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Well – I got it…

30 Aug

Now I’m just waiting for the actual offer to come through.  Guess I didn’t bomb the interview like I thought I did.  Mind you – there were 7 interviews plus a group portfolio review, so maybe, even though I forgot to say those things (look at previous post), it still must have shined through.  Now fingers crossed that the offer comes swiftly and is a good one.  🙂

So what have you all been up to lately?  Any cool projects you’re working on (either professionally or on the side)?

I had a neat opportunity yesterday to be a guest speaker/guest teacher for a design college here in Seattle.  Had a blast, as I typically do when I get the opportunity to work with students.  But it led me to think about a few things.  Continue reading

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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?

An amazing day…

26 Aug

So I’ve been carrying that torch for a week now.  Yep, been boss officially for a week.  Weird.  I don’t like the word boss but whatever.  It’s been an odd, stressful, wonderful week (so far), I know there is still one day left.

Today one of my contractors had a satisfied look on his face and I asked him how things were going.  He said “Great!” and then proceeded to tell me that the team felt different, but in a good way.  Our boss was a fantastic boss, and although we miss him and his friendship, he said the team was hunkering down and making serious progress.  That things were more organized, and we were working better as a team.  We’ve been scheduling in brainstorming sessions and taking some time to prepare as a team (when possible) for reviews.  Later, another team mate spoke up and shared similar sentiments.  And it’s true.  We’re creating some shared systems to help make our team more efficient and collaborating more.  It’s a really good feeling.

To be honest, I was a little nervous about all of this.  I knew I could do the work, and I’ve been in management roles before.  This one is/was different.  It’s one I truly care about, one I really want.  Being a manager on this team, this size of a team, on project that’s challenging and inspiring and fun.  But I find myself, a week in, finding a comfort I didn’t think I’d find.  As if the role was perfect for me all along.  Oh sure, there’s things I’m still trying to figure out – the hiring computer system is odd, and I have yet to figure out who to talk to about getting one of my contractor’s a laptop… but these things are small things that i’ll figure out and all will continue to be well.

Have you ever felt that way?  Been given the opportunity to truly challenge yourself and step up to a new role and be both terrified and excited all at the same time?  Did it turn out the way you’d hoped in the end?

Next week is sure to be an interesting one.  Lots of design work to do.  Some new UI and UX design to consider.  Things to plan and things to learn.  I might even get to work with a little typography if i’m lucky.  I hired a new guy and he starts on Monday.  So there will sure to be a lot of password issues, computer set ups and the like.  But he’s got a lot of skill, and his personality was a treat in his interview.  He even giggled! 😀  So I’m sure the rest of us will enjoy getting to know him and getting him up to speed.

Well, I’m done for the night, I hope all of you out there will enjoy your night!

The passing of the torch… sorta

19 Aug

Today is going to be a very busy, very interesting day.  It’s 7am and I’m here sitting in my office looking over my calendar for the day.  It’s bursting at the seams.  I have 7 meetings today.  And although I’m sure they’ll be very interesting, they are not the reason my day will be so interesting.  Today, I will lose 2 of my coworkers.  These 2 people have been my friends and mentors.  They are still going to be at the company, but they are moving to a different department to work on a different set of projects and will be on the other side of campus.  One of those coworkers happens to also be my boss.  Although him and I don’t have a boss/employee relationship.  I wracked my brains to figure out what I could possibly give him to remember me by.  I ended up buying him a gift set of 3 of his favorite whiskeys.  I’m sure I looked like quite the Lush walking into work this morning.  How funny that is, as it’s so far from the truth.  I’m sad to see these two go.  They have given me guidance and advice, they’ve allowed me to come in and shut the door to vent about anything, they’ve given me the ability to laugh at my mistakes and they’ve pushed me to think differently or take a product to a whole new level.  They’ve trusted me when I didn’t even trust myself.  To Jason and Keri – I wish you the very best of luck at your new jobs.  You will be missed!

Come monday morning, I will be taking over my bosses place and be the leader of my team.  Part of me is very excited to be given the opportunity to step up the ladder a bit further, but there is also a part of me that is nervous.  I know I’m damn good at my job.  Graphic Design and UX Design is a passion.  That’s never been much of a worry for me, but leading people is a whole new ball of wax.  Not to mention, now I not only have to continue to do my job, but I also get to do his.  I’ve done management before, and found I was good at it.  I just hope I can still say that in a few weeks when I’m in the full swing of things.

So as I start a new journey into the world of management, I thought i’d share it with you all.  🙂

Happy Friday!!

Jen

 

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

How does a whole month slip by so fast?

29 Apr

Been busy this month.  I’ve completed a new booth design for the company I work for full time now.  Along with a complete set of new collateral and brochures.  I’ve done some work with HR to “decorate” the offices a bit more than your typical standard office posters and artwork.  Going to have to grab the camera and take some pictures when it’s all done.  I’ve built about 6 microsites and designed about 12 others that haven’t launched yet for some pretty big name clients which is always a bit of an honor.  Still waiting for the new machine at work – hoping end of the week that I’ll get it from the IT guys.  Also currently studying up on some new techniques for building some really complex flash demos.  It’s exciting work actually – ground breaking in that I’m trying to do something a bit different than your standard demo.

On a personal note – i also managed to get a bit further in a comic i’m working on – 🙂 which in my book is ALWAYS a good thing.  Progress!

Things i’ve learned in the last month:  Corporations never really change.  Why I thought 5 years would improve things is beyond me.  But at least i know i’m strong enough to handle that world.  If only I could get through to these people that I’m not a button pusher, i’m an artist with valuable marketing and business experience and valid ideas. 🙂  They’re slowly coming around, so we’ll see.

Oh.. and I’m expecting my second child.  🙂  I’ve also learned that i’m not one of those women who enjoy being pregnant.  Instead of that beautiful rosy glow that some pregnant women get – i’ve discovered my glow is mostly pea green.  We’re due on November 20th and the hubby is just beside himself he’s so giddy.  It’s quite funny.

Well must get back to work.  But wanted to check in with everyone and see how life was going.

Talk to you all later!

-Jen

http://www.jwdesigncenter.com

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