I had no idea that Special Projects Leadership was a thing until I had been doing it for half a decade: It was a normal-as-anything day in late summer, circa 2018 when a friend and colleague bridged an introduction over email. “Copied here,” the email read, “Is Eric Michael, a good friend, and US-based Special Projects Lead that I know can bring your ideas to life… He’s the best!” (That last excerpt because: butterflies.)

My first thought was, “Is this what we’re doing now? Handing out professional titles?” My second thought was, “Did I do this? Have I put ‘special projects’ somewhere in my messaging?” (No.) And then, I’ll admit, “That’s exactly what I am.” (And then I immediately added the title to my LinkedIn, business cards, and everything else.)

Doing this felt like taking a long (exaggerated) look over my shoulder to learn a whole corner of my creative practice had been completely concealed. I had done so much in presenting the traditional creative services I carry out for clients—print, graphic, and web design—that I had left all of my Special Projects in the dark. Plus, I thought, if I didn’t know I was a Special Projects Lead, surely there had to be others. Maybe?

There weren’t. Turns out most of my network, including past and prospective clients, considered me a reliable (aka “solid”) Special Projects lead. Mostly because of my work with Airthings, The Home Depot, Visit Philadelphia, and countless other collaborators (ranging across fashion, psychedelic medicine, wellness, tech, and travel and tourism) had built me a pretty solid reputation in the space. Groovy.

My hope for this article is to hold some space and shed some light, through some frequently asked questions (aka supplemental reading material), as I work to assemble a dedicated Special Projects page on my site. There you’ll be able to dive deeper into my practice and explore some of the previous work.

Let’s get started but, before we do, if you’re interested in being alerted when the Special Projects page goes live, drop your email below.

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What is a Special Projects Lead?

A Special Projects Lead, by my definition, is an individual that works to assume the role and execute duties required of leading projects or assignments towards a productive goal.

What do you consider a ‘Special Project’ to be?

Special Projects run the gamut, for me. I consider anything appealing, attractive, or attainable to be a Special Project. Sometimes a Special Project can be purely conceptual, assisting an organization or brand with a new product or identity. Whereas, other times, a Special Project can be more complex and multi-disciplinary, like designing and presenting unique brand activations and integrated marketing initiatives.

I even look at and approach some digital property (website) design and development assignments as Special Projects, like those requiring content creation or intro-to-market support. It’s safe to say that you (or any client) would want any partnership requiring the activation of 2+ services would be tackled and treated as something special.

How long is the term of a Special Project?

This too is a sliding scale. Historically speaking, Special Project terms have spanned between three and six months—depending on the need and style of collaboration.

How do you select which Special Projects to attach yourself to?

At the end of the day, aside from relational and (corporate) cultural compatibility, I make the decision to propose or accept Special Projects on a case-by-case basis; on the appeal and (probable) success rate of the identified desire or need.