Design Thinker : Strategist : Mom : Leader : Artist
I care deeply about holistic experiences.
I think about people and how to best tell the story of their interaction with the world. I think about how to make better products and services in the future that solve real problems. I think about how to ease people’s pain and make their lives better. I think about beauty, design and typography. I think about psychology and motivation.
I like to share my art and beautiful quotes, wisdom, poems and tips from myself and other brilliant people around crafting your personal story, philosophy, creativity, motivation, the power of our senses, the beauty of attention, life by design, user experience, leadership, intentional living and more.
Fear An energetic messenger A reminder of unknown outcomes As it lands in your body, tickling your soul, Fear says: Wake Up. Feel. Listen. There is much to learn here Stick around a little longer Breathe into me Allow me to transform into Courage, Compassion, Forgiveness and Truthread more
Action is Queen words are beautiful but distracting they inspire but also dilute and delay process is constricting movement is progress when in doubt take a step forward if you falter self correct if you succeed expand resistance is everywhere doubt and confusion abound gently move forward anyway overcoming resistance does not always require force there is a subtle place where pushing too hard is not required and timing allows for shifts find that place dance through the mucky messy middle glide into the future with...read more
“Fear transforms into courage through connected moments of vulnerability.” – Mark Nicolson The reality that we are primarily driven by our unconscious patterns and our emotional hangups does not have to be a doom and gloom story. In fact, quite the contrary, this reality is the biggest opportunity of our life to become the people, and leaders, we want to be. The Heroines and Heros of our own Epic Life Stories. It is in the every day moments of being a human with enough self-awareness to reflect on our behaviors that we are able to become sympathetic creatures. That we are able to relate to others needs and adjust our lives in subtle ways. Being a better leader is not about “leaning in” to Big Career ladder climbing opportunities. Its not about saying “Yes” to everything that is thrown your way. Being a great leader is about knowing when to “turn toward” a great opportunity to connect and inspire others you work with, in focused, strategic ways and in subtle, vulnerable human ways. Its both personal and professional, its how you show and and who you are at your very core. It is about transparency, authenticity and building trust with your team. It is about pointing people to a vision and admitting that it will be a bumpy road to getting “there”, but that you are all in it together. Being a great leader is about admitting your struggles and imperfections in the face of great risk, and still showing up anyway with your best intentions. It is a constant commitment to agility, reflection and immersion in the opportunities to shape life, not control, outcomes. As we show up and allow our feelings to be, eventually we reshape them. We have the ability to transform. It cannot be something we rush through, it is not a destination to ‘fix’ our emotional reactions. It is a process, a practice, a journey. As we stay connected to our emotions, and committed to our strength, they are the greatest teachers and they offer the most opportunity for growth and transformation both personally and...read more
It amazes me how rampant the idea of “design” being about aesthetics and beauty really is in people’s perceptions around the world. There is something wonderful about the marriage of form and function. When beautiful aesthetics and artistic creations can also be fully functional such as some stuff found at Serious Wonder. That is delightful. Sometimes, functional art is more art than function. This is annoying to me. If function fails, then you are just making art. Case in point, the Norman Doors: Function must always preceed form if you are trying to solve real problems in the world. I’m an artist, too, and I know the difference between art and function. I know when they can work harmoniously together, and when they ought to be separated. When you are creating something for the sake of expression first, that is art. In my definition, crafts are more function oriented, more prescriptive and less about your free-form self expression. Perhaps you could broaden the meaning of art to be giant enough to encompass all human expression, in which case, my definitions get diluted. When it comes to moving from expression first to making something that people with use in their lives, function needs to be the focus first. When it comes to my field of work, interface design, function should always preceed form. Form and aesthetics are extremely important and a “no brainer”, but if you don’t have the function right, you have failed. A pretty window dressing does not help people open a window. Again, these things are important together and can be iterated on in various creative ways – function to form and back again. But, please, don’t forget, when you are creating anything for use in the world: simple function is paramount to “beauty”. Case in point with Norman Doors. I have them in the office I work at in Denver. Beautiful handles on both sides of the door “look” lovely. But, no one knows whether a door is a push or a pull. The primary purpose of the door has failed and countless people waste time again and again with the latent pain of poorly thought out door...read more
I have read and heard differing opinions on whether a leader should expect to receive appreciation and gratitude for their work, mentoring, coaching, guidance, etc. Servant leaders tend to lead by example and be willing to shift their expectations of success based on the business objective and team goals. However, we are all human, and it is possible to feel unappreciated which can lead to de-motivation. I equate leadership (and management for that matter) as similar to being a parent. It is relatively a thankless job in terms of the likelihood of recognition from those you help and guide. That being said, I am so blessed with children than tell me how much they appreciate me every evening before we go to bed. As a leader I try to practice gratitude with those around me, as I go, as well as formally. I can always improve and be even more gracious. Technology should help – not hinder – the process of rapid and ongoing recognition for individuals and teams. However, I do not share gratitude in order to receive it back. I share it because I feel gratitude for those that help, go above and beyond, push through limitations and road blocks on their own. Setting expectations for how you want the world to treat you is setting yourself up for disappointment. This can be a hard lesson to learn. Being a gracious person can come back to you, but it also might not, it depends on your circumstances and the culture of who you work for and with. So, ultimately, no, I do not think that leaders should expect regular appreciation from their teams or colleagues. I do think people genuinely would like ways to appreciate others however, and there are a lot of ways that technology could help and enhance this at work now and into the...read more
I believe that bots will automate many things in the future. So, what can be automated about user interfaces? (Not just those found on a computer, but any device or equipment/hardware). Predictive, Learning Systems. We have some attempts at learning based systems that adjust to a user’s needs, but in the future, this will get even more advanced. Bots will serve you up your next move before you even realize you were thinking about it, they will automate your tasks to your delight and always allow you to take the drivers seat if you get freaked out and want to revert back. Personal & Sense of Control. User input systems will become adjustable to the point of complete personalization and control for end users. Visuals and user interface patterns will be standardized and so simplified to adjust in systems that any person will control their own experience. Perhaps there will still be controls and standards based on industry and regulation, but those will be a baseline only. Immersive and Sensate. User interface systems of the future will be so in tune with their purpose and the bodily needs of people that they will anticipate and respond with sensate oriented experiences. Some of these are attempting to start down this path today with medical devices and readers, wearables and more. However, we’ll figure out how to tie in smart machines to most human experiences from every industry. I’m a design thinker and I believe that user interfaces are simply a mechanism with metaphors that allow people to solve bigger problems that are contextual and fit for purpose – for humans. Everyone is a designer and in the future interfaces will support design-on-the-fly personalized systems on an individual level. Am I talking myself out of a job? Hardly. When I think future, its pretty far off. That being said, not everything can be replaced by the Bots. So, what, you ask, can machines NOT replace. Now, we get to the fun stuff. Social Awareness and Interpersonal Interaction. Some sci-fi movies argue differently, however I believe that the soul of a human cannot be replace with a machine. The depth of humanity lies in our imperfections and nuances. In the game of unconscious choices and hidden motivations. Every time someone thinks they have humans figured out, they discover a new nuance. Multiply that by a billion and you get the possibilities and the magic that hides within relationship. Some of my favorite topics here are unconscious habits, influence, conflict and so many more. Tie this into designing systems, we’ll still need to have people involved all the way along where automation can provide ration but not relation. Energy. One of my most influential mentors taught me that everything is energy. Bots can out-perform humans at tasks until the cows come home. They cannot identify and respond to the energetic nuances of interpersonal connection between two or more people. Practices as Opportunities. I think it will be eons before Bots can observe and understand the hidden practices and pains of humans, the emotional connection they have with non-sensical things, people, places and memories. Bots cannot replace humans because humans are much too multi-faceted. Opportunity lies mostly hidden beneath social norms. It lies in latent pain. Pain that has been pushed aside or ignore for so long it is nearly forgotten. Or,...read more
Perhaps this is just my lens on the world, but I don’t understand why we think that we need to go straight from “Problem” to “Solution” or “Opportunity” when there is so much to learn from problems in the first place. For me, the word problem is a great word. I have no negative connotation with the word, because I know what it holds. Problems do not just hold opportunity; problems hold people’s voice, people’s pain, people’s suffering. Giving voice to problems is healing. Giving space to allow problems to exist, to stare them straight in the face, to turn them over and observe them from many angles is healing. Healing all by itself. We do not have to jump straight to solving problems. We’ll get there, always, in time. But as a culture we need to get more comfortable with pain and problems and unpacking what is lurking deeper beneath the surface. We need to get comfortable in that murky, messy place of problems. After all, they make up much of the human experience around the world. First we have to stare problems in the face and acknowledge the depths of what is wrong, what is out of alignment, what is possible to fix and what may never change despite our best intentions. This is our only hope towards every truly finding empathetic responses enough within ourselves and as a collective to change social problems at their...read more
“The term conation is no longer widely known—it is in ‘The 1,000 Most Obscure Words in the English Language’, defined as ‘the area of one’s active mentality that has to do with desire, volition, and striving’, but a closer look turns up several references to conation as the third faculty of the mind. The cognitive part of the brain has to do with intelligence, the affective deals with emotions and the conative drives how one acts on those thoughts and feelings.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conation As stated above, in theory, there is a designated “part of the brain” that deals with connecting the dots between reason and ration and emotion – and taking action. Given my recent ramblings on the difference between impulse and intuition, I find this concept rather fascinating. Danielle LaPorte would argue that “desire” is the very life force of existence. In other words, spiritually speaking perhaps, the drive beneath how one acts is something unexplained by the brain itself and better explained as the essence of how all life acts and interacts. I stumbled on this word, conation, as I was on slideshare clipping slides on emotion. Despite the arguments in psychology and science about where emotion come from and how it relates to the body and mind, I’m convinced we do not really understand it entirely. We understand how the body works and the systems that drive the body’s functioning. What we do not still understand, beyond theory, is how people do what they do. We don’t understand why people do what they do, either. Why and how. We theorize, we find trends, but in the end, people act irrational, unpredictable and downright nuts sometimes. It doesn’t take a science degree to observe that about humanity over the ages. Intuition is still something that preceeds rational thought often and is not easily explained by any of the above. Impulse to me has a more negative connotation, but that may just be my lens on the world. For me impulse can be something that has both positive and negative ramifications, but often can lead to negative ones if not kept in check with some healthy cognitive reasoning. Conation is simply the desire, no judgement attached. Intuition, I believe, can be more of a sensate perception that triggers before the cognitive response. In my personal experience, following breadcrumbs can fall into any of these categories and often lead to magical paths not previously expected in your life. Others lead to dead ends. Trial and error. We tell ourselves stories to attach meaning to the breadcrumbs that lead to a pot of gold. Okay, I know, terrible mixed metaphor. The other breadcrumbs we don’t keep in our story telling library. Or, for me, the over-analyzer, we wonder, “WHY?” What I find most fascinating about the human species today is the vast variety of lenses by which people operate from. Our unconscious or semi-conscious biases and limiting beliefs more often than not keep us nailed to our present lifestyles and views. The vast majority of us value safety and comfort over just about anything else. As a species, in general, we would rather stay with what we know, what is comfortable, than break out and create new worlds. Those that do, I admire and like to study. I’ve been in a different country enjoying family time this week and...read more
If your feelings about life in general are fraught with discontent, anxiety, frustration, anger, boredom, numbness, or despair, your social and essential selves are not in sync. Life design is the process of reconnecting them. ~ Martha Beck, Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live I’ve reached a moment in my life where its obvious what my patterns are that are holding me back from my complete authentic truth. I learned at some point during my life to flee rather than fight when faced with adversity. To go hide in a safe castle. This has manifested in various ways, and I have taken many steps to re-design how to relate to others and navigate differing opinions and view points. I have committed myself to show up, pay attention, tell the truth and not be attached to the outcome following the Four Fold Way. I have taken crucial conversations courses and I have faced many dragons and beasts head on. But it is not enough. I’m being pushed and I feel it. Not only to no longer flee, but to fight for what I believe in. I feel this, and I hear it from others that I cross paths with, and yet I feel at odds with overcoming my own patterns. The problem I am faced with is when to be attached to a specific outcome and fight and when to let it go. I don’t always know the answer to this. It takes a tremendous amount of self reflection and trial and error to navigate this journey toward an authentic, designed life. Course correction is the norm. I find myself faced with the challenge of dealing with most of the patterns that worked for me at one point in life and no longer are serving me. Core stuff that many of us experience at some point such as feeling: Stuck Not good enough Afraid (thus the default to flee) Misaligned Imperfection My daughter is also dealing with some of these issues, go figure. I can’t ‘fix’ her, but I can lead by example and relate to her with my own life experiences. With all my interpersonal experiences, including the one with myself, I find a constant reminder about the difference between shaping vs. controlling life. In the end, we are all human. I find this hard to remember sometimes. I don’t have it all figured out, because if I did, the journey would not be interesting. So, we carry on through our blocks, our emotional turmoil, our integration of all of our different selves. Eventually, hopefully, we creative folks are able to hold all of who we are and express it in ways that heal the world and...read more
Most major businesses in today’s world look at social responsibility as an add-on to tack onto the end of their business. Hopefully, they will find a few programs where they can do good and give back to the world and they will leverage their marketing department to showcase this in their messaging sprinkled here and there. That’s not good enough. Not for the world and not for the younger generations that demand a more aligned and social connection with the businesses they give their money to. Yesterday, I returned an item to Kohls. I noticed their “Kohls Cares” program sign about how they give back to important causes. I noticed their product placement of the $5 Kohls Cares Books that are consistently right by the check out stands. This is progress, to emphasize product placement and put a very cost-effective item front and center that carries with it a social cause. However, I couldn’t help become quite curious, if I stood outside of Kohls and asked those walking in and out if they knew what Kohls Cares was, or if they knew what programs Kohls Cares donates to, if they would have any answers for me. If this study was conducted at scale, would it show brand association and stickiness of the social responsibility efforts that Kohls is doing? In other words, while Kohls Cares program is making a difference, is the program making an impact on people’s perception of the brand? Answering from personal experience, Kohls Cares is “Nice” but not an essential part of my association with why I shop there or what I associate with the brand. When I think of Kohls I think about getting discounted rates for clothing. I think about convenience. I think about my girls because I buy a lot of stuff for them there. My association with Kohls is not swayed one way or another by their social responsibility program. Its up to me to make it matter, to redirect my spending habits to local business or other ways of sourcing clothing. I struggle with this still. Consumer buying power. I’m not unique with my conflicts. I remind myself to shop at thrift stores and use cloth grocery bags. However, I know that the future holds a world where consumers continuously align their spending habits with conscious companies. Conscious Capitalism is a concept focused on people and their interconnection with the world that has resulted in countless unique programs and inspired personal responsibility with many of the worlds most wealthy CEOs and big minds. Virgin Unite is just one example. Not all of today’s brands are concerned with this reality. Many of today’s brands still struggle just to get to parity with how they treat their customers. However, we are heading in this direction as a society run mostly by capitalism. Many companies have finally figured out that we must put the people and their needs at the center of our business model, not the shareholders alone. We have figured out – nearly – that customer’s and shareholder’s needs do not have to be at odds if we are smart about how we do business. Part of this process is about remembering our why for doing business and correcting course for what is not working. That is what strategy is all about. Prioritization. Most companies need...read more