#TDKTuesdays are a fortnightly design meet-up over beers in cities around the country, creating a laid back environment for design students and grads to meet other like-minded creatives. Newcastle chapter host Sean Bell invited me to present at speech at The Roost, sharing my experiences in the creative industries. Here’s a transcript of my speech from the night.
This time last year saw me make a conscious intention for purpose and meaning, and that’s what’s led me to The Roost.
I’ve learnt that it doesn’t matter what your “job” is, you need to pursue what you love. And if anyone questions whether your return to study in a different field is worthwhile, or suggests that whatever new thing you’re trying is “not your job” then tell them where to stick it! Or at least ignore them and persevere, my friend. Your gut instinct will always be your best compass.
You need to start living out the responsibility you’re striving towards. Don’t wait for permission to start thinking like a marketing manager or a creative director. It helps if you equip yourself with the tools, gain the experience, surround yourself with mentors, remain respectful of those you’re working with, be open-minded to ideas and then believe in yourself… but that’s a given.
As soon as you truly believe in yourself, others will have no reason not to.
Leaving full-time employment to pursue my dream of working in marketing – and specifically working in marketing within the creative, cultural and community sector – wasn’t easy, but it did feel right. It did also leave me full of fear and doubt. Am I good enough? Am I crazy? Is this too niche? Am I ready? Am I going to earn any money?
You have to be willing to fail and ready to risk it all for the magic to happen. Don’t settle for mediocrity.
So I thought what the heck. Let’s try this. The first few jobs that came my way were the types of projects requiring the skills I was trying to evolve from. The most powerful thing I’ve been able to do for myself and my career at this point, almost a decade in, was to say no. No – I’m not going to take that job just for the money, I’m not going to settle for mediocrity and I’m not going to compromise on my aspirations.
If you don’t remain true to your vision, you’ll get caught up putting your dreams on hold. You’ll get to them later. But there has to come a time where you go – okay, I’m going to do what I’ve always wanted to do now.
I identified being at this point when a colleague gently pointed out I was working within ‘constrained potential’. You might know the feeling – you’re bursting to do something you’re really good at, something that fulfils you, but you’re busy doing other stuff or your current work/life may just not let you. If this sounds familiar, maybe you need to make a plan for change. Seth Godin says,
“What people are afraid of isn’t failure. It’s blame. Criticism. We choose not to be remarkable because we’re worried about criticism.”
I get that. Putting yourself out there opens it up to all kinds of discussion and critique. And a lot of us here are probably guilty of that too! It’s easy to be the critic and it’s easy to be deterred by them. So lets just all go easy on each other, hey!
But you can’t dwell on that, and you can’t spend all your time trying to please everyone or worrying about what everyone else will think. Another work colleague told me something once that really rang true. I was having a very challenging time trying to conform to a role and stick by my decisions. He said,
“People will either be threatened by you, or will they will admire you and be inspired by you.”
I found this helpful – it gave me the courage to ignore the naysayers and persevere with what I knew in my heart to be the right way forward. In sticking to my path, I’ve been able to attract like-minded others who have been an incredible and supportive network. It’s about finding your tribe.
Everyone here today is a creative leader. By the mere fact that you have studied visual communications or a related field, or are even just interested in it, you’re already wired to look at things differently.
You don’t have an opportunity, you have an obligation. So take it seriously, be kind to each other and recognise that everyone else out there is just having a go – just like you. And don’t go into it expecting credit – you have to remember that – it’s about change and collectively doing our bit, feeling connected to our community and having genuine interactions with each other.
So, my challenge to you is to design the future that you want to live and work in. And if you ever need any advice along the way, The Roost is a great place to be to bounce ideas off people!