Debbie Millman’s first book, “How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer” features interviews with 21 of the world’s best designers and provides a real primer on how and why great graphic designers do what they do.
Design Matters is a unique concept and a well known podcast for designers. Can you tell us more about it?
In 2005, I started my Design Matters podcast. I often say that Design Matters began with an idea and a telephone line. After an offer from the Voice America Business Network to create an online radio show in exchange for a fee—yes, I had to pay them—I decided that interviewing designers who I revered would be an inventive way to ask my heroes everything I wanted to know about them. I started broadcasting Design Matters live from a telephone modem in my office at Sterling Brands. After the first dozen episodes, I began to distribute the episodes free on iTunes, making it the first ever design podcast to be distributed in this manner. I realized the opportunity to share the brilliance of my guests with an audience I never expected was the gift of a lifetime, but as the show grew in popularity, I recognized that I needed to upgrade both the sound quality and the distribution. After 100 episodes on Voice America, I was invited to publish Design Matters on Design. Design Matters is now the anchor show on Design Observer’s media channel, and the show is produced at the specially built podcast studio located at my Masters in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I’ve done nearly 300 episodes to date.
Who or what has inspired you to achieve so much till date and also coming up with new ideas everyday?
I truly think that being busy is a decision. People use “being too busy” as an excuse not to do something all the time. But what they are really saying is that whatever it is they are too busy to do is something that they don’t consider a priority. Whenever I find myself declaring that, “I’m too busy to do that,” I quickly realize that I probably just don’t really want to do it! Humans choose to do what they want to do, and if they are really truly too busy to do something, but want to do it anyway, I guarantee they will find a way to do it.
You are the author of 6 books. Which books do you recommend every design student should read?
Probably my first book, How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer. It is interviews with 21 of the world’s best designers and provides a real primer on how and why great graphic designers do what they do.
What skills, technical or otherwise should a designer or a brand strategist develop?
I believe that these are the skills people are expected to have in every position in branding:
• Have a deep understanding of diverse business strategies
• Be able to critically evaluate brand, business, marketing and design strategy
• Be able to create frameworks to guide brand, design and business development
• Have an understanding of brand valuation
• Have an understanding of the brand development life cycle
• Be able to investigate marketing challenges involved in creating and sustaining brands
• Have an understanding of important themes in behavioral science
• Have an understanding of relevant cultural themes as they relate to branding
• Master the intellectual link between leadership and creativity
• Have an understanding of and experience with c-level discourse
Design Yatra is one of the biggest platforms for creative blood. How has been your experience in moderating the program in India?
It was spectacular and really, really special. I met several people there that I am still friends with today and several young people who came to NY to participate in my Masters in Branding program at SVA. It was a life-changing experience.
Any words of wisdom for the youth?
This is the advice I would give anyone, anytime, anywhere:
1. If you are not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks
2. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time
3. Work very, very hard
4. Ask for opportunities
5. Finish what you start
6. Say yes to almost everything
7. Busy is a decision
8. Don’t censor your dreams before you actually dream
9. In order to strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide you want one
10. It is only a failure if you accept defeat
To see more of Debbie’s work, click here