Categories
Technology

On Leadership in the Face of a Pandemic

We are going through a collective trauma right now.

Unemployment is skyrocketing.

Companies are scaling back and laying off whole offices.

Thousands are dead, and we’re just scraping the surface.

The companies that are in the enviable position to not only feel stable, but to continue to hire in this economy should expect employees to have a dip in productivity right now, adjust their expectations, and communicate that as okay to their teams.

What’s not okay is putting an employee on a “Performance Improvement Plan” (aka “PIP”) in the middle of a global pandemic.

When people are under shelter-in-place orders, and having to weigh the safety of simply going out for groceries while also worrying about loved ones in other states. The last thing they need is “leaders” dangling their job security over their heads as well.

Moments of crisis tend to reveal who people really are. Do you want to be a leader, or do you just want power?

Take a moment and think before you react.

Categories
Chicago General Photography

Returning to the Impossible

An Polaroid-style instant photograph depicting the statue of Abraham Lincoln in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood.
Lincoln Square, Chicago – 1 April 2020

From January 1, 2012 to January 1, 2014 I took a single instant photograph a day every day with a vintage Polaroid camera and ‘Impossible Project’ instant film. And then I stopped.

With all of this corona virus stuff going on, and us all trapped at home, and many of us unemployed, I figured it was time to start creating again.

To maintain my physical and mental health I’ve been cycling daily throughout Chicago (don’t worry, I’ve been wearing a mask and gloves, and keeping proper social distance from everyone else) so I decided to pull out some of my instant cameras and start sharing what I see with the world.

So, ‘The Impossible Year’ is back… for now. We’ll see how long I keep it up.

This content will be posted primarily to Tumblr via the original blog: https://theimpossibleyear.com but I’ll also be cross sharing it to Twitter and Facebook as well. I hope you’ll join me.

Cheers,

John

Categories
General

Reflections – Part 1

Surrender
Surrender
But don’t give yourself away
.

In Mid-2018, five years after joining ActiveCampaign as employee number 10, I was running a team of 15 people as the company’s product manager for mobile.

The past five years had felt like a blur. We had recently hit several company milestones, and I had hit several career ones. We had just launched our first iPhone app, and I was preparing to present at the company’s first-ever Activate conference, where I would announce two more mobile apps.

Cheap Trick’s ‘Surrender’ was booming through the event hall as I snuck backstage to catch my breath and reflect.

Sitting backstage at ActiveCampaign's Activate conference.

My job had changed a ton, as had the company, and there was so much to be proud of, but I was miserable. 

I wasn’t sleeping, I was tired and sore all the time, some days to the point where I couldn’t walk. To make matters worse, I was two months away from getting married and majorly behind on planning. I had been pouring so much of my time and energy into the job that I had entirely neglected myself. 

I had given up all of my individual creative pursuits and hobbies, shut down my previously vibrant LLC, quit boards, and community groups I was passionate about, and almost entirely disappeared from my friend circles. Long overdue doctor’s appointments were put off as well as surgeries, and I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism. Still, I hadn’t been following up with my doctors to take care of it properly.

Quite simply, I was far from the best version of myself: I was suffering from a serious case of burnout. 

So, after consulting with leadership, and my fiancé, I came to the conclusion that it was time for a change.

Six weeks before my wedding, I announced I would be leaving the company.

I didn’t have much of a plan, but I knew what I had to do: Extend our honeymoon, book a ton of doctor’s appointments, and take care of myself.

To be continued…

Categories
Chicago Theatre

Midsommer Flight nominated for 2019 Broadway in Chicago Emerging Theatre Award

I’m so proud to share with you all that Midsommer Flight has been nominated by the League of Chicago Theatres as a 2019 Broadway In Chicago Emerging Theatre Award Finalist.

Midsommer Flight is a not-for-profit theatre company dedicated to making Shakespeare’s plays accessible to all audiences in Chicago’s parks. They strive for diverse casting so that everyone can see themselves in these works and be inspired. 

I’ve been the principal graphic designer for the company since 2012 and I now serve as President of the board of directors and I can’t overstate how proud I am of this company. 

Beth Wolf, our founder and artistic director, has truly created something amazing here and I’m honored to work with her and the rest of our awesome board.

Last, but certainly not least, is our incredible ensemble. I’ve been watching them knock it out of the park season after season and they really bring their all to each and every performance and this nomination would not be possible without their, very beautiful, hard work.

Cheers to all!

Categories
Chicago Design Pop Culture

‘Baseball’s Dad’ & Infrequent Somethings

Hey Friends,

After the success of the calendar and the poster I’ve started a mailing list for you to get updates about my creative projects. I sent out the first email a little earlier to everyone who signed up for the previous two items and I announced a third which is now on sale. You can read about it below.

If you’re interested in signing up to receive the email I’ve embedded a form to the bottom of this post. I promise only to message you when I’ve got something to say and I promise never to share your info with anyone without your explicit consent. Cheers!


So, yesterday was of course ‘Opening Day’ of the baseball season and it was also the launch day of an exciting project I worked on with my friends Erin Watson and NickD. Erin describes it here to her poetry mailing list:

It’s not exactly a poem, but I’m delighted to present a new zine I created with the design help of my loving partner, my friend John Morrison, and my very dumbassed private Twitter account. It is an extended meditation on the dad zeitgeist and baseball as storytelling through the persona of Baseball’s Dad, an ur-father-figure loosely based on Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon.
The one poetic aspect of Baseball’s Dad as a project, aside from the repetition of the structure, was choosing exactly what detail would be the most dadlike for each scenario. What song would Baseball’s Dad play to accompany his snifter of good scotch when his handsome baseball sons clinched their spot in the World Series? “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince, of course. What cereal would Baseball’s Dad eat straight out of the box in his underwear one late night? Certainly Golden Grahams. It could be no other.
And because I care more about people than baseball franchises, I’m donating half the proceeds from the zine to two Chicago-based organizations that are making the world a little safer for some of the people whose lives are most threatened in our current political hellhole. Check out the great work that 
Brave Space Alliance and CAIR Chicago are doing.
You can buy your copy of the Baseball’s Dad zine right here, or save on shipping and pick it up at Uncharted Books or Quimby’s if you’re local. Or you can wait six weeks and get it at the Left The Prairie table at one of our most wonderful annual events for people who care about independent literature and art, Chicago Zine Fest. (Say hi to me at the Chicago Books to Women in Prison table if you go.)
Happy opening day of baseball to Baseball’s Dad and to you. Enjoy the springtime; reply with any and everything that’s on your mind.

I designed the cover and hand screen printed each of them myself so each one is unique. If you’re interested you should pick one up through Erin’s store. I’m very proud of it and it supports some great causes.

A table covered in screen printed covers to 'Baseball's Dad.'

That’s all for now friend. Go forth and be awesome.
– John