To know Alexander Diner is to experience the positivity and stability he brings to everything he does. While he’s honest about having rough days and bad weeks, he strives to find (and bring) joy to every day.
“I’m a huge, huge champion of gratitude and positivity,” he says.
Alexander is also uniquely self-aware, prioritizing reflection and introspection in a way that shows in his work. As I’ve experienced first-hand, this allows him to see through chaos to focus on and resolve every client’s main needs.
“It’s funny to me because it’s not a trait that I inherently possess,” he says. “It’s something that I’ve worked really hard on for many years from a lot of directions.”
For Alexander, these characteristics are the result of years of struggle and recovery. He got clean and sober from drugs and alcohol at a young age. After using these substances to regulate his emotions, he had to learn how to find and maintain an internal peace without them.
“I like being able to regulate my emotions. I like being able to know why and what am I feeling and what are some ways that I can deal with this feeling,” he says. “It’s an incredibly important thing for me and I have really worked on it for many years so it was a huge compliment for you to say that almost like it was a natural trait that I possess.”
In his professional life as a brand designer and founder of Shapemaker, Alexander uses these traits to turn chaotic projects into his clients’ visions. Working with a project leader who is an excited, creative cheerleader are his favorite experiences.
“That’s where I thrive,” he says. “Taking my creative experience and looking at this list of things and together figuring out how we’re going to turn this into a cohesive outcome, how we’re going to meet business objectives, how we’re going to build a creative work that achieves what we want to achieve.”
Even when the final outcome looks different than the original vision, working together to achieve it creates something special.
“That’s really the magic of the work that I find myself doing and it’s why I keep doing it, I think,” Alexander says. “There’s something about coming into a project and a team, and everyone’s all over the place, confused, scared, whatever it is, and coming out the other end together, looking at this thing and being like, ‘Wow. We did this together.’”
This pride in collective accomplishment is another theme that runs through his work. Even on the biggest projects he’s completed, you’ll never hear about “I” or “me.” It’s always about we.
“The creative process we have, the work we have, is so much more than what we bring to the table,” he says. “It’s about what we create as a team.”
As much as he loves to collaborate with his team and clients to create these results, finding the inner peace that allows him to engage in and enjoy his work is still a daily effort. He starts every day with quiet reflection to center himself and prepare for the work ahead.
“A huge part of my routine is taking the time in the morning. I take at least an hour to sit and read and meditate and just think,” he says. “I’m an incredibly anxious person and that’s just a part of the routine that I have to help me find some peace before I start my day and stuff gets insane inevitably.”
During this time of prayerful thought, Alexander expresses gratitude for his family, collaborators, and clients. Though it blows him away at times, he is determined to avoid taking the trust his clients place in him for granted.
“That is a very sacred thing to me. People really are turning it over to me and my team and it’s huge,” he says. “And so that’s something that really sticks with me.”
More than that, this trust allows him to do creative work, work that he is thrilled to do.
“All that stuff is just, I lose myself in it a little bit. I truly know, and I remind myself of this daily too, that there are a lot of people that don’t like their jobs,” he says. “I fucking love my job. I love it.”
Get the full story here as we explore the often-overlooked necessity of the discovery process, why you should have confidence in your work, and how to get buy-in all the way up the corporate ladder on your projects.
You can find Alexander on social media at @alexanderdiner and on Shapemaker.co. He also wants every reader and listener to know that he is available if you ever want to reach out.
“There is an open invitation, whether you’re young or new to the industry, maybe you’ve been at it for a little while and you’re working some stuff out. I just love chatting with people that are going out on their own, starting their own thing. That stuff really excites me and I’m always down to share my experience, so don’t hesitate to send me a message or if you want to reach out directly it’s firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here for you.”