A Discussion with Eric Strand About Not Being Afraid of Failure and the Three Phases of Career Development

Eric Strand

With more than 15 years of experience, Eric Strand is a Senior UX Product Designer and has worked with both small and big-name brands throughout his career. He currently resides in Marshfield, Massachusetts.

Eric Strand attended and graduated from Berklee College of Music. His passion stems from wanting to design a great experience for users and he found himself making a natural transition from music to UIX design. He has had a long and successful career in the design and production of web and mobile properties for multiple well-known companies including NetApp, Adobe, ClimaCell, Hitachi, Berklee Music, AT&T, FedEx, IBM, and Harley Davidson.

With a wide variety of skills, Eric Strand has expertise in conceptual prototyping, information architecture, workflow and wireframing for functional specification, and web application development for enterprise business solutions.

Marshfield, MA’s Eric Strand’s specialty skills include expert software product designer (UI/UX), expert interface, graphic design, and icon production for enterprise, web and mobile solutions, HTML, CSS, jQuery, JavaScript. In his spare time, Eric Strand also created and designed a Real-time Strategy (RTS) game for PC and XBOX and a casual Christmas game for the Nintendo game as well.

How did you get started in your industry?

After studying at Berklee College of Music, I built, owned, and operated a new digital recording studio called One Language Productions. It was a great experience and worked with a lot of up and coming local acts, but it was a love of the job that kept me going even when there was little money to be earned.

At one point I was asked to interview at the Strategic Interactive Group (Now Digitas) for their Digital Studio group. I was quickly hired and started my online media career as a Senior Designer for Adobe, FedEx, Disney, and IBM.

What do you do in your spare time? What problem are you currently grappling with?

In my spare time, I work on my own side projects that mix my creative side with my experience in product design. One of my main priorities in both my personal and professional life is task management. Sometimes, this can result in me feeling unfocused because there is a lot of stimulation.

When this happens; however, I have learned that the best thing to do is switch to another project that is more related to my hobbies. I enjoy working in my woodshop or composing music until I’m ready to return to the original task at hand.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

Working on a project – which I can’t talk about due to its stealth approach – I came to the conclusion that being more focused on the projects differentiating values made the project more viable and less risky for market fit, so it was decided to identify some really cool features that we spent many months of design time on that would go into the waste can or at a minimum into a far more future feature release.

What is your most satisfying moment?

Walking off the stage of my first live performance with my band House of Raven. It was a rock band that produced all original music and focused on ripping it up in the first 15 minutes with heavy groove improvisation.

What business books, articles, journals, people have inspired you?

“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz. A great book about leadership.

What did you learn from your biggest failure?

Really, I learned not to be afraid of failure. The fear of failure sometimes paralyzes people so much that they can’t get anything done and try to perfect things and then they feel like nothing will ever be good enough. This keeps you from being productive and excelling in your career.

Eventually, you realize that you know what you’re doing and that you do complete quality work. You will have that confidence. But the earlier you learn not to fear failure, the better off you’ll be. Fear holds us back. It’s the reason that so many people stay at jobs they hate or positions where they get stagnant and complacent.

What are some red flags to watch out for in daily life?

I’d say to be aware of when you are getting complacent. This can translate to anything really, but especially with relationships and your job. Once you get complacent, any potential red flags are hidden from view and you won’t know there is anything wrong until it’s too late.

It’s important to always be aware of when you start getting complacent so you can either move on in your career or can work on a solution to improve your relationships with others.

What advice can you share with others?

Professional growth takes time and effort, so be patient with yourself. You will not land your dream job or dream salary right off the bat. Really, to me professional development takes place in three phases: doing, becoming, and being. The doing phase is actually the earliest phase because during this time you are exploring and discovering what resonates with you most and what motivates and inspires you to get out of bed in the morning.

In the becoming phase, you are performing the steps it takes to get to where you want to be, which could include schooling, making important relationships, and some of your first job roles, during the time when you still don’t really know how to excel in your industry.

Once you lay the groundwork, become confident and make a name for yourself in your field, you are truly in the “being” phase. But the best part is that if you are in the being phase, you don’t need to acknowledge it because you are still recognizing that you can learn new things and continue to develop as a professional. You know you don’t have all the answers despite all your existing knowledge. In that way as well, you never truly get complacent.

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