That’s a good question indeed.
What makes me special? I certainly don’t feel that way, not in the least. I am not God’s gift to the design world like so many young hotshot designers think they are. I’m just a guy, and I just happen to have done some pretty awesome things so far in my life.
- Climbing 14,000′ mountains in Colorado
- Skydiving with my wife Allison
- Winning the Cheaha Challenge Century
- Serving as an infantryman with the 10th Mountain Division in Iraq
- Becoming an Eagle Scout
- Riding a tandem mountain bike 50 miles in the cold and pouring rain with my best friend
- Skiing mountains on the East and West coast
- Performing CPR on a man who collapsed walking across a parking lot
- Completing the Cheaha Challenge Ultra 200k bike ride
- Surviving 17 IED blasts in Iraq without a scratch
- Surviving the 18th IED blast, which could have severed both of my legs
- Canoeing and camping for 50 miles with two best friends on the Tallapoosa River, at age 15
- Helping to reopen a school in rural Iraq, and provide daily safe passage for the children
- Having the courage to go back to school after my Army career
- Being introduced to Allison, who would become my wife, through letters while serving in Iraq
- Spending over two years in a rehabilitation unit to recover from my injuries
So what does all that have to do with me as a designer?
Individually, not much. But all of those things, both the good and the bad, make me who I am today. I guess you could say what really sets me apart from other designers is perspective, especially when it comes to something being hard or difficult. I’m not bragging about being some kind of hard-ass, just stating that when someone else thinks a situation is difficult, well, it could really be worse, trust me, I know. Difficult client? Be thankful you aren’t being shot at every single day. Deadline approaching? Think how bad it would be if you have to physically carry one of your friends so they could receive medical attention from being blown up. Starbucks coffee not the way you like it? At least it doesn’t have sand in it. (Seriously, dirt in your food is fine, mix it up and you’ll barely notice it’s there. Sand on the other hand, just imagine biting into an aluminum foil and sandpaper sandwich. Yes. Nothing will make that any better.)
So yes, it’s all about perspective for me. I guess that’s one of the reasons I can maintain a positive outlook, even when the going gets tough. I’m a pretty upbeat guy, and I like to surround myself with others who are as well.
That’s me, just a guy who designs things, with a pretty unique set of life experiences.