What Do You Do Now?

When you leave a job and don’t immediately start a new one like it, the inevitable question is “What are you looking for?” For most people it’s not uncommon to assume you’re looking for a position like the one you left. If, like me, that position was Technical Director for an advertising agency like MacLaren McCann, it becomes a tightrope how to answer that question.

If you asked me when I wasn’t in the mood, I’d say “I don’t care about websites.” Which wasn’t true. I just didn’t want to discuss how I felt about a couple of years running a team who’s primary goal was maintenance of a large website.

If you asked me when I was in the mood, I’d say “I want to do more than manage a team and update websites.” Which was, and still is, true. But, what can I do?

For instance, I have been involved in client-wining pitches. I have been pulled into pitches when I am on vacation and happen to be in the city where one of our offices (unnamed company) is so I can contribute my ideas. Then to see my ideas directly applied in the pitch deck.

I want to do more than manage a team and update websites

I have been in creative meetings where we have long discussions about animation and transitions and how a button should behave and how every button should behave in a similar manner as that’s good user experience. I have a keen eye for detail when it comes to building a scene and how you move from block of content to another. I might not design websites, but I have years of experiences taking apart PhotoShop and Illustrator files and maintaining visual accuracy from there to execution.

I have been in meetings with the Information Architects where we plan out massive websites by analyzing current content and future objectives. I can take those plans and build out a service chart and consumption concept for how to populate these sites. When an IA isn’t available, I can draw out the architecture on my own. Partly because I have been doing it for my own sites for my entire career and partly because I have been fortunate to know some amazing Information Architects who’ve been willing to guide and share their knowledge.

When an IA isn’t available, I can draw out the architecture on my own

I can manage a team and I’m good at it. I have become adept at recognizing strengths and weaknesses in my team members. I bolster them when they’re struggling and try to reward them when they succeed. I have created loyalty in employees such that when they’re offered a position elsewhere that they can’t turn down, they’ll ask me when a good time to quit would be and to a person, will stay as long as asked within reason.

What languages do you know?

While I don’t code in .NET or C# or C++, I can understand most languages. If I can open a set of files, I can understand the structure and how the code works and I can traverse the code to hunt down issues. I am a thorough troubleshooter. I don’t create databases*, but I understand how to consume them and can run through their structure and find anomalies. *I have created databases, but I think you should use a DBA for a proper set up, security and organization.

Yes, I am a former Flash developer

Yes, I am a former Flash developer. Some people recognize how valuable over a decade of experience working in Flash is for a developer. Once I get past the inevitable scoffing, we can talk about how my skill in UX and IA and UI and self-management come from this duration working in a piece of software that evolved from a simple animation tool to the pre-eminent plug-in, ever, the populate the internet. I coded, by hand, for most of this time. Animation tools didn’t exist until later and many of us wrote our own code to handle easing and motion in the beginning. We can talk about EcmaScript and how close AS3 is to today’s javascript with marked differences.

What do you do now?

Once I declared I was interested in finding a new full-time job, the question is “What do you do now?”. Surprisingly, this question is more difficult to answer than ever before. I’ve spent the better part of two years improving my understanding of electronics in the form of Arduino and LEDs and stepper motors.  Improving my understanding of Gcode and how it is the driving force behind most plotter-based systems; CNC, Laser-cutting, 3D printing. I’ve built products like the LED clock and taught infinity mirror workshops. There’s been a year-long experiment in long-exposure photography and light called Light Motion Capture. This experiment had me participate in Maker Festival Toronto and MakerFaire Ottawa. A vindication of effort and a fantastic opportunity to share my project(s) with the general public.

In the meantime, the past year has been one of banner-building. I’ve said it before, I love banners. Making them, that is. I would apologize to anyone that is bothered by banners but they pay my bills. Sorry, not sorry? I moved slowly into HTML5 banners but am there now. My HTML5 skills are pretty good. I have a solid grasp of CSS and using JavaScript to control the banner. I am still getting a handle on using JavaScript frameworks but if anyone wants to pay me to do other stuff while learning how to work in Angular,  React, and/or Node, that’d be great. I’d like to learn Python, too. Oh! And Unity! And VR!

This may feel like I haven’t answered the question “What do you do now?” at all. But if you’re looking for a director-level manager of people that knows their way around user experience, principles of animation, creative technologies and planning a site or mobile experience, look at me. I’m kind of amazing.

I’m kind of amazing.

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