Adobe, Behance & 99u

When Adobe bought Behance in December 2012, some folks – ok the lily-livered naysayers that commentate negatively on every tech announcement, no matter who the company – predicted doom and gloom for the world’s leading social community for creatives. Adobe would come in and stamp a big red “A” over a vibrant space where creatives showcased their work and looked for inspiration from their peers. It would soon become a bland corporate wasteland or some such. Somehow this didn’t happen.

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I’m not sure, during our due diligence (I’m guessing “yes” since I know our legal team) if we dug deep into Behance’s 99u conference but 10 months after Behance became part of the Adobe family, all indications are that the community and conference Behance created is going from strength to strength. Today 99u held the first day of a sold-out “Pop-up School” in NYC that attracted a few hundred creatives. This was a new initiative. The theme of day one was career development and illuminating talks from Behance founder Scott Belsky and Columbia University’s Heidi Grant Halvorson kicked things off.

Creatives often don’t think about managing their careers and Scott urged everyone to take an inventory on what could make them, their companies, their products and services stand apart from the competition. Standing apart means admitting to yourself what you are bad at and concentrating on where you can excel. However, it’s not enough to stand apart because as soon as you do, the competition will follow. So constant iteration and refinement is needed.

Heidi followed with some big thinking on motivation. Being good at something is bad thing! The important mind trick is to want to get better. If you believe you’re good at something, it’s a downward spiral because you are always in competition with others to be the best and if someone doesn’t like your work, it is a personal attack on your own self-worth. And that can be a dark space. If you change your mindset to want to “get better” at something, in your work or in your personal life, then suddenly set backs are learning experiences and the only person you should judge yourself against is your past self. Despite, or because of your experiences, am I a better designer, writer, manager than I was a year ago? That’s the real test. I’m simplifying but you get the picture.

A lot of this thinking is captured in the new 99u book, Maximize Your Potential. And if this all sounds a bit cultish….I can assure you it wasn’t.  :-)

99u also saw our Project Mighty and Napoleon product folks show off their wares during the “playground” sessions and their wee booth was packed with interested parties.

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The Adobe comms team was in NYC with our Experience Design (XD) friends to give a sneak peek of Mighty & Napoleon to media and it was an overwhelmingly positive response. I think we may have a hardware hit on our hands!

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