My Generous Benefactors and How I Learnt to Receive Feedback

Mentor Giving Feedback

Honesty is a very expensive gift; just don’t expect it from cheap people.

Warren Buffet

Pumped Up With Confidence

I had nearly completed my B.Sc. in Visual Communication. In 1999, in India, I was considered a rare specimen. Supposedly, I was amongst the crème de la crème! Those were the early days of creative education and training, and there were probably just under 1,000 of us ‘specially trained kids’. Employers in the creative industries scooped us even before we could complete our university degree. I was handed the job of Visualiser (a fancy title for Web Designer) by a reputed web company.

I walked into work with an aura of confidence around me. Of course, I was a ‘Viscomite’, I was expected to work wonders.

The company had secured a prestigious website project from the state government. The creative director briefed me and I sat down to design. My design was approved and signed off in under 48 hrs. High-five! Job done! What’s my next project?

It wasn’t that simple.

The creative director was keen to get the design locked, approved, and delivered. The development team flagged an issue that I had caused. I might have been a genius at Adobe Photoshop, but I’d never designed a real-life website till then. I simply set up a blank A4 landscape canvas, put together a stunning montage and placed four massive buttons in the middle of the page. I called it a website and the client bought it!

This was no way to design websites, at least in 1999, when HTML, image loading, and internet speeds were primitive. The developers team was fuming. The client had approved my design. They were forced to slice the large graphic into image chunks that were held together in a HTML table. I figured that websites were not just large images, but involved carefully optimised text and imagery. I admitted that I had a long journey ahead of me.

I asked colleagues to teach me. They taught me.

Throughout my career, I’ve always asked for feedback. I figured that my colleagues were not only teaching me technical skills, but also soft skills such as surviving in the jobs and influencing clients. I was getting unsolicited feedback left, right, and centre – I was demanding it. I was amazed that my experienced colleagues were sharing generously. I couldn’t get enough. Asking for feedback became a habit. I hung a welcome sign for feedback on everything.

Asking the Right Questions

I figured that people shared when I asked the right questions. It didn’t matter to me if they judged me or if my vulnerabilities were laid bare.

  • That thing you do, why do you do that?
  • Am I doing the right thing? Please correct me if I’m not.
  • What more could I do to do better?
  • How would you approach the same thing?

I enjoy work! There’s so much to learn and there’s never enough time! Asking questions (and feedback) unlock shortcuts (the best kept secrets). I also figured that people love to share when they sense genuine interest.

The Feedback Process Continues

The thing about getting feedback is that it is never enough and it never ends. Whether they admit it or not, everyone needs feedback. We might hold decades of experience, but we might struggle to evaluate ourselves and our work objectively. We need to learn to trust in others to allow them to keep us in check.

Taking feedback and acting upon it will make us better people 🙂

Photo by nappy from Pexels