It is nearly the 10th anniversary of my office, Stephen Key Design being open and 10 years working with James Shehan. The upcoming milestone has caused me to reflect about what I’ve learned and what I’m thankful for. We’ve both grown so much in a decade, though I think I’ve grown more than James – even though it should have been the other way around!
I can’t reflect upon the past 10 years without talking about him. I met James when I was working on the Spin Label with Rexall Sundown. I needed to create some prototypes and went into AlphaGraphics for help. I started working with James, who was incredibly knowledgeable about computers and graphics. The very samples James designed eventually wound up on TV in a commercial. We’ve been working together since. Where are he and I going to be in 20 years? Working together still, I hope. The team stays together. We’ve had lean moments and better ones. Hopefully I’ll be out of the office, fulfilling a dream I had long ago. But what have I learned since having worked with him?
I now understand how important it is to be aware of other people’s needs. At the end of the day, I believe that you need to feed the soul of the people you work with, not just their bank accounts. If you want to grow trust and long-lasting working relationship, then you have to identify a common goal. What motivates that person? Money isn’t enough. It’s short-term satisfaction, definitely. But it’s impossible to cultivate loyalty or a relationship that surpasses employee-employer through cash alone. You have to make the people you work with part of what you’re doing.
I’ve also learned to be careful of placing my expectations of my own behavior on other people. My goals aren’t always going to line up with the goals of other people – it sounds straightforward enough, but I couldn’t always understand why some people didn’t seem to want what I wanted. Do they want to grow? Do they want new challenges? Find out, rather than assume. Learn what their expectations are. And finally, I understand on some level that it’s just work. It will still be there in the morning. I’ve learned that I need to give situations a minimum of twenty-four hours before reacting to them. And finally, no matter whom I partner with, I know that the buck stops with me.
Here’s to a decade!
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 30 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight,
a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas
and the skills needed to succeed. You can listen to the weekly radio
show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media
outlets find you for news stories.