The Power of Personal Branding w/ Dava Guthmiller
before I bring on David Guth Miller to talk about the power of personal branding. I just want to introduced her in all her glory and achievements. Um, we're really excited to have her him to join us that creative life. So David Guth Miller is the founder and creative director off Noise 13 which is a brand strategy and design agency that works in partnership with their clients to create insightful, compelling brands. And she has also been the judge off Adobe Achievement Awards. She founded and maintains power dot wow Network and sits on the boards off slow food San Francisco and Good Food Awards and get gone. So without any further ado, let's bring on David Guth. Mila, I thank you so much for joining us. Yeah, well, get this off the stage will get you a stool. Please. Bear with us. Thanks for joining us. It's, um, awesome. Thank you. It's incredibly important for me to bring you guys people that are working in industry that are really knee deep in the thick of it. And diver is one of th...
ose people. So we're gonna start off with ah, a couple questions and the 1st 1 is. Can you show us your story on how and why you started learning about design? Yeah. I actually started in interior design in high school, um, and was wandering into ah, wine sort of boutique shop and really fell in love with the design of wine labels. I had to actually do some research, as you just mentioned research creatures to figure out who does that. Because that long ago that wasn't a big graphic design wasn't a big thing. Um, so I did find out that that was a graphic designer, um, and sort of started to go down that path. So in junior college again, no graphic design. My options were fine art or, um, advertising. I chose fine art for two years and then switched to graph design when I went to the Academy of Art. Perfect. Yeah, I love that. You know, she was first interested in wine labels, and it's led her to a whole array of areas. That noise 13 do. Now, if you check out their website, I have to say one thing. It took me four years to get my first wine client and actually do a widely, even though that's what got me into it. Be consistent or be persistent. Rather. Yeah, Very good, too. Yeah, that's amazing. The next question I have for you is how important is it to know your purpose as a designer? I think it's huge. I mean, one of the things you guys mentioned earlier was fun. Um, that you actually do this for fun. And if you don't know what your purpose is and why you're actually going into design or what interests you, then it becomes a job instead of a career on, and then it becomes work instead of play. So really kind of knowing what you like the kinds of environments you want to work in the kinds of projects that you enjoy super important makes your day go by so much faster. Yeah, I think we're all on the same wavelength. Is that, uh, the next question I have for you is Can you share any of your insight all your approaches to noise thirteen's portfolio when it comes to creating the company's portfolio? I think you know, my passion lies in lifestyle brands. Um, I tend to get really bored if we only do one industry. So which is why we don't just do wine or just food. One of the things about lifestyle brands is that all of those things connect. So if you're thinking about the end consumer that uses those products, um, there's a crossover. That same person travels, that same person goes out to eat. That same person buys fine wine. That same person, you know, cares how they volunteer all of those kinds of things. Um, but I think more than anything more than the lifestyle brands is really we have Ah, do I like you kind of level way, really? Do not take on projects where we don't believe in the product or service. If we wouldn't be the consumer or, uh, if we wouldn't refer that product or service to somebody else, then we don't take the project. Um, design projects take months, sometimes years, and you have to really like this person that you're working with the same with employees. I mean, if you don't want to sit down, have a beer with them later than you should probably not work together in a small studio. We love our clients. We actually, it's Most of our clients are very long term they come back and it's if you don't really get along. It's like dating. If you know, if you don't get along, it's gonna be really rough. So you need to have a similar working style and you know, they need to appreciate what you do, and you need to be ableto listen and interpret what they need. So, yeah, I think likability is a huge pop off filtering how much you're going to get out of it, how much they're going to get out of it. Ah, and often times you know, a lot of designers can find themselves in a spot where they like. How did I get here? Designing just real estate all the time for, like, 10 years? Well, you know, there's always there's always a choice, isn't And I almost question, how active are you in the things that you're interested in? You know, Dave are, as I mentioned in her bio, she is part of the Slow Food Board in San Francisco, and she's part of the good Food awards. I love to eat. She loves to eat. You know, it's funny that I do, too, so eso it's important, you know, to participate in the areas that you're interested in because you're going to attract those clients. Those people I can guarantee you I've got so many stories about that. So totally, totally a great. So that actually leads on Well to the next question I have for you, David. Which is? How important is it to reflect what you want in your design work and your portfolio? Is there a balance off? I don't know. Like, uh, what makes money, what sells and will get me a job versus whether I might be interested in deep sea diving on weekends? Um, I do think there's a balance. I think that if you love, say, surfing and every single item in your portfolio is surf brand too much because it really limits. You sort of put you in a pigeonhole of, Well, you're Onley interested in this one thing, And how are you gonna take that thought and kind of apply it to something else? I know it seems really limiting. If you design one thing, you should be well, design anything but just like potential clients are to us, same as a potential employer. If you have only one thing in your portfolio. It does look really limiting, but I think that there's sort of a balance of the types of projects rather than the industries that is really good to show and your personal stuff, whether you're surfing or music or fashion, really showing that in your blog's your social media, those kinds of things. Because if you've never been given the opportunity to do the projects that you most want to dio, you at least need to be able to explain them and show why you would be really good at that. So having that balance of you know, mentors or internships or volunteering is another way to sort of get some of that information. Yeah, it can often be a quite complex thing. You know what? If you just love? Illustration will, then obviously you are forming this style in your urine illustrator, But as a designer, you could be doing digital work you re doing packaging. You could be doing us experiential designs, operations whole bunch. But then you might also be a painter on the side. So I like that point, you know, to really have a balance, but ultimately it goes back to your personal analysis, doesn't it? No. It goes back to what matters to you. Why you doing it If you just love type. Well, then, yes, knowingly and consciously. You are gonna pigeon your whole pigeonholed yourself into that stream of style and delivery, Bols. But you know what? There's a place for that too now. Cool. So the last question I had with David is what is one big practical tip that you can leave all of us with when it comes to overcoming obstacles in terms of portfolio creation? Um, I think one of the things that you mentioned was mentors. Um, but getting feedback I think it's huge and not from your instructors. And not from your best friend. Um, Are your parents your kids or none of the really getting feedback from the people that you respect and that you would like to work for, whether that's the end client or the position in the job. So informational interviews air really wonderful. Um, you know, just getting a little insight, showing a a lot of times you get really personal about your portfolios and you love it all and is your passionate because you did it. But there might be one or two Who those things that need to be removed? Um, which is huge. And a lot of times you don't see that because it's just like if you show up and all of a sudden I look amazing. But I have this giant spill on my pants. It's only thing you're gonna notice. Same is your portfolio. If you have one bad piece and they're just take it out, it's better to have less. But again, getting feedback and getting some perspective on your portfolio, Um, is really, really key. And seconds if there's those pieces in there that you wish you had that you don't you know, volunteering, doing something for a small business that really needs it or make it up that's outside of a class. Or get an internship somewhere where you can actually fill in the blanks of what it is that you really want. Yeah, absolutely. And I think I'm sure Dave is a mentor to many others. I remember we had a three tons. Yeah, she just whispered tons. Um, do a lot of interns. Yeah, and she was actually talking with myself on the phone the other day about her working on the weekend looking for interns and stuff like that. So, you know, if Davis in this position and she is a businesswoman that runs noise, detained very successfully. Uh, a lot of this reaffirms the things in this workshop, and one thing that really stood out for me was the feedback aspect. Oftentimes we put so much of ourselves in that it's we get emotionally attached to it. But it's also to it's It's incredibly important to not fall in love with your work, because if you think about it, the solution mine will be right, and it's a process of elimination. So if someone gives you feedback that you might not agree with, look at it as constructive that they're seeing through eyes that you you never considered. Therefore, it's if they don't. The way I look at it is if they don't ask the hard questions. You know the people you know, your creative directors or you're I'm senior designers. If they don't ask you the hard questions than your client will and you go to be ready for that answer, I think to a lot of time, especially when you're working in on a project in school or a project with a client. Sometimes the direction somebody lead you down isn't direction you wanted to go. So you know, even finishing out the other version of that. It doesn't have to be the one that actually got produced. Um, and you'll notice on even our portfolio. I mean, there's probably only I think I just pushed to new projects lives, so there might be 10 projects on our website, but we have been in business for 15 years. You have to edit down. We highlight the things we like, the best we have, the things we want more of. We have hundreds, thousands of examples, but you just have to edit down. Yeah, perfect. Thank you so much, Dave. Let's give them a big round of applause before you take a seat. We actually have a few minutes. Let's see anything from the students here. You have a question? A question? I know. Especially you're talking about 15 years, which is a lot of work, and you only have 10 sort of pieces. So my biggest problem is editing. I'm a photographer. Soto edit. My work down for a portfolio is actually painful. I actually asked for help on it, cause I I fall in love with my subjects. And so I have a hard time editing. Do you also edit like you were talking about editing for the work that you want? So even if you've worked with someone who's maybe a really good name, but that's not the direction you want to go in, how do you client list? Okay. Oh, all perfect. So in our well, you there's within our portfolio. You can actually find a client list. Lists the majority of the clients with working over 15 years. I mean, we worked with old Navy and Genentech and McKesson and these huge companies, but all the work that we did for them as great as it was, it was internal HR, uh, not sexy. Not lifestyle, not something. I mean, it was really nice to work with those companies that were great projects, but do I want a ton more of that? Maybe not. So, um, but it's also your portfolio is this living thing, especially when it's online and you can change it. So if you're pitching a brand new client and you need to show examples of that kind of work. Switch it up for two weeks and then switching again. So you know it's edible. One of the things that's great about most portfolios nowadays is you can have, like, your database in the background. You can turn things on and off. Um, you know, I help a photographer friend of ours edit his work all the time, Has the same problem. Um, and really thinking about it more is again The kinds of things that you want, You have everything. So if you meet somebody in person and they want to see more of a specific thing, you have it. But yeah, and you're very much the other thing too. Is no one's gonna sit look through every single one. So as much as you might know somebody else you're not going, Teoh. Yeah, I think it's also important. Teoh, go back to your objective. What do you Who are you communicating to? What do they want to see? You know. So if your objective is to get a new freelance client versus applying for a specific company, that only does digital or one stream off that style and your best put the 1st 3 that speaks to them all, comes down to what you want. No. We have tons of questions coming in from our online community. Here's one that came in specifically for David. Maybe Rambo. Get your take on this as well. We have two people vote on it, but they want to know if Dave a or either of you have families. If so, how are you balancing family with your design work? I do not have family. I have a husband, but I have no kids. Um, I have a dog who takes a lot of my time. Um, but I think for me, I don't have a family. But then I I love to be busy. Um, my husband not so much like that part of it, but, uh, So the boards that I'm on and the women's networking group that I run and all of these other things I definitely have to balance out. But I think all those things that I'm interested in personally affect sort of what I'm doing day to day. And I think people with kids, some of my employees have kids. Um, you know, obviously it's like right now we're like, let's look at new business for babies because we have brand new baby in the office. So it does. It influences what you're interested in. Um, you know, but time management, I think you know, that's everyone has their own personal time management skills. Yeah. I mean, I don't have a family. Um um and that's why I'm trying to do all the things that that I can do now before that happens. But essentially, with all those that I've been surrounded with, it all comes down to turning it off. And OK, now it's time for me to be a dad or a mom, you know, And And I think that there has to be that switch because for the majority of the creative directors that I know who are fathers or mothers when it comes to 5 30 it's time Teoh feed the kids, they gotta leave and do that. You know, there's protease in their lives that are just as important. But I think just setting expectations with your clients. Um, I Ramm found this out this weekend. I really try hard not to check email over the weekend, cause I check incessantly during the week starting at like seven in the morning. So I really try, like, trek once or twice, or if I know something's coming. But if you kind of train your clients that, like, here's my limits, I must turn off between this time and this time people understand. You know, you have a life there, you know it. You can work it out. Open communication, setting expectations. Yeah, we'll take one here. We had to questions that came in kind of a similar topic, but this one's already gotten six votes people really are curious about. This comes from Arkle Barros in New York City. Who says on the topic of fear, Have you ever been intimidated by the descriptions in the requirements for a job opportunity? I e. Formal education and a decade of experience, proficiency and every single design software out there? Where do your thoughts on that And just a quick follow up from Ari I who said, How important is that formal education you're looking to get? Yeah, I mean both winning or looking for a job, and they're asking for too many things as well as when a client sends an RFP and they're asking for, like, 1000 things you're going. We're, like, halfway there. The job offer their casting this really big net of Here's everything in our wish list. Usually they're not going to find that. So really, you know, being able to speak to what your strengths are, Why you haven't had some of those things. But why, You know that you can overcome them even if they're not part of your repertoire. I think you know, just being able to communicate and explain why you don't have those things. And what are your other strengths? Its same. His job, Same as a client. Exactly. Yeah. My my take on that used to apply anyway. Yeah, you have nothing to lose if they don't see all, you don't meet all the prerequisites for the criteria. You're gonna get a night. But you know what? Most of the time you're going to get a response, and they're going to be ive got to find more about you if you meet the core of that description, Uh, I'm gonna go into this full story, but there was one time where they I applied for a job. It was a design director role, and it was for minimum 12 years experience. At the time, I only had seven. It was, ah, prices off. Three big tasks. The 1st was to redesign their website, creating your product line. All these things I did it and I made it round for round for round. There was about, uh I think they were telling me it was like 500 people that applied for the job all around the world. They diluted it down to 20. I made it to the top four. Didn't make it after that point, but I gave it a shot. At the time. I only had seven years experience, so I didn't meet their pre requisites isla. So great question. Thank you for asking. Uh, just give it a shot. So you can do I know that you had mentioned mentor ships, but this question comes from Stacy Smith. We had four other people vote on it. What is the best way to approach someone to be a mentor? Or how to just get feedback from people that you respect or potential clients? How do you get that feedback? One of the requests I get all the time is for informational interviews on and I think if you connect with somebody in one of those, whether it's a call or coffee or whatever Skype, A lot of times, if there is a connection and you guys really get along there that much more apt to, you know, take on a mentorship type of situation same thing with interns or volunteering Um, you just have to call. You just have to meet people. It's like you're not gonna get a yes every time. Um, but again, it's just trying. It's like being okay with a no knowing that, you know, there's something else. So yeah, I think, um, I do cover mentor ship in the get the designs of you want workshop in detail. But essentially, you just got to remember that it's a two way street that there's in it. This is just as much in it for them to get out of the interaction as you are. And a lot of times we forget that, you know, for a mental, it establishes and reaffirms what they're doing. They get rewarded for helping and contributing to the next generation of upcoming creatives and designers. There's so much in it for them, Uh, and I can tell you that all it takes is an email. A lot of the times I mean, my blawg, uh, giant thinkers dot com when I interviewed some some creative directors at an elite level that I thought I'd never get be ableto rage, somehow found their email, stalk them online, somehow got their email. I remember sending an email to Vince Frost. You can check out his work, Frost Collective, and, um, he responded in two hours. Send me the questions. Happy to help. So he said, for a man that that I feel it was unreachable. He wanted to help. And these people want to help. They do. So I asked the question and just be as transparent as you can and know that the outcome is good. It's It's gonna make you better question here before we wrap up from Jed. This is something again that you may be getting into a bit later, but I think it's good to touch on it now in our first segment. But Jed wants to know you said, to broaden your skills and to be well rounded. But most people say to focus in on just one niche. What one is it. How do you decide between those two? It depends if for me, if, like, packaging is a really good example or, um type design. If that's all that you want to dio Great, Go ahead and focus in all the way. Um and they think, too, if it depends on where you want to work. If you want to work at a really large company, they do need more specific people because the way that the structure is is that everyone has, like, these smaller pieces of the bigger hole. So they need you to be specific and really great at that one thing. Um, for my company, I've you know, we're 13 14 people. I need people who are really varied. So I cannot hire somebody who all they want to do is book design or packaging design. We just don't have enough of one thing because we cover the entire range of design and brand strategy. So you know, somebody might come to us and their portfolio is primarily print, and three months later, they're designing websites. So it's it's very across the board. When you're in a smaller company, you need to wear more hats. So knowing your purpose in making that choice is gonna help. Absolutely. It's Tansu that surely it's It's for me. It's been knowing your purpose. Absolutely no. Your purpose. If you love one, stream off that design style and you don't want to do anything else. No one's forcing you to, However, in my case is, well, I've had to do very diverse executions from print packaging, experiential digital APS, you know, holographic touch tables, you name it. And I think for May that's what is compelling for May and I would rather and I found that in my experience, to be quiet, a huge asset because they're like, OK, look, Graham can actually do this part of the project, but if there's a part missing that they need someone really specialized, they'll hire that particular person for that. You know, I know people that that cut with a scalpel, very intricate folds and models and they spend the whole life doing that. But they love that, and then you also after way. Okay, am I going to make a living out of it? That's the other thing. You know, there are some sacrifices that you have to cancel out there but you have to make a living. Of course there. You got to find that balance on and also just do what you love. Essentially. So you've got to make that decision when it comes down to the crunch.