My name is Jan Losert. I’m a 22 year old guy and I’m a designer originally from the heart of Europe — the Czech Republic. I want to share with you a story about what it feels like to be different from your friends and share with you how I began working on the things that I love. This is a story about making dreams comes true. A story about how I found myself and how I have given it my all.
If this article inspires at least one person to make a life changing decision, then this post will have been successful.
1. It’s always from Zero…
Nobody starts perfectly. There is always a lot of hard work and pain. But for me, all this pain is basically my own education.
The story begins when I was 16. I was fascinated by photo manipulations and signatures on discussion forums. I always wanted to discover how they can create something like this. Then I started going to school learning about computers and programming. It was so inspiring. I met people there who started with coding when they were only 12! People who had already begun successful startups and lots of other people too. It was actually an amazing place where you could learn from people who were passionate about similar things. It was here where I first started to understand what learning actually meant!
I then discovered Photoshop and it was at this point where my journey really would start to shift a gear. Firstly, I was editing my friends pictures and I tried to copy the style of these forum signatures. After I completed my 20th piece of work, I thought that I was a principal now. So I sent that work to my friend and he replied to me with comments from their main designer. He replied with about 20 corrections… And it brought me back down to earth again.
That was one of the main reasons I started to work more and more. I used to play with Photoshop after school every night.
2. It’s only about you, nobody else
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
— Mark Twain
But when I look back, everything is like a marathon. You need to run endlessly and train and train and train. If you say to yourself that you’re happy now, you’ll tread water. You need to continue to want to know more and more. And yes, it’s really hard to stay in this condition. But that’s the only way in which you can learn.
It was actually quite challenging to find something which you love from such an early age, I’d developed differently so easily. My friends were like: “Damn! Why are you home all the time?! Stop playing, blah blah.” Life is all about you. It’s about saying “No”, because you know (for example) that the most productive time for work is Friday night. You can spend the whole night without messages from your party friends. Additionally of course, it’s about surrounding yourself with the right people.
I spent a lot of nights with Photoshop and it’s still a daily routine. You need to love what are you doing and looking forward to opening that thing and playing with it. That’s the most important aspect of personal growth.
It took 2 years until I started receiving small offers and I began talking with people who like my work. Since someone from school had told me to start doing web design, I would probably have kept playing with photo manipulations. But I loved that. Everything was about design. That feeling when you share a finished project is something exhilarating.
Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed saying we’re doing something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”
— Steve Jobs
Everything was just because I really wanted it, I wanted to know everything about it, I cared about knowledge.
I found a few friends who saw that I achieved my first success and I was able to earn my first $10. They also opened Photoshop and started working. But there’s a huge difference. If you start doing something just for the money you’ll never be as successful as someone who loves what they do, because you’ll struggle with it from the start, instead of discovering your love through that. It’s not about the money.
If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.
— Henry Ford
Then the offers started to trickle in, but then this trickle became a stream. I start receiving offers, talking with people who love my work and we even worked together. But the main thing was that I’ve always learned something new this way. I picked up everything, even if I wasn’t sure if I could do it. Thanks to that, I was able to try everything from Magazines in InDesign to Animated banners in Flash. I was a hard worker. That’s something which people share with their friends/colleagues/clients. Everything until now races along and it has happened so quickly that I’m sometimes surprised how many things I went through during these 3-4 years.
But I was different
So different… I basically grew up with my clients. Everyday I spoke only with them. I was so different in just a few months from the people who I used to know. I knew that this was moving in right direction and I couldn’t miss this opportunity.
I dropped out of University after only 3 weeks because I knew that I didn’t want to lose more of my time. I loved what I did. And I still think that it was a good idea, and the correct decision.
Be Part of a Community
It’s hard to be alone and we aren’t. The Internet is wonderful at sharing interests with other people from all over the world. No matter what your love is about, I’m pretty sure that somewhere there is a place where you can find the same like-minded people.
Share, share everything that you can with the world. Don’t hide the results of your work in a drawer…
I want to give a big thank you to the all the Dribbble guys and girls. Watching the best people from around the world and looking at the things they are working on has completely changed my life. Dribbble is an amazing place where you can find inspiration and an incredible place where you can find a lot of job opportunities and meet designers.
At that time I was working around 12 hours per day for clients. Mainly designing websites and some marketing things…Basically everything which ended up on my table.
Afterwards I received an email from Badoo in which they were searching for a Designer in London. I was 19 years old. I couldn’t imagine that. My mom was in the process of packing my bag for school at that time. But I tried.
We had a call but after 2 minutes we realised that I couldn’t even speak in English☺ and it wouldn’t be possible to continue this interview…Life went on.
I decided to continue spending all my life designing. Those who know me will know I am open to sleeping in the bath or on the floor after working in the office till 4AM. My work also had a big impact on my mood, if I’m not happy with my work, my general mood is also affected.
But back to the story…
4. Started from the button
Everything happened accidentally. I was just reading my Twitter feed and I saw a tweet from my ex boss that they were searching for a web designer and I replied that I would be happy to join them. It was funny, because when I originally went for the interview I thought that I was going for an interview with a different company. When we agreed on everything I started to get scared about working full time. I actually said goodbye to all my friends as I thought I wouldn’t have anymore time for them. As I took the job, I realised I had just joined an army of crazy guys. This was probably one of the best decisions which I have ever made.
I spent 10 months working there with amazingly friendly people and even though they had 200 employees it was still breathing with startup energy. I met people who I’m still working with on my personal projects. I helped Socialbakers to design two of their main applications and I soon got the realisation that my passion is building products. Focusing on something, continually testing it and talking about it really resonated with me. I preferred to work more on solving problems than on more easy websites which took little to no time.
But one day, I knew that I needed to move forward, meet new people and learn more so I started working on my portfolio. I realised that I didn’t have many diverse projects which really I felt really proud of and which truly reflected my skill.
Then it came to me…I still had that email from Badoo. So I sent them a message to say that I would be happy to move to London, without any problems.
They replied…and I moved to London.
5. Going Abroad
Breaking out of the comfort zone is often touted as the most difficult decision in ones life and I can really resonate with that. When I received the offer to work in London, It took me 3 weeks to sign the contract. My one piece of advice to anyone questioning whether or not to step outside their comfort zone would be to jump. Fly anywhere…For work, without work. Whatever. Just buy the flight tickets and go.
It’s about finding yourself, it’s easy to live with friends and family. But real life and the real you are somewhere else. You’ll start dealing with real problems, such as moving, finding new friends and learning a new language. This shapes you in a totally different way.
The one thing what makes me really sad is that people nowadays seem to lack dreams. I see a lot of people who struggle with their lives and who rather go and take some an easy route. But Why?! That’s my question.
If these people look outside of their bubbles, they’ll understand that there are so many things which they can do. You just need to be more confident and try. Destiny doesn’t choose your life, you do.
Going abroad helped me to realise who my real friends are, it helped me to focus on myself and start working hard again on my dreams. People who want to be with you will make more time for you. I think people who aren’t sure about what their future holds, this is an amazing way to find themselves. It’s just one step, just buy that ticket and go.
All these big life decisions are hard, but it always brings something new, something positive, something unexpected. Job change always brings new people into your life and you never know if they will show you something new which can completely change your life. It always brings you new experiences.
6. Don’t waste your time
The last part is about our time. It’s a cliché, but we are here once. Don’t waste your time thinking about something negative. Stop thinking you’re no good at it, just do it.
You don’t need anything else. You can set out with armory of skills and with a mindset to learn. All you need is to make that first step from your daily routine to outside of your comfort zone.
The day just comes
Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life that you don’t need to escape from.
— Seth Godin
Today I am making a change. After I have finished this paragraph I will walk over to HR, hand in my notice and I’ll have quit my job. I’ll have made yet another one of those life-changing decisions. It will be a new chapter in my life where I’ll be remote working for an awesome new startup, I’ll be traveling a lot and I look forward to seeing where this new found flexibility will take me. Let the fun begin!
It feels like the first day of the rest of my life all over again!
Thank you to the people who have been following me through my life, you have inspired me to make change, take a risk and continually better myself as an individual.