Just realized that this month (July) marks my 7th year working in Silicon Valley (and being in “the real world”), as a designer of various digital products (software, websites, devices, etc.). Yep it’s been quite a run so far! I’m incredibly grateful for the advice, opportunities, mentors, and projects all along the way that got me where I am now…and guiding me further to the next level of my growth. Still a tremendous amount to learn and absorb!

In particular I’d highlight the following as the most instrumental in my career so far:

1. Drive, ambition, passion: You’ve got to want to create the best.

As Steve Jobs once said, “to put a ding in the universe.” He goes further: “Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you’re not going to survive. You’re going to give it up. So you’ve got to have an idea or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you’re passionate about; otherwise you’re not going to have the perseverance to stick it through. I think that’s half the battle right there.”

2. The “social”: the friends, mentors, conversations, conferences, events, networking

(and yes, location has played a valuable role for me in this regard; being in Silicon Valley has been just extraordinary with the vibrant population of designers, techies, biz folks…and all the different places to do design in this area, and thus learn from the diverse process/culture/strategy approaches)

3. I realize it’s not popular to say this, but I’ll just say it: talent. I’m incredibly grateful for the talent I have (and evolved over the years through all the projects and mentors) which has helped me greatly in my career. I would not be honest if I didn’t acknowledge that.

(more on the value of talent and why it matters more than ever to designers today…also on “talent vs. process” which is sure to ruffle some feathers! :-)