100 Ways For Designers To Stay Young

It occurred to me today that one of the most important things one can do as they take on a career in advertising, design or digital pursuits is to stay young. I think it's probably one of my greater fears now that I'm climbing to 40 in this industry. So while I'm not the best in the world at it, I'm certainly not the worst. Here is a quick list you can start with on your road to the fountain of youth:

  1. Don't overlook terms and slang you don't understand look it up.
  2. Buy a video game console (I'm a Wii fan myself) and buy/play a game every few months.
  3. Watch highly trafficked YouTube videos at lunch.
  4. Walk up to a group of kids and ask them what music they're listening to.
  5. Go to a local music act, and a large concert a few times a year. Observe intently.
  6. Txt message on your phone.
  7. Decorate a friends kids room.
  8. Role-play in meetings.
  9. Setup a search column on your tweet deck for "Coolest, Dumbest" and related slang appropriate to your business.
  10. Drop the suit, pick up the jeans.
  11. Write down 10 things you think are cool and show it to a teenager and see if there's overlap.
  12. Design or marketing a toy.
  13. Find a friend with a Jeep and go "mudding."
  14. Hang out with a car club.
  15. Cover the break room table with butcher block paper and put out crayons and markers – all the time.
  16. Eavesdrop.
  17. Make a hopscotch path in your corporate parking lot.
  18. Tailgate at a college sporting event.
  19. Play with your kids. If you don't have any go to a friends house that does.
  20. Reconnect with books from your childhood.
  21. Design a live poster for a local band.
  22. Start a Nerf war with your staff.
  23. Have your staff create a logo for a kids product.
  24. Watch music videos (I recommend VIVO or MTV.com)
  25. Review your friends photos on Facebook regularly. Comment and ask questions.
  26. Go to a college house party.
  27. Play some old video games consoles.
  28. Go to an independent film festival.
  29. Go to SXSW.
  30. Go to a 'Extreme Sports' event.
  31. In spired your staff to decorate their offices as a reflection of themselves. Have them recreate it every year.
  32. Share music – with your kids.
  33. Attend a kids birthday party.
  34. Get a tattoo.
  35. Design some graffiti.
  36. Ask a teenager what their favorite products are? See if you can correlate any stylistic or brand affinities.
  37. Participate in open conversations online. (e.g. Linkedin.com's "Answers" area)
  38. Attend a LGBT event.
  39. Play a social game like Farmville or Mafia Wars for one week.
  40. Watch at a couple of hours or young television programming a week.
  41. Become a Big Brother or Big Sister.
  42. Have a groups of friends stay over a weekend, and not have weird swinger sex. Just "chillax."
  43. Babysit for a friend in need.
  44. Adopt an animal.
  45. Hang out in an Apple store for a day.
  46. Design a layout halfway, then invert it and complete it in its current state.
  47. Play "alphabet" and "punchbug" while driving.
  48. Don't step on cracks.
  49. Lift up your feet when you go over railroad tracks.
  50. Ask your parents and grandparents what their childhood was like.
  51. Go to Asian and European grocery stores and look at the designs for kids candy.
  52. Volunteer at a locally based community charity.
  53. Buy a huge box of Legos and put them in the break room.
  54. Go camping.
  55. Go to an arcade in the mall and play a roll of quarters.
  56. Be immature.
  57. Participate in a flash mob.
  58. Participate in a tweetup.
  59. Go to a skateboard shop and look over all the designs.
  60. Buy new fonts from young font houses.
  61. Go to a club that you wouldn't be caught dead in. Stay for a least a hour at the peak of intensity.
  62. Sing to your co-workers.
  63. Chew bubble gum.
  64. Take someone out on their 21 birthday.
  65. Take 10 photos a day with your cell phone.
  66. Throw a Frisbee outside when you should be working.
  67. Listen to a new genre of music for at least one week.
  68. Wear popular sneakers.
  69. Go to the mall. Observe people, fashion, interaction, products, product placement and the Ingress and egress of stores and how they flow people through merchandise.
  70. Go to an all day outdoor concert festival.
  71. "Shotgun" a beer.
  72. Go to IKEA.
  73. Watch Animea.
  74. Talk to the people next to you on plane trips.
  75. Collect something inexpensive and interesting (e.g. Lucky Cats, swizzel sticks, bottle caps)
  76. Play a harmless practical joke.
  77. Make fun and laugh at yourself.
  78. Dance unexpectedly in public.
  79. Go to a major theme park at least once a year.
  80. Mentally shop for a car with the mindset that you 18 and have 18k to spend.
  81. Buy, wear and trade t-shirts.
  82. Make little movies with your cell phone or dated technology.
  83. Go to a tattoo shop and look at the designs.
  84. Go to a dive bar.
  85. Go play pool in a dive bar.
  86. Play World of Warcraft for a week.
  87. Get thrown out of a dive bar.
  88. Go to Toy's R Us and watch what toys kids gravitate to.
  89. Do a pro-bono design to help children locally.
  90. Make up games to play at the office.
  91. Skip, ride a swing and climb some monkey bars.
  92. Take a morning and goto the airport for coffee and write down observances in fashion, communal interactions and various levels of intensity.
  93. Go to Babies R' Us and look at logos.
  94. Go to a live college sporting event.
  95. Play kick or dodge ball.
  96. Sit in the magazine section of Barnes & Noble and absorb as much as possible.
  97. Buy an entire outfit online – including shoes.
  98. Read a series of books aimed at your demo (e.g.  Twilight, Harry Potter, Where the Sidewalk Ends)
  99. Go buy some comic books.
  100. Talk to teenagers.
Posted on April 1, 2010 and filed under Design, Research, Soapbox.