17 Years in the Same Chair and 7 Things I Learned Along the Way

Trips in dad's 17 year old chair
Trips in Dad’s 17 year old chair

I got to thinking the other day about the chair from which I am writing this post. I first sat in this chair at the tail-end of my 20’s (for you math folks, I just gave away may age). It was a super expensive chair on sale from Arctic Office Supplies: a great deal, but it still cost 200 to 300 dollars at the time.

The chair knew me when I was younger, thinner, with no kids, no back pain and possibly when I had fewer gray hairs. However, along with all the usual things that come with passing years, I have also learned quite a few things about design, business and life and I want to do a better job of sharing what I have learned along the way. With over 18 years as a designer and business owner in Alaska, I have had the opportunity to sit down with hundreds of business owners and hear their dreams and goals. It is a gift God has given me and my team to be able to share our customers’ stories and I will try to do so in as powerful a way as possible.

7 random things I have learned along the way:


I guess I can start with the natural tie that just like this great chair, quality lasts and it is worth spending extra for a product or service that will provide extended value.


Good design and successful marketing, be it a website or a brochure, require effort from both the design team and the customer. When we work through the process together, the outcome is very successful.


The work itself is important, but for me what really matters are the relationships I have with our amazing customers and the Sundog team. We strive to provide great value and we want our customers to succeed.


I will be the first to admit that we may not succeed at this in every instance, but at the same time, I have found this simple idea to be very rare among so many businesses and people I have met along the way. You know what I mean: statements like, “Sir, we will have your car done by end of day,” and three days later, with no call, you find they have not even started.  One of our goals at Sundog is to do our very best to honor our word and if we are unable to meet our stated goal, we communicate that to each other and our customers.


A good friend of mine has often voiced this idea and it is not one to take lightly. In a recent conversation with a new friend, Don Dalrymple (http://dondalrymple.com), he said something that stuck with me and that is, “People tend to either pursue money or meaning.” Don’t get me wrong, I want to be profitable and financially successful; after all, I have 5 boys to feed, but I want to be very careful to not pursue money and financial success in a way that keeps me from the right balance of faith, family & friends.


Jim Rohn’s quote is true, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Life is way too short to hang with folks who do not lift you up. Sometimes, just like on the playground in kindergarten, you find that some folks just don’t play well together. That is ok. It is ok to move on and focus your energies on those who bring joy to your life.


Now I do like the saying, “Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life,” but the reality is that even if you love what you do, the process can be hard and some days will be challenging. After 17 years in this chair, I realize it is important to strive each day to have fun in your work, with those you work with and, most importantly, with your family.

Thanks to everyone who has been a part of my 17 years in this chair and I look forward to more years ahead using my talents to serve and to learn.


Joe Law