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Anneli and Rodrigo

People pursue a career in the arts because they're passionate about things like design, photography, and animation. They enjoy making things. But is that enough to sustain a long career? Will you be aged-out of our jobs? Should you strive to be more than just the artisan?

Is Being A Designer Enough?
Is Being A Designer Enough?

Is Being A Designer Enough?

Ep
162
Nov
10
With
Anneli and Rodrigo
Or Listen On:

Climbing the creative ladder

In the corporate world, climbing the proverbial ladder seems common. To get ahead (and make more money) you must climb through the ranks.

But in the creative industry, it feels different. We pursue a career in the arts because we're passionate about things like design, photography, and animation. We enjoy making things ourselves.

But is that enough to sustain a long career? Will we be aged-out of our jobs? Should we strive to be more than just the artisan?

In this lively discussion, Chris is joined by Anneli Hansson, Rodrigo Tasca, and several more guests on Clubhouse to discuss these questions.

They talk about what it means to be a designer versus a strategist and how the two relate. We also hear from a variety of guests that share their opinion and experience on the matter.

Design is a multifaceted industry. There are many paths you can take. We hope this conversation helps you find yours.

Hosted By
special guest
produced by
edited by
music by
Appearances

Episode Transcript

Chris:

By developing your craft and becoming a master at it one day through repeated exposure to the same problem, through lots of practice, through hard work and determination, you ascend and move above all the other people who call themselves the same thing that they call themselves. So if you're a designer and you've been practicing your craft long enough and you've achieved some level of mastery, you will rise above. And so those people tend to get much of the claim and the bigger projects and high profile assignments. And in that way their clients perceive them as a person to lead the project versus being told what to do.
For the next hour and a half we're going to talk about is it okay to be a designer when it seems like everybody and their cousin seems to be a strategist today. And I don't want to make fun of anybody, I'm not here to do that or maybe I am. I should take that back I'm probably here to make fun of some people. But you'll notice that in these bios that you see on Clubhouse, everyone's a storyteller, everyone's running a six, seven, eight figure business. Everyone's a strategist, a branding expert, a brand strategist, a consultant, an advisor, a coach. Seems like we're losing meaning with the words when everyone is using it. And I feel it, I feel it because there's this pressure, it's pressure when everybody's saying these things that it makes you feel more important and that you think you can command more money by adding this title or label. So maybe we have title envy. We start to change this but then we do not actually possess the skills nor are we planning to develop those skills.
In this conversation with Blair, we're talking about, you should build the skills quickly. We have to build our expertise quickly because once we stick a claim and once we plant our flag in the ground and say, "We are X." Now our competition's going to look at us and say, "Are you really X?" So anyone can make a claim. I can tell you I'm a Martian or that I'm purple and I'm seven feet tall and it's really easy to quickly debunk me and to prove me wrong. So is there a danger in people using these terms? And does it make you feel like there's invisible pressure to push you to become something that you're not and to create some kind of anxiety or even depression in you? Let's talk about it. So [Drigo 00:02:28] and Anneli are my two co-host, my cohorts, my co-conspirators. I can't even say it, we're three of the horsemen of the club apocalypse. It feels so wrong without Mo. And you know what, screw Mo. He's busy doing whatever he's doing. We're going to be busy learning, growing and creating an experience, hopefully one... A good learning experience for everyone who's here tonight.
So if you don't know me, my name is Chris Doe. In a former life I'm a graphic designer. And now I create content to help, theoretically, a billion people to make a living doing what they love. And to my left, your right is Anneli Hansen. She's a brand strategist. And she's been one for a decade plus. And she used to be a chief branding officer when she was on the client side for a multi-billion dollar company, she's here to help. You want to actually become one, you want to close that skill gap, you might want to talk to her. So if you haven't done so click on her icon, give her a follow. And then I have my friend Drigo and I love Drigo. Drigo is still relatively young and he works in making videos. He's a videographer, a cinematographer and he helps small to medium size businesses produce videos that get results. And he also produces videos on YouTube to teach people the craft so that they, too, can make a living doing what they love.
The thing I love about Drigo is he's got no ego. See, that's how Drigo rolls. Okay Welcome team. So here's what we're going to do. I say we roll the dice. We live a little dangerously tonight. We live a little dangerously and we roll the dice and you guys pick randomly, not just our friends, not just the pro people but a couple of random people who raise their hands who want to join the stage. And before we do that, I'm just getting you guys ready, I want to make sure that we have intelligent, respectful dialogue around this. If you get out of line if you start pitching us, we will bounce you without even asking you a question. [Blair 00:04:31] says I'm a ruthless moderator. And I say thank you. I am because I want to keep the conversation tight.
Please do your best to formulate your idea as quickly as possible so that we can have a real discussion around it. And I don't know what happens, soon as people move above the audience level and to get on stage they get diarrhea of the mouth. They tell their stories and they ramble on, I will cut you off. Not to be rude but out of respect for everybody that wants the dialogue to flow and I have to manage the energy in this room. Okay? My friend Nicole's here. Hi Nicole. Hey.

Nicole:

Hello. Hello.

Chris:

Hey.

Nicole:

I can attest to his ruthlessness, he will cut you off so [inaudible 00:05:12] respectful. [crosstalk 00:05:13].

Chris:

Yes, yes, yes. Okay. All right before I really dive into this, I do want to say something. And this is my... Maybe my one of two plugs tonight so I want to do something here I got to pull up Ben's name. Where are you, Ben? There he is. Okay. I want to say quickly the reason why we're investing so much time on clubhouse is because of two different things. I am literally trying to get more people to join our mastermind group, the Futur Pro, because I believe there's strength in numbers. And when I have more resources to help my team, I'm going to do that. But I'm also here to give you a sample of what it's like to be in a coaching session with me. This is like the Mrs. [Fields 00:05:51] thing where they hand you a little piece of the cookie and if you like the cookie, my name's Chris Doe.

Nicole:

[inaudible 00:05:57].

Chris:

Come on. You guys got to give me my dad jokes from time to time. Come on. Okay. So what I'd like to do is I'd like to quickly just say, since we've been doing this on Clubhouse, a bunch of people have signed up to become a part of the pro group. So I'm going to just read the names that I can. So I want to welcome Zach, Angela, Rashan, Dan, [inaudible 00:06:21], Yana Monet, Chris, Julia, Jessica Rice, Yana, there's another Yana. There's Skylar, Josh, who else? Adrian, [Nas 00:06:31], David, Malik, [inaudible 00:06:33], I can't even say her name. Richie, Richie was up here on the Clubhouse and he joined, that was awesome. Danette, Anthony. Okay. I'm going to stop reading soon. Michael, Aaron, Jack, [Artours 00:06:44].
Okay. That's enough. There's a bunch of people who have signed up. I just want to welcome you officially unofficially. Thank you very much for signing up to be part of the pro group, we're happy to have you. Okay. Let's open it up. Okay. Mods, you get to pick, it doesn't have to be any particular order. You get to pick and whoever you pick, say your piece. So Anneli you want to go first? Ladies first.

Anneli:

Yeah. I want to go first because I want to pick Nicole.

Chris:

Okay, Nicole. Nicole, what are your thoughts on this?

Nicole:

So, I see strategy as a triangle between brand, business and user experience. I don't see it as one particular thing. So there's different aspects of it. From a brand standpoint, I see more of visual design and brand design, of course being a big part of that. There's also UX strategy, which I see being more or part of the design thinking world. Where you think about personas, you think about what are the core user benefits? How does that relate to the brand and the business? So I think all of these things... And the last one being the business strategy, which is like, what's the market size? Who's our customer segments? How are we going to make money? So I don't see strategy as one single thing.
And so ultimately [inaudible 00:08:05] the point that I'd like to [inaudible 00:08:07] it in the conversation is, when we're talking about strategy for a designer, it can mean a mirror out of things depending on what type of designer you are. I know that the panel here, the... Our moderators are focusing on brand or have the focus on brand. But maybe the conversation would be opened up a little bit more into what are we talking about when we're talking about strategy? And I think that's an important aspect because UX designers come from a wide variety of backgrounds. They could come from business consulting and so on and so forth. And you could potentially... I'm not arguing. Actually one way or the other is, is it being a designer enough?
I actually think it is because there's some designers who do want to be a part of creating the strategy for a brand, especially when you're talking about doing consulting as a designer. But I have plenty of friends who are designers who want to just create and not be a part of that bigger strategic picture. They want to be provided with a lighthouse or a compass so to speak, as to what are we designing for? And they enjoy that. So that's really my piece. I'm not really saying hardcore yes or no. I'm saying, I think there's maybe more layers to it than just is being a designer enough when everyone's a strategist. What is strategy in our context for the conversation?

Chris:

Yeah. I think you did that beautifully. I was taking notes furiously here. So this whole triangle thing that you talked about is the three pointed thing. One tip being brand UX and then business and each one approaches it differently, they work together in harmony. Now you said something about brand and I couldn't write that fast. So can you restate what you said about the brand part?

Nicole:

When I think about brand strategy, it's incredibly critical. I think about it from the aspect of a few different vectors. I think about it from the visual standpoint, I think about it from the tone of voice, I think about it from the marketing aspect. But it has a little bit more of that, I want to say more like visually artistic, emotional aspect. Not that UX doesn't, it just has a little bit more of that rational logic side as my... Again, how I see it. But that's where I see brand strategy really coming in. It's an opportunity for visual designers to elevate themselves if they so choose.

Chris:

Now, Nicole, I know who you are but a lot of people here probably don't know who you are. And if they haven't already clicked on your profile to check you out. Where do you fit in this three pointed triangle here?

Nicole:

I fit into the UX strategy. I've definitely worked with some amazing brand strategists and business strategists as well but I would qualify myself more in the UX strategy sphere. Maybe peeking a little bit into the business but more so UX. And I come from user experience, formally working at a global innovations firm now working at an EV startup. So [crosstalk 00:11:04].

Chris:

Thank you. Boom. So sharp. Anneli that was a good first pick.

Anneli:

Yeah, it was. I second everything she said almost but we can go into that later. But I really agree and I also... That's where I see brand strategy. And I do think in this, we don't say brand strategy actually, we say everyone is a strategist. So-

Chris:

[crosstalk 00:11:27].

Anneli:

Yeah. And I do think that is a different thing. And my opinion and what I want to challenge people is why does everybody have to say that they're a brand strategist because you can actually be a strategist on many different levels like you said.

Chris:

Very good.

Anneli:

Do you agree?

Nicole:

Yes, I do. I didn't know if you were asking [crosstalk 00:11:47].

Anneli:

Yeah.

Nicole:

My bad. Yeah, no, I do agree. That's actually... Even the main point of even bringing it up, is brand strategy is one aspect of it. Maybe you have a background in business and you don't even realize that you can leverage that in visual design or you can leverage that in your consulting or you can leverage that if you're doing UX. I think sometimes people think, I moved from business to now UX. So that's all I do. I think some of the best designers are able to bring their backgrounds together in a way that really elevates them or strengthens their skillset.

Chris:

Well, speaking of elevating, thank you for elevating the conversation. That was a wonderful bar to raise there and now everybody else is going to have to try to live up to it. Okay. Here's what we're going to do, Drigo, you pick the next person. And then from there, I think that person will pick the next person. Okay? So we'll play a game of tag. So Drigo tag someone.

Rodrigo:

I'm going to tag Andrew because he actually used Twitter to ask this question and raise his hand up.

Chris:

I like that. So he's playing along with our protocol, beautiful.

Andrew:

Chris, I was actually listening with my dad. And we had a really great time listening to you guys go off with flair but we had a question when it comes to the title of this. And it was, when you say, "Everyone seems to be a strategist." Who does this encompass? And how does that balance against who is a designer in comparison?

Chris:

Yeah. So let's tackle that question one part at a time. And I say to everyone, I'm saying it [inaudible 00:13:15] it's hyperbolic for me to say that. But it does seem like when you start panning through people's profile, especially in Clubhouse, as I look at everybody all of a sudden like strategy is the hot word. Where a couple of years ago used to be branding. So somebody would design a logo, they would call themselves a brander. "I design brands." I'm like, "No, you design logos and that's cool. And I like... I love that. And some people design identity systems." And then they say they're branders, I'm like, "Well, no. You design identity systems. That's why we have words and the words have meaning." And it goes on and on. I think Nicole did a great job saying if you're in the brand strategy space you are responsible for the emotional, visual expression of a company but also for the tone of voice, the messaging and the marketing applications and a lot of other things actually.
And if you truly embrace the word a brand, it's pretty much all the touch points that a consumer or an audience is going to have with a company. So it could be the space that you're in, the packaging, how somebody treats you on customer service. So if you true brand designer you need to touch a few more things than just the way something looks. You're leaving behind a lot but that's just my take on it. And I don't pretend to be the king of any definition. I'm just sharing with you that take. So if you want to, Andrew, scroll through a couple of people's profiles and you'll see what I'm talking about. Now, granted, I freely admit this, my sample size is very small. I'm not [inaudible 00:14:41] talking... Trying to read everyone's profile but a few profiles I look into, especially from the last three weeks, it does seem to be within the creative community. Everybody's adding the word strategists in there because I think they're feeling left out. And I also speculate that by adding that word they add cache and potentially they think they're going to be able to charge more for what they do. I don't know. Back to you, Andrew.

Andrew:

That actually makes a lot of sense. I see how you're drawing the lines there. If I can fall follow up on that, my question then becomes, where do you think a threshold is? Don't use the FOMO, don't take on that title, strategist. Be bold in your statement that you are a designer, don't fall into the trap of being a strategist. Do you think that there's a threshold of talents, skillset, where do you think that line lies?

Chris:

Yeah. It's dangerous to have a person versus a committee that's been elected or nominated to define that line. I think in Canada, there's an organization called RGD and it's professional practices for Registered Graphic Designers, that's what it stands for. You have to take a test. You have to maintain your certification. It's like a government recognized organization so I think that's really beautiful. And that makes a lot of sense to me. So one person me telling you where that line exists wouldn't be accurate fair or it would be actually really arrogant for me to do this. I do also want and draw a slight distinction here. I want to talk about this in that... Because we talked about on our last call. This whole idea of being an order taker.
Now, I think that label, nobody here aspires to be an order taker. And I used to be an order taker, literally I was the fry boy at Arby's. It's like, "You want the large fry? The extra large? You want extra crispy. You want the crisp... The curly fries or what do you want?" And I got to get it to them fast. So I was literally an order taker and I did not love that job. I didn't last in that job very long because I thought to myself, "This is not a good use of my creative brain." And so when clients dictate terms to us, how we work, how it should be produced, what color it should be, what points size it should be, I feel I lose a sense of myself and autonomy and my ability to make creative decisions.
So I don't know a whole lot of people who are signing up for the order taker course. And so the opposite is to be a leader but you don't have to be a strategist to be leader. By developing your craft and becoming a master at it one day, through repeated exposure to the same problem, through lots of practice, through grit, hard work and determination, you ascend and move above all the other people who call themselves the same thing that you call them or they call themselves. So if you're a designer and you've been practicing your craft long enough and you've achieved some level of mastery, you will rise above. And so those people tend to get much of the claim and the bigger projects and high profile assignments. And in that way their clients perceive them as a person to lead the project versus being told what to do. So I'll draw that line there.

Anneli:

I also want to add it depends also about how... Where you work. If you work in a bigger agency, for example, you will have a brand strategist in the team and you can really focus in as a designer. If you have your own agency or a really small one I think that is a different thing because you need to know... You don't need to be a brand strategist at all. But you need to know that a more of the strategic thinking behind the design. So you can actually guide the client. And I think that is a different thing by calling yourself a strategist. You know what I mean, Andrew?

Andrew:

Yeah. I know that's brilliant but I actually think that you guys did a better job of defining the regions without drawing a line. And I think that's it's really, really well done. I have lots of follow up but I'll probably just tweet them and pass the time to someone else because I'm not going to be greedy here.

Chris:

Thank you, Andrew. I also have to say following Nicole, you did an excellent job, super precise and sharp. I love the rate and pace in which this room is moving you all, this is really exciting to me. No BS. There's no fat on this meat or whatever, there's no shell or husk on this fruit in case you're a vegan. Don't want to insult anybody there. Let's keep it moving. So Andrew, you get to pick the next person.

Andrew:

Oh.

Chris:

Yeah.

Andrew:

Let's go with Walt. Walt, what you got?

Chris:

Beautiful. Walt, you're up. What's on your mind?

Walt:

What's going on [inaudible 00:19:11]? What's going on Chris? [inaudible 00:19:12].

Chris:

Hey. Hey.

Walt:

Look, I think the bigger question here is how far do you want to go in the design world? Before you even ask this question. Because, if you eventually want to be an executive creative director or chief creative officer, that's one thing. If you just want to create, then your first come concern most certainly should actually be ageism. Because in this space of advertising like a mid-level designer at the age of 40 plus you lose your job, it's going to be a damn hard job time finding one. But if your answer is yes, you want to be a ECD or a CCO then you absolutely should be a strategist. You should absolutely be a seller. You should be a data scientists, you should be a marketer, you should be an innovator.
You see the chief creative officer and ECD of yesterday, even of like three years ago is not what those roles are today and moving forward. And if you're behind the ball on that, you're going to get left behind. So, the lines are starting to blur because of the methods of engagement and how we now have to engage consumers through transformative technology. So it is understanding how you get to a persona, it is understanding how you apply that data from that persona into like dynamic creative optimization. It is understanding that advertising in and of itself is about eliciting an emotion from someone. And it's not like, again, like 20 or 30 years ago when all you had to do was simply come up with good copy in which you thought was some good print and and simply spray and pray out to the entire world. It's about understanding the entire consumer journey. Chris, you mentioned touch points. It's taken that consumer journey and then understanding how you then translate that into consumer touch points meaning what digital platforms.
So understanding even that means you have to be a creative technologist as well. So it's about humanizing every opportunity you get to create when your brand is introduced to a person. So it means you have to be really damn good across the board with the slew of things, beyond just a strategist and the designer.

Chris:

Walt, I got to ask you a question since you're an advertising veteran. Based on this question, for you, from your perspective as a leader, as an ECD, is being a designer enough for people who come under your wing and into your department?

Walt:

No-

Rodrigo:

[inaudible 00:21:33]-

Walt:

Go ahead.

Rodrigo:

What is an ECD [inaudible 00:21:36]?

Chris:

ECD, executive creative director.

Rodrigo:

Okay [inaudible 00:21:39].

Chris:

Yes. Thank you.

Walt:

Yeah. Sorry. So it's like under a CEO, so it's the chief creative officer. Under chief creative officer sits executive creative director. Under that is a group creative director and so on and so forth. So and ECD is essentially responsible for multiple lines of business across an agency. That's it, really. But to answer your question, Chris, no. No, it's not. So I'll tell you even when I interview candidates, I like to... Look, you can find a good... And I said, this last time we were speaking, good designers you can find a dime a dozen. I could... You could find them everywhere. But what I look for is a designer who can speak really well and present really well. What I look for is a designer who thinks out of the box, meaning they have to be strategic.
I look for an individual who is inventive. When they're able to look at an empty canvas and understand, "Here's all the different things we can actually do with that." So when we talk about design, no, it's absolutely not good enough just to be designer, not in today's world. Because there's too many out there that you could cherry pick from. You have to know a ton of shit beyond just UX UI.

Chris:

Well, thanks for sharing your perspective. I mean-

Walt:

Thanks [crosstalk 00:22:50].

Chris:

... you must have a deep well of talented designers because I don't have that same experience as you. When you say a good designer is a dime a dozen, man, you have a pretty good dozen over there because for me finding a good designer is oftentimes like a needle on the haystack. But I get it, you're a big impressive agency and you have access and art buyers to bring you the best of the best. And the best of the best are going to reach out to you. So there, you have the pick of the litter. But I was just thinking though, in your position, if somebody was an amazing typographer who can kick everyone's when it comes to doing a killer layout, you're saying that if you're not good with clients, if you don't possess these other skills, you'll... That's not enough anymore?

Walt:

No, necessarily no, no, no. [crosstalk 00:23:31]-

Chris:

Okay. Okay.

Walt:

... definitely not right?

Chris:

Right.

Walt:

Definitely not. But what I look for is someone is more well rounded.

Chris:

Yeah.

Walt:

Because now a designer is doing way more than just simple like Wireframe stuff and UI stuff but absolutely way more. You have to have someone who really thoroughly understands, I mean, in digital advertising and totally understands that landscape.

Chris:

Right. Okay.

Nicole:

Yeah. Okay.

Walt:

It's really what separates the good from the incredible

Nicole:

Chris, is it okay if I add one thing here? [crosstalk 00:24:00]-

Chris:

Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead.

Nicole:

... we switch. So I think I... Walt, by the way, it's nice to meet you and thanks for your thoughts. I wanted to add to that and maybe repackage it in my own summary in my head. Ultimately we're talking about the multifaceted nature of the design industry. And each designer is going to come to you at the whatever level they're at and with that level comes a certain toolbox. And they have things in their toolbox and experience as part of it, their contexts and so on and so forth and also their hard skills. And Chris this goes back to thinking about the T-shaped creative we always used to talk about. And I think that's part of this conversation. It's the ideas that you would have a broad set of skills that you have some semblance of understanding and knowledge around and have that deep core focus that is your bread and butter that is what's going to be that thing people come to you for. Whether that'd be typography, whether that'd be you're the best prototyper, you're super fast, you can make amazing prototypes. You can... If you're in UX and whatever that thing might be. So I think I'm only bringing this up because I feel maybe we might be terrifying some of the more junior designers on the line to say they have to suddenly be able to cover a full web of things.
That will happen actually organically as you go through projects, as you work with other designers, as you build your skillsets. It's not to say that coming as a junior designer obviously having multiple interests and multiple things that you're working on and building and growing yourself and your portfolio and so forth. But ultimately what you're doing is you're building that toolbox so that if you do want to, as Walt said, move up into being an ECD or being a creative director and so forth, those skills will be required from that strategic thinking and having that multifaceted nature. But it's not something you need to come fully out of the gate or isn't expected at least in the people I interview if I know they're junior or mid level. That they have that full package right out of the gate. I think that would be almost posing in a way and at least now I can tell when that's what the case is. Be yourself, show your interest and show what your toolbox is but you don't have to oversell it and be everything to everyone.

Walt:

I absolutely agree with you.

Chris:

Now I want to have a variety of voices to contribute to this discussion. Because if we only get a couple in here it's going to skew one way or the other. So if we have people at Walt's level at these really big cutting edge advertising agencies and then it's going to start to skew one way. So let's mix it up a little bit. Anneli, I think you wanted to say something.

Anneli:

Yeah. I just wanted to add that my experience it's also very different. I want to take it back a little bit to the smaller agencies and [inaudible 00:26:56] entrepreneurs but it is different if you're in a UX advertising world comparison to a branding agency for example. If you're a graphic designer, really good at your craft and you work at a branding agency, my opinion is still that you can be a really, really good designer. And I think designers like that it's really difficult to find, to be honest. So I think we talk a little bit about different words here. So I just wanted to say that so-

Chris:

Perfect.

Anneli:

... maybe we can take the mix.

Chris:

Yeah. So I think Walt you get to pick the next person.

Walt:

Okay. Yeah. All right. Let's go with Jason. I know Jason has been waiting a bit.

Jason:

Yeah. Hello team. How are you?

Walt:

Good [inaudible 00:27:40].

Chris:

Hey Jason.

Jason:

Hey Chris. So my answer is both. So what I mean by that is I think you need a strategist and I think you also need a collaborator with strategy. So I think that the piece that people have touched on but maybe not explored is that all of this is around collaboration. And so if you start as a designer, which I did and I now run I guess you'd call it micro or one man strategy team and with a whole bunch of people that I plug into a project, for me it's about the collaboration. So I definitely need a genius designer and I definitely need a genius copywriter and so that's definitely enough. But you also need someone in that strategy level to solve the left and the right brain.

Chris:

Perfect. Thanks for contributing, Jason. Jason, you pick the next person please.

Jason:

Sure. Kathy, you're up.

Kathy:

Hey everyone. So we've heard a couple of perspectives from the agency side and I come from the tech industry. When I saw this question and I thought about it through like a tech and product strategy perspective. And so for me I'm a product designer. And the difference between a designer that just designs and the designer that also is a product strategist is that, do they just do what they're told to do and they make things pretty? They make things like... They make the UI intuitive. Or do they take the time to understand what is the underlying root cause or business cause for why we're building a specific feature in a particular way at a particular time? And I love that earlier Nicole brought up these triangles and in the tech world the triangle, the trifecta, is product designers, product managers and engineers.
And although product managers are the ones who traditionally own the strategy, their job is to prioritize features on the roadmap. They plan for the entire quarter. And they're like, "Here are the main things we have to get done by the end of Q1, Q2." And so that's all strategy but it's so, so, so important for designers and engineers as well to be part of that conversation. You can't do whatever the PM says because you're on the ground, you're creating it, you know the product better than anyone. And so you have to think, is that the best experience for our users? Is that the best strategy going forward? Is there something better we can explore? All of that is strategy. So my answer is yes. Well, technically the answer to the question would be no. So my stance is being a strategist is so important for any designer especially in the tech industry.

Chris:

Okay. I think what you're saying, if I may just quickly recap there is that in your experience in the tech space you don't want an automaton no matter what role you play. You don't want just somebody like how high, how far, what color because that doesn't serve anybody. So as the baton is being handed around between engineer, product manager and project designer, each person has to ask questions and think ahead. And that's how the team succeeds, right?

Kathy:

Yeah. That's a great summary, Chris.

Chris:

Okay, beautiful. Thank you very much Kathy for your contribution. How about you tag the next person?

Kathy:

[Tess 00:30:49]

Speaker 9:

Hey. So I'm a management consultant and I help my clients run some RFP processes. So for those of you who don't know RFPs are the proposal process. And when it comes to the word strategy or the word strategist I think what I sometimes find when I'm running design RFPs is that people don't necessarily know what it means from both ends. And that's when the proposal process becomes really confusing for both parties. So a recent RFP that I ran, there was an agency that submitted a proposal and for context, this is a six figure project. Their whole pitch was built around strategy. But unfortunately the client end, which was on my end, was not able to receive a clear articulation on what they mean by a strategic approach. And they fell off of the RFP process just based on that. So my take on this is that if a designer wants to put on a title such as strategies, you need to be clear on what exactly you mean by that and what exactly you will deliver for your client from that end.

Anneli:

Okay. That's great. Can you define how you... Can you define strategy for us [inaudible 00:32:11]?

Speaker 9:

Yeah. I think from a definition perspective I align with Nicole that it really depends on what area it is in. In the context of design strategy I would think about it as where you are at and where you're going, Emily.

Anneli:

Yeah. Okay. So it depends on... Okay. So I just wanted to, because you said that people don't have [inaudible 00:32:36] strategy, so it's easy for us to say that. But I just wanted to, can we really talk about what it is more than just where we are and where we want to go? Can you explain it a little bit more?

Speaker 9:

Just to make sure I'm understanding your question right, you want me to explain what I understand strategy to be?

Anneli:

How you see, how you define strategy because you started with people don't often understand what strategy is. So I just wanted to hear, can you explain? Because there are a lot of people who don't understand strategy. So I just wanted to hear your take on it.

Speaker 9:

Yeah, exactly. So if you're referring to that comment specifically, what I mean by that is that people have different interpretation on what strategy is. And from my point of view strategy... In the context of work that I deliver, I deliver a lot of market strategy work. So that means I look at market sizes and market opportunities for my clients. And I define strategy to be the steps that my clients should take to go from where they are today and where they want to be in the future. Be it market acquisitions, delivering certain type of programs to do cost savings, new branding so that they can reposition themselves in the market. Yeah. Does that answer your question?

Anneli:

Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So where we are... From wherever we are today to where we want to go and the long-term plan, the different steps how to get there.

Speaker 9:

Yeah. Yeah.

Anneli:

Yeah. Okay. Thank you. I just thought that, that was interesting for people maybe to have a definition. I don't say that we have the big definition of it, but I do think it's important to.

Chris:

Yeah. So at this point, Harris, I'm going to pick the next person and because I'm holding his book right now, it's Mark Pollard. And Mark has written a book called Strategy is Your Words. It's 400 pages long. I think he has a word or two to say about this. So Mark welcome.

Mark Pollard:

What's up Chris?

Chris:

How's it going, man?

Mark Pollard:

[inaudible 00:34:34] the designer because being a designer is so, so much and I spent 10 years around website design before I moved into the main parts of advertising. And I understand that this room is largely a design room and not an advertising room. I just want to talk to the designers. I love you. It's just so impressive what you do. And when I've tried to hire people for projects of my own or I've interviewed people in big agencies, if someone comes in and they're a designer but they start to hedge their bets by saying graphic design, UX design, UI design, brand strategy, it feels really distracted to me. And the way that I've started to see this, as an Ozzie in New York, is that there's immense pressure on Americans to be individuals. Number one in individualism in the world and they want the world to see them in their fullness. And I'm important and I'm going to use these titles to stand out. Designer? Perfect.
Be the best designer you can be. I would start with that. And then as far as definitions of strategy, I could bore you for 400 pages about that, which I won't do right now. I think it's really important that some people have mentioned here to call out what are we talking about here. So to me in the most secular sense strategy is an informed opinion about how to win. Then we get to talk about business strategy, brand strategy, social strategy, content strategy. But in the most secular sense, as in when you're not doing anything to do with business or having ideas, if you're just talking to yourself and you've got a battle, as you were talking about earlier imposter syndrome, how am I going to win against imposter syndrome? What's my strategy going to be? Informed opinion about how to win. Research and then opinion. You're going to make it up. And so that's where I come in on the definition. But designers, you're incredible. Please [inaudible 00:36:25] because being a designer is amazing.

Chris:

Thanks for saying that Mark. Okay Mark, do you want to pick the next person? Thanks for contributing by the way. And you and I will have to have a conversation at a separate club house at one point. I need to finish reading the book. So once I do that I think I'll have an informed opinion too.

Mark Pollard:

It's a strange book my man. [inaudible 00:36:45] Marianna [inaudible 00:36:46] she's been really patient.

Chris:

Awesome. Thank you very much.

Marianna:

Hi everyone. I had a question on expertise. If having a degree is not enough, how many years of experience or how many projects do you need to have in your portfolio to really claim your title or expertise?

Chris:

Wow! Okay. My general response to that is as few pieces as necessary. I think a mistake that a lot of creative people make is they have a few pieces they're proud of that fit the company they're applying to. And because they were told some artificial numbers, some arbitrary number of pieces they need to show, that they start to pad the portfolio and include things that are not relevant to the company they're applying to. Some of the companies looking at that work they see this great work and then they see this other work that seems a little weird and off putting. And then they get scared and they start to think about I wonder which person's going to show up. The person who did these three amazing pieces or these five other weird things that don't seem to fit. And I'm just going to tell you a little short story about how I got my first job in advertising.
A friend of mine who was a copywriter graduated before me. She had got hired at an ad agency in Seattle and she's like, "Chris, you should apply for this job. I need a partner. I need an art director." And I looked through my portfolio, there was a lot of irrelevant work. Work that wasn't appropriate for advertising. And I put together four pieces thinking to myself there's no way I'm going to get this job. I'm going to send it in just because they say you miss all the shots you don't take. So I took the shot. I put it in a FedEx box, I shipped it on up. And lo and behold, I got the job offer. And all it took was four pieces. Most informed hiring people, especially if they have a background in creative, they can spot good work right away. And you can see it a mile away. You see one piece. Okay, I get it. So one won't. Two might. Three will. Three establishes a pattern. You're consistent enough. I see your thinking. That is enough. Do not put any extra work in there. Did I answer your question?

Marianna:

Yes. Thank you. There was one other thing. I think the reason why I say having a degree is not enough is because there's things that I did not learn in college which I am right now learning on my own and filling the gaps. So sometimes I feel like I'm not enough or it's not enough. So I guess that's why [inaudible 00:39:05] doubtful to call myself a graphic designer because I feel like I'm missing certain things that I'm still learning.

Chris:

Okay. That's good. I think high self-awareness is really super important. I think it's okay for you to call yourself a graphic designer and then immediately fill the gap between where you are and where you want to be. I guess, according to Mark, that's your strategy right there. You want to be a graphic designer, you claim that, you plant that flag in the ground and you do everything you can to acquire the skills as quickly as you can to get there. And then you keep doing that repeatedly over time and continuous learning. It's an infinite loop.

Anneli:

Nice take on it as well. Claim it a little bit before you're ready.

Chris:

Yeah. Claim it before you 100% ready. Beautiful. Thanks for that reminder Emily.

Greg Gunn:

Time for a quick break. But we'll be right back.

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Greg Gunn:

Welcome back to our conversation.

Chris:

Okay. Marianna, you want to pick the next person?

Marianna:

Yes. Cassandra.

Cassandra:

Hey guys. Quick question. Am I asking the question or am I answering is being a designer enough?

Chris:

You could do either.

Cassandra:

Okay. I know earlier in the call someone said something about you need to have a set direction of where you want to go. And I'm a graphic designer right now and I would like to be a creative director and just make my way up in that sense. I'm at a brand strategy design agency. And so I'm in a niche market. So how do I jump into the ad agency world from brand strategy because it's just such a different portfolio?

Chris:

I think Mark should answer this question.

Mark Pollard:

It is a very different portfolio. It is. What I think you would need to do to jump into advertising is have a very conceptual portfolio. So if you haven't done it, going to some portfolio score, literally what it's called, with eight to 12 weeks I'd run you through a bootcamp to come up with ideas. I think it's useful. And you usually get to meet art directors and copywriters who are practicing in the industry as well. It is different. It's similar to when a researcher wants to leap into a strategy or an account planning role. And account planning, I don't know if anyone's familiar with it, that's the original name of strategy in advertising. 50 years ago in London it became a profession. It's been in American for 20 to 30 years.
Very different flavors of strategy. But for what you're trying to do you need to be able to show conceptual thinking. And what I try to encourage people with their portfolios is to think of trying to commit acts of brinkmanship. So that when you share your work, when you share your ideas, that they're clearheaded and provocative and daring. And that that person who might be very senior to you when they're looking at it you want them to think, "I wish I had done that. That is incredible. I am scared and I need that person." I feel a lot of portfolios are too obedient and too calm. But if you want to get into a really progressive advertising agency, you want to scare them a little.

Chris:

Cassandra, how are we doing on that?

Cassandra:

That was amazing. Honestly, it was a really good, clear picture. Thank you, Mark.

Chris:

Okay. Mark, I got a question for you since we have you up here for a little bit. You write in your book, all ideas are thoughts but not all thoughts are ideas. Can you explain that?

Mark Pollard:

I can. And I also don't want to dominate because I can talk about this all day. It's what I've built my life around. Let's start with the word idea. Ideas are combinations of at least two things that don't usually belong together. Edward de Bono, very famous writer, referred to this as lateral thinking. Lateral thinking is taking two topics and bringing them together as in going across topic. So lateral is a fancy word for across. Going down a line of thought that is called linear thinking, linear line. So to understand what an idea is in a way that it is in our industry is to separate just random things you think about from combining topics in new ways that are useful. But that's really paraphrasing Edward de Bono. Now, if I have a thought such as my desk is brown, in some respects I guess you could say we've just combined the word desk with the word brown.
But I can't do anything with that, as an idea it exists. There's nothing new about it. I'm just reporting. If I say to you, Chris, if I come to LA and I want to get a creator, great idea, Mark, but that's not what we're talking about. We're not talking about concepts. And what I would add on to this is that [inaudible 00:45:25] working with people, we talk about ideas, I try to use that word very sparingly. It's like the word insight. Use it very sparingly, otherwise it disappears. And because a lot of this conversation is going to be about words as most conversations can be, there's a concept called monogamous words. And what this research suggests is that we tend to remember words that have fewer meanings or fewer alternate meanings. As in words that don't cheat. So if you think of the word pineapple, most people in this room will know what a pineapple is.
Ironically, in the same research, they looked at words like concept and execution and probably empowerment and things like that, which we use all the time but they don't have clear meanings to everybody. And I think one of the issues in the strategy world or the brand strategy world is that I see decks of tens and tens of slides with all these words that don't make any sense. And so as Cassandra was talking or to anyone who's thinking about putting a strategy portfolio together, let alone something that's conceptual, I'm just like, "Tell me one thing I haven't thought of and do it in a really clear headed way." So ideas combine things that don't usually belong together. Not all thoughts do that, right? Because the idea is going to be something that's novel and something that we can potentially use, something that we can do something with.

Chris:

Beautiful. Thank you very much. This is how you know Mark's also a writer. He can sum up things very succinctly and he's well-read obviously. In case you're joining us, we are about 48 minutes into our conversation. Today in theory we are going to be talking about is being a designer enough when everyone else is saying that they are strategists of some sort? So there's a lot of different thinking here. And I just love that Mark dropped in, dropped the little nugget, a bomb on us and we're richer for the experience. I'll pick the next person and we've seen him before. Richie, what's on your mind?

Richie:

Hey, what's up guys? So I'll get straight to my question and I'm hoping it's okay I could switch the word designer for videographers. Okay?

Chris:

Yeah.

Richie:

So my question is, how can a... I was trying to find the right words to appraise it, but essentially what kind of strategies can the videographers specialize in to make themselves more valuable as a business?

Chris:

Good question. I think Drigo has an answer. Drigo, you're in. Tag.

Rodrigo:

Thanks Chris. It's an honor. Richard's comment. So I think for a videographer the first steps is and you know this is contextualizing your video to the right platform. But what has been the most beneficial for me and what I do for the businesses I work with is understanding YouTube. YouTube for businesses has such an immense of growth from organic to paid traffic. It's the world's second largest search engine. If you could dominate that as a videographer and offer that as a service to any business you are ahead of the game.

Richie:

Got it. Okay. I thought so because I feel when a client comes to meet you with a product or whatever they want to get across. They share their story, what they want to sell and my mind as a creative, I'm already thinking who's their audience? How can I film this to tell the story, going to engage the audience or potential buyer? So I think that's a strategy in itself, isn't it?

Rodrigo:

For sure and the same way for me, I'll start backwards with what's your goal? It goes back to why this, why now, why me? But why are you shooting this video? What are you trying to do? And they're going to tell you their goal and then you start backwards from that goal and figure out, is this going to live on Facebook? Is this going to go on Instagram or is this going to be a Hulu commercial? Is this going to go on YouTube? How can you use video? And then you break down what you said through the demographic, all those different things.

Chris:

It would help you if you engage the client in defining the goals as something that's quantifiable. Not always the case sometimes, it's qualitative and they want to feel good and it'll make them feel better. And if you can make it something that you can measure at least then now you have a hint as to the goal that they want you to achieve. And I'm speaking very broadly here. Your main purpose of the video is A, to be easily found so you're going to have to use some techniques about the way that you optimize it for search engine. And then also the result that the video's supposed to produce. So an effective video that can't be found, isn't effective. A video that's found but doesn't get the results you want is also then therefore ineffective.
And I think what happens a lot of times is we in the craft space we fall in love with the things that we make it and the beauty. And we focus on the things that only matter to a handful of other people, our peers. So what it looks like, the transitions, the lensing, you might even talk about the sensor but then you realize none of that matters any bit to the client at all. Unless it's a tech demo there's really no point in talking about that. So if you can engage your client in the ultimate purpose of the video and sometimes you have to be okay with the answer that there is no purpose. You should not do this and you should do your best then to advise the client to spend their money elsewhere.

Richie:

Got it. Thank you. I love what you said about basically if you can't find the video it's ineffective and vice versa.

Chris:

Okay. Richie, you get to pick the next person go.

Richie:

All right. I don't want to butcher your name, Humaira?

Humaria:

You got it. Humaira.

Richie:

Almost. Thank You.

Chris:

You're very generous with saying you got it. You have a question or comment for us on this fine Sunday night?

Humaria:

Awesome. I'm loving this discussion. I'm almost wondering if I switch the word, is being a strategist enough when everyone is a designer, how would everyone feel in this room?

Chris:

That's a good twist too. I love that. You're really thinking here. All right, I guess that would be problematic.

Humaria:

It would be problematic. So when do you feel enough? And I think the question is, without going into a long story, I promise to keep it really brief but my career I started out as a graphic designer in the corporate industry. And the funny thing is in that company there was no such thing as designer. So I was the first designer being hired in the company. They had no standards, nothing. They didn't even know what color palette was or a presentation was. So a lot of the seeds and the building blocks were built. And I honestly think that there comes a point in our career that we think that it's not enough and we need to evolve and grow [inaudible 00:52:14] certain thing and somebody that we want to become.
So the question is really, when do you feel that it's enough? So I grew out of that position, I've outgrown. And I always had this feeling as a graphic designer that everybody comes to me for this, "We need a brochure. Can you design this for us?" And I had a very, a small... I don't know how to explain it but it was, I felt very small, not a highly of myself. Like everybody treats me as someone who draws these pretty things.
So until I quit my job and one of the founders sent me an email and he said, "I think the company is going to lose someone really important because no one is able to translate and execute the way you do." And it made me realize that a designer can bring so much to the table when you make yourself understand, make yourself valuable in those situations. So it really... It's how you see it. And I think it took me a long time and until I actually joined PicturePro, I realized I'm not that great of a designer.

Chris:

I'm so sorry. That's not the intended effect. My God.

Humaria:

Some amazing designers. You've curated Chris and I see some of them and then I realized maybe that's just not my path. So I naturally evolved into a strategist and I think every designer has some sort of a strategist DNA in them. And it's a matter of adopting somehow, it's in them. And I think it's a natural progression for a lot of us, if we see it.
And if we start asking questions and I think in my career going back, if I could rewind I wish I asked more questions. If somebody gave me a brochure design or something and I should have asked who is this for? Why are we doing this? And what are we trying to accomplish? Sometimes we designers, we are so naive we just do it. And we are trying to please someone. There's a people pleasing aspect in us, that is so buried in us, right. So those things like I said, I wish I had the wisdom that I have now.

Chris:

Okay.

Humaria:

Anyway-

Chris:

Yes. I think the one thing that you brought to the conversation is to have that self-awareness to know where your strengths and your weaknesses are. And you gave it a good go. And then you found that, my skills and my talents are better suited here. And then you work on developing that expertise and that's a wonderful and organic process. Humaira who would you like to pick to go next?

Humaria:

I like Ravens. [inaudible 00:55:30]-

Chris:

Okay.

Humaria:

[inaudible 00:55:33] a color there-

Rodrigo:

Also [crosstalk 00:55:36] Ravens you're killing it with the notes on Twitter. I appreciate everything. The hard work you're putting in on Twitter with all the recaps.

Chris:

All right. All right.

Ravens:

[crosstalk 00:55:46] Yeah, thanks. Okay. So I heard Humaria say one is enough to get the title that we want but also Anneli was saying about, never claim the title of your neighbor. How to say, never claim who you are not. So how do we balance this two opinion. Am I clear?

Chris:

You're clear. You directed a question to Anneli and Anneli's going to have to figure out how to answer that question. You were so clear on that.

Ravens:

Yeah. Thanks.

Chris:

She quoted you on something Anneli that I wasn't aware that you said?

Anneli:

I don't think she quoted me right. To be honest because I just quoted Blair and Blair said that you can actually claim something, a little bit before you're ready. That's what he said.

Chris:

Yes.

Anneli:

Yes.

Chris:

Is that what you're referring to Ravens?

Ravens:

Can you say one more time, please?

Anneli:

You can actually claim something a little bit before you are ready. And then-

Ravens:

[crosstalk 00:56:47]. Okay.

Anneli:

Yeah. That's what he said. Yeah.

Ravens:

Okay. So here's where I am confused because I never feel that I'm ready.

Chris:

That's where you go with the five C's, to summon the courage, to commit to something, to build confidence, something like that from a... You'll never be ready to be honest. You're never ready. You have to have a little courage and go for it.

Ravens:

So you should have the courage to claim the title, then go for it.

Chris:

Yes.

Ravens:

Yeah. Okay. Okay.

Chris:

Are you okay with that?

Ravens:

Yes, I'm okay with this.

Chris:

Okay. Beautiful. All right.

Anneli:

Thank you so much.

Chris:

Why don't you pick the next person please?

Anneli:

Is [Yoni 00:57:25] speak?

Chris:

Yeah. Yoni go ahead.

Speaker 21:

Yeah. Hey. Okay. So first of all thanks for bringing me on stage, I'm going to try and do this by defining terms and see if that answers the question. So I'll start with strategy, I think my definition of strategy is, strategy is the thing that connects your mission to your vision. Your vision is a future state of the world that you aim to bring about. Your mission is the essential behavior that you engage in at all times in an effort to bring that future state of the world about. So therefore your strategy is the thing that connects those two things. It's your plan for activating your behaviors to achieve the ultimate goal. So that's strategy. Design is problem solving. So in that sense, everything is designed. So I would argue that strategy is one type of design. And I say, actually I see on my LinkedIn profile, everything is designed. Design is about people and people seek what they value. So if you do design that speaks to the things that people value, I would say that that's strategic.

Chris:

So I have a question for you. This is perfect. I think you raised some eyebrows here in the room but the question for you is then if I'm a designer, therefore I'm a strategist?

Speaker 21:

Well, I think that's the crux. Because I think my answer to your actual question is being a designer enough when everyone is a strategist is yes but also no. Because I think that it's enough because being a strategist is being a certain kind of designer. But on the other hand, I think you need to be a designer in the sense of designing with people's values and identity in mind, not the product itself.

Chris:

Okay. I want to ask this question maybe one more time. I'm curious what your take on this is. This is going to be very helpful for me in a conversation tomorrow. So bear with me. Okay. Really. This is truly, I'm asking because I would love to hear your take. So you say design is essentially problem solving and strategy then therefore is a subset of design because strategy is a problem that we're going to solve, right. So then therefore following that logic then are all designers strategists?

Speaker 21:

All right I think that's [inaudible 00:59:51]. Well, no. I would say no. I'd say that-

Chris:

Okay.

Speaker 21:

... strategy is doing design with a certain mindset. Which is thinking about people and what they value and your vision and mission and what you're trying to achieve and finding the alignment between those two things.

Chris:

Okay. Maybe we can make this concrete then. In what instance in your mind is the designer not a strategist and in what instance is the designer a strategist? Can we make it concrete and provide maybe one or two examples so I can get my head wrapped around it.

Speaker 21:

I'll try my best. And hopefully I'm not being insanely abstract here. Being a designer who is not a strategist entails looking at your customer, whether that's someone who's seeing an ad or someone who's using your product, through the lens of what you make so that's not strategic. Whereas looking at what you make through the eyes of your user or your customer is being strategic.

Chris:

Yeah. I think there's a difference between being a strategist and strategic thinking. And maybe then I'm chopping words. So for example, if I'm thinking about my customer and I design a logo, am I a strategist?

Speaker 21:

I'll leave... Does someone else want to jump in?

Chris:

Well, okay. I'll tell you what I-

Anneli:

[crosstalk 01:01:19] say no.

Chris:

You probably didn't step into it to want to be pinned down like that. But I'm curious, you can give us an opinion, change your mind later. It's not like I'm asking you to be forever recorded memorialize for saying something like that. But I'm curious. So based on that, by logic rabbit is trying to go down that hole. If I'm thinking about the customer I'm designing for the customer, the end user and I make a logo, am I a strategist? Could you give me a yes or no maybe?

Speaker 21:

I would say if the logo is the outcome of an alignment between the needs or the goals or the identity and values of that person and the objectives of the entity that you're making that logo for, I'd say yes.

Chris:

Okay. Thank you.

Speaker 21:

I don't think the act of making a logo makes you a strategist by in and of itself.

Chris:

Okay. Great. Appreciate the perspective on that one. Okay. Yoni can you pick the next person please?

Speaker 21:

I would love to. I think Michael was here before me so-

Chris:

Okay, Michael it is.

Michael:

Hi, thanks for having me here. And I appreciate all the conversations you've been having as a group over the last week and a little bit before that here on the app. I'm approaching the conversation from an adjacent field in architecture. So we don't have quite have the same terms and roles but I'm also an educator in my field. So something that stands out to me and Chris you mentioned it in the conversation earlier is, within education it's amazing how many people I think follow the norms. And so something that I've noticed about students often and this is even at the graduate level of design education, it's amazing how many students are not thinking years down the road of where they imagine themselves to be within their careers.
It's going from one step to the next and then something that I would second or third because I think it's also been mentioned here previously. Is the amount of how much self awareness is a big part of this conversation. And how little of that, especially within the skills part of the conversation because I think in design fields in general, skills are narrowed down to very, more of the technical things like software or modeling or drafting or whatnot. And there's a whole other entire other categories, I think of not only there's business skills but also communication, interpersonal, emotional skills that I think are rarely built in or assumed within the same way that you view yourself within your field or where you want to be and what type of setting you want to be practicing in. That I think a little bit of work and self awareness and exposure to these things could help especially much younger designers.

Chris:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Michael, can you help me out? Can you summarize really quickly 10 words, what your take on this is? Sorry.

Michael:

That's okay. Sorry. I wanted to contribute in a quick 10 word summary that I think self-awareness is not brought to the surface enough for people to be engaging in like self discovery.

Chris:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Michael:

In understanding how they fit into this type of conversation of do I have to be leading something and strategizing versus being the quote unquote order taker. And that through self-awareness and discovery of your skills and interests. I think that you can find a more nuanced path than what's being fed out there as and either or.

Chris:

I see. So let's not be so binary in our thinking it's either or that there are shades in between and we're good to explore every shade in between. Is that what you're saying?

Michael:

Yeah.

Chris:

Fantastic. Thank you very much, Michael. You get to pick the next person.

Michael:

I'll go with Rena.

Chris:

Okay. Rena is going to be up. Rena, can you start with your summary first? I have about 10 minutes left before I'm going to disappear.

Rena:

Yeah.

Chris:

Yeah.

Rena:

Absolutely.

Chris:

Thank you.

Rena:

So thank you. I am a UX manager at Google and so I wanted to offer a perspective on the in-house tech industry, what Kathy was speaking to earlier.

Chris:

Rena we've talked before on our podcast, haven't we? I'm like, I know you.

Rena:

[crosstalk 01:06:16] great to talk to you about-

Chris:

Don't pretend like you don't know me. How you going to play me like that.

Rena:

It is-

Chris:

You're at Google, wait, hold on a second. I'm going to look you up, right? Yes. We've talked before. Okay, go ahead.

Rena:

We have.

Chris:

What's your take?

Rena:

Yeah. So I wanted to share, so in my experience at Google but also at other tech companies many times there is no distinction between a designer and a strategist role. So as Kathy was speaking to earlier, we sort of have the three in a box cross-functional collaborative model between UXers, product managers and engineers. And this collaboration is seen as so foundational that it's almost expected of designers to also be strategists. And so they're supposed to not only execute excellent design but also understand the domain and business really deeply and directly influence the roadmap. And they're also expected to deeply understand the impact of their design on the brand strategy. So both of these things are so core to the role that, at Google they're actually in the job ladder. So you need to demonstrate this in order to move forward in your career as a designer. And Chris, when you and Yoni were speaking earlier you raised the question of being strategic versus being a strategist. So I think in this context as you grow on the job ladder, you actually shift from being strategic into actually being a strategist. So I wanted talk that perspective.

Chris:

Nice. It's almost like we know each other and we trust each other. Very well done. Okay, Rena. Great. Why don't you pick the next person please?

Rena:

Has Christian gone yet?

Chris:

No, I don't believe so.

Christian:

No I haven't but thank you for nominating me and thank you guys for hosting the group and I hope everybody's doing well and is safe during these confusing times. My statement and question is I think inherently, a creative such as a designer or filmmaker in my case is not a strategist. However, to do excellent work I think you must integrate strategy. Do you personally believe you can create exceptional work without doing or considering strategy in one zone creative field?

Chris:

I believe you can and that depends on the word excellent. So we can all stand around and watch an amazing award-winning film that's sweeping the academy awards and sit there and think that's an excellent film. But it doesn't involve strategy at all. It's a beautiful thing. Art is that way it's transformative and it creates an experience that is beyond the maybe a clearly defined goal. It elicits an emotional response from us. It's transcendent, that's the word I was looking for. So video can do that, like you watch a video and it makes you tear up. Now that might not even be their intention but it can be art. That would be my take on it though.

Christian:

Do you feel that though having that emotional aspect being met without maybe addressing the business needs of your creative work for your client's needs. Would that still overcome that and still say that's excellent. Personally to me, I feel you would have to have both to be in harmony to be considered excellent work when it comes to client work.

Chris:

Well, we're just talking about video and excellence, right? We're not talking videos marketing or videos commercial or videos part of a campaign. Ideally what your video does if it's part of a campaign is that it hits a strategic goal while being artful or artistic and that's the magic sweet spot between the two. But subjectively we can sit around with a bunch of videographer and say that's an excellent video. And I think that happens all the time actually.

Christian:

Cool. Thank you.

Chris:

Thank you. Okay, you get to pick the next person.

Christian:

I'll pick Tanya, has she gone?

Chris:

Nope.

Tanya:

I have not. Thank you so much [inaudible 01:10:16]. Thanks so much. So I have to actually in summarization agree with Rena as well as Humaria. I forget how to pronounce her name. I'm so sorry if you're still on the call I hope I pronounced it correctly as well as Yoni. So I'm a senior manager for UX and product management at Ernst and Young and essentially been working with design and strategy for the last eight years and before that I was in marketing and advertising. I actually went to school for advertising and through my education as well as my professional career, I found that ever since design has moved from print to more interactive screen, it's gotten such a wider definition. So as to speaking to Rena's point, as well as Yoni's point design, it requires so much more to be thought out in terms of you can't put a label on it where you're a certain type of a designer.
I believe especially for newer designers, this is something I learned in my career when I was at a smaller agency. There's something called a T-shaped designer, where you get a little bit of each part of the world of design. Where you have copy, content, testing, research, strategy, and obviously visual design. And that creates the strongest part of you to be a well worth designer to provide the best service that you can to the clients that you work with. So you to summarize it in a... Again it might be controversial in this group because that's the comments I kept hearing but overall I think as a designer, you can definitely choose to be a visual designer and not to say that being a visual designer is not a great thing.
I love doing visual design for fun as well. Just to play around with different ideas without even thinking about things, it really gets the creative juices flowing for me, especially when I'm stuck in a slump. But if you're thinking about getting into design, definitely consider something about the concept of the T-shaped designer and you'll see strategy has such a strong part to play with it because you're not designing aimlessly. You're designing with the thought, you're designing with a conviction. I hope that makes sense. And then finally I wanted through comment for Mark, I checked out your book as well as your Instagram page. It's really awesome. I'm going to check out your book as well. That's all for me. Thank you.

Chris:

And we'll be collecting a royalty on this one. So I want to let Mark know.

Mark Pollard:

It's sold out. Wait till April then you get royalty.

Chris:

Okay. That's also building anticipation. Scarcity, there's the marketing concepts being played here. So let's do this. I only have a few more minutes and [inaudible 01:13:19] and Eric have been super patient. They've been up here in the stack and for a number of reason or the other, they have been called. [inaudible 01:13:25] in a few as words as possible. What's your take on this?

Speaker 28:

I think Humira, Humaira answered the question. My question was, do you have to be a strategist to stop being an order taker? That was my question.

Chris:

And you said it's already been answered.

Speaker 28:

I think she touched on that. I wanted to see your point, your perspective?

Chris:

No, I think we already talked about this. I think if you are an excellent person at whatever craft or trade that you're in. You're going to command the respect and your client's going to allow you to lead. For example, when I'm looking for a beautiful calligrapher who does wonderful hand lettering, I select their work and therefore them based on that and I want them to do what they do best and I don't want to tell them how to do their job. And so then I spend the time selecting the right candidate and based on that they should be allowed to lead. So thank you for that. And now we're going to go to Eric. Eric, you have the last word for tonight. Eric go ahead.

Eric:

Hi, you all. It's a pleasure to meet everybody. So I'll make this quick. My thing is, if you want to say you're a brand strategist only because it's a buzzword. I think that's a bad idea. My thing is be honest. If you make great logos then I would say that you're are largely a designer. If you conduct statistical analysis and marketing research then I think it'd be more valuable for you to say that you're a strategist. My thing is be honest if your value is in design and you're maybe not doing a lot of marketing research then maybe be confident that you're a great designer. Don't follow the buzzword because it's the cool thing to do. That's my take on that. Thank you.

Chris:

Eric. You did a great job. Thank you for ending our call that way. And what you're saying is you got to love who you are and be comfortable with that. And earlier today we're talking about imposter syndrome and feeling less than and it can create all kinds of internal conflict and we don't want to do that. So everybody, whatever you do, whether you're a hand lettering artist, a typographer, a typeface designer, an advertising, an app person, a market strategist, whatever it is that you do just embrace it while working on growing your skillset. And I think there we won't have any argument. So I want to thank every single person who's joined us today, for Mark whose book is sold out. But Mark you and I will probably need to have a conversation offline. Maybe we get you on the show or something like that if you're able and willing.
And for my moderators, Anneli and Rodrigo for doing such a great job today. If you guys haven't done so already give them a follow check up, check on their avatar. Drigo I just noticed something. There's a new option I hadn't noticed before that when people are up here, we can mark them as a troll. Did you see that? So somebody comes into our room and they to start throwing some garbage around you could mark them as a troll and end it. I think that's pretty cool.

Rodrigo:

I'll update my app.

Chris:

Yeah. Well, I saw on somebody. I don't know why it appeared so that's cool. Apparently they're working on some new updates and I'm looking forward to that. Okay guys, I hope you had a wonderful Sunday hanging out with us. If not, I apologize you can't get your money back. And it maybe Monday morning for some of you.
Now, I want to remind everybody tomorrow at 9:00 AM Pacific Standard Time, my friend Frankie Margotta is going to be joining me. We're going to have the strategy debate. It's going to be sassy. It's going to be spicy and I'm looking forward to it. I hope you're able to join us tomorrow at 9:00 AM Pacific Standard Time. And then at 7:00 PM Pacific Standard Time, we're going to go into day eight, the one without pitching manifesto will Blair ends. We're rounding the home stretch here. I hope you've enjoyed that series. We're almost done and with that good night. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. Wherever you are. You're always welcome here. Take care everybody.

Greg Gunn:

Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already subscribed to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us at every week. The Futur podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Barrow for editing and mixing this episode and thank you to [Adam 01:17:29] Sandborn for our intro music. If you enjoy this episode then do us a favor by reading and reviewing our show on Apple podcasts. It'll help us grow the show and make future episodes that much better. Have a question for Chris or me, head over to thefutur.com/heychris and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours in a later episode. If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit thefutur.com. You'll find video courses, digital products, and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

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