Can you give the readers a little background about yourself?
Hi Siedah, first off thanks for the interview, very much appreciated. About my background, I’m basically a Web UI Designer with a variety of skills and passions in many different areas (including front-end development, online marketing, business, etc.). I first started toying with web design in 1995 after dropping out of college. I taught myself how to build a website for a t-shirt printing business I was working on. I had no desire at the time to be a web designer but I ended doing a small website for a family friend for $300. That’s when I got hooked. I said to heck with t-shirts, I want to do websites for a living.
I landed my first “big” 9-to-5 job in November of 97’ as a customer service rep for Thomson Reuters (making $21k a year). About 5 months into that job, I interviewed for the Webmaster position and got it. That’s pretty much how I got my start in Web Design working in the corporate world. From there, I would work at that job for 8 years learning and growing as a designer. All the while, I maintained a freelance career part-time making supplemental income.
In 2005 after years of doubting my skills and being fearful of rejection because I didn’t have a college degree, I decided to put my resume out there and started applying for new jobs. To my surprise, the market was Hot (and still is) and companies began offering me jobs. Since then, I’ve worked for Cars.com, FOX, Yahoo! and now CBS.
How do you find time for your family? You work full-time at CBS as a Senior User Experience Designer; maintain your blog, video blog, and video training.
Michael: I hustle, period. I do the majority of my work late nights. Gary Vaynerchuk said it best, “Time is not an excuse. If you really want it, 7 o’clock at night, to 2 in the morning is plenty of time to do damage.” If you haven’t see his talk in 08’, it’s a must:
On the average day, you can find me on the couch with my laptop in my lap, my wife is next to me with her laptop in her lap and my kids are screaming right next to me arguing of which cartoon show on Netflix to put on next. That’s literally how it is most nights during the week. When the kids go to sleep, and after spending some time with my wife watching one of her TV shows, I’ll normally get a few hours in to do some work, record a video, answer emails, work on designs etc. It’s hard but my DNA is totally work focused. My goal is to one day be able to quit my full-time job and spend more time (during the day) with my family. That’s what drives me. I’m almost there.
Are your wife and two children considerate of your hectic schedule?
Yes, my wife is very supportive. My kids don’t have a clue. The one thing about me is that I’m always home with them. Even when I’m on the computer, I’m with them most of the time. Its just at night when they’re all sleep, that’s when I go to work. If you watch some of my older YouTube videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/mlwebco), you can see I look dead tired. That’s because I’m recording my video blog at 2am in the morning. No lie. That’s the honest truth. I crack up at some of the comments when people ask me if I’m high or if I smoke weed. Not at all, I was just up late recording at 2 a.m.!
Why did you decide to be an educator?
I decided to become an educator one day after repeatedly getting emails from people about how my videos on YouTube were changing their lives. I thought, this is awesome; I can do this for a living. That’s when the light bulb (as I like to say) went off in my head. People loved what I was doing and that was (and still is) the best feeling in the world. Youtube changed my life literally.
Can you tell us a little about your web design training program?
My web design training program is online web design training course (a collection of structured tutorial videos) where I basically show people my complete web design process from beginning to end. So I walk people through how to use Fireworks, how to design a website and how to code a website. It’s a more in-depth look at my overall process and detailed tutorials on how to do each step. It’s like looking over my shoulder as I design a website and take you through my thought process.
What does your video training provide that your weekly blogs doesn’t?
The difference between my weekly blog videos (that I publish to YouTube) and my training videos is that I go more into detail and more substance. Whereas in my video blogs, I might inspire or give tips and advice. In my training videos, that’s where I actually show you step by step. So I like to look at my Weekly blog videos as inspirational and knowledge transferring whereas my tutorials are more hands-on training.
Do you ever plan to conduct webinars?
I do want to conduct webinars. It’s on my radar of things to do. I think once I’m able to quit my 9-to-5 and go full-time on my own, I will have more time and will definitely be conducting webinars, speaking engagements, conferences, etc. I want to do all that stuff. Any and everything that I can do to grow my brand and continue building my business, I want to try it.
If you can do something differently — business or personal — what would it be?
If I could go back in time, I would have started blogging earlier. I had a chance to start a blog in the early 2000’s, but hesitated because I wasn’t sure of my skills. But if I had started blogging earlier, I would have a bigger audience by now and be much closer towards my business goals. But it’s all good. I’m a firm believer that we are where we need to be and life is all about learning and moving forward.
Now, you currently work for CBS Interactive, but you have worked other big companies like Yahoo!, Cars.com, and FOX. Do you feel you are a small fish in a big pond?
I guess you can feel small working for a large company, but I never look at it that way, or at least I’ve grown to not worry so much about my status within the company. I like working for big companies because they pay well. Also, I’ve learned to use my blog (videos) as my outlet for staying in control of my own ideas, etc. For example, when you work for someone, you’re never really in control. You always have Directors, Managers, and Senior Leaders that can override you at any time. This can be frustrating if you don’t know how to deal with it. But I’ve learned to use my blogging as my outlet to express my ideas and thoughts. Through my blogging and personal projects, I get the satisfaction I need when it comes to wanting to control or do my own thing.
During one of your interviews with one of these big companies, how did you set yourself apart from the other candidates? Or was networking a major way of getting your foot in the door?
Networking is a huge part of it. Networking or knowing people within these companies is the best way to get your resume in front of the hiring manager. That is huge. But once you get that opportunity to interview, you must show some difference. For me, my YouTube videos really helps me stand out from other designers. I may not be the best designer but through my videos and blogging, I’m able to express my thought process behind design, business and marketing. And for that, many hiring managers are impressed. I have an old video where I provide tips on landing a job. In the video, I talk about importance of having a blog and provide other helpful tips.
Do you plan of opening a firm or company? If so, what types of services would you provide? Who would be your target audience and why?
My plan is to continue to grow my Web Design Training business. I like teaching, motivating and sharing knowledge. So I plan to create other training products such as Designing with Photoshop, Responsive Design, Mobile App Design, Online Marketing (i.e. running a business online), etc. I love online marketing and so I will continue to include online marketing in combination with web design and continue to teach people how to succeed and build an online business in these areas.
What or who inspires you?
In general, any entrepreneur inspires me. Someone who decided to act on an idea and turn it into a business is what I’m inspired by. That’s in my DNA. I’m driven to build something of my own and be able to financially support myself through something I built. Speakers and authors that inspire me are people like Earl Nightingale, Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk.
Thank you for your time Mr. Locke. You are truly an inspiration to other designers in the world!
About Michael: You can visit Michael Locke’s website at http://www.mlwebco.com.