Interview with Matej Pavlanský, Senior Freelance UI/UX designer, Co-founder & Lead Product Designer at VESTBERRY by Michal Tomek
Trying hard to make things better is not a cliché, it’s a Campus fact
Matej Pavlansky, Senior Freelance UI/UX designer, Co-founder & Lead Product Designer at VESTBERRY
„Everyone in Campus is trying to figure out how to improve things around, how to make the life better. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s a fact.“
Matej is an exceptional case here. Describing him by saying he is a freelance designer seems too dull, too hollow, too insufficient. Defining him as a great supporter of the Campus team would be more appropriate. What characterizes Matej the best, though, is that he is a solid member of the Campus family.
Smiling and talking to you at the bar, or sitting with his headphones by the computer, he is always willing to help and look for the solution with you. Be it your new website or a question of the difference between the theory of relativity and quantum theory.
Loving your work might be difficult
Matej’s career launched early. When he was 17, he already started working in an advertising agency followed by oscillation between the agency jobs, own business projects, and freelance jobs. At one point in his career, he realized it was not possible to live in all three worlds at the same time. He had to make the decision – spend the rest of his life as an employee, or quit his job and go his own way. Thus, Matej quit the agency jobs. „It has not always been easy, but it’s great, going through life my own way,” Matej evaluates the last four years.
Such a freelance life comes with challenges as well. Matej’s great willingness to help people around cost him his work-life balance. „I had to learn to say ‘no.’ The problem, though, occurs when your work makes you happy, and you also like doing it.” Then it’s not about being pushed to work because of someone else or because you need to earn money. It’s something you love to do and, on top of that, you are also being paid for pretty well. „And that is without mentioning the fact that clients are great, too.”
Matej reached the point where most of his clients are his friends. It is much more difficult saying ‘no’ once you share not only work life but personal life as well. „Making priorities and having a long-term strategy about where do you want to be in the future is the solution here.“
The Startup Weekend and 0100 challenges
The path to Campus led through the formation of an idea for a startup. Marek (Campus co-founder) was looking for a designer and co-founder when their mutual friend introduced them to each other. While working on their VESTBERRY startup, Marek introduced Matej to Dusan (Campus other co-founder).
Initially, the contact with Campus was predominantly on a freelance base. Campus founders asked Matej to help them with branding and identity of their 0100 concept. „It was a pretty challenging task to come up with branding for 0100 digits that represented four different brands aimed at different target groups. But I believe we did our best.”
As many, Matej was a bit biased towards open spaces. „Having worked in a quiet and small office, I was concerned about all the noise that comes with big co-working spaces. I was worried I would not be productive. Two years later, I can say that the noise is something you can easily solve with headphones. Actually, I started to like it there.”
From sport bike racing to astrophysics
Funny enough, VESTBERRY has evolved so much that after four years of freelancing, Matej is slowly terminating his freelance contracts and becoming a full-time employee once again. This time in his own company.
As the team is growing, they recently moved to a closed office, and he still cannot get used to working without people walking around and chatting behind him. „But I am pretty sure I can get used to the peace vibe of an office again,” he laughs.
Even with closed door of an office, Matej thinks the community aspect of Campus is what makes the space unique. „The other bias I had about co-working spaces was that people do small talks all the time. The opposite is true. I found here people I can talk to about anything, any crazy topic I am interested in, ranging from sport bike racing, through intellectual movies and psychology up to astrophysics.”
Chatting with others at the bar about everything imaginable until the late night is what makes the experience so great. „I love sitting at the bar on Friday night with Lukas – hi, Lukas – and analyze why quantum theory and theory of relativity can’t go together and whether somebody finally finds out.“
Cliché? Not at all
Even though events are a massive part of Campus life, the truth must be told that Matej – with so much work on his hands – needs to pick carefully the ones that make sense to him.
As one of Matej’s challenges he had been tackling for a long time was feeling cold all the time, he attended the Wim Hof Method workshop. „In the past, it fascinated me that someone would willingly go and get a cold shower or jump into a frozen lake in December. I am a proponent of getting-out-of-your-comfort-zone philosophy, and thus, I tried it after the workshop. It’s been more than a year now and the feeling of cold disappeared. I feel much better.“
Over the time in Campus, Matej has met many different people and, thus, has been exposed to various opinions and points of view. „It helps a lot to gain a bit of a distance from your perspective, explore new angles you had never thought of before and get challenged.”
Everyone in Campus is professional in their respective fields. One is building a company, other tries to get better in personal life, someone runs her freelance business, other has just launched his startup. „But all of them have one thing in common: everyone is trying to figure out how to improve things around, how to make life better. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s a fact.“
Top three (audio)books/blogs/podcasts that changed your way of looking at the world?
Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life
Tim Urban's blog Wait but why
Youtube channel PBS Space Time
Your most favorite treat from Campus bar?
An after-lunch CAPPUCCINO!:))
Which app or tool do you regularly use that most people around you do not know aka your „secret weapon“?
3 LCD displays! It is quite the opposite of a “secret weapon” because my desk looks like a spaceship, but it certainly is a great “weapon” which helps me a lot.
The best personal hack that helped you become more effective/productive/healthier/less stressed/get things done over the last 6 months?
Compare yourself to who you were yesterday not to who someone else is today.
A quote you live by?
Don't worry about failure because you only have to be right once.
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