In the last few weeks I've received many questions from people in the creative business community that have forced me to think about my own trajectory.
After all, my career isn't over and I too have plans, ideas, strategies and wishes for my own future as do the readers of this journal.
The questions have come from young and experienced people alike.
To give you some insight, the readers of this blog range from:
- Students of design, advertising, communications
- Graduates of the same areas
- Solo professionals (consultants, freelancers)
- Studio owners
- Managers and executives on the client side across different industries
- Strategists of various experience and industry
- Strategic planners from the advertising world
- Tech entrepreneurs
- Architects and urban designers
The questions come from all of the areas above and from people all over the world - and I believe they have one thing in common.
They are questions about growth:
"I want to take my business to the next level but clients think of me as a pixel pusher."
Questions about positioning:
"How can I develop my skill level and teach my clients to respect that good creativity needs more time, research and money."
Questions about work/life balance and reaching your career potential:
"I'm fully present at work, giving my all to my employer and happy with my life, but I just can't see how I'm going to reach my personal goals in the job I'm currently holding."
Questions about product development, a subject I'm particularly passionate and interested in - and manny more.
The one thing these questions have in common is legacy.
In March last year I started writing with the assumption that what I've learned in 26 years of my own career could be valuable to someone.
The impetus for me to begin writing and sharing my insights and knowledge was two-fold:
- I've always believed in sharing of knowledge. The best education in my life has come from the knowledge my mentors have shared with me and I embrace this - which sees me being very open and transparent about what I know. Why? Because 'how' and 'why' are more important than 'what'.
- I wanted more. After 26 years of doing, relatively, the same thing (client + brief + work = money), I wanted to explore more avenues for the trajectory of my own career and I'm sure regular readers have gathered, I don't waste time waiting for anyone else's permission to do something for myself.
So I asked myself a question:
"What legacy will you leave?"
I wanted to know (from myself) what type of life I was creating for myself, my three children and the wonderful person whom I share my life with, my wife.
I wanted to know what my own intentions were in doing what I was doing at the time (client + brief + work = money).
The answer was profound for me in that I actually had lost sight of the life I wanted and found myself on the repetitive treadmill that was setting a trajectory towards a meaningless career.
And I hate treadmills.
I like running outside.
I didn't want to have a career that felt like that at all - so I started writing and sharing my experience with you. I wanted to provide value. Simple.
And this journey has enlightened me about my own future as much as it has those readers who comment, tweet and email me positive comments almost daily.
I can't tell you how grateful and humbled I am by that.
In our industry, as designers, creative leaders, entrepreneurs and technologists we start by thinking about a big career. One of achievement, doing great work with inspiring people and possibly winning an award that recognises our efforts.
Some seek fame. Some seek money.
We journey through this wilderness and we reach a point when it all comes together.
Some reach those aspirational points whereas most of us keep moving towards something that merely resembles them.
Stumbling forward, albeit with some type of purpose and idea of what it is we are trying to achieve.
It is up to us as individuals to find the answers to the most profound questions about growth, goals, change and work/life balance within ourselves.
We glean insights and learning from others but our own self worth is ours to own and define.
No client, no business partner, investor or superior matters when it comes to these types of questions.
Their opinions do not matter in these matters.
What matters is that you have clarity on who you are, why you're doing what you're doing and what type of legacy you're leaving, and for whom you are leaving it.
So, I ask a question back to you.
What legacy do you want to leave and what will you do now, today, this week, to stumble towards it?