Category Archives: Future Thinking

Moving Past the F.U.D.s



“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”


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Shamefully, this blog has been dormant for several weeks — breeding dust bunnies by the score while I’m sure the few regular visitors simply deleted another blog from their reading list. A passionate plunge into inspirational design finds and a few months of consistent daily posts… Suddenly. Just. Stopped. (Insert the sound of summer peepers here). What happened?

A lot, actually.

In addition to managing a heavy project load, interviewing with new clients and prepping for a vacation, I also decided to address the wild hair that’s been poking at me since the start of 2010. Wanting to make an investment in my studio’s brand, I began researching professional advice on the use of social media for building my business. I hired the best consultant I could find and looked forward to being instantly molded into social media gold.

*Sigh* Good intentions… road to Hell.

What really took place is the reason for this blog’s sudden silence — many weeks of introspection overflowing two jam-packed sessions with a velvet hammer wielding, intensely savvy and warm-hearted woman.* Much of her guidance was toward quick tweaks and longer term overhauls of my current online presence, some things I already knew (but lazily wasn’t acting upon), and other points I didn’t. By reading between the lines of what I thought I wanted, she skillfully uncovered what I truly needed to do — delivering advice that picked at sealed edges and swirled around the crazy aspirations that nest deep within me.

In brief detail, the greatest suggested challenges set before me are to:

1) Commit to shifting the focus and online presentation of my design studio offering (OK… a bit of a lengthy checklist, but certainly doable in time.)

2) Begin generating original content for this blog. (UGH!)

You’re probably thinking, “generate original content, isn’t that what almost every “How to Write a Blog” article suggests?!” Yeah, yeah, I know. But when a professional firmly recommends that you quit hiding behind the work of others and put your expertise out there, IN YOUR OWN WORDS, there’s a little gravity behind it.

And again, UGH! The last thing I wrote of any length was a project proposal, and who really reads those? Between the thought of authoring content for all the internet to see AND making an official foray into a different design discipline… . Well, so began a month of the F.U.D.s — the fear, uncertainty and doubt that start circling whenever I head off in untried directions.

As a graphic designer dealing with everything from identities to brand strategies, I’ve built a steady business on the ability to create something out of nothing. I mean, I start from a freakin’ blank page almost every day. You would think that after 20 professional years, tackling a new endeavor would be relatively easy. But, what I’ve come to realize is that when said new direction involves an a rusty skill set, or worse yet, SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO, I sink into an ocean of self-reflection and those nasty F.U.D.s are at me like sharks on chum.

Really, I think everyone who creates is tormented by these anxieties — designers, business people, artists, thinkers, musicians, writers, performers, speakers, strategists — they all have fear drenched moments when they think, “What the Hell am I doing? I have no idea how to do this. What if this time, I just can’t do it?”

Offering a solution, the great Seth Godin, Author, Entrepreneur, Speaker, and Marketing Mastermind, writes:

“The lizard brain—that prehistoric brainstem that all of us must contend with—doesn’t like being laughed at. It’s the part of our brain that worries about safety and dishes out anger. Being laughed at is the lizard brain’s worst nightmare. And so it shuts down our art. …

What artists over time have figured out is that the resistance is the sole barrier between today and their art. That the act of genius required to produce original and important work is crippled by the resistance, and ignoring the voice of skepticism is critical in doing the work.

And so, we acknowledge it. We stand up and we hear the voice of the lizard brain and we recognize that it’s there and then we walk to the podium and do the work. We acknowledge the lizard so we can ignore it.”


There have been a number of times in my life when I’ve found the guts to ignore my own lizard brain and taken a running leap from some formidable (albeit metaphorical) cliff — moving from a small country to the US, starting my own business with minimal savings or client prospects, ending a long-term but unhealthy relationship. Each time there has been a previously unseen net of support flung my way, and from every risk has come amazing opportunity. Now I find myself in a similar circumstance, about to make yet another jump.

I’ve learned that when you stand on a precipice, you need to remind yourself that while the known seems secure and safe, it offers only fleeting satisfaction. Staying with the everyday, “Oh, I know how to do this” situations may feel stable, but the predictable, well-worn road is an expressway to stagnancy and mediocrity. It is on the unexplored path that you will find true growth — that sticky, itchy and oftentimes searingly painful sensation that precedes the birth of something great.

So, here goes! Time to jump — rather, time to write, get passionate about design, share my strategic secrets, lead, inspire, and be inspired.

Friends, be with me. Fates, be kind. F.U.D.s, be damned.


*BTW, anyone toying with the decision to enlist the talents of the fabulous Gwen Bell should quit stalling and just DO IT. Best business investment EVER. Stick around and you’ll witness my online evolution (big plans ahead!), all due to a well-crafted action plan and much deserved kick in the caboose from this incredible lady. Thank you, Gwen!



The Time is Now

“The sense of possibility so necessary for success comes, not just from inside of us or from our parents, it comes from our TIME. From the particular opportunities that our particular place in history presents us with.”

MALCOM GLADWELL, from Outliers, The Story of Success


What’s Next?

“The world is changing. Some people are hip to it, others are not. If you want to be able to afford groceries in five years, I’d recommend listening closely to the former and avoiding the latter.Just my two cents.”

HUGH MacLEOD, from Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity


Field Trip!

Excited to be off to NYC for WORKTECH 10 — a day packed with great presentations on the topics of workplace design, technological impacts to business, generational research, and much more! Posts will resume on Thurs., May 20, but I’ll be tweeting the good stuff throughout the event.


Design Thinking Throwdown

In The Better Alternative, students of Northwestern University have issued a challenge to present your ideas on water conservation. Can you make it easier, smarter, more appealing? Submit a 2 minute video here by June 1st and you could win $1000.

(via d.News)


Can Designers Save the World?

In our modern world wrought with political upheaval, manmade disaster, wide-spread poverty, and the threat of global warming, one wonders where to turn for actionable solutions. As “Design Thinking” is the ubiquitous buzz word at the moment, the question arises — can design really save the world?

A new exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum the National Design Triennial probes that very question. Read more here.

(via Fast Company)


Paper Illustration


There are a number of designers (myself included) who firmly believe that handcraft will become even more desirable as we evolve towards a culture of ubiquitous technology. As blazing proof of this theory, I offer you an introduction to the beautiful works of Russian born artist and illustrator, Yulia Brodskaya.

Since graduating with a Master of Arts degree in 2006, Yulia’s highly detailed paper illustrations have caught the attention of an impressive and ever expanding list of global clientele. See more of her work on her website.

(via abduzeedo)