Episode 108

Let's Be Human Together

This week on Overtime, Pantone announces their color of the year for 2021 and it’s not what we expected. Then, Meg reviews Google’s new experiment called Blob Opera and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Plus, we talk about how to level up your spot in the design and creative industry in 2021, and why being your authentic self will take you farther than any other skill set. Let’s go!

We're finding more and more nowadays that skill set is definitely secondary to personality and potential.

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Meg: Hi, hello, welcome back to Overtime! I’m your host Meg “Bingo Bango Bongo” Lewis. This is Dribbble’s weekly podcast where I give you design news, and you know what? Some tips to create your very best work. This week on Overtime, I finally find out what Pantone’s color of the Year for 2021 is and it’s – they cheated – it’s two colors. Plus, Google launches an experiment called Blob Opera, and I’m pretty sure, yeah, they made it just for me, which is very kind of them. Oh, and how to level up your spot in the design and creative industry, which actually, it’s just going to be advice really that applies for all humans regardless of industry. But you know the drill, we’re talking design here. So, let’s go!

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[Singing] It’s time for Pantone’s color of the year, it’s time for Pantone’s color of the year, it’s time for Pantone’s color of the year! I’m sorry, I’m losing all sense of reality and my jingles never stop jangling. They’re just, I’m jangling all the time, basically, is what’s happening. So, Pantone, as you probably know, if you are familiar with Pantone at all, is they are color people and they are in the art of color. They do colors every day, all day, forever and ever. And so, they know everything there is to know about color, I would assume they know more about color than I do. Anyway, every year, they announce the color of the year for that year. And I believe 2020, we covered this before, it was like classic blue or something. And they finally released the 2021 color, and guess what? It’s two colors. They cheated.

They definitely cheated, and it makes a lot of sense because 2021, I hope, I think and I hope, my prediction for 2021 is that it’s going to be a year of harsh contrast. And when I saw the two colors, I totally understood what they were going for, and I didn’t even need to read about it, I already knew, because the two colors are called Ultimate Gray, which is like a basic medium gray color, and the second color is called Illuminating, which is a very, very bright yellow. And once I finally read through – the exact quote is, “Two colors coming together to express the mood for 2021: practical and rock solid, but at the same time warming an optimistic.” And yeah, I mean, I think my prediction for 2021 is that that’s exactly right. The first part of 2021 is going to feel quite gray, and then hopefully by middle to late 2021, we’re feeling illuminated, we’re feeling bright yellow. Oh, I can’t wait until we get to that bright yellow time. Ooh come at me bright yellow. Until then, in the meantime, I will just continue to use bright yellow as often as possible so that I can convince my brain to be illuminated.

But yeah, I don’t have much else to add because, what else? What else could there [be]? It’s color of the year from a company that does colors. Yeah, there’s not more to say here, is there? I don’t think so. Let’s move on.

[Singing operatically] That was me singing opera. And you know why I’m singing opera today for you? Because I’ve considered a career switch to an operatic singer. This is my announcement, officially. You’re hearing it here for the first time. And that is a joke. That was a joke. Clearly, you could probably tell that I don’t have what it takes to be an operatic singer. But instead, I want to talk to you about Google Arts & Culture, [who] recently launched what they’re calling an experiment called Blob Opera, which is an absolutely delightful way to waste some time for you if you’re looking to just feel a little bit lighter for just a bit. And yeah, so what it is, is it’s an online experience with, I think there [are] four blobs, each of them has a different operatic tone. I don’t know if that’s what they’re called: tones, like a, you know, a bass, tenor, mezzo soprano and soprano. Yeah. So, there [are] four of them with different pitches and vocal cords. Yeah, yeah, I don’t know what I’m talking about. Anyway, so there [are] four of them, they’re all blob characters, and you can play each of them, and it uses machine learning to help them harmonize. So, you get to be the part of one of the four at all times and you get to like, change the notes, change the key, and all of that. And then the other three fall in tune, and they harmonize with it, and their eyes follow your mouse around the screen. And they’re delightful blobby shapes, and they breathe, their little blob bodies breathe in and out. I mean, it’s a real nice little break that might make you smile and might distract you from some of the more harrowing parts and aspects of your life, which is why I was so taken with it. And they also have the ability to record and share the songs that you make, which is just really nice, really delightful. And they also have holiday songs built in, so you can switch into holiday mode and watch your little blobs sing their little blob hearts away. It’s very, very sweet.

And you know what? If you want to go check out the blob opera, the link will be in the show notes on the overtime website. But also, just maybe Google it. It’s called the Blob Opera from Google arts and culture. Have fun. I just wanted to tell you about something a little nonsensical that I enjoyed, and I hope you enjoyed it too.

[Singing] Level up, level up, level up, level up level up, yay! I should have a, you know, kind of like a Kids Bob album, but of me singing pop songs in my own voice, which I would assume no one would listen to but probably my mom. Honestly, I think she’d probably like that. I think she’d be very proud of me. Anyway, what am I talking about? Oh, leveling up.

So, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months, and really over the past few years, honestly, talking to a lot of students, either one on one or talking to classes through Zoom. And it’s been really fun for me this year, because clearly, I can just hang out with as many people from all over the world as I want to because of the magic of internet connections and webcams. Anyway, so [I’m] spending a lot of time talking to students, and I keep getting the same question or I keep getting, you know, students expressing concern about this very specific topic of how to break into relationships in the industry. And I think that the attitude, and I hear this a lot, like the exact quote of, you know, whenever you are trying to invite somebody you admire that’s doing great work out for coffee, or, you know, want to sit down one on one with them and talk to them, get their advice, hear them out, learn from their experience, I think what I’m hearing from people is they’re afraid to do that, because of so many reasons. The person is busy, they, you know, they talk themselves out of making the ask. And I think that they’re being told, they’re being advised by instructors, which they should be, to reach out to people and pick their brain, ask them questions and all of that. If you’re inspired by somebody, reach out to them, let them know, and ask them if they want to hop on a little call with you. And I think that’s great advice. I’m not disagreeing with that advice at all.

But what I’m hearing from students and, you know, designers who are earlier on in their design career is, “What’s in it for them? Like if I ask a designer that I admire, a creative person that I really look up to, and I ask them for their advice and help and I want to ask them all these questions and pick their brain, what’s in it for them? What can I give them in return? I’m just a little student.” That’s usually what people ask me. And my initial reaction to that sentiment, that question, is it makes me sad. It makes me sad because of course, it doesn’t matter what your experience level is as a human or as somebody in this industry, we all – we all – have so much to learn from one another, we all have so much to learn from each other.

So, I can’t imagine that there’s nothing in it for them. I think the baseline thing that you can offer them, if you’re reaching out to somebody asking to pick their brain, is you 100% can offer them a good time. Right? You are a fascinating, interesting person that has a lot to offer every single person that you interact with. Even if they have a lot more experience than you, who cares? You can show them a good time because you’re a really cool, interesting human. So, I think we have to, maybe, shift our thinking to remind ourselves that we have a lot to learn from one another. And if you’re an expert, extremely experienced designer, who is usually in the place of giving advice rather than receiving advice like me, I find that with every single one of these conversations I have, no matter who it is, as long as I approach it as a conversation, I end up learning so much.

I learn so much about them, they show me their perspective, I expand my worldview through having conversations with them, I think about doing things in a new way that I had never thought about doing before. I get so much out of this interaction and out of these experiences. And I think that we kind of just need to have a perspective shift and remind ourselves, humble ourselves a little bit, and remind ourselves that we all have so much to learn, we all have so much to offer, and the more we can sit down with each other one on one and communicate these things, communicate our ideas, and our questions about the industry and about life, and our thoughts and our opinions and our perspectives, the more we can learn and grow together. Because the beautiful thing about humanity is that we all have completely different experiences. We have completely different lives, every single one of us, you and I are so different from one another, so the more that we can sit down together and listen and learn and talk, the more we can expand our individual worldviews, which makes the world a more beautiful, empathetic and thoughtful place. Right? It wasn’t until I started meeting people and having conversations with people who lived very different lives from me, until I started to expand my worldview and become a heck of a lot more empathetic towards others.

So, wow, what was I supposed to be talking about? Leveling up your spot in the industry, which I am still, I think we all need to remember to approach relationships as friendships, as reminding ourselves that we’re all humans. We’re all human, we all have this complex mix of emotions swirling around in our brains constantly. So yeah, we need to approach all, even if it’s a business relationship, even if it’s in the industry or whatever, as friends, not contacts, which we hear that from time to time, that advice, right? And I think it’s really important to remember where we’re at culturally in hiring practices, and all of that, because I know for decades, you know, in the past, businesses hired people, corporations, and companies hired individuals. And so, what that meant was, the person that’s on the hiring side was very much a representative of the business, of the corporation of the company. And they had to put their own opinions and personality aside and put on this mask, this persona of what represented the company, right? And then in those situations, you as the interviewee or the person that was trying to get work from that person would also have to put on this mask, this persona of the ideal candidate. And so, both parties were totally faking it, not being themselves at all, being the version of themselves of themselves that they thought they were supposed to be, right? So, two fake people having a very fake conversation. And, oh, that sounds awful, right? Of course, it does.

And now what’s happening is individualism is more encouraged in the workplace in general, especially in our industry, right? And so what happens now is people hire people, so people are [trying less] to become a fake version of themselves to represent a brand or a company or a corporation, and they’re encouraged more to be themselves, and to show up as themselves, talk about their own individualistic ideals and all of that during interviews and conversation settings. Of course, yes, we know this. And so, what happens whenever you’re interviewing now is that they are looking for, especially if you’re going to be directly working with them, they are looking for the candidate that they just want to spend the most time with. That happens a lot. We’re finding more and more nowadays that skill set is definitely secondarily placed underneath personality and potential, which I think in many ways is really good. It’s good for you being yourself and feeling safe and showing up as yourself and being able to be that person.

It is bad, in some ways, because we have issues with this as humans, humans have issues. So, hirer Jeffrey might end up only hiring other people that look like him and are interested in the same things as him, which, obviously is a problem, of course. But I think that it’s great, because this means that whenever you’re designing your portfolio, whenever you’re talking about yourself, you have the ability now that you didn’t necessarily have before, it wasn’t encouraged before, you have the ability now to show who you really are, to show what you’re interested in, to show the breadth of your areas of interest that are outside of your profession of design, or whatever creative profession you’re in. So, we have this ability now to be people, to be humans, to be real, to be flawed, and it’s encouraged.

And we see that through casual relationships in the industry, through what I was just saying about approaching people as friends, showing them a good time, just having a great time together, learning from each other as you go. This is one of the most beautiful parts of the human experience. And there are a lot of areas that are flawed, of course, as I mentioned with Jeffrey, no offense, Jeffrey. I had to pick a name of somebody, I don’t know any Jeffreys, I’m sure there’s a Jeffrey out there listening to this, I’m not talking about you, I promise.

Okay, so we have this beautiful opportunity. And sometimes the Jeffrey’s of the world abuse that, and clearly only hire people that are like them. But as long as we’re being ourselves in these situations, and by being ourselves, I just mean show up as yourself as, yeah, what does that mean? It means to showcase all of the various things that are interesting to you, and that you’re a fan of, that make you who you are, all these things that maybe you’ve been hiding your whole life, just push those things frickin forward for once. And it helps us because then we end up getting jobs, we end up creating relationships with people that like us for who we are, even though maybe we’re different from them. And I think that’s really beautiful.

So, it kind of helps you to control the narrative of your own life by attracting the people that like you for who you are, so that way, you don’t have to pretend to be a different version of yourself. And obviously, a lot of people do not feel safe to be themselves, they are not in the position to feel safe at all to be themselves, so you have to play the system, and wear the mask, and be that curated version of yourself in order to survive, and that is fine. If you do not feel safe enough to be yourself, you do not need to push through that and make yourself feel unsafe. Absolutely-tutely not. But the goal here is to fill your life, your career, with people that do make you feel safe to be yourself. Every single human deserves that opportunity.

Okay, so in leveling up your spot in the industry, what I’m saying here is to be a good person, essentially. Be kind, approach all relationships as though you are humble enough to have lots to learn from every person you encounter and meet, and remember that you’re meeting a human – a human that has flaws, that gets sad, that gets angry, that gets happy and experiences joy, just like you do, and that allows us to have a little bit of empathy when we have relationships and remind ourselves of our place in this world, because we do all have a lot to learn from one another. So, this is all to say that there are a lot of things that you can do to make yourself feel successful when it comes to your relationships in the industry, to feel like you know people. And the only advantage really, I mean, the biggest advantage of knowing people in this industry is just that it helps you can’t work. I will say that I can attribute all of my opportunities to the relationships I’ve made in this industry; other designers, other creatives, who I’ve just made friends with, I’ve showed them a good time. We don’t even necessarily talk about design, we just hang out, we talk about whatever: burlap sacks, cardboard boxes, I’m in a storage room right now recording this, just looking around the room. There’s a burlap sack and a lot of cardboard boxes in here. There’s a ladder, tubs, lots of tubs. Anyway, so I talked about all these things with other creatives and it really helps to just show them that I’m not in the relationship transactionally. I’m not talking to them because I want to get something out of them, I’m talking to them because I just want to have good time and I want to make a friend. And that really helps, because making friends, actual real friendships with people is very beneficial, because then you get a little deeper than just design and you learn more about what your insecurities are, what your fears are, what you’re really interested and excited about in life, and what you’re excited about doing and all of that. And that really helps you to bonk it over their head, and then eventually, they might afford an opportunity your way or maybe not, or maybe you’ll work with them someday, maybe not. Ah, it’s a beautiful thing.

So again, please remember, we can all learn from one another, we just have to be humble enough to remind ourselves of that every single day. And if you’re a student, or if you’re earlier on in your design career, you have so much to offer people, so do not hesitate to reach out to anyone who inspires you or that you look up to or that is doing something you want to be doing, because yes, of course you can learn from them, but also, they can learn from you too. And you have so much to teach them, you have so much to offer, so get out there, make some friendships, I know we can’t do it IRL, but we can do it through the magic of the internet. I know a few months back, I had Matthew Encina on as a guest, and Matthew and I talked a lot about how to send a DM to somebody over social media in a way that will get your response back and actually create a lasting connection. Spoiler alert, it was basically just like, have a lighthearted conversation with them and keep the conversation going, which now sounds a little anxiety inducing, but if you saw the episode, it makes a lot more sense, I promise. Yeah, so it’s not that scary. Don’t overthink your interactions in your relationships in the industry. It’s just about making friends because everybody’s so interesting, and so are you.

Meg: Well, that’s it. And you know what, you only have one more episode for me as the host on this 2020 season of Overtime, so come on back and hear me next week. Bye!