Karsten Rowe - Talent is overrated and practice is underrated


Karsten Rowe shares his advice on taking your talent to the next level and building a name for yourself in the industry. This episode includes tips on leveraging underrated skills to get noticed at work, where you will find the most significant growth periods of your career and how to break into mission-driven product design.

🚧 Don’t rely on natural talent alone!

Karsten believes that talent is overrated and practice and kindness are underrated. Your talent will only take you so far if you are not willing to do the hard work, put in the reps, and practice to refine your skills.

🪴 Make yourself uncomfortable to grow!

When you are getting started, chances are the idea of publishing your portfolio for the first time is scary and thinking of sharing your work on social media makes you nervous. Karsten shares that the best moments of growth in his career have come when he headed directly in the direction of the thing that made him most uncomfortable. So get uncomfortable, publish the portfolio, share the design on social media and then go back and make it better as you have time!

Talent is overrated and practice is underrated

In episode 43 of The Product Design Podcast, Seth Coelen interviews Karsten Rowe, Director of Product Design at Axon; a mission-based organization focused on public safety.

During our chat, Karsten shares how he launched his career path, the soft skills he believes are underrated, where he has found the most powerful bursts of career growth, and his advice on breaking into mission-driven product design.

Karsten Rowe and Seth Coelen on The Product Design Podcast

In this article, we will focus on Karsten’s advice on getting started and making a name for yourself in product design!

How to get your break and earn respect in the industry

When you start, there is no way around putting in the hard work and getting your work seen to build a name for yourself. Karsten found in his career that the most significant moments of growth had come when he went for a role that he was not 100% sure he could deliver, but he always found a way through hard work and practice. He shared with us what he thinks is most important when you are getting started in product design.

🛠 Put in the reps!

When you are getting your start, you have to work hard and keep practicing to get better. The more reps you do, the stronger your skills will become. Natural talent can only take you so far. You need to practice and refine your skills to keep improving!

📢 Kindness is underrated.

Be kind to the people you are working with to start networking and establish a name for yourself where you work. People will remember how you treated them, and they could be the right connection to help you get your dream job down the road.

"Perfect is the highest quality you can get to in the time allowed."

🎯 Redefine perfection!

Stop waiting for "perfect." A client will not give you an endless amount of time to complete work, so stop holding yourself back and waiting for the perfect portfolio or design to post on social media. Get your work out there!

🔥 Give yourself the pressure of improving!

Once your work (or portfolio) is online for people to see, you will feel more pressure to iterate on it and improve it. If the work is not published, it is human nature to take more time to keep working on it. If it makes you uncomfortable to put out your work, it is a good indication you are moving in the right direction and challenging yourself. Rip off the bandaid, publish the work and revisit it as you keep improving your skills!

Karsten Rowe
"There's more of a risk of saying no and never getting that opportunity again than saying yes, going and not liking it, and then coming back."

Thank you so much, Karsten!

We are grateful to Karsten for joining us on the show to share so much insight into what matters most as you build a career in product design.

Listen to the complete episode on The Product Design Podcast, which includes what Karsten wishes he would have learned when he was 21, and his advice on breaking into mission-driven product design. Don't forget to follow Karsten on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to watch what he is up to!

Where to find Karsten

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