Lessons from Bill

Bill Little, our founder, has taught us many lessons over the course of many years. At first blush, his advice wasn’t always brand new or paradigm shifting – but the way he drove his message home was – which is why we remember them still today. Bill was making ideas sticky before we even knew what that meant… and way before we had blogs to talk about it.


It was payday… 1985… with ‘live’ checks and all.


Bill called all thirty of us together in the lunchroom. There on a table, in the middle of the room, was an enormous pile of cash. Real cash.


“This pile of money represents your pay for all of the work you’ve done… every morning and every afternoon… day after day… for the past two weeks. But when you go home tonight and lay your paycheck on the counter, what are the chances your spouse will shout “Wow! Way to go, honey – you’ve done it again!”…? Pretty slim.


But on that particular payday, sitting on the table in front of each of us, was also a long-stemmed rose… a blank card… and a pen.


“So tonight, when you take your paycheck home, give this rose to your spouse (or someone who has done something special for you), and use this card to thank them for what they do that makes you love and appreciate them. They may not remember that paycheck you brought home for long… but they will never forget that rose and the note you wrote to them.”


The moral of the story is… nobody remembers what they expect you to do – but they will remember for a loooong time what you did for them that they never expected.


Clients expect us to meet budgets and schedules, and they expect a successful project – it’s what they’re paying us for. It’s the things we do for them that they never expected to get from their design firm that they remember and that make want to work with us over and over again. Bill wasn’t suggesting red roses and love letters to clients, but he was suggesting that we look hard for opportunities to do something memorable for our clients.


Kind of like the time he held a competition for a handmade card for a client who was having a baby… I won a clock radio on that one, but the memorable thing was the 30 handmade cards our client awoke to. But that’s another story…


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