When opportunity knocks…

Take it, with open arms.

Something happened last week which made me realise just how short-sighted people in our industry/community can be. I’ve written about missed opportunities before, but I wanted to go in to a bit more detail about why when an opportunity arises to do something special you should grasp on to it with an iron man like grip.

Starting out

Starting out in the industry isn’t easy, it is highly populated with some very talented people. It can take years to get noticed or at least it did a few years ago. Now with the likes of tumblr, posterous, dribbble and forrst it is making it a lot easier to get your works out to the public domain where they can be noticed by other designers/developers or potential clients. Whilst writing has the same desired effect, it can be somewhat slower to impact on people if the article is not seen by a large audience. This certainly shouldn’t stop you from writing though, everything takes time. And over time your opinions and knowledge will be noticed by many, this man even believes being able to write makes someone a better designer. I agree.

There is no true path on how you join our industry, some people go to college, others head straight in to freelance or some join agencies. Our industry is vast and depending on how you set off actually adjusts your long term goals. I also believe that to have an impact on the industry you have to live, eat and breathe it. Technology on a whole is so fast paced that if you miss a day, you’ve missed ten things. Our industry simply doesn’t work 9 to 5. I also understand that at times you need to take time and reset, as I did earlier this year when I went away for a week with nothing but a couple of books.

When starting out, work hard and learn as much as you can from the people who have been there before you. Don’t be shy about offering your opinion either, don’t be afraid to make a judgment call. If something doesn’t work it can always be put back and you can work down a different route.

Luck

There is no such thing. Opportunities happen for a reason. Even that clever guy Newton said “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Never tell anyone who works hard that they are lucky. A couple of examples;

  1. Tim Van Damme producing the new Gowalla 3 for the iPhone wasn’t luck. He was recognised for his skill in a certain area of our industry.
  2. Jeffrey Zeldman being recognised as the Grandfather of our industry is not luck, he has probably mentored more people within our industry than you could dream of without even knowing it and with such achievements as Happy Cog, writing / contributing to countless books and co-running one of the most notable web conferences in the world (An Event Apart).
  3. Tyler Galpin shot on to the web design scene earlier this year because of his creative approach to getting a dribbble invite. He then started uploading outstanding work snippets as well as going crazy with his gettobuild.com website.

The list above could be endless with the amount of hard-working individuals our industry has. Most importantly you can’t put any of their work down to ‘luck’.

Web ‘Celebs‘ Professionals

There is no such thing as a Web Celeb. The only celebrity we have in our industry is Stephen Fry. (jokes). We have professionals who go out there to hopefully help other people in the industry. These are nice people, taking their time to usually stand in a limelight. The limelight isn’t theirs. The so-called ‘Celebrity’ is a perception of other people. It takes a strong person to do what they do, as the moment you’re put on a pedestal you open yourself up to a lot of criticism that you certainly didn’t ask for. If there were no opportunities to help or teach other members of our industry then there would be no blog posts, no smashing magazine, no uie.com and certainly no conferences or events.

Take Every Opportunity

And with that, create opportunities and take them when they arise.

Published by

Gavin

Lead Interaction Designer at DigitalDWP. Organiser of Industry, The Practical Web Conference..