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From the
Desk of ...

Richard Liu

Founder of DSPTCH

 
 
Work desk of Richard Liu DSPTCH founder
Work desk of Richard Liu DSPTCH founder

You wouldn’t know it, looking at the diverse range of products and the devoted, gear-obsessed customer base, but Richard Liu didn't set out to create a big brand when he founded DSPTCH. He was simply looking for a creative outlet and an opportunity to build a product based on his own needs. He wanted a durable, cool and modern camera strap and couldn't find one. He was working in the corporate and tech world and quickly found himself immersed in the streetwear community where he says he began “learning the business from the inside.” After working with brands like 3sixteen, he sourced some materials and got to work. “Fast forward 13 years to the present and we now produce a line of bags, cases, and accessories all stemming from that first camera strap—which is also still in production today.”

The brand now offers everything from watch straps and utility belts to sling bags cut from ballistic nylon and gym/work bags engineered to house everything you need for a midday workout. They're items for men who want lasting quality, sophisticated minimalist styling and the kind of military-spec durability that allows you to beat the hell out of your stuff without ever worrying about. This doesn't happen by chance, of course. They're all the qualities that Liu strives for when researching and developing products with his team. We wanted to know more about how he works, so we stopped by the DSPTCH headquarters in San Francisco to learn more.

What’s currently
on my desk

Richard Liu portrait
Dell computer monitor

My desk is organized chaos.

The first thing you notice is my giant computer monitor, a vestige of my time spent in tech where multiple large monitors were commonplace. I always have books around to flip through whenever I have a small window of time to kill. I love headphones so there are always a variety of them in reach for me to rotate through. I'm a morning and afternoon coffee drinker so you'll notice a few unwashed mugs around. I do have a couple of toys as mementos—especially the project that we did with Medicom a few years ago.

Dell computer monitor
Best dad ever mug
Best dad ever mug

The most sentimental item here ...

Has to be my Michael Scott “best dad ever” mug that I keep nearby as well as pictures of my kids. The little reminders are a must on tough days that I just need to get through.

The newest addition is a coaster.

But not just any coaster, it's in the shape of an N64 controller. I picked it up at the Nintendo store in Japan on a recent visit. I love having nostalgic but functional items around that remind me to have a more carefree attitude, which certainly helps when looking for inspiration.

Richard Liu work desk
Richard Liu work desk

One project created at this desk that I’m most proud of is the BASE Object camera stand.

This was a wacky idea that nobody I spoke with thought they needed, but has proven to be successful for us even without having mainstream appeal. It helps me remember to trust my instinct at times and push forward with a vision that I believe strongly in even if it is not understood by most. This is a mentality that I've been working to adopt more recently and ignore what is currently on trend in the market.

I have a fairly basic calendar setup.

I have all of my Google calendars flowing into my personal Google account since I can be running from a coffee meeting to my kid's basketball practice on any given day. So I need everything merged together to keep myself on top of where I need to be. I keep a separate to-do list as well as a written daily to-do list as a ritual to not procrastinate and take care of things that I've had to write down multiple times.

I’m an avid proponent of all things analog.

I always carry pens, pencils and erasers with me as well as a notepad. I try to doodle as much as I can, simply as a way of re-engaging parts of my brain that can't be reached with a touchscreen or keyboard.

I try to simplify as much as I can.

I work with partners that use the entire spectrum of Slack/Notion/Figma/etc., but I really prefer to just stay in the Notes app for most of my own thoughts.

My job, I’ve found, is about balancing the two spectrums of the business.

I usually have to use nights and weekends for any R&D or just ideation in general. During the day I try to be available to the team and my inbox so I don't really bother trying to do it during office hours. Conversely, I also will skip any administrative tasks on nights and weekends so that I can stay in an open and curious state of mind.

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I’m all for lunch at my desk.

My presence at the team lunch table can dampen the liveliness of the conversation quite a bit so I'm usually eating at my desk and watching videos.

And I’m an “inbox zero”
kind of guy.

I sometimes have to slow down my responses as people will be surprised at how quickly I respond to them. The only time I get in trouble is when I think I want to wait a few days to respond and then it turns into two weeks. But yes, I would have too much anxiety knowing somebody was waiting on a response from me and I could have easily taken care of it in a timely fashion.

I’ve learned that the best way to not get overwhelmed is to be very organized in my approach, but very flexible in the timing that it is accomplished.

I do have music playing in the background, but I will save a focused task (like an office tour) for nighttime or weekends. I've accepted that I am pretty much “working” around the clock, but I also give myself allowance to do activities any day of the week. So I won't feel guilty playing a round of golf on a Wednesday knowing that I'll be doing emails on a Saturday morning. It all balances out in the end and this way I don't get overwhelmed.

I don’t really “switch off” anymore.

I just take small breaks throughout the day. I do reserve family time from after school until when the kids go to sleep, which gives me a lot of peace and restoration. I will typically log back in another time at night just in case any late emails come in, but since I'm taking small breaks throughout the day and week, it never feels like I need to drag myself back to the computer. That's one of the things that I wanted to leave behind when leaving corporate life, the “Sunday scaries”.

I think that, through experience, I’ve learned that patience really pays off.

I have met a lot of people through the years who have high expectations and a short window for those to be met. I generally try to stay even-keeled at all times, good or bad, which gives me the patience to persevere through the tough times. I always remind myself that my goal is about control and freedom rather than what I can afford, so it slows me down quite a bit and allows me to make more sound decisions.

DSPTCH x Mediacom Be@rbrick

This setup is a lot different than my first desk.

My first job was at a digital marketing agency, so the desk was very bare bones and out in the open. I didn't understand quite yet the importance of showing your personality at work as a way to build rapport with others, so I didn't spend much time trying to make my desk a comfortable place. Through time, I've realized that it's as much about building relationships with the people you work around as it is about making yourself comfortable. I now firmly believe that people are just as or even more important than the outcome, which is a goal that I strive to uphold still today.

DSPTCH x Mediacom Be@rbrick

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