We had the good fortune of connecting with Mike Elrod and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mike, other than deciding to work for yourself, what else do you think played a pivotal role in your story?
Choosing the right person as my wife. I think we’ve all had the types of relationships that we’d like to forget. Sometimes, however we don’t learn from them and change what we’re looking for in another person. Luckily, I learned that lesson and found her. It’s important to have someone who believes in you as much as you believe in them. Someone who handles themselves well in a crisis and can handle you when you’re at your lowest point.

Building a business is hard work and sometimes it can crush you. My wife has always encouraged me to keep going as I’ve learned how to create a business through pivoting. If I didn’t have her in my corner I wouldn’t have gotten this far. She’s level-headed, and someone like me needs that. I work in both logical and creative ways which means I can get caught up in the details as well as the big picture all at the same time. Having her voice remind me to take it one step at a time has helped me through those overwhelming moments.

Never underestimate the influence a good partner can have on you. Also, understand that they aren’t there just to serve you and your needs. My wife has a full time job as a journalist, and her own goals in life. I’m just lucky to have found someone who has her own life and is willing to move forward with me as a part of it.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I teach people about your business.

I’m different from a lot of people in my industry because I have the ability to understand what a client is asking for, and help them understand what it takes to reach that goal. Basically, I’m a really good explainer.

As both a web developer and Instructional Designer my work involves logic and creativity. I have to balance analytics and design principles in order to convey clear messages and presentations to both clients and audiences. I love making complex ideas easier to understand. That comes a little more naturally for me than a lot of people, but it’s also the result of having been an instructor in Higher Ed for eight years.

In grad school my design professor, Philip Kane, said that design is “always group work” and that projects are “always the clients’, not yours.” One of my motion graphics mentors, Shawn Hight from Giant Ant, said that there are basically three rules for working on a team: “1.) Do you put love in your work? 2.) Do you turn it in on time? 3.) Do we want to sit next to you?”

Those were hard lessons to learn, but they are the foundation for what I do now. My desire in my previous career as an academic was to be seen as the smartest person in the room. That has been replaced with the practice of listening, and creating projects that actually work. I think this is the downfall of a lot of would-be business owners in creative industries. They can’t work on a team nor can they let go of their pride on a project. You have to make a difference between your business and your art to some degree.

While my logo may use my initials (M.E.) my message to potential clients and employers is “Let’s turn ME into WE.” Don’t underestimate the power or necessity of a team, the data, and good design.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ve always loved downtown Decatur. I love the small town vibe along with the energy of the crowds. Brickstore, and Thinking Man Tavern were my haunts when I first moved to Atlanta, but these days we enjoy the Marietta town square since it’s closer to us.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My Mom: She always believed in me when no one else did. She taught me how to fight for what I saw as a worthy goal.

My Wife: She’s seen me at my lowest and still believes in me. I’ve never met anyone like her and I suspect I never will.

My God-Sister: She inspired my Masters thesis and my goals for a better world.

My God-Grandmother: She was my anchor when I didn’t have one of my own, and is more kind to me than most of my own blood relatives.

Website: https://www.mikeelrod.me/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeelroddesigner/

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