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Year in Review: 2007

Happy New Year!

Mike Rohde Portrait: Cream BricksI know it's a week into 2008 as I write these words. It's taken a week to process my thoughts on 2007.

Here are a few thoughts on what happened and what I've learned, in no particular order.

Lessons from Belize
In July, Gail and I and 30 others from our church headed to Belize, Central America for a service trip. What an amazing experience. We spent the week visiting nursing homes, running a Vacation Bible School, playing sports and hanging out with the people of St. Margaret's Village. The people were friendly, the food was delicious, and the landscapes were incredibly beautiful. I sketched.

Initially, I found the poverty of Belize, especially in the village, a bit shocking. However, as I lived among the people for a short time, I came to see how content and free Belizeans were with their lack of stuff. It's had an impact, causing me think much more critically about all of the stuff I have, much of it gathering dust or in boxes. This is something that will be dealt with in 2008.

The openness of the villagers was wonderful. On several occasions, small teams walked through the village, stopping to meet people. We'd talk, with no regard for time. In one case we were given fresh pineapple juice and 3 pineapples to go, after a visit with a hospitable Mennonite family. We said thanks with a sketchtoon.

I now realize how truly precious clean water is, after drinking so much of it daily. I'll never look at water the same way again.

Selling & Buying Homes
This year sold our house, buying a little bit larger place. We worked hard to prepare our home, cleaning, storing stuff off-site and staging it for an open house Memorial Day weekend. The hard work paid off in a quick sale (5 days).

Searching for houses tough work too. After staging our home, we were amazed at the condition a few sellers showed their houses in. After hours of visits and showings, we found a place we really love, in beautiful area. I'm just glad it's done.

My advice: locate the best real estate agent you can find to guide you. Be picky. Our agent, Donna Best, spent time educating us, searching house and making everything about the process so much easier. With a trip to Belize in the mix of selling and buying, having Donna on our team was literally a Godsend.

Moving is a Pain
Moving took its toll on my productivity. The new office features a window, which is a great improvement, though I came to see how much work I'd invested in setting up the original office these past 6 years. After 5 months in the new office, I'm just starting to feel settled and on the road to full productivity.

We still have boxes to unpack, and areas to finalize in the house, which is also a bit painful. Fortunately, the opportunity to remake the house into our own space counterbalances the pain somewhat. A remodeled kitchen is on the top of the list.

I Love Blogging
Its amazing to have celebrated 4 years of blogging at Rohdesign in 2007. Back in February 2003, I never would have guessed I'd still be here four years later. I'm pleased that the Rohdesign Weblog has maintained its general nature, while gaining a focus on design in the past couple of years.

I've especially enjoyed sharing my logo and icon design processes, and those post seemed quite popular. In 2007 I've had several readers hire me to help with corporate identities, websites and icon design work. This year especially, I've found my blog is an excellent reference to my design work and thinking, 24/7/365.

Declining Apple
Back in October, I made a decision to decline a job opportunity to apply for the Apple iPhone/OS X team. Since writing that post, I've received many replies from readers, clients, friends and family, thanking me for sharing my story. The more I talk with friends and ponder the choice, the clearer I am about choosing my current path.

Sharing caused a few friends to share their own stories of turning down lucrative or prestigious opportunities. They've all encouraged my decision to choose my family, my work with MakaluMedia and Milwaukee over the glitter of Silicon Valley.

Business was Great
In 2007, business was great. After 3 years starting from scratch in offering my design services, I feel I've stepped to a new level. I'm working with great clients, doing very interesting and challenging work and making a profit.

I've been focusing on several key areas: logo design and branding, web design and icon design. Of these I most enjoy logo design which I can then apply to multiple other mediums like websites, business cards, stationery, manuals, ads — branding. I thoroughly enjoy building consistent packages from an identity, because I know the extra effort provides my clients a competitive advantage. It pays to notice the details.

Working with MicroISVs has been a wonderful, as I have access to the decision maker. Not only does this reduce excess communications with a group, it speeds the decision making process considerably. Plus it's fun being a MicroISV's secret weapon.

A Great Year
Overall, 2007 was a great year for me. Yes, selling houses and moving was a pain, but long-term is was a good move for our family. Belize was life-changing, work was satisfying and fun, and being approached by Apple was a huge highlight.

Thank you for reading my words, leaving comments, sending emails and sharing 2007 with me. I'm looking forward to new opportunities in 2008.

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