Design tips

25 on-the-job ideals


I've been a consultant for almost 30 years. Before that, I worked more than 20 years in writing and editing positions, most of those years as an editor and manager at daily newspapers.

During that half-century, I've learned a few things about how to do my work well and how to conduct myself in the workplace.

I recently received a call from someone close to me who was struggling in her work. She asked my advice and I did my best to help her.

After that conversation, I sent her the following. I call it "25 on-the-job ideals." 

I thought I'd take a side road from design this month to share my note with you.

Here's the list:

  1. Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.
  2. Be a leader.
  3. Serve the company. 
  4. Bring solutions (not problems) to the table.
  5. Be the "go to" person.
  6. Always say "yes." You can backpedal later.
  7. Promise low, deliver high. 
  8. Share your time freely ... when you can.
  9. Demand respect.
  10. Face opposition firmly ... but gracefully.
  11. Be professional in everything you do.
  12. Control the things you can control. Let go of the things you can't.
  13. Be responsible. 
  14. Be accountable.
  15. Take the high road.  
  16. Admit your mistakes ... and learn from them. 
  17. Never claim credit for yourself. Those who matter will know.
  18. Lower your expectations of others. Foolish and lazy people aren't worth the space you give them (rent free!) in your head.
  19. With rare exceptions, you'll never be able to change what someone thinks about you. It's usually not worth the effort.
  20. Get a mentor – someone you can talk to. 
  21. Be a mentor – someone needs your help.
  22. Leave 'em laughing.
  23. Leave 'em wanting more of you.
  24. Never think of it as "just a job." It's more than that to the people who matter.
  25. Remember: it's "just a job." Never let your work define who you are as a person.

I've tried to live by these ideals during my entire career. There's been occasional slip here and there, but following these principles sure has made my professional life easier, more productive – and more fun.

Mull these over. I'll bet they can help you, too!

WANT A FREE evaluation of your newspaper's design? Just contact Ed Henninger: | (803) 327-3322

IF THIS COLUMN has been helpful, you may be interested in his books: "Henninger on Design" and "101 Henninger Helpful Hints." With the help of his books, you'll immediately have a better idea how to design for your readers. Find out more about "Henninger on Design" and "101 Henninger Helpful Hints" by visiting his website:

ED HENNINGER is an independent newspaper consultant and the director of Henninger Consulting. He offers comprehensive newspaper design services including redesigns, workshops, staff training and evaluations. E-mail: On the web: Phone: (803) 327-3322.

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