Build relationships, not a trophy case.

On this bridge in Paris, lovers inscribe their names on a lock then attach it to the bridge before throwing the key into the river.

Pont de l’Archeveche

For a Scottish alternative rock band from Glasgow, Del Amitri dispensed some pretty sound relationship advice.

When you’re driving with the brakes on
When you’re swimming with your boots on,
It’s hard to say you love someone and it’s hard to say you don’t.
(full lyrics)

And Marshall McLuhan reminded us to always, “Look at life through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror”. 

McLuhan and Del Amitri are both right; success comes from an unwavering commitment and a focus on future, not past accomplishments.  I’ve been a designer and creative director for nearly 24 years yet I’ve never kept a portfolio of my work nor have I created a resume, let alone kept it up to date.  It’s both a strategy and perspective that extends beyond my vocation but it’s a good place to start since I’ve known, worked with and directed hundreds of other designers during my career.
I can’t help but liken the folly of perpetually building, adding to and maintaining hardbound books and websites to pouring water through a sieve in effort to keep it topped off.  Accomplishments fade, records get broken and good design expires (just go back and look at the first imac). Commitment to this kind of enterprise is a giant waste of your time and energy.  It also sends the wrong message to your leaders and others on your team because it reveals your lack of commitment as well as trust in others and even your own self.  Why would anyone choose to develop a lasting relationship with you?  Why would any leader spend time and effort developing someone who is always in the process of packing their parachute?
But this is true of any relationship isn’t it?  Does anyone in a committed personal relationship keep an online dating profile, continually checking to see who else is out there, who’s interested? Are they perpetually posting their most recent and best profile pictures?
Your future income and success are most likely going to be the result of your loyalties and quality relationships you’ve established.  And besides, anyone can throw together a resume and portfolio of work in a couple of weeks at most.  So stop building a trophy case and start building a legacy.

Last week I happily took on new responsibilities, a promotion and a new role as the Global Director of Strategic Marketing for a $1B multinational brand services organization – without submitting a resume.

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