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Solid Sit-Downs: Derek Lauritzen, VP + Creative Director

Just like growing a company or brand, my successes have been achieved through planning, dedication, teamwork, taking calculated risks and probably most importantly, rolling up my sleeves. I work hard to lead by example, with the goal of elevating those around me.
Derek Interview Solid Sitdowns
I’d like to start off by saying I’m so thankful to be where I am in my life right now, both personally & professionally. There’s no way in hell I could have made it here without so many important people who have helped shape the person I am today. I try to not only learn from my own trials and tribulations, but also through those around me. I’m so grateful for past and present relationships I’ve been blessed with over the years… My parents, siblings, high school football coaches, friends, teammates, professional mentors, and my peers have all taught me more than I’ll ever know. But the ones who take the cake are my wife and kids. They are, hands down, my rock. They are my inspiration, motivation, and the reason I am able to do what I love on a daily basis. I started my career here as a design intern, many moons ago. With an aptitude for seeing and understanding the broader impact and importance of the word “design”, I really enjoy applying my knowledge and skills to all levels and areas throughout a business / organization. Currently, I’m contributing my efforts as VP + Creative Director, here at Solid Digital. My philosophy in life is to “never stop learning”. I feed this curiosity by immersing myself within our clients’ world, learning everything I can about their company, in order to help them achieve their goals & objectives. This fuels my passion of helping others. I assist in whatever way I can, helping to achieve their own definition of success. Because I’m a designer at heart, I believe in simplicity or “subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful”. The bigger the mess, or the more complicated things are, the more joy I get out of boiling it down and distilling it for others. Just like growing a company or brand, my successes have been achieved through planning, dedication, teamwork, taking calculated risks and probably most importantly, rolling up my sleeves. I work hard to lead by example, with the goal of elevating those around me.

Q&A w/ Derek Lauritzen

Q: What is your favorite quote?

“Less, but better”
I first saw this quote in a life changing book for me, called “Essentialism”. It is something I am constantly working on. I have a graphic with these words as my desktop background. I think most people can relate to having too many distractions or too many things going on around them… and not enough time to get them done… or lack of focus on the things that matter most. Whenever life throws a bunch of shit at me, I try to use this quote as a reminder to stop, breath, declutter, and focus on the things & outcomes I care about most.

Q: What inspired you to become a designer and how did that lead to your current role as a Creative Director?

You know, this isn’t as great of a story as one might think, but I’ll tell it anyway haha. Back in high school, I took a digital media class as an elective with all of my close friends. We thought “hey, this will be an easy blow off class, that we’ll also get some college credit for”. I had always fancied myself as a creative, but we were able to learn some really fascinating tools that allowed me to take my creativity to another level. As the assignments grew, I found myself really enjoying it and quickly outpacing my friends. Not to say they couldn’t do the assignments, I think I was just the only one it came easy to. I started doing more, coming in after hours, creating posters, manipulating photos, developing short videos… It was a lot of FUN! My friends were a big encouragement, telling me how good I was and would ask for help non stop. This led me to pursuing a degree in graphic communications with a minor in art and photography… the rest is history lol.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about being the Creative Director at Solid Digital?

Our team! Not just the creative team, but everyone here. It’s crazy how aligned we are and we work so well together. My favorite thing to do is brainstorm and our team makes this so enjoyable because none of us hold back our ideas. When a good idea becomes great, due to the contributions from everyone, you know you have something special with that team!

Q: As VP + Creative Director, What expertise do you bring to your clients?

If I had to pinpoint where I feel I add the most value, I’d say customer experience and visual communications. I’ve learned a lot over the years on the ways in which people interact with digital platforms and I’m continuously finding creative ways of presenting a brand’s unique personality and messaging to its intended audiences. I believe there are many solutions to a given problem or goal, it’s my job to identify the best one out of the bunch… and bring it to life. Through expertise, experiences, intuition, data, testing, and continuous improvements/iteration, I enjoy bringing all things to the table and collaborating with others to find the solution that works best for each of our clients.

Q: What is your approach to providing great customer service?

Being a good listener.

Q: What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on during your time at Solid Digital?

This is a difficult question for sure… but probably the Redbox TV Application. Although some of what we did never came to fruition, it was really fun working on with a big brand name and diving into a medium I wasn’t as familiar with at the time. I enjoyed the challenge and had fun working with so many different talented people that were involved.

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I love continuous improvements. If I’m not working or spending time with my family, you can usually catch me doing home renovations. We bought an older home a few years back and there’s no shortage of projects my wife and I have done / plan to do. I probably have at least 10 different home improvements I’m working on at the moment haha. Recently, my attention has been on redoing our basement steps & gutting our upstairs bathroom. I love it because I get in the zone (reaching “flow”) while I’m doing it and I really enjoy the feeling afterwards of living in a home that I helped design/construct.

Q: What volunteering or passion projects do you do outside of work?

My brother started his own business at the end of last year. So I’ve been helping him create a solid foundation for his brand, messaging and marketing strategy. Still a lot more to do here, but it’s been really fun applying what I’ve learned professionally to help someone who I care about deeply and has done so much for me over the years.

Q: What is your favorite museum?

DuPage Children’s Museum… My kids love it, so I love it!

Q: Your top 5 favorite Podcasts/Books?

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People – by Dale Carnegie
  2. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living – by Dale Carnegie
  3. The Power of Positive Thinking – by Norman Vincent Peale
  4. The Power of Habit – by Charles Duhigg
  5. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – by Greg McKeown

Q: What is one of your favorite things about Solid Digital’s Culture?

I’d have to say our transparency. We’re very open with our team internally on the things that are happening on the leadership level, our finances, and overall company changes / strategies. We are also this way with our clients. We provide honest guidance, no matter the costs.

Q: What is your favorite Solid Tradition?

Every morning Diana, our Director of Experiences, puts a fun little question on slack (Solid-Dailies) for everyone to respond to. This is a small thing that I think goes a really long way. It allows us to really get to know one another on a deeper level and typically brings humor to our conversations, which I love!

Q: What do you like on your pizza?

I’m a meat lover’s guy for sure!

Q: What’s your most-used mobile application and why?

Probably the Chase app to be honest… I try to stay on top of my finances & spending the best I can… Debt scares me!

Q: What are three things still left on your bucket list?

  1. Financial independence
  2. Traveling the world with my family
  3. Owning a boat

Q: What is the 1 piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to have a career in your field?

Be sure you love what you do.

Q: What would you like to be known for?

I’d like to be known as “the idea man, that gave a shit”.
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