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Month: May 2021

Crippled CEO Blog #085: How to Logo Like a Genius

Crippled CEO Blog #085:

Way back in Crippled CEO Blog #08, I said that your name and logo don’t matter. And with the exception of possibly a lifestyle brand, where the logo and brand aesthetic are the actual product being offered, I continue to stand by that.

What I did say, though, is that even though the content of the logo does not matter, the one thing that actually IS important is that it is done well. The concept is unimportant. It just needs to be executed professionally so as to convey that you are a legitimate company that knows what it is doing. 

In this blog post, I’m going to walk you through exactly how to get that done. This is exactly how I created the current logos for Life Saver Pool Fence, Child Safety Store, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, and a gang of others. 

The key to this process is 99designs. 

99designs lets you host a contest that designers around the world will participate in. You determine how much the prize will be (more on that in a bit), and they get to work sending you dozens and dozens of ideas that you get to comment on, refine, and see improved. 

It’s great. 

For roughly the cost of a professional designer, or maybe even less, depending on who you use, you get an army of design brains working for you. The problem with hiring just one designer is that they are only going to send you a few ideas, and they are only going to be able to revise those ideas so many times. And often, even if they are talented, a sometimes particular designer just can’t give you that thing that you’re looking for. Logos are like faces. It’s hard to describe which ones you’ll like. You just know a pretty one when you see it. 

Not only do you get a ton of different ideas, because there are so many people working on it,  but the speed at which they iterate and evolve is crazy. I’m currently using 99designs to help the brilliant and callipygous Talynz Lockwood* (more about her at the end) create the logo for her new brand, and in less than two days, she has just over 100 designs submitted — and they’re starting to look really good. 

So, step 1 is to go to 99designs and create an account and what not. 

Find and click all of the things that lead to you creating a new logo contest.

Now, this moves at a rapid pace, so only start this contest at a time when you know are you going to be able to check it, review submissions, rate them, and occasionally provide feedback several times a day, every day, for about a week. If you work Monday through Friday, consider starting it on a Sunday, so that you can start checking the submissions on Monday.

When you start the contest, you are going to be asked for some information on what you want. You are going to pick some examples of the kind of thing you’re looking for, and there’s also a bunch of sliders. Do your best on this, but don’t stress too heavily. The direction and feedback you give during the contest will be a lot more important.

Do keep in mind, though, that the designers are trying really hard to please you, and they listen very well. If you say that you like the color green, all of the logos are going to be very green.

Probably the most important part of this is the section where you type a description of what you’re looking for. Try your best to give as much information as you can. If you have a specific idea, give it to them. Don’t just keep it to yourself and see if somebody comes up with it. They won’t. Also, keep the language clear and simple. Most of the designers do not speak English as their first language. Avoid euphemisms or expressions. Use language that will probably work in a Google translate.

During this process, there are a couple important options I recommend selecting. For one, guarantee the contest. I promise that you are going to get a logo that you’re happy with. More designers will throw their hat in the ring if they know that somebody is definitely going to win. Since you’re going to pay anyways, you might as well say that you will.

Also, DO NOT make the contest blind. One of the best parts about this is that the designers get to see each other’s designs and your feedback. They copy off of each other. You want this. This environment creates this sort of hive mind effect where they all learn what you want and improve together, feeding off of each other’s ideas.

You’re also going to select a prize amount here. If you can afford it, the gold package for $899 is still less than many pro designers, and you’re going to get a ton of excellent work. If that is too steep for you, you’ll still be just fine for any of the packages over $300. 

Once the contest gets going, you’re going to start receiving submissions. The first batch are going to be bad. This is an important thing to realize, because it’s easy to get discouraged. There is a steep hockey stick type curve to the quality. Rate all of the ones you dislike with 1 star. Give the ones you like better two or three stars and comment on those letting them know what you liked. If you’re seeing a trend or everybody is in the totally wrong direction, go to messages and send a message to everyone with more instructions and feedback.

Some of the logo designs are going to be over a background of some kind, either to show what it will look like out in the wild or just to make it stand out. Try to ignore those backgrounds. The background isn’t part of the logo.

Pretty soon, you will start to see a few designs that are closer to what you want. Rate those higher. Give feedback. The other designers will use that information to improve as well. This process will create a positive feedback loop and the designs will start getting really good really fast. 

After a few days, you’ll have to pick your six favorite designers. Chances are, there are a few different categories of designs. I try to pick the best one from each style, and then have them refine. 

After you pick your six finalists, you will continue to give critiques and get new designs. At this point, start asking to see the design in both full color and single color. You want both and you’ll be asking for both from the winner. 

Eventually, the time will run out, and you will have to make your selection. 99designs lets you make a poll that you can post on social media or send to your friends. I found this to be really helpful. 

Once you pick your winner, you’ll still be able to fine-tune and tweak the design a little bit before giving your final approval. Make sure that you receive the logo in all of the image formats — JPG, PDF, PNG, PSD, EPS, and AI — in high resolution in both full color and single color (black and white). If your logo includes an image that can be either beside or above your logo, have the designer send it to you both ways.

Once you have everything you need, click the confirmation on the website and release your money. Congratulations! You have a new logo. And it is professionally done and well executed, the only aspect of it that really matters. 

Now get back to work doing something that actually improves your business.

Talynz Lockwood creates custom, one of a kind, high end nail art using state of the art techniques and cutting edge technology. If you want nails that are better and different than everyone else, that will get you compliments and start conversations, she is your person. She also teaches fitness classes including barre Pilates and a widely acclaimed twerk class — a fun way to add callipygian to your list of attributes. You can contact her about any and all of those things here:

(You know who also lets dozens of people work on her at the same time? Your mom. I’m just happy to be one of them. Your mom also loves getting a text from me every Sunday with a link to the latest blog. You can get this as well by sending a message to 484848 with the word CRIP as the message.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #084: I Said I Would

Crippled CEO Blog #084:

“I said I would, so I did.”

I sent this as a text to my hair slicer after paying her to do a quick clean-up to my friend’s neck. She said I didn’t have to do that. She was happy to do it for free. 

But I said I would, so I did. 

And when I looked at the message, I realized that sentence could be a philosophy for living a life. 

How often do we say that we’re going to do things, but then never do?

For ourselves. For others.

How often do promises and good intentions just fall to the wayside and get forgotten and lost?

I think it happens pretty often.

I know that it can be a problem for me. I used to be worse. Now, if I tell someone I’m going to do something, you can pretty much guarantee I’m going to get it done. But I’m still pretty bad at doing the things I tell myself that I will do, the things I want to do for me.

It can be easy to justify. You can rationalize that the person you promised a thing to won’t mind, or that they can wait a little longer. If that’s not true, and you’re lucky, they will tell you. If you are fortunate, your friend will reach out to you and inform you that this promise meant a lot to them, and maybe give you a second chance. If you’re not lucky, you will never know how badly you disappointed them or affected them. You won’t know that they don’t trust you anymore.

And you can try and rationalize the things you were supposed to do for yourself, as well. Maybe it wasn’t a great idea. Or maybe you’ll get to it eventually.

But how different would your life be if you just did all the things you said you would? How less overwhelmed would you feel, if you stopped and considered, really carefully, before you offered your help to somebody, or said yes to a request?

How different would your reputation be if people knew that they could trust your word in the same way they trust the Sun rising every morning? What new opportunities might open up for you?

I said I would, so I did.

This can be you. If you are careful with your word, and then a zealot about keeping it, this can be a thing that you can tell people.

And you might be surprised the impact it has on your life.

(I can’t even type out the promises that your mom keeps to me. Phew. One promise that I try to keep is sending out a text message every Sunday with a link to the latest blog. You can get this link, also, if you send a message with the word CRIP to the number 484848. I think you’ll be glad that you did.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #083: Fake It ‘Til You Make It?

Crippled CEO Blog #083:

Fake it ‘til you make it. 

I think we have all heard this phrase before.

The idea is to present yourself as successful until you actually are successful. In business, this often means portraying your company as larger than it is in order to garner trust or respect.

I think this is a bad idea.

For starters, I think deception in general is a pretty bad idea, but even that aside, I think there is a pragmatic reason to avoid this tactic. 

If you “fake it ‘til you make it,” if you pretend to be further along than you actually are, then you rob people of the opportunity to be invested in your journey. One of the best ways to get people excited about what you’re doing is to let them see you when you started, and allow them to follow along as you go. People love rooting for an underdog. People love seeing someone work hard, then be successful. This kind of investment creates loyal evangelists for your business, cause, or brand. 

Also, if you’re honest about where you are in your journey, and you are sharing that story, people will be more understanding when you have a difficulty, or even if you let them down. They know what you’re going through. And, if you’re honest, you get to ask for help when you need it — something you can’t do if you’re pretending that you’ve already made it. Not only do you get to ask for help, but you give the people invested in you the opportunity to help you of their own volition when they see something that they can do. The already successful aren’t going to get this kind of assistance. 

It is tempting to present yourself to the world as already thriving and on top, but just as your mother used to say, honesty really is the best policy, and in this case, it’s also the smartest thing to do.

(You know who never has to fake it? Your mom. She also gets a text from me every Sunday with a link to the latest blog because she sent a text message to the number 484848 with the word CRIP as the message. You could do that, too, you know.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #082: My Mom is Dead / Happy Mother’s Day

Crippled CEO Blog #082:

Happy Mother’s Day, y’all. 

My mom is dead. 

As a person with a dead mom, I have some insight that I think it might be useful for you folks out here with moms who are all alive and what not.

Moms are people. And in general, I don’t think we put enough thought or importance into the massive impact the people we allow into our lives have on us, and act on that accordingly. 

So, if your mom happens to be a legitimately awful human who, overall, harms your life, you should remove her. Even though she is your mom. As a child, you didn’t have much choice but to endure her, and you’re going to live with the damage that caused. But you don’t need to feel obligated to keep her in your circle just because she is your mom. You’re not doing anybody any favors. If she sucks, get rid of her. 

Most moms don’t suck, however. Most moms range from pretty decent to totally awesome. Mine was actually totally awesome. I lucked out big time.

If your mom falls in the pretty decent range — if she isn’t harming your life, but she’s not the best — here’s my advice, as a person with a dead mom: Try really hard to enjoy her as much as possible. This can be challenging even if you have an awesome mom, because they can be pretty annoying, but do it anyways. Because your time is limited. My mom, who was amazing and I liked a lot, lived right across the street from me for years. I could have gone over there every day. I didn’t. There were times I probably didn’t see her once a week. I really wish that I had spent more time. You have the opportunity to get right the thing that I messed up. And not just on Mother’s Day, though that’s a good start, but consistently and regularly. Make her a priority. There’s a good chance that she makes you her priority. You can at least reciprocate some of the way.

My mom wasn’t big on Mother’s Day. She felt bad for moms who got all bent out of shape because their child didn’t do enough for the holiday. She thought that if your whole relationship hinged on just one single day, you had much deeper issues going on. She was a pretty wise lady. 

Long story long: if your mom hurts your life, stop taking her calls. Remove her from your life. If she’s not harming you, try really hard to spend enjoyable time with her. You’ll be glad you did. 

(My mom is dead, but you know who felt really alive this Mother’s Day? Your mom, that’s who. That lady is going to need to go to church for forgiveness. If you haven’t yet subscribed to get a text from me each week with the latest blog post link, you, too, can be forgiven. Just send a text with the word CRIP to the number 484848. It will make your mom proud, I promise.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #081: Be Weird

Crippled CEO Blog #081:

I am pretty weird.

I have cerebral palsy. I use a wheelchair. I think differently than most people. My sense of humor is… unique. I’m weird emotionally — I’m pretty much perpetually in a good mood. I might get angry four times a year. I talk weird. I have weird interests. I can’t do anything without going all in with it. 

I’m weird. 

But if you’re also weird, I have good news for you. 

It’s better to be weird. 

For one, being weird helps you stand out. There are lots of people in the world, and being something different separates you from the crowd. If you have weird interests or hobbies, that means you probably have unique skills, as well. These are things you can use to your advantage.

The less obvious benefit to being weird, though, is that you probably have a clearer idea of things you are not suited for. You know the situations you do poorly in, the work you fail at, the people you don’t get along with, and so on. If you can come to peace with this and accept these things, rather than trying to force them, you will have an additional level of self-awareness, and few things are as powerful as self-awareness. For me, the physical things I can’t do are super obvious. I already know that I won’t be pursuing a career in carpentry. The ability to rule out bad ideas so you can focus on the good ones is so important, and it’s much easier if there are aspect of you that aren’t typical.

We all want people in our lives to accept us, to feel like we belong, so that makes being different seem scary. And the weirder you are, the smaller your tribe will be. But the people you do find will be your people. Your relationships will have depth, not width. I will take that any day. And the truth is, if you are kind, if you mean well, if you give people the benefit of the doubt, if you are generous, you will find people who care about you. I promise. Take it from me, a weirdo of epic proportions. 

(You know who’s into some REALLY weird stuff? Your mom. And it’s definitely working for her. It would be weird if you DIDN’T sign up to get a link to the latest blog from me every Sunday by text message. Just send a message to 484848 with the word CRIP in the body and make me your servant.)

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