I’m not going to lie, one of the best perks about the work I do is that I can do it all while listening to music, radio and podcasts. I love a good podcast, and can find myself binge listening to anything new and engaging especially if it’s about anything design. I’ve recently been turned onto a podcast by my co-hauss Julie called On The Grid. It’s a podcast featuring three designers who call in from across the country to discuss design, its effect on the world and vice versa. The most recent podcast had a segment that really resonated with me about how the design world embraces the concept of failure and makes it seem like it’s something creatives should strive for.
Because you know, once you fail a lot, you’ve really made it.
I’ve always hated this mentality of failure is acceptable, fail a lot, fail hard!
It’s like I see what you’re doing there, but… naw. “Fail Hard” sounds to me like a train wreck. Or a Bruce Willis sequel. 
I think it’s a dumb concept some folks rally around. If you’re failing and it continues then maybe you’re doing it wrong. Failing sucks and shouldn’t be worn like a badge of honor. I think I just puke in my mouth a little when I hear some companies sob story about how many times they failed at something before they got it right.
Everyone fails at something at some point in their life. I’m not immune from it either, it happens all the time. Ideas get crushed, logos rejected and so on and so forth but, once you succeed at something that’s when we should be celebrating and trying to reproduce again and again. 
I want to hear more about the A-ha moments that finally stuck or changed the clients perspective or began the innovation process. 
Those are the stories where I think we can learn the most. Hearing the stories about successful business practices, design processes, client interactions. Those are the places where I take away the knowledge to succeed and then use again in my own work. 

We all have sucked at some point, lets get to how we un-sucked.
-Tim

I’m not going to lie, one of the best perks about the work I do is that I can do it all while listening to music, radio and podcasts. I love a good podcast, and can find myself binge listening to anything new and engaging especially if it’s about anything design. I’ve recently been turned onto a podcast by my co-hauss Julie called On The Grid. It’s a podcast featuring three designers who call in from across the country to discuss design, its effect on the world and vice versa. The most recent podcast had a segment that really resonated with me about how the design world embraces the concept of failure and makes it seem like it’s something creatives should strive for.

Because you know, once you fail a lot, you’ve really made it.

I’ve always hated this mentality of failure is acceptable, fail a lot, fail hard!

It’s like I see what you’re doing there, but… naw. “Fail Hard” sounds to me like a train wreck. Or a Bruce Willis sequel. 

I think it’s a dumb concept some folks rally around. If you’re failing and it continues then maybe you’re doing it wrong. Failing sucks and shouldn’t be worn like a badge of honor. I think I just puke in my mouth a little when I hear some companies sob story about how many times they failed at something before they got it right.

Everyone fails at something at some point in their life. I’m not immune from it either, it happens all the time. Ideas get crushed, logos rejected and so on and so forth but, once you succeed at something that’s when we should be celebrating and trying to reproduce again and again. 

I want to hear more about the A-ha moments that finally stuck or changed the clients perspective or began the innovation process. 

Those are the stories where I think we can learn the most. Hearing the stories about successful business practices, design processes, client interactions. Those are the places where I take away the knowledge to succeed and then use again in my own work. 

We all have sucked at some point, lets get to how we un-sucked.

-Tim

As a designer we are often challenged with communicating ideas, products, services or problems. Once we feel like we’ve come up with a solution we then strive to communicate that message in its simplest and most elegant form. Those design ideals transcend more than advertising campaigns, websites and logos; it surrounds us. It’s the buildings we work in, the roads we ride on and the beds we sleep in. They were all designed by someone. Someone who probably spent more time than you think coming up with those ideas, which means they did a hell of a job because those are things we take for granted.
One object that I obsess about is the bicycle. Besides the enjoyment, practicality and great parking I usually get, the bicycle to me is one of the most impressively designed inventions. Over the past 100-plus years the bicycle has relatively stayed the same: two wheels, a crank chain, and a steering mechanism. It’s all the accessories and components that have changed. New carbon frames, thick rubber treading and multiple gear-shift rings have only improved upon a solid design. Nothing beats a good idea. There is only room for improvement. 

-Tim

As a designer we are often challenged with communicating ideas, products, services or problems. Once we feel like we’ve come up with a solution we then strive to communicate that message in its simplest and most elegant form. Those design ideals transcend more than advertising campaigns, websites and logos; it surrounds us. It’s the buildings we work in, the roads we ride on and the beds we sleep in. They were all designed by someone. Someone who probably spent more time than you think coming up with those ideas, which means they did a hell of a job because those are things we take for granted.

One object that I obsess about is the bicycle. Besides the enjoyment, practicality and great parking I usually get, the bicycle to me is one of the most impressively designed inventions. Over the past 100-plus years the bicycle has relatively stayed the same: two wheels, a crank chain, and a steering mechanism. It’s all the accessories and components that have changed. New carbon frames, thick rubber treading and multiple gear-shift rings have only improved upon a solid design. Nothing beats a good idea. There is only room for improvement. 

-Tim

I found perfect on Sunday. It looked like this:

  • The collection of likeminded, yet excitingly diverse friends, who tirelessly support this crazy notion that we deserve better than what we’ve been given, and what’s been taken away. That we are responsible for that vision by committing to self-fulfillment of these ideals, in solidarity for both civil rights and civic life. That we have the answers.
  • This remarkable city of patrons, supporters, friends, family, neighbors and leaders who literally pave the way for these efforts, and cheer us on with might, glee and pride. I can’t imagine a more nurturing city in which to be different, to be a trier, a conquerer, a visionary, a brave person who just wants to be who they are—to be “an other.” The turnout and feeling on Sunday reinforced that you don’t have to be anything other than who you are—that goes for us as individuals, and us as a city; be who you are, and others will flock, in swarms.
  • The brave souls who announced their identity on banners, posters, shirts and flags, and who, maybe for even this one day a year, dared to be comfortable in public. It was not a small thing for them to do, and not a small thing for us to notice.
  • This team of colleagues that supports one another, and teems of others out there, marching in the wretched (but glorious) sun, wearing black (but handsome) shirts, screaming loud (but heartfelt) screams (until maybe a few sore throats), all while having a blast. I’m SO. LUCKY. to work with these people, and to know their friends. What an honor. To those who cheered on with chants of “BLOCK CLUB! BLOCK CLUB!” as we passed you: your acknowledgment of our presence was wholeheartedly felt, and appreciated beyond belief. (And from where I sit, as a writer and editor whose relationship with audience is inherently distanced, separated by bound paper and distribution boxes, it was a wonderful treat to know you’re reading and paying attention to what Block Club is all about. I felt you all.)
  • And to the strangers on the sidewalks who sang me a happy birthday….that was pretty rad, too. :-)

I’d like to add that this year’s Pride Parade was expertly organized. The entire week of events, organized brilliantly by Buffalo’s Pride Center, was beautifully marketed, designed, communicated and executed. It was easy to navigate and fun to explore. And with a record 20,000 people enjoying Sunday’s many events, it was a rousing success, too. So proud of our Pride!

We will see you in next year’s parade, for sure, but before that, we’ll just see you around! Thank you, Buffalo! WE WANT BETTER!

-Ben

Images courtesy Steve Soroka and Dave Horesh.

We love making logos as much as Steve Gedra loves making food. Steve Gedra, the owner and chef of the soon-to-open Black Sheep Restaurant & Bar was awesome enough to tap us on the shoulder to brand his new restaurant creation. 
We started the process by going in a variety of different directions, from a more straight forward approach, using sheep as the main focus to your weird uncle or cousin who just didn’t fit in. We also came to it with broad strokes, literally. By creating a series of type using a wide brush and thick black ink. 
The Black Sheep can’t open soon enough, we cannot wait for dinner and drinks!


-Tim

We love making logos as much as Steve Gedra loves making food. Steve Gedra, the owner and chef of the soon-to-open Black Sheep Restaurant & Bar was awesome enough to tap us on the shoulder to brand his new restaurant creation. 

We started the process by going in a variety of different directions, from a more straight forward approach, using sheep as the main focus to your weird uncle or cousin who just didn’t fit in. We also came to it with broad strokes, literally. By creating a series of type using a wide brush and thick black ink. 

The Black Sheep can’t open soon enough, we cannot wait for dinner and drinks!

-Tim

New ClubTalk this Friday: The Importance of Self-Asssesment

I’m excited to share Block Club’s next ClubTalk, which I will be leading. The Importance of Self-Assesment will look at bringing self-assessment into your business or organization. We find great use in this evaluative process here at Block Club, and regularly come back to the table to see where we are, how we are doing, and who’s doing what. Of particular interest to me is the idea that on a successful, dynamic team, there are a number of essential elements you must have for your work to flow freely, efficiently and readily. There are also various productivity modes, environmental preferences, personal sensitivities  personnel needs and creative strengths. We will look at how to identify the differences among us, so that you and your organization can move forward together.
This exciting ClubTalk will take place this Friday, May 9 at 9:30 a.m., here at the Block Club office (731 Main St.).
RSVP today to reserve your spot—your only cost is a $10 donation to the Buffalo City Mission.
There are only 10 seats available for each talk, and due to limited seating, we can only allow one person per organization to attend.
Please arrive 10 minutes early so we can get started on time. Each talk will last one hour.
See you there!
-Ben
Congratulations to our intern Aziza, who took first place this weekend at the Advertising Club of Buffalo’s Student Portfolio Review! Aziza is only a sophomore at Villa Maria College, but has design chops beyond her years. She’s been at Block Club for the last 10 weeks where she has been a great member of our team. Today is the last day of her internship, but she is full of talent and we can’t wait to see all the exciting projects she has ahead. Great job, Aziza!
- Julie

Congratulations to our intern Aziza, who took first place this weekend at the Advertising Club of Buffalo’s Student Portfolio Review! Aziza is only a sophomore at Villa Maria College, but has design chops beyond her years. She’s been at Block Club for the last 10 weeks where she has been a great member of our team. Today is the last day of her internship, but she is full of talent and we can’t wait to see all the exciting projects she has ahead. Great job, Aziza!

- Julie

I spent the weekend among my people—our people. The kind of people who make things with their hands, of their hearts and for their neighbors. The kind of things that make you go, hmm, this is new.
This year’s Buffalo Small Press Book Fair was once again an embarrassment of riches, from which we met fellow publishers, printers, writers, illustrators, designers, photographers, entrepreneurs, artists and active citizens. All of them were fans, and all were producers.
I picked up just a few objects for my growing but wrongfully small collection of zines and small-press publications. I especially liked Sean Nickerbocker’s collection of graphic novels, enticingly titled Rust Belt. I purchased all three volumes, which came with that awesome print (in the top right corner) that reminds me of Roald Dahl’s “The B.F.G. (Big Friendly Giant),” a favorite book of my childhood.
Major, huge, arms-open kudos to Chris Fritton and his team with the BSPBF, as well as their partners at WNYBAC, for assembling such a great group of vendors from our city and others. I think it’s a testament to having produced seven successful years (this year was the event’s eighth), and to our city as a whole, that we can attract so many eager, excited, curious travelers from cities around North America. We are so lucky to be able to share this great creative work with everyone who’s interested! We should always connect over art and design; we have no good reason not to.
Thanks for stopping down and seeing us, and thanks for supporting the printed word!
-Ben

I spent the weekend among my people—our people. The kind of people who make things with their hands, of their hearts and for their neighbors. The kind of things that make you go, hmm, this is new.

This year’s Buffalo Small Press Book Fair was once again an embarrassment of riches, from which we met fellow publishers, printers, writers, illustrators, designers, photographers, entrepreneurs, artists and active citizens. All of them were fans, and all were producers.

I picked up just a few objects for my growing but wrongfully small collection of zines and small-press publications. I especially liked Sean Nickerbocker’s collection of graphic novels, enticingly titled Rust Belt. I purchased all three volumes, which came with that awesome print (in the top right corner) that reminds me of Roald Dahl’s “The B.F.G. (Big Friendly Giant),” a favorite book of my childhood.

Major, huge, arms-open kudos to Chris Fritton and his team with the BSPBF, as well as their partners at WNYBAC, for assembling such a great group of vendors from our city and others. I think it’s a testament to having produced seven successful years (this year was the event’s eighth), and to our city as a whole, that we can attract so many eager, excited, curious travelers from cities around North America. We are so lucky to be able to share this great creative work with everyone who’s interested! We should always connect over art and design; we have no good reason not to.

Thanks for stopping down and seeing us, and thanks for supporting the printed word!

-Ben

Inside Sales Team is not your typical sales team and neither is their website. The founder of IST, Steve Hays has a big personality and wants it reflected in every aspect of his business. From the brand swag his employees sport to the way his office functions as a quasi command center running on sales wins. 

We are very glad he left it up to us to develop their website.

Here’s a peak at the website that just launched. Stay tuned for a full case study.

-Tim

We’ve been working on the Insyte newsletter mailer now for just about a year, and we’ve come full circle with their tag line – Innovation. Growth. Profit. We’ve used those words as the theme of the past three newsletters. We’re happy to say that Insyte has gotten a lot of positive feedback on the mailer and the motivational poster side of the newsletter has been spotted within a variety of local businesses. It always feels great when you see or hear about your work hanging up in some location, just as you’d hope the piece would work.

-Tim

Block Club spent two nights in New York last week during which we met with the United Nations Foundation to kickoff an awesome new project. A really awesome new project that we can’t wait to share with you. We had a few very exciting brainstorming sessions and in between, had time to seek out some inspiration about town.

It was nice to get away for a few days and get things done remotely. It can be a great creative recharge just to rearrange your workspace, not to mention temporarily relocating it to a totally different city. It didn’t hurt that we stayed at the Wythe, a gorgeously designed and immaculately detailed hotel on the Brooklyn waterfront with breakfast buns that I’ll be dreaming of for weeks.

- Julie

Note: You can breathe a sigh of relief, despite the rosy hues, this post is not related to Valentine’s Day.
We are smack dab in the middle of production for Issue 35. So what am I doing? Drawing little piles of rocks, that’s what! Don’t be fooled, behind this unassuming subject is an incredible new piece of fiction from contributor Ramesh Pillay. I speak for Tim and myself when I say that this issue has some of the most exciting illustration concepts we’ve had yet… and no, I’m not talking about the rocks. We can’t wait to share them with you this Spring (yes, Spring! Believe it or not, it will arrive… eventually.)
- Julie

Note: You can breathe a sigh of relief, despite the rosy hues, this post is not related to Valentine’s Day.

We are smack dab in the middle of production for Issue 35. So what am I doing? Drawing little piles of rocks, that’s what! Don’t be fooled, behind this unassuming subject is an incredible new piece of fiction from contributor Ramesh Pillay. I speak for Tim and myself when I say that this issue has some of the most exciting illustration concepts we’ve had yet… and no, I’m not talking about the rocks. We can’t wait to share them with you this Spring (yes, Spring! Believe it or not, it will arrive… eventually.)

- Julie

CITY DINING CARDS IS EXPANDING!

Happy new year, all!

With the new year, comes new growth. That said, City Dining Cards, Block Club's sister company, is expanding!

We’re looking for dynamic, self-motivated, savvy individuals with strong personalities, sales experience and an openness to traveling.

Positions are available in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston and Providence, so spread the word!

If interested (or if someone you know might be), please send a résumé and a cover letter to info@citydiningcards.com for consideration.

Thanks, and stay warm!

- The City Dining Cards team

Storefront: November 2013

Storefront, my column for Buffalo Spree, is back in the November issue. This month’s column focuses on my belief that for small businesses, profit sharing always trumps holiday bonuses. Here’s a preview:

Ready or not, the holidays will be here in the blink of the eye. And traditionally, for most businesses that means writing bonus checks for employees. Well, bah humbug to that! This holiday season, no one should be getting a bonus.

Employees, before you run me out of town, please hear me out. It’s not that I think you didn’t work hard this past year or give your all to your job. I think you might be selling yourself short. I’m saying this because a bonus is a gift. It’s a gift given at the discretion of your employer and it might range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on your profession and where you work. A gift is a gift. It’s not guaranteed and it’s not tied to performance or failures. And while gifts are nice, this is business, and your successes and failures on the job directly impact the bottom line of the company you work for. If you’re always putting your job first and making the company lots of money, don’t you think you deserve more than just a bonus? Don’t you deserve a piece of the action?

Now employers, before you run me out of town, please hear me out too. It’s not that I think you’re being tight with the bonuses your gifting your employees. I think that the bonuses aren’t necessarily being appreciated the way that you think they are. It’s in your best interest to keep your employees happy and make as much money for the company as possible, right? If that’s your goal, allow me to suggest a different solution. It comes in three parts…

Pick up the new issue of Buffalo Spree to read the column in its entirety and keep an eye out for my column next month. It’s all about innovation.

-Patrick Finan

Customer Service: Leading By Example

We’ve all seen this picture before, right?

Remember Block Club magazine issue no. 31: Quality/Quantity?

Now I’m not a betting man but chances are this lady doesn’t work in your customer service department. Chances are if you’re part of a small business, you and your small staff are the customer service department, along with the accounting department, sales team, HR team and all other teams at your business. Customer service is more than just a person or team, it should be a company philosophy that exists within every person, every task and every facet of your organization.

On Tuesday, October 29th at 5:30pm I’m hosting an event with Buffalo Niagara 360 and UB CEL. Here’s the description: Differentiate yourself and your businesses with great customer service. A collaboration between Buffalo Niagara 360 and the University at Buffalo’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, this carefully crafted seminar will teach participants how to deepen the relationships we have with our teammates and customers. Participants will walk away with ideas and exercises to take back to their employers and their teams. This workshop will be led by Patrick Finan, founder and principal of Block Club, a branding and marketing agency based in Buffalo, NY. 

It’s going to be a great seminar and I strongly encourage everyone to attend! To RSVP and learn more, click here.

-Patrick Finan