I’ve started a bit of an editorial calendar here at & Kathleen. On Mondays I post Coaching for Creatives, on Wednesdays I’ve been posting resources (mostly books up until this point), on Fridays I post about life stuff and being a new mom. I’m feeling super inspired lately so as time permits I’ll be peppering in more posts, about whatever I’m grooving on, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Today is Wednesday and I’ve got a solid resource for you. If you are a female designer you’ve got to listen to Erin Anacker’s new podcast Below The Fold (though, I think men and design enthusiasts would dig it too).
I’ve known Erin for maybe a year … or two? It started when Erin emailed me asking for an interview for her then magazine for female designers called Glimpse – and what followed was a meaningful connection and new friendship. Since then I’ve been admiring Erin’s generosity in her newsletters and our one-on-one conversations. I’ve watched her business model methodically unfold into something that is going to be a great success, no doubt. Erin gives individuals not only the gift of great advice and profound insights but the gift of her undivided attention – I’ve never met a better listener than Erin. Which makes her the perfect host of a podcast. You can tell that she doesn’t go into her interviews with a script of questions. She follows the story where it’s meant to go – which results in authentic conversation that the listener will glean their own “ah-ha’s” from.
I asked Erin if I could do a quick Q&A with her about her new podcast. But be sure to listen for yourself!
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Kathleen: Can you tell my readers a little bit about your path going from designer to “people enthusiast”? And tell us what you mean by “people enthusiast”.
Erin: Wait, you don’t know what a People Enthusiast does?! (Kidding.) After graduating with a degree in graphic design, working as a web designer, then starting my own design business, I had grown more and more apathetic toward my work. Over a couple years, this apathy turned into full blown misery and I had to make a change. I hired a business coach, Molly Mahar (who’s lovely BTWs), and together we looked for patterns in my life and business. Through that process, I realized, or rather came to accept, something I knew all along: people are my passion, design is my skill.
In August of 2012, I fired all of my clients (if you’re curious, it was invigorating and liberating!) and struck out on this new path as a People Enthusiast. This year and a half hasn’t been easy and the road is a bit more meandering than I’d prefer, but I am more creatively fulfilled than ever before. I’ve been slowly building and implementing each element of my strategic plan and with each step, I am more excited about the possibilities.
My goal from day one has been to develop camaraderie and community amongst women in design. Through a variety of means—group programs, a unique email newsletter, a recently launched podcast, future retreats, digital products, and online courses—I teach, facilitate, and broadcast my knowledge about connection, whether it is with one another or with our users / clients / audience.
Essentially, a People Enthusiast rocks out on building meaningful relationships and this People Enthusiast, is particularly keen on female designers (umm, because we are the shiz).
Kathleen: What made you decide to launch a podcast (vs. blog / video / etc.)? Who are you looking to interview and who are you trying to reach? And of course the big question: WHY?
Erin: Well, I’m terrible at keeping a blog and really didn’t want to deal with dressing for the camera! Surface stuff aside, it was a strategic decision. Blogs are great and video is great too, but I had to think long and hard about my audience.
Where does she hang out? How does she already receive information? What format would resonate with her the most? Which medium aligns with my core philosophy and mission?
After answering those questions, I landed on podcasting and believe that it would deepen the user experience and enrich the lives of my people. There is something special about the sound of someone’s voice. When we put those ear buds in, tap play, and hear someone speaking, it’s personal, intimate, and direct. I might even argue that it is more intimate and accessible than video. There’s less for us to reject (clothes, makeup, wonky hair, etc.) and a more immediate evocative result.
The other thing I thought about was how quickly I could reach my people. I use SoundCloud which is basically a social network for sound. Through SoundCloud and iTunes, I’m immediately plugged into public venues with lots of active users. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to think about spreading the word, but it magnifies my efforts.
Though I don’t suggest that everyone run out and start a podcast—it’s a crapload of work—it was the best way for me to reach and engage with my people and a fun way for them to get to know me better. Through story telling and knowledge sharing, I hope to combat isolation and insecurity.
We are not alone in our struggles when trading creativity for money. Everyone has something of value to offer. You don’t have to be a well known designer with 10k Twitter followers to be worthy of a listening ear.
Both desired listeners and desired interviewees are the same: women in design. Freelancers, business owners, and in-house designers are all welcome and name recognition is not required.
Kathleen: Tell us a little about the name “Below the Fold”.
Erin: So much of what we do is about aesthetics—which comes with the territory—but when many of the resources, groups, events, and media are largely focused on what’s ‘above the fold’, namely our work, we start to loose sight the humans behind the design. I truly believe humans relate to one another, not on the giant successes, amazing clients, or dream projects, but in the struggles along the way. Those moments we slipped up, got fired, paid rent late, moved and felt isolated, or felt like saying, “F this S, I’m out.” These are not unique or individual. The hurdles we must overcome are ubiquitous and collective. In my interviews with women in design, I want to dig deep, learn what makes each woman tick and how she got to be where she is today. I want to share her life, not her work, with the world.
A note from Kathleen: For our non-designer readers, “the fold” is a design term for what you see when you land on a website before you start scrolling down.
Kathleen: I think you’re a genius at fostering meaningful relationships and creating community. Any advice for creatives who are trying to find their tribe?
Erin: Oh boy! This is a big question and I’ll do my best to answer it succinctly.
First, who are you looking for? Patrons or comrades? Do you need clients or do you need comrades? Second, where do you need / want them? Online? Offline?
Let’s say you’re looking for patrons through an online medium (Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, etc.).
I think it’s easy to get caught up in talking about our craft, which is not to say it isn’t needed. We’ve got to have comrades to lean on, encourage us, and revel in solidarity. However, if you need patrons (read: clients), the nuances of typography probably won’t resonate with non-designers (I’m assuming you’re not designing for designers). Craft content is focused on you rather than on them. Instead, think about what your ideal clients wants to do, be, or feel. What little victories or thoughts or recourses can you provide them to help them get there?
Let’s say you’re looking for comrades in person (local events, groups, retreats / conferences, etc.).
I’m going to tell you something you may not want to hear… You’ve got to put yourself out there. And my dear, lovely, thoughtful introverts, this absolutely does not mean you have to become an extrovert. (Thank gawd—there are enough of us producing hot hair to keep the world spinning a few more centuries.) Putting yourself out there simply means being an intentional initiator. Connection starts with you. Set an attainable goal for yourself to get out there. Attend a design event once a week—and if there aren’t any create one (with as little as two people!). Invite two design friends out to lunch. Go to a workshop once a month. Join a group outside of your field and attend. Seek people out intentionally and individually and you will be amazed how much deeper and more fruitful those connections will be.
If you could take just one thing away, it would be this:
Focus on moments and individuals—these are what build relationships and community. Your tribe will grow, but there are no shortcuts.
(I could seriously go on and on about this topic. If you have more specific questions, I’ll hang out in the comment section below.)
Kathleen: Anything else you’d like to add? How else can my readers engage with you?
Erin: For those seeking camaraderie and resources, I recently created The League of Kind + Kindred, my community of women in design. You can read more about what and why on my website (pixology.is).
I also love conversing on Twitter and am happy to connect on LinkedIn (I know it’s stodgy but I don’t do Facebook). Feel free to email me too. I read and respond to every email I receive; my inbox is always open.