15 Lessons Learned in 2007

What a year.  I can say with ultimate confidence that we never would have guessed, one year ago, that 2007 would be so transformative for Common Craft. Here are some things we learned:


Video works. Text, graphics, audio, they all have a place.  But video is a different animal.  Nothing engages people like the dynamics of a video.  Ever read about a car chase? It's not as fun.

Simple is better.  Approach an explanation by removing information instead of adding it. Remember Occam's Razor.

Production values and ideas are often at odds.  Flashy graphics and cool music are sometimes a poor replacement for a good idea. Spend time focusing on the message.

Constraints facilitate creativity. 
Jazz great Charles Mingus once said, "You can't improvise on nothing, man."  Bring focus to your work by creating rules or constraints that give your creativity a starting point.

It's not always about how it works - it's about why anyone should care.  The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference (Elie Weisel).  The path to a solid explanation is making people care as a first priority.

We all need a little more levity.  Unstuff your shirt and make people laugh. Look foolish.  Defy convention and do not take yourself too seriously.

"Viral video" should never be the goal - it's a by-product.  The best you can do is to fill a knowledge gap and make it easy for others to share the love.

Solve problems when they need to be solved.
If you have a big idea, don't try to research and plan everything from the start. Instead, do what you can today and tomorrow's problems will be revealed in due time and in a manageable way.

Don't assume. You are part of a tiny group that knows what you know. It may seem like everyone knows, but they don't - it's an illusion created by a consistent group of contacts.



Small is beautiful.  You don't have to grow just because you can.  Look for ways to work in the most lightweight ways possible. Beware having too much momentum going in a single direction.

You're never too small to build a brand.
  Give your company a name and logo and make it a part of everything you do.  The best time to plant an oak tree was 80 years ago - the second best time is today.

Give it away.  Find something you love to do and give it away.  If people love it, it may become your business.

Lifestyle is what matters.
If you're independent, remember why.  Look closely at how your business impacts your life.  Step back and remember that you have a choice in how you live.  You don't have to do it all.

Be Authentic, genuine and legitimate.
There are far too many hucksters out there.  Be yourself and orient your business around integrity as a priority.

Always tinker and experiment.  There is no such thing as a finished product - always push for the next big idea.