The fallacy of readiness
Name: Patrice Douglas
Job:/role/company: Problem Solver at Strong Attraction
Years experience: 6 years experience as a graphic designer
How are you today?
Feeling excited - in the midst of setting up my new business and planning my costumes for Burning Man. Always busy but loving it.
You recently started a new business, tell me about your journey to get there:
Since studying a Bachelor of Design at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney, I experienced some different work environments - from large corporate marketing teams with a database of over 1 million email subscribers to a start-up creative agency with a team of four, working from the boss’ home. I’ve worked on brands of all sizes and profiles including Spotify, Virgin, City of Sydney and ANZ bank to the integrated branding for Libby, the Vet in the Valley - a vet in Tasmania who’s favourite customer is a grey show pony called Cricket.
What do you think is the single biggest hurdle to achieving goals when you’re starting out?
The fallacy of readiness. Waiting for the right time, right connection, right money, right amount of experience, right equipment and on and on.
It’s so important to just take the first step. If you’re starting a business, buy the domain. If you’re starting a YouTube channel, create the first video and post it without expectation. You’re never going to be ‘ready’, just go live and learn from each iteration.
As you would say Jim, "done is better than perfect."
If you’re a perfectionist like so many creatives are, you’ll be hanging out behind the starting blocks for the rest of your life and never actually dive in. You won’t hit publish or export. You won’t launch the idea.
One tactic I recommend is to embody what I call a ‘practice’ mentality. Stop treating everything like the output, and starting treating it like a prototype. Stop putting the pressure on yourself to put the ‘perfect’ product out, just get something out there.
How did it feel doing your first YouTube video?
It was unplanned but I was compelled to do it. I had grand plans to make the YouTube videos really professional and structured. But one Sunday afternoon I realised that I had a story to tell and that the best way to tell it was to just be me - without makeup (or even a shower to be honest) or a script, and just say it like it is. So I propped my phone up on a chair and a stack of books, sat in the sun and told my story. I could have deleted it, but I posted it. Practice mentality. I didn’t have a huge expectation for engagement.
Publicly I had over 1.9K views on Facebook, 330 on Youtube - but privately I had over 50 people start a conversation with me about their own experience with a similar issue. This trend has continued with all of my videos.
Tell me about your YouTube channel - what is your goal?
I really wanted to speak on stage at creative industry events here in Australia and around the world. I thought if I create videos of me talking about tips and tricks when it comes to branding and marketing, that I could then direct a potential event organiser to the page to show them that I could string a sentence together.
But then my gut instinct kicked in and told me to share my story of working through letting go of feelings of insecurity and low self-worth, and give myself permission to put myself out there and give it all a go as a creative leader; fully as myself.
So while I still have a goal to speak on stage, the content is more meaningful. It’s a place for me to share and create content that has a balance between being human and what it takes to be more human when it comes to the work I do. As I grow and learn, my audience can too.
You jumped into The Strategy Masterclass last year, why did you choose this course over others and what did you get out of it?
For years I had called myself a ‘Strategic Designer’. I had always felt while I didn’t have the most out-of-the-box creative mind, I loved building creative based on data, research and insight. I was always so fascinated with the ‘why’, purpose and the problem we were really solving with the project.
I love learning. I always have. Every year I like to learn something new. In 2015 I completed Award School, in 2016 I completed a digital copywriting course and a speaking course with Toastmasters. It was 2017 and I was looking for a course to bolster my (very little) knowledge in the strategy space. I felt this would be a focus in my career. I couldn’t believe it when I heard about The Strategy Masterclass. From my research, there is nothing else like it on offer in the world.What did I get out of it - where do I begin?
Firstly, understanding what the word strategy really means.
I was unfortunately one of those people that used the term just to sound smarter.
I now know a coherent strategy is simple in its design, logical in its nature and consistent in its application. I love this framework.
It also taught me that Strategy is about leadership and being ‘ultimately accountable for the success and failure of the strategy’ is essentially my job.
How to actually define and implement a strategy. The step-by-step processes in the course, the options and practical tools to develop and action a strategy roadmap. The frameworks that are broken down into bite size chunks which include methods for interviewing, researching, ways of defining a problem, logical tactics, outlines for KPIs, monitoring. The list goes on. It was immensely helpful.
Is strategic thinking something you can learn?
Absolutely and I believe it’s applicable in any industry and/or role, but fundamental in the creative industry. It’s human nature to question and listen, so we’re all already doing some of the process in some way. If we are more conscious in this space we will be able to diagnose the actual problem and therefore create better strategies and solutions, at work and in life.
What will you be doing in five years time?
I will be running my creative business Strong Attraction, enabling entrepreneurs to better connect with themselves so that they can authentically connect with their ideal customer. My base will be in Brisbane with my wonderful partner, but I’ll be bouncing around, collaborating with creatives who challenge me. I’ll also be speaking on global stages about my philosophies on creativity’s.
Do you have mentors? If so, how important is mentorship to you growth?
I have a whole lolly bag of mentors - that each bring different insights, experience and skill sets to the table. Some are paid, some are unpaid, some know me well, some not at all. It can be through structured fortnightly conversations or through reading weekly blogs from leaders like yourself Jim or someone like Seth Godin.
Mentors are the cheat sheet to grow and expand. And they are often the source of your next career move, inspiration or client.
My advice is to find those sources of inspiration, guidance and leadership. Soak up all of the knowledge and let them know how grateful you are for their time, energy and mind.
What has been your biggest setback?
My autopilot year.
I was saying yes to every project that came my way but I also had a full time job, so working night and day, literally going to bed at 2am and waking up at 5am. I was completely burnt out. I didn’t have anything left in the tank and you could see it in my work. I look back now and it was running in parallel to a period of really low self-esteem. I felt anxious, stuck, trapped and I knew that the headspace that so deeply consumed me, wasn’t really me. I took a moment to look at myself and realise that the person on autopilot was not my best self.
I have now given periods of anxiety a new meaning - I am about to learn something. That through saying no to a client, you’re simultaneously saying ‘yes’ to you. And that communication with clients is as important as the output. Your wounds are your wisdom.
How did you overcome it?
I got a coach. Curiously it was the words he spoke in a Facebook video about cyclical and damaging behaviours. He was talking about addictions (for me it was procrastination) and the ugly truth that with addictions you have a choice. You can either keep the behaviour but stop beating yourself up about the behaviour and enjoy it, or change your behaviour and raise your standards. It totally resonated with me, so I instant messaged him and booked my first coaching session.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Starting my business from an authentic place. From the heart, no BS. I know my niche and I’m not going to be everything to everyone. I’m clear on the direction and I am fulfilled by that.
If you could give an emerging creative leader three pieces of advice, what would they be?
1. Invest aggressively in yourself.
Invest the time and money in getting to know yourself. It’s the single most important thing you can do - after that, everything else will happen for you.
You are the secret sauce in your life.
If you don’t do the work to find who you truly are, you’ll suffer from imposter syndrome and people can see through it. You’ll feel like a fraud. Even the Strategy Masterclass begins by asking you to identify your strengths and weaknesses - this is key.
You’ll have the impact, influence and emotional connections you desire, when you are honest with yourself and speak that truth.
2. Be a sponge.
You identify yourself with the knowledge you are gaining. Get it from anywhere and everywhere and save it like you are collecting it to write a book. Take a course, follow blogs, get a mentor, go to conferences, have conversations in and outside of the creative industry. Be a collector of ideas, insights, comparisons, quotes, thoughts, brochures, digital ads, websites, bus ads, bloggers, paragraphs, sentences, words - whatever catches your eye.
3. Just be.
We’re constantly pushing, pulling, forcing, expecting, resisting, judging, chasing etc. If it’s not ourselves, it’s someone else or a thought or a plan or a project. Find 20 minutes in each day to just stop (you don’t have to meditate, but I would recommend it) and just be.
Take the pressure off yourself.
What is really surprising is that dedicating time to ‘just being’, allows you to access a really powerful creative intelligence, that will change your life and the way you lead.