Making ideas happen was the big theme at the recent 99u Conference Caroline and I attended in NYC. While you can explore the highlights in more detail at the 99u site (totally worth it), I wanted to offer a brief visual tour of the moments that really impacted us, and likely hold something of value for you, too.
Let’s start with a really crucial reminder from designer and entrepreneur Mark Ecko, as an antidote to the daily bombardment of tips, tricks and hacks–there’s an app for that!–that can leave us feeling like suckers for actually digging in and doing the work. “Qualitative Excellence Can Not Be Hacked.” That’s worth repeating now and again, isn’t it?
Simply put: Without a willingness to try something new, take risks, make mistakes, there is no learning and growth. The inability to declare yourself a beginner or admit there is something you don’t know or accept the occasional flush of embarrassment are grave Enemies of Learning. (And OMG have I struggled with them!) For a deeper dive on this, it’s hard to do better than the advice of Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull.
“Knowing” is another Enemy of Learning. The human organism follows the survival principle of conservation of energy. So if you know, then you don’t need to waste calories considering alternatives or trying something new. Even worse, you generally won’t even be consciously aware that there were other options that you turned a blind eye to. Welcome to Dead-Endsville. The way out involves learning to embrace a degree of discomfort, as well as talking less and listening more.
This next one seems more radical the more time I spend with it… Optimise for relationships first. Not systems, not processes, not input or output. Relationships. This applies both to who you are creating for and who you are creating with. What might it look like for you to optimise for relationships first?
On explaining why he made the seemingly unlikely career move from President of the Rhode Island School of Design to Partner at super-iinfluential VC Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, John Maeda simply said “I totally believe in fortune cookies.” I now love John Maeda.
John also offered this schematic view of Leadership: The leader is the fulcrum between the past and the future. This creates three possible outcomes…
If you’re in need of some new rules for living a creative and fulfilling life, you could do a lot worse than adopting the ones Tina Roth Eisenberg shared…
There was, of course, a whole lot more. We’ll circle back to these ideas in future blogs.
As always, your comments and thoughts are greatly appreciated, and please do share this with anyone that might benefit from it. Now get out there and make things happen!