In 2004 I was at a significant crossroads in my career. The company where I had spent the past eight years was slowly dying due to economic changes and the dot com bubble bursting in 2000. During this eight-year tenure, I was able to develop my skills as a designer, learning to write clean semantic code that separated structure from presentation (Eric Meyer’s book on CSS was transformative in my growth at this time). The positives that arose from this reality of needing to find a way to take care of my family (My wife and I just had our second baby) forced me to begin my career as a freelance web designer.
During this transition, gallery sites that highlighted great design with semantic markup cropped up all over the place. Our community took such pride in our work that we would often place a bit of text and link in the footer to prove that our XHTML and CSS were validated with the W3C.
In October 2004, a labrador website that I created was awarded a silver star from the Web Standards.com website. Kevin O’Keefe, at the same time, was looking for a designer to hire on a contract basis to build law blogs for attorneys. He did some searching, landed on my Lousco Labrador site, and reached out to me via email to see if I was interested. From a few emails to a phone call later, an agreement was reached to work on one design to see if we were a good fit. Now fifteen years later and several thousand blog designs, I’d say it worked out quite well.
These past fifteen years have not come without trial, struggle, and frustration. However, these moments pale in comparison to the joy and triumphs, the friendships and opportunities working for this extraordinary company.
One thing that stands out over these fifteen years as “key” is the culture of service, giving, and care demonstrated by Kevin O’Keefe. I’ve yet to have a conversation with him that did not end with a “….what can I do for you….” Kevin’s big heart and love for others have fueled this company and been used as an example of how we are to lead. By serving others.