For a long time I thought the business of running a digital studio was different from other businesses. No way would I have to go through the phone book doing cold calls to get clients. I would build a reputation, meet people, get referrals, develop relationships. That’s been mostly true, but every now and then I have taken a very different approach, one that can pay off in the best way.

What do Michael Moore, Warren Cromartie and Rush have in common?

Early in Plank’s history, I learned a valuable lesson in “just going for it.” I’d been to Michael Moore’s website, and was surprised at the state of it. So I took a deep breath and sent him an email. He called back that afternoon, and we worked together for 8 years. It was the first time I’d taken a leap and reached out to someone who’s work I deeply respected, but who I otherwise had no connection to. 

Encouraged by that first success, I’ve since tried the approach on a few other people that I’m a fan of. By 2013 my personal obsession with baseball had hit full tilt and I decided I wanted to work with the Montreal Baseball Project. I sent them an email and they called me back a few days later. Within a few weeks one of my childhood heroes, Warren Cromartie, was in our office.

The title of this post comes, of course, from the song by Canada’s rock legends, Rush. It’s a song about taking chances, making moves, rolling the dice. As you can probably guess by now, they also became clients of ours because I was a fan and reached out.

These haven’t been our most profitable projects, but they’ve been important in other ways. Of course, working with high-profile clients can help boost your own profile, but that’s the least significant benefit. It’s incredibly rewarding to make a contribution towards the work of a person or cause you admire and respect. 

I got to thinking about these three clients because I recently attended Dynamic/MTL Vol.10. The theme was “Stand Up” and this was one of the central questions:

“Is it self-aggrandizing to think that we can make a difference and ‘change the world’ through or work, or irresponsible not to?” 

I actually do think it’s important to take whatever it is you excel at, and apply it to what you’re passionate about. The results might not always be “world-changing” in the grandest sense, but small contributions can add up. 

So while I’m thinking about who I’ll reach out to next, I’ll invite you to do the same. Who do you respect? What projects would you like to support? What can you do to help?

I’ll also leave you with some words from the immortal Rush: 

“Get out there and rock
And roll the bones
Get busy.



Feature Image by Steve Johnson.

Thoughts