Founder and Managing Director of verynice – Matthew Manos, explains in detail about their ‘Give-Half model’. He also tells us how young designers need to develop a unique voice, and speak from the heart.
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?
My earliest memory must be from when I was only a few months old. I remember the moment distinctly. I was crawling down a hallway, tiny fists holding tightly to the berber carpet with every forward movement. The thing I was crawling toward was a door – it must have been a front door. Right when I was within 3 feet of it, I started to fly – while mid-flight, I took special attention to each lock on the door. There must have been 4 or 5 of them, some with chains, some with knobs, some that slid, etc. Then I saw my dad’s face – of course I wasn’t flying, he was just picking me up. This story has nothing to do with design, though you could swing the story to seem like that. Really what lead me into design was enrolling in a “Digital Art” class in high school. I learned the magic of Photoshop and Illustrator in that class and quickly had the desire to leverage these “skills” to help people. Next thing I knew, I was a pro-bono practitioner at age 16. Who would have thought I’d still be doing the same thing?
What does a typical working day include for you right now?
I am almost always in meetings, or working across a series of sprints. I also travel a lot these days (including a trip to Moscow in February!). I get to work around 8am, and the rest of the team arrives around 9. We have a standing meeting every morning at 9:20 where we do a run down of all of the projects and tasks that are on the table for that day. From there, it is a wild card. I love spending time with the team to meet with them about their deliverables before the client gets there eyes on them. I also love eating lunch alone (I’m kind of a loner) – typically Pho or Bibimbap or Pizza. A lot of evenings I’m out doing talks or attending board meetings, but I really cherish my time with my puppy, Charlie, and my wife, Kate. We’ve been working together our whole relationship, and we always have a lot of fun.
What do you look for in a great portfolio?
When considering your portfolio, you have to remember that an employer is not investing in your existing work. That is all stuff from the past. Instead, they are investing in YOU. They are investing in your process, your unique approach to things, and your passion. The biggest mistake that many young designers make when putting their portfolio together is that they do not provide enough explanation or description in regards to their process. Remember to put words to your work, develop a unique voice, and speak from the heart. Less is not necessarily more when it comes to project descriptions, but you do have to remember people are busy. If you are going to write a longer piece about a project of yours, that’s great, but just include a quick synopsis at the top for those employers who are a little less patient.
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.
I am the founder and Managing Director of Verynice. We are a global design strategy consultancy that ignites movements, builds brands, and changes perspectives. Verynice is most well known for its unique give-half model which has allowed us to donate over $5,000,000 worth of services for free to non-profits. As Managing Director I lead our strategic vision for every project, promote the company’s work by way of conferences and media, and serve as a mentor for each of our team members in order to help them grow and be as awesome as possible.
What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?
You know that design thing you like to do? Keep doing it. You know how you like to give your work away for free to people? Yeah, turns out that is a viable career path.
What has been your highlights since you started out?
Really the biggest highlight has been having the privilege/honor to really serve as a thought leader for the social entrepreneurship, especially as it relates to the design industry. I’m also always blown away whenever I hear that someone has done some pro-bono work, inspired by verynice’s Give-Half model. Other things: Getting an MFA degree, becoming a teacher, giving two TEDx talks, getting in Forbes 7 times, being named one of 7 millennials changing the world by The Huffington Post, finding time to write poetry and skateboard, getting married to my best friend, owning an insane dog named Charlie, and traveling to Russia to teach Social Enterprise.