Category Archives: Team love

3 Tips For Avoiding Burnout

man-93951_640Let’s face it, the life of an entrepreneur is not an easy one. Rest always ends up taking a back seat to the endless stream of problem-solving, brain-storming and good ol’-fashioned nose-grinding. But we are only human, and even the most robust of us will eventually crumble if deprived of moments of quietude and release.

That’s why, no matter how busy you might be, no matter how pressing the weight of your responsibilities, it is important to make time for yourself throughout your work-life to break away from it all, to find your relax. If you don’t, you’ll soon burn out.

Burnout is one of those buzz-words that has lost a little of it’s meaning through overuse, but as we define it, it’s more than simply being tired or stressed. Burnout is a combination of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion that builds up over time, and is much harder to bounce back from than simple tiredness. You can’t cure burnout with a cup of coffee, it’s too insidious for that. But you can cure it, over time, if you’re willing to slow down just a little and do some thinking in advance about how you work and what your body and brain need. Stay tuned, and we’ll drop a few helpful hints on you! Continue reading

Time For a Digital Detox? How to Unplug for the Holiday Season

Seamless pattern with presents“Ah, the holidays. Time to unwind, relax, and unplug.”

— said No Entrepreneur Ever…

…until now!

If you’re a business owner who nodded along with the all-too-familiar feeling that you’re not going to get any much-needed downtime this holiday season, we urge you to reconsider. If you’re taking calls during family time, peeking at your Facebook page at dinner, opening emails while your kids open presents, poring over projects by the ski slopes, and checking stats over cocktails, it’s time for a digital detox.

We understand how important your business is to you and realize that you might not be able to shut it all down for the winder. And, yes, we know you’re wired to go, go, go. But we all need a little digital detox now and then. So slow down, be present, and give your poor eyes and thumbs a rest, will you?

Here’s how to you can enjoy a digital detox and unplug for the holiday season: Continue reading

The Benefit of Being Virtual

15142235124_46089cd54d_kWhen Solamar started, we were completely virtual. In those days, the decision was made both out of necessity and a desire to escape from the confines of the traditional corporate environment. For five years we stayed that way, but as we grew, we wanted to have a place to call home, so we opened a fantastic space in Birmingham, AL, in which those of us who live there have been happily working away for the last four years. Now, with nine years of business under our belt, and a staff that’s grown to around 20 people, we’ve decided to return to our roots and go virtual once again. Continue reading

Why/How to Grow Your Company Culture

finger-man-451211_1280Maybe you started your business because you had a great idea, you identified a gap in your market, you wanted to put your skills to use, or you stumbled into an opportunity. No matter your reason for starting up, you’re in business now, which makes you the leader of your own little corner of the marketplace, with an opportunity to create something remarkable.

One of the most important factors in creating an exceptional company is developing a great company culture — one that is distinctive, positive, and aligned with your values.

The definition of ‘company culture’ isn’t easy to pin down, especially without spewing corporate jargon. Entrepreneur Magazine defines company culture as, “a blend of the values, beliefs, taboos, symbols, rituals and myths all companies develop over time.”

In the Harvard Business Review, John Coleman isolates 6 of the many factors that contribute to a company’s culture — a compelling vision (purpose), values (guidelines), practices (values in action), people (personalities), narrative (history/crafted story), and place (setting and aesthetics).  Management consulting firm strategy& (formerly Booz & Company), finds that to encourage innovation and success for your business, “more important than any of the individual elements, however, is the role played by corporate culture — the organization’s self-sustaining patterns of behaving, feeling, thinking, and believing — in tying them all together.” Continue reading

Redoing Your Website Design is Refreshing!

new-solamar-homeNo matter how good looking your website is, if the design has stayed the same for a little while one of the best things you can do is give it a refresh. In fact, even if you have a brand new design, it is still important to track its performance and evaluate exactly how well it is performing. If any part of your site isn’t meeting expectations, than a refresh of that section could turn things around. One of the first things you need to do is make sure that you have decent analytics (such as the free Google Analytics) set up for your site, and that you view regular reports on traffic and other metrics. Remember that it can take 6-months to a year to gain enough data to have a good understanding of how you are performing, so give your self at least that much time in between redesigns. Performance will fluctuate, and it’s important to appraise it over time.

Once you have enough data in hand, you will be able to decide if refreshing your website will mean working on a complete re-branding, or just changing the layout of your home page or the language you use in your messaging. Either way, it can breathe new life into any existing site, simply by providing your visitors with something new and unexpected. Even a tiny adjustment to layout can increase engagement with even semi-regular visitors, as people will indulge their natural curiosity just to find out why things have changed.

And hey, we lead by example! The design team at Solamar has just finished a refresh of our own website, and we’re super stoked to show it off to the world. You should totally click through and check the whole thing out, but stay tuned here, I’m going to go through some of the changes, and why we made them. Weeeeeeee!


Adjusting to the Landscape

One of the things that you need to be constantly aware of when doing any online work is that the internet is a moving target. The moment you commit to a design, the technology and aesthetic of that design begin to become outmoded immediately. Here at Solamar, we pay attention to trends in design internationally, and we are always trying to make sure that our site (and our clients’ sites) are always on the forefront of what’s cool and what’s possible. We’ve taken inspiration from emerging trends all over the web and molded them together into a new vision for our site.

Our new homepage continues a movement toward the heavy use of big, attractive images, and we’ve embraced a longer style of page design that understands the fact that people are willing to scroll a lot more on their touch devices. To accommodate that choice, we’ve adjusted our design to more clearly delineate between different sections on an individual page. We start with a big ol’ team picture (I’m the silly one all the way on the right), followed by a quick description of what we do best. Following that, we’ve split our work showcase into two sections, and given them as much screen real-estate as possible, so we can really show off our work!

In addition to looking fabulous, this new “edge-to-edge” type of design makes it even easier to make the site responsive across all devices and screen-sizes, as well as making the design pop even more on really small screens.


The Team Behind the Screen

With any refresh, you also need to focus on making sure your personality, or the culture of your business, come through. At Solamar, we’re really proud of the work we do for our clients, and part of that work is the people that do it. Our personality infuses the design that we do, the way we interact with clients and each other and it is a fundamental part of Solamar and why we do things the way we do. Our team is distributed across the country, but that only means that it’s been even more important for us to build a group of people we all really trust and love. We work hard at keeping everybody tight-knight, and we want to show that off to the world.

To that end, we’ve redone our “What” and “Who” pages to bring even more light to them. On the “Who” page, we use the new “edge-to-edge” design aesthetic to make sure everyone’s smiling face gets as much space as possible, and we changed the portraits to color! Yay, color!!

Even on the “What” page, which is about the services we offer, we’ve included a bunch of photos, not just of some of our work, but of the team being all full of togetherness and kindheartedness and such. Oh yeah, and of course a picture of me being silly.


Sweat the Details

We’ve made a host of other small tweaks and adjustments throughout the site, too many to get to here, but you should be sure to poke into the corners of your site and make sure it hasn’t gotten too dusty, or broken down where you haven’t been looking. Do your research before you commit to any refresh. Make sure you have the data concerning it’s performance necessary to make informed decisions. Find inspiration out there in the internet wilderness. There are so many people doing so many cool things, and you won’t know about it until you search for it.

And as always, if you’d like a little help refreshing your site, give the team at Solamar a shout, it’s what we do, baby!

Don’t Forget to Relax — A Solamar Reminder

summer-287081_640The life of an entrepreneur is not often dictated by conventional schedules. When other people are enjoying their weekends, we are often fitting in extra work or trying to accomplish the next thing on our to-do list.

But, but..we’re too busy! Someone’s got to do it! Work now to relax later! We’ve heard all the excuses. Heck, we’ve used all the excuses and invented a few too, but somewhere along the way, we’ve learned that it is impossible to maintain an “all work all the time” pace and keep 100% of your sanity. That’s why here at Solamar, we encourage our team to take time for themselves to enjoy activities outside of their work, especially ones that also keep us healthy and fit. It makes us happy, helps us maintain focus when we are working, and stops us from going even crazier than we already are.

Of course, everyone has a different idea of what it means to relax, and we thought it would be fun to share some of the different things we Solamarites do to get away from the work day. Maybe it’ll inspire you to step away from your computer for a minute and find some space for yourself.

“To blow off steam I love to play music, either guitar or drums. It’s the only time where I feel like I have nothing going through my brain. I can truly let go. I also like to cook and try new recipes!”

William Bradford, Audio Engineer / Podcast Producer

“I love to ride my bike or take a walk… something that gets me out in nature (climbing a tree used to do it but I’m getting a little old for that ;) ). When that’s not possible for some reason, I’ll head to a hot shower where I can cry it out and let it rinse right off.”

Debbie Miller, Dir. Client Relations

“I go to the health club 4-5 times a week and spend 1/2 hour to 45 minutes on the treadmill or bike. Then, I do another 1/2 hour with free weights. I am an avid reader, which really works with my health club activities. I depend on my trusty Kindle to keep me busy when I’m on the equipment. I feel terrific when I’m done. Although, I sweat profusely in our sizzling Arizona summers!”

Sheila Stogol, Copywriter

“Well, before I had a baby, and hopefully again in the future, I used to ride my bike around Birmingham and photograph abandoned buildings and spaces, as well as local graffiti. Also, I would play keys and sing. I’m always listening to music, whether working or not. It helps me relax even when I’m not relaxing. For now though, when I’m not working, it’s baby time!”

Sam George, Graphic Designer

“I really enjoy going to see live music, and I’m also always listening to music. I disconnect in nature and love walking, especially exploring trails. More than anything, I love to travel. Exploring is really my thing… places or ideas. Learning and experiencing anything new or different fuels me. :)”

Monica Waugh-Benton, Account Manager

“I’m doing a boot camp workout 2x a week and I also workout with a trainer once a week. I also read and play candy crush daily. and enjoy Mexican food and margaritas every Friday!!”

Jill Anderson, Senior Designer

“I love doing yoga, and enjoy getting outside to play in my garden and getting my hands dirty. I also love photography and am an avid Bon Appetit reader. :)”

Amanda Goldberg, Account Manager

“LOVE hanging out with my kids at ball games. AND I love to teach classes! I teach 6 classes a week at Gold’s gym – BodyAttack, BodyPump and BodyCombat. and so far, this bump in my belly has come along for the ride… have a feeling it’s going to come out kickin’! :-) and i also love to wash the car (wax on-wax off) and clean toilets to relieve stress?! no idea why. (so when my family sees me cleaning the toilets they know to KEEP AWAY!”

Kari Harris, Client Services Manager

“Well, I’m going to buck the trend here… I HATE exercise!! The only thing I like to do is swim, but I don’t have a pool. But I definitely have no shortage of activities to fill any spare time I might have. I love to work in my garden, where I have flowers and vegetables. I also enjoy home improvement projects; I recently remodeled my bathroom, including new floor tile, wallpaper removal, wall texture and painting! I am an avid reader and particularly enjoy hard science fiction and dystopian/apocalyptic fiction. I’m also lucky enough to live within just a few miles of most of my family, so we spend a lot of time together. I’d say my favorite thing to do, though, to get “out of my head” and remind myself that I’m not the center of the universe is to volunteer, specifically with animals. I love working directly with animals—fostering dogs in my home, walking dogs, rehabilitating sick, injured or unsocialized animals. I also work extensively with animal welfare nonprofit groups, teaching them how they can use the Internet to raise money, recruit volunteers and save more lives. By serving others, I get a better perspective on my life and the world around me.”

Emily Garman, Systems + Design

Alright, now turn off that screen and get to the fun! Have your own favorite relaxation/fitness activity? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear it!

This is 30.

Tomorrow is my 30th birthday.


30!!! I’m going to be 30. Where has the time gone??!

You’re probably also thinking – “You’re the CEO of Solamar and you’re only 30!”

I get that a lot.

More importantly… I want to share with you some really important lessons I’ve learned in the past 30 years. You can read about them in my book, too!

12 really important lessons... and they are quite simply, actually. Here goes! Continue reading