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Happy Friday everyone!

20 Jul

It’s been a busy month.  Launched some new apps this month, and saw the release of a few of the apps I worked on at Microsoft.  I feel very accomplished.  🙂  Have quite a few other apps (both mobile and tablet) in the works as well.  Some very exciting stuff!

Apps I’ve designed/developed and/or contributed to in the last 3 years:

1. Microsoft Tag for iPhone

2. Microsoft Tag for Android

3. Microsoft Tag for Windows Phone

4. Fresh Paint for windows 8 Tablet

5.  Bonus Apps for WinPhone

6.  Wi-Fi Calling App for WinPhone

7.  An IP Communications app soon to be released for iPhone

8.  An IP Communications app soon to be released for Android

9.  Same app but for WinPhone

Love designing for the tablets – you can do much richer interactions and really push innovation in new ways.  Metro and the new Windows design paradigms are a blast to create for as well.

Well – would love to hear what you all are working on these days.  What have you accomplished in the last month?

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Been a while.. thought i’d update

24 Jun

So here’s my update.  I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind of activity as of late.  I received an offer to be a judge for a pretty prestigious online design award group (http://www.webaward.org/).  It’s something I’ll do in my spare time and i’m pretty excited to do it.  A week after I accepted the position, I received an job offer from a Software/Computer Giant in Redmond, WA for a position that.. well… I just couldn’t refuse.  We’re talking DREAM job.  So I gave my two week notice to the ad agency where I worked and 3 weeks later – here I am.  So far – it’s been amazing.

We had a minor setback with Creative Fusion Pro.  We hired someone to work on it with us and they accidentally deleted some things in the server, namely a few databases.  Soooooo… we’re on it – learning a few new lessons as we go – but it’s been frustrating to have those kinds of set backs.  However, I CAN say that the set back had an alternate effect.  Because of it, we decided to take a look at the overall structure of the design and launch schedule.  Rather than trying to push everything out and then go back and fix as we originally intended, we’re going to fix the bugs and clean the slate.  In the long run – I think it will be better.  We’re going to launch the CMS system (for those curious – we’ll be using Expression Engine), and then we’ll be launching the stores (Multi Store Magento) etc etc… hey I can’t give away ALL our secrets 🙂

I hope everyone is doing well – for those of you who know me and talk to me on skype – send me a hi and hello!  It’s a bit uncomfortable starting a new job, you get a bit lonely at times for a friendly familiar face, so a hi and hello from a friend I recognize would be wonderful!

And to anyone else…. Hi and hello.. I look forward to getting to know you and discussing design, development, type, photography, art, theory… whatever our passions drive us to discuss in further detail.

– Jen Walter

Letter from the Boss

18 Feb

Found this today and felt it was worth repeating here as I’ve been here and TOTALLY understand:

To All My Valued Employees,

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of
this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job, however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

Let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.

First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against
employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a Back Story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You’ve seen my big home at last year’s Christmas party. I’m sure; all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life.

However, what you don ‘t see is the BACK STORY :

I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 300
square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire studio apartment
was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into
building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn’t have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business — hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom’s for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the discount stores for clothing that didn’t look like it was birthed in the 70’s. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, would be able to afford the luxuries my friends supposedly had.

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9 am, mentally check
in at about noon, and then leave at 5 pm, I don’t. There is no “off”
button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and have a
weekend all to yourself. I do not have that freedom. I eat and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a one- year-old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that labor — the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations… you never realize the Back Story and the sacrifices I’ve made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the
right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.

Yes, business ownership has its benefits but the price I’ve paid is
steep and not without wounds. Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit. Let me tell you why:

I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don’t pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and Use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers Compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my “stimulus” check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the
guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over
2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single
mother at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next
welfare check? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (read: stole) 50% of your paycheck you’d
quit and wouldn’t work here. And why should you? That’s nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don’t understand: To stimulate the economy, you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had government suddenly mandated that I didn’t need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole, I would have spent it hiring more employees and generating substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don’t
fibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to
life, do you? Or, do you fibrillate his heart? Business is at the
heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of “change” you can keep.

So where am I going with all this?

It’s quite simple.

If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child’s future. Frankly, it isn’t my problem any more.

Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and
retire. You see, I’m done. I’m done with a country that penalizes the
productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it will be my citizenship.

So, if you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the economy. It
will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this
country, steam-rolled the Constitution, and changed its landscape
forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired
with no employees to worry about.

Signed,

THE BOSS

Corporate Graphic Design and Branding Inspiration

29 Jan
In this showcase, you’ll find a variety of unique and highly creative corporate designs. The aim here is to stimulate your creativity and inspire you to push your designs further and see the possibilities that lie within corporate branding.  It’s also to give some recognition to those graphic designers who aren’t in the lime light as much.
Business Card Designs by Rusadrianewald

Business Card Designs by Rusadrianewald

Corporate Identity Package by Dr Devil

Corporate Identity Package by Dr Devil

Corporate Branding Package by Majaero

Corporate Branding Package by Majaero

Corporate Identity Package by f3rk3s

Corporate Identity Package by f3rk3s

Corporate Identity Package by Majaero

Corporate Identity Package by Majaero

Corporate Business Card Design

Corporate Business Card Design

Film in the City Business Cards

Film in the City Business Cards

Business Cards : The good, the bad, and the ugly

24 Jan

businesscards

I’ve attended many local trade show for homeowners. I enjoy collecting business cards when I’m there – not necessarily because I’m going to use these companies for their services, but because they can make great inspiration as to what works and what doesn’t with a business card.  I think i’ve got over 2000 that i’ve collected over the years that stood out to me, and have used them in presentations and seminars to show some real life examples of what makes a successful card.  Looking through them, I notice that the majority of them weren’t the greatest cards. So many people have a hard time selling their products or their services to people. Why on earth would you short change yourself by having poorly made or outdated cards to hand out? Give yourself the added confidence when representing your business by making sure that you don’t commit any business card design
[keep reading »]
faux pas.

1. you’re at the end of a stack and you’ve changed your phone number or address… so you cross out the old information and write over the top. (see bottom left)… no no no…. bad idea. I know it’s quick and simple for you… but later, this comes across as sloppy, unprepared and unprofessional. If something changes, so should your card. Period.

2. Overfilling your card(see top left)… ok yea, name, address, phone, website, email address… those are certainly important. But stick with ONE logo and make sure you don’t overfill your card with either information or graphics that are unnecessary. The point of a card is to give information in a clear, clean, short but sweet message.

3. Colors (see top right) – colors are great, but be careful. Not only will you up the printing costs, but if you clash as well as these guys, you’re not doing yourself or your profits any favors. Stick to two, maybe 3 colors when printing… unless you include a well thought out photo (do not stretch, do not pixelate). Also keep in mind that by adding color, you’re giving your card a better chance at being noticed.

4. Cost – going for the cheapest you can find. Yea when you’re starting a business, you try to keep costs down. But this is something you’re giving to a client. It is a direct extension of who you are and what you’re business can do for them. If you give out a flimsy card with a poor design, what are you saying about your business? Paper quality, gloss, even specialty cuts are the added things that will cost money, but are definitely worth it. They help your card stick out among the others.

A business card is your business’s identity… if it’s bland, boring, or poorly designed you end up losing the appeal and therefore losing a sale. A business has a personality, a feel to it, and your identity should reflect that.

Now does that mean to go and make the snazziest best design EVER?!  no – not exactly – you can certainly overdo it.  And an overly designed card can backfire just as bad as a poorly designed one.  Keep your audience in mind – what will attract THEM?

Being interviewed by students…

20 Jan

So last year I got a call from the Seattle Art Institute asking if I’d be willing to allow 8-10 students to come and “interview” me for a large assignment they had.  They had to find 3 professional designers and interview them about what it’s like in the real world.  We met up at a diner and had breakfast food and I gave them the low down and dirty on the industry, what to expect, some of the challenges we face as creatives etc etc.  I also got the pleasure of seeing these student’s portfolios and it was an all around 3 hours of absolute bliss.

Well – this year they contacted me again and said that they wanted me to do it again.  Well it’s happening today – only this year rather than meeting at a diner, i’m letting them come down to the agency’s studio.  I’ve lined up one of our best HR recruiters whos’ going to talk to them about what they need (from her perspective) to land a job after they graduate, she’s going to go through their resumes, then we’re going to get to their questions and interview, then have a little lunch and then i’ll go through their portfolios.

I’m really looking forward to it this year, as last year it gave me such a motivational boost for many months following.  To get to see these kids who are so fresh, they haven’t been burned by clients, they haven’t been tapped , they’re still so innocent, it was absolutely refreshing; and a lot of fun to get to see fresh talent.

I’ve got work to do before they get here, so I better cut this short.  Hope you all have a fantastic Friday!

Jen

How to establish Business Credit

5 Jan
How to Establish Business Credit

How to Establish Business Credit

Establishing Business Credit

Establishing business credit is tough, especially for a new business. But remember: It CAN be done, and it’s easier than you think. Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to an excellent credit profile.

Here is what I have learned:

~Set up a Corp business. Smart to protect yourself and the only type of business that allows you to keep your business credit and personal credit seperate. LLCs and Sole are okay for contract work or property investment, but you still should get a Corp to manage them.

~Once you get your EIN, through registrastion, set up your business phone. You will need to make sure it is at an address not the same as your home (because it is not looked upon favorably by the lending world) and the phone will need to be registered in the 411 directory. Quite a few have had success with calling the local phone company and getting a call forwarding number. It is a business number that automatically forwards to any desired phone. Make sure it will list with 411 before signing up however.

~After receiving your first phone bill, go to http://www.staples.com and fax in copy of application along with copy of phone bill to apply for business credit. Use professional letterhead for coversheet. You should receive the standard $750 credit line with no personal guarentee (herein referred to as “PG”).

~Also during this time go to http://www.dnb.com and register your business to receive a D&B number. It will take 30-40 days to receive it in the mail. If you want to establish business credit sooner, you can pay for the credit builder ($399), but it’s not required. After you have at least 5 business accounts reporting, you’ll receive a paydex rating (similiar to FICO for personal credit).

*REMEMBER – a paydex score will only take into account your payment history. Unlike personal credit, this is counted in days. For example, if you pay your invoices 14 days late, it will be reported as such. If you pay your account off before the statement or invoice comes, it will be reported as such. The bottom line: Pay your invoices on time, and you will get a better paydex score.

~Set up the following business accounts, and make at least one purchase, you want to pay this off BEFORE the first statement hits:

*1. UPS – http://www.ups.com

2. FedEx CONTACT Revenue Services Department 1-800-622-1147 press 4 then 1

3. Barnes & Noble CONTACT Purchase order department 1-212-414-6000

4. Quill Corporation 100 So Schelter Lincolnshire, IL 60069 CONTACT Credit Department 1-8…

*5. Viking 8200 East 32nd St No. Wichitas, KS 67226 CONTACT Credit Department 1-8…

6. Rapid Forms 301 Grove Rd Thorofare, NJ 08086 CONTACT Billing Departement 1-80…

*7. Nebs – http://www.nebs.com

*11. Office Depot http://www.officedepot.com Apply online

(*- Really easy to get)

~Need a cell phone? Once you have a EIN and D&B# apply for a business account. Usually T-Mobile is the easiest to get credit with, but I’ve heard that Sprint, cingular, and Verizon are easy to get as well. Nextel? Good phone, but you have to jump through a lot of hoops, and you usually have to put down a deposit.

~If you have at least 30-45 days to use, the following companies automatically report to D&B creating your business file:

-FedEx

-UPS

-Staples

-Viking

-Nebs

-Office Depot

~Once you have a paydex score of 75+, you can apply for Lines of Credit (herein referred to as “LOC”) or business Credit Cards without any sort of PG. The cards/accounts desired are:

Enterprise Rent a Car (Corp. Rental) http://www.enterprise.com

Wells Fargo Bank (Visa/Mastercard) http://www.wellsfargo.com

Bank of America (Visa) http://www.bankofamerica.com

American Express (Green/Gold) http://www.americanexpress.com

Chevron http://www.chevron.com

Mobil http://www.mobil.com

MBNA Bank http://www.mbna.com

Wells Fargo (Line of Credit) http://www.wellsfargo.com

Bank of America (Line of Credit) http://www.bankofamerica.com

Union Bank (Line of Credit) http://www.unionbank.com

Cal Fed http://www.calfed.com

United California Bank http://www.unitedcalbank.com

Most companies will not ask to see financials for loans of 50k or less.

I hope this helps, and I wish the best of luck to you in your pursuit of credit

Best Buy – Status; 1-800-811-7276
Borders (734) 477-1039 – Fax Application (877) 254-9229 – Status Update
BP/Amoco Status Update (800)365-6204
Chevron/Texaco Business Card Status Update (888) 243-8358
Citgo Fleet; (734) 477-1039 – Fax Application (877) 254-9229 – Status Update
Citi AA: 888-662-7759
Citibank Status:800-645-7240, 800-288-4653, 800-750-7453
Conoco – Status Line, automated 1-866-289-5622
Experian Business:888-211-0728
ExxonMobil Business Card(800) 903-9966
HD Commercial800-685-6691
HDMC Sondee 877-969-9030.
Home Depot MC:877-969-9039 (Sondee/Sedonia?)
Key Bank:800-254-2737
Lowes – Status; 1-800-445-6937
Lowes – Underwriter;1-866-232-7443
Lowes Fraud/UW: 800-444-1408
MBNA – 1-800-673-1044
Meijers MC (801) 517-5560
Office Depot – Staus Line, automated 1-800-767-1358
Office Depot;800-767-1358, 800-729-7744 automated line to check status.
Office Max – Status Line, atomated 1-800-283-7674
OFFICEMAX STATUS: (800) 283-7674
Philips 66: 866-289-5630, 800-610-1961
Phillips 801-779-7369
Radio Shack;1-800-442-7221
Sam’s UW:800-301-5546, 866-246-4282
Sears – Status; 1-800-599-9710
Shell Fleet Card Status Update(800) 223-3296
Shell: 800-223-3296, 866-438-7435
Shell; 800-377-5150
Staples – Status Line, automated 1-800-767-1275
Staples: 800-767-1291, 800-282-5316
Sunoco Corporate Card(800) 935-3387,(800) 278-6626
Sunoco: 800-310-4773
Target: 800-440-5317
Tiffany:800-770-0800
VALERO (800)324-8464 ACCOUNT STATUS
Valero;1-877-882-5376
Walmart;800-301-5546, underwriting 877-294-7548
Wright Express; 888-743-3893

These links will take you to the application page, or a page that has the application link on it.
• Amazon.com – http://www.amazon.com
• Best Buy – http://www.bestbuy.comhttp://www.bestbuybusiness.com
• Citgo Fleet – http://www.citgo.com
• Conoco / Phillips 66 / 76 – http://www.conoco.com
• Dell Computers – http://www.dell.com
• FedEx / Kinkos – http://www.fedexkinkos.com
• Home Depot – http://www.homedepot.com
• HD Expo – http://www.expo.com
• Home Depot Master Card – http://www.homedepot.com
• Lowes Commercial – http://www.lowes.com
• Nebs.com – http://www.nebs.com
• Office Depot – http://www.officedepot.com
• Office Max – http://www.officemax.com
• Quill.com – http://www.quill.com
• Rapid Fuel – http://www.rapidfuel.com
• Shell Fleet – http://www.shell.com
• Staples – http://www.staples.com
• Sunoco Corporate – http://www.sunoco.com
• TechDepot – http://www.tectdepot.com
• TigerDirect – http://www.tigerdirect.com
• Uline – http://www.uline.com
• Wright Express – http://www.wrightexpress.com