January 02, 2020 — 3 minute read

Offscreen Magazine: Ten Things I’ve Learned

Offscreen is an independent magazine with a thoughtful, human-centered take on technology and the web. These ten lessons were originally published in Issue 22.

Thinking scales; output doesn’t.

How do high-performing designers scale? They share their thinking and approach. By teaching other people not just the ‘what’, but also the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ a single person can profoundly impact and evolve a whole team.

Seek the self-aware.

It’s a privilege to work with people and teams who have a conscious understanding of who they are, where they fall short, where they’re trying to go, and who they want to be.

One way to better your craft: share your work publicly.

I wouldn’t have the skills or opportunities I’m afforded today had I not posted my work online throughout my career. Gathering praise, criticism, and everything in between from people around the world instead of around the office offers you fresh ideas, perspective, and ‘tough skin’ faster than you can imagine.

Be kind to recruiters.

Even if you’re not interested in what they have to offer, rest easy knowing that people think you’re good at what you do. Ask what they like about you and how they found you. Ask what it takes to be in a job bigger than the one they approached you for. Whether their role is for you or not, every conversation is career development.

Growing in your career is less about years of experience and more about helping others.

I thought gaining seniority as a designer meant better design output over time. My memorable career milestones stem from leading teammates through foggy territory, connecting dots when others can’t see them, and nurturing the talents of my peers.

Smart people use simple words to make others feel smart.

Industry buzzwords and corporate lingo, on the other hand, make you look unapproachable — or worse, clueless. From presenting work in meetings to articulating ideas in writing, you win hearts and minds with everyday language.

Practice your craft in all that you do.

Typeset your documents. Write thoughtfully. Edit rigorously as if the world is reading. Tell stories instead of stats in your presentation decks. The level of care you exhibit in all of your work can inspire elevated effort from those around you.

As your team gets bigger, common knowledge is no longer common.

If you feel like you’re over-communicating, you’re communicating just enough.

Talk about what excellence looks like regularly.

If you’re not actively defining the standard for quality, then you’re showing acceptance for mediocrity. Criteria for excellence motivates people, clarifies how good people can become great, and how great people can raise the bar.

Treat hospitality staff well on team outings.

Tip generously and express gratitude. Taking care of people who work hard is a value that goes beyond the office.