say it takes a certain amount of courage and daring to leave
a thriving psychology career to pursue an entrepreneurial dream.
Those with less adventurous spirits might say you’d have to be out
of your mind. Say what you will about John Wilson (Howard B.S. 84,
M.Ed. 86 & University of Miami Ph.D. 94), but he did indeed
leave the safety and security of teaching at Georgia State University
to take a spin out on the World Wide Web.
a decade of dealing with the emotional problems of countless patients,
Wilson decided to do a little self-analysis, and wasn’t happy with
what he found. He knew his level of professional satisfaction had
begun to wane, but when he began finding it hard to get up for work in the morning,
it was time for a change. “The field of psychology had just begun
to change over the last several years,” he says. “One of the things
I thrived on was the ability to be creative, and I found I wasn’t
able to do that any longer.” After 10 years of practice, Wilson
says, the invasion of HMOs and bureaucratic red tape left him disenchanted
with the field. That’s when he first thought about taking a hobby,
web design, and turning it into a business.
set up shop at his desktop and opened VIP Consulting. He
had slowly been teaching himself the intricacies of web design since
1996, when a friend gave him an old copy of Photoshop.
“That program got me started doing photo and image manipulation,”
he says. “I learned the program on my own, bought a copy of Microsoft
Front Page and a couple of web design instruction books, and kind
of worked at it.” He upgraded his home computer and software as
he progressed, staying current with web design advances and learning
how to add audio, video and 3-D features to web pages. “I enjoyed
working on the Web, so the next step was to see if I could turn
it into an endeavor to make some money,” he
says. That was three years ago.
that period Wilson’s firm has designed, managed and maintained web
sites for a number of organizations, including the Association
of Black Psychologists, Georgia State University Counseling
Center and The Write Publicist. Another VIP Consulting
client is Ruben’s Nest, a magazine for and by Rubenesque
Rodrigo is the president of Ruben’s Nest. When she first
thought about creating a web site three years ago, she turned to
Wilson. Even though he had limited experience at that point, Rodrigo
took a leap of faith after seeing some of his early web designs.
She was not disappointed. “I expressed what my vision for the site
was and it took off from there,” she says. “He has very clean ideas
and designs, and knows what to bring forward and what elements should
remain in the background. We’re extremely happy with his work,”
has been shrewd enough to incorporate a significant amount of experience
from his former career into his entrepreneurial enterprise. There
is indeed a psychology to building a better web site. Wilson explains
that understanding the psychological impact of colors as well as
the placement of text and visually stimulating elements can enhance
the effectiveness of a site. However, “if the design is too wordy
and there are a lot of graphics, it may lead to overload for your
visitor,” he cautions. “They may leave because they may feel there
is too much information thrown at them at one time.”
sees both professions as a way to help people maximize their full
potential. “In both professions, it’s my responsibility to know
where you are and where you want to go and to help you get there
the best way possible. Many people still don’t fully understand
how the Internet can impact their business.”
while he seems pretty settled at this point, Wilson says the early
years were filled with a fair amount of stress. Chief among them
was getting over his own fear of failure. “A psychologist is trained
to help people, not run a business. So you have to take the time
to learn all that goes into running a business,” he says. “Depending
on your personality, you might have to force yourself to go out
and meet people, network and talk about yourself and your business.
I had to understand that this is a learning process. And even now,
I’m still learning.”
Eric Hinton is writes for Vanguarde Media in New York.
during the summer of 2000.