The internet is a pervasive thing, gobbling up time as well as bandwidth. Dane’s guests on this episode of Converge are co-leaders of a web design team whose primary purpose is to leverage the internet for good. Taylor Jones and Eric Brown have been fast friends of Dane’s ever since he first heard about their company, Whiteboard and had his initial conversation with them. Why was their such a chemistry? Because they share a common heartbeat, a common desire to see the world become a better place through the intentionality of people who strive to make their work matter.
This is a truly intriguing conversation, one that will get you thinking about the good you’re doing and how you can be more intentional about it. But hopefully, you’ll also be motivated to amplify it more effectively and multiply it across your own little corner of the internet. You really should listen.
There is a difference between consumerism and commerce – and it matters
Taylor and Eric are definitely in business to make money, but not at the cost of their souls or those of their team members. That may sound overly dramatic but it’s the kind of sentiment at the heart of how these two guys do business. They want to do the kind of work that won’t keep them awake at night because their conscience is nagging them. More importantly, they deeply want the work they do to give them a sense of accomplishment because they know that their contributions made a difference.
Part of that is making a clear distinction between consumerism and commerce – they want to provide services that better people’s lives in real ways. Practically, that means they will reject even the most lucrative work if they believe that the services they will deliver will only fuel the rampant consumerism so common in western culture. What they do has to matter – not just fill people’s homes with more stuff to make them more money.
It’s not easy to create a TRULY GOOD web presence
That brings us to the actual services Taylor and Eric provide to their customers. They do web development, and so much more. They help companies, speakers, non-profits, and many other creators establish a web presence that is TRULY GOOD. If all you think about when you hear that phrase is logos, appealing colors and fonts, or a good UI, you don’t understand what these guys really do.
The team at Whiteboard helps their customers get a clear picture of who THEY are as creators and why they do what they do. It’s brand consulting that puts their customers in touch with their own sense of calling. Once that’s accomplished, which is no small task, they help their clients wade through the swamp of knowing what their constituents want or need and know how to deliver it effectively. Their goal: create a web presence that truly leverages the internet for good.
The anatomy of a great web presence
Anybody can create a website. The advent of drag and drop web building platforms makes that immediately apparent. But to create a web presence that is about more than functionality or eye-catching images is not easy at all. Taylor and Eric say that the anatomy of a great web presence, one that truly does good, begins with intentionality. The owner/website creator needs a clear vision of who they are, what they need to communicate, and how that information will positively impact their website visitors.
To make that exploration into the minds of their customers more than a guessing game, they encourage their customers to do everything they can to get into the shoes of their website visitors through soliciting feedback. How they are using the website? How it could better serve them? What do they find helpful (or not)? Authentic feedback from end users is the only sure way to know how the efforts you’re making with your website are positively impacting those it is intended to serve – And that’s important, because if it’s not impacting them positively, then why are you building it?
A powerful company culture is the hard work that supports good work
The good work that the Whiteboard team does flows out of their company culture. The founders are clearly and purposefully aimed at doing good, starting with doing good to the people on the team. In this conversation, Eric and Taylor speak about how difficult it is to stay in alignment with their deepest values of authenticity and care, and how the two of them are committed to applying it within their own team first.
This stuff matters, because the best businesses are made up of people who truly care for each other, which doesn’t happen by accident or through a mysterious magical synergy that happens when you get the right people in the right seats. Anywhere human beings are a part of things, it’s going to get messy and it’s going to be hard. But it’s that hard work to create healthy relationships within the team that enables them to leverage the internet for good on behalf of their many customers. Listen to hear how the Whiteboard team continues striving toward that end.
Outline of this great episode
- [0:22] Why do some websites WORK and others don’t?
- [1:43] Doing “good” through web development: How the Whiteboard team aims at it
- [5:45] A handful of favorite projects the team has worked on
- [10:47] Why it’s important to the team to be a “Certified B Corp”
- [13:28] The anatomy of a great web presence
- [19:25] Dealing with the danger of being unintentionally narcissistic
- [24:03] The power and importance of caring for the team – the heart of culture
- [27:28] Leveraging vulnerability to move “doing good” forward
- [34:52] Advice to a friend about creating a great life in the modern age
- [43:05] The feedback Taylor and Eric would love to hear from you
Resources & Links mentioned in this episode
- The Bitcoin Foundation – https://bitcoinfoundation.org/
- Purposity – Social needs platform: https://www.purposity.com/
- Dean Sikes – Teen speaker about the sanctity of life: http://youmatter.us/
- Patagonia – https://www.patagonia.com
- Etsy – https://www.etsy.com/
- Warby Parker – https://www.warbyparker.com/
- Black Mirror Netflix series – https://www.netflix.com/title/70264888
- BOOK: Creating Powerful Brands, Vol 1 – http://a.co/d/9p3gU16
- Chattanooga, Tennessee – http://www.chattanoogafun.com/
- BOOK: Ready Player One – http://a.co/d/8VuIYPQ
- Blackrock – https://www.blackrock.com/
- BOOK: The War of Art – http://a.co/d/6NzbI3P
- Seth Godin’s Alt MBA – https://altmba.com/
- BOOK: The Culture Code – http://a.co/d/iiGzYKO
Taylor Jones and Eric Brown’s Resources (Whiteboard)
- Whiteboard’s website: https://whiteboard.is/
- The Reformation of Internet Manners Project: http://qideas.org/articles/the-reformation-of-internet-manners/
- Hello (at) whiteboard.is – Taylor (at) whiteboard.is – Eric (at) whiteboard.is
- Whiteboard on Twitter: https://twitter.com/whiteboardis
- Whiteboard on Medium: https://blog.whiteboard.is/?gi=e80ff1af24e9
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