Partnership Journal

A business partnership is like a marriage. But how do you know if you are a match? The only way to figure it all out is to experience it and live through it.

Since we started a new partnership venture, we have been curious-yet-excited-yet a little anxious about how will it go for us. Naah! Let’s not just keep guessing. We decided to document our journey and keep track.

Inspired by Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman’s 40 days of dating project, we decided to document our success or failure. We will both answer a set of questions every Monday to know how excited we are for the following week and the next set of questions every Friday to document how the week really went.

How do you feel about the upcoming week?

I feel hopeful. I was working alone for too long and I am excited to see what two creative minds can do together. What I am missing in my skillset, Radhika seems to be expert at. How could that go wrong?

What is your step by step for handling new clients?

I start with a conversation over a call to understand if our goals are aligned and if we can help each other. I want to be 100% clear on what I can deliver and what are the expectations of the client. If we are both happy, then I proceed with the documentation that reflects that. I write up a contract that is very detailed in what is going to be delivered, when, and how.

What do you enjoy the most about your creative work?

I love the therapeutic aspect of creativity. No matter how I feel, once I get into work, I am fully in a state of flow. It is like meditation for me. Seeing the visual results makes me feel useful and I know that my day was not wasted. 

What would be your perfect day? Plan it out from waking up to bedtime.

My perfect day:

6:00 Wake up early and talk with kids about the upcoming day. I love ending up saying: It is a wonderful day.

7:00 My husband drops kids at the kindergarten, while I open up the windows, water the plants, and brew the tea. It is my time to be alone for a bit.

8:00 Short workout with my husband. Just enough to feel energized.

8:30 Breakfast with my husband with a table full of fruits, vegetables and healthy things prepared in a way that I am excited to eat them!

9:00 Creative work: collaborating on bigger projects and thinking behind it or just drawing by myself. I would alternate it with book reading and bringing up new ideas.

12:00 Lunch. I would dream of having a chef cooking it for me so it is health and different everyday.

13:00 People time! I would love to spend it on mentoring and being active in my local community.

15:00 More people! Planning with Radhika our business processes and crazy ideas for new projects. After such a creative day I would have more reflections!

16:00 Play time with kids, they set the rules.

19:00 Dinner, everyone at the table.

20:00 Kids are sleeping (at 8PM? Dream on!)

21:00 Discussions with husband, reflections, and reading books.

22:00 Bed time.

Weekly challenge: Choose one person you disagree with and have a tea with him/her this week.

Should I talk about politics with husband?

How do you feel about the past week?

The last week, for me, was about who am I professionally. Who do I want to be? Am I a Creative Director? Brand Strategist? What about the illustration? These titles are useless because I could be all of them if I wanted. The problem was, that I could not explain in one sentence, what I do, to anyone who would ask me. I went through many mixed feelings, worried about what this partnership means for me as an individual. I still wanted to advocate for mental health and education. I could not possibly have it all? Midweek, we had the live show where we tried to work on our 20-year road map for the business. I was amazed. Looking into the future, I could actually be all of that. It gave me a lot of clarity about our values and our mission. We were aligned.

Did you learn anything new about Radhika?

So many things! I learned that they eat awful things with tea and we will have trouble aligning on that. On the other hand, I see that she is much more focused and I absolutely need her to keep me on track, when I have 10000 new ideas. It does not matter if I have good ideas if they never see the light of the day.

Did you learn anything new about yourself?

Through this week’s challenge, to talk to someone I disagree with, I learned that I don’t always have the courage to lead.

Even though I want to advocate for mental health and education, I am not always talking about things that are hard for me or are uncomfortable to say out loud.

I also see now, that I am having trouble articulating what I am trying to say. When I get a thought or an idea I just want to rush things out to the world, even though they are not always ready for the audience. I am grateful for Radhika, who stops me and takes all my ideas one by one, to give them more clarity and value.

Did you learn anything about creative business?

I learned about the difference between business and creative strategy. Although they are very tightly linked, I am an expert in creative strategy. I need to be more aware of when additional experts could be needed for better results.

How do you feel about this partnership right now?

I feel that my personal growth goes much faster now, and I am confident that there is no losing scenario here. It is more than a business now to me. It is my dream job that also starts to make sense, instead of just being a dream job.

How do you feel about the upcoming week?

I am super excited for the week. It feels it has started on a positive note and I was waiting for this Monday to start our Journal. I feel it is helping me break monotony of thoughts. I am also loving the fact that I have someone to build ideas together.

What is your step by step for handling new clients?

My first thing to do with new clients is to figure out if we are good match to work with each other using some basic filters. I want to respect time for both by getting a sense of yes or no as early as possible. So I would typically start with some basics, what do they want, do they like our style, timelines, budgets, mindset? If yes, we can go into further details and close the deal.

What do you enjoy the most about your creative work?

I love coming up with ideas and combining creativity with logic to convey a message/feeling.

I also love the presence of colors in what I do.

What would be your perfect day? Plan it out from waking up to bedtime.

Perfect Weekday –
1. Wake up at 6:30 AM.
2. Do yoga, get ready.
3. Breakfast
4. Get to work – 9:00 AM
5. Do amazing things, waste no time.
6. Lunch – 1:30 PM
7. Meetings 
8. Tea – 4:00 PM
9. Shut shop – 6:00 PM
10. Unwind, prepare dinner
11. Dinner – 7:30 PM
12. Watch something/Read/Solve puzzles/Family catch up
13. Sleep – 10:00 PM

Perfect Weekend/Holiday – Do nothing/Go out/Clean home/Explore something new/Travel – Can’t plan it. It’s about doing whatever I want to. DND please!

Hahaha! I realise that I love what I do so much that even if its all perfect, I cannot be totally idle. I will end up coming up with new ideas for work and do more things I think. So I need to do what I do and chill like insane over weekends and holidays.

Weekly challenge: Choose one person you disagree with and have a tea with him/her this week.

Damn! This feels like a toughie! Thinking about who could it be.

 

How do you feel about the past week?

I felt much more at peace, there’s clarity and I also enjoyed whatever I did. It is something that I had been missing for a while now. I feel really happy that I have someone to share ideas. I feel creatively more charged up and thanks to this Journal, I did more experiments than I have done in a long time. Overall loved the week.

Did you learn anything new about Joanna?

I don’t think this is new, but I had further re-assurance that she is extremely hardworking. The way she talks about handling her kids and work, it makes me look upto her and I am surely going to ask her for tips when I have my kids!

I also learnt that she drives a car. And! She told me that they have a sledge to self-drive! I can’t even imagine that! Damnn! That is sounds sooo cool!

Did you learn anything new about yourself?

I tried to come up with ideas for the weekly challenge, put them on social media to find someone who might disagree and have tea. No one really turned up. One did, but did not show up to have a chat. So I couldn’t complete the challenge. But this made me realise – 

  1. I hate it so much if someone backs off from a commitment. I have had this before and it has not changed.
  2. I felt agitated that I am unable to complete a challenge. It made be worried and I wanted to just somehow do it as time was ending, just to be able to say that I finished it. I was trying too hard and was thinking, God! Can’t I make anything controversial that people talk about!?
  3. But then, I realised that I didn’t want to force it. Unusual for me, but I accepted that it’s ok to let go. I tried something, it doesn’t work and I didn’t want to do something for the heck of it. I didn’t want to be too harsh on myself and wanted to take this as a learning to take things easy-peezy! And I feel good about it. This is new for me!



Did you learn anything about creative business?

I feel more clear about what my strengths are. I researched about art direction and creative direction, to understand the difference better. I feel I am more towards creative direction.
Oh! And yes, I don’t think I can improve at drawing, but I am happy to live with good creative thinking and I feel confident that it is still a very strong thing to do as a creative professional.

How do you feel about this partnership right now?

As of now, I’m loving it. I think that we both are very strong about our values and having a honest, empathetic business matters to us. So I feel that more than anything else I want this partnership to work to be able to share stories of good values and a great culture and inspire others to do the same.

How do you feel about the upcoming week?

I am feeling playful. I have not experimented with typography like this since I was in university. It is a good exercise for me, to step out of the digital illustration comfort zone. I am also happy to be involved in the creative process again!

How did you find your first talent for the team?

I was looking for an internship, to help me with the transition from freelancing to a business model. I offered a small financial reward but mainly mentoring, a personal growth plan, a Squarespace website portfolio, and all that is needed to get a job or start freelancing. It was important for me that we are aligned on values and that we both benefit from the relationship. After reading 100 LinkedIn applications, I finally found the one! Kimia is a talented illustrator and designer from Iran. We made a deal to help each other grow and she just got her first job at an agency. It was my first and very successful hire.

What is your biggest weakness in regards to technical creative skills?

My biggest weakness is 3D modeling or anything technical that requires days of work. I enjoy the more conceptual part of the design and I like to see the results fast.

How do you like to be comforted when you’re sad or upset?

I usually need to get alone time, to read, take a bath, and of course to work. Illustrations are great therapy for me. However, I do not let anything stay in the air. If I am upset with you, be sure I will let you know immediately. It helps me to process and move on faster.

Weekly challenge: Schedule one hour this week to do nothing and get bored.

I am not sure if I know how to do that. I am never bored. In fact, one hour sounds like torture.

How do you feel about the past week?

I feel satisfied but tired. We were working hard on our marketing materials for Jo&Rad, identity project, as well as a program for illustrators. In the middle of it, I tried the challenge to stay bored for one hour. Can you imagine? So busy and we decide to do nothing for one hour! I was angry. I knew what the purpose of the exercise was. Get bored, relax, let new ideas shine. Blah blah blah. I was thinking what a waste of precious time. I have serious stuff to take care of! I was stomping my feet like my 3-year-old toddler. Who’s idea was it anyway!!!!!!?

I lasted the whole 35 minutes, which included getting bored on the bus. In the end, I reached the point where I had to ask myself: what is urgent? Nothing really. Why am I running? I want the agency to grow. Why am I worried? I feel that we are so close! I am scared that it will not work out so I would rather stay busy. But does “busy” bring more results? No. Innovation does. It can be scary to take a break when you struggle financially or are building something you care about. But personally, I will try to be better at that next week. Maybe I will be even more efficient.

Did you learn anything new about Radhika?

I found it very cool that in India, people don’t take medicine for every pain. In fact, Radhika never had a painkiller! I also discovered that we have similar health conditions (twins, I told you) so I am planning to learn more from here about natural ways to stay healthy.

Did you learn anything new about yourself?

I learned that I am still living in a fear of judgment. I thought I am over it but it always sneaks in. I was not feeling well this week, but instead of taking a break, I kept going. I felt ashamed to be weak, I didn’t want to seem like I am lazy or that I am not trying hard enough. Where does it come from? I realized, that I always felt less of myself because I was a working mother and because I was a freelancer. I was always trying to make up for the lack of time and lack of a “traditional career”. But today, I know that this is not my own voice. Those are the voices of people who criticized me a lot in the past. But I know my purpose and where am I going. I will be working on getting those voices out.

Did you learn anything about creative business?

During our live show, I learned that the design industry is not dead yet! I just have to admit that staying on the technical side as I get older is getting harder for me. Switching to the agency model came just in time. I would also recommend freelancers entering the market to pick their technical expertise (UX, branding, etc.) right away.

How do you feel about this partnership right now?

I feel uncertain of what will happen next. In a good way.

How do you feel about the upcoming week?

At the moment I feel that I am falling in love with design and feeling creative all over again. And I think that is happening thanks to this Journal as this is meant to be honest, open, free and it’s super REAL! It’s just giving me a sense of freedom and I guess that’s getting me closer to what I really want.

How did you find your first talent for the team?

As it usually happens, business starts with people around you. So, my first hire was a friend who is also into illustrations. But I realised that I was unprepared to have someone with me then and we had to part ways after few months only. I struggled to work with someone then and felt blank. 

What is your biggest weakness in regards to technical creative skills?

I am more into creative thinking, concept building and idea generation. I am not the best in terms of a lot of technical skills! I am not the best at drawing, I DO NOT remember software shortcuts AND I am just not good at handling a camera!

How do you like to be comforted when you’re sad or upset?

This question made me reflect a lot on myself. And my answer would be, I generally like to be left alone and mostly once I get busy with work or anything else, I tend to forget whatever I have been upset about and I get back to normal.
And I have not been like this always. I used to cry a lot and get all worked up, but last few years have changed me and I almost get bored of staying upset for too long now! 😉

Weekly challenge: Schedule one hour this week to do nothing and get bored.

I am curious how this will go for me as generally I just need to be doing something, like it could be unproductive, but I need to be doing something. If nothing, I will meditate! But, ‘NOTHING’!?Hmm….let’s wait and watch!

 

How do you feel about the past week?

This week I felt anxious and scared about the future. Finances scared me as we are still building a new business. However, something just feels positive about whatever I am doing and why are we into this. This is something I have not felt in a long time now. Something just feels right and I will let this drive me further.

Did you learn anything new about Joanna?

I felt grateful as I realised that Joanna hold’s on to what she believes in very strongly. She is stubborn with ideas and does not give up easily. I have also always been someone who wanted to do different things and have been stubborn with my ideas. However, since the last year or so, I have been in a state of doubting things that I believe in. I felt little lost. But it’s almost surprising for me to see that Joanna is also really honest and strong about her opinions as I have been. It is helping me connect back with myself and my beliefs. So I can only thank for that and I feel that inspite of where this partnership goes, it is helping me reach a better spot already.

Perhaps, birds of a feather ‘should’ flock together?

Did you learn anything new about yourself?

I would mention about our challenge this week. We had to spend 60 minutes doing nothing. My biggest struggle was for the entire 60 minutes was, I couldn’t get my logical mind to accept that what does ‘nothing’ even mean!!? I mean either you will meditate or maybe do something unproductive or get lost in thoughts. But I just couldn’t figure out how to do ‘nothing’! In those 60 minutes, I did things like counting floor tiles, just sitting, controlling my urge to tidy up the room, thinking about work to getting my attention to ‘do nothing’….Phewww! I am so glad it is done.

But, I can say that I wasn’t freaking out because I knew it just has to be done. I realised that I don’t get into a confusion mode after deciding something. Either yes or no works for me. I don’t like living in between I guess. So even though I knew this is such a waste, but because it had to be done, I wasn’t so annoyed, as I thought I would be.

Did you learn anything about creative business?

Two things were top of mind for me – the value of relationships and the importance of driving a business with passion and from the heart. I am learning that overthinking and trying to be too perfect just doesn’t help, not just in a creative way, but not even business.

How do you feel about this partnership right now?

As I mentioned above, the partnership feels like a win for me already because it is really helping me just connect back to something that got lost in me. It’s something huge for me.

How do you feel about the upcoming week?

I am feeling a little nervous as we have the first work lining up as well as some tough conversations going on about our partnership. We had to be very transparent about our other side projects and I was stressed to make sure everything is fair and aligned with our values. I realized that without trust, it would never work out. It takes a lot of courage to share all the projects together and trust each other with all the processes. I feel that we are going great and transparency is holding everything well together.

What are the values you are not willing to compromise, in order for this partnership to work out?

For me, empathy, courage, community, and honesty are 4 key values that I am not willing to compromise. My personal story is linked to those values and I could just not take that away. I learned that company values are the same as personal values and it is very rare that someone will align. Perhaps a reminder for anyone who starts a partnership would be to start from the values, not business ideas.

What is your process for doing creative research?

I always start with identifying what the problem really is. Once I am certain about it, I try to do interviews with existing or potential clients. On complex projects with big problems, I always rely on external experts for conducting market research. Once I can see the picture more clearly, I would do the conceptual research and try to pinpoint few ideas that could answer the problem. Having few ideas ready for testing, I would investigate potential styles, suitable for the specific case. I would work with stylescapes any storyboards. again, running it through the audience and only then starting to work on the visuals.

What would you change about yourself if you could?

If I had a magic wand I would improve my cognitive flexibility a bit. I would just turn the volume a little bit more up. I would also like to have a better memory for facts and details.

Do one thing that scares you — knowing you’ll get rejected.

Why am I so excited about this?

How do you feel about the past week?

 

Did you learn anything new about Radhika?

 

Did you learn anything new about yourself?

 

Did you learn anything about creative business?

 

How do you feel about this partnership right now?

 

How do you feel about the upcoming week?

This weekend had some movement and it felt Jo&Rad is beginning to get some limelight. No, no, I am not blinded by paparazzi and flying in the air, but it’s just a nice feeling when you open a new shop and you see people walk in and talk about it no? Ooooh! You want to be at your best, there’s excitement, there’s good fear – I feel it all this Monday!

What are the values you are not willing to compromise, in order for this partnership to work out?

I hateeee cheating and dishonesty. Knowing Joanna, I don’t think I need to even tell her this, I feel so happy about being able to do open conversations with her. But to answer the question I would say, “Joanna, please don’t break our trust in anyway. I cannot stand anyone cheating anyone else, be it for money, fame whatever. If there is ever an issue, please just tell me and not go behind my back to talk about it to anyone else.” – I think these things break me and would be the end of the partnership for me.

What is your process for doing creative research?

  1. I first soak in information about the client just to know what are are we looking for and set some ‘creative constraints’.
  2. I then go to places like Instagram, Pinterest, Behance, sometimes even stock image sites, just to browse through stuff. At this stage, I do not restrict too much. I do not try to conclude and also the search is broad. I don’t think too much about the end result yet.
  3. Then I go through all that I have gathered and I generally see a pattern – Like I am able to segregate all references into 5-6 concepts largely. 
  4. I then judge what is feeling more relevant and pick the concept that makes the most sense. Here, I put in my filters – logic, trends, what is needed, production goals.
  5. I see if further research is needed. This is more specific now.
  6. By this time, I am able to pretty much have clarity on how I imagine the solution to look like.

P.S. Sometimes I also take breaks between all this. Even sleep over it. I allow my subconscious mind to process all that I soak in and give it a better shape.

What would you change about yourself if you could?

I had always been super clear about what I want. I followed my heart. Lately I have been in an overthinking mode. Phewww! I am done with it. I just want to stop doing that, take life easy-peezy, not get entangled in worries and move on. I don’t want to be too hard on myself. 

Do one thing that scares you — knowing you’ll get rejected.

Hmm, loving this!

How do you feel about the past week?

 

Did you learn anything new about Joanna?

 

Did you learn anything new about yourself?

 

Did you learn anything about creative business?

 

How do you feel about this partnership right now?