Musings: Pretend to Know What You’re Doing

“Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.”

—Bre Pettis and Kyo Stark, Cult of Done Manifesto

Musings: The Impressive Difference

Our short musings on design, branding, business and the human condition.

What’s the difference between trying hard to impress someone, and just being plain impressive?

The first allows a lack of confidence to push you into action, even if it’s unwise or hastily-planned. The second is just a state of being, allowing some internal strength, competence, or other compelling quality to shine. The harder you’re trying, the less impressive it will probably seem.

Feb 11 2013

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Musings: Saul Bass On Presentations

Our short musings on design, branding, business and the human condition.

“I often think that presentations are more difficult than the work itself. A presentation has to share just enough of the process so that someone who has not been a participant can understand the ‘inevitability’ of the solution, and that the solution is the culmination of a rigorous and systematic investigation of all reasonable possibilities. It’s surprising how hard that can be sometimes.”

-Saul Bass, from Saul Bass: A Life In Film And Design

(Hat tip from David Airey’s LogoDesignLove)

Musings: Emotions As Fuel

Our short musings on design, branding, business and the human condition.

It can be easy in business or life to discount the importance of emotions in favor of things that are more easily measured. But the difficult-to-quantify are sometimes the most valuable and crucial in the long run. Nothing inspiring or meaningful ever gets done without the application of genuine emotion. Emotions might be ethereal and ephemeral when compared to numbers on a spreadsheet, but they are the fuel rods that power passionate action.

Sep 18 2012

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Musings: Weave Passion Into Business

Our short musings on design, branding, business and the human condition.

Sure, we all have to eat and pay the mortgage. But it’s easy to become a creative mercenary if you’re merely chasing lucrative markets or the next profitable, exploitable space. The wise and happy path:

Either figure out how to get deeply excited about the work you’re doing, or find a way to integrate your already-existing passions into your business. The world doesn’t need more creative hired guns; it needs more people who truly believe in what they do.

Musings: Having “New Fatigue”

Our short musings on design, branding, business and the human condition.

Sometimes it gets exhausting having to stay current with all that is the latest-greatest, emerging, or cutting edge. “New” sells gadgets, delivers clicks, and attracts notice, but it also gets tiring. Whether it’s new software, new devices, new ways to store old clothes, or fresh ways to dice up cucumbers, it can be a bit much. On some days I have what I call “new fatigue.”

The flow and rate of info creation in our culture is immense, and it’s tough to keep up with everything. We might have a professional responsibility to stay abreast of all the changes in our industries and the world around us, but it doesn’t have to be a hamster wheel we can’t escape. It’s healthy to recognize that you don’t have to have the latest, greatest thing, upgrade to the newest versions of apps, or live on the bleeding edge 24/7. It might be more important to live a balanced life, not chasing after each new thing, because new ≠ better at all times. It’s possible to spend too much time searching for new ways to work and live. And that’s significant, because if we get lost in tomorrow, this present moment pays the price.

Musings: History Matters to Everyone

Our short musings on design, branding, business and the human condition.

History isn’t just words on a page, dates, or events of the past. History tells us where we’ve been, what we’ve done, and how we’ve gotten where we are. It provides context, connects us to the past, and weaves onward to the future. Show me a person who doesn’t care about history, whether it’s personal, societal, or organizational — and I’ll show you a person who doesn’t truly grasp the world. Those who seek to understand history are the ones who know the world, and long to find their place in it. History matters to us all.

Musings: Resist the Quo

Our short musings on design, branding, business and the human condition.

It seems like a shared characteristic of most great people is the unwillingness (some might say inability) to accept the status quo — whether it’s social, theoretical, or creatively. Sometimes you have to live with the “way things are done,” whether it’s a project, an organizational issue, or a societal norm. But healthy, constructive, strategic questioning of the status quo is almost always the best course of action — one that leads to innovation, deeper creativity, and a better world.

Musings: Ignoring Limits

Our short musings on design, branding, business and the human condition.

Most of us are awed by the marathon runners who push past their physical and mental limits (sometimes frighteningly so!) and move on to do something impressive. But it’s much harder (and less socially acceptable) to do that kind of scratching and clawing within an organization. Great brands, excellent products, impressive results — all of these things are done by people without excuses, individuals who have ignored the limits inside themselves, or those imposed by others. Why not bring a little of that limitless thinking to our everyday work?

Musings: Incrementalism

Our short musings on design, branding, business and the human condition.

Everyone likes to make progress, but what does that look like? Doing things as they pop up, and making quick, iterative changes can sometimes be more soul-satisfying and profitable than putting all the eggs into one basket of “overhaul.” Sometimes the team needs to take small steps forward, doing things that are simple to do, in the name of incremental, forward motion. Momentum and inertia are as true in business as they are in physics. So, point out the small victories and the tiny landmarks on your way to the major initiatives. Both are needed.