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A Brand Called You

Lesson 16 of 22

Artificial Harmony

Debbie Millman

A Brand Called You

Debbie Millman

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Lesson Info

16. Artificial Harmony

Lesson Info

Artificial Harmony

You're also going to have a sense of how an interview is going. You're going to have a sense, this is going well or this isn't going well. But sometimes, somebody will give you the indication that it's going well even though you think it's not going well and that's like kinda knowing when somebody's lying to you. So Patrick Lencioni had a book called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team has a term for this, and he calls it artificial harmony. And artificial harmony is the state of a meeting where both people involved in the meeting don't want to acknowledge it's really not going that well. So even in dates we do this. You know at the end of a date, somebody'll say, I'll call you, but you know that they're never gonna call? That's artificial harmony. That's basically not saying what you really think in order to protect the other person's feelings. So rather than saying I'm never gonna call you again, I hate you, you will say, call ya! We'll be in touch, see you on the internet, whatever. But...

, that happens in interviews as well where people will give you the sense that they like something or they like you even though there's a really, really big alarm going off in you that's saying, they hate me. Now, sometimes that could be wrong. Sometimes they don't really hate you, you just have really, really bad self-esteem and it's impacting how you think people view you. But most of the time, if you get that sense, this isn't going well, this person isn't into my work at all, it's probably true. What do you do? What do you do in a situation like that? Do you just chalk it up to a bad interview? Do you wonder for the rest of your life what you did wrong? I find that the best way of getting through those experiences is to very gingerly, very sensitively acknowledge it. And I do this in a very, very simple way. If I get the vibe, the really strong vibe that somebody is not digging what I'm showing them, I will say, I'm getting the sense that maybe you don't really like this work. And instantly you find out. You instantly find out and it breaks the tension of the room and they'll say things such as, yeah, it's not really doing it for me. Or they'll say, yeah, some of it I like and some of it I don't, or best possible scenario, they say, oh no, I'm just in a bad mood. I love it and then you know. But if you don't do that, couple of things are going to happen. Only one has a happy ending and that is you don't say anything but they really were in a bad mood and they do love you and they call you. But, two other things could happen. Either you never, ever hear from them again and you wonder, what did I do? What was wrong? Or they actually tell you in an email or a phone call that you're not gonna be hired. And you don't learn anything. You don't learn anything about what it was that went wrong. Whereas if you, in that moment, acknowledge whatever it is, that elephant in the room that I know that you know that I know that you know feeling that something is going on that isn't exactly quite right, it gives you the opportunity to overcome it because suddenly that moment gets dissipated by the actual truth of what's happening. And you have an opportunity to really recover. So I would suggest that, try it. See how it works. Very gingerly, not confrontational, just, I'm sort of sensing that you're not loving this work. That's it. That's it, you don't need to say anything more than that. And no apologies. Just, I'm sensing you don't really love this work. See what happens. And then I want you to remember this one very, very important thing in an interview. Please don't ever talk about work life balance. Work life balance is right up there with people person in terms of, oh my god, I will never hire this person ever. You can have whatever delineation between your life and work that you want but nobody else needs to hear about it in an interview, no one. Why give anyone a reason to consider the possibility that you don't have a stellar work ethic? It doesn't mean that you have to have no work life balance but if you have a dream job that you're interviewing for, my guess is fulfilling that dream is part of your life work balance in the grand scheme of things. Nobody is interested in your life work balance other than your significant others and maybe your kids. That's it and those are the only people you should talk to about work life balance. No one else is interested. That doesn't mean you shouldn't have it. It just doesn't mean you don't have to talk about it. You can think about it, but you don't have to share it because it's the first thing that will turn off a prospective employer. You're not going to talk as an athlete. Do you think athletes talk about work life balance when it comes to their training? They have one goal in mind and if you have a dream job that you wanna get, you have one goal in mind until you get that dream job. And other things, absolutely should matter and be important to you, but don't dilute the impact of what that means, of what it takes to get what you want in that pursuit and work life balance is not one of the criteria for getting your dream job. What you do wanna talk about is your unique beliefs and benefits, stated with stature and sincerity. And so we come all the way back to the longest way around is the shortest way home as James Joyce would say, and we come all the way back to what do you want to communicate? What do you want to leave people with? You wanna leave people with a sound understanding of what you stand for. Your unique beliefs and benefits, stated with stature and sincerity and then, once you've done all of that, you ask about next steps. You always have to ask about next steps. I want you to at the end of every interview, talk about what would the logical next steps be. That's all you have to say. What are the logical next steps? You always wanna make it clear that you want this job. Not in some crazy, aggressive, when are you expecting to hire me kind of question. Just what are the next steps 'cause you always want to make it clear that this is something that you want, which is hard for people 'cause we don't always know if somebody is going to give that back to us, if they're gonna want us. But you have to be vulnerable in that moment and say, what would the next steps be? You can also ask a question like, is there anything that you haven't seen that you'd like to see for the candidate for this job from the candidate for this job? Because maybe they haven't seen everything that they wanna see. You might have other things that you can show them. But again, you only want things in your portfolio that you love. I once asked somebody why they had a particular book cover in their portfolio and they said, well I wanna show people that I knew how to do book covers. With that book cover, he would never get a book cover job ever, ever. So you don't wanna, and I hear this a lot from my students. Well I have this 'cause I want people to know I can do this kind of work. Unless you can do it well, don't put it in there. Everything has to be something that you're proud of and everything you say has to be something that you mean and truly believe. Your ultimate goal in any interview is one thing. It's not even the job offer. Mutuality. The process by which you are able to passionately convey a message in a manner that is enthusiastically contagious. And the mutuality that you want to be able to achieve in this interview is you want the job and they want to hire you. You want the job and you have been able to adequately express in a way that is enthusiastic and contagious why you are the absolute, most important possible candidate for the job to be considered. Questions? Well, we have 'em over here. Oh, good. Just one question, I thought this was interesting. From design baby, going back. Design baby? Design baby. Hi, design baby. Going back to the portfolios, did you ever hand over or send your portfolio to an art direct-- to a client or and how do you go about explaining your work? Do you write a letter or-- Yes. Can you talk a little bit about that? I'm actually gonna talk a lot about that in the next phase, which is all about methods. Your methods and methods is going to include how to send work, how to write letters, and I'm gonna talk a little bit about all the different ways in which you actually can get to the interview. This whole session was about what do you do in the interview. Well, we're gonna step back and actually say, well I want to get in the game. How do I get in the game for the interview? And so this next session that we have coming up is going to be about how to actually start to make the plan to make the calls, write the emails, write the letters, get to the networks, to make all the things that you need to have happen to be able to get into the door in the first place.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

It takes work to get the work you love. It takes knowing how to interview well, how to communicate flawlessly, how to articulate your own purpose and to simultaneously do this while facing tremendous rejection. Debbie Millman is one of the most influential design minds of our time; an author, educator, brand strategist, and founder and host of the acclaimed podcast Design Matters. In her class you'll learn how to:

  • Create a meaningful philosophy that will guide your career
  • Present yourself in meetings and interviews
  • Network and standout from your competition
  • Find discipline in your approach to work
  • Sell yourself with more confidence

Are you spending enough time on looking for, finding and working towards winning a great job? Are you doing everything you can—every single day—to stay in “career shape”? What else should you be doing?

Join Debbie and answer these questions you should be asking yourself...


a Creativelive Student

B R I LLIANNNNNNT !!!! I love the such solid human being that she is and her grandiosity of holding our shoulder and say : go head! Dare to be your best self, own it. Here are some tips .... !!!! Uhuuuuuuuuu!! So inspiring! Thank you so much, Debbie. For couple of days you were my very BEST FRIEND :) Thanks Creative Live!! This is NOT a live "manual" on technical skills. If that is what you are looking for go some steps down and there are plenty of people teaching that, like traditional schools do. You will only learn what is "there" for you to learn if you are open TO HEAR with sincerity. Debbie tells several things that works and that doesn't in professional field besides showing what successful business look for in the people, or partners. Out standing!! I would love to watch another class with her.


I loved this course. Five Stars. I was initially drawn to this course because of the title. I had read Tom Peter's article (with the same name) in Fast Company magazine many years ago, and found it really inspiring. This was before 'brand' was a household word. Anyway, the course is geared more towards designers looking for their dream job than a typical branding course, but as it happens, I am a designer, so it was quite informative. I can also use much of the advice and lessons and apply them to my own business. From contacting potential employers or clients to creative self promotion, there's valuable lesson to be had. I watched and listened to this course in one day, almost straight through. I highly recommend it. Great insight, great advice - whether you're a design student or not. If you're the creative type, I think you'll find this both enlightening and very enjoyable.