Today though, I’d like to zoom out and talk a little bit more big picture - Goals.
This past Sunday, October 21st, 2018 I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM). The culmination of 15 weeks of training, STWM was my second marathon this year, and my 8th marathon in 3 years. Earlier this year, I ran the Mississauga Marathon, in an attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I didn’t. STWM was second attempt at a “Goal Race”…
This year also marks the 11th year I have been in business as The Directive Collective. In starting my design consultancy “Goal Life” was what I had in mind…
As fate would have it, both my “Goal Race” and “Goal Life” converged at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I ran 26.2 miles/ (42.2km) in 2:58:22- 29+ minutes faster than my previous best time, Qualified for the Boston Marathon (with a time 11+ minutes faster than the qualifying standard), and broke the “Sub-3 hour” barrier, something many runners try for years to achieve.
I also designed the 30,000+ race T-shirts and bibs for runners, 3000+ volunteer shirts, and worked with New Balance Canada to design the Toronto Runs Together campaign, digital ads, expo booth graphics and official souvenir apparel collection.
So what does running a marathon have to do with running a design consultancy? Maybe nothing, but the process of setting goals and achieving them I think is very much alike.
Pick a Goal. My goal for this training cycle was to qualify for the Boston marathon. Not because it’s the hardest (NYC Marathon is much harder to qualify for). Not because you get anything special (anyone can buy the famous Boston Marathon Jacket), but because to runners it is a special race, the oldest and most famous annual marathon in world. Most importantly, I wanted to be the kind of runner than can set a goal and work hard to achieve it. In a profile in Canadian Running Magazine (Jan/Feb 2018 Issue) I mentioned my BQ goal. My fiancee asked me “are you sure you want to tell everyone that’s your goal?”. “Too late - It’s in print” I said.
In running time goals are all arbitrary, and personal. I may have to work my ass off to qualify for Boston in less than 3 hours and 10 minutes. Another runner may put in just as much work to beat their personal best of 4 hours. Cam Levins broke the 43 year old Canadian Marathon record at STWM this year in 2:09:25. Eliud Kipchoge has been approaching the 2 hour barrier (2:01:39 at Berlin Marathon 2018) that was thought to be impossible for humans to overcome. Having a goal is the first step to achieving it, even if that goal is only personal.
I started The Directive Collective because I saw the opportunity to do good, unique work that combined my love of design with strategy, marketing and business. I’ve always believed that integrated, strategic design is better than design alone. I believe that good design is as much as the idea as it is the execution. I wanted to use design to direct the bigger picture. I wanted to be hands on, to create. My business card title is “Directive Creator. I direct by creating. Not Creative Director. Not Founder. Not Owner.
Working with New Balance on the Toronto Runs Together Campaign, I was able to fulfill this goal- designing “for runners by runners” I created a strategy and graphic visual that connected the brand to the running community - before, during and after the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon - the largest marathon in Canada and one of only 36 IAAF Gold Label marathons in North America.
Special thanks to New Balance and Greg for working with me on the project and building the largest version of logo I’ve ever designed!
2. Remember why your goal is your goal. As much as running a marathon is hard work, training for marathon is even harder. Training for STWM was my first cycle working with a coach and following a training plan. Throughout all the early mornings running intervals at 6am in 98% humidity, I had to keep focused why I was doing it. I was running to achieve a goal that I set to qualify for Boston and see what I was capable of. I was running for me. As much as training gets you to the start line, it is the mind game that let’s you finish a marathon. If you don’t 100% run with your goal in mind, it’s easy to get off pace, or worse, convince yourself that it’s OK to stop. At 32km your brain is saying nothing but “it doesn’t matter"- you can stop”. Thing is, your brain is right. It doesn’t matter. You can stop. The only thing pushing you further is remembering your goal and knowing why you are running.
While doing lots of awesome work, across a large range of disciplines including branding, graphics, illustration, footwear design, footwear development, and packaging certainly was my goal in starting The Directive Collective, keeping in mind why I wanted to run my own design consultancy and not do similar work for an agency or within a corporate position has kept me focused and allowed me to grow my business. “Goal Life” was always to have a job that didn’t feel like work because I was doing something I loved. My goal in starting the The Directive Collective was to design things I wanted to design, for people I wanted to work with, with a live/work balance that lets me enjoy the success I gain from working. Throughout my 11 years running The Directive Collective, the only times I’ve ever had a bad experience were those times when I lost sight of these goals. I once took a project that I didn’t really believe in, but thought it would be good for cashflow. It was the only project yet where I’ve had to fire the client. I once took a project that I believed in, but didn’t really get along with the client. It didn’t work out. I turn down 90% of project inquiries that come to me if they aren’t the right fit with my “Goal Life”.
3. Always adapt, update, and make new goals. Going into the 15 weeks of training for STWM, I had a singular goal in mind. Qualify for Boston. I needed a 3:10 race time. 17min better than my previous personal best. I had targeted 3:13 just months earlier at Mississauga and totally failed in that attempt. The paces sounded almost impossible. But I put in the work, working with a coach for the first time ever. Learning to love (?!) the early morning training, intervals and everything else I didn’t want to do.
Weeks prior to my race those qualifying standards changed as the Boston Athletics Association lowered the standards by 5min (meaning I had to run at least 5 min faster!). At this point, I had two choices- change my goal and run faster than I the pace I had trained for, or face not qualifying. Simple. I decided I would just need to push that much more so put it all into the remaining 3 weeks and had perhaps the best 3 weeks of training I could imagine. Come race day, and following a few really good long runs, my coach said I was actually in good enough fitness to run sub-3:00, which should get me to Boston with time to spare. 1 week out from race day I redid all my paces and calculated the splits I would need to run sub-3. On race day I kept this updated goal secret, knowing that everything would have to go perfect to be under 3 hours and kept focused on my “A” goal of qualifying for Boston in around 3:05. By adapting my goals I achieved over and above my A++ expectations. Already however I’m thinking of what will be next. Can I run 2:50? 2:45?
Like any business, The Directive Collective has also had to adapt. New services, new clients and and new projects. New goals. I would love to brand and design the creative for an entire race series. I want to design a running shoe that breaks world records. I want to design a beer can. I want to start my own brand.
What are your goals? To find out how we can help you achieve your goals - contact us !