The first copies of The Ad-Free Brand showed up at the house on Friday afternoon. So I guess that means, after nine months of work, it is finally out. Awesome.
This book is the work of many people. It is filled with the helpful edits and brilliant suggestions of Jonathan Opp, Rebecca Fernandez, and Rick Kughen, plus the insightful contributions of Kevin Keller, Greg DeKoenigsberg, Paul Frields, and many others. It is a product of the patience and support of my wonderful girlfriend Maggie and my New Kind friends David Burney, Matt Muñoz, Tom Rabon, and Elizabeth Hipps.
There are so many people who’ve helped me out over the past year, and I owe all of them a debt of gratitude.
I thought I’d share the acknowledgments from the back of the book here in the hopes of introducing you to the work of a few of the people who helped me make this book a reality. Please take a few minutes to click through the links and get to know some of these great folks and the very cool projects they are working on. I can only hope you learn as much from them as I have.
One day last September, I received an interesting email out of the blue from someone named Lisa who had stumbled across a blog post of mine. She asked me whether I had ever lived in Indiana as a child. I was born in West Lafayette, Indiana.
As it turns out, Lisa was my neighbor and childhood best friend. I moved to Kansas City, Missouri at age 5 and had lost touch with her until I received this email, almost 35 years later.
As Lisa and I caught up, we learned we each had book publishing in the blood. Lisa is a Senior Publicist at Pearson in Indianapolis. I spent the first five years of my career as a literary agent and editor. In one email to her, I mentioned that I had been thinking of going back to my publishing roots and actually writing a book of my own. Lisa introduced me to Rick Kuhgen, an Executive Editor at Pearson. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was writing.
So I’d like to thank my childhood friend and current publicist, Lisa Jacobsen-Brown, without whom this book would probably still be something I was thinking about doing… eventually. I’d also to thank Rick Kuhgen, a true writer’s editor—responsive, thoughtful, and with a hint of poetry to his own words.
I’ve benefitted from the wisdom and friendship of many wonderful people along the journey.
Thanks first to Maggie, my source of energy. This book would have never been possible without you.
Thanks to my mother and father, who I hope see parts of themselves in me and in this book.
Thanks to my sister, Erika, who has been a great friend and confidant ever since she quit telling on me.
To Matthew Szulik, my mentor and friend, for letting the best ideas win. To Jonathan Opp for helping me find a voice. To David Burney, for opening my eyes and making me a designer. To Matt Muñoz, for always bringing optimism and passion.
To Jeff Mackanic, for your friendship and for quietly, consistently making everything happen. To Rebecca Fernandez, for bringing value before words. To DeLisa Alexander, for your faith and friendship.
To all of my friends from the Red Hat nation, past and present, around the world. Special thanks to the Red Hat Brand Communications + Design team, a group of the most talented folks I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside.
To Kevin Keller, for your wise advice, guidance, and contributions.
To the rest of the Pearson team, especially Seth Kerney, Megan Wade, and Bill Camarda, for all of your hard work bringing this book to life.
And finally, thanks to my other friends who don’t give a crap about brands, ad-free or not. You know who you are, and I appreciate everything you do.
Since I’ve recently been on one of my Tom Sawyer rants again about the lack of humility I see in many community efforts, I thought I’d share a story that might help you visualize the role your organization could play in the communities it belongs to.
A few months ago, two of my business partners, David Burney and Matt Muñoz, were sitting in a meeting with a client of ours (The Redwoods Group, a very cool B Corporation), discussing the unique relationship that organization has with its customers, employees, and other communities. The conversation turned to the ideas of service and humility, which are so often ignored by big organizations attempting to engage with communities.
All of the sudden, Kevin Trapani, CEO of The Redwoods Group, encapsulated the entire conversation in a few short words:
“We should be of it, not above it,” he said.
So many organizations, intentionally or not, approach things as if they are above a community. Sometimes this means taking the Tom Sawyer approach of using community strategies to get others to paint your fence for free. Sometimes this means creating a new community with your organization at the center rather than joining an existing community effort. Sometimes it simply means a lack of humility or selflessness shines through in the organization’s community interactions.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about Apple and open innovation. The discussion in the comments about Apple’s success, despite their non-openness, was pretty interesting. Greg DeKoenigsberg started things off with this salvo:
“No community could build something as gorgeous as the iPhone; it requires the singular vision of a beautiful fascist, and the resources of a gigantic company, and a world full of users who would happily trade simplicity and certainty for the ability to tinker.”
I think few people would argue that one of Apple’s greatest strengths is their amazingly consistent, and consistently beautiful, design work. And when I say design, I mean both “little d design” (their stuff looks awesome) and “big D Design” (their systems, processes, and experiences are expertly rendered).
From a design perspective, Apple has figured out how to make lightning strike in the same place over and over again.
Today, I want to ask a question that I’ve been thinking about for a long time:
Can truly great design be done the open source way?
Meaning, can a group of people designing collaboratively, out in the open, ever do the kind of consistently beautiful design work that Apple does? Or is Greg right, that “no community could build something as gorgeous as the iPhone”?
Both of my partners at New Kind, David Burney and Matt Muñoz, are designers by background. Both of them have significant open source experience (David spent almost 5 years as the VP of Communications at Red Hat, Matt worked on many Red Hat projects, including designing the Fedora logo), so the three of us have talked about this subject many times before.
[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]
Well folks, there are gonna be some changes around here in 2010. So let me cut to the chase.
After 10 1/2 years, I’m leaving my full-time position with the greatest open source company in the world later this month.
This was no easy call. Red Hat has been a fantastic ride. I’ll spare you the trip down memory lane, but Red Hat has been the defining job of my career.
I certainly wouldn’t leave Red Hat to join another big company. In fact, thanks to DeLisa Alexander, my wonderful boss, and Jeff Mackanic, my long-time partner in running the Brand Communications + Design group, I’m going to continue to work with Red Hat– just in a different capacity. More on this later.
I’ve always wanted to start my own company, see how entrepreneurship fits, and have never had a good opportunity before. In 2010 I believe we are entering one of the most exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs in decades. I aim to give it a go.
As folks who’ve been reading Dark Matter Matters know, I have a deep interest in seeing how the lessons of open source might be applied to companies outside of the technology industry. I’m excited about taking some of the principles we’ve used to build brand, culture, and community the open source way at Red Hat and finding other companies who could use them too.
To that end, the news that won’t be a surprise to folks who know me well: I’ve decided to join up with two of my best friends, David Burney and Matt Munoz, who have spent the last year building a new kind of communications firm– New Kind.
David and I have worked together for almost 10 years, first when he owned Burney Design and was Red Hat’s creative agency partner, then as my boss at Red Hat for 4+ years. And, of course, he and I still play together in our band The Swingin’ Johnsons.
Matt and I first met while he was working on the Red Hat account at CapStrat. He was an early architect of the modern Red Hat brand identity, leading projects like the Red Hat brand book and the Fedora logo design.
As for New Kind, we have a lot of ideas.
So rather than stretching this post too long, I’ll promise to continue to share my ideas here at Dark Matter Matters if you promise to continue to read.
Thanks to my amazing Red Hat family, especially my brothers and sisters in the Brand Communications + Design team, for 10 great years. The hardest part of this decision was knowing I would no longer be sitting beside you five days a week.
Happy new year, and thanks to each of you for making the first year of Dark Matter Matters a special one.
A New Kind awaits!
My good friend, former boss, and Swingin’ Johnsons bandmate, David Burney, has revealed his new venture, a company called New Kind. He’s partnering with Matt Munoz, an extremely talented designer who created the original Fedora logo (an interesting open, collaborative process to be discussed in another blog) among other things.
Both David and Matt come from graphic design backgrounds, but their firm intends to explore the role of design in business from a “new kind” of perspective. According to their website:
New Kind helps organizations solve complex problems and build competitive brands. We do so by combining the problem-solving principles of design thinking with the collaborative power of open source. We help our clients create authentic customer communities, build and nurture innovative cultures and tell meaningful, memorable stories through the most relevant media choices.