Jon Cook – Owner of Archway Ink

[quote style=”boxed”]The more you’re informed, the better your brain can process the nuggets of excellence to save.[/quote]

Jon Cook is the owner of Archway Ink, his independent creative headquarters. He primarily works with entrepreneurs and small to medium businesses through copywriting, blogging content and coaching, branding design and strategy, and social media development.

Jon is an avid reader, writer, and sports fan. He and his wife Kara are close to finishing their bucket list of visiting all the MLB stadiums (28 down, only two to go!).

See Jon’s work and read his blog through Archway Ink. Follow Jon (@archwayink) on any major social network and connect with Jon through LinkedIn.

Jon is currently located in St. Louis, Missouri.

Where did the idea for Archway Ink come from?

I wanted to capture the St. Louis experience and history as well as communicate a fresh start. Many journeys start with walking out a door, which is a type of archway. “Ink” is my own way of putting a writer’s spin on my branding. Only one person has asked me if I also do tattoos.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My daily schedule is fairly predictable. I read over 100 articles on productivity, life hacks, and the daily routines of highly successful entrepreneurs in the initial month before launching independently. My schedule and routines are based off my reading experience.

Email and social media are the first two tasks of my day with almost no exception. I want to see what may hijack different parts of my day depending on my clients’ needs and social trending. I do most of my writing in the morning, specifically blogging. My afternoon is spent on projects, client meetings, or networking. The end of the workday always ends with two things: responding to any critically important emails or phone calls, and triaging my calendar for the next day.

If I ever feel a strong wave of fatigue, I will take a short 15-20 minute nap. It’s worth the short interruption to freshen my brain and finish the day strong. It doesn’t happen often at all, but each time I am far more productive after napping.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Most times I begin with a complete “brain dump”. I open my Moleskine notebook or Evernote and just start writing down word associations, random ideas, movies, art, songs, quotes, news stories, anything that comes to mind connected to the idea.

If I’m doing a creative consultation with a development team, I’ll use Google to kickstart my brainstorm and try to bring at least five to six good ideas to the session. Depending on how the session goes, I may introduce all or none of the ideas. The unused ideas are saved for a rainy day.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Blogging has moved into the center of an entrepreneur’s home base. The website and static content are no longer the most important part of an entrepreneur’s platform. Dynamic blog content is now the measuring stick of assumed authority. I’m excited to see how blogging practices and growth change the business culture more in 2014.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

My end of day triage of the next day’s schedule. It helps me evaluate progress on different projects, tracks the success of my now complete day, and trains my focus on where my brain can mentally prepare for the tasks of tomorrow.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I worked as a store clerk during my senior year of high school. Terrible pay, lousy hours, and the owner’s cat and its litter box lived in the office, which was a mound of papers and boxes. It’s where I first realized if someone as lazy and unengaged as my boss could have a moderately successful store, what could I do with a much higher work ethic and determination?

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I don’t know how much I’d do differently because part of your past is now built into your present. I would probably do more research and learn even more from others who are more experienced. I’ve never regretted asking a more experienced, trusted colleague for their best advice.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Read. I read all the time, sometimes up to two or three hours a day. Ebooks, full books, articles, blogs, magazines, editorials, reviews, everything and anything I can to help me learn. The more you’re informed, the better your brain can process the nuggets of excellence to save.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Collaboration. Life is about giving, not taking. If I can empower my clients, network, and even competitors to become fantastic at what they do, it builds a richer experience for everyone. It has returned beneficially to me multiple times over and my life is richer when we work together.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

When I first started I attended a business luncheon wearing nice jeans on a Friday. Everyone else was in much nicer business clothes. I wanted to die. Now I don’t wear anything less than a nice shirt and slacks, no matter the workday occasion.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’d like to see someone experiment with remote-controlled snow removal.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I was a straight-A student throughout high school except for one B+: freshman English. The irony is I’m now a full-time writer.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I run my website through WordPress. I’ve worked with WordPress for the past four years and I stand by my experience. The plugins and social media connections are invaluable for building Archway’s platform. My accounting and invoicing services are through Wave Apps, a hidden gem for new entrepreneurs. It’s free, easy-to-use, and integrates well with my bank account. I use Adobe Creative Cloud for much of my design needs.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Platform” by Michael Hyatt. Even if you’ve been an entrepreneur for a while, this book gives fantastic insight into how to build your voice into a dynamic, lasting platform for your audience to experience. I highly recommend Michael’s blog as well.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

As I mentioned, Michael Hyatt has significantly influenced much of my platform development and entrepreneurial success.

I’ve also learned a tremendous amount from Brian Clark and his team at Copyblogger.

Another influence over the years has been a mentor of mine, John Arnold with Arnold Marketing.