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Arts and Crafts.

Or: Why Styling a Board Deck is a CEO's Worst Thing Ever.


I feel like someone notable said “you should always judge a book by its cover.” Could be from Curb but I can’t find the exact quote anywhere. Please note that I only spent about seventeen hours looking for the quote.

Before launching Zeck, we started two other companies, Moosejaw and CrowdRise. One time at Moosejaw we had Mime Day. We had mimes in our shops and no one was allowed to talk to the customers. Everyone had a little chalkboard around their neck. It didn’t work at all. But, it was notable.

I digress.

Putting our board decks together at Moosejaw and CrowdRise went as follows:

  1. Everyone on the leadership team was responsible for their own section. But, because we didn’t want our Director of Merchandising to see the Finance section, or the Director of Sales to see the HR section, we couldn’t all share one deck.

    So, each person built their section in their own Google Slides. This was always a painful process. I fully blame the rectangle. When there’s a bunch of white space, people want to fill it in. And if you’re not a designer (most people aren’t), you’re going to fill the white space with so much stuff that no one is going to read any of it. If you’ve built a deck, I’m sure you get it. Presentation software is totally flawed and annoying.

  2. Once everyone completed their own section, they sent ‘em back to me so that I could combine ‘em all into one presentation.

    Seems easy, right? Not so much.

  3. After getting everyone’s deck, I spent the next three days making it as digestible as an old-school deck can be. We had different fonts, some way too small to read, some so big that it took up too many slides. Tons of fancy matrixes and flow charts of info that filled up the rectangle nicely, but there was no chance any board member was gonna read. So much wasted time.

    And, forget that making everything look nice probably wasn’t the best use of my time, more importantly, I was bad at it.

    Even Shawn White said “The boarding I do is pretty strenuous.”

    In a made-up study by a made-up think tank called the Global Leadership Organizational People, better known a GLOP, it was noted that 97% of CEOs and CFOs are terrible at designing.

  4. It doesn’t end there. Once I was done combining all the info, it was time to add all the branding and pics to make the deck look awesome. Clearly another skill I don’t have.

    To note, my only skills are…having a lot of Dairy Queen and, that’s it actually. One skill.

  5. So, even though we didn’t let our leadership team, who we loved deeply, access our entire deck, I had to let one of our graphic designers in. He was probably snapping all his friends about our EBITDA. It was out of my hands…we had to make the presentation look awesome for our board.

Needless to say this entire process took a monumental amount of time. And, it was all super stressful.

Guessing you may know where I’m going here…

With Zeck, we think we’ve made this painful, real life and universally poor experience go away entirely.

  1. We have section-based permissions. You give your CMO access to the Marketing section and your HR Director access to the HR section, for example.

    This way, your entire team can be working in Zeck but can only access the sections that you give ‘em explicit permission to get into.

  2. All of the font sizes and line spacing and formatting is solved for you, across your entire presentation. Automatically. You don’t need to think about it at all. And it will be amazing looking on every device, including a phone.

  3. Your Zeck will look stunning. You may have to see it to believe it, but it’s true. You get a simple and awesome brand kit that you can execute with a few clicks so your logo, imagery, and colors are on brand and perfect throughout your Zeck.
All of this without involving a designer.

I know I bragged about Dairy Queen. At the risk of bragging again, even I can make a board deck in Zeck look awesome. With no help.

Someone who uses and loves Zeck, let’s just call her Sarah mostly because that’s her name, said that “eliminating all the time she used to spend doing arts and crafts with her board deck has been a game changer.”

If you’re someone who builds decks, I’m sure you get it.

Alright. I think that covers it and the chance you actually read all of this is probably really low anyway.

Okay. I’m going to stop typing now.

Decent Humans at Zeck

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