Thougths from Zeldman's presentation @ AEA San Diego 2015

  • Posted on: 12 June 2015
  • By: jared

These are my tidbits of insight gained while attending An Event Apart conference. My notes distilled to hopefully stand on their own while leave plenty more for those who will hear the presentation. I encourage you to attend one of their events.

From Jeffrey Zeldman's talk “The Fault, Dear Brutus (or Career Advice from a Cranky Old Man)” at the San Diego 2015 An Event Apart conference.


Take charge of your future
A recurring theme in Zeldman's kickoff motivational speech every year revolves around taking control of your own future. While there are some external forces you don’t have control over, you are in control how you act and react. Success is when preparation meets opportunity as they say. After an entertaining and self deprecating tour though his career, Zeldman challenge the audience to "be strategic about your career". He implored us to not "wait for someone to hand you a dream job or dream project". He offered a few pointers for taking charge of your career.


  • Pray
  • Meditate
  • Socialize with colleagues
  • Blog

These revolve around self discovery. Learn who you are, how you go there, and where you want to go. During the creative process we continually evaluate the quality and direction against various metrics. At least we should. The same process should be applied to your life and career. We should have a plan, long and short terms goals. And it's ok to change those goals. Life happens.

Be the employee you'd want to hire
As you work towards and settle into a course, Zeldman continued to offer advice on avoiding mistakes most of us have made.

  • Make a good first impression
  • Mind your attitude
  • Pay attention to office politics
  • Respect clients
  • Never undercut your partner

Sell your work, sell yourself
Have you ever been to restaurant were the server didn't try to sell you on the special. A wine tasting where less than three adjectives we used to describe the aroma with hints of something. Have you ever seen a movie without watching a trailer or reading a review. You need to warm people up. Prepare them to not just view, but experience your work. Never "throwing work on the wall and asking a client what do you think". Zeldman warns that just asking for trouble.

There may be times you don't have work to show. It may be a secret, you may not have any or you may have lost it. Take a note from magicians and "use sleight of hand". Sell them on you. What can you bring to the table. Make them want to find a position for someone with your personality, skills, attitude. Tell the story of how you've solve business problems.