Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Feeding your ego in healthy ways

Ah, the call for entries are already pouring in this year: AIGA, Rockport Books, Communicator Awards, TDC, etc. If your work is suitable, how much time are you willing to spend, and can you dedicate a staff member to the process of submitting entries?

Not only time, but dollars. Each competition averages $50 per entry, and that can add up very quickly.

A design firm principal may be better off spending the money on rewarding staff in a more effective way -- a company sponsored activity (which builds camaraderie and moral) or everyone's favorite, cash.

That said, we may enter a few programs this year, and see how our work stacks up... or just go out for a fabulous dinner.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Designers aging gracefully

Time marches on; all designers grow older, and our relevance shifts from design to our knowledge and wisdom (in theory, of course!)

John Maxwell has some poignant perspectives on aging:
I'm 40 and Counting

When you celebrate your 40th birthday, you’ve supposedly gone “over the hill.” You’re past your prime and beginning to show signs of age. When I crossed “over the hill,” I gave a lesson entitled, “I’m 40 and Counting.” In it, I recommended 10 things you should have in place before turning 40.

  1. Know Yourself
  2. Settle Your Family Life
  3. Determine Your Priorities
  4. Develop Your Philosophy
  5. Get Physically Fit
  6. Learn Your Trade
  7. Pay the Price
  8. Develop Strong Relationships
  9. Prepare for the Future
  10. Find God’s Will
I recommend his excellent book Today Matters. I'm not a huge fan of self-help books, but this one is worth the read for prioritizing.

The 40's aren't so bad... Trust me!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

How to hire a designer for your staff

At last, we've found the right person for our design staff.

Although this is not a definitive guide, here's the process we used that proved very through and successful.
  1. Start with 30-minute interview and portfolio review
  2. If I see potential, invite back for longer interview
  3. Second interview is more in-depth, character and behavior-oriented questions and discussion. This time my partner sat in on the interview. This gives us both a good gut instinct reaction, and I now realize the opinion of my partner is as critical (or more) than mine. A longer interview allows time for the candidate to relax, and ask us questions as well.
  4. Invite back qualified candidate for staff interviews.
  5. Check references
  6. Background check
  7. DISC behavioral profile
  8. Review background check and DISC against interviews. If gut instinct (likability factor, interviews and checks) don't raise any flags, make offer.
Your results may vary, but his was a distinct change from our last process, and yielded a good match for our firm, our clients and our culture. And for the designer!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Calendars and gadgets

Have you ever seen the Pentagram Wall Calendar? It's a beautiful addition to any design firm or home, especially if you love typography, or are near-sighted.

Gearheads, rejoice in Uncrate. Uncrate is a web magazine for guys who love stuff. Our team finds the best gadgets, clothes, cars and more so you can blow your rent money easier. Girls might like it too.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

New Year's Resolutions for designers

It's 6 days into the new year, and while I prefer long-term self-discipline to resolutions, two lists of resolutions caught my eye.

The first I call the Feel Good list. It's from The Art of Business: New Year's Resolutions for Creative Professionals. Eric Adams states
...And because we are creative artists, it's not always about the here and now. Here are 10 resolutions slightly beyond the norm. In the headlong rush that is our lives today, the start of another year is a better time than most to sit down and take stock. Here are ten uncommon resolutions you might try on for size.
This list of resolutions contains some thoughtful resolutions: Thank your clients, thank your co-workers, give away some creativity, enjoy your craft. The last two are to "Decide where you want to be professionally in one year," and "Create a roadmap to success." But how to do just that?

The second list is from The Win Without Pitching Newsletter. This 12-step list from creative consultant Blair Enns, are the resolutions that will change the way you think. In fact, they are mantras, not resolutions, to be chanted every morning before you fire up your email, before you make your coffee, memorized and followed without compromise.

Resolution number 12 states:
12. We will hold our heads high. We will see ourselves as professional practitioners who are hired to bring real solutions to our clients’ business problems. We will not grovel. We will not be coerced. We will understand that after all of the above anyone who insists that we devalue our product or compromise our values is not someone we would have as a client. We will seek respect above money, for only when we are respected as experts will we be paid the money we seek. This money will allow us to reinvest in ourselves, become even better at what we do and deliver to ourselves and our families the abundance we deserve.
You are a real professional. You do provide real solutions to your client's problems.

Don't forget who and what you are, and resolve to become it.