Cathryn Lavery (@CathrynLavery) is an architect-turned-designer, entrepreneur, and maker. After leaving architecture, she created Calm The Ham, where she designs and sells posters and other products. Cat’s next project is The Self Journal, a printed, bound journal with templates to help you craft a productive morning routine and accomplish your quarterly goals.

Our conversation covers Cat’s productivity habits, especially as they relate to morning routines, how she leverages her passions for design but leaves the marketing duties to other people, and how she takes a systematic approach to launching on Kickstarter by manipulating her media contacts.

Catch up with Cat on her personal blog, LittleMight.com, or via CalmTheHam.com and TheSelfJournal.com

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The Self Journal, closed

The Self Journal, closed

The Self Journal, open

The Self Journal, open

The Self Journal, open

The Self Journal, open

Show Notes & Links

  • Cat studied at Glasgow School of Art, and trained as an architect
  • Cat describes herself as a “maker”; it’s on her business card
  • She abandoned architecture after discovering that the job becomes less creative as the years endure
  • Cat’s design company, Calm The Ham, produces posters and other design goods
  • The initial investment for Calm The Ham was essentially the cost of a nice printer
  • Cat began working on websites because people asked her
  • The Foundation, a course to build SaaS products
  • Clinic Hero, Cat’s software for Chiropractors/Physical Therapists
  • Groupon
  • “Decision Fatigue” is to be avoided
  • Nate Voss, guest on a previous episode, described team-ups as “forming Voltron”

“California doesn't have a water problem, it has a people problem.”

—Cathryn Lavery

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  • Fart apps

“You don't want two designers starting a business together. You need someone doing the marketing & sales.”

—Cathryn Lavery

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  • The metaphor of “The Invading Army” vs. “The Occupying Army”
  • Coffee-flavoured Doritos Cappuccino-flavoured Lay’s (yes, this is a real product)
    Cappuccino-flavoured Lay's

    Cappuccino-flavoured Lay’s

“Do the things you love to do to keep your batteries charged.”

—Cathryn Lavery

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“You want to make it look like Apple created it.”

—Cathryn Lavery

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Tools

Techniques

  • Share how your projects are made
  • Learn from people outside your industry (e.g. digital marketers if you’re a designer)
  • Listen to your audience for advice on what to create next
  • Research a market, pre-sell a product, and then look for a developer to make it happen
  • Look for people to buy in to your project; folks to be invested not just have a job
  • Leverage parts of the project you most enjoy, and give the other elements to other people
  • Don’t try to do everything yourself (e.g. marketing, content, design)
  • Align your skills/passion with the sort of work that suits you (long-term vs. short-term)
  • Hoard water in buckets if you live in an area prone to droughts
  • Limit yourself to three targets for the day (not a huge to-do list)
  • Practice a gratitude habit in the morning
  • Get things out of your head and into a system
  • Create a high-quality video on Kickstarter, even for a print or physical product
  • Create professional image assets for your project
  • Build a media list for future outreach – Cat’s blog post on her Kickstarter methodology
  • Use Google Images to search for articles covering a specific product
  • Use a Virtual Assistant to build your spreadsheet and take care of research tasks
  • Impose deadlines on yourself, if only to keep things fresh!

Habits

  • Develop a morning routine. Here’s Cat’s
  • Meditate first thing in the morning, or move it around to whenever it fits best
  • Do a quick workout before your [ice-cold] shower so your body is warm
  • Use a journal to plan your days, and your goals for the quarter
  • Tell your story of how you develop a product

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About the author: Prescott Perez-Fox

Prescott Perez-Fox is a New York-based graphic designer and brand developer with 17+ years experience in branding, packaging, graphic design, and web design. He runs The Busy Creator.

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