Trying to capture James Hersick in an article feels like trying to put a genie back in the bottle, impossible. There's just no capturing him. Still, that is my task this month. James Hersick is Cowork Frederick's Featured Member for May 2013.
Spend just five minutes with James and you come away inspired, energized, and ready to change the world. He's full of creative ideas and a passion that puts ideas into action. Read or heard a talk about living authentically, purposefully, with awareness and intention? Well, James is doing it. Every day.
From James' LinkedIn profile "I have been a professional designer for most of my life. Whether for business or the community, I believe deeply in the ability of the design process solve problems and get results."
James is the President and Creative Director & Designer of Rocketfuel Design Company, where he has been "Launching awesome ideas and clever design into the universe since 2003." Clever tag line. James wanted to be an astronaut as a child and now aims to help his customers "reach for the stars". "We focus our design firm on work that heals, helps, educates and celebrates the stuff that makes life great. We help them make a positive impact on their bottom line, their communities and beyond."
"I didn't like school. I didn't fit in.", says James. So, he took his two years and the Associate's Degree in Graphic Design it earned him and struck out to ... deliver pizza. It was tough breaking into the design business, but I get the sense failure is just not in James' vocabulary. He volunteered at night, taking on projects to get noticed. One former manager told him "I can't hire you; I need someone good." A year later he was her boss. His career as an Art Director quickly progressed and he soon found himself managing a team of 20+ people, dealing with some very large corporate customers and drawing a nice paycheck. It was through that experience that he found he preferred leading smaller teams where he was able to do design instead of paperwork. He also learned that big names and life for a paycheck was not enough for him. He redesigned himself and his career, founding Rocketfuel Design Company. The RDC website says "Do what you love & have fun." Why spend your precious time doing anything else? "Too many people talk about what they'll do sometime. There's no time; there's today", says James.
RDC customers come mostly by referral. James takes time to get to know them and to make sure there's a good fit. He wants to work with others with a similar passion for good. "We wrap ourselves up in their culture and really learn who they are and what they stand for. We are guardians of their brand and trusted advisors."
Who are those companies? Time Warner, Marriott, University of Maryland Medical System, CGI, American Home Mortgage, Chevy Chase Bank, The Boys' Latin School of Maryland, The Jewish Council for the Aging & Shapiro Negotiations Institute, just to name a few.
Focusing his creative energy even more toward making a difference, James recently founded a new company, Equilibrium. Rocketfuel Design Company is "in business to make other businesses better with clear strategies and awesome design solutions. But what if the challenges are larger? What if the deliverables are just unclear as the timetables? What if the creative brief addresses poverty, hunger, education or democracy, etc., etc., etc.? What if the client is a community?" Equilibrium focuses "on cultivating ideas and leveraging partnerships that will yield Social Profit. In other words, we are in business to make communities better." James talked passionately about a recent project in Alabama where he has teamed up with folks from Auburn University to help the Gee's Bend Quilters. "The opportunity to help this community rethink it's economic future and celebrate it's rich artistic heritage makes me pinch myself everyday.", says James.
James joined Cowork Frederick because he needed interaction. Indeed. Studies have shown the actual act of creating things requires quiet focus, but the generation of creative ideas and the energy to do something about them comes from interaction with others. James tried having a studio, then working from home, then studio, then home. A coworking space provides both shared workspaces where collaborative conversations readily strike up and quiet spaces to focus. It's just the right mix for a creative, entrepreneurial do-gooder like James.
Every night James contemplates the top 5 great things he did that day. I wonder what he'll think about tonight.