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A creative blog by Anthony Godoy on The Whole 9

Anthony Godoy is the creative director at Dead Serious MM, a Seattle boutique branding agency. He’s also a photographer and life-long writer whose work has appeared on The Whole 9 for a few years. Though his days are being infringed upon more and more by business development and management responsibilities (running a company and all), he still finds time to hit the design world hands on. He is also a skier, lover of music and gets around pretty fast in the social media circles. Follow him on Twitter, @deadseriousmm, and on Facebook at Dead Serious MM.

Success and Optimism.

Starting a business for the sake of starting a business has never been my thing. Some people start them just to start them. They are business people whose satisfaction and claim to fame is that they own a business, or businesses. It’s Trumpian for the sake of being Trumpian. I’ve never been impressed, as success without an appealing life is just empty success.

A couple years ago my best client asked me about starting an actual business, something that at the time I saw no real benefit in, the way I saw no benefit in going to college before my lengthy collegiate career. The idea died on the table. Last year I started working part time in a ski shop to motivate me to ski again, and it rubbed the same client the wrong way.

“I think you took that job just to keep me up at night figuring out how to get you more work,” he said waving his hands in the air. In October, just days before I went to Europe for a few weeks, he said to me, “When you get back, we’re moving offices, you’re moving in with us and you’re starting a business.”

“Successful business owners are optimists by nature,“ he said in early January, while negotiating the terms of a partnership. “They have to be. You have to be.”

He wasn’t really talking to me when he said that. He was talking instead to an environment, my environment, and he tied it to the Dementor and Patronus relationship of Harry Potter’s world. That made sense. But it really made me think about what it means to be optimistic, or to be an optimist.

He asked me days later in the rush of the new office, “Are you optimistic?” It was a loaded question. Anyone who knows anyone never asks a direct question. He knows me as well as anyone, so what I heard was, “Are you happy? Do you trust me? What’s the plan? Is your wife freaking out? Can you handle her if she is? Are you feeling depressed? Are you ready? Can I trust you? Do I owe you money? Are you free for lunch? If this whole thing goes south . . .”

So I nodded and smiled in that bro way. Had I said yes it would have been perceived as a lie, which it would not have been. A smiling nod says more than yes. It says, “Yes. I don’t know. The plan is to go go go. Yes. Yes. No. Yes. You’d better. Yes. Yes. We’ll see . . .”

No one can disagree with the notion of success and optimism. But what does it really mean to be optimistic, to be an optimist? I hear the word optimism, and even use it I’m sure. But so to “calculus,” and “inversion layer,” and I know squat about either. So faced with it, what is an optimist and how does it relate to business? How does it relate to me?

I am confident. Being confident means to me to trust that something will work as anticipated. I am confident my bathtub will keep water from spilling into the rest of my house. I am confident the pen on my desk will lay down some ink. I am confident that when a potential client presents a need, I will deliver a viable, if not stellar solution. I am confident that I will produce the best work.

I am hopeful. Every one of us is hopeful about something. I’m hopeful that it will snow in the mountains just outside Seattle. I am hopeful my wife will get the raise and promotion she so deserves, or that new position with the more conciliatory company. I am even confident about that. I am hopeful that we get both an NBA and an NHL team. I have little control over any of that. But I hope.

I am driven. Pitching a potential client isn’t as easy as floating an idea through an email and expecting the client to throw their panties at you (unless you’re dealing with schmucks). Instead you have to deliver thousands of dollars worth of thinking and planning in the face of non-committal. Many horses die standing upright at water’s edge, and not for lack of effort. But I work, and plan, and create and drive. Even in the face of hem and haw, I continue with the work, and the ideas, with no guarantee. Perhaps I am driving hope with confidence.

Confidence and hope and drive make sense to me. Perfect sense. It’s optimism I couldn’t get a grasp of, and thinking about it in the face of starting this company, I’ve come to a resting conclusion: Optimism is this feeling I have that if everything goes south, I’ll be alright. I am optimistic that if hope and confidence and drive fail, though I am confident and hopeful and driven that it will not, everything is going to be okay.

I will be fine. I am optimistic of that. And I’m Dead Serious.

  1. And you’re Damn Funny. And I love you for continuing to show up. It’s your time, baby. ROCK IT!

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