What Do You Stand For?

This one's for my fellow designer friends, and for anyone else struggling with self-branding.

Sara Barnes of Brown Paper Bag

This week I had a series of job interviews for a really killer gig. At the end, I felt like I really understood the company and their mission, but with a dull thud I realized I forgot to show up. An interviewer asked what I believe in, what I stood for in design, and I blew it with some mushy generic answers. I spent so much time focused on getting to know them I forgot to show off my own self. As someone who's been accused of being too outspoken (whatever that means, right?) I was disappointed at my self-editing.

As a young designer, not yet settled into any 'ways', I spend a lot of time hopping between two personalities. My baseline is a cocky little spitfire who has something to say, and the moxie to work hard to prove my convictions. I've got opinions about the way things should be done, with bold statements about what's acceptable, what is and isn't high quality design, what's smart and what's a waste of time. I'm sharp and smart and decisive, and make powerful work. The people who want to work with me love this side, but often enough those sending me paychecks aren't so keen on a newbie who thinks she knows something. 

So I try to balance my personality out. The other half of me is a humble learner who spends more time listening than speaking, and tries to be flexible in the moment for the sake of getting along and being open minded. She accepts tasks as they're presented, she's agreeable and lets the person at the other side of the table take the lead. The quiet me doesn't resist a lackluster marketing plan from a coworker, but the bold Rudi would fight her hardest to try and convince the team a better solution exists.

But I'm still one person at the end of the day, so how do I blend my two inner designers? And between the two of them, what do I stand for in regards to design and work? My answer changes from client to client sometimes; right now I'm feeling reactive, not proactive. There are common threads of thought that perhaps I haven't articulated to myself, so I've decided to start a series of posts exploring this theme in hopes of weaving together what it is exactly I believe in. 

I'd be really interested to see what philosophies others adopt in their work lives, so please leave a comment or Tweet me and let me know what you think!