Episode 35: Brady Dahmer
On today’s episode, we have a hell of a guy, Brady Dahmer. Brady is a principal and founder at The Central Branch (a strategy and branding agency in Vancouver). Brady is a Mennonite-turned-artist, a cow-tipper turned businessman, and a relentlessly curious human being and entrepreneur. He’s described by friends and colleagues as wildly social, fiercely compassionate and one of the most connected people you may ever meet.
Here are some of the highlights of our great talk:
On How He Sees Himself as a Professional
“We live in a world that’s been ‘designed’ for us.” Brady begins as he explains his outlook. “All those little things like the handle on a coffee cup. I want to know the history and process. I love seeing design, I love seeing how stuff works…That’s my design philosophy”. He stresses that staying curious has a lot to do with the ability to stay excited about your work.
On How Growing up in Mennonite Country Taught Him Problem-Solving
“When something breaks, you have to solve it with whatever tool you have. You can’t just go to the store and buy the solution.” He says of a life working on a farm that shunned technology. “You only have chicken wire and pliers. You just have to solve the problem.”
On Avoiding Mental Blocks
“The pieces are always there”, Brady says of the problem-solving toolbox that he uses to the find a solution for his design challenges. Brady says he has been collecting problem-solving methods since high school, so he can avoid his biggest fear: “White Paper Syndrome”, or the fear of staring at a blank sheet with no idea of how to begin.
On Why He Keeps His Journal With a Fountain Pen
“I’ve found it psychologically slows me down,” he says of keeping a daily journal carefully recorded with a fountain pen. “I find when I have a Bic pen, I scribble. When you write with ink, you have to slow down. It puts me in that moment.”
On How He Recommends Moving to a Strange City
“Find a community and get involved”, he says of his experience moving to both Toronto and Vancouver without roots. Brady got involved by volunteering with art groups and networking with entrepreneurs each time he ended up in a new city. He also met people by throwing great parties. “By not caring”, he says of fears that might have stopped him from putting himself out there or risking a badly-attended party. “If you want to meet someone, you just have to say hi”.
On Choosing the Right People for Your Support Network
“We can’t water them all,” he says of relationships. “you have to focus on the people who are willing to give back”. He identifies this group as the people who share enough of your goals and motivations to understand you, and are as interested in a good relationship.
On Knowing Where to Focus
“The more I invest in myself and other people, the more it reciprocates for the business side”, he says of where he focuses his energy. “Invest in all those soft skills, and the revenue will come”.