As designers, we can all think back through the archives of our minds and find people that, early in our career, inspired us, shaped us, and helped to direct us to where we are today.  Many of those people are designers, naturally.  In our circles we’re surrounded by them.  Some of them are business people, and I suspect as we continue to bridge the gaps between design and business this will be increasingly so.  I believe the best among us have a solid understanding of business language, principles, and needs.

For me, that person was both a designer and a business woman.  Early in my career she took me in as a young design intern.  She mentored me and brought me along.  She changed employers and went from working for a local organization to a global one and not long after I was working for her on a contract basis there as well.  Within a year I was hired onto the payroll.  She told me hard things that weren’t always easy to hear…like the time she told me in no undertain terms that I would go far IF I could manage to develop a hint of diplomacy.  Thanks to her, I now have a reputation for being able to manage large egos well; I guess what she said took root, as “diplomatically direct” has become my modus operendi and my clients have appreciated it deeply.  The organization went through economic doldrums, and when I went out on my own, she was one of the first to call me and ask me to come on board again as a contractor.

Perhaps one of the best leadership statements I heard her say was, “If I can’t go on vacation and relax, then I haven’t hired the right people.”  I worked for this woman for more than ten years in various capacities.  We didn’t always agree; that’s part of any good human relationship.  However, she began as my boss and became a dear and treasured friend.  My husband ended up working for her husband, and her family has become dear to us.  My treasured friend is no longer with us, and I miss her.  Professionally and personally the loss of her leaves a hole that even now, nine months later, I feel…when I want to bounce something off her and wish she could still be a sounding board, as well as when I want to share something funny that my child has done that I know would give her a chuckle.

When she passed, I solicited those that she and I had both known through the years to send a little sentiment about her that I could include in a gift project for her family.  The outpouring was huge.  I think I received three times the responses that I thought I would, and many from people that hadn’t had contact with her in years.

The designers among us are all aware that Bill Moggridge recently passed away.  Bill was to many as that person I described above was to me.  His influence on the design community is both wide and deep.  I recently stumbled upon this tribute video that is definitely work watching.  As I post it, I close with this:

Thank you, Connie Garman, for all you were and still are to me, my career, and my family.