You Know Your Marketing is Working If…

The Journey took an odd turn this week. I was informed by legal counsel of an organization in my industry that my company logo violates their trademark rights. Ugh. That hit me hard. Granted, when I launched DP Consulting, LLC in September 2017, I had no idea if it would last. At that time there was still a 50/50 chance that I would return to working full time for local government. The reason I created a logo was because when I commit to something, I go all-in.

To create the logo I turned to logotournament.com. For $250 many graphic designers from all over the world proposed different design ideas. The one I selected came from some person in Italy!

According to the attorney who contacted me the association was made between my company and the other organization by two individuals, unrelated to either of our organizations. In my 16 years in local government trademarking is something I had never had to work with. It came to much surprise when I was accused of copying the other organization’s logo. The attorney on the phone was polite and courteous and offered to give me time to think, offered to speak to my attorney, and also offered me time to remove the logo.

After I hung up the phone, I felt really bad; a feeling that carried through the next 24 hours. As Indielaw.com says, “That sinking feeling in your stomach. For small business owners, that feeling comes with the territory. Sometimes, it’s butterflies. Other times, you’re flying down a roller coaster. But when you get accused of violating a law, it can feel like an

300+ business cards in the recycling plus some logoed hats and items I had ordered in start-up phase – my next order of cards will be my fourth order in less than 12 months!

anvil got dropped.”

As with any negative emotion, your instinct is to fight. But after some coping and reflection techniques, it became clear to cut my losses. I pride myself in being an ethical and fair person and would not want to in anyway negatively affect another organization, especially one in my industry. It is also important to protect my professional reputation. As the attorney said when he called me, it was just about the logo, the name “DP Consulting” can still remain.

So the next day, I emailed the attorney, expressing my apologies to their client and removed my logo from anywhere I could find on the internet. I also informed my clients and business partners they were unable to use my logo in their publications. The hardest part was throwing away the business cards I had proudly designed and purchased. I have received numerous compliments on that logo in passing out hundreds of business cards this past year.

It made me feel good to just put the whole thing behind me and move on. After talking to some family, friends, and advisors, I came to realize that this is just a part of developing a business. This is what I signed up for to be an entrepreneur. Back when I signed up to be a City Manager I knew that there was always the hazard of having a public presence. Here, as a business owner, there are also hazards in the world of trademarking. Now I understand that I need to check in on trademarks. Lesson learned!

The key to being an entrepreneur is to stay positive. Here is the upside of this entire experience: You know you’re marketing is working if……you’re getting accused of trademark abuse!

At least I was able to salvage some of the logo I originally purchased. What do you think?

The Journey

So, what is the Journey? The Journey is exploring new paths. The Journey is opening new doors. The Journey is creating opportunities. The Journey is growing a business. The Journey is launching new ventures. The Journey is a mid-life career transition. The Journey is risk-taking. The Journey is experiencing new feelings. The Journey is managing new kinds of stress. The Journey is doing what you have seen many people do but was afraid to do it yourself.

All my life I felt the need to go against the grain. When I was young, I was generally going with the flow, but I have always been interested in the activities that were the opposite of what was popular. I have never enjoyed following sports or playing them for that matter. In band I played the Tuba. As a youth I played Dungeons and Dragons. My wife and I met in an Medieval recreation organization, which we still participate in today.

So when I selected a career, I decided to become obsessed with something that no one I knew had ever heard of before: City Management. There I was again, going against the grain. I became interested in this profession after discovering that I took pride and pleasure in supervising others during one my summer jobs. When sharing this experience with other, I was advised that I would be a good candidate for something known as “management.” To compliment this, I had been attending college and earning my Bachelors in Political Science. After completing a course in Public Administration and learning about how government operates (at the Federal and State level), I asked the professor and said, “is there a profession where you can be a manager at the city level?” He replied, “of course, it’s known as City Management.” He then gave me a slip of paper which allowed me to become a member of the International City/County Management Association. That year was 2001.

From that year until 2017, I pursued a career in City Management and I loved it! I obtained my MPA in Urban Management from Northern Illinois University, one of the top rated schools in the country for City Management. I worked internships in four different suburbs in Chicagoland. I started as a Management Analyst in Public Works in a suburb of Chicago and advanced quickly to the role of Assistant Village Manager. I then became a Village Administrator (similar to a City Manager) of a Chicagoland collar county community.

After a short time as Administrator I spent some time to reflect upon my career trajectory. As a part of this reflection process, I realized that I could not think of someone that had been in the role of City Manager and became an independent consultant and entrepreneur at the half-way mark of their career. Most professionals in my industry become consultants as an encore career having retired on a public pension. There I was again, going against the grain. Making a career decision that is not the norm.

As many can imagine this is both and exciting and frightening prospect. It’s one that many successful people talk about as the moment that changes their path in life and causes them to find a new calling. Something that drives them in a new direction, allowing them to reach new heights.

So that is my Journey. That is what I am doing now and this blog, this website, this entire business is all centered around setting new goals, trying new things, and discover how someone with a public sector background can be successful in the private sector.

The Beginning of a Journey

Today I begin my journey. Sitting in a coffee shop, on my laptop, on a Sunday afternoon feeling uneasy about what I’m about to do: start a professional blog.

I just read this statement outloud and it sounds so silly, really. Nothing I would say in this blog is anything that I wouldn’t share with any stranger in this shop if they were to sit down in front of me. Yet, I feel intimidated. I feel vulnerable. I’m genuinely nervous, even sweating a little bit. The thought of sharing my thoughts and feelings with the world is daunting.

Granted, it’s not as though the world is there to listen. My hubris is definitely in check on that point. And blogging is certainly nothing new, nor is the internet.

Then why do I create negative thoughts in my head? The same thoughts and worries you conjure up about what might happen to the plane during take-off or landing, what will happen when you make a speech, or go skydiving (something I have not and will never do). The thoughts are out there. The imagination conjures up ideas as to what people would be thinking of me as they read this and as with most of us, the theme is generally a negative one:

  • “OMG, he’s gone off the deep end”
  • “LOL, he’s in that phase of career now”
  • “Who does he think he is, Seth Godin?”
  • “LOOOO-SERRRRRR” [hand gesture on the forehead]

And those are just my friends talking!

So why start a blog? Why now? What makes me special? What am I different? What in my life is happening and why do I think I’m so special that I have wisdom to share and expect people to listen?

Nothing. I have zero expectations. I am not that special.

But, I have many reasons to start blogging.

  1. Writing feels good.
  2. The more I write, the better writer I become and being a good writer is an essential skill in the information age.
  3. It will make me a better person.
  4. Sharing knowledge and receiving feedback (see comment area below) is how we learn.
  5. Search Engine Optimization
  6. Marketing – I run a business, after all.
  7. I’ve always believed that in order to grow, you need to identify what activity makes you feel uncomfortable and leap into it.
  8. I have a WordPress site (shameless plug).
  9. I think I’m Seth Godin (j/k).
  10. My Mom has always been a fan of my writing and has always critiqued it – she’s a retired editor for textbooks – So this gives her something to do in retirement.
  11. I enjoy doing something new.
  12. I’m in a constant state of change and want to document my journey, so my children know what their father went through at the most pivotal time in his career so they can learn from him (as I was unable to from my father).
  13. My wife supports me.
  14. I am a victor, not a victim.
  15. I have many stories to tell.

There are probably others that I will not realize until later in life.

So that is it. My blog. This is the start. The beginning of a journey…….of storytelling.