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?
Róisin Lowe works with me at Tank. I've known her for a number of years as one of the regular freelance collaborators we use in the business. As she became a reliable and very much needed member of our team, we eventually hired her.
Róisin typifies the emerging Designer of today — with a number of years experience already under her belt she embraces a willingness to learn and explore, continually sharpening, expanding and broadening her skill set across Communications Design, Human-Centred Design methods and in more recent times, strategy development — all with a pleasant humility and kindness which is very hard to find.
I hope her insights help you in some way.
Job Title: Communications Designer (Human-Centred Design)
Business Name: Tank
Career type: Straight Up
Experience: 9 - 15 years
Currently working in: Melbourne
Lesson 1: Be an empath. Listen and observe – do not assume.
It is so tempting at times to just jump on the tools without properly understanding who you are communicating to – thinking ‘I’ve got this’. However it is vital that you understand your audience. Do necessary research so that you’ll have a successful outcome. If it means interviewing people who are a representation of the target audience or even taking the time to visit the locations and do site audits, do it! You need to learn to ‘walk in the shoes’ of the demographic you’re designing for.
Lesson 2: Ask all the stupid questions.
But really, no questions are stupid questions! You need to be fully equipped when trying to communicate successfully.
If you don’t think that you’ve got everything that you need, then you need to ask the right questions to get them – even if you think they’re stupid! At the end of the day, you may be feeling pretty silly if you missed a vital element purely because you were afraid to speak up.
And do not be afraid to challenge things. If you’ve been briefed to do something, don’t be scared to voice your opinion and suggest other ways things can be done – this goes for both in the studio and liaising with clients. In a studio environment, if you are working with great leaders, they will value what you have said and open up the conversation to involve your perspective so that you both can work together to get the best outcome. But do yourself a favour and don't be arrogant. No body knows it all, and the minute that you think you do, you should realise that you still have so much to learn!
Lesson 3: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
We all fail all the time! You might burn your toast in the morning. You might forget to clean your cat's litter and find they've left you a nice little 'present' upon your arrival home in the evening. We forgive ourselves for these little hiccups everyday – we learn from it and try not to do it again.
So, if you stuff up on the job, don't beat yourself up about it! Learn from your mistakes and try to invent ways in which you won't let it happen again and move on. Ask your colleagues for advice around how you can improve and do it differently. If they are true leaders, they'll take the time to support you and mentor you so you feel safe to make new mistakes and learn from them. Mistakes are the quickest way of learning what not to do. Fail fast – it gives you the opportunity to innovate and grow quickly – that's when all the cool stuff happens!
See you next week.
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