Old 2005 Interview of Mark Zuckerberg Proves You Should Always Believe in Your Idea

How big is an idea? Just two week ago, Facebook launched its platform “Facebook Live” with the goal of giving users the “power to broadcast from a smartphone to anyone in the world”. An early interview of Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg proves that it’s important to remain focused on what your ultimate goal will be.

Here we see a young Mark, 21-years old to be exact, discussing his then “new” social media startup “The Facebook” in Palo Alto and holding a beer no less.

When asked by the interviewer “What was The Facebook?”, Mark explains that it was “An online directory for colleges” and also that it was interactive. “Growing from one university (Harvard) to three other schools (Columbia, Yale, and Stanford) gaining thousands of users in a couple of weeks. Closed with 29 schools and “came out to the mythical place of Palo Alto”. From here on we all know how the story goes.

It’s a short video, but it has some great gems for newbie entrepreneurs. Here are the most important lessons from this early interview in my opinion:

  1. Define your goal.
  2. Refine your goal.
  3. Run quickly!
  4. Forget world domination.
  5. Don’t think about being acquired.
  6. Make a difference in the world.
  7. Stay focused!

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5 Ways to Successfully Work with the Client Who’s Always Right

Is the client always right? No one is ever 100% right 100% of the time is the popular expression. As a graphic designer, you’ll work with all sorts of clients; from those who respect your work and your process, to those on the other end of the spectrum. For the clients who are extremely difficult to work with, who go against all your professional guidance on a specific task (let’s say a logo design), don’t get frustrated or overwhelmed.

crying baby

Now back to the topical question at hand – Is the client always right? The answer is both “yes” and “no”. Let me explain further – even when your client or clients have given you the required feedback on that logo design that’s moving it in a direction that you don’t agree with, they’re still right. After all, they’re paying you to provide them with your professional services.

On the flip-side, the fact that they sometimes lack the design sense to understand how all the design elements (colours, typeface, images, etc.) help to achieve the overall balance makes them “wrong”. I know what you’re thinking, “Why do clients hire graphic designers if they’re not prepared to listen to any of our advice?” Don’t take it personally; it’s just business.

Here are five (5) ways to ensure that your next client and design project goes well.

Understand your client’s needs

In order to have a successful design project, you must ensure that you demonstrate to your client that you understand their rough ideas, goals, audience, and vision. You must also show that you have the skill sets to bring that vision to life. Collaboration between the designer and the client must be promoted from the beginning.

Aretha_respect

Build mutual respect and trust

It will be important that after you’ve done your initial client interview that you start to develop the foundation for a smooth work relationship. You’ll accomplish this by being the consummate professional who outlines your design process, establishes and agrees upon deadlines. Consistent communication through telephone conversations, meetings, or emails (combination of all the aforementioned) will eliminate the occurrence of the “angry mob” mentality.

Do the job you were hired to do

Always remind yourself that this is your client’s project, not yours. They hired you, not the other way around. If disagreements arise when it comes down to your ideas and concepts, don’t take it personally if they don’t share your enthusiasm. It comes with the territory.  Your early ideas are always going to be either a hit or miss. Just focus on fine-tuning them based on your client’s feedback.

Daniel Craig - New James Bond movie Casino Royale

The client wants what the client wants

You won’t always be given free rein on a design project, which sometimes isn’t a bad thing, especially with difficult clients. In the instances where they’ve completely ignored your advice, ideas, and visions that you believe will deliver them the results they want, well that’s on them. Just be mindful of the fact that their taste might not be the same as yours. Additionally, respect the fact that they have a good grasp on their audience and market and will know which designs work when they see it.

Find your doppelgänger client

The most important thing is to figure out the clients that you enjoy collaborating with and trying to find more people who fit that profile. It’ll make your job a little easier. This is why you should always have a client interview. Ask pertinent questions about their design likes and dislikes and getting to understand the potential design project. However, don’t spend majority of your time focused on those details. Get to know your potential client better as a person.

Always take solace in the fact that you did your job as the designer, in striving to give them the best product and best advice possible. Good luck.

3 Tips to Improve Your Performance as a Freelance Graphic Designer

In my 12 years freelancing as a graphic designer (can’t believe it’s been that long), I’ve walked away with some very invaluable lessons.

I started this blog a little over three years ago to help share what I’d learned with others in hopes that my knowledge and experience could help make your journey a little easier. I continue to divulge what I’ve acquired from every design project I’ve been hired for and even those that crashed and burned mid-project when bad clients became indecisive. The most important lessons have been avoiding getting burned by clients and how not to work for “cheap”.

It’s a competitive world and we can all use any advantage we can get to stay on par with or ahead of the industry competition. Here are my three (3) tips (including a bonus tip) for all you freelance graphic designers out there.

Price your work correctly

Understanding the value of your own work is the difference between working by the hour and working for what you’re worth. Personally, the best approach that facilitates a win-win scenario for both you and your clients is examining “value-based” pricing. There are different approaches to arriving at the value of your next design project, but consider this method. If your client(s) share the projected revenue they hope to earn from your work, you can charge 10% of projected revenue.

I didn't have a photo of myself working so I used this random person instead
I didn’t have a photo of myself working so I used this random person instead

Finish a design right on schedule

Time is money. There’s never been a quote more accurate than that one. In just three words, that one quote communicates the importance of meeting your client’s deadlines. In order to build a steady reputation as the talented professional freelancer, you want to ensure that you achieve all your deliverables as outlined in your client interviews. If you’re not accustomed to having client interviews, take it from me, you should have them and as many of them as possible. Also, keep a personal time log (“Microsoft Excel” works fine), making sure to record minutes, hours, and days spent per design project. It’s a great way to know the projects you can take on or decline at any given moment based on the prospective client’s anticipated turnaround time.

There's no one template design for a time log, just create one that works for you
There’s no one template design for a time log, just create one that works for you

Get paid

I cannot stress this enough, not only to freelance graphic designers, but to anyone else who works for themselves whether you consider yourself an entrepreneur or not. It’s imperative that you get compensated for all your hard work over the last eight or 10 hours or the last eight or 10 days. Your client would expect the same if the situation was reversed. So here’s my best recommendation, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the client. Always ask for a “retainer fee” and the amount is left up to your own discretion, not your client’s. I personally would suggest no less than fifty percent (50%) of the total quotation that way, you and your client are invested in the outcome of the design project.

If you watched
If you watched “Breaking Bad”, you’ll get the importance of being paid

Get paid on time

Once your client has been presented with the designs (add your watermark) and all revisions are completed, at the end of the process have them pay you the remaining fifty percent (50%) based on your invoice. So in case you missed that, always send them a quotation for the work ahead and an invoice after the work is finished. Before I forget, outline in your invoice (towards the top) when they should settle with you. I use either seven (7) business days or 14 business days depending on the cost of the design.

I hope you found the above tips helpful and I wish you only the best in your own journey as a graphic designer. Feel free to stop by my blog anytime. I’ll have more tips to share going forward.

James Dyson: His Inventions Have Never “Sucked”!

When you think of the word innovation, which entrepreneur comes to mind? Was one of those names Steve Jobs? Maybe even Richard Branson or hot-shot modern day “Iron Man”, Elon Musk? But there’s one man who is a leader in innovation and who in my opinion doesn’t quite get the recognition he deserves.

Sir James Dyson is a British inventor, engineer, designer, and business leader and perhaps best known for his vacuums that it “will never lose suction” and his bladeless fan under his private company, Dyson Limited (founded in 1993). The mere thought of both inventions is enough to end this blog at this line. There are very few entrepreneurs and industry leaders cooler than Dyson.

The Ballbarrow in what looks like a '70s advertisement
The Ballbarrow in what looks like a ’70s advertisement

In his early years he realised how everyday problems could be solved by coming up with better and more practical solutions. Take for instance his “ballbarrow” invented in 1974, after watching a traditional wheelbarrow get stuck in muddy ground. Why didn’t I think of that?! It was pure genius. Such a “simple” idea, but yet it required complex thinking.

Dyson is renowned for being meticulous,  he once created a total of 5,127 prototypes for what later became the DC01, his first machine, the vacuum cleaner, developed in a workshop behind his house between 1979 and 1984. You do the math on the annual average of prototypes!

Most recently, Dyson released its Dyson 360 Eye, a robot vacuum cleaner capable of cleaning any space effectively and efficiently by tracking its own movements from where its been to where its going next.

I was good just drying my hands in a public restroom with the hot air from those hand-dryers and I accepted that as the norm. Then Dyson creates the Airblade! Just like that, everything else seems mediocre. That’s what I admire most about James Dyson — he has a way of creating solutions to everyday problems. Like he once said, “you have to distinguish between what people say they want now and what people might want when they see what it can do”.

I’ll say this much, I couldn’t imagine living in a world without bagless vacuum cleaners.

7 or 8 Tips to Help You Arrive at Rates That Define Your Value

As a freelance graphic designer, you spent your time giving and gaining new design experiences, whilst creating a client list and a reputation for putting out quality work. You acquire client testimonials, because tooting your own horn just isn’t going to cut it.

Every year you question whether or not you’re charging clients the right amount for design work completed; you look at the prices and you think you have. But have you really?

In business, knowing or even discovering your own monetary worth is one of those instances that requires a sometimes really long and hard look at all that you have done and accomplished as a freelancer or entrepreneur.

Take time to do the following:

  1. Examine your present and past clientele
  2. Evaluate your portfolio of work
  3. Find someone established and positioned as an industry leader and ask for advice
  4. Look at the prices of your competition locally and globally
  5. Join forums for freelance designers
  6. Make the tough decisions on pricing your value
  7. Lose a few prospective customers who aren’t ready to pay you what you’re worth

To get your business to the next level requires a lot of effort in heavy-lifting. It’s a lot like moving your friends furniture to their new apartment that’s on the fifth floor and the place has no elevators only stairs. You know its going to be back-breaking work and sweat pouring down your face, but it’ll all be worth it knowing you’ll be rewarded (not with pizza and cold beer).

Don’t be afraid to raise your prices. Only you can do what you do and if people are lining up around the block just to work with you then that’s a good sign you’re worth more than you first thought.

How did you discover your true value as a designer? Share your story below. We could all learn from it.

Don’t Be Afraid You’ll Miss A Note Tooting Your Own Horn!

I am a member of the ‘Graphic Illustration Professionals’ group on Linkedin.com. The following question was asked “I love design, but hate self promotion. What are some fields that maximize a designers’ creative passion, without spending so much time trying to get noticed?”. Here was my response to the person that asked. This may help you if you are an Entrepreneur/Freelancer.

I think a lot of professionals face that issue because of the fear of looking as though you are greater than everyone else thinks you are, but the truth is if you’re not acknowledging that the work you do as a designer is great work, then sometimes people are not going to be noticing you.

I will be the first to admit that while humility is a wonderful characteristic to have, there is nothing wrong in highlighting to people that you are pretty good at what you do. If you look at some of the biggest and most successful companies in the world you will see that they spend millions on marketing telling everybody just how great and wonderful they are and that their product and company is the leader and number one in this industry/sector or space.

With that being said, there are still several approaches to getting noticed and one of those is to be seen as an ‘expert’ in your field. Give advice for free unless your hired. Become an “industry leader”. This could be done via your own blog (WordPress for e.g.). When people see that they can look to you for design advice, they will also begin to look at your work. Ask for testimonials from clients and have them sing your praises. Get referrals; that allows you to be exposed to others who may like your work. Share interesting articles via Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. It is also advantageous to comment on other designers work. All the best man!