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What I Learned In My First Year At P'unk Ave

Matt Goold

A designer in practice and a stand-up comedian at heart.

Published

Tue, Dec 2 2014

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Today marks my one year anniversary of working for P’unk Ave and it’s led me do a bit of reflective thinking. I am happy to say that professionally this year represents my greatest output of work, my highest quality of work, my most balanced work life and home life, and my overall happiest time. So, what made this year different?...better?

For starters, I am surrounded by an extremely talented group of people who are all invested in the success of each other as much as we are the success of our projects. Sharing knowledge, time, energy, thinking, space, meals, celebrations, code, etc. is commonplace if not ingrained in our culture. This openness encouraged me to not only soak this up whenever and wherever I could, but in turn led me to be more open and sharing with everyone else. For me, this is the base for all of the great things that we do. Everyone is working for P’unk Ave. What makes one of us better makes all of us better.

So, in the spirit of openness, I wanted to share some of the things that I have learned in this past year in hopes that they will be as helpful to you as they are to me.

Always Be Human.
Always, always, always, always! Gone is the business model of “Always Be Closing”, this call to the most basic and simple of actions has been my shining light. This feels like something I shouldn’t have to remind myself of; yet, I have benefitted from it’s wisdom each and every time I recalled it. Whether it be complex design decisions, client relationships, inter-team dynamics, responding to emails, pursuing potential projects, even accepting calendar invites, nothing has felt too big or too small to apply this thinking.
One of the biggest themes around P’unk Ave is “business as a force for good”. I’ve found that continuing my pursuit to be human—and to treat others as equal humans—has not only aligned with our collective desire to do good through our business, but allowed for good to happen.

Care About The People You Work With.
Although this feels like a no brainer in a lot of ways, I want to emphasize how important this is and how much more important it is than I originally thought. Great work comes from people who are not only empathetic towards each other but who are understanding, aware, and willing to make flexible concessions to the needs of others. This type of behavior is not born simply because you will it—it requires serious time put in from all parties and the commitment to making it work.
At P’unk Ave we work in teams. Meaning, my 4 person team is capable of handling a project from beginning to end. There is no magic to making a group of 4 people work well together aside from putting in the time and caring about the people you are working with. I am happy to say that throughout this past year I have been able to work on my relationships with my team members every day and push towards something that transcends our working needs and crosses into our care for each other as people. As these relationships have deepened, I’ve watched the quality of our work increase, the time it takes to do things decrease, and the road to launch smooth out.
If you think of this team like a basketball team who’s learning to play with each other, I’d like to think that this year we’ve mastered the bounce pass. I look forward with excitement to all the no look behind the back passes that are yet to come.

Autonomy Is Integral.
Perhaps the most radical change in the past year is the increase in my autonomy. Because such is the culture at P’unk Ave, I have spent the year planning and scheduling my own projects, creating and setting my own milestones, building in time for feedback and reflection, and adjusting my processes when they needed adjusting. While this may sound scary or even impossible at times, I’ve come to realize that this increase in autonomy has subsequently raised my ownership of my work, increased my accountability to my co-workers, and actually lowered my general stress. All of this leading to me doing better work. Without being given the autonomy I needed, those subsequences may not have been possible. Unlike ever before, I have the authority to make the decisions that will lead to me doing my best work. So does everyone else. The power that comes from this type of operating is amazing.


It’s hard to believe how quickly this year went by. In some ways, I feel like I just got here. However, reflecting back, it’s remarkable to see how much I achieved in this setting in a relatively short time. With that sentiment, I can only look forward to the next year with the same set of wide eyes I had coming to P’unk Ave last December 2nd.

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