Set Big Goals and Final Q&A
Set big goals. You're never gonna get your dream job, unless you dream big. You're never gonna get your dream job, unless you dream big. You're dream job isn't going to just drop in your lap as a gift from the gods. You have to go out and make it happen. So, set big goals. The more dream jobs you have on your list, the more likely you are of getting one. And you have to track your efforts. You should every single day that you're looking for your dream job; write down, who you called, what the response was, what is the next step. Is it time for you to ping that receptionist again who was really nice to you at Pentagram, and send something else? You should be doing promotional mailers, or these wonderful things that Jessica, and Jessica and Lisa have done. You should try to do those at least once a year, something really wonderful that you can send out to the blogs, that you can get coverage. And if you can't come up with ideas, come up with ideas. You have no one to blame if you can't c...
ome up with ideas. And you aren't spending enough time thinking about your ideas. If you're all creative people, you have ideas. And if you're stuck with not having ideas, take a class with a project in it. And there that project can help inspire or catalyze one of your ideas. So you must track your efforts. You must keep a real sense of momentum about what you're doing. And if you're not doing it, it's not gonna get done. You have to do it every day. The same way you would work out for a big race, you have to do this every day. And you have to expect, like Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan, that you're not gonna be successful, a good chunk of the time. But, you do this long enough and hard enough. You put in the effort, you put in the time. You track and keep monitoring what you're doing. You will hit the number. I promise, you will hit the number. You have to expect that you are gonna be rejected along the way. It's part of the process. And if you don't wanna do it, because you're afraid of being rejected, know that you can still be afraid of being rejected and do it anyway. I'm not asking you not to be afraid to be rejected. I'm asking you to do it even with the fear of being rejected. You will see that that rejection will not kill you. In fact, it very likely will inspire you. Any questions? Yes.
So, I actually have a question maybe going back to my portfolio. - [Debbie Millman] That's fine.
So you know, obviously we have both a print and a digital portfolio, but I wanted to ask you what you thought about how you present your work online, and really some best practices of attention grabbing ways of showing the process. You know, like that's such the important part of understanding how we work.
But, knowing that in a digital age, we have really short attention spans and you know, maybe you don't get the opportunity to really share that process. So what would be some good ways to maybe approach that?
I think it's wonderful to show the journey of an idea. So you can start with an online portfolio, of talking about what the objective was. What was the criteria for success for this specific project? And then how did you attempt to fulfill that criteria? So start first with your overarching ideas, and sketches are wonderful for this process, because you can show how you think, how you experiment, how you connect things. And then once you show your sketches, you can then show what the maybe top two or three options were, and then how it evolved from the options, to the ideas, to the execution, to the final. But make it into a story. Talk about what your challenges were. What were the things you had to overcome? What were the obstacles in any project? Think about talking about your projects the way you would watch a movie. You see a movie has an arc. Movie has a likable hero, that has some type of challenge. Overcomes that challenge and finds redemption. That's pretty much the scenario for almost every movie ever created. Okay? Likable hero, obstacle, overcome obstacle, redemption. That's the way you want to approach your portfolio. You have your likable hero, you. You've put yourself out there, you're warm, you're engaging, you're personable. You talk about what the challenge was. You talk about what the obstacles were in achieving that. You talk about the journey that that took. And then you talk about the results. The more you can share with the journey, through those obstacles, the more likely people will be able to connect with the way that you think. And the way that you think is going to be what separates you from everybody else and everybody else's portfolio. How fast do you think? Where do you connect things? What's that combinatorial creativity that designers are so good with? That's what you want to be able to reflect. So every project in your portfolio, needs to have a journey. That arc. What the project was. What the obstacle was. How you overcame the obstacle. And what was the result. Helpful? Yes.
So you do everything right and you get this client that you really want, and then you screw up.
Well, then what?
Then you have to apologize. (laughs) We're always gonna screw up, we're always gonna screw up. And it's not the screw up that screws us up, it's what our response is to the screw up. First of all, if you screw up you have to come clean with screwing up. You must come clean. Have you ever noticed that the more somebody gets freaked out about a mistake that they made, the more forgiving you tend to be? You almost want to comfort them for being so freaked out about the mistake. So feel it and share what you feel. Don't try to cover it up. And don't try to convince yourself that somebody isn't going to notice. They will notice. If you try to cover it up or hide it, or minimize it by activity thereafter, you're only gonna make it worse for yourself. If you screwed up, you must acknowledge the screw up. You must go to the person who you screwed up with and say, "I'm really sorry, I screwed up. This is what I did. But this is how I can make it better, this is how I can," you always need to have options for solutions. Always have options. If you don't have options you're leaving it up to them to sort of sweep it up and make it better. You need to come to them and say, "This is what I did wrong, this is what the ramifications of my doing this wrong are. Here are the options on how I could make it better. This is what I would recommend doing. And I sincerely apologize." Yes?
Yes, I have a question on Cover Letters, please.
Cover letter? Yes.
Yes. Now, are you going to have one cover letter, and then massage it for every person that you send? You custom write for every entity you want to send it to. Can you clarify that a little bit, please?
I think that you have to be very careful about cookie cutter cover letters. You can't have a cookie cutter cover letter, it's needs to have something that is clear that you have made an effort to understand what that company does and why you would be a good fit. And unless that fit is identical for every company that you apply to, then you're going to have to talk about what is it that you specifically can do for that company knowing what their issues may or may not be. Or the kind of work that they do where you would be the perfect person to work there. So I would urge you to write an individual cover letter. Which might have some pieces that are similar, but that has a very specific tone and manner, specifically targeting to that company. Which takes work, but it's only a hundred list, one hundred person list. So you have a hundred letters. We've all done way more then that. We probably all have more then a hundred pictures up on Instagram, right? So where are you gonna put your effort? Where are you gonna put your effort? Write sincere, original letters. People always know when things are cookie cutter, and you inevitably forget to change one thing and before you know it you're sending something to somebody with the wrong name on it. Dear, Dusty. (laughs)
Okay? There's a question here.
Hi, so my question is when you're at a social event that's not professional. And somehow you get introduced to somebody and it somehow becomes sort of like an interview. Slightly.
That's not gonna make that person happy.
Like, how do you switch that. Like, cause I've been sometimes been introduced to people who were like, you need to meet this person.
And, I meet them and I'm like, oh, my sense of self is more like a party or something and not looking for.
So chances are, I would expect that if you are at an event, let's say you are going to see somebody talk. There is the possibility that you're gonna meet that person, through either bumping into them in the bathroom, or bumping into them on the wine line. Or somebody else that you know being there that wants to introduce you. This is part of the preparation. You can't go to an event, without preparing, for the possibility that you might meet someone that you want to talk to. And if you know in advance that five people that you admire are going to be at this AIGA conference coming up in October. And there's a chance you might bump into them, or get to meet them. You need to prepare in advance for what you might say to them, when you meet them. So, you might say if you bumped into Christoph Niemann. You might wanna say, "I really loved your cover of The New Yorker, in October." Or (mumbles) just has the current New Yorker cover. You say, "I saw the cover that you did for The New Yorker, the last week of August. It was amazing. What made you decide to approach it in that way?" Let him do the talking. People love to talk about their own work. Let him do the talking. So have questions in advance. If you know that there's a chance that you're going to meet someone. To think about what it is you could ask them, to get them to talk to you. - [Woman] Okay.
And believe it or not, that's the way to create more of a rapport. When they feel warm and open about talking about who they are to you.
You're welcome. This question here?
This is great, thank you so much. So my question is so seems like we're mostly talking in the context of like client work and like agencies. Is there anything we need to adjust if we are looking for jobs in like a bigger company, or like a different type of organization?
The bigger the company, the more clear you have to be about what you can offer. And actually there pretty much isn't, even in a small company, it's as important to be able to provide a benefit, because they don't have as much money as a big company to be able to pay for all of the things that they need five people to do. They need one person to do all five of those things. So I think for a small company you want to be able to show how nimble you are, and how flexible and how agile you are, about any number of things that might be important to that company. With a bigger company, you have to be very clear about what you offer in that specific realm that is required for that job. So if they're looking for somebody to do one thing, in a large company. You need to communicate that you do that one thing better than anybody else. So that would be the biggest difference, in terms of what is the expectation of the job, in the organization. But pretty much everything else, in terms of how you show up, and how you show your portfolio the kind of resume, the kind of cover letter. All of those things remain the same.
Got it, and just as a follow-up question: is there any difference that we should know this, or kind of consider when we apply for agencies, or like in house studios, like in house design teams.
No, not really. If it's a dream job you have to approach every dream job with the same level of perspective, integrity and effort. If it's a safety job, if it's a job that you're just going after because you're worried about paying the rent, you need to be thinking about why you're doing that. Now, you can need to pay the rent. Everybody needs to pay the rent. And you might have to take a job, that you don't love, because you need to pay the rent and that's the only job that's being offered at the moment. I understand that. I worked as a cashier in a health food store, while I was getting my freelance work off the ground in 1984 and 1985. That was hard. But I also ended up getting a freelance job from somebody that stood on my line. So you never know where you're going to be able to get work. However, that doesn't stop you from doing all the self generated work, that is going to be so much better. That is going to be able to get you the next job, and the job that you really love. Having a dead end job or a job that you hate, is not an excuse for not doing work that you love. Because you're going to be able to do work that you love on your own, whenever you want to. And if you're not doing it, then I suggest that you don't really want to, because you can't be too busy if you are really sincere about wanting to do it. Remember, busy is a decision. So if you are in a job that you don't like, it doesn't mean that you can't be doing work that you love when you're not at that job. Yes?
The Brand Called Me, for example, if I'm creating a brand as a podcaster, something I want to do on my own. It doesn't have the resume part and things. What are some of the things that we discussed today, I need to adjust, or does it need any adjusting? Will it use the same principles? Can you talk that a little bit, please?
Well, unless you're looking for a job as an actor, you still have to show up as yourself. And so if you're creating a podcast, or if you're writing a book, or if you want to teach a class, you still have to show up as you are. Who you are. People will always be able to sense when you're not. So I think that all the attributes of starting your own brand, are the same. All the requirements of starting your own brand, are the same, when creating your career. And essentially that's why I called this class, A Brand Called You. You're not creating a brand as much as you are creating a path, and a life, that feels like it's your own. And that's really what I hope people have gotten out of the class today.
This exact same principles apply?
I'm not gonna say the exact same principles apply, because I think principles, different principles always apply to different scenarios. But when you're creating a brand that you own, if it's based on your values and your vision, then you have to be authentic about what that is. If it's something that has your name on it. You know, Design Matters with Debbie Millman, is my podcast. It's how I talk about design, that is part of what people expect when they listen to the podcast. If I wasn't myself, if I wasn't who I am authentically in that podcast, I think it would turn people off. But it's also not something that I calculated, as I was creating it. I was just trying to be myself while I was doing it. The minute you have to start to start calculating how you're going to show up, you're not being sincere. My final thoughts are: I'm going to share two quotes. The first is by Dita Von Teese, who is the burlesque actress and dancer. And she says that, "You could be the ripest juiciest peach in the entire world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches." (laughter) So you can be your best self, on your best day, with your best thoughts and your best work. And there is still going to be somebody that's like, "Meh." That's not an excuse to stop. It's only a failure, if you accept defeat. And until you accept defeat, you are trying, and you are trying to make it happen. And the only person that's going to make happen for yourself is you. So if you're not getting the opportunities that you want to be getting, you have to go out and make them. You have to go out and find them. And you have to put a plan together that you can track and monitor, as if you were going for a race in the Olympics. Going for a medal in the Olympics. With the same intensity and the same audacity, and the same hope, and the same dream. Because the dream job is just like the gold medal. You have to work that hard. And the other thing I'll leave you with is this quote: "If you aren't making enough mistakes you're not taking enough risks." That goes to the question before about screwing up. It's okay to screw up, it's just not okay to stop trying.