Topic: “Personal”

Personal update

I really enjoyed reading this article in the New York Times on how frustrated employees can actually lead to your biggest breakthroughs in innovation. Personally, the best work I’ve produced in my career has been born out of a combination of professional frustration, immense commitment to my team and purpose, and someone giving me the space to explore.

When we’re dissatisfied, instead of fight or flight, sometimes we invent. Frustration is the feeling of being blocked from a goal. Although it sounds like a destructive emotion, it can actually be a source of creative fuel. When we’re frustrated, we reject the status quo, question the way things have always been done, and search for new and improved methods.

And related to this, a HBR article published this week, “Digital transformation is not about technology”, struck a chord. In fact, this is sort of the thesis of my last year of work. Successful digital transformation requires a balance between purpose and change management. The technology you adopt is just icing on the cake. (more…)

Design and motherhood

When I was growing up, I didn’t dream about becoming a designer. I enjoyed creating, exploring, communicating, but I always figured I would settle on a more conventional career. To be honest, I don’t remember having a strong conviction to be a mother either. Yet here I am.

I became a mom around the time I started my first full-time, in-house position. We moved to California 6 months after I started, and a week later we learned we were expecting. You can imagine this threw a wrench in my plans.

I had anticipated spending my weekends exploring the coast, mountains, and forests of my new state, to balance the grind of the week that was already burning hot. Suddenly, I found myself swapping hikes for doctor’s appointments. Instead of grinding, I bargained with my boss to let me work from home a few days a week.

This was a hard time in my life. I felt tired, undervalued, and anxious about my visibility in the company. Oddly enough, though, the experience of becoming a mother made me a better designer.

I share this because I’ve seen others express concern that becoming a parent will negatively affect their career. Certainly, there are examples of toxic companies that only want to hire 20-somethings with no children or worldly commitments (though why anyone would fund leadership with such short-sighted expectations is beyond me). Parenthood teaches you ways of thinking about, reacting to, and experiencing life that you can never understand until you’re in it.

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Some recent favorites

The woman who gave the macintosh a smile

Susan Kare, the woman behind the original Macintosh iconography, is being awarded the AIGA medal today for her contributions to design. With our endless set of advanced design tools that allow us to manipulate pixels on the screen as if they were real, fluid things, her work is both impressive and refreshing. Her icons, constrained to 32x32px grids, are timeless, and continue to communicate volumes despite their references to ever irrelevant technology (floppy discs?). The images of her sketchbooks offer constant inspiration. (more…)