Event Recap | Dot Gov Design Conference

At the beginning of May, I was able to attend AIGA DC’s Dot Gov Design Conference at the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. I didn’t really know what to expect, but since my day job at an advocacy tech company is tangentially related, I figured there could be some transferable insights.

The day started out with an opening keynote by Hana Schank of We Are Commons on “getting the work done.” I really enjoyed some of her key points, especially this one:

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“No one has it figured out.”

This is something I think all designers and creatives need to remind themselves of—there’s always someone who seems to have everything figured out, but in reality, we’re all learning as we go.

Hana also said technology is the easy part—the hard part is everything else, especially people and process. This theme came about later in the day as well.

Rica Rosario’s session on “Quiet Leadership” had some great tactical tips on how to be an introvert in an extroverted world, and talked about how introverts have a longer process because we have a longer neural pathway, which was something I hadn’t thought about before.

I wasn’t originally planning on attending Elizabeth Hira’s session on Legislative Policy, but it turned out to be perfectly aligned with my day to day work, especially when she highlighted the importance of advocacy work.

IMG_8182Elizabeth had some great tactical tips for those in advocacy who are trying to create change.

A few key insights that work for design, in addition to advocacy:

  • Do your homework—back up your stance with validators
  • There’s power in numbers
  • Timing is important when advocating for change

 

The day concluded with a talk titled “Under the Guise of Technology,” presented by Kavi Harshawat from USDS/New America, which discussed instances where technology can be a help or a burden.

The biggest takeaway was that there are always two sides to the technology coin, and even technology has its limits.

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Event Recap | Personal Branding

This past week I attended “Standing Out: Branding That’s Personal,” a panel discussion presented by AIGA DC, which I was really looking forward to. The panel was diverse in terms of background and experience, so I was expecting a lot of different insights on how to stand out in the design market, which is currently much more competitive and saturated than ever before. I ended up most enjoying the insights from the moderator, Victor Nguyen-Long, but the conversation itself focused mostly on the importance of authenticity, honesty, and how to take advantage of the social media platform algorithms.

Anyone with experience in branding and brand strategy knows that authenticity and honesty are things that must be kept in mind when designing and building a brand, so that was not surprising. There were a good amount of cliches thrown around on this topic, such as “If you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything,” rather than tips for how to stand out when everyone is striving for the same thing. The panelists emphasized the importance of sharing on social media—some said that sharing should be curated, while others said that even the most mundane parts of every day life should be shared to better connect with your audience. It was interesting to hear the different perspectives, but it just made me think about how everyone is shouting into the void that is the Internet, trying to get noticed. There are still other ways to build your brand besides social media, which I feel was left out from the discussion.

Brandon Groce, a brand strategist, provided some interesting tidbits on taking advantage of certain social media algorithms (and focusing on one platform and doing it really well)—but does trying to game the algorithm system mean that the more interesting small or new brands (who may not be as socially savvy) may not bubble up to the top? I guess the key takeaway is that after you’ve designed your brand, you have to maximize social media in order to continue building it.

I think this event was a good first step in terms of discussions around branding, but it only scratched the surface.

Disclaimer: these are my personal opinions and do not reflect the opinions of my current or former employers.

Louise Fili Lecture

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(Excuse the poor quality iPhone photos.)

On Monday, February 17th, design legend Louise Fili gave a lecture at the Corcoran. I was one of the lucky hundred or so who registered before it filled up and was absolutely thrilled that I would be able to attend. And Louise Fili did not disappoint! She gave a comprehensive overview of her career and selected works, and it was really interesting to see her development as a designer. She shared some great insights into the industry as a whole, in particular the restaurant industry—which was really interesting to me seeing as that is the industry I currently work with.

A couple of my favorite insights that she shared:

  • “Never depend on one type of client and never wait for the phone to ring.”
  • “Design for yourself in order to find your voice.”
  • Sometimes you have to act like a therapist to convince your client to make a necessary change

There were so many other great insights she shared that I wish I had written down.
Here are a few of her favorite works that I particularly admire:

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It was a pleasure to be able to attend Louise Fili’s lecture; she is such an inspiration!