Brian is the founder and CEO of Agent Engine and previously founder of Studio Press and a Partner at Rainmaker Digital. Brian is a champion of community, and he loves minimalist design and believes in white space. He is a well known and influential leader and minimalist designer in the WordPress community and marketplace.
My connection to Brian Gardner began when I decided to take the Forward Thinking Workplaces website to the next level. That search led me to Brian Gardner and his work, which I soon embraced. But I also came to know that Brian was mastering the art of creating his own workplace where he could thrive and work independently and with others. While most of the Forward Thinking Workplaces interviews address the traditional workplace, Brian brings innovation and clarity to creating our own workplaces where more and more of us are now moving to in greater numbers.
Brian, welcome to this forum and thank you for contributing to the questions that are at the heart of Exploring Forward-Thinking Workplaces 2.0 where we are uncovering the footprints that lead to the Forward-Thinking human and workplace.
How can we create a workplace where every voice matters, everyone thrives and finds meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally?
Brian Gardner: First off, it depends on whether you’re referring to your own workplace at home — for those who are solo entrepreneurs like myself — or those who work in buildings and offices with other people.
As a creative, it’s very important for me to have a palette that allows me to paint the pictures I want to paint. If I have a busy atmosphere, then I’m not going to be able to clear my mental clutter and create the things I want to create. I think a lot of it is just the general space you’re in. Whether it’s pictures, or furniture or even music in the background. For me, those are all key elements to creating something that helps me thrive.
I just wrote a blog post on Authentik on creating more and consuming less. First, you need to give yourself the opportunity to step outside of the office if you will. I do a lot of my best creative thinking either on the trail or in the shower. The idea is to create enough of that time so you can come up with those things. But then follow it up with time where you’re back at the desk or back in front of the computer, so you can expand those thoughts that you had into something that’s more meaningful.
What is the most important question we should be asking ourselves?
Brian: The most important question we can ask ourselves is two-fold: 1) What is it I want to do, and 2) What’s keeping me from doing it?
Really, the second question is the one I focus on because I think it’s easy for us to have wants, but am I willing to do it? Am I willing to sacrifice whatever it is to pursue that whether it’s a dream, a particular job or even moving?
Identifying what you want to do and do you have the courage or tenacity to make that jump and a leap of faith? Sitting here as somebody who loves the mountains, the easiest way for me to explain that is being at the bottom of a mountain and looking at the top of the summit and saying I want to be there. I want to ski down that hill. Am I willing to get on that lift? Am I willing to remove the barriers and go there? As you go down that hill, it’s a pretty good feeling. That’s what it really comes down to. Are you willing to take the step?
What’s the most important question we should be asking each other in the workplace?
Brian: While I don’t work in a traditional office building, I do consider myself a leader because I have a team that I lead. The question I always want to make sure I’m asking the people I work with and for is, are you doing things that make you happy and are you doing the things that you love?
That’s the most important part to me because if I know that they’re not happy, then I know their work isn’t as good as it could be. Maybe they’re not in the right spot or the right position, and I want to be in a position to know if they’re not feeling like they’re in the right spot. I want to put them in the right spot as it makes sense in our business. Really what it comes down to is, are you fulfilled? Are you happy with what you’re doing? Because if you’re not, first of all, you may already be able to detect that, so more importantly I’d like to put you in a place that makes you happy.