We parked around the corner from their location. Stepping out of our 2004 Toyota Camry, we walked to the meter, spent five minutes working out what button to press, and then payed the laughable parking fee. You know when you shake violently as if it’s a brisk winters morning, but it’s actually 24 degrees and you’re just nervous? Yeah, that. The meeting, while a big deal for me, was probably just another day in the office for the team at Draw History. Walking up the suburban curb, we approached the wrought iron clad door, and took in the splashes of blue’s and purples featured in the graphics covering the glass. I glanced towards the window to the left of the main entrance, and I can see they’re open for business.
Confidence doesn’t come easy. It’s not something you are born with, as such. I believe it’s the situations you are in, the ways you are brought up, they form how you can conduct yourself. Being faced with big decisions, interviews, meetings, product launches and the like all help to build confidence, self-confidence, and jumping on the entrepreneurial band wagon as young as 11 certainly helps with growth. But, for a while, my confidence hadn’t been…tested. Around the time when I had the e-commerce enterprise up and running, I started to feel bored. Bored in business because nothing was changing, I wasn’t innovating, I felt like I had dropped the ball. So, I got in contact with an international brand agency. I said I wanted my confidence tested.
Entering the building, their offices were what you would expect of an inner-city, millennial run office space. Creative juices flowed everywhere, even onto the wall, where an inner drive to abide by the inspirational mural is evoked, and neon cactuses on the desks that glow with the passionate light glowing inside all of us, and vibrant beanbags scattered around the building that are beckoning for you to embrace them on a cold, winters day, the space they had created made it much easier to feel more at home, and much easier to get those ideas flowing.
To the left was the main work space. Covered in sketches, notes, and snacks, the four desks were a hive of activity, with collaboration, creativity and colour. The smell of freshly brewed coffee, the sounds of feverish mouse clicking and key tapping, productivity and powerful thinking were evident in every direction. This, this is something I want, at home, at work, wherever and whenever I am putting pen to paper, because this is the way I work, and they had nailed it.
His name was Jeff. Their head of creativity was a smaller man, introverted, but extroverted when necessary. He had that kind of persona that would draw anyone to him, and he seemed appropriately persuasive. I think he was part of a team of who successfully setup an ice kiosk in Antarctica, and ran a profit.
We sat down adjacent to them on the couch, and I located my notebook from my backpack. Turning the pages to find a blank page, a new “canvas”, I was sent along a nostalgic journey of all my ideas, to do lists, and sketches. Original product designs, costing estimations, websites to build, innovations to make, it was a humbling reminder of how much work it took to be able to sit on that designer couch.
During the discussion, we covered lots of things. But, it didn’t really feel like there was any need to finish, or to stay on track. Dispensing invaluable knowledge for an ecommerce newbie, Jeff seemed to actually want to be there. Which, for me, is kinda surprising. I was so used to being shut down or moved to the side, just because I was a kid. So, it was reassuring to, to feel like I was actually valued, at least, in some marketing agency in Subiaco.
The whole time, he sat there, poised in the very middle of the scale of balance — As much seriousness and professionalism as there was humour and a sense of innate relatability. As much listening as there was speaking. As much optimism as there was pragmatism. A state of being I still admire to this day.
“See, when someone visits your website, they want something. They want a download, a video, a podcast — a product.” It was interesting, you know, hearing all these things from someone who has had so much experience in employing them, and you’re sort of just left sitting there going, well yeah, I get that and its kind of obvious now.
“They aren’t gonna stick around if you’re just telling them about what you do, they don’t care about that Kai, they care about walking away from your site with something more than they did when the entered.”
It all resonated with me. Every little tip on how you can provide value to customers in diverse ways or how best to ask for grants, or whatever it was, assimilated into my brainpan as if they had always ‘been there’, they just needed finding. It seemed easy to forecast how I would integrate them into my work, and this was all happening in my head during the lunch break. But, I felt like I was there for something more than a tool box.
These conversations we had, the ideas we shared, the knowledge I gained, it wasn’t just an experience. It was a turning point. I had started dabbling in business back in primary school, but it took till this point years later for me to grasp why I was here. It wasn’t to just make money or to become some 13-year-old CEO. It was about experiences. I wasn’t there to change a business logo or plan an advertising campaign. I was there to make connections, build relationships, assemble skills — To get excited!
So, from that meeting forward, I switched my thinking. I know anyone can start a business, kids, grandparents, whoever. All it takes is a computer and a working brain.
I wish it didn’t take so long for me to understand that, it doesn’t matter if you break even, or if you have your name in lights. You are chugging along, on your own journey, at your own pace, and learning everything you need to learn today, so you can make that change you have always wanted to make, tomorrow.
Thanks to Draw History for spending the day with me! For more on them, visit their website — https://drawhistory.com/
Kai Lovel is a digital thinker, a young person who’s followed his curiosities and been taken on a journey of entrepreneurship, broadcasting, speaking and digital freelancing in the process. He lives in Perth, Australia, writes here on Medium, posts over on Instagram, talks on his latest podcast and has more information on his website.