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Take a Deep Breath: We're All in This Together44:29 with Laura Helen Winn
What does life look like when we stop pretending we know everything? How does our outlook change after we get down to the hard work of improving ourselves? Graduating design school is just the beginning, and your technical skills will only take you so far. What's the real trick to success? Coming to terms with who you are, where you fall short, and having the courage to change for the better. I won't teach you how to be a rockstar designer. I will teach you how to be an excellent human.
[MUSIC] 0:00 I realized that I was holding myself back by being afraid of other people and 0:04 being afraid of being wrong. 0:08 A lot, all of us are wrong a lot and 0:10 the sooner we get comfortable with that, the better off we'll be. 0:14 More and more designers are sharing their stories about fear, 0:19 anxiety, and confidence. 0:22 I'm really grateful for that because it's helped me understand that it's all 0:23 right to feel that way sometimes. 0:26 Everyone does and I'm just learning along with everyone else. 0:29 [BLANK_AUDIO] 0:33 We can be really hard on ourselves and on each other. 0:47 There's a lot of pressure to succeed, to get ahead, to get the best job. 0:52 And there's nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself. 0:57 But I just wanna give everyone permission to relax a little bit. 0:59 Anxiety about, anxiety about how good or how bad you are and 1:05 all the ways you fall short is keeping you from reaching your full potential. 1:08 We work in a creative field, 1:14 creative field where we get to make things every single day. 1:15 Growing up my dad worked 60 hour weeks as a mechanic at a construction company so 1:19 that I could grow up and draw pictures all day. 1:24 [LAUGH] So it's sort of ridiculous when I think about how stressed I get, 1:27 or how anxious I get about how good I am because drawing pictures for 1:32 a living is a lot more fun than smashing your fingers in heavy machinery. 1:37 It's okay. 1:43 [LAUGH] You know I think we, I think that sometimes we 1:44 just forget we forget that our jobs can be fun. 1:50 When we focus on what goes wrong more than we focus on what goes right. 1:55 For the senior designers in the room, 2:01 you should empower the new designers you work with to learn the ropes. 2:03 You have the unique opportunity to shape a beginner's understanding of 2:07 our profession. 2:11 And depending on your attitude, 2:13 you're either teaching new designers to be cynics or to be optimists. 2:15 I prefer the latter. 2:18 [BLANK_AUDIO] 2:19 As a newer designer, 2:25 seeking advice from beginners has become a pretty big part of my life. 2:26 I'm always looking for ways to improve myself and 2:30 share that knowledge with others. 2:32 I think it's one of the most important things we can do within our community. 2:35 We should be having discussions that are bigger than Photoshop tricks. 2:39 [BLANK_AUDIO] 2:43 In the two years since I graduated college at the University of Tennessee, 2:46 Chattanooga, I've been pretty focused. 2:50 When I moved to San Francisco, 2:54 I was already working as the second designer at About Me. 2:55 I was working there remotely while I finished my degree, 2:59 which I would not recommend to anyone. 3:02 >> [LAUGH]. >> [LAUGH] but but it worked out for me. 3:05 [BLANK_AUDIO] 3:07 A few months later I started working at my first full time job, 3:09 that's Smart Design, where I am today. 3:13 There I conduct a user research and 3:16 I design products based around people's actual needs. 3:17 Not just what we think they are. 3:22 In my free time, 3:25 I was publishing a website of interviews with the designers called Form and Future. 3:26 Then, I was invited to turn the interviews into an event series at a local 3:32 co-working space called Makeshift Society. 3:35 That is when I got hooked on event planning. 3:39 A huge leap from there turned into organizing a conference with 3:43 Jason Schwartz called Hike which we did earlier this year in San Francisco and 3:46 Adobe in April. 3:51 And we have another one coming up in October. 3:53 [COUGH] so over the last two years I've encountered a lot of interesting problems, 3:56 and almost none of them have to do with design. 4:01 This is not a talk about failing big. 4:04 I think that we can learn from our mistakes and 4:08 experiences everyday, and use that to shape who we become 4:12 [BLANK_AUDIO] 4:16 Everything you need to know about being successful comes down to learning how to 4:20 work with other people, including yourself. 4:25 We are our own worst enemies. 4:28 It's just, it's a fact. 4:32 You'll meet people who have different working styles. 4:36 You'll collaborate, you'll collaborate with people who see differently than 4:39 you and that's a good thing. 4:42 You'll learn to recognize when you've agreed to take something on that 4:45 you don't actually want to do, and now someone is counting on you to do it. 4:48 I've done that a lot. 4:53 You'll need to give difficult news to someone and 4:56 find it tempting to lie to them to make them feel better. 4:59 In my experience, I've found that being open and 5:05 being honest are values that shape my relationships, both personally and 5:07 professionally in a much healthier way. 5:12 So, these are the driving forces behind the decisions that I 5:16 make on a daily basis. 5:18 I've trained myself to fight my own negative thinking with positive thinking. 5:21 It sounds really simple but, I promise you that it makes all the difference. 5:27 So, when my brain says I'm not good enough, I respond with, yes I am. 5:34 So that in mind, these are my principles for making it through the ups and 5:42 downs of working life. 5:46 [BLANK_AUDIO] 5:48 [NOISE] 5:50 [BLANK_AUDIO] 5:51 Number one, believe in yourself. 6:01 There are so many things to be afraid of. 6:04 One of them shouldn't be yourself. 6:07 The first step is liking yourself, maybe even loving yourself. 6:10 If you don't have self-confidence, 6:15 then you'll take every word said about you personally. 6:17 You'll make apologetic, half-hearted work. 6:21 The world can be a really tough place to live in, 6:25 and not everyone is gonna like you. 6:31 In fact, most people don't like you. 6:34 [LAUGH] And that's okay, it's okay. 6:36 I mean, it's good for 6:38 people to not like you, it means you're doing something right. 6:39 I mean, you might not like them either so. 6:44 You know, what's to really worry about. 6:48 My hope is that you have friends and loved ones who are cheering you on. 6:49 No one is confident all the time, and you need people around you who like you and 6:55 who want you to succeed, and you need to be that for other people. 7:01 We all need people we all need people around us to help us keep going 7:07 when we're ready to give up. 7:12 And that means meeting up with your friends and family and 7:13 loved ones regularly, not being glued to your phone. 7:15 Relationships like this take a lot of work and it's worth it. 7:18 So in the broad sense of life, no matter how many people believe in you, 7:23 they cannot give you the gift of believing in yourself. 7:30 You have to truly believe in your own capabilities in 7:33 order to take action in the world. 7:37 If you don't believe in yourself, then you'll lack the confidence 7:40 you need to put yourself out there and make the work that you wanna make. 7:48 And if you don't believe in your own work, 7:52 then you won't be able to get other people to believe in it too. 7:55 So when you're presenting work, I mean, 7:59 there's a small chance that people will see its potential and 8:00 hang on to it when you're ready to scrap an idea, but it's not likely. 8:03 In the world of critiques and selling your work to clients and 8:09 getting people to support your ideas, you have to believe in them first. 8:13 Like I said before, most people don't care about your feelings, 8:21 they just wanna get the job done. 8:24 So in our projects we look for 8:28 ideas that are the weakest and the easiest to throw out. 8:29 If you present something half-heartedly, 8:33 you're just giving someone a reason to kill it. 8:35 [BLANK_AUDIO] 8:37 [NOISE] This is really awkward. 8:47 [COUGH]. 8:55 I used to shut myself off from other people because I 8:57 didn't think I was important, and I didn't want anyone to hurt me. 9:02 I told myself things like, no one likes me. 9:08 I don't matter. 9:13 No one cares. 9:16 No one needs me. 9:17 If you have thoughts like that, 9:19 you need to talk to someone about them because your life matters. 9:23 I cannot stress that enough. 9:28 [BLANK_AUDIO] 9:30 Deciding to believe in myself and 9:34 take responsibility was life-changing, and actually life-affirming. 9:37 When I got out of my own sadness and 9:43 started living out loud, I realized that it's not so scary. 9:45 [LAUGH] Life is a lot more exciting, and 9:49 a lot more interesting when you have a voice and when you live out loud, just 9:51 being the person that you wanna be not who you think other people want you to be. 9:55 It's bullshit. 10:00 So I also realized that when I'm vulnerable with other people, 10:01 which is scary, I give them a chance to be vulnerable with me. 10:08 Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist who gave a TED 10:17 talk about how body language shapes who we are. 10:20 She talks about how she talks about the power we project by the way we sit, 10:23 the way we stand. 10:29 So if I stood like this, and give my talk, sad. 10:31 I really don't think that you would listen to my advice about being 10:36 confident because I'm not showing you that I'm confident. 10:39 But if I gave my, but if I give my talk like this, you're gonna listen because I'm 10:44 taking up space and I'm comfortable being in front of you. 10:48 [BLANK_AUDIO] 10:51 Amy's talk helped me understand that when I make myself small, 10:56 even just by sitting sort of like this in a meeting, I'm trying to be invisible. 10:59 And like we talked about before, I don't wanna be an invisible person. 11:04 [LAUGH] I wanna be present. 11:08 I wanna live out loud. 11:10 So in order to do that, I had to get comfortable with taking up space. 11:11 I want to be heard. 11:17 [LAUGH] are there any Beyonce fans in the room? 11:17 Okay, I think there are probably a lot of people who don't get Beyonce. 11:24 She's been super famous for 15 years, top of her field, and 11:28 to think about Beyonce is that she projects confidence completely. 11:34 So I just started taking Beyonce dance classes on Monday. 11:41 I would show you the moves, but they're not safe for conference. 11:46 [LAUGH] That, that's the tamest one, also, there's like, this, so 11:51 that's all you're gonna get. 11:55 So if you're not con, you know, if you're really like shy in your body, and 11:58 you're not comfortable getting in front of other people, 12:01 I recommend taking a dance class, or taking an improv class. 12:03 Find a place where it's really safe for 12:07 you to get silly, get loose in front of other people. 12:09 And then take that into your job, take that into your work, 12:13 take that into your everyday conversations. 12:15 You'll be able to look people in the eye and 12:17 sort of get over it when you feel ridiculous. 12:19 So the, in the first class, the, the class is great because the instructor's really 12:23 encouraging and everyone's really supportive. 12:27 So it's this room, imagine like a room of 50 women who are like giggling, but 12:30 also really nervous because Beyonce has amazing dance moves, and you heard, 12:33 I listened to the chit chat around me. 12:38 People were like, I don't know if I can do this. 12:39 Like, you know, I don't think I can do these moves. 12:42 But then once we got started the instructor was like, 12:44 okay just think about Beyonce. 12:46 Think about how confident she is. 12:47 She wouldn't be able to do those moves if she was, making herself small. 12:49 So, just act like you know what you're doing. 12:53 [LAUGH] And, project power in front of other people. 12:57 So, not only will, will people listen to you but you will start to 13:01 feel your own power, and I think that that's the most important thing. 13:06 Self-confidence does not give you an excuse to be arrogant. 13:11 But it is a requirement for 13:17 putting yourself out there to get the things you want. 13:19 You have to put yourself out there when it comes to finding a new job. 13:22 You have to put yourself out there when it comes to getting a promotion. 13:26 You need self-confidence when things don't go your way so 13:32 that you can get back up again. 13:34 You need to believe in yourself constantly, because there will always be 13:37 times when you forget and you have to sort of reset or remind yourself. 13:42 [BLANK_AUDIO] 13:47 If you learn to believe that you really matter, 13:58 then you'll be able to remember your own worth when you're feeling like a fraud. 14:01 Everyone goes through down times. 14:08 You feel like you're not good enough. 14:10 You're ideas aren't original, and nothing that you make is really coming out right. 14:12 Maybe your comparing yourself to colleagues and 14:16 feeling like you fall short. 14:19 That's totally normal and it's something that everyone goes through. 14:22 Benose waiting [UNKNOWN] conference. 14:28 This is Jason in Chicago. 14:31 I'm in San Francisco. 14:32 When we were planning it, we didn't know if it was gonna be successful. 14:33 We didn't put any personal finances into it. 14:38 So, if it failed, and 14:40 no one bought tickets, we, the only thing we would lose was our free time. 14:42 And that was something we could live with. 14:46 In order to plan it we had to find sponsors, speakers, venues and 14:49 people to buy tickets. 14:54 And in order to do all of those things, 14:56 we had to convince other people to believe in us and believe in our vision. 14:58 We had no proof that we could pull it off. 15:04 And sometimes we weren't even sure ourselves. 15:06 Does anyone really want this? 15:10 Is this a good idea? 15:11 Does the world really need another design conference? 15:14 Probably not, but we did it anyway. 15:19 And because we believed in our vision to make the best student conference in 15:23 the world, other people believed in us too. 15:26 Mike Wontaro is one of the people who believed in us, 15:29 and I believe you'll be delighted by his talk tomorrow. 15:32 Thanks for being here Mike. 15:36 Our volunteers worked hard to line up top speakers, design an amazing website and 15:38 promote the hell out of it. 15:43 But in the beginning, our voices were all we had to sell the idea. 15:46 We didn't have any sexy photos or videos or any proof that we could do this. 15:49 We just had to get people on board. 15:54 And in order, you know, in order to do that, we just had to project confidence. 15:56 The right people and 16:02 circumstances came together almost more easily than we could have dreamed of. 16:03 I feel like we got really lucky. 16:08 [BLANK_AUDIO] 16:09 Planning a conference is something that I never would have done 16:13 without self-confidence. 16:16 If I was the same small shy person who didn't 16:18 show up and didn't share my voice, then I would have made safer choices. 16:23 When I was a closed-off person, everything I did was safe. 16:30 I thought that no one could hurt me, or I couldn't 16:35 fail in any way if I didn't, if I didn't give anyone a chance to get to know me. 16:41 What I didn't realize was that I was hurting myself by not letting anyone in. 16:46 Life is so exciting now that I live out loud. 16:51 [BLANK_AUDIO] 16:54 No one can give you the gift of confidence. 16:57 You have to learn to be stronger than the voice in your head, 17:02 telling you that you're not good enough. 17:05 You're not smart enough, you're not talented enough. 17:07 When you believe in yourself, 17:13 you open yourself up to opportunities that aren't available to you otherwise. 17:15 Number two, be honest. 17:24 [BLANK_AUDIO] 17:27 Being honest is a difficult and necessary habit to learn. 17:31 Before we can stop lying to other people, we have to start lying to ourselves. 17:37 These can be improved in parallel, and will probably be a lifelong process. 17:43 Lying is a normal thing to do, it protects us from pain and 17:49 protects other people's feelings, or so we think. 17:54 But the truth is, lying is just an attempt to make our lives easier. 18:00 [BLANK_AUDIO] 18:04 Honesty gives you the freedom to live more openly and genuinely. 18:07 And that can have a tremendous impact on the work that you make. 18:12 [BLANK_AUDIO] 18:15 When you're honest with yourself about who you are, what your work really is, 18:17 what you want your work to be. 18:22 What your strengths and weaknesses are, then you're on 18:26 the right track to making a body of work that bests suits you and your interests. 18:29 Honesty helps you find what you do want with less of a barrier. 18:35 Think of honesty as a filter between you and all the jobs. 18:40 People and styles that just aren't right for you. 18:44 When you're honest with other people about yourself and your opinions, then you free 18:51 yourself from the endless cycle of lying, which is a huge waste of time. 18:56 You don't have to keep up with what you said you believed. 19:03 Or what you said you want, because you spoke the truth. 19:06 It allows conversations to happen more naturally when you're honest, and 19:10 I think people can pick up on that. 19:13 We can sense when someone is being genuine with us. 19:15 We're masters of lying to ourselves and we lie for lots of different reasons. 19:21 Sometimes we lie to ourselves because we're just not ready to hear the truth. 19:27 Once we recognize the truth, then we have to take action. 19:32 Taking action means work and life should be easy. 19:35 We don't have to, we don't wanna, we don't wanna work at being better people. 19:39 We just wanna make the world more convenient for us. 19:43 But unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way. 19:46 Being honest with other people is intimidating. 19:52 Your opinions won't be received by everyone, and that's okay. 19:55 People may not like them. 20:00 Might disagree with you, and that's okay, it's not the end of the world. 20:02 You can disagree with someone and stay on good terms with them. 20:06 You can even disagree with your past self changing your 20:10 mind about something that you once knew was a fact. 20:13 Now you see there's a shifting opinion. 20:16 You're allowed to change your mind. 20:18 In fact, it's good for other people to disagree with you. 20:22 It makes for a more interesting conversations and 20:25 you experience new points of view. 20:28 A good critique helps you see your work from a different perspective and 20:33 strengthens it. 20:37 The problem is that when someone says, this isn't good enough. 20:39 We hear them say, you're not good enough. 20:45 Junior Designer Syndrome is when you expect everyone to love your work 20:51 because you made it. 20:54 Learning to listen to feedback is one of the most challenging things to learn. 20:58 It takes a long time. 21:03 What finally clicked for me is that it's better for 21:06 someone to be honest about your work than for them to protect your feelings. 21:08 Your work is never going to improve if you're too busy protecting it and 21:13 making excuses to keep it from changing. 21:17 There's a middle ground to be found here between speaking the truth and 21:23 saying it bluntly. 21:26 Part of the thing about strengthening relationships through honesty, 21:29 is that it takes a little restraint in your delivery. 21:33 You can't just say everything you think. 21:36 Put a little forethought into it. 21:39 I'll give you an example. 21:42 Last year I was on a client project where the, 21:44 the project lead and I we're very, we're very different people. 21:47 [LAUGH] We we have different communication styles. 21:52 Different working styles. 21:55 So he was like, he was leading a project for 21:57 the first time and he was under a lot of pressure to succeed. 21:59 And on top of that he hasn't really learned how to give tough news in 22:03 a reasonable tone of voice. 22:07 I'm a pretty sensitive person so, you can see where this is going. 22:09 [LAUGH] so I would present work and he would say things like, 22:12 this is stupid, it doesn't work. 22:16 Why would you think that that worked? 22:18 [LAUGH] Anybody, you know he wasn't, he's a really smart guy and it wasn't so 22:20 much what he said, but how he said it. 22:25 So he would yell and I would clam up and 22:28 leave the room [LAUGH] and the work wasn't getting done. 22:33 We couldn't go on like this. 22:37 So, I took him out to lunch to tell him how he made me feel. 22:39 [LAUGH] Which went okay. 22:43 [LAUGH] After that he, I know, it was good you know, 22:46 I just, after that he tried to be calmer and more patient. 22:51 And I tried to really hear what he was saying even when I 22:55 didn't like his tone of voice. 22:59 Even when I didn't like what he was saying. 23:01 He was still right. 23:03 He was still critiquing my work in 23:04 a way that was absolutely [SOUND] absolutely spot on. 23:07 Our relationship didn't magically change overnight. 23:12 But it got better. 23:15 You have to learn to work with other people no matter what. 23:15 New designers, keep up your half of the relationship by listening and 23:23 trying to see someone's intentions. 23:29 Ask a lot of questions and try to hear them out instead of 23:33 disregarding it because you didn't like how it sounded. 23:36 It's normal to have a gut reaction to someone's response to your work. 23:41 But you need to get past that. 23:46 Keep the dialog going, don't shut down. 23:49 You don't know everything. 23:53 There's probably a good reason for the feedback you're getting. 23:57 Make sure to find out that reason before getting frustrated and 24:01 feeling self-righteous. 24:05 Senior designers, don't be lazy. 24:09 Greasing the wheels goes a long way in helping junior designers hear you. 24:13 Just think about how it felt to be a newer designer. 24:19 There's so much you don't know yet that you don't even know you don't know. 24:22 If you want to help your junior designers get better and you should, 24:27 then you should learn how to work with them, learn how to teach them things. 24:32 Sometimes you just have to meet people where they are and build from there. 24:38 Being honest is a guiding force that can help you navigate all the different and 24:45 difficult choices that you have to make. 24:49 Being honest with yourself will help you see where your strengths and 24:53 weaknesses lie. 24:56 And if you like yourself and 24:58 believe in yourself, then you'll be able to critically judge yourself and 25:00 your weaknesses but stay positive while doing so. 25:04 [BLANK_AUDIO] 25:08 You can't be afraid of other people's opinions. 25:10 You can't be afraid of yourself. 25:15 You will never please everyone, most certainly not yourself. 25:18 [BLANK_AUDIO] 25:22 You will never be perfect. 25:26 You will never get everything you want and deserve. 25:28 But, you will always have enough if you choose to see life that way. 25:35 [SOUND]. 25:40 [BLANK_AUDIO] 25:45 Number three. 25:51 Dream bigger. 25:52 Dream bigger is advice that is easy to give and difficult to follow. 25:54 You should be setting goals for yourself that are nearly impossible. 26:00 And then set smaller goals to help you get there. 26:03 When you set small goals for yourself in life, then you'll achieve smaller goals. 26:07 Life doesn't magically jump from the low bar we set to our, for 26:12 ourselves to the wild dreams that we imagine ourselves living. 26:15 What would you dream about doing if you weren't afraid or lazy or comfortable? 26:20 That's a question I ask myself a lot. 26:26 [BLANK_AUDIO] 26:28 It takes a lot of work to get where you wanna go. 26:31 Anything worth doing should scare the shit out of you. 26:36 This is not to say that your entire life should be full of skydiving and 26:41 building businesses and selling your start up for 26:45 millions of dollars, but whose to say it shouldn't be? 26:47 It's up to you to decide what a big dream looks like. 26:51 Dreaming big is easy to remember when life is good, 26:57 when you're feeling confident in your job, feeling great about your work. 27:00 Just generally feeling really positive. 27:05 It's easy to dream big. 27:08 You can see what you want so clearly and feel absolutely sure that you can get it. 27:10 But a combination of life and 27:17 our great discontent will always take that optimism away from you. 27:19 You'll go through some down times. 27:24 You'll find yourself in a rut without understanding how you got there, or 27:26 how to get out of it. 27:30 You don't see how your dreams could possibly work out, if you dream at all. 27:31 Your mind tells you that you can't do it. 27:39 [BLANK_AUDIO] 27:41 You don't have enough time, talent, energy, money, or support to dream. 27:45 You're just trying to get through. 27:50 Even when you don't believe that you can do something, you have to learn to 27:56 suspend the belief that you can just long enough to start working again. 27:59 This is the fake it til you make it approach that everyone talks about. 28:06 I think it's a pretty commonly shared idea because it works. 28:10 You have to trick yourself into finding that confidence again. 28:15 And it's not so different from what we do as designers everyday. 28:19 We persuade people to follow our design directions. 28:23 And we persuade people to buy things. 28:26 Apply those same skills to persuade yourself out of a negative mindset and 28:31 into a positive one. 28:35 Fear, discontent and self doubt are completely normal. 28:37 But it's up to you to shake yourself out of it and 28:42 surround yourself with people who support you with their encouragement. 28:44 Our ideas are never executed the way we imagine them in our minds. 28:51 We tend to cross over the details about 28:56 about how much work it takes to make something really happen. 28:59 So the sooner you start, 29:05 the sooner you can get somewhere, and just start where you are. 29:06 Don't wait for the perfect conditions for 29:10 you to start working on your dreams, just start today. 29:12 Often, I find myself struggling to learn a new skill and 29:18 feeling really frustrated by it. 29:21 When I first learned how to use the Wacom tablet, I wanted to throw it 29:25 across the room, because nothing I made was coming out right. 29:28 But once I mastered my first drawing, I felt accomplished. 29:33 I suddenly felt like I could do it again. 29:36 Learning new skills is fun, but only after we get over our ego that tells us we 29:38 should be able to do something perfectly on the first try. 29:43 As satisfying as a finished piece may be, the reward is in the process. 29:48 Ask any designer how they made something, and they can talk for an hour about it. 29:52 The project goals, inspiration, things that didn't work out or 29:56 turned into something else. 30:00 Making is the fun part. 30:02 If you dream bigger and allow yourself to work towards a larger goal, 30:04 then you give yourself more time to play and more time to explore. 30:08 One of the most important aspects of being an artist or 30:13 a maker is to keep discovering and being curious. 30:15 That's all the more reason to pursue big dreams. 30:18 So, the truth is that you will never achieve big dreams unless you believe in 30:23 your ability to achieve them. 30:27 You will never stretch yourself if you only say yes to the things you've 30:30 done before, and the things that you know you can do again. 30:33 Say yes to new things and figure it out later. 30:37 If you let doubt win, then you're limiting your own potential. 30:40 So just try it. 30:46 What do you have to lose? 30:47 Could you lose some free time? 30:50 Could you lose some money? 30:52 If it's something that you, if, 30:54 if that sort of loss is something that you can live with, then you should go for it. 30:56 You'll meet new people, you'll learn a new skill. 31:02 You will new, you'll make mistakes and if you're smart you'll learn from them. 31:06 You'll learn something about yourself that you didn't know before. 31:09 And none of that would be possible without trying to 31:13 achieve something that's bigger than yourself. 31:16 Number four, listen to other people. 31:25 When I was growing up I would always list talking under hobbies [LAUGH]. 31:31 The only time I got in trouble in school was for talking in class. 31:36 And, as an introvert, I find chatting with people both really exciting and 31:41 also really exhausting. 31:45 It's gonna take a lot of my energy, but people are so 31:47 interesting to me that they're worth it. 31:50 Taking an interest in other people has tremendous benefits for 31:54 you, your life and your self esteem. 31:58 You'll learn things about people that you'd never know without asking. 32:02 You'll gain a new perspective. 32:06 And when it comes time to make your big dreams come true, 32:08 you're gonna know a lot more people who can help you out. 32:11 It's not about networking. 32:16 It's about getting to know other people. 32:18 The ability to get outside of yourself and 32:21 really listen to another person will do more for your career than anything else. 32:23 I think we all understand how difficult it is to be heard, both online and in person. 32:30 If you give someone your undivided attention, they'll remember you for it. 32:37 Sometimes feeling like I was really heard by someone is the thing that makes my day. 32:42 Care about people, not their status. 32:49 Don't cozy up to people just because they're successful. 32:53 Riding someone's coat tails is boring. 32:59 You're just gonna be looking at their ass the whole time. 33:01 [LAUGH] 33:03 [BLANK_AUDIO] 33:05 That's not how you wanna get ahead. 33:06 I mean it might get you what you want in the near future, but 33:09 that's not how to build a career. 33:13 I've seen too many of my peers try to get noticed by the right person in order to 33:15 get ahead. 33:20 Don't do that. 33:21 Just be a person that other people wanna be around, and 33:23 don't worry about anything else. 33:27 Meet people for the sake of meeting them without a goal in mind. 33:31 The secret to being heard is to listen first. 33:36 For the newer designers in the room, 33:42 don't wait until formal scheduled critiques to share your in progress work. 33:45 Get someone's feedback about it and right away and ask them how it can be better. 33:51 Learning to really listen to other people will make your work stronger. 33:56 When presenting work, I used to have my mind made up that it was already the best, 34:00 and there was no way it could be better. 34:05 So, when someone would give me feedback, I would reject it. 34:08 I mean, maybe not outright. 34:12 But I wouldn't believe them. 34:14 So, one awful thing I used to do is, when someone would give me a suggestion of a, 34:15 maybe a different design, design direction to try, I wouldn't even try it. 34:21 Because I thought I already knew better. 34:25 That's an awful thing to do to people who are just trying to help you get better. 34:28 Senior designers, encourage your junior designers to relax a little bit and 34:35 just talk with you more. 34:39 I mean, I know it takes a lot of more, a lot more time out of your day. 34:41 You've got years of experience on them that they could really benefit from. 34:45 Don't be in such a hurry to get through the day that you miss 34:50 a teaching opportunity. 34:54 Talking to other people is a great way to vent about our lives and careers. 35:00 It can help you get unstuck from a rut, solve a problem, or 35:05 just let go of something that's really been bothering you. 35:09 And you have the same chance to be that for other people. 35:12 When we isolate ourselves and pretend we have it all figured out, 35:15 then we rob ourselves of the chance to really connect and learn from each other. 35:20 That's what blend is all about with the restriction against phones and tablets. 35:26 It's provocative that we actually have to talk to each other for a few days. 35:30 So, resist the urge to hide at the corner of the bar, or 35:34 just sketch in the corner all day, and not talk to anyone. 35:38 Cuz I'm gonna come find you and I'm gonna talk to you. 35:41 [LAUGH] You can be on your phone all the time, but 35:44 we only have the opportunity to be together right now. 35:46 The, I think that's something really special, and if you're shy, 35:50 I think once you start talking with people you'll you'll start to get more 35:53 comfortable and realize how easy it is to get to know the strangers around you. 35:57 Wendy McNaughton is an illustrator and graphic novelist. 36:05 She makes what she calls illustrated documentaries. 36:08 Her most recent work is called Meanwhile in San Francisco The City in 36:13 its Own Words. 36:17 The book is made up of stories about people people in different neighborhoods. 36:19 And Wendy's magic is that instead of draw, just drawing people in the city from 36:24 a distance, she immerses herself in a neighborhood for a week or a month getting 36:29 to know the people getting, becoming a regular and getting to know people. 36:34 She spoke about her process in 99u, saying that she went into each piece of 36:40 the project thinking that she already knew what the stories were. 36:44 So she wanted the library story to be about old people reading. 36:48 And she wanted the Chinatown story to be about old people doing Tai Chi. 36:53 But by learning to listen, and hang out with people, 37:00 doing their own thing in their own way, she learned to be receptive to 37:05 what's going on around her, instead of assuming that she knew it already. 37:09 Listening to other people makes our ideas stronger because we 37:16 think we know everything, but we don't. 37:20 We have such a limited perspective that when we design in a vacuum, 37:23 our work suffers. 37:26 Our work is not as authentic or interesting as it could be. 37:28 The easy way of working is assuming we know everything. 37:32 But the more difficult and rewarding way of working is recognizing that we don't. 37:37 Your work and your relationships will be better if you listen to other people. 37:43 [BLANK_AUDIO] 37:48 My last piece of advice. 37:51 Number five, just be good. 37:53 A friend of mine once told me don't try to be amazing, just be good. 37:56 Being good already takes so much hard work that it really is enough. 38:02 Sometimes we get so wrapped up in trying to be perfect, and the best, and amazing, 38:08 and the first to ever do this thing in the world that we that we limit ourselves. 38:12 We get totally paralyzed when we don't make anything at all. 38:17 And when we strive to make our work like someone else's, we will always fail. 38:22 Making work that actually pushes us forward means dedicating yourself to 38:27 making good work. 38:32 Nothing more, and nothing less. 38:34 Trying to be the best is different than trying your best. 38:39 Putting pressure on yourself to be the best can be positive and negative. 38:43 All on the one hand, it's important to hold yourself to a higher standard so 38:49 that you know at the end of the day you've tried your best. 38:53 On the other hand striving to 38:57 be the best is negative when you're too hard on yourself for 39:01 falling short of the high standard you've imagined that you should live up to. 39:05 Raking yourself on this imaginary scale of how perfect you are, 39:09 is keeping you from actually doing good work. 39:13 Just do the work and forget everything else. 39:18 Keep reminding yourself to ignore the bullshit when you start getting scared. 39:22 >> [APPLAUSE] >> Alice Lee gave a piece of 39:26 advice at Hike Conference that stuck with me ever since. 39:31 Don't compare yourself to others. 39:34 Whenever I've caught myself doing that over the last few months, 39:38 I've remembered what she said. 39:40 And with people that I'm close to I've even admitted it to them. 39:42 It's flattering to look up to someone's abilities but 39:47 it's unrealistic in the way that we imagine that life is easy for them. 39:50 So when you actually say something like, you're so 39:54 talented, I wish I could be like you, to someone that you know, it starts a really 39:57 interesting conversation, because suddenly you hear about their frustrations. 40:02 You hear about the things that they wish they were good at that maybe you 40:07 can do, too. 40:10 So again, just talking with other people about the fears and anxieties that you go 40:11 through everyday and the, all the anxiety we have wrapped up around the work that 40:16 we're making, just talking to other people can really help you sort that out. 40:21 Just relax a little bit and make good work. 40:25 When we try to make our work be like someone else's, 40:29 we are copying at best and lazy at worst. 40:32 There's only one you. 40:36 So instead of trying to be someone else, 40:37 just focus on the things that you're good at, get really good at those. 40:39 Pretending to be someone you're not is a misguided thing to do. 40:44 It's like a lightweight boxer going against a heavyweight champ. 40:48 Not only will you look ridiculous you're gonna get knocked out by 40:51 someone who's stronger than you. 40:54 So like I said, just focus on being aware of where you are, 40:56 how to get better, and being on that path. 41:03 Striving for perfection is also limiting, because it really feeds out [SOUND]. 41:07 >> [LAUGH]. 41:13 >> We planned it. 41:14 So scared, but I'm gonna get over it, and we're all gonna be together, and 41:16 it's gonna be great. 41:21 [LAUGH] When we strive to be the best, 41:22 we tend to imagine how good it will feel to be recognized. 41:25 We think about all the great things people are gonna say about us and 41:29 say about our work. 41:32 We start to imagining the praise instead of getting to work. 41:34 dr, daydreaming about success is distracting us from getting down to 41:38 the hard work of actually making things. 41:41 Do the work and the recognition might follow, but who really cares? 41:44 Even if the work you make totally bombs, 41:49 at least you made something that was authentic to you. 41:51 That's the most important thing. 41:54 On the practical level, 41:58 trying to be amazing keeps us from making our work naturally and authentically. 42:00 Vivian Meyer was a street photographer who worked as a nanny in Chicago, who secretly 42:07 created over 150,000 photos that no one saw until she passed away in 2009. 42:13 Her body of work on hundreds of undeveloped rolls of 42:21 film was discovered by a historian at a yard sale a few years ago. 42:25 He started developing the film and posting her work online. 42:31 Her photographs were noticed and 42:36 are now critically acclaimed, being shown all across the world. 42:37 Much of Vivian's life is a mystery. 42:42 No one knows if Vivian knew how good her work is, was. 42:44 She hadn't developed most of it, so she probably never even saw these photograph. 42:49 I think that if she had been working for recognition, 42:55 instead of making work that she enjoyed making, her work would be very different. 42:58 Suddenly she'd be wrapped up in the pressures of success and trying to 43:04 meet people's expectations instead of just making the work that she wanted to make. 43:08 Once you strive to make work for 43:14 the sake of being celebrated, you stop making authentic work. 43:16 That's why Dribble is full of flat design and mobile mock-ups and pictures of dogs. 43:22 [LAUGH] on some level you know, we a, 43:28 we all have to make relevant work so that we can compete for jobs. 43:31 But as soon as we start making work that's just like everyone else's, 43:35 we lose what makes us unique. 43:39 We become replaceable. 43:41 Just be good. 43:45 Okay, we have a few more minutes and what I wanna leave you with is 43:50 that you can't change the world or other people, but you can change yourself 43:54 [BLANK_AUDIO] 43:58 You can adopt new attitudes and outlooks on life that help you see differently. 44:01 Start to think of success as how you're doing, not what you're doing. 44:07 [BLANK_AUDIO] 44:11 So what did we learn? 44:14 Belive in yourself. 44:16 Be honest, dream bigger, listen to other people, and just be good. 44:17 Thank you. 44:22 [APPLAUSE] 44:25
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