sharing small pieces of rocks or jewels I find on the way

One of the best piece I have ever seen in Quora – how to be a designer

Answer by Karen X. Cheng:

I got my job as a designer without going to design school.

I wanted to change careers and become a designer, but I didn’t have four years and $100k to go back to school. So I decided to teach myself. At first, I had a lot of doubts on whether someone could teach themselves well enough to get a job.
If you’re wondering the same, the answer is yes.

I hacked together my own design education in 6 months while working a full-time job. I didn’t think I was ready but started applying for jobs anyway — and got a job at a great startup, Exec.

I’ll admit, I’m nowhere near as good as many design prodigies that come out of a 4-year education at an elite school. But I’m definitely good enough to do my job well. I design a pretty wide range of things — for the website, iPhone app, emails, social media, and print.

Maybe you want to change careers and become a designer full-time.
Or you just want to learn some basics for your startup or side project.

This is a guide to teach yourself design.

Step 1. Learn to see
The biggest mistake is jumping into Photoshop too fast. Learning Photoshop does not make you a designer, just like buying paintbrushes doesn’t make you an artist. Start with the foundation.

First, learn how to draw.

  • You don’t have to sit in a room with a bunch of other artists trying to draw a naked woman.
  • You don’t even have to get that good at drawing. Just learn some basics so you can be comfortable sketching with a pen.
  • You only have to do one thing to learn how to draw: get the book You Can Draw in 30 days and practice for half an hour every day for a month. I’ve looked at a lot of drawing books and this is one of the best.

Learn graphic design theory

  • Start with the book Picture This. It’s a story book of Little Red Riding hood, but will teach you the foundations of graphic design at the same time.
  • Learn about color, typography, and designing with a grid. If you can find a local class to teach the basics of graphic design, take it.
  • Go through a few of these tutorials every day.

Learn some basics in user experience
There are a lot of books about user experience. Start with these two quick reads that will get you in the right mindset:

Learn how to write

  • Don’t fill your mockups with placeholder text like Lorem Ipsum. Your job as a designer is not just to make pretty pictures — you must be a good communicator. Think through the entire experience, choosing every word carefully. Write for humans. Don’t write in the academic tone you used to make yourself sound smart in school papers.
  • Read Made to Stick, one of my favorite books of all time. It will teach you how to suck in your readers.
  • Voice and Tone is a website full of great examples of how to talk to users.

Learn to kill your work

  • This is the hardest step in this whole guide.
  • Be prepared to kill everything you make. Be prepared to violently slaughter your precious design babies. The sooner you can embrace this, the better your work will become. When you realize your work isn’t good enough, kill it. Start again.
  • Get another pair of eyes. Ask for feedback on your work from people who care about design. Don’t know anyone? Make some designer friends — go to designer meetups and events.
  • Get the opinion of people who don’t care about design, too. Show your work to people who would be your users and ask them to try your website or app. Don’t be afraid to ask strangers — I once took advantage of a delayed flight by asking all the people in the airport terminal to try out an app I was designing. Most of them were bored and happy to help, and I got some great usability feedback.
  • Listen. Really listen. Don’t argue. If you ask someone for feedback, they’re doing you a favor by giving you their time and attention. Don’t repay the favor by arguing with them. Instead of arguing, thank them and ask questions. Decide later whether you want to incorporate their feedback.

Step 2. Learn how to use Photoshop and Illustrator
Hooray! Now you’ve got a pretty solid foundation – both visual and UX. You’re ready to learn Photoshop. Actually, I recommend starting with Illustrator first and then moving on to Photoshop after. Illustrator is what designers use to make logos and icons. InDesign is good for print design like flyers and business cards.

Learn Illustrator

  • There are a ton of books, online tutorials and in-person classes to learn Illustrator. Choose the style that works best for you. Here are the books I found especially helpful to learn the basics of Illustrator:
  • Adobe Illustrator Classroom in a Book – It’s boring, but if you get through at least half of it, you’ll know your way around Illustrator pretty well.
  • Vector Basic Training – This book teaches you how to make things in Illustrator that actually look good.
  • Now for the fun stuff! Follow these online tutorials and be impressed by what you can make. Here are two my favorites – a logo and a scenic landscape.

Learn Photoshop

Step 3. Learn some specialties
Do you want to design mobile apps? Websites? Infographics? Explore them all, and pick and choose the ones you enjoy to get better at them.

Learn Logo Design

  • Learn how to make a logo that doesn’t suck: Logo Design Love
  • You’ll want to take it a step further than a logo though. Learn to create a consistent brand – from the website to the business cards. Check out this book, Designing Brand Identity.

Learn Mobile App Design

  • Start with this tutorial to get your feet wet on visual design for mobile apps.
  • Read this short but very comprehensive and well-thought out book on iPhone design: Tapworthy. It will teach you how to make an app that not only looks good but is easy to use.
  • Geek out on the apps on your phone. Critique them. What works and what doesn’t?

Learn Web Design

Now for the hairy question of whether you need to know HTML/CSS as a designer: It depends on the job. Knowing it will definitely give you an edge in the job market. Even if you don’t want to be a web developer, it helps to know some basics. That way you know what is possible and what isn’t.
There are so many great resources to learn HTML and CSS:

  • My favorite free one is Web Design Tuts.
  • My favorite paid one (pretty affordable at $25/month) is Treehouse. If you’re starting from the beginning and want someone to explain things clearly and comprehensively, splurge for Treehouse tutorials.

Step 4. Build your portfolio
You don’t need to go to a fancy design school to get a job as a designer. But you do need a solid portfolio.

How do you build a portfolio if you’re just starting out for the first time? The good news is you don’t need to work on real projects with real clients to build a portfolio. Make up your own side projects. Here are a few ideas:

  • Design silly ideas for t-shirts.
  • Find poorly designed websites and redesign them.
  • Got an idea for an iPhone app? Mock it up.
  • Join a team at Startup Weekend and be a designer on a weekend project.
  • Enter a 99 designs contest to practice designing to a brief.
  • Do the graphic design exercises in the Creative Workshop book.
  • Find a local nonprofit and offer to design for free.

Resist the temptation to include every single thing you’ve ever designed in your portfolio. This is a place for your strongest work only.

Steal, steal, steal at first. Don’t worry about being original – that will come later, once you are more comfortable with your craft. When you learn a musical instrument, you learn how to play other people’s songs before composing your own. Same goes for design. Steal like an artist.

Go to Dribbble for inspiration on some of the best designers. Check out pttrns for iOS inspiration, and siteinspire for website inspiration.

Step 5: Get a job as a designer
When I first started learning design, I went to a job search workshop for designers. I walked into a room full of designers who had much more experience than I did – 5, 10, 15 years experience. All of them were looking for jobs. That was intimidating. There I was, trying to teach myself design, knowing I was competing with these experienced designers.

And yet less than a year later, I got a design job. There was one key difference between me and many of the other designers that gave me an edge: I knew how to work with developers.

The biggest factor to boost your employability is to be able to work with developers. Learn some interaction design. Learn some basic HTML and CSS. Designers in the tech industry (interaction designers, web designers, app designers) are in extremely high demand and are paid well. That’s where the jobs are right now.

If you don’t have any experience working with developers, get some. Go to Startup Weekend, go to hackathons, or find a developer through a project collaboration site.

Make a personal website and make your portfolio the centerpiece.
Go out and make serendipity happen – tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a job as a designer. You never know who might know someone.

Research companies and agencies you might be interested in. Look on LinkedIn for 2nd and 3rd degree connections to people who work at those companies and ask for intros. The best way to get a job is through a connection. If you don’t have a connection, there’s still a lot you can do to give yourself an edge.

Once you’ve got the job, keep learning
I’ve been at Exec for a year now and have learned a ton on the job. I seek out designers who are much more talented than I am, and learn from them. I find design classes (good online ones are Skillshare, General Assembly, Treehouse, and TutsPlus). I work on side projects. I geek out at the design section of bookstores. There is still so much to learn and to improve on.
Keep your skills sharp, and always keep learning.

Questions? Say hi at @karenxcheng. If you decide to start learning design and want to seriously commit to practicing everyday, drop me a line at karen (at) danceinayear (dot) com. I’m running an experiment to help keep you motivated.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” ― Ira Glass

This article was originally published on Karen’s blog.

How do you get a job as a designer without going to design school?


Answer by David S. Rose:

I'll give the questioner the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is being asked in good faith. No, it is not remotely OK. Out of my entire portfolio of 90+ companies, including quite a few that are well past Series A and profitable, there is a not a single CEO who is drawing even close to that.

Unless there is something extremely unusual about this situation (such as that the CEO is also the founder, who has invested a few million of his or her own cash, and has some special need for a big salary, such as a terminally ill spouse) that level of cash compensation would be entirely out of line. In my personal experience with companies that are pre-significant-revenue, the median CEO salary range seems to be about $75K-$125K. In some cases with later stage (post Series A) companies with significant revenue and a more mature founder (say, +/-50 y/o) with high living expenses (kids, schools, mortgage, etc.) it might sneak up close to $200K, but that would be an exception.

In the startup world, a CEO's compensation is usually taken in the form of equity, not cash.

Is it OK for the CEO of a startup to draw $350k?

Answer by Anonymous:

From: 'This Stuff Doesn't Change the World': Disability and Steve Jobs' Legacy | Wired Business |

A comment by Westcliffe Courtland:

My youngest brother has muscular dystrophy and is now quadriplegic, with just about enough movement to steer his electric wheelchair.  A few years ago my mom found that someone had put together a bluetooth computer controller allowing the user to control the computer using the wheelchair joystick. The family clubbed together a bought him an iMac with a plan to give him back some of his independence.  It all connected wonderfully, the mouse moved, some keyboard software and we were set..  we thought.

The only problem was that the mouse move juddered, pausing then racing across the screen to catch up with the movement, rendering the whole set up useless.  A lot of testing later, showed that it worked perfectly on a Windows PC, just failed on the iMac.  My mom spent a lot of very frustrating time talking to Apple support here in the UK, who essentially said that it was an unapproved bluetooth device and tough luck we were on our own. 

Out of sheer frustration my mom wrote an e-mail to Steve Jobs venting her frustration at what was happening, never expecting a reply. The surprise was a remarkably prompt, somewhat curt (as he was prone to) reply from him.  He had assigned a group of technicians and programmers to resolve the problem.  They carefully researched the problem and discovered that it was due to a very slight error in the implementation of the Bluetooth stack in OSX that was almost unnoticeable.  They then built my brother a bespoke update to OSX to solve the problem.  An update which appeared a couple of updates later in the routine updates for everyone else. 

This brief interaction with Steve Jobs resulted in an effect that changed my brothers life and had a huge, wonderful effect on my family.  We never thought a CEO of a corporate would care.  He did, he didn't have to, but he diverted resources to make a difference to just one person, the difference between dependence and independence in a number of important ways.  Thank you never seemed enough for what was done and for all he did in the corporate world and all of the incredible things he introduced to the world it is for this one act of human kindness he will forever be in the heart of me and my family.

What are some great stories about Steve Jobs?

I no longer read novel, quora is better. Truth is sometimes better than fiction.

Answer by Kristopher Wright:

Founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, passed away today. I never met the man personally and now I never will. I only had one semi-personal interaction with Steve Jobs and I thought it was a good time to share it.

Before I met my wife, I had a girlfriend named Rebecca. Rebecca had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It was a rough time in her life and she was very depressed by it, even though chemotherapy was healing her over time.

Rebecca was a big fan of Pixar films. I knew Steve Jobs had also been battling cancer and was a big part of the Pixar company. I didn’t know a lot about the guy at this time as it was before the rise of the iPod, iPhone, or iPad. I also wasn’t the thorough nerd that I am now. Yes, there was a time I didn’t care about technology.

I sent a letter to Steve Jobs telling him about Rebecca and her situation. I asked for an autograph for her, hoping that could be something positive for her and encourage some positivity. I never thought I would get a reply, but I thought it was worth a try.

A week later I receive a package in the mail. In this thick envelope was a letter from Steve Jobs speaking of his cancer fight and how he wished Rebecca a quick recovery. Also in this envelope was six Pixar prints signed by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft (a fellow cancer sufferer). Each of these men had written a letter to Rebecca wishing her well.

Jobs did not have to go to this kind of trouble, but he did anyway. Steve Jobs was not a man known for his public charity and many people think he was driven by selfishness and greed. But this act goes against that idea for me. This was most certainly a positive, selfless, and charitable act.

Joe Ranft passed away in a horrible car crash a few years ago and Jobs died today. This story is how I will remember Steve Jobs. Not for the technological advances he promoted. Not for the leaps and bounds that he funded. Not for the boundaries pushed. Of course our world would not be as advanced as it is now without him. Without Jobs we would not have personal computers in almost every home. We wouldn’t have intuitive personal tech devices. Sure, other companies came up with the technology, but Apple made it easy.

I was blown away by this when it happened. Rebecca treasured these letters and autographs and they infused positivity into her life. Eventually Rebecca recovered through chemo and radiotherapy. I don’t know if she even remembers getting this package (she was never much of a movie freak as me), but I know she has the letters somewhere. I know they meant something at the time. I know they mean something to me now.

What are some great stories about Steve Jobs?

Answer by Leonard Kim:

Back at the end of 2010, I had my Lexus taken back and was being kicked out of my 2,600 square foot loft. I was spending all my money on Jameson and spending all my time watching movies off a projector on my wall. I reached a point where I had basically given up on life and was ready to go homeless. No more friends. No more business. No more investors. No more money. Free to live and roam free under a bridge for the rest of my life. Oh how joyous that day would have been. Yet it never came.
I called my mom and told her I was going homeless. She called my grandma. My grandma forced me to live with her for like nine months or something until I was able to mentally live on my own again.
You can always call family. They may put a roof over your head and feed you when you have nothing. That is what my grandma did.
You can also go to the DPSS (Department of Social Services) and get food stamps and welfare checks.
You can stay in bed and watch the world pass you by while you stay stuck and frozen in place. I did that before. It is not too bad, until the collectors start calling and taking your stuff.
But would an entrepreneur really do that?
Highly unlikely.
Instead, they would probably do what Nick Malik said. They would:

Get a job, save some money, make friends and look for opportunities to start over. This time, with the lessons learned to make you better.

(Sorry for kind of stealing your answer Nick. I hope you do not mind. P.S Upvote his answer, not mine.)
After I had freeloaded for about 9 months off grandma, in mid 2011, I took a small loan for a few hundred bucks from my friend, moved back to Los Angeles to live on a sofa, found a job and started over. After two or three months, I paid my friend back.
After about six months of partying and experiencing a few tragedies, I started to put my life together. In 2012, I started living below my means and saving as much money as I could. Then in mid 2013, I took it upon myself to try out an opportunity to start over by writing online and created incoming opportunities and made genuine new friends.
Actually, the opportunity of writing on Quora gave me so much momentum, I was able to take close to six months off in between March and August of this year to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. I used that time to scour through my incoming opportunities, while I was battling the fear and worries of not achieving anything before the age of 30.
Coincidentally, this lapse of time also gave me time to deal with my own lack of self confidence, which I have finally been able to truly overcome, with all the blessings that have come into my life. It also gave me the opportunity to meet face to face with my mentor earlier this year, whom later had invited me to do a podcast on his show.
Now I have money saved, I have genuine friends across the globe, I am able to employ a 16 year old girl to work for me, I wrote a book, got featured in a few publications and have been receiving consulting, branding and content marketing gigs from other businesses. Oh, and my investment manager actually earned me a pretty decent return in the last few weeks.
Not to mention, I now have thousands of inbox messages to filter through with opportunities ranging from piss poor to amazing and everything in between. Sure, there is a little hate and jealousy here and there, but the positivity of the messages I receive and the impact I have made on the lives of others (from what they tell me) is always a rewarding experience.
Yay! I did it! I did something with my life before I was 30! All because I followed Nick Malik's simple, yet profound advice!
Anyway, it is funny how such simple advice like that works, is it not?
P.S. I'm probably going to release a few other books sometime this year or late next year, in regards to online harassment, branding yourself and how to not get promoted a corporate job. Maybe even a book on how to overcome impostor syndrome as well.

How can a failed entrepreneur survive with no friends, no investors, no job and no money?

PMO – an important concept for growing companies

While studying PMP, I came across the concept of PMO which felt a very interesting concept for organizing the projects in a company. Some very good reading materials are freely available in this link which is important for entrepreneurs I think.

Workcation – Naville

This is one of the best blog post I read over a long time, made my day kind of. I was very much down and it lit me up a lot. Worth reading –