Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Something I Found Interesting

The man in the photo ( 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:

  1. Be authentic.
  2. Work harder than anyone else and you will always benefit from your effort.
  3. Life is visceral. Get off the computer and connect with real people and culture.
  4. Constantly improve your craft.
  5. Travel as much as you can.
  6. Being original is still the king.
  7. Try not to work for stupid people or you will rapidly become one of them.
  8. Instinct and intuition are all-powerful. Learn to trust them.
  9. The Golden Rule actually works.
  10. If all else fails, #2 is the greatest competitive edge of any career.

These are copied from

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.

Be encouraged!

Single Post Navigation

6 thoughts on “Something I Found Interesting

  1. Another good post. I certainly agree with the list of 10, but, having worked in a university environment for 30 years, both as a faculty member and then an administrator (and pretty well using those rules), outcomes in that environment are never a given. Moral suasion is your best – and pretty well only – “carrot”, which is why those rules are so important. 🙂

  2. I have recently graduated from one of Canada’s top design schools and just started a my first real design job, which I am very happy with so far. And I certainly hope these 10 advices prove to be true. However I am not entirely optimistic and remain somewhat skeptical.

    I certainly agree with #7 “Try not to work for stupid people or you will rapidly become one of them.” However, some of the most “successful” people I’ve noticed in this industry weaseled their way to the top though cheating and copying other people’s work (I’m sure this is prevalent in other industries as well). I swore to myself that I will never be one of those people and will abide by #2 “Work harder than anyone else,” but it’s hard to not think of “nice guys (or gals) finish last.”

    Advice often given to me by older friends and relatives are “Be clever and sneaky, get good at office politics, you don’t get ahead from talent and skill alone, and never trust anyone.”

    • I think the advice given by older friends and relatives is old school thinking. For decades businesses have operated on the basis of Sun Tzu’s book, The Art of War, which advocates, “Hold your enemies close and your friends closer.” No doubt many have advanced upward through the ranks of management with this type of philosophy as their mantra.

      I sense a new wave beginning in business. A “different” way of operating based on people rejecting the dog-eat-dog mentality of the past. For instance, the business my wife, a friend, and I are creating does not call for us to make a profit. Our default mode in everything we do is, “DO IT RIGHT – NO MATTER WHAT.” We believe if we are transparent in all our business dealings, represent ourselves as we truly are, and focus on delivering an excellent package, then the money will follow. If it doesn’t then we will close the business and do something else. We will not force profits by resorting to what we feel is unethical business behavior.

      Stick to your beliefs, don’t compromise under any circumstances, and if all else fails email me and we will hire you for our company, because you are exactly the type of individual we want to work with. 🙂

      Be encouraged!

      • It’s nice to know there are some honest people in the world! You have made me optimistic in believing that the business world can change for the better, and become more honest and transparent. I will definitely have to keep you guys in mind 🙂

      • Thank you for your gracious words…keep us posted on your career growth…we are excited we have another person dedicated to an honest, real, and compassionate business model.

        Be encouraged!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: