Matt Beale | Crain's Pittsburgh

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Matt Beale

Background:  

Daedalus and its team of ethnographic researchers, industrial and interface designers, mechanical and electrical engineers, and software programmers work to bring improved, more cost-effective products and software to market.

The Mistake:

I am one of those people who believed that I would be the hero of my story. I went into the design profession dreaming that I would save the world through my work. Early on, I found myself dabbling in everything ­ ­– marketing, engineering, software programming – trying to do it all although I wasn’t very competent in these areas.

I joined my firm as a partner in 1993. I had been there since 1988, and, quite naturally, took on many projects. My partner was the rainmaker, bringing in the business; I was executing the projects. I was successful in this because I had learned that to be successful, I had to be this Leonardo da Vinci, do-it-all renaissance man.

The big eureka moment for me was when my first son was born. My wife came home from the hospital and went to sleep, and I went right back to work. I stayed up all night. Deliriously tired, I realized that I was slowly going to kill myself. I wasn’t doing my job well and wasn’t capable of being physically there for my son. I was on track to screw up both sides of my life ­– something had to change. My life was changing. The firm was growing. Doing it all was impossible.

While being able to understand different areas of my business was a good thing, trying to do it all was not.

The Lesson:

While being able to understand different areas of my business was a good thing, trying to do it all was not. Our firm eventually merged with an engineering firm, allowing us to hire specialists and diversify our capabilities.

Now I help leaders to lead projects. As a result, our work has gotten better. I’m not working with people and expecting them to carry out my vision, I’m helping them to discover their vision as we work with clients.

Follow Daedalus and Matt Beale on Twitter at @Daedalusinc.​

Photo courtesy of Matt Beale

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