A Few Things Us Web Designers Can Learn From a 3 Year Old At Disney

About a month ago I took my 3 year old son Landon to Disney and he had a blast, of course. While at Magic Kingdom I noticed a few things from his point of view that totally relate to what we do everyday.

Don’t Let the Asses Get In The Way of the Real Fun

I never really saw it before but when my son and I are walking through a crowd of people, he sees a lot of butts. I mean a lot of butts, they’re everywhere and at his point of view sometimes it’s all you see. We wonder why our kids can get so easily aggravated with the simple things, it’s easy to get impatient when you’re staring at butts all day.

As a web designer working for an agency and occasionally freelancing, I see my fair share of difficult clients. However, for every ass in your face there’s a really great smile out there somewhere. Maybe we can all learn something from Landon. He realized if he’s patient and behaves well through the sea of butts he’ll get to ride Splash Mountain.

Clients aren’t always going to be easy or fun and sometimes we can’t choose them they choose us.  However if we work to educate them and help them understand our process it usually makes for a better experience.  In the end if they can’t or won’t be changed then buckle down, get through it and eventually you’ll be having the time of your life.

Standing In Line Doesn’t Always Mean You Get to Meet Mickey Mouse

One of Landon’s favorite things to do is meet the Disney characters and get his photo with them. I’m not sure if he thinks the guy in the Goofy suit is actually Goofy or he just likes it for what it is.

Either way we waited in line for a while to meet Mickey Mouse. Landon was so excited. After a while we were next in line (with a decent crowd of people behind us) and just as we were ready to walk up and meet Mickey we were informed that he had to “take a break” and he’d be back in about an hour.

I was furious, it wouldn’t have taken much effort to tell us when we were at the end of the line that the people in front of us would be the last people to meet Mickey before his break. Landon was devastated and actually took it very personally, “why doesn’t Mickey want to meet me?” he said. As a Dad I half wanted to cry and half give Mickey a piece of my mind. As a Web Designer I realized this is something we have to deal with all the time.

No matter how hard I work, no matter how great my portfolio is, no matter how well written of a proposal I send out I still may miss my chance to work on a great project. It can be for a ridiculous reason like not having designed enough red color schemed sites before (no joke that was an actual reason a client turned me down) or because I truly don’t have the same level of skill as a competitor. Either way we have to keep our head up and move on.

Later that Day Landon got to meet Goofy who is his actual favorite character of the bunch. If we had met Mickey I may not have been so inclined to wait in line again. The same goes for client work. Maybe you miss out on one project so you’ll be available for an even better one later.

Rubbing Shoulders Is Fun

When Landon finally got to meet Buzz Lightyear he was a bit nervous to say the least. His anticipation quickly grew into hesitation when it was his turn to go up and meet Buzz. I see this often when at conferences or at meetups. All too often you might have an opportunity to introduce yourself to some of our industries biggest names and you don’t, either because your nervous or don’t want to look “uncool” in their eyes. I have had coffee and bought beers for some of the most well known designers, developers, authors and entreprenuers in our industry simply because I walked up and introduced myself. We tend to forget that these people are just that, people. They started right where we are and for the most part they remember that or don’t even realize they are “celebrities” in the web industry.

It may seem awkward or weird to put yourself out there but don’t be afraid. Get out there, tweet, post, email or even introduce yourself in person.  The more people you meet, the more great impressions you make the more opportunities will appear.

Patrick MacNeil runs Design Meltdown, and now Monster Meltdown.  A few years ago he was a guy who ran an awesome site and author to an awesome book “The Web Designers Idea Book”.  I loved the site and wanted to submit some of my work to it and the book in hopes of seeing it published.  I didn’t want to rely only on the submission form as I didn’t want to be one in a hundred thousand submissions.

So I emailed Patrick and we got to talking.  In a short time not only did this website (http://blogsville.us) get submitted to the site and the book but I was asked to contribute to version 2 of the book.  I wrote the chapter on Blog Design which was a huge honor and now Patrick and I are great friends.  He and I share stories, ask each other for advice and he’s even asked me to contribute to his newest book coming out in the spring.

Whether it’s the keynote speaker at a awesome conference or the guy sitting next to you, introduce yourself, make a great impression and converse.  It’ll all eventually pay off.

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