Thank You @Behaviordesign, I’m Grateful for the Opportunity You Gave Me

Up close with the letter B #walkingtoworktoday

Sitting in the large conference room with Chris and Jeff a couple weeks ago, I gave them the news that I was stepping down from Behavior. I don’t think they were completely surprised as it was kind of unusual for me to ask to meet them both pretty early in the morning. I mentioned it was kind of bittersweet to be leaving. I had the opportunity to work on what I would consider a dream iPad app project (that’s in it’s final stages before being released), but I also had the opportunity to start working with a business partner that I worked closely with at the startup Daylife to begin Gesture Theory. Working on an awesome project vs having the chance to do something that I’ve worked my entire life to get to.

To the credit of Chris, Jeff and everyone else at Behavior, they’ve been incredibly supportive of my move and have made my final weeks really nice. I’m sad that I’m leaving but the opportunity that I have in front of me was impossible to ignore. Of any design studio in NYC, Behavior was my top choice. If things had turned out differently and I had been working somewhere else, and the opportunity to work at Behavior had opened up to me, I would have taken that shot to work with them. I never felt the other way around. There was never a place that I wanted to go to. When I did accept the offer to work at Behavior a year ago, I knew it was probably going to be the last studio I worked at. I didn’t know what was going to happen after that to be honest. However I did know what ever happened next I was going to be prepared after working with really smart people.

I think I learned of Behavior during my first year working in NYC going through someone’s delicious links of studios. It immediately stood as place that was smart, understood design and did great work. Over time I came across the blog Graphpaper. I didn’t know who was behind it at the time but found the writing to be pretty smart. Later on some guy named askrom started following me on Twitter. Over time we’d go back and forth talking about design over on Twitter and eventually had lunch. Once we met face to face, askrom turned out to be none other than ChrisFahey. All the dots connected, he was the guy behind Graphpaper and was a partner at Behavior. I really didn’t know that at the time. We stayed in touch as people usually do after they meet up online. I’d bump into him at talks from time to time and we’d say hi.

A year later I went to a talk at SVA about the site redesign of NPR that my friend Callie Neylan was a part of. Afterwards there was a dinner that Callie invited me to, and out of a total fluke I sat beside Chris. We had an awesome convo during dinner. I think the next morning I checked out the Behavior site and noticed that they we looking to hire people. I dm’d Chris, he set up a couple meetings and I eventually found myself at the place I had wanted to work at for a pretty long time.

Probably the most difficult thing for me over the past year was not writing much about what I was doing on this blog. Even when I would dive deep into a topic it was hard to mention it because those ideas were going into proposals and for stuff that had not been released yet. When I was at Daylife I could talk about releases because already public. I don’t think I’ve even showed one thing publicly that I’ve had the opportunity to work on yet at Behavior. That will change when the app is released, but for the time being you’ll have to trust me that I’ve become a very different designer from a year ago in both knowledge and understanding of design thanks to the people that have shared their knowledge with me. For those designer’s out there that in the future find themselves trying to decide whether they should work at Behavior or a competitor, I couldn’t recommend them enough. They gave me an opportunity that I won’t forget and will try to encourage the same attitude at my firm.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
  • Matt Daniels

    Good luck Michael. Can’t wait to hear what’s in store for you next.

  • michaelsurtees

    Thanks Matt, what I can tell you is that I’ve already signed a couple NDA’s so I won’t be talking about that—ha. However the story for me to get here and what Roy and I are planning to do is something we’ve been envisioning for quite some time. Next week I’ll share some of those things & opportunities. It’s been great following your path as well from that first coffee a couple years ago.

  • Callie Neylan

    Michael, I had no idea I played a pivotal role in your career destiny. Wow. And it all started because of Weimaraners on Flickr….