In Praise of the Side Project

More than an old proverb or a memorable line from The Shining, the maxim ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ is a great guide for living a full life. Either by accident or design we at Massive Media embrace this in our work, and our play.

Lets look at play first.

Rich leads the side project charge for Massive Media. His passion is music and his band Clever Knots. How he manages to fit the time in on this is something we have never quite figured out but clearly by the look of things as he comes in some Monday mornings this side project involves late nights. Clever Knots has been around for several years and just released an album available on iTunes. Check it out.

Some would say that Pavel’s side project and passion is work. They would not be too wrong. However, for purpose of this blog post work is not an acceptable side project. A distant second to work for P is his passion for fitness. A champion skier back in the day, here in the sunny Cayman Islands he has had to settle for surfing, cycling, and running. Any sporting activity basically… except SCUBA diving.  Don’t mention SCUBA diving. He is also, how can it be put delicately, a bit competitive.

Sarah is the newest person to join our team so we are still figuring out her side project. She and her fiancé recently built a home together, and they have hydroponic and aquaponic farming happening on their property. However, if what a person talks about the most is any indicator of their side project, then Sarah’s is definitely wedding planning. Everything seems to have a wedding planning angle of late.  We will update on Sarah’s true passion / side project after the happy day when we presume normal life will return.

David’s side project is a little harder to figure out. First off, is it weird that I am writing this about myself and speaking in the third person?  No? OK. David by all accounts is a dabbler in side projects.  Typically these involve the acquisition of specialised equipment to pursue said passion, and much excited talk of it around the office.  Then…. squirrel… something else comes along.

Really, though, it does not matter what the side project is. What they represent is a way to refresh and recharge. As much as this is true in our personal lives it is also true in our business. A few weeks ago Massive Media released a side project we had been working on. Spam Heroes is a Reddit style leaderboard of eight typical spam characters, the ones we all love to hate. Visitors to the site can vote for their favourite, and, after voting, send a ‘spam’ email to a friend and share their vote on social media.

Why would we spend the time and effort that it takes to do this?  I mean, we have bands, fitness, weddings and many other personal projects to work on.

#1… its great fun.

The end product is the result of months of angst as we gel together an idea for a promotion. The creative process of getting from A to Z on a project like this keeps us sharp. We can unleash the creative leash, so to speak, and can give real, honest, sharp critiques of the idea, and the execution. We have been remarkably successful in the less than two years we have operated as Massive Media 2.0. However, effectively having ourselves as a client forces us out of our comfort zone and refines our proposal and presentation process for existing and future clients.

#2… it allows us to blow off some steam.

These side projects are challenging to create. They are usually dreamt up during a slowdown in work projects, and inevitably are launched while we are intensely busy with client work. As strange as it may seem, the formula works, occupying us while things are a bit slower, then providing a ‘non-deadline’ creative outlet when we are super busy.

#3… it has proven to be our best business development work.

Two of our key clients first learned about us during our first Cupid campaign. The out of the box thinking in our Chicken Foundation project secured us more award winning client work and a peoples choice win at the CIMPA awards.  As altruistic as we may be, at the end of the day time is money and noone wants to spend time on a side project that is not recognized and well received, and/or leads to business growth or enhancement of a social cause we care about.

In the creative and tech communities, the standing of the side project is a bit less clear than we may lead you to believe, though. For many there is a relentless push to focus the key business drivers; a push that shuns any non-contributing activity that may keep resources from the primary objective of the firm. The Next Web presents a strong op-ed in favour of side projects. The linked story lists five of their findings, but it is number two that fairly well sums up our thoughts on the concept of the side project. The generosity that a company exhibits in the side project work it undertakes is rewarded by the clients time and time again.

We hope you enjoy our side projects, and encourage you to start one of your own today.