Category: Must Reads

a must read: You, Inc.

I love traveling for the simple reason that I actually take time to read a good book. I have collected so many over the last few years but never find the time to sit and enjoy one of them. On my trip to Houston last week, I took a book that came highly recommended by a fabulous client of mine and I just had to share it.

Since I didn’t have a pen on me, I decided to start marking the pages I wanted to come back to.
The folds will tell you what a great book this is.

You, Inc. surpassed any of my expectations. It’s not just about selling yourself in a non-cheesy way; it covers every aspect of being a good business person that you can imagine. All while being motivating and heartfelt. I feel so connected to the authors because of the warmly written chapters about a world where we work hard, treat others like gold and come out on top. It was such a good read, I couldn’t recommend it any more!

why designers are holding themselves back

Why Designers Are Holding Themselves Back is a fantastic article on how your pricing can not only effect how your clients perceive you but how it’s also hurting the industry. A real eye-opener to empower your rates. This really hit home and I highly suggest reading it if you’ve ever found yourself offering your services at a very low rate or for free.

invoice design by david smith

weekend reading

There have been a lot of great articles floating around the internet this week and I thought I’d share a few of the ones that I found very much worth reading. This cold weather has me curling up with a cup of coffee and my books and my instapaper when I’m on the go. It’s the perfect time to catch up on reading!

Have a great weekend!

Failure: what a great thing

We’ve all heard that failure can teach you things and makes you stronger, yada yada yada, but when put in career form, Steven Heller’s Design Disasters: Great Design, Fabulous Failures & Lessons Learned changed my perception of it. I’ve taken some risks in my career and design life that I may or may not have done again, but when it comes down to it, every experience I’ve had has influenced my life today, and I’m pretty damn happy with how things have turned out so far. :)

The collection of essays speaks of designers old and new and their experiences of failed attempts at business, failed partnerships, failed moves, failed income, and failed vision. Debbie Millman’s words in her essay definitely touched me the most of any (as she always seems to do) and here is an exerpt:

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How to stand above the rest: Mickey Drexler

JCrew’s CEO, Mickey Drexler was interviewed by Refinery29 about the new Madewell store opening in San Francisco and in it, I found such inspiration and great tid-bits, I thought I’d share them.

“There will always be competition in this world. Someone is always going to watch what you’re doing. And as long as you were there first, you were there dominantly, and with the best style and quality, then you’re going to win and the followers will always be behind the leaders. You’re always going to be copied if you’re a leader.”

“I think the key to success is vision that adjusts on the way, but doesn’t at all falter. It’s about not compromising and following your gut to a certain degree, based on knowledge, instinct, etc. And not listening to the naysayers.”

“You have to build a good team and know who’s good and not good and you have to keep raising the bar on your life. For me it’s always, ‘I have to get up and do a little better today and go to work to learn.”

Take 10 minutes and read the full article on Refinery29 and I’m sure you won’t regret it!

Must Read: How To Steal Like An Artist

I know that this has been circling the internet, but I still wanted to share it in case you hadn’t seen it. A great article, How To Steal Like An Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me) is the perfect read for both students and professionals alike. Based on a talk by Austin Kleon for Broome Community College, it’s a great resource for motivation and understanding of how you get to where you want to be. Make you sure take a second to read it. It’s definitely worth your time!

Must Read: Tell My Why, karlssonwilker

I knew after meeting Jan Wilker at SVW last summer, that the book he and his cohort, Hjalti, wrote about their first 24 months of their design company, karlssonwilker, would be my cup of tea. Tell Me Why is a hilarious, honest look at starting a design company from two guys who just like to have a good time. It had me laughing out loud as I plowed through the pages. Their frankness about their ups and downs was so comforting. I feel like I hear so many overnight success stories from designers that it’s refreshing to hear that it may take longer to get ahead (or break even). This one is definitely going on my bookshelf of favorites and will go back to it whenever I need to remember where I came from. Truly a must read.

The Tragic Mistake

I came across this post by Study Hacks on 99% and thought I’d share.

“Not long into their interview with public radio host Ira Glass, one of the three college-aged interviewers, a young girl, asks, with a desperate smile etched on her face, how to decide “which of her passions” to pursue.

“Like how do you determine, how…”, she begins.

“How do you figure out what you want?”, Glass interrupts.

“How do you not only figure out what you want, but know that you’ll be good at it?”, she finishes.

There’s a pause. In this moment, when Glass prepares his answer, the young girl’s earlier admission that she’s a pre-med, and doubting her decision to attend med school, hangs in the air. Glass can relate: he too had been considering med school when he stumbled into his first radio internship, after his freshman year of college.

He proceeds cautiously, softly: “Honestly, even the stuff you want you’re not necessarily good at right away…I started working at 19 at the network level, and from that point it took me years. The key thing is to force yourself through the work, force the skills to come. That’s the hardest phase.”

One of the other interviewers, a young man in a baseball cap, interjects: “Do you think hard work can make you talented?”

“Yes. I do.”

The students let this sink in.

“In the movies there’s this idea that you should just go for your dream,” Glass continues. “But I don’t believe that.”

By the students’ reactions, this is not what they expected to hear.

“Things happen in stages. I was a terrible reporter, but I was perfectly good at other parts of working in radio: I am a good editor…I feel like your problem is that you’re trying to judge all things in the abstract before you do them.

That’s your tragic mistake.”

Read the full article here. via 99%

Must Read: Rework

Rework, a book by the fantastic guys at 37Signals (also Basecamp, Campfire, Backpack and Highrise creators) is an incredible addition to my growing list of Must Reads. The book is filled with short chapters each with a great illustration like one the pictured above and a real life experience in each paragraph. They aren’t writers, per se, and they completely accept that. They are only experienced in success, and their stories, lessons and knowledge are profound and concise. They talk of their successes and failures and most of all, how to find success. I think it’s a great addition to any designer’s library and I’ll definitely be re-reading it before I start another book on my list. Buy a copy here and let me know what you think!

10 Things I Have Learned – Milton Glaser

A selection of 10 very powerful thoughts from the amazing Milton Glaser. Read them in their entirety after the jump or on his website here.

1
You can only work for people that you like.
This is a curious rule and it took me a long time to learn because in fact at the beginning of my practice I felt the opposite. Professionalism required that you didn’t particularly like the people that you worked for or at least maintained an arms length relationship to them, which meant that I never had lunch with a client or saw them socially. Then some years ago I realised that the opposite was true. I discovered that all the work I had done that was meaningful and significant came out of an affectionate relationship with a client. And I am not talking about professionalism; I am talking about affection. I am talking about a client and you sharing some common ground. That in fact your view of life is someway congruent with the client, otherwise it is a bitter and hopeless struggle.

2
If you have a choice never have a job.
One night I was sitting in my car outside Columbia University where my wife Shirley was studying Anthropology. While I was waiting I was listening to the radio and heard an interviewer ask ‘Now that you have reached 75 have you any advice for our audience about how to prepare for your old age?’ An irritated voice said ‘Why is everyone asking me about old age these days?’ I recognised the voice as John Cage. I am sure that many of you know who he was – the composer and philosopher who influenced people like Jasper Johns and Merce Cunningham as well as the music world in general. I knew him slightly and admired his contribution to our times. ‘You know, I do know how to prepare for old age’ he said. ‘Never have a job, because if you have a job someday someone will take it away from you and then you will be unprepared for your old age. For me, it has always been the same every since the age of 12. I wake up in the morning and I try to figure out how am I going to put bread on the table today? It is the same at 75, I wake up every morning and I think how am I going to put bread on the table today? I am exceedingly well prepared for my old age’ he said.

3
Some people are toxic and avoid them.
This is a subtext of number one. There was in the sixties a man named Fritz Perls who was a gestalt therapist. Gestalt therapy derives from art history, it proposes you must understand the ‘whole’ before you can understand the details. What you have to look at is the entire culture, the entire family and community and so on. Perls proposed that in all relationships people could be either toxic or nourishing towards one another. It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.

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