Ready, Set, Grow

Posted by Micah Sledge

The 30-day challenge was the first initiative to come out of GS&F’s newly formed Growth Committee. We were hardly the first group to enact a community-based growth plan geared toward achieving a common goal. Within the creative field there’s the 100-Day Project and in the world of fitness there are more 30-Day Challenges than you can shake a stick at. That got us thinking: could this philosophy work at GS&F? There was only one way to find out. By most standards 30 days is not a long time, but we know how tough it can be to stay consistent with a new habit for more than a few days. So, to make the challenge less daunting, we included a daily timeframe of just 30 minutes (30 for 30—see what we did there?). And to increase internal buy-in, our fearless leaders blessed the initiative and invested in the growth of GS&F employees by allowing all participants to actually track this time each day. Thanks Jeff and Gregg! What made our challenge unique was the framework. We wanted to challenge every member of our agency, regardless of job title, to foster the development of a technical skill that could in some way benefit the agency—even if it wasn’t a part of their daily job responsibilities. Nay, especially if it wasn’t a part of their daily job responsibilities. Call us crazy, but we envisioned a world where a project manager could study photography, a production designer could learn After Effects, and a UX designer could practice 3D renderings. Sound like incredibly specific examples? Well, that’s because those things actually happened. adam And in the process we all grew, both individually and as a whole—but it wasn’t without work. We had anticipated it would be difficult to stay motivated for a full 30 days, and we were right—but we developed ways to boost enthusiasm and encourage consistency. We published our work to Instagram and proudly displayed it in conference rooms. We even surprised a few lucky winners with on-the-spot cash rewards. All in all, we’d call our first agency-wide growth initiative a success, not to mention a fantastic learning experience for our committee. But don’t just take our word for it—here’s what some of our prize winners had to say about their 30 for 30 experience. jessica “Last month, per the direction of the GS&F Growth Committee, I embarked on a 30-day challenge where I was encouraged to select an interesting topic, skill or hobby and explore it with the goal of self-improvement. I used my 30 for 30 Challenge to do something I’d done before. I chose to read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle again. But this time, I was going to read intentionally, taking in every word and earnestly applying the book’s lessons to both my personal and professional life. Like so many of my peers, I often find myself thinking about the past or worrying about the future—rarely being present in the moment. And that’s because being in the moment is a challenging thing to do, but The Power of Now introduces specific methods on how to be present and the effects are lasting. This is a book I will own forever, and its philosophies will stick with me long after 30 for 30 (I even highlighted certain sections in case I need a quick refresher down the road).”

— Jessica Underwood, Account Executive

sarah “For my 30 for 30 Challenge, I initially chose to expand my knowledge on subjects I was already familiar with. But five days later, I decided to switch gears. At heart, I’m a maker. So, listening to someone talk about making things or following along to a tutorial wasn’t exposing me to the growth opportunities I wanted to experience within the allotted 30 days. In lieu of this realization, I decided, instead, to turn my efforts towards illustration and illustrate a different letter every day. Along the way I learned little tricks—like the easiest way to make pixel art and how to curate your Instagram feed in a way that’s aesthetically appealing. For me, though, the difficulty of this challenge didn’t stem from filling the 30 minutes but limiting my ambition and creativity on this topic to only 30 minutes. Overall, the 30 for 30 Challenge sparked new creative interests for me, and I’m excited to continue exploring and shaping the skills I acquired over the course of the 30 days.”

— Sarah Growden, Designer

yanet “30-day challenges have always seemed a bit daunting to me—the moment I start, I usually want to quit. So, when the GS&F 30 for 30 Challenge came along, I decided this would be the time that I actually went through with it. Being a designer, I really value the work of illustrators. With that in mind, I challenged myself to create a different vector illustration every day. It’s important to note that I’ve never been good at illustrations; in fact, it was probably my worst class in art school. But vector illustrations are clean and visually flat, which eliminated the intimidation of realism, and with the help of Skillshare tutorials I was able to sort through some of the obstacles that have previously prevented me from creating illustrations I was proud of. There were many takeaways from the 30 for 30 Challenge, but most notably I learned that I can actually illustrate! Since the initial 30 days came to a close, I’ve created an illustrated Christmas card for our clients over at The University of Tennessee Medical Center and I’ve extended my personal challenge to 100 days. Wish me luck!”

— Yanet Mireles, Designer