Monday, December 24, 2007

Do what you are and you'll love what you do

I was thinking about this post I read on Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist blog where she makes a case against the classic career advice of doing what you love,"Often, the thing we should do for our career is something we would only do if we were getting a reward. If you tell yourself that your job has to be something you’d do even if you didn’t get paid, you’ll be looking for a long time. Maybe forever. So why set that standard? The reward for doing a job is contributing to something larger than you are, participating in society, and being valued in the form of money... Here’s some practical advice: Do not what you love; do what you are. "

While I agree with Penelope's definition of a rewarding job, I'd go further by saying if your job makes you feel valuable and appreciated, you'll feel like you're doing something you love. I'd also add to that you need to feel challenged, because no one loves being indefinitely bored.

I'm a huge believer in doing what you are so you'll love what you do. For example, anyone who has ever worked with me as a client, boss or coworker knows that I'm super organized. I can't help myself really. I'm compelled to record and remember the details of everything I work on because it makes my life, and everyone else's, easier. I used to view this as a handy little trait to have, but I realize now that it's my career calling. I am, and I love being, a person who understands, organizes and simplifies huge amounts of complex information. This is one of many skills that has lead me to a new career - user experience design.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

John Maeda for President (of RISD)

Rhode Island School of Design just announced that John Maeda has accepted the offer to become the 16th president of RISD. Check out this short video where John talks about the position and reveals what he said to his daughter when she told him she wants to be an artist.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bliss is like a flack jacket

I just finished reading David Lynch's book Catching The Big Fish. It's a fascinating collection of his thoughts on film making, intuition, creativity, and transcendental mediation. "It's good for the artist to understand conflict and stress. Those things can give you ideas. But I guarantee you, if you have enough stress, it will get in the way of your creativity. You can understand conflict, but you don't have to live in it. So it just makes sense to nurture the place where strength and clarity come from - to dive in and enliven that. Bliss is like a flack jacket. It's a protecting thing. If you have enough bliss, it's invincibility."

David Lynch created a Foundation that promotes the teaching of stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation in schools. The Foundation also funds independent research institutions to assess the effects of the program on creativity, intelligence, brain functioning, learning disorders, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The grooviest holiday music, baby!

I'm crazy about Luxuria Music, an internet radio station that plays the kookiest collection of surf, swing, jazz, lounge and latin. If your eclectic taste ranges from Henry Mancini and Sammy Davis Jr. to The Beach Boys and the Osmonds, this is your mother ship of music.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bold advice from Wynton Marsalis' dad

I'm hooked on Iconoclasts, the Sundance Channel show that documents the insightful exchange between 2 very famous, and seemingly different people who greatly respect each other. In one episode, world renowned Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis talked about how he decided to dedicate his life to Jazz, like his father did. "When I was trying to determine what I was going to do after high school, all my school counselors, my mom, everyone was saying do not go into music - because you'll end up like your father. You'll basically be broke, struggling. You have to have something to fall back on. I asked my daddy, what should I do, man, should I have something to fall back on? He said the only advice I can give you is don't have anything to fall back on. Because what it will take for you to make it doing this, it's going to be very, very, very, very hard. So if you have something to fall back on, you're gonna fall back."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Everyone's related

I just started exploring Geni, an online app that lets you create a family tree. You can invite your family by email and everyone can build it out together. Then you can click on any member and see the whole tree from their origin, as well as viewing as a list. There's also a personal profile/photo section for every member. It's an amazing view of not only how deep your roots are (your parents, grandparents), but how wide (your extended families through spouses, cousins). It gave me a very cool sense of belonging to something much bigger than I imagined - an infinite family.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Growing your own brand

When I first talked with Pash about doing an AIGA Shop Talk event, we were both excited about the topic of growing your own brand, or as Pash also put it, “the cobbler’s kids have no shoes”. Pash is the successful head cobbler (aka Creative Director) at Trunk LTD, a lifestyle brand that creates vintage concert apparel. Last week AIGA members gathered for an unforgettable evening at Trunk’s Culver City HQ, complete with a mini bronze elephant (the company icon), bubble gum machine and checkered taxi in the lobby.

Whether you’re a one person show or principal of a large firm, we all find ourselves “without shoes” at times. Why? Because it’s hard to see our business objectively and present it succinctly. Pash was brilliant at getting to the heart of the challenge - knowing who you are, how to communicate it, and who to tell your story to. He talked about the 5 must haves every designer/firm needs to grow their brand:

1. The courage (and personality) to talk about what you do to everyone you meet.
2. A short blurb or summary of what you do and who you do it for. Don’t be vague, like some clients can be. We help clients not be vague.
3. A business card that’s with you at all times. Make it as memorable as you want to be.
4. Examples of your work. Not just a web site or portfolio, but a mini samples that are with you all the time.
5. A marketing strategy (not a business plan). Simply put - the way that you’re going to regularly connect with your network.

Sounds easy? It’s not. Most people have the business cards, portfolio and web site. They may even carry around work samples and send email newsletters or direct mail when things aren’t so busy around the office. But how many can describe what they do and who they do it for in a sentence? Without using the same banal jargon as everyone else? Can you? I’ve found 2 reasons why this is so challenging. First, designers are so much more than visual creators. We're also marketers, content developers, project managers, team leaders and business advisors. As Pash put it so well, “clients look to me for my opinion on what will help them accomplish their goals.” Second, many designers avoid specializing in an industry or discipline because we enjoy diversity and fear that specializing will limit our opportunities. The truth is that specializing not only helps potential clients identify you, it helps you find and prequalify them. It’s noteworthy that Pash placed courage and clarity before anything else. That's the source of answers to all the essential questions about you and your business.

What are the benefits of defining your own brand? Pash explained that a clear brand is a badge of credibility. It establishes and supports people’s perception of you - the one you want them to have. It’s the ultimate case study - a perfect example of your ability to build a complete communication message. Think of how effective you'll be as a cobbler with a unique pair of shoes for the whole family that is your brand.

Here's some resources that have helped me grow my brand:
- Now, Discover your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham
- Marketing Mentor helps you create your marketing plan and stick to it.
- Practical tips and teleclasses on cold calling
- A handy online tool that helps you sketch out your 15 second pitch
- Excellent articles on how to position your services and price your work
- A flickr collection of inspiring business card design

I welcome you to continue the conversation and share your thoughts here. What's your biggest challenge growing your brand?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Creative Talks: Eric Steuer on Reusable Culture

I'm really looking forward to Eric Steuer's presentation on reusable culture. He'll look at ways that people around the world contribute to and draw from the massive pool of creative work on the Web to expand the worlds of art, education, and science. Eric is the creative director of Creative Commons, where he develops the organization's media and culture projects. He's also a contributing editor for Wired magazine, where he's written about the implications of digital culture on music and the concept of the "Infinite Album," whereby one album becomes a long shelf of songs and products, each carrying its own release date, distribution path, and price tag. A co-founder of Sneakmove Recordings, Eric is also a member of Meanest Man Contest, a hip-hop group with upcoming releases on Plug Research and Gold Robot Records.

Creative Talks is a forum for LA area designers to meet, get inspired, and learn from each other. It's free and open to the public - just be sure to RSVP on upcoming.
Wednesday, July 11 at Yahoo!
2450 Broadway, Santa Monica, California 90404
Snacks and socializing starts at 7:00pm. The talk is from 7:30 to 8:30pm.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Say hello to your inner self

Ever wonder what your muscles and bones look like when you're riding a bike? The Specialized Body Geometry website is a fascinating look at the anatomy of a biker and ergonomic biking accessories like saddles, gloves and shoes. The products are showcased with exquisite animated illustrations, including a skeleton that spins, coasts, climbs, and does warm up stretches (turn your volume up so you don't miss the realistic sounds of knuckle cracking and head scratching). The success of this site is in the integration of product features and benefits with a memorable visual concept. Site designed by Goodby, Silverstein and Partners

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I'm moderating an AIGA Shop Talk in June

One of the best reasons to join AIGA LA is the Business Matters and Shop Talk events. They focus on real design biz issues like partnerships, money management, evaluating your business plan and dealing with difficult clients. That's why I joined the 2007 Shop Talk committee! Join me on Tuesday, June 26th for Shop Talk 3 Growing Your Own Brand. I'll be talking with Pash, former President of AIGA LA and Creative Director at Trunk LTD. We'll explore what it takes to actively shape your brand to attract a higher level of clients and projects. Get the full scoop and sign up on the AIGA LA events page.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Kernspiracy portfolio review night

Designers, copy writers and other cool creatives came down for the Kernspiracy Portfolio Review Night at Machine Project. I totally enjoyed meeting and reviewing the portfolios of some very talented designers like Sandra Schwaiger (above), who just moved here from Germany a few weeks ago. Check out some photos of all the fun.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Otis designers ready for the real world

Yesterday I had the pleasure of reviewing portfolios of Otis students in
Terry Lee Stone's Professional Practices class. In just 2 weeks these Communication Design students will be officially on the hunt for full time work. I was especially impressed by Scott Benoit's beautiful combo of type and illustration (above).

Looking for inspiration (and a junior designer to hire)? Check out the Otis Class of 07 exhibition on May 11th from 6 to 9.