How I Start Every Design Project

Ever project starts with what I consider my *absolute favorite* part of the whole design process: gathering inspiration.

Whether it's going through a previous collection or looking for new places to get content, I always make sure to spend a few days refining the feel right.

A few places I can't get enough of:

1. Dribbble
2. Pinterest
3. Muzli
4. Tumblr
5. Magazines/objects

Each platforms has it's benefits and pitfalls. Pinterest, for example, would require me to begin pinning several items before the algorithm gets the vibe right and serves up similar content. Dribbble is more specifically for design and really cool graphics, and less general inspiration (which is necessary sometimes). Muzli is great in so many ways, but generally is more for articles and individual stories. Tumblr is very much a hodgepodge of content but gets me to open up my mind a bit. And lastly, looking at mags/objects sometimes puts a limit on all the potential on the internet but the tactile nature of it is exactly what a brand requires. Overall, all of them have different ways to find awesome nuggets of beauty to craft the right "mood". So my recommendation is to grab a little from all. 

Here are a few examples of moodboards.


Tight on time? Feel free to grab inspo from me:

www.pinterest.com/tundiszasz
www.tundiszasz.tumblr.com


Craving freedom? Read this.

Ahhhh, freedom. We all want it. Freedom from being stuck in an office against our will, freedom from location, freedom from mean people, freedom to create more happiness. Of course, I could talk about how technology has allowed more freedom in our lives. But I don't want to talk about that, because there's a big elephant in the room around what really prevents us from feeling free.

I'm talking about freedom from yourself. Freedom from the incessant chatter of your mind, telling you to go in a million different directions but ultimately leading you to nowhere. The you who's not where you want to be, and isn't happy with anything. 

Have you ever traveled somewhere and coming back and realized that the hyenia in your everyday life, in your "normal mind and life" are still living there, much to your demise? Have you ever woken up one day and asked yourself, how on earth did I get here? Of course you have, we all have been there. Myself included.

The key point here is to not continue to blame your past or look downwards upon your future. The past is long gone. Those decisions you made in the past have led you to where you are now. The future has not yet happened so there's really no reason to dwell in that space.

The key of course, is to focus less on the past or future, and more on the here and now. Right now, you're reading this. Right now, you can look about you and see your marvelous body and the light shining through this incredible invention we call a computer. You simply need look around and rather than see all the kitchen plates piling up, or your significant other's weaknesses, or your friend's who are flaking on you, to see what you actually HAVE right now in your life and feel grateful for the little things. It's all the little things that make up the big things (your body included...just consider that you're made of atoms!). The point, my friend, is to seek the beauty in these tinier moments and realize that this is life...this is the flow of life and you're very much a part of it.

The first trick is when you're going down that rabbit hole of negative self talk, to catch yourself. You simply NOTICE that you're thinking these negative thoughts. And you don't stop it, you don't talk down on it, you simply watch it and follow your thought. You continue to watch how you think and quickly you'll realize how unbelievably ridiculous it is. Then, once you've gone along for the ride long enough, ask yourself if you're willing to see everything differently. To say that yes, you're capable of freedom right now. You're capable of peace right now. You're capable of happiness right now, you need just consider the possibility.

Also, if you have something huge in your life that's preventing you from moving into a state of happiness, consider the small things (break it into small pieces) and find more freedom in accomplishing those tasks one at a time. Be willing to tackle the beast by going after its tail first. One thing at a time. Small things at a time. Noticing the pleasure of one thing at a time. Just look about you...beauty is everywhere. 

The little willingness to see it is all you need.

How To Take a Month Off + Travel the World

30 Days. No laptop. No work. Total freedom.

Traveling without strings for a month was no easy feat, but not only was it possible, I did it while continuing my client relationships and booking five new clients in the process. 

I decided to go two weeks in advance, roughly planned out how to get from country to country, and reserved half the hotels just a few days prior to leaving. I landed without a plan and it was awesome. Total adventure travel. And…why not? But the question I get asked most is: Tündi, how did you do it? My answer: how could I not?

Since I started freelancing, my goal was to live life on my terms. That meant taking vacations when I chose to. For however long I chose. Going with clients I hand picked. And doing it without fear of money or not having work when I came back. And yes, I made it happen.


So. How was I able to travel for a month, and get booked out for most of the year, and grow a waiting list of clients 6+ months out?


There were no easy tricks. But here’s how you can do it too.

1. Make it a priority.
I wrote it down incessantly, and had to remind myself that work is now a choice. I could work, or I didn't need to and it was really up to me. Adventure travel was something I decided to do at the beginning of the year, and I knew I’d like to go for about a month. By writing it down and keeping it in mind throughout the year, I stayed focused on my goals.

2. Realize that the time is NOW. Mini-retirements are in.
What are you working for? Because if you're just waiting to retire and then travel, let me tell you friends...you'll be super let down. The time is now when you're able. Why wait? Take the experiences when you're young and use them as lessons in your life now through retirement and beyond. Waiting when you’re older is risky. I can't imagine have pulling this trip off when I'm already retired…there's too much to explore and that requires a ton of energy. Energy that I have now, but not necessarily later.

3. Tell everyone you're going before you're ready, and get past the judgments.
Nothing like a bit of social pressure to get you going, huh? Most people rolled their eyes, as if to say yeah right...you wish. Joke's on them now, huh.

4. Marketing, Marketing, Marketing!
I made sure that people kept me top of mind. That meant meeting with the right people, making the phone calls that needed to be made prior to the trip, getting recommendations, keeping up on all social channels and blog posts, and making sure everyone knew when I was returning and ready.

5. Don't put it on a calendar too far in advance.
This is where the spontaneous part came in. With freelancing, sometimes it’s easy to plan in advance, but most of the time it doesn't work that way. I had to push off a LOT of work in order to go on this trip, which stung. So I set myself up with work BEFORE I left, and only departed after wrapping up a major launch. Timing was key.

6. Live minimally. Save.
For those who don’t know me, I’m a minimalist. That means, if I don’t love it, it’s going to get donated. My home is filled with an extremely curated collection of clothes, personal items and books that I absolutely adore. I decided not to buy new clothes for a year. People waste so much time and money buying stupid shit, ever wonder where all that stuff goes once it used? It’s not good for the environment or my peace of mind. It was time I was way more conscious with my purchases.

7. Think of the craziest place to go...then DO it.
A month is a really long time, so I thought of the farthest destination that would make me feel uncomfortable and went for it. I just jumped for the opportunity, instead of mulling it around in my head forever. I made a list, then chose, then went.


There you have it. Travel is important. Fuck retirement, why would you wait til you're 65 until you travel the world? You'll be too tired and old to go at the pace you can when you're young. Do yourself a favor and go!
 

A Business of Freedom

Every day, you work at your service job, hustling as a full-timer, freelancer, contractor, consultant or working directly or indirectly with clients on any number of projects. This is a privilege, and one we are so lucky to have. We get to work creatively every day, and I find that to be incredibly humbling.

All is well and good. And then one day after you’ve answered the 10th question or solution about the same problem and wonder, “Hmm, is there any way I can automate this? Because I sure as heck have done this like 999999999x times already. I'd like to focus on some other stuff now.”

Yep. I’ve been there, we’ve all been there, and yes. There’s a method to adding in more freedom into a business to run it more efficiently and have you focus on what matters most to you: having more flexibility, time, and overall freedom. I know because I’ve done it. In the last year I have done my best to hack the system and add in more freedom. And I’d say 70% of the time it’s been successful.


It comes down to hacking two things:

  1. Space

  2. Time


Let’s break down space. In order to get paid, most people need to physically show up somewhere. Whether that somewhere is an office or meeting with a person face to face for an interview to land a position, you need to be there in person. But what if you didn’t need a place? What if it was virtual?

Now let’s break down time. In order for you to get paid, you exchange your time for a one-on-one service. Which makes it incredibly difficult for you to get paid more as it's usually on a per project basis. But what if you could get paid 10-to-1? Or even 1000-to-1?

Space & Time are two restrictions society has invented, and rightly so, after the industrial revolution. But what if technology could change that? What it we could beat place and time and invent freedom?

My three step formula:

Step One. Beyond Space. What that looks like:

Set yourself up to work remotely or in the location of your preference
-Work remotely while maintaining 1-on-1 relationships
-Work from home, a shared work space, or while traveling
-You choose where you need to do your bulk work or maintenance (social media, etc)

Step Two. Beyond Time. What that looks like:

Create products or outsource your weaknesses
-Productize your services
-Outsource your services
-Create systems that automate as much as possible (emails, client requests, screen testing etc)
-Don’t exchange your work for time, exchange it on benefit rendered

Step Three. Beyond Time + Place. What that looks like:

Creating products, outsourcing what you're weak in, and working where you choose
-Work on something, launch it, and maintain it for a lot more time + place options
-You’ve likely put in a lot of time beforehand, and after you launch an enormous amount of time opens up
-You’ve likely worked in a specific (or several) places to get a product or automated service out there, but post launch you’re free of location

What are your thoughts on this? Are you interested in going beyond Space & Time? What questions do you have? Please let me know!

Why Design Matters

Today I had a chat with a friend over his startup. He mentioned that a few investors were not buying the fact that adding *digital efficiency* would really make a difference to their bottom line. And I though, boy, that’s a giant red flag because:

this is exactly the place where design matters most.


A lot of leaders today are out of touch with the needs of people and the empathy they’re asking and BEGGING for. And it’s our role as creators to bridge that gap on educating leaders on why making things as simple/easy as possible is the single most important thing they need to be focusing on. Why? Because simplicity is empathy. Adding beauty is empathy. Making things pleasant to experience is empathy. Listening to people's problems and solving them from a design perspective is empathetic action. It’s our role as creators to explain that while previous methods that are working are cool and all, if it can be done better people will notice and it’ll help raise their bottom line, time and time again. It's our role to empathize with people and demand leaders to take notice. 

To do this well, creators need to have solid strategy to back 'dat up. A great example of this is a person you may not first think of when talking through strategy. The guy I'm talking about is founder Adam Braun, formerly a finance and strategy pro at Bain & Company, who via an insane life experience decided to create a non-profit that would produce water pumps in communities that had a really tough time getting it, known as Pencils of Promise. Adam too had an issue selling his ideas to investors. They pushed him aside, saying yeah that's nice and all. Thinking on his toes, he came up with a solution. Rather than it being non-profit, he called it FOR PURPOSE and put together an entire strategy and financial explanation behind that. He used his experience in strategy to sell through the idea, and in turn helped people all over the world. There are a ton of videos about him and his story, but here's a quick article on it.

This is also key to many millennial consumers, which may not be everyone’s target audience, but most people in that demographic actually care more about mission guided work than anything and asking, DEMANDING, that it be more efficient and thus overturning segments of markets that are inefficient. That's why a lot of these large companies are going down and smaller firms, startups and entrepreneurship goes up — maybe they can’t always stay up but at least it's their mission to try — because they're trying to bridge that gap. UX tries to bridge that gap. Strategy tries to bridge that gap. Design bridges that gap. Anyone who truly thinks empathetically bridges that gap. Thinking through serious problems and providing solutions people actually want is bridging that gap.

For me, I believe mission guided work is important, and also it needs substantial strategy behind it. I find that when people combine missions statements with efficiency it's the best of both worlds because you're preventing people from getting bored after their first thought of "hey this is cool!" and will down the line make them repeat customers. Take Pencils of Promise: without a mission and a solid strategy behind the sell, the end goal of helping people would have been futile. The entire reason people put their money down in the first place is because of a mission, and ALSO with the hope that a mission stays consistent and efficient. AKA love + action. 

Here’s to smarter solutions and doing our best to educating the public about empathy. It’s our job to sell that with smart strategy to support our efforts in making this world not only more beautiful, but more efficient and amazing to live in as well.

What are your thoughts on adding a smudge (or handful) of empathy? Please comment below and let me know.

 

Top 5 Books for Creative Entrepreneurs

I’m a complete book nut. If anyone knows me, they know I’m cycling at least 3-5 books and possibly an e-course or two at the same time. The reason is simply that I love learning. There's constantly things to improve in my life, make things smarter, and make the world better through me.

Some of the top books of all time that I’ve read:

  1. 4 Hour Work Week - Tim Ferriss
    This book has completely changed my perspective on work and what it can do FOR me. I'm not going to say it's totally been possible or even realistic, but the idea of creating a lifestyle (as in "life design") is revolutionary. I recommend that everyone and their mama read this.
     
  2. Desire Map - Danielle LaPorte
    This book is another one that has completely changed my life. It made me decide how I wanted to FEEL first (something Tim Ferriss talks a lot about in 4 Hour Work Week). Mind. Blown.
     
  3. Rework - 37Signals
    You want to be a kick-ass entrepreneur? I mean REALLY kick-ass? This book is for you. Chock full of life advice and tidbits of how the old system just isn't cut out for the new world. Must. Read.
     
  4. Become a Key Person of Influence - Daniel Priestley
    A man who sat next to me on the plane gave this to me. What a miracle. This books takes you from average to a freaking SUPERNOVA. Everything you'd want to know about marketing the hell out of yourself is in these pages.
     
  5. Product Design for the Web - Randy Hunt
    Saved the best for last, what else? This books talks about everything needed for the modern digital experience designer. This is a world that I'm deeply involved in, and is so so soooo rarely written about. This book exploded the lid on UI/UX/IA and what it means to be a "unicorn", a word hated by everyone, and what it's all about.

What books do you like? I'm a book nut so please leave me a note below and give me some recommendations!

Goodbye Photoshop, Hello Sketch

sketch

GOODBYE PHOTOSHOP.

The words feel so good. I've been only using the new big bad badass on the horizon, and it's my lovechild known as "Sketch" by Bohemian Coding.

This incredible program has streamlined my UI workflow so quickly and efficiently within the last year that I'm in the process of converting an entire second studio (this time a major creative agency in NYC) to it. It's just that good. And not only for the entire visual department, but for UX and dev as well.

Some reason as to why Sketch just trumps Photoshop:

  1. Everything is vector
  2. I change a font or color, and everything everywhere changes
  3. Exporting is a freaking piece of cake
  4. There are GRIDS built in
  5. If I want rounded corners, voila
  6. IT'S ONLY $99
  7. I finish everything so fast it scares me
  8. Everything is gridded, and doesn't mess up (which makes my ocd designer tendencies sing)
  9. Google + Apple use it
  10. My good Lord just get it already (it's free for a month)

Seriously guys, I can't endorse this enough. Exporting is a breeze, especially for prototyping. With all the plugins I've got going, I finish work literally in half the time I used to with Photoshop.

I'll keep this short, because I don't want to keep you from trying it yourself (and no I'm not paid to endorse this): http://bohemiancoding.com/sketch/

What are your thoughts on Sketch, Photoshop or your workflow in general? Please let me know in the comments.

Step One for Personal Branding on the Web

personalbranding

The idea of a personal brand is one that many people run away from. The thing that most people don't understand, however, is the fact that they themselves ARE brands, and you are a brand if you are reading this. Yes, YOU. All people who create products or services are personal brands, not just online but in the way they speak down to the shoes they wear.

What is a personal brand? A personal brand is the memory you leave with people. It's the way they remember you, like a feeling or a reputation. It's the thing that people talk about at a dinner table when you're not with them, and it's the glue that draws them towards or away from you.

The global acceptance of the digital landscape has completely changed the way we view other people. Whether it be a website, app, social media post, or an image, every little thing you send out or engage in is a representation of how others will remember you, AKA how you are branding yourself. 

It's worthwhile to take a second and reflect on how you'd like to be remembered. Do you want to be known as honest, minimal, design-centered? Or brash, athletic, and opinionated? Both are completely fine, but it's more important to be consistent. For example, if on Monday you post something about simplicity, with a wellness and spa photo and a little copy to represent you, and Wednesday you post an aggressive male-dominated poster of thrasher to represent you, that's going to confuse the hell out of your audience.

Granted, everyone has different sides to their personality. But it does take some very clear thinking and self awareness to tame it down to a few variables of yourself that you'd like to express.

The first thing I recommend is to write down some of your favorite activities, colors, and people or brands you look up to. Keep a folder on your computer with clippings, images, or links. Another great resource is Pinterest. With this alone, a lot of your personal branding will be self evident. Are you drawn to going to get massages, light pastel tones and Whole Foods? If so, this will dictate a lot of the look and feel of what your brand will look like.

Another thing to pay attention to is the way you express words. The voice of your brand needs to feel like you too. Are you sarcastic, or sensitive? Are you comfortable debating politics or shy away from the limelight? Feel free to ask your own questions. All of these variables very much dictate the tone of your brand.

So in summary, do some self reflection and ask yourself how you'd like to be remembered. Write down ideas, and grab photos of inspiration and ways you feel about yourself. Think about the way you sound and how you want to express yourself to others. Make sure you put everything in a folder on your desktop or a journal and be sure to keep that in mind every time you put something out into the world.

Some final questions to ask:

Is your image in line with your brand's mission? 
How do you appear verbally on social media? Are you being yourself and consistent?
Is the way you style yourself in profiles / pictures the way you want to be remembered?
What do you want your voice to sound like in the content you write and share?

If you hire a designer, they will arguably answer these points above for you if you don't prepare it in advance. Which is a shame, because it's definitely the funnest part of the entire process!

How has personal branding effected you and your audience? Please let me know in the comments below.

With light,
Tündi

5 Ways to Say "Ba-Bye" to Creative Burnout

Burnout. It happens to the best of us and can practically spark a creative revolt. You know when you're in burnout if you suffer from the following thought symptoms:

Work?
Forget about it.

Hang out with other creatives?
No way, that means I'll need to talk about that "work stuff". 

Leave the house?
Fuck it. I just wanna stay in my PJ's.
Is today Sunday?
Wah-wahhh.

Ahh, friends. I get you. Burnout sucks and makes you forget the reasons you started doing what you do in the first place: because you love it. Deep down somewhere you did all this for a reason and you know it. But somewhere along the way you got lost and are looking for some ideas of how to return to your senses.

Below I have a few suggestions on how to get your creative juices flowing again and put you back in the zone. These included places, things to do, and activities to take part in.

1. Take a full day out of your schedule (play hooky if need be) and take a good look at your neighborhood.

There's something about escaping the confines of boxed walls that make all the difference. Sometimes it's nice to just get out and explore the space around you, discovering little things about where you live that you've never noticed before. It's this noticing that helps break creative ruts: focusing on small details instead of big pictures to help you piece back the puzzle and get back to your heart.

2. Produce something that doesn't involve any of the tools you're used to using.
That means if you're a designer or digital ninja, make something that doesn't involve a computer. A coach, try writing an article or making something out of clay. A maker, try creating something with your mind and express it verbally. Really the ideas are limitless. The idea is to get out of your comfort zone and try something completely different. Sometimes it's the very act of doing something different when you start realizing how much you like that other stuff. 

3. Do something that'll give you an adrenaline rush.
If you know me, you'll know I love dancing. Sometimes I'll go out and just dance my socks off, and it'll give me that feeling of "hey I'm actually living my life" once again. Basically it's getting out of the house and doing something fun/indulgent for a change totally for yourself. This works especially great is if it's something you've never done before or if it's been a really long time since you've done that specific thing. Excitement or nostalgia. You pick.

4. Visit the places or people that make you feel like you're at home. 
For me, for example, that's around big bodies of water. I know other people who have a favorite coffee spot, or a corner in their house that they like to fill up with pillows. It may not even be a physical place, but perhaps hanging with a certain person or a certain furry animal. It ultimately helps put you back in a good place.

5. Write a list of small things you actually DO enjoy.
This includes those small things that you know you love, making you feel less cynical and reminding you that you actually do enjoy some things. Also, if someone offers these to you you'd gladly accept. Think chocolate mousse, playing with animal friends, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, doodling, getting your nails done, playing instruments with friends...whatever those things are, it'll get you to start focusing on the enjoyment of things rather than the annoyance of everything. This thoughtful process trains your mind to start thinking positively and back to your happy zone. 

I hope that was helpful. Now please let me know ways that inspire you and shake you out of your creative rut!

Why Freelance Life is (Officially) Awesome

Freelance life is awesome.
"Oh yeah?" You say, "Is it now?"
Yep. It really is!

I get asked a TON of questions about what freelance life is like. I'll take a minute here to indulge you in all my dirty little secrets :) Hint: Freedom!

It's been about 9 months since I quit my full-time gigwhich was fantastic and I was very grateful for by the way, but change really needed to happen. I've successfully managed to completely replace my full-time salary with freelance work, much of it being remote. In addition, I decide when to travel, and for how long. And I feel completely in control of the work that I take on. Note, I have a home office (which is amazing as I live in NYC and this is a rarity), but I also enjoy working from coffee shops and taking my laptop on the road with me. Plus, my clients now are hand picked and doing really incredible things. Basically, I wear the lady boss pants ya heard?

Ok so a little more as to why freelance is awesome. It's estimated that by 2020, 50% of our workforce will be freelance. Check out this article on Forbes to get the lowdown. That's a crazy huge percentage, and I think it'll be going up from there. Big corporations are literally trying to be more like startups. And the trend is only going to continue. People want more freedom, flexibility, and ownership over their own lives.

My recommendation to you: give freelance a shot. But only do it if you have at least 8 month savings in your pocket. I planned it all out, did my research, really took care of my marketing and systems, made sure I was nice to people, kept my portfolio top notch, and created a lot of connections with my 10 years of experience. Most of all it's about keeping your head on right as sometimes doing client work is almost like being a therapist and doing the right thing. My internal work (see my last post) has really paid off. So work has literally flowed to me *knock-on-wood* without me doing any outreach whatsoever. How great is that?

While freelance life is beautiful, sometimes it can be hard. I find myself sometimes working even harder than I have full-time. Other challenges are:

  • Setting boundaries so you actually DO get to take a day off
  • Making sure you have all systems up and running: contracts designed, online payment systems set up, automatic responders, getting all your marketing in order)
  • Dealing with taxes and tracking your business expenses
  • Getting into the groove of freelance, which took me a good 6 months
  • Saying no to work ... I've started to become a "no" person, but it's hard!

Otherwise? I say hell-yeah to freelance aka *freedom* life.

What's holding you back from jumping head first into freelance life? Leave me a note and let me know!

Coming Out of the Spiritual Closet

In the last year or so, after studying mindfulness, meditation, minimalism, Buddhism, and then A Course in Miracles with Bridget Trama, an incredible spirit and human being, I have absolutely changed my mental model of how I view the world. I've become lighter. I surrendered to it all and just gave up the struggle. I've been writing my thoughts down since third grade, but somehow wasn't able to transform those thoughts into useful bits of knowledge to learn from, but that's all different now.

What caused me to do all that work? 
After a series of hard events that have shaped my life over the past few years (including the devastating effects Hurricane Sandy had on my living situation, the breakup from a 6 year relationship and overcoming a life-threatening virus that held me hostage for 9 months). I can safely say now that I'm ready to come out of the spiritual closet. I now know that life wasn't happening to me, but for me. These experiences taught me lessons that were invaluable.

What was once a huge weight on my shoulders and a confusing place to be in life became one of comfort and hope. Now, life looks a lot brighter with daily meditation, positive energy and overall a perspective that's 180 degrees different in the best of ways. I'm actually grateful for all I had to go through to get to this place.

I've put this post on hold for a long time thinking that people will pin me down as "religious" or weird. But I'm neither, I just believe in the goodness of human spirit. Love. Light. I've becoming spiritually centered and free. But why am I sharing this now? Because I believe that everyone has the potential for great change in their lives. I live in NYC, where people are so angry and frustrated. The economy has changed and people are more busy and scattered than ever. I believe everyone could use some good vibes and a positive shift in perception. I now believe that happiness is a choice, and I'm ready to continue on this path.

I'd like to hear from you and your journey coming out of the spiritual closet. Please post below and let me know your story and why it matters to you!

How to Communicate with Designers (The Right Way)

Designers are a certain breed. They can either be the biggest asset to the creation of your digital product or feel so bogged down that they will lack any passion in becoming the cornerstone of what they have the potential to be.

Some designers I have talked to feel like no more than a puppet. Others feel like they own the entire project and the client has no say at all. Neither one of these approaches is the right way, and I'll tell you why: the success of a product has everything to do about what makes the product great, not the ego's involved in the process. It's getting down to the meat and potatoes of the work itself, and when both parties can agree on making it as great as possible, that's where the rubber meets the road.

So without ado, here are five tips to get the most out of your designer:

  1. Have them define a clear brand and design strategy from the very beginning. Get them to define the purpose (the why), craft the meaning and get it from their perspective so that they can be sure it aligns with the goals of the project as a whole.
  2. Ask them if the deadlines you've put together (if you have a hard deadline) are actually feasible. A designer will know if it is or not. If it's too short, you'll sacrifice quality for speed. If it's too long, a designer will be spinning their wheels and over-perfecting things for no good reason. Getting a good balance is essential.
  3. Discuss all design decisions (UX, UI and any branding) together as a process goes along. There shouldn't be a giant big reveal after weeks of waiting around, you both should be involved throughout the entire process.
  4. That said, make sure the designer has enough time and space to fail enough to come up with creative solutions. Yes, I said fail. Because failure breeds creativity. By putting pressure to have everything perfect the first time around, you'll be setting your product up for failure. Design is both a science and an art, it takes time to craft the right solution and often it may take one, two, three, heck even 100 tries until the right thing comes out.
  5. Give compliments where you feel they're doing a great job. Heck, this is a universal truth. Often times, design is an invisible and lonely field with little positive feedback. The people creating the products and will be overjoyed by the news. This will only propel them to work harder and make your product better. They are people, after all, so give them something to smile about once in a while!

Now it's your turn. What has it been like in your experience working with designers? Let me know three things you think could have been different had you started the process over now.


Creating Content for Your Site

So you have a business, service or product and either have an existing website, need to update it or need to create something from scratch. It's easy to ask for a website and have someone design it or choose a wordpress template, but it'd be a little silly to that without content to back dat design up. See what I did there? I just made a Juvenile reference.

Jokes aside, design is what helps your content come to life, and without content, design becomes art without purpose. So let's take a deep-dive look at what content you need to get organized prior to the design process.

1. Identify Your Business Model, What You're Selling, and Target Audience
This is the first area you'll need to look at when preparing your site. When you identify your business, who your target customers or audience is, and what it is that you're selling exactly, the rest is easy peasy. But sometimes getting to this point alone is challenging, and for those who are total newbies who want to create a business plan, I recommend these books:

Your target audience is a whole other part. Who is your ideal client? Who are you selling to and is paying for your products or services? Where are they, what do they look like, how are they finding you? All this information is really important to define initially so you can set up a strategy for how you'll show up online.

2. How are people using your site?
This involves strategy. What is the way people will be interacting with your site? What is the flow they will need to follow from page to page? This is typically known as an overall site strategy and site map. This is essential to create prior to the design process, because it creates the roadmap of how users will be using your site. And though often people click around, you can definitely help to create that journey for them, with Calls to Action (more of this below). This is especially useful for e-commerce projects where there are steps people need to take before they can skip ahead.

The business strategy also helps to define WHY you're placing certain bits of information on certain pages. You wouldn't put your about me section on the sentence prior to the "add credit card information" box. By defining the overall strategy of the business, this also helps provide clarity as to what information goes where.

3. If you had to choose ONE objective of your site, what would it be? What would be the secondary objective?
This is important to help define the Calls to Action (or CTA's as they're typically abbreviated) for your site. For example, if your main objective is for people to opt-in to your newsletter, opting in is your objective and your CTA's should say something along the lines of: "Subscribe to the newsletter". Or if you're asking for an email in exchange for a gift, you can say something like "Download the free guide now". Whatever it is, your CTA's should be few, concise, and help you deliver your objective with clarity.

4. Gathering Images
Ahh, the fun part! I love working with images, and I'm sure you have a ton that need to be incorporated online. We're a visual culture, and imagery is essential when communicating. It sets the immediate tone when a person lands on your page. 

My suggestion is to collect all photography you have available for your site, including any photoshoots or even things you think could help in conveying the right "mood". For this reason, I often recommend people do a MOOD BOARD to help curate their look and feel.

Some fun ways to do this:

  • Creating a Pinterest board of inspired images
  • Cutting images out of magazines and pinning it on a wall
  • Throw images you love into a folder on Google Drive

Once you get your images in order, this will help create the overall "feel" from a visual perspective on color choices, form, and the balance of copy to text ratios.

5. All together now!
With all this content together, you can start defining how your site is going to function, look, and flow through for the public. This especially helps designers, for without this important work up front, the design would be meaningless.

Now go, gather! Let me know what you think in the comments.

With Love,
Tündi

Thoughts From the Corner Office

So, I had the glass window and my own private office. A gorgeous view of Manhattan and several snowstorms later, I realized: guys, I've made it but I wasn't "really feeling it". Damn. Don't get me wrong, having my own space with a view was amazing. But it wasn't quite cutting it for me because it didn't fill the void, as they say.  

Fluorescent lighting, a lonely environment mixed with a combination of uninspiring work = daily migraines and counting down the minutes to leave. Not a pretty picture. So you see, it's not about the fancy bells and whistles. Sometimes it's more about the RIGHT kind of needs and desires.

Some necessities for me personally:

  • An open-plan environment ideally with tall ceilings to inspire lofty ideas (yep I said it!) and natural lighting.
  • Being able to directly collaborate with people rather than always relying on email. This saves confusion among zillions of emails and also is fun, too.
  • Doing work that matters and is inspiring. Without this, what's the point?  

What are your necessities? Think:

  1. Work environment
  2. People you collaborate with or solo
  3. Ways you can bring your talent
  4. Ways your talent is needed
  5. Location, where do you want to be 

Sometimes knowing what you DON'T want is even more important than you do want.  

Because it's not about just living, it's about thriving.

The Collective of Us

Over the last few months, I've been balancing a lot on my shoulders. Besides creating digital projects galore, designing a new app and consulting, I've been involved with my Brooklyn B-School mastermind group and in recent news, have been part of an incredibly nurturing and kick-ass group of female creative entrepreneurs called The Collective of Us. I want to dedicate this post to the Collective: it's an online collective for female entrepreneurs to help build and grow their biz through community, strategy, coaching, and peer-to-peer support. It's been incredible, and hosted by Cyndie Spiegel, who's a crazy good business strategist and coach for creative entrepreneurs.

I can't say enough about this mastermind group. Cyndie is a mega talented coach, entrepreneur and full-on boss. She led The Collective with kick-ass rock and roll flair, style and a penchant for no-bullshit. Because she's part business and part zen, the Collective was straight forward, honest and deeply caring. There are so few people out there that can truly inspire and motivate while simultaneously making you really think about your actions in a positive light. What I love about the group is that it really propels people to change. Being part of this community has opened doors to collaborating with other incredible women, while Cyndie led discussions and helped drive conversation throughout. I can't say enough about it!

If you're interested in joining or just want to find out more about the group, check out their page on IG: @thecollectiveofus or email me directly.

With love and light,
Tündi

Why You Need A Mission Statement

If you walked inside my bedroom right now, you’d balk at amazing flurry of electric green and pink post-it notes covering all my walls. Why am I spending my Friday evening with mad scientist Einstein-like conceptualizing and note taking? As I have taken the recent quantum leap into entrepreneurship and freelancing, I’m planning what will eventually be known as my revised mission statement. It’s kind of epic. You’re probably wonder why all this matters. Read on folks.

Mission statements and vision statements are vital to successful branding. While mission statements sum up the overall purpose of one’s business or life goals, a vision statement is how you see your company or life existing in the future. It doesn’t matter if you’re a large or small business owner or a budding entrepreneur, if your goals aren’t clear, it’s either going to make or break you.

Sometimes it can be really hard for folks to figure out what they stand for. My recommendation is to actually take a look at your vision statement first to get a better sense of your ultimate mission.

When visioning, ask yourself this: What would my ideal world look like? What issues in the world do I feel passionate about changing? How would I plan on solving this issue if I could? Given my skills right now, what could I do to serve? Using all five senses, describe this world. Now take that list and map it back into your game-plan: your mission statement.

A good mission statement solves four main questions:

  1. What is it that you do exactly? What products/services are you offering to the world? 
  2. How do you do it? Is it through writing, designing, photographing, what exactly? 
  3. Whom are you serving? Defining your target audience is key here.
  4. What value are you bringing? This is what a client or customer will feel and experience when engaged with your brand.

Some things that may also help is thinking through what your ideal day or week would look like. Describe your dream day — from beginning to end and jot down some of your desired feelings and actual activities. Outside of this, look at some of your passions and talents. Lastly, think through some of your core values and use these as a guide to help fill in the gaps.

Not having a direction is the number one mistake when changing paths and business directions. After defining the purpose as to why one exists, ideas start to pop and things will start aligning with your real goals and dreams. 

When prepared with a mission statement that’s truly aligned with the purpose of your brand, it’ll keep you on the right track and act as the catalyst for attracting the right work and partnerships. Things will flow easier and it’ll act as a reminder to what your brand really stands for.

Can other people understand your mission and vision? Can they share your passion? But mostly, does it make sense to you?

Feeling Insignificant?

Earlier today, I was speaking to a stranger. Being someone whom people tend to turn to for advice, they confided in their worst fear with raw honestly. "I feel insignificant," they whispered. Nothing pains me more than hearing these words. I've been there, and it's a heart-wrenching feeling that I can so relate to.

As wanderers of this world, sometimes life can feel like it's just going on without us instead of us feeling in control of our own path. The truth is that though we may never truly we be in control, we are always whole and we are incredibly, unspeakably significant.

You. Matter. SO much.

You matter because you exist. And by living your truth, which is to be your highest self, you will not only feel significant but shine like a crazy light. In doing this, you help guide others and create a ripple effect of enormous benefit to the world.

You may never even know why, but you are so unbelievably needed and deep down somewhere in you, you know this. You may never quite understand, but you are desperately needed and useful.

Here are three ways to shake you out of the feelings of insignificance:

  1. Do one small act of kindness (community work, service, etc) - By getting out of our own way and being of service, you'll instantly spread joy to the world, and yourself as well.
  2. Meditate: “I am loved" - Remind yourself of this every time you start spiraling into a dark mindset. You'll instantly feel your shoulders melt and at peace.
  3. Reach out to a loved one of friend and just…listen - When people feel you want to be there for them, it can have a huge impact on helping you shake out of your rut. Showing love and gratitude for others is a great way of moving past your mental clutter.

Thanks in advance for reading, and please leave a comment below letting me know what you do to move past feelings of insignificance. 

So much love,
Tündi

 

On Getting Rich in Life Dollars

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We're in a new era of rich. Rich isn't just defined by cash money. It's defined by life dollars. What makes you feel richer in a holistic sense. It's about the music you listen to, the places you walk into for coffee, that morning ritual that really feeds your soul. It's the people you hang out with that make you feel really good, the small habits you love because they help you live life better. The little things that make the everyday more enjoyable are precisely the life dollars I'm talking about.

What would it be like if you spent your life dollars more wisely? If you didn't feel like the journey was being lived by someone else, but by YOU?

Step One is to understand what matters to you. A lot of people these days are chasing the dream. They want the cash, the cars, the babes, the VIP tables. That's them. Onto you...what do you want? Let me ask that again. What do you REALLY want? Are you soul-starved chasing for what other's think is best for you? Do you really care about getting that corner office or are you more of a person that thrives in the freedom of not even working in an office at all? Neither one is the right answer because only you really know.

Step Two is about taking small steps to get there. It's not how you acquire life dollars that matters (because they're free), it's how you spend them that matters. This takes a bit of soul-diving and quick on your feet thinking.

The funny thing with wants and desires are that they are often easier to attain than we think. I'm all about making changes RIGHT NOW. You don't need to spend all your hard-earned fortunes on dreams and they can often be attained on a much smaller scale for a similar feel-fucking-awesome life.

For example:

  • You want to get flat abs and feel healthy. Why? Is it to feel happier with your bod? How about starting right now. You can easily do a set of 10 crunches and take a walk around the block, stand up straighter and eat one bite less of dessert. Step 1 conquered now.
  • If you want a porche, figure out WHY you want that porche. If you want to impress that hot date in a porche, think first of getting that hot date and consider renting a porche for a day or a week to drive your sexy other half around. Seems less daunting than buying it straight out, don't you think? Tim Ferriss has a great section in his website about Dreamlining with tools on making this happen, you can check it out here.
  • Let's say you crave going on a zen retreat in Nepal. But when you get down to it, you realize the thing you really wanted was to get away from all the madness of work and meet a few new open-minded folks. How about taking a day out of work and attending a day class with a guru in your neighborhood? Signing up for meetup to meet once a month with like-minded people? Just these small acts will create HUGE change in getting you one step closer to the life you really want.

Everyone has different dreams. They could be tiny or huge, it doesn't matter. It's how you plan to spend those life dollars on small things that actually make a difference.

Now I'd love to hear from you. What do you want to spend your life dollars on? What is one small action you can do right NOW to get you one step closer?

Love and peace,
Tündi

Your Style, Your Way

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Are you inspired by your wardrobe? Are others confused by what you stand for? Are you visually consistent in every part of your life?

Dressing the part is an enormous part of your brand. What you stand for is reflected in everything you do, say, wear, and project to the outside world. It's more than marketing: it's knowing thyself and screaming it on loudspeaker.

When I moved back to the states after a period of living and working in Europe, I hustled like crazy, was working nonstop and took evening courses for one year with Genevieve Williams. A former professor at the School of Visual Arts and art director of The New York Times and Rolling Stone, studying with her was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

She taught me a very important message: to dress the part.

While projecting my work on the wall, she asked me to stand up next to it. It's as if a giant flashlight was being pointed directly on me. "This isn't you," she continued. "You don't wear any of these colors. You don't say this with your look. Where is Tündi? You look nothing like this."

What she was basically saying was that my work wasn't representing me. Dang, I thought to myself, she's right. The colors were all over the place, the work looked cartoonish and overly macho. It was then that I thought carefully about what I visually stood for and overhauled my closet. My wardrobe was only one part of the equation but an incredibly important one. 

Your brand is the way the world sees you. The colors, textures, the style you're inspired by, down to every choice you make needs to align with who you are. Your business represents a very specific set of core values. Are you chic? Rebellious? Which designers do you love? Reflect those back into your brand. Visually, everything around you needs to reflect your tastes with unbelievable clarity and focus.

Some ideas to refine your style:

  1. PINTEREST
    'Pin' your favorite looks and hold it up against your wardrobe, current website, mobile site, apartment decor, business inventory, and anything you've produced for your business or clients. Find small elements to wrap into your style.
  2. TUMBLR
    A great place to wrangle in your visual aspirations. Take cues from images you're inspired by and put those elements (light, color, texture) into your wardrobe and surroundings.
  3. YOUR IDOLS
    Look at the people who inspire you: masters of their craft, musicians, celebrities, friends or anyone whom you can't get enough of. What characteristics do those people possess? Now try to bring out those emotions every time you get dressed in the morning. Surround yourself with things that remind of you of feelings brought up from your idols. Infuse these into every aspect of your brand and business.

Now I'd love to hear about you. Have you ever experienced visual inconsistency with your brand? What did you do to align your look? 

PS: If you know anyone who is having a hard time reflecting their passions and visions into their life, please share this blog post.

With love,
Tündi