Something I Found Interesting
The man in the photo (http://www.newfangled.com/interview_with_risd_president_john_maeda) is John Maeda. On June 2, 2008 he was selected as the President for the Rhode Island School of Design. Earlier Esquire magazine had identified him as one of the 21 most important people for the 21st century. He grew up in Seattle, Washington as part of a family owned tofu business, which he refers to as familial child slave labor. His degrees include BS and MS degrees from MIT, and a PhD in design from Tsukuba University Institute of Art and Design in Japan. At the MIT Media Lab he was a graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist, as well as, one of the founders of “simplicity” in the digital age.
That last paragraph was written to convince you John Maeda is nobody’s fool. This is an intelligent man who knows what he wants and knows how to go about getting it in life. Which is why I found a recent article about him fascinating. The article was located on page 20 of the May 2012 (Issue 165) of Fast Company. It is written by Linda Tiscler, who according to her bio on Fast Company’s web site, writes about the intersection of design and business.
The bulk of the article conveys how Dr. Maeda stumbled by alienating his co-associates at RISD when he instilled some of his MIT Media Lab’s cyberstyle leadership skills. I am not exactly sure what the details were, but the end results was Dr. Maeda failed, and this is a guy who is not accustomed to failing. In fact, his failure was so acute his board-endorsed strategic plan for the school was met with a “no confidence” vote from the faculty.
In the face of failure he embraced a piece of advice he had received from a close friend, John Jay, Wieden+Kennedy’s executive creative director. Although these are his 10 tips for young designers I believe they will resonate deeply within you, they did me:
- Be authentic.
- Work harder than anyone else and you will always benefit from your effort.
- Life is visceral. Get off the computer and connect with real people and culture.
- Constantly improve your craft.
- Travel as much as you can.
- Being original is still the king.
- Try not to work for stupid people or you will rapidly become one of them.
- Instinct and intuition are all-powerful. Learn to trust them.
- The Golden Rule actually works.
- If all else fails, #2 is the greatest competitive edge of any career.
These are copied from http://designtaxi.com/news/34110/10-Lessons-for-Young-Designers-from-John-C-Jay/.
His revised plan was passed with a 80% faculty approval. This is what it means to not see our failures as the end of the line. It is not indication we are not good enough or in some way flawed. Our failures are only obstacles to be overcome or built upon to achieve success. Dr. Maeda clearly demonstrates this in his willingness to embrace outside assistance and re-formulate his strategic planning goals.
Granted few of us operate in the rarefied air of the nation’s top design schools, nor may we have the credentials of Dr. Maeda, but I believe his approach can apply to all of us when faced with our own less than perfect outcomes. Accepting the advice of others isn’t a sign of weakness. It is an indication of our willingness to grow and expand.
After each post is published I am always looking forward to the comments I receive. They never cease to make me think about what I’ve written. In many cases they have been the impetus for new posts. So let’s go forward, growing, reaching, striving, and doing all we can to support and strengthen as many as we kind, while always being willing to receive.