5 Things I learned in a decade as a designer

Tim Reerink
Jun 24, 2019 · 7 min read
Photo by Max Ostrozhinskiy on Unsplash

A bit of background

In about two months I’ll become a dad for the first time. This made me think of all the things I want to teach my kiddo, all the stuff I feel I had to figure out myself. But it also gave me insight into just that: My first decade as a design professional is behind me. And I learned a lot.

1: Accept failing

When you’re just out of college and your world still consists of being graded and tested, often that hit-or-miss-mindset will follow along with you into your working career. Either you score — or you miss, and chances are that you base your self-image on those scores and misses. The more times you miss, the more you start to doubt yourself.

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.

Instead of beating yourself up for being human and blowing a big interview, pitch or project, do what pro athletes do. Be aware of the mistake, accept it, draw learnings from it and move on.

2: Trends are just that

Looking back at the early days I think I’ve overdone it on several occasions. The urge to implement the newest technologies and innovations into projects, just to compete with what we read to be the newest trends and technologies we absolutely had to follow.

3: Learn to present (and sell)

Last week an old client of mine told me bluntly:

I’d rather work with you than any other, cus you’re able to present, sell and close projects.

But how tho? Most sales experiences are negative because people rarely believe in what they’re selling. A multitude of reasons can be underlying, but to overcome this is to gain trust in yourself, your project, your teammates and your client. You need to own your stuff and be convinced of the product. If you won’t, there’s a 99% chance the other side of the table won’t buy.

4: Keep up in FIFA skills

The deeper art of playing FIFA {or insert any game} with your colleagues is to level and communicate with them in a more relaxed atmosphere outside of stand-ups & obligatory meetings. It’s a perfect moment to catch someone you’ve wanted to talk to in a more low key setting.

5: Know your values — Give a fuck

By now most of you have read Mark Manson’s best seller “The subtle art of not giving a fuck”. For my last advice, I could say “Read the book” but I’d rather give my biggest learning from it compared to my working life.

Always look out for yourself.

It took me a while to understand why he said that. He just hired me, paid me well and was very positive about the organization I just joined. After a year and a half, my manager left. Soon the organization started changing into a direction that didn’t match my values and ambitions.

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Tim Reerink

Written by

Digital Product Designer & Consultant at Xebia Studio. I tick the “stereotype designer” boxes.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +788K followers.

Tim Reerink

Written by

Digital Product Designer & Consultant at Xebia Studio. I tick the “stereotype designer” boxes.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +788K followers.

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