September 24, 2017

What motivates a designer more than display, tablet and cookies

Olga Shavrina
I know a man named Kostya, he is about 40-45 years old. He's crushing walls, cutting and sharping bricks and stones, mixing cement slurry all the days long. He doesn't have a leather chair, 29-inch display, tablet and cookies. He wears dirty clothes and old sneakers.

How do you think, does he admire his job?

I'll tell you more about him. He uses bricks and stones to create the best fireplaces in the region. Each is unique. Each is made to fit specific house taking into account the interior, house height and the owner's vision. Each gets into the portfolio. Kostya knows everything about bricks types, arch masonry, tube constitution and traction. His fireplaces don't smoke, warm the houses and flame up fast.

With his partner-designer they create awesome facades of any styles – from baroque to high-tech. They select only projects they are interested in and have a 4-year queue of orders. The wall of their workshop is covered with photographs of them with happy customers, champagne and brand new fireplaces.

So how do you think now, does he admire his job?
9 signs of a dream job
I've formulated 9 principles I think the dream job has to satisfy. I don't pretend to be objective – it is an experience and reflection result.
To contribute to a good cause, make people's lives better. E.g. Airbnb makes a great thing – removes the fear of travel, raises travel experience to another level.

Before Airbnb every my journey to another country was called "tour", consisted of a hotel, tour guide, "all included" and boring excursions. Now I just buy tickets to another country, find a place to live and ask locals where to find their best beer and meat :)

Airbnb teaches to trust people, talk on a mixture of languages, accept cultural differences, make friends, be open-minded and grow as a person.

It's awesome to work in such a company, it motivates a lot.
Challenge. This is the most interesting – puzzle solving. Often you have to find and formulate a problem in the first place and only than to find and test decisions. And when after several iterations you see your solution has improved user experience – it's a great reward.
Responsibility. When you are fully responsible for a task, when you realize that if YOU don't solve it – nobody will, you don't sleep at night, think it over and over again – how to do it better, how to check and make sure it works. Because if it is your decision and your work you want to be proud of it.
Creativity – to create something new and beautiful. Routine and monotony drove me into depression. In the last quarter, I struggled with a multi-page report. And if there were 10 more reports – I would never have finished. But the thought that tomorrow I will be through with it and switch to interface tasks warmed my soul.
A long life of you work. The longer your project lives – the happier you are. Websites and applications become obsolete and die occasionally. But to watch the projects, you participated in closing one by one is painful.

I envy the architects – built a house and it is standing for decades. Look and admire :)
Team. Team members should share the same values. If one wants only money, other – professional growth and a third one – world fame, it will inevitably lead to a conflict. And a conflict means a low motivation.

People themselves also should arouse my respect as professionals and as human beings as well. It's banal, but I don't want to work with assholes and won't do that ever.
What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of the team.
Benjamin Franklin Fairless
Studying and growth. It's important to have an opportunity to learn – to have a mentor and/or time and resources for outside, inside or self-education. Also, tasks have to be more and more tricky and push you to master new skills.

My first serious job was a banner-maker at the marketing agency. At first, it was exciting to learn Flash and ActionScript, optimize banners for rigid requirements of advertisement platforms. It is a huge challenge to develop a beautiful interactive banner of 20KB file size.

Then I got padawans and my focus changed to teaching and coordination. It was also interesting but in the other way.

But a year later boredom and thoughts of aimlessly spent time began to visit me again and again because the growth had stopped.
Recognition. Funny, but for a long time, I thought the world fame is not important to me. But actually, it does. All recognition types are valuable – from "hey, it's cool" said by a colleague to a professional community appreciation.

Curious thing is that it's much more easy to say "wow, great job" to an employee than to organize his education or raise his salary. But not many managers actually do this.
Money. Altruism – is a beautiful thing but not in case of the main job. I think salary and bonuses is a way to show your employee how you value him. A good employee should have enough money for bread with Nutella, savings and vacations.
I think each item above matters. You can't work on a project you don't believe in for a lot of money or participate in an interesting project with a team of assholes. May be for a short term, but not permanently.

Working place, table, chair, health insurance, gym, cookies, coffee... – are additional bonuses and nothing more. Funny, but I often see them carefully described in a job description, with very few words about stuff that is really important :)

And what is important for you, guys? I would be happy to hear your opinion.
Olga Shavrina
Product manager. Human being