Every once in a while, I get the chance to digital-interview a fellow professional who is turning their passion into something more than a hobby. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re making a living pursuing their passion–but in this case, it does!
Sam is my cousin (how did I get so lucky as to have so many kick-ass chicks in my life?!) She’s also the founder and CEO of Logic Department. Read on to learn more about Sam, her company, and (perhaps most importantly) how she turned her ah-ha moment into a thriving business. Maybe your own ah-ha moment is within Sam’s answers, below 🙂
Tell us a little about yourself and your business!
I’m the founder and CEO of Logic Department – a consultancy that improves the findability of content on websites, intranets, databases, content management systems, etc. We help companies improve efficiency and reduce frustrations for their employees and customers/visitors. If you’ve ever used a website and thought “I know this site should have this information, but I just can’t find what I need!”, we help with that.
How did you get into this area of work?
I worked for a few years as a ‘whatever you need’ freelancer, mostly picking up administrative and transcription work, piecing it all together for my first couple years in New York City. In the midst of that work, I decided to go back to school for an information and library science degree, thinking I would get into the world of business librarianship – it felt like the “adult” extension of the work I did as a page in my college library. When I got into school, I took a course early on where we read Don Norman’s book The Design of Everyday Things. The key takeaway of that book is that things that are hard or frustrating to use are the fault of the design of that thing, not your fault as the person interacting with it. My mind was blown. It reversed years of me thinking that I was dumb, and put that blame where it belonged: on the door/website/whatever I was using. I wanted to reduce the amount of people that are feeling dumb when it’s not at all their fault. I wanted to reduce frustrations where they could easily be reduced.
What made you decide to take your passion to the next level (i.e. become a professional)? Has it been easy? Hard? Different than you expected?
I was homeschooled through elementary school, so freelancing and being independent wasn’t a huge jump for me, emotionally. That part came naturally (to the detriment of my income for some years), but I know it can be a big jump for others. The leap I took into the one full-time job I’ve had felt much more extreme to me than the leap back into independence, and I think I’m fortunate to have that confidence in the unknown. That being said, it was a ton of work and actually has gotten harder the longer I’ve done it and as I’ve moved into growing a business. I somehow thought that if I worked really hard at the beginning it would start to get easier, but the learning and different hurdles continue all the time. As soon as I feel I’ve figured one thing out another pops up!
How do you gauge your success?
Originally, I gauged it based on how much free time I had. And in retrospect that’s a terrible gauge because I love working and just create more work for myself when there’s a gap of time to fill. Related to the previous question, I thought when I started to figure it all out, I’d find magical pockets of time and that’s how I would know I’ve made it. But really, I know that last year was very successful, and my timesheet and calendar were packed to the gills. So, I’ve had to reevaluate.
I’ve also tried to gauge my success based on others’ feedback and praise, but have learned that’s full of pitfalls too. While there are lots of people that I greatly respect and look to for validation, there are a thousand things that happen within my business and my brain that no one else will ever know about and therefore cannot validate for me.
So, I’ve landed on this as a gauge: if I and my employees are happy! If we’re all getting along and have enough work to pay the bills for the next few months, all is well – keep on keeping on.
What do you want to do next? What are your ultimate goals for your career, brand, etc?
I want to work with museums next! We’ve had many non-profit and corporate clients, but we’ve seen that there’s a golden opportunity in museums, both within their websites, databases and even the interactive components of their physical space. I’ve been spending much of my time recently speaking with museum professionals about their needs and how we can help, kind of like market research. If anyone is interested in speaking with me about it, I’d love to hear from them!
More long term, my goal is to grow our team to at least 6, including me. I think the work we do thrives with collaboration and various voices interpreting research and feeding into recommendations. I also just think we have a company culture that should be shared and include others – my goal is to prove that you can have a profitable small business that does not require investors, provides an excellent and supportive work environment, and allows everyone to go home at a reasonable time, take lots of vacation, and live their lives!
Have you always been passionate about your work?
I wasn’t passionate about this work my whole life – I just discovered it in the last 5 years – but I have always been passionate about work in general. I don’t really know how to half-ass a project and will lose sleep over anything that I feel isn’t perfect. Honestly, staying up late to finish a college term paper and working a 10 hour day to finalize a project feel very similar to me (I have a college playlist that I still use when I need to focus). And I’m passionate about the fact that just because I have that approach to work does not mean that my employees need to work 10 hour days too. I definitely have a work hard, play hard mentality!
How have you honed your craft?
Practice, learning, and asking questions. One of the fun and stressful things about digital work is that it’s never-ending and always changing. So, my team and I are constantly trying to stay on top of it. We always have a book that we’re reading together and discuss once a week. We apply things we learn to our own website first, and take classes to fill in any knowledge gaps we find that we have. I personally am also always working to learn more about how to build and run a successful business, which is a mixture of working with a great business/content coach (Anna Laman – full disclosure, she’s my sister), great mentors who answer all of my weird questions, and lots and lots of trial and error.
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