Since starting EBD, I’ve learned a lot from the team and from our clients about what makes life and work truly exceptional. To celebrate our birthday, here are a few of the things we all try to live by. – Ellen

1. Think First. Draw Second.

Always look at the problem first – once we understand that, and think about how to solve it, the ideas in our head come together to form a comprehensive strategy. 

2. Lead with compassion. 

If you care, others will know it. People aren’t numbers, or metrics. They’re humans with real needs and motivations. Knowing people means knowing how to help them, your business will be better for it.  

3. Listen. Then listen more. Then listen again. 

Listening might just be the world’s most underrated skill and we’re here to change that. Sometimes we ask questions multiple ways, or to multiple people to listen to each unique answer. We learn a lot by listening and use that knowledge to embark on a journey with you to create exceptional solutions for your business. 

4. Creativity breeds creativity. 

The more time you spend being creative, the more inspiration you find and the easier it will become. Immerse yourself in all kinds of creativity, be it art, architecture, fashion or writing. 

5. Good business is good design. 

Ok, we stole this from a 1966 IBM memo from their CEO, but good design does make a difference in your business. It makes you look professional, it states your purpose and communicates your vision. 

6. Think long term.

You don’t have to do everything today. Keep an eye on the future, set your vision and work towards it. 

7. Great concepts make great design.

Communication comes in lots of forms, but design concepts have the ability to condense verbal and non-verbal communication around who you are and express them in one visual language. The better the concept, the more a brand is set up for success.  

8. The small things add up to big ones.  

Every small step is progress. It doesn’t have to be a big step. Don’t be afraid to start. Just take a step and one by one, it starts to add up. 

9. The no’s are just as important than the yes’.

Knowing the wrong direction is just as important as knowing the right direction. If you head in the wrong direction, it can be costly and timely to repair.

10. Always win the hearts and minds.

People are more likely to remember something if it’s emotionally charged. Stay true to your brand purpose, show up authentically and with emotion when sharing your story and it will connect on an emotional and rational level.  

11. Communication without clutter.

Everything we create is a piece of communication. Design in a way that helps people understand what you’re trying to convey quickly and efficiently. 

12.  Fail daily. Then learn.  

Every time you fail, you learn and grow. Consider life as a great experiment and embrace the failures as a way to learn. You’ll probably end up making better decisions with that mindset anyways. And if Michael Jordan can miss some shots, you can too. 

13. Honor your vision.

Vision is rare, be confident in it. When you envision your future, it sets the present up for success. 

14. Don’t give out erasers. 

Stand by your ideas. If you are too quick to let someone make lots of small changes, the execution of your vision and strategy will be erased. 

15. Be curious. 

Every business we work with is different and we love that. A youthful curiosity helps us think differently, learn more and try new things. It helps us pull out insights that make your brand unique in the marketplace. 

16. Hard work, not fast trends.

Trends come and go and can quickly make a brand look dated. Creating a strategic design that will stand the test of time isn’t the easiest path – but it works. Every. Single. Time.

17. Know the rules, so you can break them.

See the world differently. Pay attention to what people do and why they do it, and use that to embrace new approaches. Strive to be original, breaking the rules to create something unique.

18. Trust your gut.

It’s funny to say this, but you do have to learn to trust your intuition. True intuition is based on life-long knowledge and experience. 

19. Stand out to stand in.

If you’re blazing a new trail as a leader, soon everyone else will be a follower. Zig when everyone else zags. 

20. Make the time to do it right the first time. 

Do it right from the start. Or you’ll redo it later. 

21. Don’t make the simple complicated. Make the complicated simple.

Over complicating a strategy reduces effectiveness. Simple is hard. Work towards saying less and meaning more. 

22. Think. Then think more. Then think again. 

Make sure your idea is strong. Poke holes in it. Think through why it won’t work. If it still checks out, you’ve got the right idea.

23. When in doubt, figure it out. 

There’s always a solution. Trust that. Everything works out in the end. 

24. Celebrate the wins. 

So much time is spent on trying to win, but not enough time is spent on celebrating the accomplishment. Stop and recognize what you’ve done…and how cool you are.

25. Expect the unexpected.

Anything that can go wrong, will. That’s Murphy’s Law. But the more planning there is, the more problems you can avoid. 

26. Evolve. Always. 

The world is changing and the beauty is that we get to shape it. Keep evolving, never get too comfortable and live a bigger life. 

27. Stay humble. Keep hustling.  

If you believe you’re already great, you’ll never get better. Never being satisfied fuels ambition to grow beyond your wildest dreams. 

28. Expect it to happen, and it will.

Your mind is powerful. Put positive thought behind everything you do, where you want to be and you’ll make it happen. And, don’t forget to enjoy the ride. 

29. Never let anything stand in your way. 

Nothing can stop a determined person from succeeding. A determined person will always find a way. Be hungry, be driven and it will pay off. 

30. Don’t forget to dream. 

Just a reminder. 

31. Love what you do, follow your dreams and joy will follow.

If you are doing something you’re passionate about, it won’t be work. It will be a fulfilling and empowering journey. 

32. Persevere. 

There is no such thing as an overnight success. Real, sustained success is gained through dedication and hard work. 




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