We had the good fortune of connecting with Ian Fohrman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ian, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The first step is properly calibrating the definition and metrics of “success”. Success is too often defined and measured based on a KPI, ROI, or the bottom line on spreadsheet. The myriad factors that lead to human flourishing and a life worth living – community, beauty, art, connection – are too often omitted from the conversation. This is true in personal life, business, and at the societal level.
Of course it’s important to make enough money to support ourselves and our team, to compensate people fairly, to do good work, and pay the bills, but our real goal has always been to create something that is fulfilling and worthwhile for our team and our clients– a place where people are proud to put their energy toward creating work that deserves to exist in the world.
The process to getting there, it’s all still very much a work in progress, is too complex and multivariate to point to any one factor. If I was forced to pick a couple they would be: Be kind. Work hard. Find humor. Have fun. Give a shit (About other people. About the work you create. About the world around you). Work hard (worth mentioning twice).
That all may sound either evasive or trite but I really believe that the right perspective and a few core values go a long way.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
[We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about?]
I’m currently most excited about the community of creators and awesome humans I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by. I’m always energized and inspired by people who constantly strive to push their own boundaries to make good work.
I’m proud that I’m part of a team and community that supports each other and genuinely cares about the people around them. We also have been lucky enough to have clients who mostly share our sensibilities about what makes a story worth telling. At The Public Works, we often get to highlight the real good our clients are doing out in the world and facilitate relationships that make actual differences in people’s lives (One of the best examples is with one of our key non-profit partners First Descents).
From a creative perspective, it’s hard to pinpoint what factors go into work that I’m proud to be involved in. It has something to do with taking chances, attempting something new, and the sheer effort of trying hard to make something good.
“Good Enough” equals “shitty” is a pretty good motto to live by if you’re making things for a living.
[How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way.]
My personal path has evolved relatively organically. I’ve always believed that if you point the ship in the right general direction and hit the gas, you’ll likely end up somewhere good. There are specific moments when precise navigation is helpful but generally life is too unpredictable and messy to make rigid plans and forecasts.
[What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?]
If you’ve got something worth saying, we’re here and ready to help tell your story and do our best to make the process fun.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Hopefully the friend is a backcountry skier and mountain biker. We can say the trip is in April so we can do both. We’d ride my backyard trails – Apex, Dakotah, Chimney. Ski a few peaks in perfect corn snow (Something like Dead Dog Couloir and Torreys). Assuming we’re both vaccinated by then and the world is spinning again we’d go to a show at Red Rocks, dinner at The Sherpa House in Golden. If there wasn’t a show we liked at Red Rocks I’d recommend a movie at one of Denver’s awesome indy theatres (Sie Theatre, The Mayan, The Esquire, or the Alamo Drafthouse) or a play at Curious Theatre Company. That sounded like an answer on The Dating Game or something equally as cringy.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I don’t know how to do shoutouts without it sounding like a verbose Oscar acceptance speech so… since this is a business context, I’ll just shoutout my partner in The Public Works and mentor for the last 16+ years Mike Arzt. (Instagram @arztm)
Mike pulled me into The Public Works world the better part of two decades ago and it’s been a journey of ridiculous adventures, laughter, learning, and the opportunity to build something I’m extremely proud of – something I enjoy working on every day. Mike is a legend, a visionary, and rips a mean turn on a snowboard or a dirt bike. I owe a lot to him.
Photo of me skiing: @arztm Behind the Scenes Jeep Commercial: @arztm