While updating my LinkedIn profile the other night, I decided it was time to finally add a custom profile background of some sort. I wanted it to say something about who I am as a professional. First I tried an old illustration I made of myself with Mickey Mouse ears on and a briefcase in hand. But that felt a touch TOO playful. Next I played with a variety of photos – carnivals, theme parks, client projects. But those felt either too narrow or too focused on other companies rather than my own brand. While I would always rather talk about other people’s successes that I’ve contributed to in some small way, LinkedIn really does need to be a place where we all toot our own horns. Then I developed a background using a repeating pattern of icons representative of the types of work I’m passionate about. I didn’t love it.

Frustrated that nothing seemed to be communicating the right thing, I looked at my desk – a bit of a mess that night, I’ll admit – and realized that I’m surrounded by items that tell a decent story about how I work. So I grabbed everything that was on top of and underneath my desk, lined it up on the ground, and snapped a photo. Voila. A meaningful LinkedIn profile background.

Click around on the image below for quick descriptions of my desk’s contents.

This briefcase holds the very first business plan I ever wrote – for a theme park we intended to build in Arizona that was to act as the first venture in a long list of creative ventures we hoped to pursue. We never built the park, but keeping the briefcase nearby reminds me of the long-term vision we established back in 2001.
X-acto knives. Everyone needs a decent set, right?
I live in AZ. My wife says I’m supposed to be wearing a hat whenever I leave the house.
Markers and a sketchbook follow me to every meeting and sit close by when I’m working at home.
My business card. Glasses. A Google Pixel C tablet. My old, trusty HP Envy Spectre. I’ve owned three other laptops since buying this one. And I’ll be switching to another soon. But this guy was beautifully crafted and just keeps working.
Sphero. He’s a great little robotic toy.
My Beats Studio Wireless headphones. I love the visual design, and the audio is pretty good. But both pair I’ve owned have broken too quickly. And they hurt my head and ears. Even though they’re not nearly as cool looking, my next pair will probably be Bose.
Bag. It works as a backpack or messenger bag. Funny enough, it’s the cheapest bag I’ve owned, but it’s been my favorite.
Tootsie Pop. There are never enough of these in the house. They disappear too quickly. I think I got a star on the wrapper!
DJI Osmo Mobile 2. It’s a gimbal for my Pixel 2 for shooting smooth, beautiful video.
Post-Its. I keep these guys in business.
Sunglasses. So I can look cooler than I really am.
DJI Mavic Pro. I love shooting footage with this thing. It’s a fun toy and a fantastic video production tool. If you’re thinking of getting one, make sure you buy the insurance!
Fruit Loops. I eat cereal for four meals a day. We never have fewer than 30 types of cereal in the pantry at a time. I’m convinced it feeds my creativity.
Impact driver. While I conceptualize more than I fabricate, I love working with my hands and building stuff.

As a bonus, our polished concrete flooring made a great backdrop for this shot.

Does your desk look similar? What killer tools am I missing?

Dustin Smith

Author Dustin Smith

Dustin is the father of four awesome kids and works as a consultant and entrepreneur in the entertainment attractions industry.

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Matthew Villalobos says:

    Way jealous of the Osmo 2 but the Stabilizer in the Pixel software does a pretty great job for a purely software fix. With the video tools you keep handy, I’m a bit disappointed with the quantity of videos you’re producing. Unless I’ve missed them. 😛

    It would be interesting to know what software tools you’re working with too. What are you editing video in? What are you editing photos with? Do you Auto-Awesome or do you color correct on your own? I imagine this was shot with the Pixel 2? Do you have a take on Microsoft’s Fluent Design compared to Flat 2.0? Too many questions, not enough blog posts about your design rationale.

    • Dustin Smith says:

      I obviously don’t spend a ton of time on the blog these days – I’m trying to devote the majority of my brain power to the new venture. But I remembered that I had never even responded to your comment.

      Honestly, the Osmo 2 isn’t as useful as I’d hoped it would be. The biggest reason for that is that I like the Pixel 2’s camera app, and the Osmo 2 works best with DJI’s camera app. Plus, as you pointed out, the stabilization on the Pixel is pretty solid. I do love shooting with the gimbal, but I find that I leave it home because it doesn’t add as much to my casual shoots as, say, a drone does.

      You’re right – I don’t post a lot of videos or photos. Most of the content I’m creating is being used to create content for project pitches. I’ll have to create some more fun things with my kids to share with the world. I find that if I have some time to do something creative for fun, it’s only worthwhile if I can get my kids involved.

      I experiment with a variety of software solutions. On occasion, Auto-Awesome nails it. But if I really need get to get it right, I’m in Photoshop and Premiere. I’d really love to figure out if I can manage in a Chrome OS environment, and I’m considering working primarily on a Pixel Book – especially if a convertible tablet hits this year. Are you starting to use anything I should be considering?

      Design rationale is a much longer discussion that I won’t get into today. Suffice it to say that my goal is to create experiences that delight users. That means they need to be user-centered in function first. That also means that beautiful design is often a priority as well – but it doesn’t play first fiddle. That philosophy is true across physical environments, digital experiences, etc.

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