Member Profile | Joram Salisbury – Wollongong Design

Member Profile | Joram Salisbury – Wollongong Design

I would say it makes you want to work. It makes you feel more professional. Everything is so convenient. To sum it up, it’s a well presented space to take your business seriously, but yourself not too seriously”


Can you tell us a bit about your journey to Coledale? How did you end up here and what attracted you to this community?

Well, before the whole covid thing I had an office in the heart of Wollongong for a few years, so when covid hit I did the WFH thing for a while. I quickly realised I hated being at home. It wasn’t that I was unproductive per se, I could focus (despite the household tasks & the fridge trying to lure me away), it was that I felt alone. Despite the zoom calls with colleagues & employees, it felt so isolating being on my own in a room at home. I missed people around me – stuff happening. So I tried Thirroul Library, which as a community space is great but honestly not the best professional working environment. There’s only so many times you explain to clients about the slowish internet, and the 11am kids singalongs in the background. So a friend signed up to try WorkLife Trial, and suggested I try too, and haven’t looked back since. For me it just ticks all the boxes. Fast internet, nice meeting rooms, an inspiring fitout, parking right out the front, fresh fruit (big user), cafes next door (bigger user), lunchtime swims/surfs, and most importantly, a good group of like-minded professionals from a variety of fields. Call it cliche, but, I feel blessed to call it my workplace.

Business and Entrepreneurship:
Tell us about your business. How and when did you decide to start it, and what motivated you to take the plunge into entrepreneurship?

I’m not sure you’d place me in the “natural born entrepreneur” camp selling lemonade at the kerb at age 6 – (TBH, the word entrepreneur always conjures up cringey connotations for me) but my journey of let’s call it ‘professional independence’, is courtesy of two things – bold people around me, and my desire to be hyper self-sufficient. So it started around age 25 when I quit the design studio I was working at in Sydney along with my ‘bold’ friend (he urged me to quit), and we started a boutique fashion brand called Paterson Salisbury (PS) – we designed and made a whole assortment of leather goods. PS was a decent stint of my twenties, and sold the business in 2018. Then an old boss I had wanted some design done for his businesses, so I decided to do that for a bit, and before I knew it, it just escalated from there – more requests, more recommendations, and a steady set of clients keeping me busy. Maybe now you could say I have the bug, always cooking up new business ideas, and the design studio Wollongong Design has been going strong for close to 4 years now. The ironic thing is I don’t have a website at the moment…too busy making other peoples!

What does work-life balance look like for you? How do you manage the demands of running a business while ensuring time for family and personal life?

I’m fairly lucky to have an incredible work life balance. I think the beauty of working for yourself is you can design your life and come pretty damn close to achieving it with a bit of gristle. Some weeks I work 40-50hrs when client deadlines loom, and sometimes it’s 20-30hrs, where I take a bit more time to fulfill other parts of my life besides work, like friends, family, other pursuits.. I think as you get older, you feel more comfortable with your overall position, who you aspire to be (or not aspire to be anymore), and you just take things less seriously, not in a flippant way, but just less pressure on yourself. I think it makes you a better human to those around you.

In your industry, what recent disruptions or transitions have had the most significant impact on your business?

For me the biggest transition is from designing more static forms of design to designing interactions, especially digital user experiences for screens and apps (and the software and concepts around that, like user behaviour modelling, making rewarding and engaging products, app development protocols, and good web development practices). AI has also made insanely big leaps when it comes to image generation, and even image correction. Just this week I’ve used AI tools to create life-like pictures from written prompts, and sharpen images taken in low light to look immaculate and not grainy. So far these haven’t been disruptions, more-so positive aids, but I have seen early signs of some AI tools creating entire websites and documents, albeit with fairly generic results. I think it may satisfy a certain type of client who may not need anything too special, but right now it’s not capable of creating tailored and sophisticated outcomes. Capturing a brand’s essence, its aesthetic, piecing together their strategy, building a user experience, and making the whole thing cohesive requires taste, thought, and experience – AI’s just not there yet.

Personal Life:

Outside of work, what are your hobbies and passions? How do you like to spend your time when you’re not focused on business or family?

Being active and healthy is a big thing – surfing, playing field hockey, hiking, running, weights, climbing, eating well, learning about psychology. I also have a thing for cars –  driving and re-building hot hatches from the 90’s. I’ve got 3 x Peugeot 306’ S16s & had 5 in total. One I’ve rebuilt to be ‘fast-ish’, another one a ‘sunday drive collectable’, and another is sitting on rural property for parts.

Are there any books or podcasts you’ve found particularly inspiring or informative recently? Any recommendations for the WorkLife community?

For new science-based health insights – Diary of the CEO has been getting a decent play.
For some interesting relationship psychology insights – Esther Perel – Where should we begin

I’m reading the Myth of Normal at the moment – Gabriel Mate. It’s a great roll-up summary around the connection between mental and physiological health and how the mind/body connection contributes to disease/health.
I think a great book I’d suggest to anyone is called Non-violent communication – Marshall B Rosenberg. I’m a big fan of good communication, and it’s just a practical guide around the language to use when expressing needs and thoughts, without making people defensive. 

How do you maintain boundaries between work and personal life? Any top tips?
I used to struggle with wanting to please people and would overcommit myself. It took a while to get comfortable saying things will take longer, but I just had to practice setting lower expectations, even when you feel it reflects badly on you. Practice the stuff that feels foreign.

Home and Lifestyle:
What is your taste like? Do you have a favourite item of furniture or object in your home? Anything that has special significance or tells a story about you?

I’m a mix of minimalist, industrial, with a slight retro vibe. I don’t think this part of my house is significant but it’s kinda funny. I have a thing with floors – I like them clean. So, when I moved to my new house I wanted a garage floor that was easy to clean and nice to work on – no dusty concrete please. I wanted something natural – so I went for linoleum, which is 96% linseed & flax. It’s kind of expensive, but I managed to get a deal on some left over from some architectural job in Sydney, but it turns out it was avocado green. Perfect… When I collected it, I took the front passenger seat and rear seats out to fit it in the car. As I saw the forklift approach with it, little did I know it would weigh 300kgs. As soon as I started driving home I turned a corner and it rolled over and almost crushed me. I managed to wedge it safely for the drive home, and it took 3 of us to get it out of the car. Installing it was pretty hectic too- a bit of a learning curve, but I can confidently say, my architectural avocado green linoleum garage floor looks great, and is so easy to clean.

What do you like/appreciate about the design at WorkLife? Any favourite touches or things that make you feel at home when you are at work? 

The outdoor shower is a lovely little touch after a swim, and I know Kate will like this… the Herman Miller chairs are a thing of beauty and comfort.

If you were to showcase the best of the local lifestyle to visiting friends, where would you take them and why?

I’m a sucker for a Sublime Point leg burn and Lookout, maybe a day trip to Era/Garie/Burning Palms/ in the national Park, and a sneaky burger at The Imperial at Clifton, which has some nice views, food, and fitout. 

Productivity and Time Management:
What’s your go-to productivity hack? How do you stay organised and efficient, especially with multiple responsibilities?
Nothing groundbreaking really. Slack for quick messaging and huddles (even directly with clients as emails are too slow and clunky, and huddles are faster than google meet and zoom). Lastpass for passwords. Loom for asynchronous run-throughs, explaining concepts, giving feedback. Harvest for time-keeping and sending billable hours to Xero (for accounting). Google Keep for basic life list-keeping.

Benefits of WorkLife Membership:
Lastly, what’s been the most valuable aspect of being a member at WorkLife for you and your business?
I would say it makes you want to work. It makes you feel more professional. Everything is so convenient. To sum it up, it’s a well presented space to take your business seriously, but yourself not too seriously.

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