Sunday, December 30, 2007

This Design Blog in Review

2007 is gone and what an interesting year it was! I learned so much! Writing for this blog has been amazing and it has taught me a lot in itself as well as a lot about myself.

It ocurred to me last week that it would be a good idea to list all my past articles so far and add some categories, so that it’ll be a good index of topics. So here goes:

► Business & Management
Designers beware… design is not just about designing.
Designers beware of… customer service.
Getting a client, instead of an occasional buyer.
Designers beware of… filing systems.
Designers beware of… finances.
Designers beware of… production lines.
Designers beware of… technology and supplies.
Designers beware of… time measurement.
Time Tracking Tool.
Designers beware: 10 tips on writing emails.
Designers beware: Setting clear goals and expectations.
Designers beware: 5 steps to productivity, the 5S.
Designers beware: 5S Phase 1, Seiri (Select).
Designers beware: 5S Phase 2, Seiton (Organize).
Designers beware: 5S Phase 3, Seiso (Clean).
Designers beware: 5S Phase 4, Seiketsu (Standardize).
Designers beware: 5S Phase 5, Shitsuke (Improve).

► Recruitment & Selection
Designers beware: 10 tips on designer resumes.
12 resume writing tips for designers.
Designers beware: Being the interviewee (Part 1).
Designers beware: Being the interviewee (Part 2).
Designers beware: Being the interviewer.
Designers beware: Your portfolio.

► Leadership & Self Development
Designers beware of… leadership.
Design leadership and the constant challenges.
Designers beware: Is the design manager or leader the one that is “better” than the rest?
How can I?
Learn English!
Paradigm shifts and design.
Positive feedback.
The 10 Major Causes of Failure in Leadership.
The 11 Major Attributes of Leadership.
Three books you must read before you're 30.

► Creativity & Inspiration
Design magazines.
Design on wheels.
Designers beware: Podcasts.
Designers beware: Travels.
Four Design Influences.

► Resources
Design resources:
Design Resources: Design Management Institute, DMI.
Design resources: and Trendwatching.

► Local
10th Design Showroom, Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
Expoartesanías 2007.
Latin American Design Events.

► Reference Articles
Design jobs: 3 great articles.
- Creatives Wanted: How to Prepare Yourself for Today's Job Market.
Turning Up the Volume: Teleconferencing Etiquette.
Five Sure Signs Your Job Is a Dead-End.
Design resources: 2 articles.
- Get A Life (And Other Remedies for Creative Atrophy).
The Proof is in the Process.

► Guest Post
Beginners guide to making money on the internet

► Personal
25 things about me.
Gracias, Merci, Thank you, Danke, Grazie, Obrigada...

I want to thank everybody who visited and commented on my blog! I am sure 2008 will bring more topics to write and discuss about!

All the best!

Special thanks to my friends Wayne Smallman and Carl Grint who have helped me improve this blog.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Expoartesanías 2007

“From December 6th to 19th at Corferias, the most representative display of handicrafts from Colombia and other countries such as Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Venezuela, among others, will take place.

820 exhibitors will display the most unique handicrafts in seven pavilions.

Some of the new features of the 2007 fair include a special pavilion devoted to Jewelry and another pavilion for international exhibitors..."*

A couple of weeks ago I visited Expoartesanías. I know in previous posts I’ve been ranting about how disappointing current colombian design is. Granted, I referred to design in the academy and what kind of designers are getting a degree.

However, I am thrilled to announce that what I saw in Expoartesanías is a whole different picture. Of course, Expoartesanías is about crafts, so no mass production there. However, there’s still design involved!

And lots of it!

So it seems that many designers and artists are out there working hard and making great design. Some students would be wise to approach them and learn from them.

I saw great furniture, great leather accessories, home accessories, innovative use of materials, remarkable jewelry, unexpected forms and objects, but all with that amazing colombian aesthetic.

I know it’s late to go see it now, but check the catalog anyway and set yourself up to visit the fair next year!

I still wonder, though, how do we bring together this real life experience of business and the academy? Why the gap? What am I missing here?

All comments will be welcome.
All the best!

*From the Expoartesanías website.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Hi, Everybody! This is just a quick note to wish everybody Happy Holidays and a 2008 full of success!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Getting a client, instead of an occasional buyer

–noun 1. a person or group that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc.

But, I think we all know a client is much more than that, don’t we?

Clients pay for the service you provide for them. Give good service, and you will:
- Have a loyal client that keeps coming back for more, providing you in return, with steady income.
- Have a client that will give his friends good references of you, providing you with more work.
- Get an ally and a friend that will help your business grow, while you make theirs, grow.

Sounds great, right?

And how exactly do you get to that point?

Allow me to illustrate with a recent experience of mine:

A couple of weeks ago I wanted to buy a watch, so I went to the mall. There were about five stores that carried the kind of watch I wanted. So I went to the first store and requested the watch, and they had it, except they carried it in light blue and pink.

“Hmm, I’d rather it was black” I said to the sales guy. “We don’t carry it in black” he said. So I replied “Great, let me check other stores and see if I can find it. If I don’t, I’ll come back and buy one of these”, to which he replied “You’re not going to find it in this mall. We’re the only ones who carry this particular model, so you might as well buy it right away”.

“Thanks” I said, “I’ll take my chances”.

The second store I visited carried the watch and guess what: They had it in black! The sales lady was very polite, told me the price, allowed me to try it on… But I still wanted to see if I could get a better price somewhere else. “Thanks” I said, “I’ll check other stores and come back if I decide to buy this one”. “Great!” she said, “I’ll be here if you need me”.

Surely enough, I went to other stores, they all carried the watch in different colors, including black. Where do you think I went back to buy the watch?

See the difference? The first guy was interested in making THIS particular sale and getting his commission. The second lady was interested in what I wanted. I wanted a black watch, at a better price.
Sure, she wanted to sell hers too, but she was more focused on providing a service and letting the customer get the best deal (And of course, she was confident that I could not get a better price anywhere else). She was also very friendly and provided me with great service by giving me information and allowing me to try it on.

If I ever need to buy another watch, or if I know of someone that needs one, I’ll recommend that particular store. She got herself a client.

If I had bought the watch at the first store just because I couldn’t find it anywhere else, I would’ve become an occasional buyer and would have never come back. And I am not coming back.

Who’s more intelligent? I bet by now you get my point…

Think of providing a service, a great service, instead of thinking about how to make one sale. Think of what the client wants and give it to them. It may be that the client doesn’t actually buy from you now, but they will remember you and come back if they see that you’re eager to provide them with value, rather than just take their money.

All the best!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The 10 Major Causes of Failure in Leadership

In order to reinforce my past entry, allow me to transcribe now another passage of “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, published in 1937.

Here goes:

The 10 Major Causes of Failure in Leadership

1. Inability to organize details.
Efficient leadership calls for ability to organize and master details. No genuine leader is ever “too busy” to do anything which may be required of him in his capacity as a leader. When a man, whether he is a leader or a follower, admits that he is “too busy” to change his plans, or to give attention to any emergency, he admits his inefficiency. The successful leader must be the master of all details connected with his position. That means, of course, that he must acquire the habit or delegating details to capable lieutenants.

2. Unwillingness to render humble service.
Truly great leaders are willing, when occasion demands, to perform any sort of labor which they would ask another to perform. “The greatest among ye shall be servant of all” is a truth which all leaders observe and respect.

3. Expectation of pay for what they “know” instead of what they “do” with that which they know.
The world does not pay men for that which they “know”. It pays them for that they DO, or induce others to do.

4. Fear of competition from followers.
The leader who fears that one of his followers may take his position is practically sure to realize that fear sooner or later. The able leader trains understudies to whom he may delegate, at will, any of the details of his position. Only in this way may a leader multiply himself and prepare himself to be at many places, and give attention to many things at one time. It is an eternal truth that men receive more pay for their ability to get others to perform, than they could possibly earn by their own efforts. An efficient leader may, through this knowledge of his job and the magnetism of his personality, greatly increase the efficiency of others, and induce them to render more service and better service than they could render without his aid.

5. Lack of imagination.
Without imagination, the leader in incapable of meeting emergencies, and of creating plans by which to guide his followers efficiently.

6. Selfishness.
The leader who claims all the honor for the work of his followers, is sure to be met by resentment. The really great leader claims none of the honors. He is contented to see the honors, when there are any, go to his followers, because he knows that most men will work harder for commendation and recognition than they will for money alone.

7. Intemperance.
Followers do not respect an intemperate leader. Moreover, intemperance in any of its various forms, destroys the endurance and the vitality of all who indulge in it.

8. Disloyalty.
Perhaps this should have come at the head of the list. The leader who is not loyal to his trust, and to his associates, those above him and those below him, cannot long maintain his leadership. Disloyalty marks one as being less that the dust of the earth, and brings down on one’s head the contempt he deserves. Lack of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in every walk of life.

9. Emphasis of the “authority” of leadership.
The efficient leader leads by encouraging and not by trying to instill fear in the hearts of his followers. The leader who tries to impress his followers with his “authority” comes within the category of leadership through force. If a leader is a real leader, he will have no need to advertise that fact, except by his conduct, his sympathy, understanding, fairness and demonstration that he knows his job.

10. Emphasis of title.
The competent leader requires no “title” to give him the respect of his followers. The man who makes too much over his title generally has little else to emphasize. The doors to the office of the real leader are open to all who wish to enter, and his working quarters are free from formality or ostentation.

I think many latin american leaders, in all areas, fall into these negative practices, don't you?

All the best!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The 11 Major Attributes of Leadership

I’ve been reading another book. It’s called “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. It was published in 1937, when Andrew Carnegie appointed Napoleon to study the characteristics of great achievers in America and to write a book that would summarize such characteristics.

I’d heard a lot about this book, so I decided to give it a try. I’m not finished yet, but I want to transcribe a passage of it here, since I believe it relates to the way I view design leadership.

So here goes:

The Major Attributes of Leadership

1. Unwavering courage.
Based upon knowledge of self, and of one’s occupation. No follower wishes to be dominated by a leader who lacks self-confidence and courage. No intelligent follower will be dominated by such a leader very long.

2. Self-control.
The man who cannot control himself, can never control others. Self-control sets a mighty example for one’s followers, which the more intelligent will emulate.

3. A keen sense of justice.
Without a sense of fairness and justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of his followers.

4. Definiteness of decision.
The man who wavers in his decisions, shows that he is not sure of himself. He cannot lead others successfully.

5. Definiteness of plans.
The successful leader must plan his work and work his plan. A leader who moves by guesswork, without practical, definite plans, is comparable to a ship without a rudder. Sooner or later he will land on the rocks.

6. The habit of doing more than paid for.
One of the penalties of leadership is the necessity of willingness, upon the part of the leader, to do more that he requires of his followers.

7. A pleasing personality.
No slovenly, careless person can become a successful leader. Leadership calls for respect. Followers will not respect a leader who does not grade high on all the factors of a pleasing personality.

8. Sympathy and understanding.
The successful leader must be in sympathy with his followers. Moreover, he must understand them and their problems.

9. Mastery of detail.
Successful leadership calls for mastery of details of the leader’s position.

10. Willingness to assume full responsibility.
The successful leader must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and the shortcomings of his followers. If he tries to shift this responsibility, he will not remain the leader. If one of his followers makes a mistake, and shows himself incompetent, the leader must consider that it is he who failed.”

11. Cooperation.
The successful leader must understand and apply the principle of cooperative effort and be able to induce his followers to do the same. Leadership calls for power and power calls for cooperation."

All the best!