Several years ago I wrote down 3 phrases; Learn it, Master it, and Redefine it. Whether it is learning a new skill, or starting a new job this explains how I approached new things. It was frustrating to me that I always felt others would be able to jump into new tasks much quicker then I could. I often was a slow starter, but would eventually catch up, and often surpassed others in understanding the task. After reflecting on how I approached new situations I saw a pattern in myself that helped me understand how I work.
I’m a visual learner, so when I first approach a new assignment someone can explain it to me in great detail, but I would not be able to pick it up. I realized that I have to discover it myself by visually breaking it apart into smaller parts. It is a joke among my friends that I use excel spreadsheets for everything. It is an easy way for me to visually lay out all the details, and see how everything relates to one another. This is also why I like to schedule everything out, since I can visually see my day. For larger tasks this goes far beyond excel sheets, and calendars. I break down every aspect of the task, and really analyze every detail until I completely understand it. This is why it takes me so long to pick up new things, but also why I feel like I might have a better understanding of a task then others that did not take the time to analyze every detail.
Once I truly understand the task I then start to master it. This often just requires time, and practice that there is no substitute for. When I start this phase I might not be the best at the task, but I can talk about it like I’m an expert.
Once I feel I understand the task inside and out, and able to perform the task at a level of mastery I start to analyze the process. After I truly understanding and master something I start to notice the imperfections in the process. I begin to think of ways that would improve the process, and more efficient ways of completing the task. I’m never satisfied with the status quo, and I’m often looking for better ways to do things.
This is the process I tend to go through with every new challenge I face. Currently I’m in the early stages of learning how to run my animation company. I have never had to find clients, bid on projects, understand accounting, taxes, growing a company, or setting up a production pipeline. The way I have been learning to do all these things is by looking at my competitors to see how they do it. I mimic them to get a complete understand of their way of doing it. I feel this is an important step before I start to redefine the way my company runs.
If you ask me what makes my company stand out from our competitors I would have to say that right now there is not much of a difference. The more I learn about my competitors the more I will be able to find better ways. It is at this point the company will start to take its shape, and will become uniquely its own company with its own culture. This not only gives me a base to start from, but it also helps me under stand my competitors.
This is all incredibly important to me, since I don’t want to simply be a reflection of an existing company. In order to be successful you have to find a way to stand out from the background. I know that my process might take me longer, but I feel it will give me an advantage over my competition. Lets see if my theory works.
Last week I spent a lot of time reaching out to both clients, and reps. I have also been doing a lot of research on the leadership structure of some of the other animation companies. I’m making a plan for what I feel would be best for my company at its current stage.
This week I will continue looking into finding new clients. We are starting on a small project with one of our existing clients, but that should not be more then a couple weeks of work. This Wednesday I will be attending the DreamWorks Animation’s Home cast and crew screening and wrap party. I’m excited to see how much the movie has changed since I left in July. It will also be nice to get to see my old friends and co-workers. I will let you know how it went in next week’s blog post.
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