The Blog of Daniel Francavilla

Design. Charity. Life.

50 things I’ve learned 2 years into running a business and non-profit 1

Posted on April 01, 2014 by Daniel Francavilla

It’s been 2 years since my graduation from OCAD University, where I completed a 4-year degree program.

Although I’ve been running ACCESS since high school (our 8 year anniversary was March 2014) and started freelancing (sole proprietorship Daniel Design, which later transformed into Now Creative Group) throughout university, the past 2 years I’ve been completely “full-time” (aka 60+ hours/week) as an entrepreneur and activist.

These are a few points based solely on my personal experience.

What I Have Learned So Far as a Founder and Entrepreneur

  1. Freedom is everything – Having the ability to make your own schedule and decisions independently is more valuable than a high starting salary.
  2. Founders are crazy. Passionate. Dedicated. It’s amazing to see that there’s other people out there just as crazy as you.
  3. Co-working is amazing. (You never know who you’ll meet, what new partnerships you’ll form, what you’ll learn, and how much it helps to have others working crazy hours/overnight alongside you).
  4. Meeting people at events, conferences is more valuable than you can imagine at the time.
  5. Most people don’t understand what goes in to running your own initiative.
  6. Nobody values your organization or business as much as you do.
  7. Referrals are key – necessary for continued success.
  8. Establishing – or sticking to – a “schedule” can be extremely difficult.
  9. No 2 weeks have been the same, in these 2 years. 
  10. You’ll find a better way to do things, even when you’re not looking for one.
  11. People can take up ALL of your time, if you let them.
  12. Work whenever it works best for you. Inspiration + energy + a deadline = awesome.
  13. The networks you build outside of school (but while you’re still studying/in school) are crucial to future opportunities.
  14. You have to set boundaries for partnerships, business relationships, etc.
  15. Some people do things only for recognition, others do them because they care.
  16. Knowing when to pause, or take a longer break, is vital.
  17. Mentors are super helpful — and you can discover informal mentorship relationships as you go.
  18. No matter the size of the business or org, it all seems to come down to relationships with the individuals.
  19. Everybody has different goals and motivations — look out for those that don’t align with yours.
  20. Opportunities come at unexpected times.
  21. You won’t stick with it for long, unless you really care. Passion/Motivation = Endurance.
  22. I get so much energy from hosting events through ACCESS. Way more than I even realize.
  23. Coordinating and executing a video series (or something technical you’ve never done before) takes forever.
  24. Some people change, move, leave, and often there’s nothing you can do about it.
  25. A lot of people will not respect your time.
  26. There are some amazing books, events and videos specifically for you, founders/entrepreneurs.
  27. People will continuously question you’re path; what you’re doing and why.
  28. Even if you’re your own boss, you’ve got many other bosses: Your clients.
  29. Some people are unrealistically super demanding and unappreciative.
  30. Communication is crucial!
  31. You have to recognize which things you can’t do alone/yourself.
  32. There are some things you MUST do alone.
  33. It can become insanely challenging to find time to rest and think.
  34. If you say you’ll do something “when you have time”, it won’t ever happen.
  35. Money makes people crazy.
  36. Keep awesome, creative people around you.
  37. There are some super generous and truly selfless people out there – but they’re a rare find, unfortunately.
  38. Your ideas aren’t as unique as you think they are – you’ll always discover somebody doing something similar, or first, or the same – but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to compete and do something better.
  39. When it comes to partners and sponsors, you have to work to show them how the relationship will work for them. (Also relevant to applying for grants/funding).
  40. People always want something from you.
  41. Podcasts are brilliant.
  42. You have to know what to say NO to. (And it’s not easy).
  43. People resurface from previous parts of your life, randomly, especially when you have your own business or organization.
  44. Making time for family and friends is definitely worth it.
  45. There’ll always be someone or some org that’s better, faster, richer, etc.
  46. Only other founders can truly relate to many experiences. (Yet many work completely isolated).
  47. Take a minute to realize which – out of the million things you’re doing – come most easily/naturally, and work toward fitting in more of that type of work.
  48. Blog. Take photos. Document. Archive. Record the journey, including some of the little “everyday things” that you’d forget when you explain your journey one day (or just to look back to compare your progress and routines).
  49. No matter how quickly you want to graduate and leave school, you’ll never stop learning – and may find yourself very quickly enrolling in Continuing Education courses (as I did).
  50. You and your company/organization are ever-evolving.
The journey has just begun. More to come along the way.
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How much do people really trust companies and governments? 0

Posted on February 04, 2014 by Daniel Francavilla

The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer shows the largest-ever gap between trust in business and government (since they began the study 14 years ago).

Globally, business has a 14-point trust advantage over government. In more than half from the 27 nations surveyed, business has a significant trust advantage:

In this complex environment, almost half of the public wants greater government regulation of business. This is especially true in less-trusted industries such as financial services, or in geographies that face scrutiny. Businesses now have not only the permission to engage on development regulation, but are expected to do so.

8 in 10 respondents believe business has a role in developing regulations. Edelman believes that businesses should support regulation in partnership with government and other key stakeholders such as NGOs, which are consistently the most trusted of all institutions.

But business still has work to do, as trust in the institution remains low. Just over half of our global respondents trust institution at all and some markets like the US, Singapore and Mexico experienced significant declines and trust me institution. There are four factors that shape trust in business, and within them some trends to observe:

Technology remains the most trusted industry, while financial services remains the least. Small medium and family owned enterprises tend to be more trusted than big business, and state-owned enterprises suffer from lack of trust globally.

We continue to see a crisis of trust in the leadership in business, with 1 in 5 people trusting a business leader to tell the truth, and CEOs having low credibility compared to other potential spokespeople.

In order to build trust, CEOs must embrace transparent communications and engage key stakeholders such as employees and NGOs. Protecting consumer data, respecting employee rights, and managing a responsible supply chain are 3 behaviors that will have a positive impact on public perceptions, improve the business’ integrity, and therefore build trust.

Trust has always driven action enable successful long-term relationships. Edelman says that now, trust and businesses must go one step further and create the contacts for positive widespread change.

For more statistics and reports, visit

The One Percent 0

Posted on January 27, 2014 by Daniel Francavilla

There is a growing wealth gap within the United States of America. But until you watch The One Percent, it’s challenging to understand how big the gap is.

If you’re wondering what this “One Percent” is, essentially it’s the wealthiest people in America. These few control a HUGE amount of the country’s wealth. The top 1% of households owned over 35% of all privately held wealth (as of 2010). Only 10% of the wealth in America is left to share between the bottom 80%. Many more stats can be found here.

But where do they get the money? The richest 1% earn roughly half their income from wages and salaries, a quarter from self-employment and business income, and the remainder from interest, dividends, capital gains and rent. (See more about this from The Economist).

This film, The One Percent, was actually made by heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune: 27-year-old Jamie Johnson.

Jamie explores the political, moral and emotional rationale that enables a tiny percentage of Americans – the one percent – to control nearly HALF the wealth of the entire United States.

It includes interviews with Nicole Buffett, Bill Gates Sr., Adnan Khashoggi, Milton Friedman, Robert Reich, Ralph Nader and others.

Before this film, Johnson made an Emmy-nominated HBO documentary called Born Rich.

The full 80-minute documentary, The One Percent, is available below.

The NHL Media Tour: A dream for Hockey-loving creatives 0

Posted on January 07, 2014 by Daniel Francavilla

Hockey fans and members of the press are always in search of the next opportunity to get a great shot of pro hockey stars. Sometimes it gets crazy.

So the NHL hosts pre-season media events in New York City, every year.

Interviews, head-shots, promos, all day. If you’re a photographer or videographer who likes hockey, this seems like heaven.

For the 2013 shoot, Dion Phaneuf and David Clarkson represented the Leafs, at this league-wide event.

The Leaf, a series sponsored by dying BlackBerry, covered the NHL Media Tour.

Watch it right here:

Top Visual Trends for 2014 0

Posted on January 03, 2014 by Daniel Francavilla

Now I’m not a fan of trends – it’s better to look ahead then at what’s already happening, in terms of creativity, design and innovation, of course.

Every creative wants to make something original that stands out, so according to iStock, knowing which visual themes and tools are trending (and then puing your own spin on them) is how to keep your work fresh.

From lense flares to wearable cameras, here are some of the top visual trends to look out for in 2014.

Infographic: 2014 Visual Trends

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