The Crazy One

Ep 28 Career advice: The 6 most important lessons I've learned in my career

January 15, 2017 Stephen Gates Episode 28
The Crazy One
Ep 28 Career advice: The 6 most important lessons I've learned in my career
Chapters
The Crazy One
Ep 28 Career advice: The 6 most important lessons I've learned in my career
Jan 15, 2017 Episode 28
Stephen Gates

I’ve had a lot of successes and challenges over the course of my career but they all taught me some important lessons. The goal of this show has always been to try and share all of this in the hopes that it can help you not repeat those mistakes. In this episode, I share the most important lessons I’ve learned in 6 different areas to help you have a more successful and creative career.

SHOW NOTES:
http://thecrazy1.com/episode-28-career-advice-everything-important-ive-learned-in-my-career-so-far/
 
FOLLOW THE CRAZY ONE:
Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook 

Show Notes Transcript

I’ve had a lot of successes and challenges over the course of my career but they all taught me some important lessons. The goal of this show has always been to try and share all of this in the hopes that it can help you not repeat those mistakes. In this episode, I share the most important lessons I’ve learned in 6 different areas to help you have a more successful and creative career.

SHOW NOTES:
http://thecrazy1.com/episode-28-career-advice-everything-important-ive-learned-in-my-career-so-far/
 
FOLLOW THE CRAZY ONE:
Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook 

Stephen Gates :

What's going on everybody, and welcome to the 28th episode of The Crazy One podcast. As always, I'm your host, Stephen Gates. And this is the show where we talk about creativity, leadership design, and a whole host of other things that matter to creative people. So today, I want to do a show that I think I've barely been working on for the past, probably 12 or 13 years, if I'm being honest. And it's probably gonna be a little bit longer than normal. I think Usually, I try to keep these shows somewhere in that like 35 to 45 minutes sweet spot. This one may go probably a little bit longer. We'll see how much longer as we go. But just kind of fair warning up front. What I wanted to do is to basically share what are the most important things that I think I've learned over the course of my career, where the mistakes that I've made that I've learned from what are the things that I've done that I've been successful at? And look, I'm certainly I'm not the most successful creative director out there. I'm not the most successful designer out there by a longshot. But that being said, I do feel like I found more success. than most. And it's one of those things where for me, you know what, it's been an amazing journey that's let me work on things that I never dreamed would be possible. And so it's like I said, I just want to share some of those things in the hopes that they might help other people that if there is a one episode Crash Course, into this podcast, this is what it's going to be. Because I think hopefully, this will help you make sense out of all the different shows, I think it'll probably hopefully try to weave them all together into kind of one cohesive narrative. If I had to look at my career, if I had to look at what I did, right? If I had to look at what I did wrong, what are those things going to be? And I took a long time to think about this, I think most recently had revisited it between my last two jobs and took a few months to sit down and write an article about this, but it's something that I just I constantly think about, and I've broken it down really into six different parts. So whenever I think about what are the things that I've done, that have made me successful, what are the lessons that I've learned, what are the things that I think everybody, no matter how Create a view or no matter what field you're in, what are the things that you need to know? So that's what we're going to talk about today are these six different parts. And so I think that the first one and this is the foundational one. And if you've listened any of these shows, this won't come as any surprise to anybody. But it really is the fact that honestly, success is a lot of hard work. Over the years, probably the number one question I've gotten from pretty much everybody is, what's the secret to your success? And I've talked before about how this always honestly kind of irritates me a little bit, because I think by saying that there's a secret implies that there's a shortcut. And you know what, my answer to those people has always been the same. It's always been have great ideas and work your ass off. And I never failed to them laugh as I watched this hopeful, bright eyed enthusiasm melt off their face, as they realized the secret that they're looking for seems to be the two things that they apparently want to avoid time and hard work. And I think that I've said this before, and I just think there's no getting around it that creativity is a blue collar profession. It takes I work. And so whenever I think about this area, I think that they're kind of let's break it apart into four different areas for different things that I've learned here. I think the first one and this is one of these things, why I don't get invited to speak at many art schools or many universities, again, is the fact that I think if you're a designer, the tools that you use are nothing more than that. They're just tools. If you're a designer, Photoshop sketch, these are just tools. These are the foundation that you build your creativity and your career upon. But I think too many people think that these things are their career. And it's just simply not true. Again, if we look at any creative profession, the way that you use Photoshop is a tool. If you're a tattoo artist, the line work that you do is in the shader that you use is a tool. If you're a chef, the knife that you use and the knife work that you have is just a tool. It's a foundation upon which your creativity sets the design that you make in Photoshop. To that you create with that tattoo machine, the dish that you cook with those knives. That's what really matters. And here again, I think that when it comes to creativity, too many people make this really common mistake, because they think pouring all their time and their effort into these applications is going to make them successful. And look, don't misunderstand me that these foundational things are a critical part of any career. But let's just look at for what I do, if you're a designer, if I'm using Photoshop, if I'm using sketch or Illustrator, any application you can think of the reality is, is that they are no better than an electronic pencil. Because just like any pencil, if I don't have an idea to draw, to write to communicate, then even the best tool is useless because it's the person that holds it and what it is that they have to say what it is that they want to do with it. That really matters. And so this is the thing you need to learn these tools you need to learn these applications to the point where you no longer have to think about them to the point where they become transparent. And it really just let your creativity flow. But this is The problem is I see too many schools, too many universities, too many people who think that if they invest in this, if this is their career, that that's gonna really help them find success, when the reality is is all that it does is it makes you a commodity. And the reason why I say that is for a few different reasons, I think the one is, applications and trends change. I know a lot of people who poured a lot of time into knowing everything there was to know about Adobe Flash until it went away. And then all of a sudden, that great skill that they had didn't really amount to anything. And it's the same thing. You see this time and time again, where taste change or technology changes. Were all these things change but the wants for people who know how to use those tools will have the solid foundation that won't change. The next part, when we look at this, I've really come down to the fact that I think it really for me is that the opportunities that I've had really have been incredible. And as I put together this show, and I wanted to pass on tangible advice. I think if I'm really being honest, I I have to admit that there is an element of luck in being successful. Because the reality is and how I define luck is that there are those rare moments, those magical moments where everything lines up and you get what you need, the universe gives you an amazing opportunity. But here's the challenge is that that opportunity isn't going to call ahead. And that most people that I see are completely unprepared to act on those amazing opportunities when they show up. They don't have the skills, the knowledge or the insight that they need to take advantage of them that only in the moment, do then do they start to prepare, and I think to be successful, the challenges and we've talked about this in the past, that it's like an athlete, it's the offseason. It's the time in the weight room. It's the time that you spend on the field. It's the time that you spent preparing for that moment when the universe hand you that opportunity. And this is the thing is that you have to put in this work, and you have to do it. Because the challenge with this is is you don't know when or if that opportunity is going to arrive. And I think that That's the hard part because it requires discipline and self motivation and belief that that work is going to pay off at some unknown point in the future. And belief is a hard thing to come by. But the reality is, is that when that belief shows up, if you put in that time in that work, you can take advantage of it. And I think that's one of the things that I have done a good job at, because the thing is, is that I try to approach my career again, like it's a blue collar profession, that I work to evolve those skills that I think are strong. And it's one of those things where I work even harder to learn and improve on those skills that I think are weak or that need work. And for me, it's paid off. Because when they were there, I had the skills I had the insights, I had the ability to do these things to really take advantage of it. But that was the hard part was for me, it was just having the belief that at some point, that moment was going to show up. And sometimes those moments are very big and very obvious. Sometimes they're much smaller, and sometimes they lead to things that you necessarily wouldn't expect. And I think that's a good transition into this next part. Because the other thing that I see the other thing That I think people are lacking or they need to do is just have a little patience. And this was something that, you know, for a while, I felt like this was something that only I was seeing or something that I was frustrated with. And not too long ago, a few months ago whenever I had the chance to sit down, and I had the chance to speak with Thomas Keller, one of the world's greatest chefs, somebody who has two three Michelin star restaurants where the best talent in the world wants to come work for him. And in that case, asking him, what are two of the things that you see young creatives challenged with? And one of the ones that he said, was patience. Because look, don't get me wrong here. Again, you absolutely have to have drive, you have to have ambition. But let's have some patience, to let opportunities develop and to let careers grow. Because this isn't an on demand world. Because there's some times where just the opportunity needs to mature a little bit. Maybe you need to grow the actual equity so that people will trust you. Maybe you need to grow your skill set to be able to do This. And here again, this is a mistake that almost cost me cataclysmically in my career, because the reality was that I had gone, I'd left the agency world, and I gone to work at Starwood Hotels. And whenever I was there, it was interesting. I was brought in to work on the websites. But it was tough sledding. At first, I wasn't used to being on the client side. It was something that it was just a different pace. It was a different speed. It was a different way of doing things. And I was getting frustrated. It wasn't turning out kind of exactly what I hoped it was. It was good. We were doing interesting things. But I wanted more. And so about three years in, which is about that common spot for most creatives have about two to three years where you start to get restless, I started get frustrated. And I started to reach out I started talking to headhunters, I started interviewing, and it was one of these places where I really just felt like look, I need to move on. And if I'm being honest, if at that point, I would have left and I had a few offers I turned down just because they didn't feel right to me. But if I would have left, I would have made the biggest mistake of my career because on the fourth year That job Apple called. And we started working with them. And over the next five years, I went on a ride that I will spend the rest of my life catching my breath from. Because it was something that was absolutely unprecedented. But the reality was, is that I needed to have the patience to let the work mature, I needed to have the patient's lead the team mature, to let our products and what we were putting out the door mature and that just took time. And if I was going to be impatient, if I was going to say, look, this isn't going fast enough and be that sort of a petulant child about it. I'd have missed out on some of the greatest work some of the most fun, some of the best friends, some of the most amazing memories I'm going to have for the rest of my life. And so it's one of those things of just understand that maybe the grass isn't always greener, that sometimes maybe the grass on your side just needs a little bit longer to grow and when it gets there, it's gonna be so much better than you could ever have imagined. And so when you think about the second part of this, the second part of what I think you need to do to be successful, it really is looking at information. Thinking about your career as success being an idea lead career. I will explain by what I mean by that. And I think that for me, I've always tried to focus on the foundation of my career is the ability to deliver great ideas over my ability to just hit a deadline or to know new technology or to use an application. And I think it's worked because we talked about this in the first section, those applications, those technologies, those design, aesthetics, even just the base needs of society, they change. But the reality is, is that the need for people who can produce great ideas will never change. That's probably the one of the few timeless things that's in this industry, is that as long as there is a consumer, there will be somebody who needs an idea to communicate with them, no matter what the medium is, no matter what the technology is, that's going to exist. So that's the way for me, I define an ideal Ed career. So here again, let's look at what exactly does that mean. And in this particular section, there are three different things that I turn to the first one you've heard me talk about. quite a quite a lot, which is really the ability to develop your palette that if you're going to have ideas, you need to have something to be able to measure this against you need to understand what is great. What is something that is great, what is something that is average. And here again, as I talked about this every time this was a lesson for me that came from a chef named Jerome. Now if you've ever watched Jiro dreams of sushi, there's a tremendous amount that he talks about that I think is really insightful for anyone who's creative. But one of them being that whenever he gets young chefs in, he really believes that you can't cook great food if you haven't eaten great food. And it's a very tangible metaphor for most people, because everybody eats food, and there's some meals that just change you. You look at things differently after you eat them. Well, I think that this is a really critical concept. Because to be successful, you have to have this kind of constant two part cycle of experiencing the best of your chosen creative profession. And then using that knowledge as a measuring stick to judge your own work because that's That's what really keeps you hungry. It's what keeps you driven, it gives you that measuring stick to know, when is it great. And I think I've been lucky enough to be around a lot of incredibly, incredibly talented, creative people. And of those people the best are the ones who I know who can flip between those two stages, that cycle of consumption to develop your palate, and then to be able to flip it back around, and then be able to use that to be able to have that measuring stick to really look at their work for. And it's like I said, this is a constantly evolving thing, that it's something you're never going to have to stop doing. And I think this is a concept that you need to try to embrace is that a lot of this foundational work isn't kind of a one and done sort of thing, that it's something that you have to keep doing. Because society changes, psychology changes, technology changes, creativity changes, design changes, everything evolves. And you have two choices. Either you continue to evolve with it, you continue to move with it to become relevant to stay relevant to stay As somebody who's producing work that connects with people, or at some point, I think we all decide that we've done enough of that. And we're just going to kind of let it sit. But understand when you let that sit when you stop doing that work, what it's going to mean for your career. And I just think that it's one of those things where it's, it's a constant evolution. And if you aren't willing to do that, it's going to fade away. So constantly working, figure out what is your process? What are the things that you do to be able to kind of keep and consume these things? I've talked in other shows and other shows where we talked about how to generate insights I talked about what are the rituals that I've developed, and figure out what are yours. The next one is really looking at how do you externalize your creativity. And I think maybe that sounds a little bit awkward. But I've always coached my teams on the importance of being able to externalize their creativity and share their process with the rest of the team. Because I think that this is an idea that for a lot of people probably runs counter to what they're often encouraged to do. Because a lot of companies we reward individual achievement, individual ownership and then That's rewarded over the work that's done by the team. But I think it's not only important to share your processing ideas with the team, but to develop a culture where you constantly try to pressure test, find the weak spots and those ideas. And this only comes by sharing the work throughout your process. As it goes from that spark of inspiration to the reality of execution, ideas change. It's just the nature of them. You have to make compromises, you have to make changes, you have to make improvements to keep those things going. And I think that it's one of these things where sometimes that requires strong leadership to work so that everybody doesn't feel like they're being attacked or so their ideas are being put down. Because that's not the intent whenever you pressure test this stuff, but it really is just simply looking at how does everyone contribute? How does everyone take ownership in creating the best ideas possible? How do you create an environment that instills the confidence in people where they feel like it's okay to share where they don't have to be protective or they don't have to say this is my idea as opposed to this is our idea and I I think that this is the core of, of what a lot of successful companies really do is that they know they can always be better. They know they can always refine, they know that they can always do this stuff, but it requires the process to be out in the open. Here again, this is one of the reasons why I turned to design thinking so much, because what design thinking really does is it just gives creativity shape and form. It gives it a visible process and an easy way to plug into it that everybody can do. Because the reality is, is that we're all creative. Just in many cases, our schooling, our upbringing, our companies, our leadership, have trained it out of us that we don't believe that we can do it anymore, but we can. And it's just as a creative person, being the one who's willing to be the Sherpa to help all those people find their way back. And finally, I think in this particular part, there's a double edged sword. And the double edged sword for me has always been honestly being pretty much eternally dissatisfied. It and what I mean by that is, I just think that to be good at this A lifelong dedication, it's what we've already said a few times, it's this ongoing sense of work, that I can be better, the work can be better, the team can be better, that there's always more we can do, it could always be better. I think this is why most creatives have this. It's why so many of us, we don't enjoy our own work, that we do it, we put it out there even the most successful thing that you've ever worked on, I'm going to bet a huge amount of money that if you went back and looked at it today, if it's been any amount of time since it was finished, what you're going to see is that yes, there are some of the things that you did well, but you're also going to see the mistakes, you're going to see the flaws, you're going to see the things that you could have done differently that you could have done better with the experience that you now have. And it's a bit of a vicious cycle. And it's something I think I've had to work to try and figure out how to embrace and how to keep it in a healthy place. But I think it's a byproduct of the fact that we just constantly work to develop our palette that we constantly want to make things better that as that changes and evolve is what we want from it changes and evolves But it's embracing the fact that there is no time when design is completely out of my mind or out of your mind. We don't do things where there's an off switch, we don't do things. We kind of go like, Okay, I'm not going to be creative now. We're always looking for new inspiration. We're tormented by the flaws of our old work. And we're looking for that next great idea. And that's the thing is that there is this cycle. And for me, it really is also something that I like I said before I embrace it, because I think that for me, nostalgia is dangerous. Because I think that you know, yes, it's good to look back to see the mistakes, the things that you could have done better. But for me, Miss Dahlia is also just for people whose best days are behind them. You know, they look to the past for answers. These are the people who like peaked in high school, I don't ever want to be one of those people. So for me, it's this this, this eternal dissatisfaction is a strong motivating force to keep things going forward. But I think it's also something like I said before, you need to keep it in perspective, because if it gets out of out of balance, you can become a naysayer who lets that dispatch this satisfaction. Take control. Everything that you do it lets you blind you almost to new ideas. And that's a real problem. Because then you're the downer, then you're the one who only points out what can't be done. You're the one where all roads lead to No, you're the one who just shows up and tells everybody the problems but offers no solutions. And those people get drummed out of teams, those people, you don't want to be around them. They are a massive pain in the ass. Because they aren't contributing anything. Anybody can sit around and say What's wrong? Anybody go to YouTube go to any digital channel, trust me that every comment section is filled with those people who are emboldened by the power of the internet to say what's wrong with everything, but they don't do a damn thing to fix it. And this is the difference is to not be the naysayer to use it as a motivator to use it as a learning tool to use it, use it as a measuring stick, but keep it in perspective. And so to that point, we move on to the third section of this. And the third section, I really think really dovetails into that last thought. Because the third section for me is I think a lot of my successes really come out of me knowing who I am and making peace with that and understanding what are my strengths? And what are my weaknesses? What am I good at? What am I bad at? How do I enhance the things that I'm bad at? How do I maintain the things that I'm good at? But it really is a challenge to get this clear understanding of who I am as a designer, what's my unique creative process? And then how do I summon that creativity whenever I need it? You know, I spent years writing what I always called a design ethos, which really defined what were the guiding design and leadership principles that I wanted for my group and for my spell myself in a very tangible way, but also in an aspirational way. But it was coming to understand those things. That was really an incredibly personal process. And I've said this before, I'm sure I'll say it again. This is why there is no book, no conference, no class that's going to be able to teach you these things more than just really kind of like basic common themes or starting points. Because who you are your strengths, your weaknesses, your approach. process, your inspirations are unique for you. And that's why in a lot of cases, I don't tend to spend a huge amount of time saying that this is exactly what I do 123 if I do I do it just to be illustrative of what are the sorts of things that I think could be a starting point for you. Because if all you do is copy what I do, you're not going to be successful. There's just a reality to that, because you're different than me how you create is different than me. And so for this section, when we think about, you know, really how do you get to know yourself, what are the things that you need to do? It boils down to basically three areas. The first one I've spent a lot of time talking about on this podcast, from the very first episode light bulbs are bullshit. And it was I started there because I think one of the most important things you have to do is to understand your creative process. The process of having a great idea is different for everybody. Because everybody approaches the problem differently. This is why if I give a problem to 30 different creatives, I get 30 different solutions. So I found success by centering my creative process. Around really divergent and convergent thinking and understanding that process. This, again, is one of the core tenants of design thinking. divergent means that you go out and you think of as many ideas as quickly as you can to create a lot of different ideas, a lot of different opportunities, whether it's through writing or sketching, or, I mean, I wouldn't recommend Photoshop every once in a real Blue Moon, that can be helpful. But in general, I think you don't find ideas in Photoshop, but it's just it's one of these things of how do I go out and just create a whole bunch of opportunities? And then how do I build on them? How do I push myself in the new thinking to work through the ideas that maybe have possibility but don't necessarily have reality? And how do I kind of move through that? And also understanding that my bad ideas as I do that can sometimes be just as valuable? Because the failures uncover new lines of thinking or highlight possible weaknesses in my concept? Sometimes the failures really let me give something I can grasp on to to understand why did I go down that line that didn't necessarily work? And so again, I think it's just It's generating all those ideas, it's so important. And then to be able to bring them back together to curate them down to find the best parts to condense it down. But it's this really kind of idea of just kind of saying, Okay, look, I know what I need to do to create. And I think that the most highly creative people know how to flip between this divergent convergent thinking, they even know what kind of music they want to listen to, what kind of room do they want to be in? What are the sorts of things that they need to do to be able to really kind of make this stuff work? And then also, how do you avoid the things that don't work in the future? But here again, this is an intensely personal process of just simply observation of looking at your work whenever you do it and say, Hey, that went really well. The hell did I do? Or inversely, hey, that went really badly the hell did I do, but taking something away from that, so you can kind of keep working on it. And that dovetails into the next section, which is that whether it's your creative process, your leadership process, the way you interact with people or anything else, I think here again, the most successful creative people that I know and something that I've had to work to develop is self awareness. Because I think self awareness plays a critical role in your success first because of your ability just to, to know how to have ideas. And the second is to become a leader. So you can understand how your actions affect your team, and then how you can tailor his actions to become more effective. Because from your process, we just talked about this, what do I need to do to have a good idea, but then from a leadership perspective, to understand that what I do, the way I walk, my talk matters. And here again, every person has a completely different way they create ideas, and creativity comes out of those personal life experiences, emotions, opinions, strengths, weaknesses, emotional baggage that you've accumulated over your lifetime. And I think that out of that, though, is like I said, is just simply the ability to stop every once in a while and ask the question, why? Why did I do that? Why did that work? Why did that fail and to develop some sort of self awareness that gives you the mental the foundation To be able to then move on to be able to build on top of that, because it gives you the ability to understand how you have ideas to understand what you need to do mentally to let those ideas happen, and then start to work it to make it happen faster and with better regularity. And so because that's what so much of this is, is it's the self awareness to tap into that process to tap into your power to tap into what makes you uniquely you. And then how do you build on that, but it takes effort, it takes time. Sometimes it takes you coming to uncomfortable realizations that you may not be entirely thrilled about, of the things that you do well, the things that you do badly, and being able to kind of balance those different things out. Because you have to keep it in balance, especially as you start to move more towards leadership. There has to be a balance in what it is that you do. Because it's just, you don't get the benefit of bad days anymore. You don't get the benefit of not being in control and it you Have to then develop the confidence and the self awareness, to be able to kind of have a vision that you can share with other people, but still let them in to get input from the team. And that can be hard. But that's the thing is I just I've seen too many people who take the easy road. And the easy road is just simply saying it's going to be happenstance. If it happens, great. If it doesn't fine. But to be successful, to do something different, you have to be able to do it on command, you have to be able to summon that creativity. And what exactly does that mean, and how do you do it? It's like I said, the challenge there is, for every one of you, the answer is going to be different. And the last thing in this particular section that I found out is I think that whenever you go through your career, you start to become more accomplished, you gain more experience. But I think there are other changes that take place as well. Because early in your career, you really get inspired by other people use them as a guidepost. You push yourself forward and you gain more experience. But then all of a sudden the problem is become harder, because it's not just executions anymore, the solutions have to become ideas and leadership. And that requires something that's more personal. And the challenge there is that now those reference points that you had the people who you found so inspiring. They don't have the same relevance that they used to. They become less motivating, and they don't inspire you quite the same way. You have to find how do I evolve as a thinker, a writer, a designer, a leader to develop these abilities, and in a large way to how do I inspire myself? How do I stay happy? How do I stay motivated? How do I keep myself grounded and moving forward? In the face of all these challenges? And I think that this is the thing is you have to find out, how do I inspire myself? What are the things that I need? You have to stop looking to other people for answers and understand that a lot of this and a lot of the value that you bring the original thinking that you have needs to be driven out of you and I think to find real inspiration means that you have to invest in understanding your creative process. Welcome to the redundant theme that it takes you to really think about this stuff. Because if you don't understand how you have great ideas, then you'll never really understand how to feed your brain with new thinking and inspire new ones. It's simple as that. If I don't say, Okay, this is the way that I create, this is the engine that I have. I'm not going to understand how to put gas in I'm not going to understand how to really get it going. But it's this hard truth. The more you evolve, the more it's going to fall on you to be the one that drives you forward that pushes you forward, that inspires you that keeps you going. Because it just becomes harder, the reference points are fewer and it becomes a real challenge. So as we hit the midway point, and we're going to get into the fourth insight, the fourth area and for me it really is about success is building your brand. I did multiple shows on this. These are some of the most popular shows that I did. If you listen to many enjoy them. Great if you haven't, this will be the crash course. But really go back and take a listen to these because I really think that they're honestly very few lines that are more difficult to walk than knowing how, when and where to promote yourself, your abilities, your achievements over the teams. Because this is the challenge that we all have as creative people. Our product is intangible, it's debatable. It's something that some people love, some people may not like. But the problem with that is, is that you really have to figure out when do I build myself? When do I build my brand My name versus investing in the team because there's a paradox that's been set up by our entire industry. Because on the one hand, companies like to hire people that people have heard of, they like to hire people who have recognizable achievements, because then everybody in the organization goes, ooh, that person's cool. I've heard of them, who this is going to be good and it does something for their brand, their company, they're recruiting, they're hiring on and on. But at the same time, if it goes too far the other way, well, then you have a problem. Now, you're an egomaniac. Now all of a sudden, you know, you're bigger than the team, you're better than the team. And that's a real problem. So how do you walk this line? in here again, there gonna be kind of three things that we talked about. The first is just really what the name of this whole thing is. I think some of it is investing in yourself like you're a brand. Because I think you know, one of the biggest reasons why people aren't able to get their dream job is that they have no idea who they are. They have no idea what makes them different from everybody else. I see this time and time again week after week as resumes land on my desk that are all so painfully similar, so painfully generic, where everybody has the same skill set the same tired overused business speak interaction And the reality is, is that this fills their resumes, their portfolios, these cliched phrases that look impressive, and they fill up a page, but ultimately just don't amount to anything. And I think to solve this problem, you have to take a step back, you have to treat yourself like a client. And you have to think about yourself like a brand, you have to define what are your core values, your brand voice, your image, your differentiators? All the things that you would do if you actually built a brand. And you have to do it not just for your resume or portfolio, but you have to do it just for everything, I think because I think that it sounds very self serving to say I'm gonna make myself a brand great. I need a logo. No, the same way that you know, for every client that I've ever worked with a logo is not a brand. A brand is the ability to articulate and build on what are your unique strengths and your unique differentiators? Yes, this comes into play in your resume. Yes, this comes into play in your portfolio, but it also comes into play when you are in an interview or even every single When you show up to work, the your ability to define and to share what it is that is your value. What makes you different? What makes you stand out? Why should people believe in you and invest in you, and do all those sorts of things? Because it matters. There are too many people too many other competitions that if you aren't going to fight for yourself, if you're not going to fight to stand out and to articulate why you are different, why you are better, if you don't care that much about your brand or yourself, why the hell is anybody else going to why is anybody else gonna care give you a shot. And so what you're gonna do is you're not going to do that you're gonna take the easy road then sit around and pout that your dream job doesn't come that people don't see the value in you that you're misunderstood that you're overlooked. And here again, don't get me wrong. There are some bosses I know that is because that is what they do. For me, I've talked about this many times. It's been the the title of entire talk success is a choice. What are you going to do? Are you gonna put in the work are you gonna sit there and pout and so as a result, I think if you're going to Make yourself a brand then we get to the next part, which is that you have to invest in your resume your portfolio and your network, like it's your job. Because these are all the touch points of that brand, because it's where your brand comes to life. And I think it's one of those things where I, you know, I am relentless about keeping this stuff up to date. A big part of it is and people may be surprised about this. It's because I've been laid off from to my last three jobs. And it happened because there's a sudden change in leadership or change in business strategy that I couldn't do anything about. And if you just heard me say that and you thought to yourself, oh, I'm good. I'm at a job where I'm safe. And you know, everybody likes me and stuff like that. Trust me, you're being naive. This is a business. And business isn't about friends. Business is about business decisions. And no matter how good your work is, you are vulnerable. And my thing that I made the agreement, I guess, that I made with myself was that I was never going to be in a spot of weakness again. If I got laid off, the next day, my resume was ready, my portfolio was ready, and that my network was there. To be able to support me, because the reality was and like I said, if you think this can't happen to you, you're being naive. Because I got laid off for my last job. Right after I designed an app that had been in three Apple keynotes for Apple TV commercials had generated 10s, if not hundreds of millions of dollars of free press is still to this day, widely regarded as the best experience that had been actually built and then launched on Apple Watch. And for all of that I was thanked by getting laid off. So if you think that Oh, my work is too good, trust me. It's not. I don't say that to be foreboding or to be, you know, to be somebody who's a downer. It's just simply a business reality. People get laid off, industries change, and I see too many people who are unprepared, who spend months afterwards trying to get their resume together, get their portfolio together, start a network that say they didn't think that they needed to suddenly get back on top and they lose so much momentum, they lose so much ground and they just are wasting away. Kind of what their potential is. And because this is the thing is that your professional network, I think, is an overlooked necessity. for a few different reasons. Partially just from a base standpoint, if you want that dream job, those dream jobs, I can tell you nine times out of 10, don't hit the streets. They're not on behance or not on LinkedIn, they're not on any of these job sites. They're done through recruiters are done through word of mouth, or done through people who say, Hey, we had this great opportunity, who are the people who are the biggest, strongest brands that would be good as people to be able to do this. It's done on referrals and reputation, and work that people have heard of. And so I think that, you know, the best way to do this then is to, to get out there to connect with people in real life. You know, look for things like LinkedIn can be a great tool, but you need to be able to network with people, you need to be able to build your brand, not just in what it stands for, but how people actually see it and perceive it. And this is the trick is because if you're gonna build that brand, what you build and who you are better be the same. Because if not just like most companies, you have a brand that stands for one thing at a reality that stands for something very different. And it's just simply not something that people really want to be around. And we referenced this a little bit in the past or in the beginning of you have to know when to be an individual and when to be part of the team, because building your personal brand is important for your success. But it has to be in balance. It can't be one of these things where all of a sudden, you're not collaborative, you don't support the team, because I've worked with too many creatives who think that their brand is the only thing that matters. And their ego is so out of control, that they're only concerned about themselves and what they want to put in their portfolio. What was their role? What was the thing that they did, and too often our companies and our structures support this egomania because so many companies have goals for every year and we should have goals but they should be more team goals or individual goals. Because the individual goals the Big Five, the things like this, prioritize the eye over the week. prioritize what should I do? It encourages the ego of these people to do that, and they weaken the team. And you know, so much of what they create often just doesn't last long, because they can't create empathy for anybody else. Because all they're doing is they're thinking about themselves. So you need to understand your reputation need to understand your skills, but you just you can't go through your career blinded to these sorts of things. You have to keep this stuff in balance. So that yes, it is important. And this is where I think so many people go wrong, because they think, well, I don't want to be out of line. I don't want to look like I'm bigger than the team. And that's not what I'm saying. I'm not saying that you kind of prioritize yourself over everything else. But just prioritize yourself. Somehow. know who you are, know what you stand for. Take the time to think about that. It'll help you in your day to day job. It'll help you with your next job. But it's just it's one of these things where you have to do it and you have to keep doing it. Because once again, who you are today is not who you were last Fear is not who you were five years ago, it's not who you were 10 years ago, your brand would have been very different in every one of those points. So you have to invest in how does it change? How does it grow? So from there, the fifth part of this shouldn't come as a shock to anybody that has listened to the show or even listened to this episode, that for me, success is being a leader. Business is filled with people who say they know how to lead. They talk a great game. But the reality is, is that most of them are merely managers who don't do anything much more than hand out deadlines and have no idea how to inspire a team how to inspire other people. And it's a real problem. I think our opportunity right now is unbelievable. As creatives we have more opportunity now than I think we've had since the Industrial Revolution, and we're blowing it because we don't have the leaders to be able to get ideas out the door. We don't have the leaders who can come in and change companies to give designed to give creative to give these people the opportunities that we need to make a change. And it's a real problem. There is Just a change that most people don't understand that they don't recognize that yes, a lot of what we talked about up until this point is about how do you work as a creative? How do you create, but whenever you get to a leadership position, now the ask is different. Because all the skills that you had, for your process, all the skills that you had, for the way that you create, suddenly don't do a whole lot of good whenever it suddenly becomes about everybody else. It becomes about people it becomes about psychology and empathy and confidence and the ability to lead a team. And here again, everybody's leadership style is different. And it takes self reflection to understand how can you be the most effective. And so there are just two things in this area that I wanted to touch on. The first I've already talked about a little bit is you have to be a leader and not a manager. Because I found people who are in charge of teams that can be grouped into just two basic groups, their leaders and their managers and managers so often do just with the name implied, they manage. They focus on individual deliverables and deadlines. They hold a weekly status meeting where their team slowly and painfully goes around the room to talk about what it is that they've done that week. And it's this slow, uninspired death for anybody who's creative leaders are different. Because for leaders, they push you and want you to aspire for more. They have a confidence and an understanding of their process. That Yes, they can use to try to help guide you. But they understand that everybody's process is different. They understand that this is really one of those things where they need to build an environment, they need to help nurture people they need to help bring in the psychology, they need to stand up for the team. Because here again, leaders do two things. They provide an environment where the work I do tomorrow is better than the work I do today. And they also provide an environment where when it hits the fan, they support their team. And that is what makes great leadership I think, because ultimately what leadership boils down to for me is really the second thing we're going to talk about, and that's being courageous. And maybe that sounds easy. Maybe it sounds overblown, but I think that's what a lot of leadership is Because it's your willingness to stand up and to take a stand, whether it's to take a stand for your vision, whether it's to take a stand for your team, but it's your willingness to challenge convention to do do something differently, to try something different, to be the one that's going to invest in the team that's going to trust them, that isn't going to be the manager that just wants to tell them what the idea is. But it believes that they can find that on their own. They believe that honestly, whenever we all work together, what it is that they come up with will probably be stronger than what I would come up with. But it's the courage to let that happen. It's the courage to do that sort of stuff. encourages hard encourages, in short supply. Courage oftentimes isn't supported, it's not encouraged. It's something that is all too rare. And I think because in a lot of cases, to be courageous means that you have to be willing to go it alone. And I think this is this was a hard lesson for me to learn and leadership to get where we wanted to go to get to even where everybody said they wanted to go was going to take change. And this is the problem is that everybody All about change all about doing something different, whether it's in the work or the team, they're all about it until it means they have to do something different, then they get uncomfortable, then they get afraid, then they get comfortable. And that's a problem. And it's a hard lesson to learn. And it can be a lonely road to walk whenever you have to do this stuff. But I think that whenever you do it, it's not a lonely road for long. Because I think when you're willing to stand up and be courageous, when you're willing to fight for the work, when you're willing to fight for the team, that team will be behind you, that team will support you, that team will rally behind you and pick up what it is that you're trying to do. It just so often takes somebody who's courageous enough to be the first person to run up the hill and get shot, shot killed. important distinction. But it takes the courage of somebody who's going to do that, because once they do that, then everybody else sees it's possible. They'll all go pouring up after you. And that's incredible. It's why I'm in a place in my career where some of the best work will never appear in my portfolio, because it's the teams that I was able to create the work that I was able to lead the careers I was able to develop and help Grow, that was what became so magical and so great. But it took the courage to stand up. And to do it and to know that hopefully, if what I was doing was right that other people were going to join in, and then once they did, it wasn't going to be lonely for long. But know that it's going to do that. But know that that time that struggle, that stress is so worth it. And it really brings us down to the end of this to the sixth thing. And I've talked about this in this episode. I've talked about it throughout this entire podcast. But it really for me boils down to the fact that success is a choice. I've talked about it before. I've talked about in other podcasts. I talked about Adobe match, we talked about it here. But if you want to be successful, if you're listening to this, and if you in the beginning, we're trying to say Okay, look, how can I get more successful? What's the one thing that I need to walk out of here and understand it is the fact that you have to put in the seemingly endless amount of time the studying the researching Working the self reflection to become more successful. And you don't just do it for a week or a month or even a year, you'd have to do it over the course of your entire career. And I've worked with tons of incredibly creative people who have broken my heart, they break my heart, because they are such amazing talents with such brilliant ideas, who have such huge aspirations, who at the end, end up with careers a great promise, but ultimately little success. Because they aren't willing to do all of those things that they need to be successful, they aren't willing to make the hard choices, they aren't willing to have the courage. And that's a problem. Because you have to make your future happen. I just I firmly believe that because nobody's gonna sit around going, Hey, let's give an opportunity to somebody. No, the reality is they're sitting around saying, hey, look, here's an opportunity for somebody who's willing to come and take it. And they take it through hard work through knowing who they are. For when do you take a risk, when do you be eternally dissatisfied? And to the title of the show? When are you a little crazy Because somebody smarter than me once said that the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, or themselves are the ones who do. That's what so much of this boils down to is that there's not a magic bullet, that it is something that you have to go through and think about. What's the work that I'm willing to do? What am I willing to put in? What's the time that I'm willing to spend? And if I'm not, then I have to be okay with what results that I get that I have to put in the hard work. I have to make sure that my career is idea LED, that it is timeless that it is something I can build on because the industry will change around me. And then as a result, I've got to know who I am I have to be clear about who am I how do I create what are the things that I believe in and stand for? And then I have to then know how to build that into a brand so that it gets expressed in a way that people can connect with and appreciate and rally around that it is about being a leader and finding your voice finding the courage To be able to go through and to make a difference, because all of it is a choice. You can take the easy road, the lazy road, and then years from now go back and go, dammit, I wish I would have, I wish I would have done something differently. I wish I would have taken advantage of that. And I think that's been in equal measures how this podcast has been so incredibly, just unbelievable for me, all the people from all over the world who have written in who talked about how this has helped them, how they've found inspiration, how they found insight in what it is that I'm saying, but in equal measure. For me, it's been fewer voices. But for me, they're a bit more heartbreaking. who write in and say that the way I talk about creativity is the way that they think it should be the way they wish it was. But for them, it's just not. It's not the way that they create. It's not the way that they do things. And that's frustrating to them and where do they start? And the problem is, is that in so many of those conversations, the thing that it boils down to is that This hard reality is not a shortcut. That part of the reason why that is is because they're not willing to put in the work, they're not willing to put in the time to make the change. And for those people, I have empathy. I struggle with that I struggle with how to help them. But at the same point, there's a limit to how much I can help them. Just because of the fact that success is a choice. And if they're not willing to make the hard choices, they're not going to find that success. I wish this was happier. I wish there was a silver bullet. I wish they could say do this one thing. And we'll all have all of our dreams come true, but it's just not the truth. And I'm somebody that believes if you care about people, if you love people, you need to tell them the truth, even when it's hard, even when they don't want to hear it. Sometimes that's a hard thing to do. But I think that it matters. And I think that the other reason why I do this podcast and the last thought that I leave you guys with is that for so long for so many years, there's been this phrase knowledge is power. I don't think that's true anymore. Think that we live in an era where sharing is power. I think that your ability to not just hold on to your ideas, not just hold on to what you've learned to get that out to help other people with it. We're in an era like never before, where your ability to have a voice, to have a blog to have a podcast to have a Twitter account in whatever way you can to share what it is that you're learning to help move things forward is important. For me it is a critical part of my process. because it forces me to evolve as a designer, as a thinker as a leader. Part of the reason why I share what I've learned is because it keeps me from resting on my past successes, I give away what I've learned. So the next time I show up to a meeting, the next time I show up to a conference the next time I sit down in front of this microphone to record this podcast, I need to have something new to say he does something smart to say. But I think for me, there's also some part of it where I want to leave some sort of a legacy of moving this industry forward of trying To help people out. And I don't know, maybe that's just a fool's errand. But I think that as I see the people who respond to this, as I see the number of people that listen to it, I don't think that that's the case. I think that maybe this will make a bit of a difference. And if it does, then I have a question for you. Because if this is going to be my legacy, this is going to be the thing that I want to try to leave behind. If this act of sharing whether it's in my blog, this podcast, or whatever it's going to be for the next 20 or 30 years, whatever that is, if that's the legacy that I'm building, what's your legacy? What are you doing? What are you sharing? How are you helping? what's the what's your legacy gonna be? Because here's the problem is that if we live in this time, where leadership is it's such a premium, if creativity is so valued, but so underutilized. It can't be up to just a few people to make a difference. It's up to everybody who is listening to this To understand that you have the power to make a difference, to share what you've learned to help other people out to make other creatives more successful, that it's not knowing that knowledge is power. And I know a few things I'm going to hold on to that. That makes us all smaller, it makes us all weaker, that it's the ability to share, to shape your legacy to figure out what are you going to share? And how are you going to build people up? That's going to make the difference. So I think if you want to secret, make that the secret. figure that out. Figure out what's what are you going to do to help your industry, the people around you, the people you work with every day, the people that maybe you don't even know get better? Because each one of us does that. If each one of us thinks about that, then this industry does get better. It moves past old ways of thinking. And companies can be transformed. Things can be disrupted. This is where I think millennials for as much as they're maligned, having incredible power in the way that they think because for them if you want to make something different You get out there you do something about it, you share your work together. I think we all could learn something from that with that. As always, if you like the show, if you like what it is I have to say if you find any value in it, I'm always incredibly appreciative. If you want to go out and you want to leave a review just head over to iTunes if you're feeling just you have a couple seconds click on the stars anything more than that feel free to write a few words and let me know what you think about the show. As always, you can find all the show notes you can find other episodes you can find related articles and a whole bunch of other stuff at podcast Stephen Gates calm Stephen is still STP h n.com. And if you like the show, if you want to participate with the community if you want to see what it is that I'm thinking about articles that I'm posting stuff that's going on updates all that good stuff, head over to the Facebook page just search The Crazy One podcast go over give that a quick like, as always the boys down the league want me to remind you that all of us here on my own, they don't represent any of my current or former employers. And I say it every time because I mean it every time but thank you for your time. I know that time is Truly the only real luxury that we have. And I'm always incredibly humbled that you want to spend any of it with me. So, hopefully this has been successful. Hopefully in a few years. We'll do another one of these with an updated look at what it is that I've learned so far. But until that happens and until we talk again, stay crazy.