Is there a silver lining to COVID? The other day I was discussing exactly that with a colleague and the answer isn’t clear, but it is an important question to ask. Honestly, we should recognize the impact it has had on fast-tracking a unprecedented remote work style that allowed people to choose where to work and - and more importantly - when.
But what I hadn't consider before is the effect it had on my career personally. Now I get it, it's absolutely bizarre to think about benefits to your career while balancing that it has caused so much suffering. Six million people lost. But in this darkest of moments, we also need to search for some light, right?
Prior to COVID and lockdowns, being a remote worker was a bit of a rare thing. I was lucky to have the opportunity to work with SuperFriendly at that time. They realized there was a vast untapped potential in hiring people from all over the world rather than where you are located. It expanding options, views, and skills resulting in better outcomes. Besides SuperFriendly and a couple of other forward-thinking agencies, the vast majority only hired local consultants that would be able to come into their offices. Me being based in the South of Sweden made that very limiting in terms of options for agency work. This can stifle the opportunities for growth and make it more difficult to find fulfilling projects.
A different world
Then this pandemic changed everything. Overnight agencies were forced to rethink their hiring criteria. Does it make sense only to hire NYC-based designers if they'll be working from home anyway? No. They suddenly had more choices and deleted the mindset of limiting their search.
So in July 2020, I got in touch with a long-time crush of mine, Ueno. We set out together on a super exciting project with one of the best teams I've ever worked with - not to mention a great client! Perhaps one day I'll be able to share more information about the work we did, but - NDA - ya know.
Anyway. Fast forward a couple of months and Twitter made the choice to acquire Ueno. Our project still wasn't finished and, while most of the people on my team were consultants, we continued to work on the same project but under a different name. Product was born. At Product, we spent another year with the same client going through a bunch of iterations and pivots. While there, I also got to know my friend Rob. Rob was brought on to... well, I don't really know what Rob was brought on to do and it's not the case here either. The short story is he and I connected.
A bit later I decided I wanted to return to consulting and Rob reached out. This has lead me to work with TITAN, where I'm now Acting Head of Product while still doing smaller freelance work on the side. In fact, we just launched a new website! It's pretty great.
Had it not been for the pandemic, I'm not sure any of the above would have ever happened. One of my favorite speeches is Steve Jobs' Commencement Speech at Stanford in 2005. In the speech, Steve describes how you can only connect the dots by looking at the past. "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever."
We tend to spend so much time thinking about processes and frameworks, but sometimes I think we’d all benefit from just a little bit more trust in our gut. Trust that it’ll turn out OK. One way or another, things will connect. Your dots will line up for you.