Mentoring doesn’t have to take a ton of time to be effective

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Photo: Carlina Teteris/Getty Images

The response I’ve been getting to my articles about mentoring designers — linked at the bottom, in case you missed them — has been unexpected.

I’m humbled by all the responses I’ve been getting, from “this is really great,” to “I wish ALL hiring managers thought this way,” to “YAAAAS, QUEEEEEN!” (that’s been my fave so far), so thank you and keep spreading the word.

The most frequent response I’ve been getting, not surprisingly, is the one I actually cited in the first article. Remember? …

Be careful about the emotional baggage you bring with you on the next leg of your career journey

A designer on LinkedIn asked me this question recently, and I thought it would be valuable to share our exchange out to others who may find themselves in a similar situation (names, locations, and pronouns redacted).

“What do you do when your boss doesn’t care about the research, like personas and user surveys, and also things like flows and wireframes?”

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No, this isn’t the designer who asked me the question. Stock photo by ahmad gunnaivi on Unsplash

ME: Is this question hypothetical or is this your current situation?

DESIGNER: My current situation. My boss is having me design screens that were literally thrown together by <redacted> and ship a product in 3 weeks. No research. No personas…

Making sure your Cloud-based software tool is still useful when there’s no Cloud isn’t just good design, it’s good business.

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Photo by Aaron Dowd on Unsplash

I live on an island.

Not in the metaphorical or transcendental sense.

I actually live on a fucking island.

Bainbridge Island is a quaint little rock 35 minutes across the water from downtown Seattle. If you’ve never visited Seattle, you should. And if you live in Seattle but have never taken a ferry ride, Jibbers Crabst what are you waiting for?

It’s fantastic. Best commute in the nation.

But it does leave a few things to be desired…

  • You “live and die” by the ferry schedule.
  • Tourist season can be challenging — c’mon, folks, remember that this is a daily…

Are you doing what you can to help the next generation of designers find their way?

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Photo by Jordan Sanchez on Unsplash

Getting a “no-hire” decision from a potential employer is rough on any job candidate. But given their tendency to be emotionally invested in their work and their chosen profession, it can be particularly disheartening for designers.

To make matters worse, many companies have nondisclosure policies regarding candidate feedback — we’ve all heard the classic “thanks for your interest, but we’re going in a different direction with this position” generic response at some point in our own careers, right?

Obviously, the person who got hired had most, if not all, of what you were looking for, while others did not. But…

Why you should commit to being a mentor, and some tips and techniques for making it easier and beneficial for both sides.

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Photo: Weekend Images Inc./Getty Images

Seattle, May 1991: Grunge was the thing, radio station 107.7 KNDD had just launched, and a fresh-faced designer-wannabe was in town for the summer.

I’d recently changed my undergrad major from architecture (because math was hard and my handwriting sucked) to graphic design, and I was looking to act on the advice of my older brothers: land an internship, find a mentor.

After calling the usual suspects — big-name ad agencies and companies of that era — and getting various responses like “we’re all full up,” and “we don’t do internships,” and “how’d you get this number, stop calling,” my…

Musings on why we should stop calling ourselves hybrids.

Picture if you will, a conference room on Microsoft campus, circa 2006.

A designer sits in a team meeting, discussing a project with the PM and the Dev. After listening to the dev say things like “it can’t be done that way” and “that’s not possible” for nearly 20 minutes, the designer asks “Why not?” “Help me understand your reasoning.”

The dev floods the room with technical jargon in support of his position, and at one point, adds “y’know, you’re a good designer, but you couldn’t completely understand the real technical…

This is a brief list of some of the “don’t ever do this” advice I’ve received from various mentors over the years. Feel free to add yours to this list.

Embracing play in our creative field can make us happier and more productive.

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Photo: Hero Images/Getty Images

As the father of a young child, I bear daily witness to the value and joys of play. I watch my son navigate his world in the purest ways — he looks, touches, pushes, pulls, builds, breaks, throws, and drops… everything.

It’s part of his process, his method for learning how the world works.

Drory Ben-Menachem

Design leader, puzzle solver, idea shepherd, researcher, writer, storyteller, mentor, dataviz geek, foodie, film buff, gamer, spouse, dad, aspiring rally driver

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