Blink… to the future.
It’s always been easier for me to see ten years down the road, than to know for sure what’s next.
On the last day of high school, one of my classmates stuck a rickety VHS camcorder in my face. As I recoiled slightly, I noticed the tiny red light blinking in my face.
“OK… this is for the time capsule! What are you gonna be doing in ten years?!”
“That’s easy,” I stated plainly. “I’m going to be running my own design firm.”
First off, you should know that I had little idea in 1995 exactly what a design firm did, or what that role would entail, but I was pretty sure it was my best shot at using my passion for art and design to be self employed. But for me it’s always been easier for me to see ten years down the road, than to know for sure what’s next.
In 2002 I acted on the small voice in my heart telling me, “NOW is the time.” Almost exactly three years ahead of schedule, I filed paperwork with the state of Indiana to open Miles Design, LLC. The humble beginnings of this adventure stereotypically started in my basement, where I worked nights and weekends on freelance logo design and websites.
By 2003 I left my position in marketing at The Finish Line, and pursued my business full-time. Soon after I began hiring teammates, and bringing on other designers. It never really bothered me that as I hired more design talent, I was personally doing less and less of the creative work. Building a network and growing the business still served to scratch my creative itch.
It wasn’t always easy work running an agency. By the winter of 2015, I was feeling like our growth had plateaued and I was yearning for someone to be down in the trenches with me who had a passion for growing this business. That’s when I bumped into Daniel Herndon at the local Addy Awards in Indianapolis.
We had known each other since he began his agency, Redwall, around 2008. I had always admired his drive, and saw a lot of myself in how he grew. It was at this awards show that we decided we should catch up sometime soon.
We met up at the Libertine, and updated each other on the past few years. As Daniel told me about his philosophies and approach to growth, I was amazed to hear him saying things that I thought were unique thoughts to me alone.
I was finally brave enough to say what I had been thinking. “How about you and your team join us in our office for a project or two, and… just not go back?” Okay, that was awkward.
“You mean like a merger? I’m gonna have to think about that…”
And so started the conversations that would ultimately yield MilesHerndon. It’s been an amazing ride for the past two and a half years. It’s opened doors to the national spotlight for our firm, the opportunity for me to write a second book, launch a podcast, and speak around the country.
Looking back at everyone whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past sixteen years, (if you count me and all of the interns) we’ve had 50 different team members to help us get where we are today. But there’s something very special about the team we have right now — the respect, the hard work, the hustle, the professionalism, and amazing creativity… it’s all part of our culture that makes us who we are.
And as it turns out, growing MilesHerndon meant less and less time in the office for me, and more time for Daniel to cultivate an amazingly talented team. My other interests and passion for my family found me dialing back to a mostly part-time role with the company I started in my basement.
Yet in my absence, the team continued to blow me away with the work that they were doing each and every day. Without them, there’s no way this next sentence would be possible…
Effective immediately, I’m handing the reins of this amazing organization, MilesHerndon, over to my business partner, Daniel Herndon. Our team deserves a leader who is fully committed to growing and impacting this organization. So while I’ll continue to be their biggest champion and advocate, I’ll be doing my cheering from the sidelines, and stepping away from agency life.
So what’s next for me? I have to admit, I’ve got about three different book ideas in my head, a continued passion for speaking, and a handful of business ideas I’m considering pursuing, all of which are quite a departure from working in an agency.
It’s hard to fathom I would be ready to step away from MilesHerndon on the heels of our best year ever. But just like in 1995, when I was staring at that blinking red light, ten years from now somehow seems more clear than tomorrow’s next adventure. And that little voice is telling me, “NOW is the time.”
So to all of my family, friends, clients, and coworkers, I want to thank you for the nearly 16 years that we’ve grown this amazing team together. Thank you for all of your trust, your cooperation, and the ways in which we’ve impacted this world together.
And Daniel, I can’t wait to see where you take MilesHerndon next.