What advice would I give a young designer in order to help him
or her succeed? I believe that every goal is achievable and you can
live a remarkable life by following these steps:
1. Work harder than anybody else you know.
2. Don't rest on your laurels. Don't rest on any laurels.
3. Constantly try to find out and learn about the things that
you don't know. It's really easy to learn about things that you
know. And it's pretty easy to learn about things that you know that
you don't know. I would suggest that people learn about all the
things that they don't realize that they don't know.
4. Many people start out by thinking about all the things that
they can't do; once you take that path, it's very hard to get off
of it. Try not to take that path. The only person who can make your
dreams come true is you. If you start out with limited dreams,
you'll achieve only limited dreams. This is not a good way to
5. Do not compromise! Consider what you would do if you knew you
would never fail, and pursue that as if your life depended on
it—because it does! Only you can create a remarkable life for
yourself. Only you. Start right now!
This essay originally appeared in the 2010AIGA|Aquent Survey of Design
Debbie Millman is a partner and president of the design division at Sterling Brands, one of the leading brand identity firms in the country. Millman was president of AIGA from 2009 to 2011. She is chair of the School of Visual Arts’ master’s program in Branding and is a contributing editor to Print magazine and host of the podcast “Design Matters.” She is the author of How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer (Allworth Press, 2007) and Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design (HOW Books, 2009).
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I’m sure many of us know at least one person who’s paused in awe on their five- or ten-year anniversary at a company and wondered aloud, “How have I been here so long without realizing it?” We often live with blinders on, looking straight ahead for long periods of time without so much as glancing around us.
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