Morning Routines with Michael Quinn

Taking a difficult situation and making something positive out of it is exactly what Michael Quinn, Co-Creator of Sidegiggle, did during the pandemic. Find out how he sets goals for himself and builds projects inspiring joy, creativity, and community.

What does a typical morning look like for you?

I freaking love mornings. Truly. Each night I am like a kid on Christmas eve, brimming with excitement, knowing that the following morning I get to indulge in that gift that is coffee. I also love springing up fairly, around 6:30, popping a podcast in (The Daily, Yang Speaks, How I Built This), while I brew coffee for me and my wife. I bring her coffee in bed, we catch up, talk about our days, and then I make a second cup and go for at least a mile walk around my neighborhood. I listen to music, get some fresh air, work through the big things in my head, map out a plan of attack for the day, or catch up with family on the East Coast. And then I usually hop right onto the laptop when I get back.

Do you have any tips or tricks for staying focused and getting shit done?

Admittedly, my mind is hyper-active. If I had to use a metaphor, it’s like a bunch of old-time-y switchboard operators constantly unplugging and plugging cables, always trying to make connections out of everything. It can lead to some wonderfully creative moments, but it can also get me off the path. I’ll find myself on an obscure Wikipedia page or coming up with punny t-shirt ideas on my iPhone, when I should be working. Don’t worry, Melody, I will one day make you that shirt that says "Girls Just Want to Have Font" (as you guessed, she’s a designer). I just realized, I am getting off track here. My big advice, take the time to really map out your day. Write out what you want to accomplish. Be very specific! Don’t say work out. Say, run two miles. And prioritize. You can really only do a handful of things in a day really well. 

Any advice for how to keep to a routine?

Repetition. It takes 21 days for a routine to stick. After that point, if you skip that routine, your mind will go, hey shouldn’t we be doing that thing. For example, I wanted to run again, so I set the goal of 50 miles in 30 days. It forced me to run about 1.5 miles a day, and it got my body back to craving the activity in a month.

How do you take your coffee?

A healthy splash of half-and-half! My wife turned me on to that.

Tell us about your favorite coffee mug.

My wife and I have a quirky little collection from high-end Japanese ceramic mugs to truck-stop mugs. We have these green ones, a pair, that feel a little old fashioned-y. But I remember the first pour-over she made for me, and it was in one of those. So, that’s my favorite. It was a memorable, good cup of coffee.

What projects have you been working on lately?

COVID has been a particularly fruitful time for me. A bunch of designer friend-colleagues and myself got laid off immediately when the pandemic hit. We were building a hospitality start-up, and it was clear the future was grim. So, a few days after we got let go, we all hopped on Zoom and said, “What the hell do we do?” So we launched this project called Sidegiggle -- a parody of a side gig -- as a creative community. Basically, we wrote this charter that we’re all going to start taking on creative projects that generate ideas that help people in this time, or at least help people smile. 

And since it was just pure passion, a pure drive to get creativity out into the world at a time when we felt it was important -- A. since new solutions for this new world require creativity and B. just to put positive energy into the world -- we ended up coming up with some wild stuff. And this is a damn talented team, too. Wickedly creative people. One of our designers developed concept design for a work chamber-retreat-private-office-den in your home, and it got picked up by Cool Hunting, Apartment Therapy, and Business Insider. Others are thinking through what the residential, multi-family world looks like with a new living concept. We’ve designed a bar cart that doubles as a desk. It’s wild, fun thinking that might just spark an idea for post-COVID living. I am quite excited about Cartwheel, a rolling unit for small businesses and restaurants.

To further this idea of inspiring creativity and creating a digital playground for creatives who are, well, creating for good in this time, we’re now actively hunting down projects to feature. We just featured Six Feet of Separation, a for-kids-by-kids newspaper, started by a veteran journalist. We’re about to publish a piece on up-cycled shoes, designed by a textiles designer in New York. 

We ultimately want to grow the community. Get more projects featured, and create a digital idea lab and a place of inspiration, at a time where we need creative and inspiring ideas. There’s a big road ahead that requires fundamentally new thinking. We want to do our little part. 

As a branding and marketing strategist who works with a lot of creatives, what kind of changes are you seeing in the industry because of Covid, and do you see them sticking around?

One thing I’ve noticed is that big traditional agencies are feeling more and more outdated. They can be expensive, lumbering, and not agile. So, I am seeing a lot of talented individuals getting great projects that might have gone to an agency in times previous. People want to do things quickly and more affordably, so there are some great opportunities lurking out there. Personally, at a time when everything feels surreal and weird and uncertain, I’ve found it to be a time for me to reconnect with what I care about. And to stand steadfast beside what I believe in. Creatively, professionally, personally. My new mantra is “don’t accept what is unacceptable.” Maybe it doesn’t ladder up to the original question, but they have been motivating words for me.