From time to time I ask some of my friends and broader network of creative leaders a simple question:
If you could offer a young, emerging designer three lessons from your career, what would they be?
Beck Storer owns and runs The Cutaway, who do some of the coolest experiential / installation design I've seen in a long time.
I've known Beck for quite some time — ten years ago we worked together for a short period of time and we made a point of keeping in touch.
This is important — keep in touch with people you work with. You never know where they'll end up, what they may offer you, what you may offer them and the friendship that can be born of a few coffees from time to time.
A decade after I first met Beck, we now manage to keep in regular contact and provide one another with advice, mentorship, guidance and friendship.
Job Title: Founder & Design Educator
Business Name: The Cutaway
Career type: Zig Zag
Experience: 16 - 20 years
Currently working in: Melbourne
Lesson 1: Clients are human beings – they’re not that scary.
Lesson 2: Be brave. Embrace the unknown!
Lesson 3: Learn from your mistakes!
Once you've managed to finally land your first job you've jumped the first big fear of your career — the next big one is the fear of the client and in this instance, Beck is right. Clients are just people who are trying to do a job. Some of them will be wonderful others won't. Albeit, they're just people.
Being brave and embracing the unknown is a strength of the creative leader. I know that Beck has this in spades. As an emerging Designer or Strategist, you're understandably daunted by the unknown. Consider for a moment the resources you have at hand to help you manage this unknown entity and the worst that can possibly happen. It's not that bad.
We talk a lot about 'failing forward' — a mindset where failure is seen as a learning opportunity, where learnings are applied to future iterations of the work; continually learning, applying and adapting. We talk a lot about this, but it's fucking hard to practice because people have egos and egos have are all about self-preservation — which means failure is usually avoided.
Beck's advice on learning from your mistakes is one of the secrets to innovation.
Just ask Honda.
See you next week.