I’ve started reading Debbie Millman’s latest book, “How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer.” The premise is a series of interviews with iconic designers like Milton Glaser and Lucille Tenazas. I thought it might be interesting to chronicle my thoughts after reading each interview.

The first is Michael Beirut. I’ve always liked Michael. We met in Nashville in 1995 at an AIGA Board retreat. Even then he was a Design Superstar. I discovered that he played blues piano and it just so happened I had brought my guitar. We jammed in the hotel lobby for about 30 minutes. I hadn’t even graduated from college yet, and here this gracious Design Legend took time to hang out with me. He probably wouldn’t remember that day, but it certainly left an impression on me.

In his interview, Michael confesses his flaws and inhibitions about his talent, his Design process or lack thereof and compulsive tendencies. Very revealing and quite entertaining.

What surprised me the most was learning how much Michael and I have in common. To achieve success, we both had to work very, very hard and had to use our brains to compensate for a lack of natural talent. It’s inspiring to know that someone can rise to the top of his profession despite initial shortcomings.

Like Mike, I’ve also stretched myself with learning to write better. Between proposals, copywriting and this blog, it’s almost like starting over in a new profession. You get excited when you see a finished piece that you’re proud of. Michael talks about the challenges of his writing endeavors and it’s comforting to know that if Michael can do it, I can too.

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