avenue toward the ski resort. Actually, it's a really old office, but it's new to us. Built in 1910, it was the first building in Whitefish north of the train tracks. Its rustic charm has also delivered a slew of less-than-charming events like a leaky roof, a flooding basement, and heaters that need new parts. But you know what? Roofs can be patched, it's too cold for flooding now, and the HVAC guy lent us space heaters, so nothing can get us down. Plus I can't high five everyone in the company by spinning in my chair anymore, so this bigger space was needed. I even scored my own office, an improvement from having to hold employee reviews on the roof of our old office for privacy.
I spent a lot of this year locked in my office working on The Plan, leaving my employees to wonder if all the papers and coffee cups on my desk meant something or if I was trying to start a recycling center stack by stack. I researched a lot. I asked questions. I listened to the answers and thought about how to turn them into something that resonated with my core. I attended a freakish amount of webinars. I sought professional business advice on the same topics from a few different perspectives. I worked with lawyers. I learned more this year than Wheelie's past six years combined.
And The Plan is ready. Or at least ready enough. I couldn't be more psyched about 2017.
I love winter. I enjoy wearing puffy jackets and heavy, insulated boots. I find satisfaction in shoveling snow. But most of all, it's snowboarding that gets my heart. And by that measure, this was an excellent weekend.
Our new Thanksgiving tradition is to take Eddy on the sleds and out for a big day of backcountry skiing. Eddy is great at sitting on my lap and balancing. I also have his harness hooked to the chest strap on my backpack to make sure he stays safe when we hit bumps and chunder. Sweet little dude.
Taking dogs in the backcountry is kind of a controversial topic. Some people are really against it because it's just adding an element to your trip without the addition of another body that can save you, just one more thing to take care of. I am a huge fan of letting dogs be dogs, and I cherish days where I get to romp through snow with my pup. (My O.G. dog, Scout, summited more peaks in his nine years than most humans do in a lifetime.) I don't take dogs in the backcountry when the avy danger is anything more than low, and we never do anything strenuous or sketchy when the dogs are around. No chutes. No cliffs. We stick to mellow tree runs with lots of breaks for treats and pats. Eddy seems to love chasing my snowmobile on the road just as much as anything else, and this was a happy Thanksgiving.
A few tricks I know for dogs in the backcountry:
At Wheelie, we definitely create a LOT of commercial work. It's what we do for a living, how I pay my employees, and what gets our clients the results they are looking for. BUT... I still love painting. I will always love painting. I especially enjoy painting on unusual surfaces like random boards and skateboard decks. Gesso is the best. So, after what is now 10 months of decoration procrastination, I finally painted something for the office.
Here are a few snapshots of the creative process:
A few weeks ago, I enlisted a new policy at work:
We work four 10-hour shifts Monday through Thursday, so
WE ARE CLOSED ON FRIDAYS.
This is an official agency policy, and I would shout it from the rooftops if I could so that everyone who ever works with us knows about it.
This schedule is beneficial on so many levels.
+3 day weekends every weekend.
+Getting to go on mini trips, like MTB trips to Canada or backpacking in the Bob Marshall Wilderness!
+Boosts employee morale.
+ Gives creativity a chance to rest and reset. (this is a huge one.)
+If I secretly work on Fridays, I don't get interrupted by anything, and I get a ton done.
+Dentists, Doctors, Haircuts, Banking, personal appointments etc. -- these things can now happen on Fridays, and employees don't have to try to cram these things into their lunch breaks. (And Friday is free cookie day at the bank.)
+No employees in the office= one day less of utilities costs!
+Skiing during the week instead of the weekend? Yes please.
+Some of our crew has kids. They get to spend a whole day with their kids without paying for daycare.
+We get to work earlier during the week, so we get a lot done before the phones even start ringing.
I could go on, but I won't because it's the weekend now.
Happy Friday on a Thursday, and we'll see you on Monday!
Owning a business is a massive amount of work. Here's how I keep it fun by balancing owning Wheelie with my passion for adventure. -Lisa