A Day In The Life Of Our CEO
The gang over at Buzz-Beast just launched a new series entitled “The Way I Work” featuring behind the scenes access to some of the industry’s most successful individuals. To kick it all of, they sat down with OneMethod’s President and Chief Creative Officer Amin Todai. See below for the entire article documenting a day in Amin’s life but also check out the original article over at Buzz-Beast or learn more about this history of Amin in his five part biography.
Amin Todai: The Way I Work
I wish I was a morning person. I can vividly remember the three times I voluntarily got into the office before 8:00 am and every time I thought to myself that this is what I need to be doing on a regular basis. I got so much work done before anyone else showed up, that I was able to jump into the day with two or three major things crossed off my to-do list. Unfortunately, because I tend to get a lot of things done in the evenings, those peaceful mornings are few and far between and my dreams of morning productivity are usually interrupted by my annoying alarm clock hours after all the go getters began going and getting.
And so, the reality is, after hitting that snooze button for the last time, I usually drag myself out of bed around 8:30. Dragging in this case means rolling over, grabbing my phone and jumping on Twitter to see what I’ve missed in the digital/design world over the last few hours. After some quick inspiration from the likes of @cityofskies, @designerdepot, and of course, @buzz_beast, I throw myself together, run out the door and begin my 6 minute (traffic pending) commute to make it to the office at 9:15 for our all-hands Stand-Up Meeting.
It’s called the Stand-Up Meeting, because everyone gathers around our project board as we quickly go over what needs to get done that day and call out any roadblocks. I usually just take a back-seat and listen as our Account Team works things out with our Creative Team in usually about 15 minutes or less; there are only twenty of us on a good day, so it’s really not that hectic, although it’s often quite amusing. When the dust from the dry-erase board settles and the meeting is adjourned, the day, and sometimes the madness, begins. And for the record, I’m still not entirely sure if the madness happens too often or not often enough. Today’s meeting was fairly standard, only a few red flags got raised in relation to a Nokia campaign that we are launching in China. They’re really moving in an interesting direction and we want our creative to incorporate that excitement and still translate to the other side of the world.
From that point on, I’m usually torn between working with the Account Team in the planning stages of current, upcoming and hopeful projects and working closely with the Creative Team to craft everything we produce ensuring the high standards we hold ourselves to. Creatively, we try to always take things to a new level. We hate cookie-cutter work to the point where gingerbread cookies are banned from our office. And while that’s not entirely (or at all) true, we do actually try to shy away from stale projects to be perfectly honest — sometimes politely turning down the odd job or out pricing ourselves from the get go. In the end, if I can’t picture other people getting exciting about the work, then it’s virtually impossible for me to.
On the client side of things, I try to always put myself in their CEO’s seat. Sure, we both need and love to be creative, but ultimately, whatever we do needs to translate into real results, which in most cases means selling more products, gaining more awareness, building stronger customer relationships or all of the above. Putting yourself in the ‘big man’s’ shoes is a pretty powerful and enlightening position to be in — what would you do if this was your business, your livelihood? It’s definitely eye opening.
Then of course, there’s the bullshit of running a business that tends to drag me as far away from my creative roots as possible. This includes meetings with bankers, dealing with over-priced lawyers, managing cash-flow, HR meetings, landlords, financial planners, etc., etc… This is my Kryptonite, but an unfortunate reality for most entrepreneurs.
Mixed-in throughout the day, there’re a lot of emails that I need to sift through, plus I try to get back on Twitter here and there to get caught up on some industry news, technology reviews or for more inspiration from the design community. Rescheduled phone calls seem to accumulate towards the end of the day as well. This afternoon, after multiple reschedules (both parties at fault), I finally got on the phone with Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors All-Star) and his manager to talk through details on the documentary we’re producing with him. Naturally, that call bumped an internal meeting we had to tomorrow morning, and so the cycle continues.
By the time 5/6:00 rolls around, you’ll probably catch a few of us shooting some hoops (yeah, we have a basketball court in the office, that we’ve made an agreement with some of our stodgy neighbors in the building that we’d hold off till after 5:00… probably so that we don’t wake up their army of mindless drones that sleep walk through the vast cubicle farm that they’ve worked so hard to build). Wow, things got a little heated in that last bracketed rant. I guess I just hate everything about the traditional office space, except the movie Office Space.
After that break, I’m usually back at my desk trying to clear out as much of my inbox as possible before I head out for the night. Today I got some praise and some heat from our clients at TargetVacations.ca and Lou Dawg’s Southern Sandwiches, but I won’t say which one said what.
Once I leave the office, usually two or three nights a week, I’ll have dinner meetings with various clients, peers or other industry-type folks where I gotta turn my “networking” switch on. Man do I hate schmoozing, but it’s pretty much unavoidable as a business owner. Luckily, most of these folks have become my friends over the years, so that makes my outings a whole lot easier. Although, in retrospect, maybe it’s less about luck and more about the fact that good people do good business and that those are the people I want to collaborate with.
On calmer nights, like tonight, I’ll typically head home to do a little cooking — I’m not a masterful chef by any stretch, but I do love the creative outlet. Then I unwind with a bit of whatever mindless bullshit’s on TV; it’s always good to turn the brain off for a little bit each day. At about 9ish, I’ll usually grab my notebook and sit down by the fireplace to do any thinking related work — stuff I usually can’t get to during the day at the office because I get pulled in too many different directions to actually sit down and just concentrate on any one thing. And yes that last statement was 50% self pity, 50% excuse and 50% boast.
Big picture wise, I don’t really have some big five year business plan, I tend to live in the moment — week-to-week is what I’m typically occupied with, possibly month-to-month depending on when you talk to me. And while I do have big aspirations, I’m not trying to make a billion dollars or anything like that. My main objective in business is to work on stuff I like, with people I dig, on things that I think are cool — and oh yeah, I want to do all that in a place that feels like home. I understand that this philosophy is at times counter intuitive to the norms of our capitalist society — I’m actually ok with breaking even (financially) as long as we’re meeting my personal objectives that I want for the business. But hey, making money is always good too. I guess at the end of the day, literally and figuratively, I’m trying to ensure that when I drag myself out of bed in a few hours, it feels like dragging because I love my rest, not because I hate my work.