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A Week in My Life: Daniel Cordwell, Managing Director, Visions Design

Dan Cordwell - Visions Design

Daniel Cordwell is Managing Director and founder at Visions Design.

The Cheshire-based design agency has 14 staff and works with a wide range of clients like Avrenim, Rhino Safety and Kingdom of Sweets.

Cordwell, who has managed the agency for more than 10 years, shared how a recent week in his life went…

 

Monday

Did we blink and the weekend was over? Mondays are hard, right? So I always start Monday a bit later. Breakfast with my family is first on my agenda and I head to work straight afterwards. I’m a minimalist – less but better, so I don’t overcomplicate my morning routine. As a creative, there is really no need for uncomfortable suits, I keep it simple – a black t-shirt is my uniform. I’d much rather focus my energy on something else than decide what to wear each morning!

Coffee is the first thing on my list at the office, the team know I’ll never say no to that! 9:30am: Standup team meeting to ensure everyone knows what they’re doing. I don’t run these meetings, Emily our Project Manager does, but often I like to listen in and occasionally an idea will come to me and I’ll try my best to squeeze something into the schedule. Normally the collective response is “Dan, stop interfering” and it turns out my idea is actually already in hand.

10am: Quick catch up with the leadership team. Setting objectives for the week. No issues to report, we’re ready for another great week!. 11am: Most days I will have some form of a new business meeting. This week starts no differently. We have a new potential branding job for a new client and as my creative lead is actually running a workshop, these sorts of discussions default to me. Having a creative background and being slightly obsessed with branding and typography, these kinds of meetings get me excited and are definitely one of the reasons I started the business over ten years ago. I never get tired of this feeling, if anything it’s slightly addictive.

The client we are speaking with today is owned by a worldwide international media agency which is just adding to the excitement. This client is a great fit, and the meeting went well. Lunch looks like Huel for me. A firm favourite of mine is the banana flavour, I’m on my 7th bag and counting! I’m not super strict on my diet or what I eat, but it stops me skipping lunch, or staring at the shop fridge looking for inspiration like routine, plus Huel gives me everything I need.

1pm: One of our designers works on a hybrid approach, so I used this time to catch up with him. I’m quite lucky really, being an outdoors person and the office being so close to Lymm Dam, we take a walk around there and catch up whilst we walk. It’s a dry day for a change, so it’s good to get out and see things from a different perspective. 2pm: Family is important to me, so I check in with my other half, and reply to a few text messages. Does anybody else’s group chat ping all day? 3pm: Probation meeting for one of our developers. To be honest, it’s just formality, he’s smashed it. Fit’s in like he’s been here for years and is actually good friends with our Lead Dev. Charlie, our Marketing Manager who is also in charge of people and culture, leads the meeting. What a way to start the week!


Tuesday

Black t-shirt on, ready to roll! Straight to the office. My commute is only about 10 minutes. I love routine but I also believe in having a good balance too. I love being in the office early and I can leave any distractions at home and do my best to keep things separate to a degree. I wish I could say I always keep these two separate, but it isn’t always like that. I enjoy what I do, it’s addictive, but I do know that sometimes I push it too far.

I think it’s just important to listen to your body. If I think I need to relax or escape my go-to is anything outdoors. Charlie and I have another new business meeting. Charlie takes the lead and I just support and listen in to get a feel for the new client and see if we are a good fit. 11:30am: My least favourite part of the job. Figures. Tash, my Admin Assistant has a handful of questions. We review subscriptions, it seems we’ve got subscriptions for everything these days. I’m a big fan of these sorts of business models but we use this time to check we aren’t subscribing to shit we just don’t need. Less, but better.

12:30pm: Lunchtime is now called Hueltime! I use this time to nip out for a bit and check on my latest (not so little) project. My long wheelbase VW Crafter van, slash new remote office holiday home which I can take off-grid for a week or so. This project has taken 6 months but is very nearly finished (if I didn’t keep adding extras to it). This week’s addition – wifi, new stereo, reversing camera etc. After lunch, the design team are doing a show & tell whereby they pick something new they have found or they are learning about and share this with the rest of the team.

This week we are talking about a couple of really cool ad campaigns and seeing if we can brainstorm anything we could apply to a future project. In the afternoon I catch up with Jules, who has prepared a sales report. These meetings also include exploring new ideas, so we may run over today. We have a rough agenda to stick to… but inevitably I will go off on one of my normal tangents.

Wednesday

Up earlier than normal. I’m hitting the gym for a quick workout. Honestly, I wish this was more often, but it’s not. But it does give me a chance to step away from any technology for a small window. Often the best ideas come to me outside of the traditional 9-5, which I don’t think seems to exist nowadays.

Forcing someone to problem-solve or come up with new ideas at a scheduled time just isn’t always possible. That’s why it’s important to me and the business that I surround myself with a great team and I think the team understands that even if I’m not in the office or if I’m unavailable, I am always looking at ways to improve and scale the business.

In the afternoon, I attend a networking/growth programme. It’s focused around scaling your business and there are some great like-minded people on the course. It’s delivered by Manchester Metropolitan University.

Thursday

Starting early to get through as much as possible today. Charlie and I decide to skip the team meeting as we have lots of new ideas and stats to look through! Positive stats show an increase in our engagement and we are brainstorming new campaigns.

It’s easy for me and probably more so Charlie, to get pulled into last-minute or reactive issues but we have blocked out a good two hours. At lunchtime, I head out to attend an actual ‘old-fashioned’ meeting with my mentor. I obviously surround myself with a lot of technology (over the years losing hours, even days in my design world) but I still love real-life human interaction, particularly when we are problem solving or brainstorming. 4pm:

Sometimes, if I’m out around this time, I will go straight home and finish up my day from there but on this occasion, I join the team stand-up meeting in the office with most of the team. I know I’m going to skip these tomorrow so I’m using the time to update the team on some growth ideas and plans. We have a new client in the States who wants to talk about future projects and has invited me to an online event with some great business owners.

Friday

Friday mornings I WFH, only till lunchtime. I have some personal content and emails to catch up on. I like to focus and turn my phone to silent, put it face down and tie up as much as I can. Particularly today, as it’s unusual for me, but I’m off to the Big Smoke! Music is something that my partner and I really enjoy, so we’re off to London to watch Alt-g, because all work and no play means a pretty boring life, right?

En route to work, the team are organising a group Subway order and I’ve been on Huel all week so I’m getting my order in! After a slightly longer lunch, I get to do the most enjoyable part of my job, looking at improvements in some internal comms. Michael, our Head of Design has come up with some amazing ideas and Micheal and I have worked together for over 7 years, so we totally get each other. I’m getting a natural buzz again like I had a few too many coffees, but I haven’t. Great day, my favourite tbh. Now for some more fun. Early dart to catch the train, enjoy my weekend and go again next week!

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