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  • feedwordpress 12:46:08 on 2021/07/15 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    Goodbye Logic+Emotion, Hello Armano Design Group 


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    ADG

    This will be the last blog post I'll write on this Website. 

    Let me take a step back.

    In February of 2006, before TikTok, Snap, Facebook, and Twitter, there was a form of social media built on the open Web where like-minded people found others like them, (as well as audiences). They were called blogs. 

    I picked a weekend during this coldest of months in Chicago to dig into what it would take to learn more about this space. I was intrigued by the potential and had become a reader of blogs myself. I started writing about what I knew most about back then—my first blog post was about user experience design (we call it UX now). 

    Blogging opened up a whole new world to me as the Web started becoming more social. Before I knew it, I had built an audience, started getting invited to speak all over the world, and I had new career opportunities which stretched me in entirely new directions from advancing leadership abilities to learning communications and public relations to expanding my knowledge through practice in the broader category of marketing as well as business transformation. 

    The world has changed much since 2006, and a recent Pandemic has accelerated decades of change and transformation in less than two years. We're only just at the beginning. Like many others, my career was unceremoniously disrupted and faced with uncertainty; I started my own venture with the fortune of securing some early contracts while dealing with my own fairly substantial case of Covid. I am happy to report—that which doesn't kill you, does in fact make you stronger. Yes, I've learned firsthand about the over-hyped word "resilience."

    And as it turns out that when change is accelerated—experience in managing change comes in handy. I've found myself working with some amazing partners and hope to share more on that later when the time is right. 

    So, a new chapter begins. I'll still be writing and sharing insights, but not here. You can find me at the following places:

    Armano Design Group
    We’re a design-inspired strategic consultancy that untangles complexity with purpose and passion so projects can be executed with precision.
    We help organizations solve complex marketing, communications, and business problems—by design.

    David by Design Newsletter on Substack: Personal thoughts, observations, and insights 
    Subscribe Here

    @Armano on Twitter

    DavidArmano.ME

    Linked IN

    Forbes

    "I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."
    ~Stephen Hawking

     
  • feedwordpress 17:34:22 on 2021/06/16 Permalink
    Tags: , , mentorshio   

    The Mentor / Mentee Value Exchange 


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    Mentor_mentee

    Originally posted on David by Design

    For the past five years or so, I have been informally mentoring people. I’m happy to report that some of the earliest are ridiculously successful and I still keep in touch. I’m also a mentee to a few people I look up to. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

    Understand Your Motivation Before You Become A Mentor or Mentee

    You’re entering an informal agreement and you should know what’s motivating you and clearly articulate that to the other person. In my case, I realized I had not been seeking out mentors so becoming one was an intentional act.

    Embrace That It’s A Two Way Learning Street

    Regardless if you decide to seek or provide mentorship, you are accepting the role of both teacher and student. As a mentee, you will be teaching your mentor on a daily basis. Understand this dynamic works both ways.

    Be A Mentor Means Being An Active Listener

    If you want to become a valuable mentor, you either are a serious active listener or want to get better at it. Don’t become a mentor if you don’t value listening. It’s the number one requirement.

    Being A Mentee Means Being You

    If you’re not comfortable being yourself, you may not be ready for mentorship. Being a mentee means bringing your true self to the informal arrangement. There’s no room for anything less.

    The Mentor/Mentee Value Exchange Transcends Professional Development

    Being professional is a core value of my being. I strive to act ethically. I’m also a follower of radical candor and encourage mentees to explore a degree of personal life as part of professional development.

    Trust Is The Literal Foundation Of Mentor/Mentee relationships

    In every engagement where I have been both mentee as well as mentor, I seek to build trust. It’s the bedrock of the Mentor/Mentee value exchange. And it also flows both ways.

    Don’t Become A Mentor or Mentee If You Can’t Make The Time

    Time is our most precious asset and it’s limited. We have demanding projects, family duties, self-care, etc. all competing for time. If you can’t prioritize being either, you aren’t ready for it.

    The Mentor/Mentee Value Exchange Is A Human Investment

    In the age of crypto and a red hot housing market — becoming a mentee or mentor is an investment in another human being. If you value the ROI that comes with human investment, you’ll benefit from being either.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:25:04 on 2021/06/06 Permalink
    Tags: career transition,   

    Six Thoughts On Career Transition 


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    101589666_1e7ba141cd_o

    This past week I “celebrated” a year of career transition. It seems like a strange thing to celebrate as I didn’t find career transition, it found me. But unless you’re one of those rare creatures in life where everything goes according to plan — a career transition is just like one of any other’s life curveballs like the end of a relationship, or an accident, or maybe getting some news from the doctor that impacts your health and lifestyle. During this time, I have kept busy with contract work and conversations — lots of them. Not just career-focused conversations, but relationship reinforcing ones. I realized that this is not a topic people discuss openly, even though so many people go through it in some shape or another. There’s something not right about that — it’s like not talking about any other significant life milestone or even death for that matter. The fact is, some version of career transition, reinvention, reframing, or transformation comes for all of us — or we come for it. Either way, it’s a learning experience.

    So, I took to Twitter to share a few things that I have learned during my career transition experience. Here are six things you’ll learn if you keep an open mind and heart:

    You’ll find out who’s really in your corner:
    And it will be surprising. Some of the surprises will be pleasantly unexpected and truly wonderful. Others will be a surprise that you didn’t see coming. The good news is, knowing who is truly in your corner is AWESOME.

    You’ll experience loss, gains, and personal growth:
    Life without the security of full-time employment (if this has been your career path) is transformational. Some days you wake up feeling like you lost something — other days, you take in the gifts. Either way, you grow.

    You’ll learn to lean:
    On others for support. That’s something I’ve traditionally been not great at and have taken pride in my self-sufficiency to an extent. But career transition underscores the importance of connections, relationships, and even being vulnerable.

    You’ll learn:
    A ton, if you’re really smart. I’ve been much more observant of how others are navigating careers and life and challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone. Since a career transition naturally removes comfort, it’s a no-brainer.

    You’ll adapt:
    A forced career transition + a global pandemic + a summer of social unrest + a year of “new normal” = adapt or die trying. Having had Covid induced pneumonia on top of it all tends to underscore the old adage “that which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”.

    You’ll get perspective:
    And that’s the most important thing. A career is a huge deal because we spend so much time doing it. But I have other identities… father, partner, brother, friend. Your perspective on life broadens and if you allow it, becomes enriched.

    I hesitated greatly when I hit the publish button on the first tweet of that thread. But then I thought about all of the people and leaders that I admire. They aren’t the ones with iron-clad armor who are always ready for professional battle and climb up the corporate ladder, stepping on others to climb higher — they are the ones who embody strength through relatability, who lean into their humanity and genuinely care about others. They aren’t afraid to share their experiences and help others along the way.

    And the thing about transition is that it’s temporary. Like that butterfly about to emerge from the chrysalis. It’s a period of incubation between here and there. We’d all be better off openly discussing the in-between moments as much as the milestones because there’s a lot we learn during the transition.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:54:29 on 2020/12/31 Permalink
    Tags:   

    A Year of Personal Disruption 


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    2020

    On an evening in March (you know, the night), I knew something had changed significantly but, like many others, couldn't see past the fog of shock. At the time, I was watching in real-time as the NBA canceled games, the government canceled flights, and Tom Hanks canceled our collective Covid bubble—and despite what was unfolding before my very eyes, my life looked relatively stable. I had recently celebrated a decade with the same employer, and I was living comfortably with my fiancé—both my boys were living with their mother, we had wedding plans made and were on track for saving for it. After some transitional touch and go post-divorce years, things were settling in. 

    But what is the saying? Ah yes—man plans... God laughs. 

    In the span of just a few months, I transitioned both of my boys out of their mother's house, moved my younger son in with me, moved my fiancé out, back into her old place, assisted with her renovation in the process, canceled wedding plans and found myself unemployed along with many of the Covid-disrupted workforce. And really, these things were the tip of the Iceberg—there were struggles and traumatic experiences that are only appropriate to share with more intimate social circles—but I suspect it's not all that distinct from the stories that make up our collective trauma that is/was 2020. 

    Disruption can be a good thing. I recall reading about the health benefits of being immersed in bone-chilling water (when done appropriately), but the thing about shocks to the system—it is a blurry mix of benefits and detractors. And blur is a great word for 2020 as every day became Blursday, and some of our defense mechanisms kicked in, especially during those early days. I remember learning about the third least known response to a threat. There's flight, fight, but there's also freeze (playing dead). Many days felt like everything was happening in slow motion, time was frozen, and fatigue was just a part of the everyday new normal, no matter how many walks or meditation breaks one took. 

    Despite all the disruption, I still look back with a grateful spirit. Growing up in a blue-collar town has made me sensitive to the plight of the small business owner. While I spent the summer, like so many others grappling with the sights, sounds, and struggles of social justice playing out—I also could not help but think how these small business owners would ever mount a comeback. I sometimes wonder what "the new world" will look like with fewer small business owners and more big corporate entities who benefitted from the disruption. I think a part of me has been mourning this transition and still is. A decade from now, we are going to be living in a world completely dominated by only the biggest and most resourceful global corporations, with the technology players leading in size, influence, and dominance. The great consolidation has been greatly accelerated. 

    I write this thinking about the past and wondering about the future—overlooking snowy rooftops and a frozen Lake Michigan. Chicago, my adopted home, which allowed me to raise a family and prosper, is unlikely to be my home in the not so distant future, and I am still a bit undecided on where, but it will be warmer and smaller, and I'll be skating to where the puck will be in five years or so (or at least this is the hope). 

    Everyone has their own word for 2020. Professionally I advocated for resilience. Personally, I experienced disruption. Disruption, as positioned by the business evangelists, is a positive thing—it's dynamic and innovative. It's also uncomfortable and stressful. But it can definitely foster personal growth if you permit it. 

    Looking forward, after a year of disruption comes the possibility of rebuilding and resetting and recalibrating for a time in my life where age holds a different meaning. The hustle of my 20s and 30s becomes replaced with purpose and intent—I must know why I will be working so hard, and to what end and to what purpose does it serve? 

    So here's to 2021—from personal and professional disruption to something else that isn't likely to be predictable but hopefully is purposeful. 

     
  • feedwordpress 17:11:59 on 2020/10/06 Permalink
    Tags:   

    An Open Letter To My Younger Self 


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    Younger_me

    Hi, it's me. 

    You don't know me, but in time you will. I have the benefit of time and experience on my side and wanted to share some thoughts with you if you're willing to listen. If you receive this, please know that it comes from a good place. 

    Let's talk about that time in high school when you ran with the cool kids for a short while before they rejected you. What they rejected was how hard you were trying to be something that you weren't. You'd think this experience would have taught you not to repeat this mistake, but you'll end up making similar mistakes. The good news is that you'll find your own path, make your lifelong friends, and care less about what others think of you. Please Don't be so hard on yourself because we live and learn. You'll get there, but I know if you could read this—you would have gotten there faster. 

    How about one of the best decisions you made in your youth? One evening you came home from work and told your mother that you knew what you wanted to do. You knew that you had a visual talent and felt compelled to see if it could take you somewhere. You didn't feel good enough for a prestigious design school like Pratt, but you got your mother to agree that if you got accepted, you'd work harder there than you ever did in high school, and this would be the foundation you will build your future on. Never second guess this decision, even when you're up all night working like mad to finish a project that you want your talented classmates to respect. 

    You're going to fall in love young—too young. You won't know any better because you will think "this is as good as it gets", but you were too young to understand how life truly works. On the bright side, this relationship will bear fruit in the form of two boys who you'll love unconditionally and will give you tremendous purpose in life. They will allow you to offer the fatherly guidance you didn't have, and they'll challenge and reward you in ways that force you to grow and mature from a young man into a fully functional adult. And you'll find love again and have the experience and wisdom to know what this word should really mean, as complex and mysterious as it is.

    You're going to take a leap of faith and leave your hometown of NY, where you started your career to land in the midwestern city of Chicago. You'll lose your Long Island accent and get homesick, but you'll grow an appreciation for the more modest and hard-working style of midwesterners. At first, Chicago won't know what to make of your New York ways, but you'll adapt and change your professional and personal style. This adaptation will serve you well in the years to come. 

    As the early days of social media literally change the Web, you will transition from a designer and "creative" to a strategic thinker who knows how to execute. You are going to find yourself in the weird and wonderful position of developing a professional "following," and the attention will make you feel uncomfortable. Don't be. Go with it because it won't last forever, and while you don't know it, you'll actually be positively impacting people's lives as you help yourself. 

    You'll stay working on the "agency side" for too long. You'll take a risk to do something different, and it won't work out—so you'll go back to what feels familiar. However, you will still grow professionally and work with some absolutely top-notch people and clients and you'll learn much in the process as the internet re-shapes the world in some ways you predicted, and in other ways, you didn't.

    You'll experience much in your adult life: from the joys of bringing new lives into the world to the emotional toll that comes with divorce to the appreciation of seeing your parents grow old to the historic moment when the country that your parents immigrated to finds itself grappling with a global pandemic and civil unrest at once. In some ways, the culmination of these experiences, both good and bad will help you stay grounded when the world feels unmoored. You'll be grateful that you've built so many meaningful relationships, so don't ever feel like you aren't "productive" when you're investing in someone else and forging a new connection. 

    As previously stated, you'll make mistakes—some you'll learn from and others less so. Only invest in a business model you understand, only invest in others that respect your time, and only be as hard on yourself as much as it makes you better vs. worse. 

    Don't forget where you came from, what you believe in, know who you are, and find ways to serve others. Time will go fast, so make it count because we only have so much time here. 

    With love and respect
    Older (and wiser) you 

     
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