Greatness in one area always comes at the cost of being complete shit in another area which in return leads to an imbalanced life which in return leads to unsustained happiness.
The world needs more people who know how to get the best out of others. — Didi Medina
11Qs with the founder of Fcn +frm, DIDI MEDINA.
1. You’re originally from NYC and you move to Jerusalem 2 years ago… at the ripe age of 25. Can you tell us why? What spark this decision?!?
Moved at 23 to Israel and am currently 25. I was visiting a lot and really enjoyed the culture here and at the time I was seeking a better work-life balance that I was having a hard time achieving in New York and previously San Fran.
2. You moved to San Francisco when you were just 16 and lived there for how many years? 4? What did you learn during your time there? What did you like and dislike about the startup scene in SF?
Lived there for right around 5 years. Learned a lot. People in SF, in my opinion, are the pinnacle of that personal growth mentality. I think every other person I knew would listen to the Tim Ferris podcast on their way to work. In turn that really influenced me to not need to accept my current state and see it as something malleable if I so chose to change it and put in the work. That was a plus, however, like all things an obsession with hitting peak performance could hinder your ability to enjoy the small things around you. I felt this most every time I’d leave SF. I had a hard time relating to people. And these people seemed happier more often than me, whereas I felt stressed and simply assumed it was a necessary evil – it’s the price you pay to be great I told myself. Over time, my relationship towards being a top performer started shifting. I started seeing things differently, which taught me a very important lesson, everyone is truly mediocre and a few are mediocre with facade greatness — trust me you don’t want to be Elon Musk because not all who seem great are happy. Greatness in one area always comes at the cost of being complete shit in another area, which in return leads to an imbalanced life which in return leads to unsustained happiness. The thing I disliked about SF was it wasn’t an encouraging environment that embraced mediocrity and I didn’t want to continue the rat race to build a facade of greatness let alone compromise my ability to be happy along the way.
3. You started as a Product Designer and now you’re a Project Manager running your own business. Can you tell me what that transition was like and any advice for us beginners?
I prefer the term leader over manager. I think all good leaders first need to know how to follow hence why I favor Product Leaders that were once a successful designer or engineer prior. When I started in the bay area I was super young so I kept my head down and assumed the position of the underdog. I did this out of necessity but this taught me the value of listening. Over time I got frustrated that my designs didn’t see the light of day and more and more things would get trashed due to politics. I spoke to one of my mentors and he recommended I stop reading design books and learn more about organizational politics. I did and I got better at winning people over and advocating for my designs even though the quality of my designs haven’t changed. Over time my teammates started asking me to convince our manager about their ideas and in turn, made me experience how rewarding it is to enable others to win which in turn pushed me into considering leadership as a possibility. I’ve been there since. My advice to beginners trying to get into leadership, well, see it for what it is, if you get off on enabling others to win and helping them get out of their own way you’ll do well. If you seek the title and the pay bump, you’ll get it but waste the potential of everyone who reports to you just for your own ego. This world really doesn’t need yet another person to groom jira tickets, the world needs more people who know how to get the best out of others because by nature most humans are too insecure to grow on their own and they need to grow to be proud of themselves and derive meaning from their work and life at large. Be the person to make that happen.
4. Give me the 5 W’s on FREELANCE INC.!!! Who what when where why?!?
Freelance Inc is a separate initiative I started outside of my consulting work. It’s an educational company that teaches self-employed designers and developers on how to manage their business. In essence, I aim to teach everything but design and development. Most I meet who freelance chose this route to find more freedom in their work, yet end up in situations where they’re still working 60 hour weeks, not sleeping well at night, super concerned about the next paycheck is coming from, or why they constantly get stuck with clients from hell. When I got into freelance I witnessed all the same pain points, and like a product, I designed a way out of it. Some call it luck, I call it a method. I don’t aim to change the world, I simply figured out ways to leverage the natural order of things to my advantage. Naturally, most designers and developers will aim to improve their freelance business by becoming better designers or developers. They’ll tell themselves “if I learn after effects my dribbble posts will be fire and ill get more clients” or “if I learned react, vue and angular all over the weekend I’d be more desirable” — I get it, I did that too. Eventually, freelancers get fed up and realize that trying to stay current and good at everything isn’t possible so they go back to full-time work or consider new options. When freelancers hit this very fork, Freelance Inc. will be there to show them a way out via being better at business itself. This is important to me because I believe most freelancers I meet qualify to make more than they currently are while working fewer hours and exerting less stress all while not needing to be significantly more talented. Believing people are already good enough, and offering them tools that allow them to see what was there all along has always been the thing that drives me to do what I do.
5. Did you quit Instagram 2 years ago? HOW DO YOU LIVE????? Please explain yourself!!! That’s crazy!
I live just fine, better actually. You’ve been told countless times that you are bi-product the environment. In a digital age that’s not limited to the 5 people you spend the most time with because most of our time isn’t spent in front of people rather on your phone. Your digital environment is equally important if not more important to audit and manage. We as humans require human connection to be happy making that encounter more shallow is like forcing yourself to breathe constantly with a high elevation mask. Making this transition you’ll be uncomfortable at first, then people taking selfies in the street start seeming weird to you, and after a few months, you wake up and notice you have better friends around you all the time. If you can’t delete Instagram, I’d recommend unfollowing every account that promotes a vanity lifestyle. Fitness models, luxury homes, expensive sports cars, tattoo artists, rappers, actors etc. That and never visit the discover page and your life will improve over 30 days. That being said I also don’t have Facebook installed on my phone, and I deleted snapchat, and turn off all notifications on my phone to never hit my lock screen as well.
6. What is your philosophy about life? Or a mantra, quote or proverb you want to share with us?
The highest order one could ever assume is enabling ordinary people to become extraordinary. Put your lifestyle before your career always, and have your career serve your lifestyle. Lastly, my life mantra as you probably guessed based on previous answers is better others through bettering myself. Ironically everything you do serves nothing towards your happiness unless it serves more than just you. Work your way outwards; family, community, region, country, world.
7. What’s your dream travel destination or the next place you want to visit?
Japan hands down.
8. What’s your favorite restaurant you would take me to in Jerusalem, and what would we order?
Hamotzi, it’s a traditional Moroccan restaurant that makes food better than my grandmother. (luckily my grandmother doesn’t know how to use the internet so she’ll never see this)
9. What are your 3 favorite tools you’re using right now for work?
I think it’s important to remember that tools need to serve your current state, and your state constantly evolves as most things do. I try not to get married to anyone given tool and look forward to the day it stops serving me. As of now, I do get most of my day to day done in Notion but in some scenarios where requirements are different, I use Trello, Things for iOS, AirTable etc. For design, I use Procreate on iPad, Whimsical, Figma and absolutely love it. As someone who works remote the ability to share my work without using a secondary tool like inVision saves countless hours and overhead so Figma always wins given that one differentiator.
10. Who has been a mentor or someone you have looked up to for advice and inspiration?
Clark Valberg and Scott Bonds. Clark has managed to build a massive company (inVision) that is entirely remote and puts happiness before anything. I remember early on he told me that his choice to create a remote company was primarily inspired by the ability to work while having his kid sit on his lap. He also taught me the importance of being emotionally intelligent above all else since at the end of the day you serve people even when building products. Scott thinks more like an engineer so he always kept me practical and taught me that all things massive could be broken down into small workable pieces. The inability to do so will overwhelm you and hinder your output.
11. Dragon or Unicorn? Why?
A unicorn that farts rainbows everywhere he goes. I think Dragons and the word hustler comes to mind. I don’t think of myself a hustler. I prioritize for happiness and as a result, get more done with less time and on average tend to catapult each year.
THE FAST 5!
1. Best Instagram right now:
2. What is the best advice you ever received:
Understand someone’s oldest insecurity and everything they do becomes predictable. If someone is predictable you could navigate them to their success.
3. Best destination you go to for inspiration:
I don’t design as much these days but when I do I tend to check out Behance and Dribbble for visual design ideas.
4. The App you can’t live without?
Notion, aside from that, I think I have 9 apps total on my phone. Kinda a waste of an iPhone if you ask me…
5. The book we should all be reading…