I am Giacomo Felace, creative strategist and designer currently based in Italy (or I should say currently stuck in Italy). Previuos I lived and worked mainly in Sout East Asia where I led branding projects, campaigns, and design experiences for clients as Piaggio, Grab, Satori, Bundesliga, Finizi, Marriott, WHO and more.
The coronavirus pandemic has struck, and as a result, the world is changing forever. On a personal level, it has been difficult as my mum is fighting with a terrible disease, I lost few great (full-time) job opportunities and of course several members of my family are on their own serving their self-isolation sentence.
I am in quarantine for almost two months now and I used this weird period to reinvent myself, opening my website (the one you are in now), working on my personal branding and helping brands and people around the globe with their design and branding problems.
I am not sure if my future will be as a freelancer consultant, but at the moment it's what I'm doing to survive.
What I am about to share with you is actionable steps that I have taken to ensure my work, and my mental wellbeing will survive through these challenging times. Take it as you wish, but these are the things that have worked for me and hopefully can help you on your journey.
︎ Winning mentality
Mindset is so important in these challenging times. I'm a half full glass person, and I always believe that there is an opportunity to be found in the darkest of moments.
Ensure you maintain a structured routine. Set your alarm as you would for work, get up at the same time every day. Go for a shower, have breakfast and get changed out of your pyjamas in preparation for starting work. Schedule a lunch break and a finish time and try to stick to a reasonable bedtime as you would during a typical working week.
You should try to structure your day in a similar format to how you would generally work. This will then clearly separate “work time" from “chill time" as these can get easily mixed up when working from home.
Get daily exercise outside of the work environment to give yourself a break away from work and take time to think about the things that you are grateful for.
Maintain a healthy and balanced diet - if you are eating well, you generally tend to feel better overall. Try not to slip into the habit of eating unhealthily and ordering numerous takeaways through boredom as this will ultimately make you feel worse in the long term.
Cut down the amount of time you spend on social media and instead focus on spending quality time with loved ones, getting stuck into a great book or creating a piece of artwork.
Embrace the downtimes, if there are things you have meant to do for a while and not got round to, now is the time to do it. Have you ever thought about meditation? Or writing down your daily and weekly goals
Take it day by day but also look at the bigger picture: eventually, this chaos will end.
Help each otherout
The key is to survive and cultivate empathy during this period.
One thing that has worked for me is working pro-bono for close friends’ businesses and charity organizations and helping the clients I got in the last 2 months applying more favorable payment terms.
I also created a blog section on my website where I share free contents with branding and marketing tips.
Look into securing revenue in the short term and consider looking for opportunities to take equity in the right client.
It's important to talk to your current and past clients. Check in to see how they are doing and how you can help them out? Focus on the relationship with your client ahead of the revenue as those relationships are the key to future work. Unfortunately, some clients will be struggling and potentially unable to survive this current crisis. Therefore if they can tell you that they can't work with you anymore, then you would like to receive that news as early as possible so you can adapt to the situation.
Once the economy turns good again, you want to be firing on all cylinders and ready to rock and roll because all these brands and businesses will be wanting to get back to their former state as soon as possible. You need to be ready to help them get to that level with your creative magic.
︎ Adapt your service
Consider pivoting either the services you offer or the markets you serve.
My biggest asset has been my versatility in design and business strategy as my work can be applied across branding, marketing, business design, digital and everything in between. I'm lucky to have projects continuing and new ones coming in during this challenging time, but I know a huge factor in making that happen is my versatility and my relationship with those people.
To give you an idea, I am currently working on the following: creating the visual identity for a restaurant in Vietnam; creating a Company profile for a environmental system design company based in Indonesia; developing the personal branding and strategy of an adventure and hiking italian guide; writing 2/3 articles every week on my blog and producing free helpful contents on my LinkedIn profile.
Creatives are problem solvers, so help your clients with their problems. Be helpful, share knowledge and spread positivity. People appreciate this, and it will come back around and help you out.
It's also worth asking your clients what they value most and least from the work that you do for them and see if you can use that as a stepping stone to gain more work. Consider delivering more value as a consultant or teacher. Have you thought about creating an online workshop? Things are now moving onto digital platforms more than ever.
These moments can be both threatening and liberating.
Make it your goal to come out of this crisis and into the future positioned to win.
This pandemic is an opportunity for us to elevate as a species and workers. We need to embrace that life isn’t just about us. It’s about everyone else.