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Six Strategies for a White Hot Career

Posted April 23, 2012 in AlumniClasses & Presentations

For me, Graphic Design Career Day was a small step back in time. The featured speaker, Thomson Dawson, is Managing Partner of Pull Brand Innovation and Founder of White Hot Center.com. But I remember him from “back in the day” when his firm, Dawson + Co., was one of the hottest design shops in Grand Rapids. 

A Kendall grad (he holds a certificate in Graphic Design), Dawson attended when the College was located on College Ave. “There were 20 people in my entire graduating class,” he told the students who crowded the multi-purpose room.

Dawson shared with students six points that will help them make their careers not just financially satisfying, but emotionally and creatively rewarding too, in a marketplace that sees new designers as a herd of zebras, indistinguishable from each other.

“We are in a global, idea economy, where design contests and crowdsourcing have made our profession a commodity,” he said. “You will create your own job, and that job is to create and add value. Become a highly specialized expert known for something specific.”

Dawson shared with students his six ideas they can implement to make themselves the pink pony in a herd of zebras.

1. As you think, so it becomes!
Thinking is the basis of everything. To create a competition-proof business, entrepreneurs can’t create value if they are not thinking inspired thoughts. Stop looking for scarcity, and seek out the world’s abundance. Thinking big leads to a positive shift in actions.

2. Do what matters to you and serve others.
To be competition-proof, a business must reflect two essential elements: what matters to the owner, and what serves customers. Be a value-creator, not an order-taker.

3. Be different and make a difference.
There is no sense in “clawing your way to the middle.” There are only two positions in a customer’s mind any business can occupy: leader or follower. In a commoditized world with abundant choice, “good” means the same as everybody else. Everything is good. Good is the slush pile. Strive for great.

4. Provide more “use” value to customers than you receive in cash value.
Providing customers with more “use value” than they pay for in cash does not mean you do something for less money. Under-promise, over-deliver, and create experiences that clients and customers love.

5. Focus on your genius—delegate everything else.
There are two types of entrepreneurs: individualists who do everything by themselves, and those who recognize their unique genius, focus only their expression of it in the world, and delegate everything else to others. Genius is like breathing. You do it automatically, and it is the absolute essential of who you are.

6. Turn your customers into your non-paid sales force.
Clients who advocate for you are the ones who believe they are receiving more compelling value doing business with you as opposed to your competition, and they wouldn’t think of working with anyone else because it would not be in their interest to do so.

Dawson added that in order to earn the advocacy of clients, designers must also remember the basics: Show up on time, do what you say you’ll do, finish what you start, and say “please” and “thank you.”


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