Staying alive is not a soft skill

The reason I resonate with Mike is because we share of couple of common sense principles and, beyond the design professional point of his presentations, the message successfully touches other professionals and becomes inspiration if not guideline on how to deal with life’s challenges.

I may be developing a mentor like admiration for Mike: he’s got the talent to kick you right in the ass, make you feel bad about what you do and how you do it, and then roughly but surely build you back up, leaving you content about your trade and yourself ultimately, yet inspired to ask for more, grow and do better.

This one is mainly about selling your work and yourself as a professional. Presentation is at least as important as the actual work. Focusing on delivering the best work possible is not enough.The things most of us never heard during school.

“They are releasing designers into the wild who don’t know how to earn a living. Staying alive is not a soft skill.”

Bonus tracks:

13 Ways Designers Screw Up Client Presentations

Less choices empower you

The way I see it it started with CMSs.

It continued with Squarespace & alikes and now, … now we have The Grid. Yo.

The Grid is a whole other kind of animal, part designer, part … AI. Yes, that’s Artificial Intelligence: you have an inhouse designer slash information architect slash magician, choosing what’s best for you based on what you feed it with. And you get a personalized design based on the intel you provided. That’s the gist of the sales pitch.

I read recently how a president’s willpower could be weakened by the fact that (s)he’d have to decide what to eat and wear on a daily basis and he (or she) might not be able to push the big red button if required, at evening time.

I think this would apply as well to your business: you might not be focused enough to make the important calls if you don’t delegate the responsibility and give up control over to a professional to handle your web presence properly.

The Grid will grow and other similar tools will surface and look down upon it. Because it’s far from perfect and it surely can’t replace a fully fledged professional.

However, for some budgets, timelines and expectations, it fits the bill successfully and holds high the  dawn of a new challenge: the designer you can’t convince to nudge the button by two pixels to the right.

One at a time, while offering control the CMSes, Squarespace and now The Grid restrict your options to a minimum, make the web calls on your behalf so you can focus on growing your dreams and provide the quick answer to “We need a bloody website. Yesterday!”

I guess that’s one way to translate the classic “Less is more”.

Feeling empowered ?

I want my share of fun!

I remember the time

When I was ten childhood had a whole other set of coordinates than nowadays. Some of the regular boys’ games involved stealing green sour fruits from someone’s private garden. Or maybe a whole branch with those fruits – takes less time, you see.

The gang counted five and usually, even if no german shepherd would be involved, a mad 40 year old with a heavy bat and prominent veins would always come up towards the end of the fruitful heist, seeding fear, adrenaline and panic. And fun!

However, in order to make sure the fun part doesn’t end too soon, somebody would have to plan this like in the movies. That somebody was me.

In the post communist Romania from 20+ years ago, How to Steal a Million was the best source of inspiration in such matters on the only one TV station I had available. So, through trial and plenty of error(s) and bruises, I came up with a classic for SEAL teams: recon, distract, attack, watch for trouble and signal for get-the-hell-outta-here if necessary.We (obviously!) had predetermined run-far-away routes and a common meeting point, where we’d all be clear to share the loot.

And laugh wholeheartedly while preparing for a well deserved stomach ache.

Yeah, I’ll admit I wasn’t the one climbing the fence, the roof  or the trees but the team worked well in this fashion. Not to mention I had a genuine referee whistle, present from my uncle.
And I used pen and paper!

I’d like my team back

Fast forward 20 years into the present and somehow, you get the same guy: planning for success. Thinking how things can fail, so they won’t. Asking the questions that your clients would, noticing the details that make the difference between a high bounce rate and a high conversion rate. Putting together the puzzle pieces of the bigger picture so that answering WHY takes less.

So, what do you think I would fancy? I’d like my team back, so we can have fun again!

Sure, the game may have changed, the stakes may seem higher, but I find them suited for the age. The thrill of the “heist”, the “loot”, the team laughter that signals the end of a lesson, not only a project.

Pretty lies

I could tell you that I’m looking for young, dynamic colleagues, well prepared and serious professionals, ready to rock’n’roll every project with the highest standards of quality, through passion and dedication. I could say I’m looking for a boss that can either become my mentor or is willing to listen to my ideas and implement then without hesitation. Internal trainings, awesome books within reach, travelling from a conference to another, leaving no time for actual work just knowledge gorging.

But … fun comes not only from the result, but also from the discovery process, the relationships you build, the vibe that the project carries with it and the dent you make by being the best version of yourself.

And I want my share of fun! How about you?

How designers destroyed the world

Nope, this might not be an original bit but I find it so relevant and powerful that I had to share it in its original form. Take some time to let it sink in.

Mike Monteiro makes a compelling case regarding your responsibility as a designer towards your end users, beyond what they might expect. It pertains to professional ethics and imho, it’s one that everyone regardless of discipline, should watch. Closely.

“You are directly responsible for what you put into the world. Yet every day designers all over the world work on projects without giving any thought or consideration to the impact that work has on the world around them. This needs to change.”