Jack Zerby

Founder and designer at Flavors.me, and Goodsie. Formerly Director of Design at Vimeo, designer at Pentagram, Frog, and RG/A.

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I’m really awesome at being humble…

How many of you have read the following words on Twitter or Facebook.

“Today I was really truly humbled by [insert really awesome accomplishment with a hint of braggadociousness].”

Every time I see this I’m confused and bewildered. I mean bewildered in the kinda way that makes me want to punch a whole through my sweet baby Macbook Pro.

I don’t know about you, but when something really amazing happens to me, or I’m in some way rewarded for something I’ve done, my first reaction is far from “humble”. In fact it’s usually followed by me blasting Drake’s “Started from the Bottom”, tilting my seat back, and bobbing my head in the awesomest way possible while driving with the family to Bed Bath and Beyond.. I quickly realize that yes, this is cool, but I also realize that “pride comes before the fall”, so...

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My Mom called me out…

“Hey Mom are you awake?” I texted her at 10pm. (I always check before calling otherwise they think someone cut their hand off and is in the emergency room).

“Yea what’s up??” she replied.

I called her right away and let her know we’d be in town because I had a lunch meeting with a local entrepreneur to get his thoughts on my idea.

“JACKIE!!”

“What Mom???”

“Lately alllll you’ve been doing is TALKING about your idea, just get out there and DO something, stop meeting with people just to ‘run it by them’.”

At first I wanted to hang up, but then I realized she was right.

Mom’s…always right.

You may be asking what this idea is, and that’s not the point. It’s NOT a subscription service for hamster blankets, BUT EVEN IF IT WAS, that’s not why I’m telling this story.

...

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How I made $50,000 in 30 days…

I knew that headline would get you to click.

Why?

Because I’ve clicked these headlines thousands of times.

For a fleeting moment I feel like I’ve finally found the Holy Grail, or put in a less dramatic way… a shortcut.

Why are all of us looking for a shorter, quicker, cheaper route to our goals?

If it’s money, then it’s headlines like this one. If it’s weight, then it’s “6 second six-packs”. If it’s food, then it’s McDonalds.

Here are some shortcuts that I’ve fallen for:

Income Reports

This isn’t as prevalent in the startup world (maybe because only a few actually generate revenue… OOH BURN), but it is HUGE in the internet marketing world. Until I started following a lot of the well known marketing bloggers and influencers in that world, I had never seen anyone post their income on their blog. Not...

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That’s not my job

I was volunteering one morning setting up a sound system for an event and we were having issues with the screen projector. I asked a young lad (love using that word) helping us set up the stage a question.

“Hey (we’ll call him Jim) Jim, quick favor if you don’t mind”

Jim slowly sauntered over like freakin Dilbert.

“yeaa?”

“I’m having some issues getting this projector going, would you mind seeing if you could get it working while I set up these mic stands?”

“Umm, cough, well, that’s not my job…that’s Susy’s job.”

His words smashed through my ears with a dull thud. I could not believe he just uttered those words. The blood rushed to my ears and all I could hear was a high pitched sine wave.

I threw down the mic stand, ran over and dropped kicked him right in the mouth.

That was totally true,...

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My wife is an amazing marketer

Anyone who’s married knows the initial awkwardness of combining bank accounts, if even if you didn’t do that (good luck), you still have to start looking at what was once “your” money, as “our” money. Earlier in our marriage we used to fight all the time about things we bought. Marisa would come home with a new pair of shoes (how many do you freakin need anyway, I buy one pair per year), so I would go out and buy a new guitar. BOOM I SHOWED HER! What we didn’t realize is that spending “our” money to get back at each other was pretty ridiculous.

That is until we started tracking our spending within a budget. (stay with me, I have a point).

We each have what we call “blast money”. We can blast this money on anything we want, and it’s worked fantastic for 4 years.

But what happens when Marisa wants to buy things for...

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Everything I know about design I learned from Legos.

My name is Jack, so yes, I was so pumped every time this Lego commercial came on:

I remember sitting in my room for hours with a giant bucket of mismatched pieces from about 50 different sets. I never liked following the instructions. As soon as I ripped opened the Police Station set on Christmas 1991 I couldn’t wait to use the blue pieces in a spaceship I was building.

You can just picture what a rebel I was, one-size-too-small Spiderman pajamas, chucking the well designed instructions behind the couch and building whatever I wanted, however I wanted. Pound sign IDOWHATIWANT.

Fast forward 30 years and here’s how Lego’s still influence me as a designer today:

Grids

Grids

The great thing about Legos is there’s a built in grid system. You can build masterpieces with pinpoint accuracy by making sure this side has 3 and the other side has 8 (loved those long ones). You...

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I don’t care if it fails, as long as it looks good…

If you’re a designer, say that out loud. Does that ring uncomfortably true?

Maybe you’re not a designer, let’s say you’re a developer.

Have you ever thought “I don’t care if it fails, as long as the code is beautiful and it works flawlessly”?

I’m going to write this from a designer and developer’s perspective because that’s what I do all day. There have been countless times in my design career where I have said things like:

“Crap. That last word doesn’t fit very well in that column. Eh, let’s ditch it.“

“That help text looks really bad there. Only an idiot would not know how to do that. Let’s ditch it”.

“We’ve had a ton of complaints about [feature xyz], but without it, the page would look really unbalanced.”

I know some of you designers reading this have said similar things, SO DON’T GET ALL...

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