Fortune Cookie

If you’ve ever had Chinese-American food, no doubt you’ve come across the iconic fortune cookie. When broken open you come across a printed strip of paper that states a wonderful message of good will–your fortune. It makes us feel good for a moment in time and we either keep it or toss out that strip of paper. It’s also true that the message stays or is thrown away from our psyche.

Our human brain works in ways similar to our reaction to a fortune cookie’s message. The message creates a thought in our heads that could make a neural connection if we want it to. If that neural connection happens, it becomes an intention. If you believe the cookie’s message, your intentions will make it happen. After all, the body follows the brain. For example, if your brain says the body is hungry, the brain will direct the body to find something to eat. If your brain believes, your body will follow. It’s a learning response–response, stimulus, reinforced behavior. I will elaborate more on learning in a future post.

Design is like a fortune cookie. It carries a message that we hope will connect with its viewer. The struggles are there in hopes that it will leave a neural connection that a viewer will hopefully create an action (call, connect, visit, purchase, inspire, etc…). Beginning designers tend to be more ego driven and not thinking of the so-called fortune cookie effect. Remember that ego never inspired anyone.

When designing, think of how wonderful the experience is from the fortune cookie. And, just maybe, you will leave a lifelong connection with your message.

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Trust

There are times in our design lives when we have to seek help from colleagues and associates. Whether it’s a technique or resource to help get things done, we have a circle of people that we trust. Students especially have to let go of their apprehension and be able to trust the teacher. Only then are they able to learn.

If at any time that apprehension comes back, we no longer are able to learn. Walls are built up and the teacher’s expertise is questioned. This concept of trust is earned and respected. This only comes with time and experience.

There are no shortcuts to trust. Our personal and professional networks are built based on trust. Relationships are built on trust. We need trust in our lives to contribute to the well-being of our society. Please don’t confuse promises with trust though.

Place your trust in people and organizations that have a track record worthy of your standards. Vice versa, you have to have a track record of standards as well.

Designers need that trust in all that we do, from our tools to our associates. We trust because we are willing to accept the risk, not because it’s safe or certain.

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Ordinary

Everything we experience in this modern world is usually designed and concepted by someone’s imagination. From our buildings and transportation we conduct our lives in to the pencils and pens we always take for granted that give permanence to our thoughts. We live in a world of everyone’s imagination.

What’s amazing to think about is how incredibly ordinary the majority of our world is. The next time you flip through a newspaper or drive through a neighborhood, take a visual inventory of what you think is ordinary. You’ll find that ordinary exists and is multiplying. We start to blend in with everyone and everything—a slow death for any creative.

I wonder sometimes if there are mental and physical issues involved with the world of the ordinary. Creatives know how much they need to pull away from the ordinary. They’ve discovered how much they need to risk in order to be seen and heard. But the risks give way to an extraordinary life with beautiful insights—ask any fine artist, the ones who risk the most.

I often ask and plead with my students to show me things I’ve never seen before—an easy challenge but hard in its execution. This means they have to push themselves into their own storm of thoughts and have their own hero’s journey, which is very uncomfortable. The best are the ones that make it through their own mental storm—the ones that make it through the ordinary.

If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.

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