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Best of Weekly Inspirations 2015

Every week I compile a list of the best, most interesting, inspiration and educational articles I come across into my weekly inspirations article that I publish every Friday and this year I put out 47 editions. I know you are saying to yourself that there are 52 week in a year but give me a break – sometime work conspires against your free time, no one reads during the holidays or some weeks there was just nothing worth writing about so you only get 47 editions this year. Even though I know the world doesn’t need yet another ‘best of’ list this time of year  I have combed through all of those editions to pick out what I thought were the best article of the past year to produce yet another best of 2015 list. To keep them from just being a ling rambling list of articles I’ve grouped 6 categories -lead, craft, culture, design, learn and collaborate.


leadIf you have read this blog for any amount of time you know that I obsess over leadership of creative teams. I do it mainly because I think there is a massive vacuum of leadership in this industry and I think there is also a massive vacuum of team culture that know how to grow future leaders. These are the best article I’ve read this year about how to become a better leader fort your team.

What Amazing Bosses Do Differently

We all know that job satisfaction often hinges on the quality of the relationships we have with our bosses. Yet in today’s rapidly evolving, 24/7 workplaces, it’s not always clear what managers should do to create the most satisfying work experiences and the happiest employees. My research into the world’s most successful bosses has unearthed some common practices that make work much more meaningful and enjoyable. If you supervise others this is a great article that lists the things you need to make sure you do every day.
Read the article here.

Be the Leader you Wish you had

I thought this was a great article on leadership from Clark Scheffy a designer at IDEO. It looks at when he was a fresh, newly appointed lead in their Boston studio, struggling to have much fun. He viewed my role as a thankless duty to direct and be responsible for others. He believed he was a fixer of broken things, thinking, and people. And the story he told himself was that he was the martyr for the fun that others were having while he dealt with the important leaderly stuff. As a result, he spent most of my time finding and focusing on problems, real or imagined, and adding to a growing list of things he would solve to make my mark. The article is a fun look at how he changed all of that and started having fun.
Read the article here.

Great Leaders Know When to Step Aside

We talk about the need for leaders to be visible… commanding… present… courageous. We think of strong leaders as those who, by moderating their tone or telling a memorable tale, can make a crowd roll with laughter or fall silent in reflection. A strong leader’s brand is associated with words like intelligence, inspiration, vision, and influence. It’s true – these qualities define how a leader shows up at work. But what do they mean – if anything – to how a leader actually impacts the work? There are indeed times when leaders should step onto center stage. But other times, the most important step a leader can take is a step out-of-the-way. Here are five common missteps (pun intended) leaders make when they’re trying too hard to “be the leader,” and a few thoughts about how to do things differently.
Read the article here.

Mentoring Junior Designers

I’ve been in a lot of training sessions; some were company mandated, others were ones I designed and ran myself, still others were sessions I paid money to attend. For a number of years, I’ve been in charge of a design team, and that means being responsible for training and development for my team members. While they are, of course, active participants, it’s important to acknowledge that training is about the transfer of information and the building of skills. The junior members of your team do not spontaneously gain skills. Instead, you need a clear process in place to train and mentor them. This article is a great starting blueprint for who you can create a culture that helps mentor junior designers and lets you grow future leaders in-house.
Read the article here.

7 Secrets to Being an Extraordinary Creative Manager

If you’re fortunate, you’ve had a good manager who has shown you what it feels like to experience a supportive boss. But just because you know what it’s like to have a good manager, doesn’t mean you know how to be one. Also, going from flying solo to directing one or more people’s work doesn’t just entail a change in title, it requires a fundamental mindset shift and more advanced work strategies. Through my own experience with managing others and through coaching individuals at all levels from first-time managers to top executives in large organizations, I’ve discovered these best practices. If you find yourself wondering how to handle your new role or struggling to get a handle on your current one, this article goes through the steps you can take to help you become an extraordinary creative leader.
Read the article here.

Making design critiques count

Design critiques can be incredibly valuable to designers or they can be something that really confuse and bring down the prices depending on who they are run and who is involved in them. This article is a great blueprint for how to run better design critiques so they create value for everyone involved.
Read the article here.


craftArticle in craft focus on the many things that go into your day-to-day work life or the craft of doing your job. These are the best article I’ve read this year about how to improve the craft of your job.

Nobody Cares How Hard You Work

As you sink into the couch, or slide onto the bar stool, at the end of an exhausting workday, it’s hard not to experience the warm glow of self-congratulation. After all, you put in the hours, cranked through the to-do list; you invested the effort, and got things done. Surely you’re entitled to a little smugness? Sorry, but at the risk of ruining that martini: maybe not. We chronically confuse the feeling of effort with the reality of results—and for anyone working in a creative field, that means the constant risk of frittering time and energy on busy work, instead of the work that counts.
Read the article here.

7 Powerful Public Speaking Tips From One of the Most-Watched TED Talks Speakers

You’d never know it, but Simon Sinek is naturally shy and doesn’t like speaking to crowds. At parties, he says he hides alone in the corner or doesn’t even show up in the first place. He prefers the latter. Yet, with some 22 million video views under his belt, the optimistic ethnographer also happens to be the third most-watched TED Talks presenter of all time. Ironic for an introvert, isn’t it? Sinek’s unlikely success as both an inspirational speaker and a bestselling author isn’t just dumb luck. This article looks at the 7 really good tips to become a great public speaker.
Read the article here.

10 Interesting Talks Designers Must Watch

This article has 10 amazing presentations on topics dear to every designer’s heart, covering everything from dealing with clients to web typography, responsive web design to impostor syndrome. Some of the talks are new and some are older I but they are all really good and they all have content that are things every creative needs to understand.
Read the article here.

How To Become A UX Leader

Let’s say you run a UX team. Better yet, let’s say you don’t. Let’s say you just want to do great work. You’re a consultant. You’re a newbie. You’re an intern. Your position is irrelevant. So is your title. What’s important here is that you want great UX to happen. You want it consistently. You want it now. You want it all the time. This article take s look at a number of different things that are needed to be become a consistently great UX leader.
Read the article here.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck

I completely agree with the authors of this article who says “In my life, I have given a fuck about many people and many things. I have also not given a fuck about many people and many things. And those fucks I have not given have made all the difference.” We we often refer to the strongest, most admirable people we know in terms of their lack of fucks given. But wee all know that it is an easy thing to say but even the most secure of us can still take too many things to heart. This article look at three things you can do to help you control those emotions and know when to let things not effect you so you can accomplish what you want to get done.
Read the article here.

The Undeniable Benefits of Being Weird

It has become easy to buy into the “be like us” mentality and lead a life handed down, blindly accepting the cost of unfulfilled dreams and a continually shrinking comfort zone. We wake up down the road frustrated that we’ve lived our life according to someone else’s order. It is something I have really struggled with over my career and this article and video do a nice job of laying out why you have to embrace being weird.
Read the article here.

12 Things You Should Expect From a Creative Director

These days it seems like EVERYBODY is a “creative director” these days. But the title means different things to different people.This article is short and sweet but does a nice job out lining what I think the roll of a creative director should encompass.
Read the article here.


cultureOne of the biggest things I focus on after leading creative teams is how to create a strong culture inside of those teams. It is a really hard thing to do, requires everyone on the team to buy into the culture and also requires everyone to realize that they are responsible for creative that culture. These are the best article I read this year on how to build, grow and keep your teams culture.

The 4 Types of Productivity Styles

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to productivity. Instead, we need personalized approaches. This means employing work strategies that align with our own cognitive styles, and allocating efforts in a way that suits our strengths and preferences. Ironically, most of us do this unconsciously. After all, these are habitual patterns of perceiving, processing, and managing information that guide our behavior. However, because we’re inundated with “proven” programs, tips and tools (backed by a bevy of consultants, academics, and practitioners), we often go against our natural instincts.
Read the article here.

Ferran Adrià Feeds the Hungry Mind

Ferran Adria has long been one of my biggest creative inspirations for his work in advancing gastronomy and creativity. This New York Times article is a great look at since Ferran closed his landmark restaurant elBulli how he has been evolving as a creative person and what types of things he is now producing. He is someone I would recommend anyone creative keep an eye one because his thinking and creativity has changed the world once and I think he is planning on doing it a few more times before he done.
Read the article here.

PepsiCo’s Chief Design Officer on Creating an Organization Where Design Can Thrive

Mauro Porcini is PepsiCo’s Chief Design Officer—the first to hold the position—where he oversees design-led innovation across all the company’s brands under CEO Indra Nooyi. This article is an edited version of an interview with Porcini on a variety of topics, from prototyping to the essential qualities of a great design organization.
Read the article here.

Bored People Quit

Much has been written about employee motivation and retention. You call on the motivation and retention police because you believe they can perform the legendary “diving save”. Whether it’s HR or a well-intentioned manager with a distinguished title, these people scurry impressively. Meetings that go long into the evening are instantly scheduled with the disenfranchised employee. It’s an impressive show of force, and it sometimes works, but even if they stay, the damage has been done. They’ve quit, and when someone quits they are effectively saying, “I no longer believe in this company”. What’s worse is that what they were originally thinking was, “I’m bored”. Boredom is easier to fix than an absence of belief.
Read the article here.

designAs much as I focus on leadership and culture I started as a designer and it will always be how I identify myself as a creative. The challenge for modern design is that it is an ever evolving standard that requires you to constantly stay on top of application, trends and tastes. These are the article I’ve read this year about design.

The Unicorn Workflow: Design To Code With Atomic Design Principles and Sketch

Atomic Design means creating a system of pieces that can come together to create elements and templates that can reuse over and over again. This article by Brad Frost walks you through this new approach to design that I have been using more and more lately.
Read the article here.

What You Need To Know About Anticipatory Design

If you follow my work then you know that I am a huge believer in the power of proactive and dynamic  user interfaces that curate content for the user.  I think that in a world where the demands for people’s attention continues to grow and their attention spans continue to shrink that the experiences that are able to correctly surface content to people when they need it will be the ones that demonstrate the most value and are used the most often. This article is a lengthy look at this concept, only renamed anticipatory design, and how a lot of different brands are starting to bring it to life. It is a great primer to understand the concept and see who you could start to bring it into your work.
Read the article here.

The Remarkable Ambition and Chaos of Ferran Adrià’s ElBulli Lab

If you have read my blog for any amount of time then you know my love of chef Ferran Adria. He is a huge inspiration and being able to visit his private workshop in Barcelona was absolutely one of the highlights of my career. This article is a really interesting look inside of his new Dom Pérignon Lab in Barcelona. As usual he never fails to disappoint with fascinating new work and a lab that we all can learn from how they approach creativity.
Read the article here.

2016 Will Be The Year Of AI

Microsoft recently asked 16 members of its technology and research organization to predict the big trends of 2016. There are some outliers—a researcher here who is really excited about styluses, a researcher there who likes depth-field cameras—but by and large, almost all of them seem to be saying one thing: 2016 is going to be a huge year for artificial intelligence, which has important implications for the design industry.
Get the app in the app store.

Why is it so Easy to Get “Mobile First” Wrong?

There’s definitely some logic to the underlying philosophy of the “mobile first” approach to design, but there are also some hidden problems that cause even experienced designers to make some fundamental user experience mistakes. Doing it wrong serves only to reverse the underlying problem, creating a painful desktop experience instead of a painful mobile experience, which only moves the problem around rather than actually solving it. This article is a pretty comprehensive look at how and why it can go wrong and some of the things you can do it fix it.
Read the article here.


learnAnyone who has worked in this industry for any amount of time knows that you can never stop learning and growing. Here are two articles I really liked about learning your creative process and learning how to succeed in this industry.

The Many, Many Problems With “Follow Your Passion”

A lot of career advice is built around slogans like “follow your heart” or “follow your passion.” I have always found that advice to be really flawed since I have worked with people who are really passionate about a subject – but they aren’t very good at it which is a huge problem. Popular celebrities like Oprah also contribute to this problem which only makes things worse. A popular YouTube video, “What If Money Was No Object?” narrated by British writer Alan Watts, suggests that unless you ask yourself “What makes you itch?” and pursue the answer, you will “spend your life completely wasting your time.”
Read the article here.

The Unfair Truth About How Creative People Really Succeed

The other week, I was invited to a dinner hosted by a friend. Those attending included people I’ve admired for years. Halfway through the dinner, I silently asked myself, “How did I get here?” For years, I heard people talk about their influential friendships and subsequent success, and I would seethe with envy. It seemed unfair. Of course those people were successful. They knew the right people. They were in the right place at the right time. They got lucky. Years later, I would discover that success is born of luck (I don’t think any honest person can dispute that). But luck, in many ways, can be created — or at very least, improved. The truth is life is not fair. For creative work to spread, you need more than talent. You have to get exposure to the right networks. And as unfair as that may seem, it’s the way the world has always worked. The good news, though, is you have more control over this than you realize.
Read the article here.


collaborateCreativity is a team sport but its a sport that not a lot of people are good at. So these articles are the best ones I’ve read this to help find ways to get you and your team better collaborators.

Chef Thomas Keller: Bouncing Back from Setbacks

If yo have followed my blog for any amount of time you will know that Thomas Keller is a successful chef, restaurateur, cookbook writer and one of my biggest inspiration when it comes to creativity and creating a strong culture. Chef Keller shared with a packed auditorium of Stanford GSB students how he got his start as a dishwasher, how he overcame a setback, and what drives his decision to open new restaurants and expand his business. The video is about an hour but really worth watching to get these insights from one f the worlds best creative minds.
Read the article here.

How to Source Suggestions from a Reluctant Team Member

In environments where an individual feels they are not valued, they are thinking, but they are probably keeping their thoughts to themselves. They are thinking about what job might suit them better, or they might be thinking about that their effort does not matter. Often they are thinking about how things could be better, or more efficient, or easier if only we did this or that. Unleashing that creativity and initiative is the role of the leader. When people are comfortable telling you what they think about a situation or a challenge, or a process, and you value their thoughts, they will naturally progress to finding solutions. How refreshing would it be to have your people share with you what they thought about a challenge, and how they would address it? This article is a great guide to some ideas on how to get that to happen.
Read the article here.

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