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Why Is It Important To Be Authentic | With Dexter Washington

Dexter Washington is the founder of Crafted Studios, a studio focussed on making beautiful and effective websites. Clients include large corporate companies like Yahoo and Allegiant Airlines as well as some small, independent businesses like co-working spaces and restaurants. He has 4 partner agencies that he works with and his own personal website got an honourable mention award from Awwwards. All of this success within 2 years of setting up the agency in 2021. It’s hard to imagine Dexter would have many failures to talk about at all.

However, pursuing a creative career has not come easily to Dexter. From a rough upbringing, he struggled at school and had a tumultuous home life. Dealing with anxiety and with low self-esteem, he worked in retail for a lot of his 20’s but felt desperately unsatisfied. He started as a freelance photographer in 2012 and sharpened his aesthetic eye. Since then, he has worked in various creative fields from advertising, marketing and finally design founding Crafted Studios.

Dexter says, ‘I want to be able to say I did impactful gestures when it’s all said and done and I really do mean that.’

The Failures With Cover In This Episode

The 3 “fails” Melissa covers:

  1. Trying every new strategy I came across versus being myself authentically, posting and talking about the results and letting the work speak for itself.
  2. Not vetting people well enough and finding not only someone with good work and strong skills -- but a finding a good personality fit that meshes with our culture.
  3. Focusing too much on getting larger clients versus ones with a reasonable deadline, personality fit, and if it's a project we'd actually like to work on.

The Biggest Lessons From This Episode

1) Be Authentic

Authenticity will get you where to go. You might think you need to act differently, dress in a suit or even put on a voice. But you don't. In fact, people are more likely to trust you if you are yourself. Trust is the key to having clients that respect you and your process. Your authentic self will attract other people that align with you which is key for you to grow your network and business. It sounds corny but be yourself!

2) Vet People

Vet clients and vet employees. Clients may offer you stacks of cash but if you have red flags in your first meeting/don't like working with them, then they are probably not going to be fun to work with and you won't do your best work. Work with clients you actually want to work with and see succeed.

In terms of employees, don't just make sure they have the right skillset but that they mesh with the culture of the company. They may be great technically but if no one likes working with them, they won't be right for your company. Reputation is very important and hiring someone with bad work ethic, bad attitude, etc can easily ruin everything I've worked hard to build, creates a bad work environment, and just makes things more difficult than they need to be.

3) Big Projects Don't Always Equal Big Satisfaction

The jobs that are the biggest budgets are often the longest projects. There are the most people that have to see the final designs before the project gets signed off. There are marketing teams to deal with which might derail your designs. It's not all sunshine and roses when you get larger clients basically. Often, people want clients with recognisable logos on their website in order to get more large companies to hire them but is that the rabbit hole you really want to go down? As Dexter mentions, the larger clients can come with a ton of baggage for lack of a better term. Larger clients often get payments late, the timelines are unreasonable, and the list goes on and on.

Žiga Fajfar

Felix Meens

Corey Moen