There Is No Growth Without Risk

Confession: this is my first blog.

Which feels like a bit of a risk. It’s either going to suck, bore you to death or maybe something useful will come out of it.

Let’s do this and see how it goes…

That’s exactly what I want to talk about: taking risks, trying new things, and placing yourself in opportunities where you have no idea what you are doing. By doing this, you can grow, achieve your goals, get a job in something you love, or even just be that little bit happier.

Let me start off by saying, as a designer myself, I know that many designers have chosen which side of design they would like to be on: some UI, some print, some branding. They’ve either stuck with what they know, or given up because they got imposter syndrome and thrown in the towel. I wouldn’t suggest giving up on anything you do in life; it makes you weak, you lose ambition, fall behind and eventually fail. Keep trying, keep taking risks and keep growing; it is all up to your attitude.

As for me, I choose to design anywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

Let me tell you a little about me

I studied design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (who names these places?) in Cape Town, South Africa. My first design job was at the LR Management Group, designing e-learning and print educational materials. I then moved to the UK, and did all sorts of random jobs to pay my bills.

Eventually, I got a job as a sales assistant at Mail Boxes Etc., which is a postal, courier and limited print and copy shop. I ended up managing the store and turning it into a one-stop print and design shop. I helped them achieve the ability to produce longer print runs, quality large format printing and quality graphic design.

After that, I moved jobs to Prontaprint and was supposed to manage two designers, but they moved on before I could. I ended up working their jobs as a designer, printer, finisher and even developing plates for the Heidelberg Litho printer.

Eventually, I heard through a friend from my church in the UK that this company called Dauntless was hiring. That friend has a friend in Canada, who knows the Project Manager at Dauntless, Peter Wyborn. Dauntless is a digital product agency that designs and develops websites, mobile and applications. I had no clue about how to design for UI (User Interfaces) or even how to read user journeys.

All I knew was how to design and how to learn.

So I took another risk and I applied for the job.

Well, I got the job and this is where I was able to start to learn from others, ask questions, and try to get out of my comfort zone. This environment was great for me: The Crew was willing to answer my questions and take time to guide me. My boss, Josh Chesney (this man’s knowledge is insanely unique and just ‘wow’), would often explain and teach things to the Crew, at any time. I would often just listen and hold back to what he or the Crew would discuss, while I soaked in the information, tried to understand and put it into practice.

What I found was, as I kept trying new things, my creativity expanded, my speed increased, I collaborated more with the Crew, I would question things; why, what, how.

Work stopped being work

It became a lifestyle and a passion

And yes, I grew…

I no longer designed just for print, but designed for mobile apps, millions of display ads, web layouts, logos, icons.

One day, Josh (my boss) walked in and asked “Who knows how to draw?”

I slid my hand up, even though I hadn’t drawn in ages. He told me, “You are now helping Jordan (the Director of Productionwith storyboards for our next video”.

Nervous, scared and afraid… DUH, of course I was, but I pulled up my socks and went for it.

And I did it. I drew a storyboard for a video for an app we were building for a company called BlueLine Rental.

Check out the finished video here: BlueLine Rental – Digital Transformation

It was such a proud moment of mine, to help out on a video. And taking this risk came with another rewarding opportunity. Jordan approached me afterwards and asked,

“Why don’t you learn to be an animator?

I didn’t hesitate to think of the answer because I knew I wanted to keep growing, so I took a risk and started learning something new… again. When there was a quiet period at work or at home I would watch tutorials, chat to my friends; Leigh Williamson and Charl Christiani (both C4D and 2D/3D animators) and get tips from them. I would get tips from Jordan and ask him questions. I was determined to keep growing.

Taking these risks and challenging myself has led me to be a multi-skilled, versatile designer where I get to work on everything from storyboarding, to motion graphics, to building props for videos, to UI and branding. And that comes with some great benefits: I find I am less stagnant, I get more money for the skills I acquired, I’ve become happier and more fulfilled.

Taking risks has also opened doors for me.

Challenging myself and learning does not stop here, though. It’s a constant thing and will live in me for years to come.

So the question is, do you want to grow? Why not take a risk? Maybe you will learn a thing or more. Try it, I DARE YOU.

Let me leave you with this:
  • TAKE RISKS, even if you don’t know if you’ll succeed.
  • LEARN and keep learning.
  • CHALLENGE YOURSELF as if you have NO limits.
  • Have an “I CAN DO EVERYTHING” attitude.
  • Say THANK YOU to those that help you.
  • FAIL in style by landing on your feet.
  • And most important, have FUN in whatever you do.

It’s all up to YOU.