I think my greatest lesson has been not to be afraid to just be yourself, especially when talking to clients. I spent too many of my early years at Stryve trying to be what I thought was “a perfect business person” and it is a waste of energy. An authentic person is the perfect business person.
I’ve learned that not everything you do is expected/going to work. I think when I started out in marketing I had this idea that all of your campaigns and ideas had to be successful when the reality is that most failures are just steps towards the successful iteration. It’s unrealistic to think everything you do will be and needs to be a success at every turn.
That getting something in front of the client (or your boss) even if it’s not totally right or “perfect” is better than just talking about it. We call it showing the ugly baby. It gets results, and it gets them much quicker. It’s kind of like Cunningham’s Law, that states the best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question but rather to post the wrong answer. As a perfectionist, this goes against my nature so I constantly struggle to incorporate this learning.
Don’t kill yourself over deadlines. The scope of projects change all the time, and sometimes you just can’t get what you need on time to get the job done. Be reasonable to yourself, it’s not worth the stress. Plus, good things take time. It’s far better to have a fully finished, high-quality deliverable that’s a few days late, rather than a shitty, rushed job that’s on-time.
Being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of your team to show early progress on an idea is not an easy thing to do. It can be a stressful and unpleasant experience but this is actually an important step in the creative process. Wasting valuable time going down the wrong path can sink a project. Once you’re able to separate yourself from the work and trust your team, you’ll realize it’s about critiquing the work, not you.
It’s okay to take a break. Sometimes it can be hard admitting to your teammates (or yourself) that you’ve hit a creative roadblock. As a designer, I often feel this immense pressure to keep my creative juices flowing at all times and push through a project despite being stuck. In reality, you just end up wasting time rehashing the same thing over and over again. I’ve found that the best solution can be to just walk away from your work for a bit. Switch to a different task for a while. Show your work to a new set of eyes that might see a solution you haven’t yet considered. Or just take a quick breather. That hurdle that seemed too big to get past will seem a lot smaller when you return to it. And sometimes the best ideas come to you when you take a step back.