We came. We saw. We Spoke.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Somewhere between Rome and Oz.

by W. Gene Powell

“We have our work cut out for us.”

“Nine women can't make a baby in a month.”

“Rome wasn't built in a day.”

These are humorless expressions (Well, somewhat. Pregnant women always seem to bring a knowing smile.) we use to describe seemingly insurmountable and often humorless tasks. We stare in reticence at the challenge before us then quickly turn our attention to other work of no less importance. Some call this “constructive procrastination.” We call it “fear of the white canvas.”

Will it be good enough?
Will people like it?
How do we balance our business requirements with our personal tastes?
Should someone else design it for us?
How will we get this done in addition to client work?
Are we out of coffee filters again?

These are questions that plagued us in March as we set out to define our online brand. We knew what we didn’t want. We didn’t want to create something that appealed to just anyone. No, we wanted to create something that allowed visitors to quickly assess whether or not we were the right partner, collaborator, supporter, prospect, follower or friend for them. “When you’re all things to everyone, you’re actually nothing to nobody.” This is something we tell our clients and once we admonished ourselves similarly, we set about laying the foundation for our ‘Circus Maximus.’

Work on the site progressed quickly and evolved organically (“What if we..?”). Along the way, we made some friends who took an active role in shaping the site. We felt a little like Dorothy collecting Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion along the Yellow Brick Road. Fortunately for us, our fellow collaborators brought plenty of their own heart, brains and courage along. We’d like to acknowledge and thank them for helping us find our online ‘voice.’

Mary Gilmore
Mary answered a tweet we posted in April. We were looking for a ‘hero’ image for our homepage with very specific subject matter and qualities. She searched and found the image you see today and sent us the link — five weeks after our initial request. How she remembered that tweet is a mystery only Dr. Robert Langdon could solve. We’ve never met Mary, but we hope to someday.

Thank you, Mary.

Koen Smits
Mary’s link lead us to the photographer of said picture. We contacted Koen in Belgium (which isn’t terribly far from Rome, we should mention) and offered fame and fortune for his perfect image. He refused both and graciously offered it in exchange for a photo credit. We consider Koen’s photo to be the jewel in the spokehq.com crown. We’re a tad embarrassed, actually. Holy Toledo, we get to use this for free? On our homepage?!

Thank you, Koen.

Matt Braun
We met Matt during a charity event we did with the Toledo chapter of the AIGA. Matt was on our small but scrappy web team and we were in awe of his charm, his cool demeanor and his prowess with ExpressionEngine (EE). When it came time to develop our site, we chose the EE framework and invited Matt to steer us through a rather steep learning curve. There is no other mention of Matt on the site (yet), but his DNA is most certainly part of it.

Thank you, Matt.

Mark Pannell
We met Mark on Twitter some time ago. We were taken with his humor, his writing and his undying passion for social media. We were also impressed by his ability to grok what Spoke was about and mesh his online brand with our own. Before long, we were making up reasons to work with him. Mark crafted the Twitter survey that appears on our site. He did an amazing job and we hope you take a moment to complete and submit your own answers.

Thank you, Mark. You’re a better ‘Voice of Spoke’ than we are.

Scott Radcliff
Scott was completing his degree at Davis College when we met. He has quickly shown himself to be a gifted developer, strategist and writer, and we’re working with him on projects as we speak. Scott played no active role in the site, but he kept several plates spinning in the air for us while we worked to complete it. This launch would have been delayed considerably if it hadn’t been for him.

Thank you, Scott.

Finally, this extensive “thank you” wouldn’t be complete (and wouldn’t read like an Oscar acceptance speech) if we failed to acknowledge our families, friends, clients, vendors, partners and fans who have helped put the wheel(s) of Spoke in motion.

Without you, we’d still be trying to build Rome in a day.

Thank you.

Gene & Mark

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