Decade’s learning & 5X methods

I was invited by the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Hyderabad to share professional wisdom with final year students of the Fashion & Lifestyle Accessories batch. 

I am sharing the extracts of the session on this platform for maximum reach.

Well, we all learn from our own experiences and sometimes with time too. However, one of my mentors told me once that “we can’t read all the best books, we can’t listen to all those super amazing podcasts which are available on Spotify. However, we can surely make good friends. Here I am talking about friends, who dig into the world of information, who do research work or maybe those who are avid book readers. By god’s grace if your circle is healthy and an average fellow in your closed group reads at least 5 books in a year and you know 10 fellows like them and exchange notes then I think you are through with many years of information, knowledge, and wisdom.” 

I have thought of 5 KEY LEARNINGS as cumulative wisdom from my years of experience in the domain of the fashion and lifestyle industry. I am hopeful that this will help budding professionals and students in the long run.

 1.   FIND OUT YOUR REASON OF BEING 🙂

You are an IDEA FACTORY for the external world. The role of NIFT is to process wandering creative ideas into a tangible product. The moment a creative soul introduce themselves to the external world, the industry starts expecting certain deliverables from them, and please consider this note as a minimum requirement. The last two or four years spent in the college would provide every possible support to make you confront upcoming challenges.  Once they venture out from college life then the whole industry is looking forward to solutions. Hence, before you venture into any domain just think about the core strengths and how would you fulfil the needs of that specific sector.

“Ikigai” is a Japanese word that means your inner motivating force, reason which kicks you out of your bed and urges you to act.¯ Do read this book once if you want to get clarity about your existence. This book explains the basic principles of happiness behind the Japanese mindset.

Now let me take to you another region of the globe. In France, the reason of being is a synonym of ~ raison d’être. “Art Deco” was invented in France as an art movement. This art is full of disciplined lines and symmetry which looks quite closely associated with the Japanese way of living, and they were following it to the core. But during the process, artists from the country realised that this is not something that makes their identity distinguished from the rest of the world. Hence, they re-worked their idea and invented “Art Nouveau” which describes their culture, their society, thoughts in a much better fashion. It has fluidity, curves, and an organic form as art. Something which clearly shows their reason for being on this planet.

My Experience: During my time in college, I am talking about 13 years back. I was unable to decide which sector should I opt for as my career. Should I be an independent designer, should I become a consultant, should I work in an export house, should I opt for the corporate world? I had been wandering and trying my hands with every possible domain to equip myself for the future. I worked with designers, export houses and finally found my vista which is in the world of retail.

Lesson: Find out your “Reason of Being” and once you find it out then master your craft.

Refer to the book for more details ~ Ikigai

2.  AVOID CONFUSION IN BETWEEN PASSION & EARNING YOUR LIVING

Don’t be a jack of all the trades and king of none. During my time in college, I made many good friends and some of them are still in touch with me. Some of them were good guitarists, some were good in communication, some were leaders and had this art of managing people. Some of them were good looking and were more divine in appearance than of their work for which they took admission in this prestigious institute.

All I want to convey is that you may be good at sketching, some software, music etc. That is good as a hobby, or weekend fun. But after college the industry would pay you for what you know and how you help them solve the problem statement with your talent. Do not think you would be hired because you are a good singer, or you know how to play the drums. Get out of this notion now, please. You would be hired, or the client would be willing to pay you for your skills and problem-solving orientation.

 My Experience: I read a lot and it could be on any topic. I have a small library at home, and it consists of books on various subjects. I have this habit that once I am through with a book, I try to create a story or some images out of it. This later became my passion and I started both readings as well creating a fantasy world out of it. I made a lot of content like this. I created my own website http://nagpalrohit.com  in 2010 and started sharing my visual thoughts with the world. This was my hobby. An escape from the corporate world through which I was sharing my works. I could create better art because my day job was able to take care of my expenses. Similarly, if you have a passion for music use it to unleash your creativity. If you want to pursue MUSIC and make it your mainstream business then I would suggest joining a school that would give you professional input about it. And while you make music a mainstream job, then use some other hobby to fuel it like creating illustrations or poems. I hope you got the message. 

Lesson: Work on your Craftsmanship. Be focused. Passion is Fantasyland. Passion is multi-facet. It would keep changing over time. However, the remainder would always be there with you and it is your work.

Refer to the book for more details ~ So Good they can’t ignore

 3.             COLLABORATE INSTEAD OF SILOS

We are humans and to reach the magnitude of success we need to work cohesively with each other. It is a natural phenomenon that we cannot achieve everything alone. Someone said if you want to win today walk alone, and if you want to win tomorrow then walk with the team. Don’t get into a heated discussion, bad arguments or even debate for the heck of proving your point to someone. Rather work on the process of churning which means “ Manthan” in Hindi.  Man-than means CHURNING. CHURNING is a process to make BUTTER.

Do not give this notion to the external world that you have an ego problem, and you do not gel well with other colleagues. Prove them wrong! Work upon team-building exercises. Read case studies online about it and prepare yourself to become part of the team as well as lead it.

Refer to the book for more details ~ Ego is the enemy

4.  KNOWING ADOBE SUITE IS BREAD & KNOWING MS-OFFICE IS BUTTER ON IT.

All designers are blessed with this very basic instinct that they visualise much better than their peers, friends. However, once you pass out from here you would be asked to collaborate with the sales dept, marketing, logistics. There is a need for a common platform that is required to communicate with multiple stakeholders and hence learn to use logic at work and master the art of it. This advancement will help you become at par with your other dept colleagues and if you are planning to work independently it will help you budget, forecast and scale your business to another dimension. I am talking about visualisation beyond photoshop, sketch up, 3D rendering software’s. I am talking about being a pro in logic, in rational thinking. Learn the basics of the basic software e.g. MS- WORD, EXCEL so that you can communicate inter-department easily. Data science is the future, and I am not asking you to prepare for your voyage to Mars. Simple calculations would help you plan annual calendars, your marketing budgets and forecast sales plan for the long run of the business.

My Experience: I used to think that I know many software’s and I will win this world with available resources. I was wrong. I was doing consultation work some 6 years back when I was helping a client to build a sports bar in Gurgaon/ Delhi NCR which would become a hotspot for a party, get-together, and zone of relaxation for nearby office complexes. For this assignment, the client has bought land of around 10000 sqft. To impress him, I made my first cut design super-awesome, and I was carrying A1 size boards with me on the material, construction etc then the client asked me please tell me how much the project would cost them. I started rolling my eyes with perplexed impressions. I realised I would not be able to win it like this. My design was so very heavy in its specs and measurements, I used a lot of embellishments that were over the Top from the brief which client gave me. I re-worked the entire plan once again where I was calculating the material etc now these days interior designers call it BOQ which means Bill of Quantity. I hope you would mind this experience and take other logical tools seriously. Every tool has its pros and cons. I know many designers who work tirelessly to create moods, themes for the design houses. However, if you ask them about its cost, they will roll their eyes in the same fashion as I did some years back.

Refer to the book for more details ~ Thinking, Fast and Slow

5.  LEARN TO UNLEARN, LEARN TO UNLEARN | REPEAT THE PROCESS

By working on a project or assignment for a long period, we may feel we know everything about it. We then tend to carry this notion wherever we go and whomever we meet. Be it meeting with the client, be it with your boss or junior. I would say never carry this burden that you know everything with you. Take this life easy and go with the flow. Listen before you act. Act only once you have understood the brief from your client or the manager. Go empty. Because if the glass is already full and it does not have space for additional inputs, how would you solve the mystery and help the business to run effectively?

 My experience: Over the years I have interacted with brilliant minds, some are good with numbers, some are good with services, and some are exceptional in human management skills. They all are masters of their craft. I go on vacations with them, do some outbound trips where there is no internet and electronic gadgets. This gives you the freedom to dig deeper into their world and learn what they know and how can you leverage their experience and enhance your skill sets to upgrade from wherever you are right now. I started doing it quite often to upgrade myself without certification from online courses.

I just wanted to convey this message that inspirations are around us. In the form of the object, people, or events. Just open your arms and invite them to your world. Make them rest with you, learn from it. Store these in your journal and move on in life. Never carry this notion that you know everything. Keep on learning new skills, new courses, new methods of solving the problems.

Refer to the book for more details ~ Rework

 I am just not preaching here, I even took admission with IMT Ghaziabad to up my game in the world of marketing and communication and did two years program to learn and level up my knowledge. I am even further trying to learn new skills which would help me remain in the game.

I hope my words would remain with you and will help you in some or the other way in future.

You can drop me a message in case you would like to know more about the article.

Thank you for reading though 🙂

Rohit

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