Listening

Today I asked myself: Whom am I listening to?

Every day, I am presented with dozens, if not hundreds, of voices and opinions.

The voices of news anchors, journalists and bloggers.

The voices of book authors and narrators.

The voices of actors and show hosts.

The voices of my teachers.

The voices of my family and friends.

And the voices of my past and future. read more…


D3 – Designing with Clients

Few months ago, we started experimenting with a new Design workflow that we called D3. D3 stands for Deep Dive Design. Prior to D3, we used a communication-intensive process where we involve clients and users in the input and output of each design iteration: vision, usability metrics, stories, tasks, requirements, brainstorming, sketches, wireframes, and visual designs. The earlier and more frequently we communicated, the better quality designs we got, and the happier clients and users were.

We then thought about raising the communication bar further, and wondered what it would be like to have clients as active participant in the design process. So we decided to invite each client to spend a full week on-site with us. During that week, the client brings marketing, business and engineering team members to our offices and we spend 5-6 hours a day together, working on the following: read more…


Home

Welcome back home”, the immigration officer smiled, before handing me back my green card.

I dragged my luggage and started walking across San Francisco International airport.

“Home?”, I wondered. “Is this now home?”

When we travel to different places, we typically have a place to return to. That’s typically home.

But those who move away from a place where they lived a couple of decades, before venturing to a new one to start a new life, will sometimes find it confusing to call one place or the other “Home”.

And when I sent my notice to the landlord yesterday that I will be moving out, I realized that once again I am moving from a place that I used to call home over the past year, to a new place that I will call home for another couple of years. read more…


Useful advice from Lao Tzu

Act without doing;

Think without effort.

Think of the small as large,

and the few as many.

Confront the difficult,

while it’s still easy.

Accomplish the great task,

by a series of small acts.



Design thinking for startups

During the 2008 web 2.0 expo in San Francisco, I held a round table discussion about design thinking for start-ups. The premise of the discussion was to 1) learn the difference between design (the artifact) and design thinking (the mindset), and 2) to discuss how to integrate best practices for design thinking into the product life-cycle. Start-ups running on shoestring budget cannot typically afford big consulting agencies like IDEO. But that shouldn’t stop them from becoming design-driven, and use the available tools and processes to differentiate through design and user experience. If you’d like to get your company up to speed with design thinking best practices and tools, get in touch with me for an on-site training session.

[Update] This presentation is currently featured on SlideShare’s homepage

[Update 2] I’ve received numerous emails and comments asking about the video for this presentation. I will be delivering a webinar next month that will use this presentation as a guideline to discuss the topics covered, answer the most common questions that I received so far, and dive into some case studies. If you’d like to be notified when the webinar is available, please sign up here.


Client testimonials’ word cloud

During the last startup weekend, a friend pointed me out to a fun tool for creating  typographic word clouds called wordle. Today, I decided to play more with it and I gave it the testimonials that clients left in my LinkedIn profile.

After some tweaking to the fonts and colors, here is what the output looks like:

word-cloud
Click on the image to see it in full resolution.


Delve Networks ranked among the top 50 Most Usable RIAs

Last year I worked with Delve Networks to design their user experience. This week, O’Reilly’s InsideRIA blog mentioned Delve as one of the most usable Rich Internet Applications.

Here is what Theresa Neil thought of the design:

Delve designers realized content creators weren’t interested in navigating through a bunch of screens to accomplish tasks. They have applied the one-screen-per goal philosophy which results in a lot less screens, each with deep interactions. To keep these rich screens from being completely overwhelming they have employed the following patterns: inline editing, dialog overlays, refining search, and progressive disclosure.

This is a very accurate description of our design goals. We were not interested in creating yet another digital asset manager. We studied the tasks that users wanted to perform at every step, and we took a task-centered approach in creating the interface and interaction. One of the unique interaction paradigms in Delve is that each screen contains a component that acts as a bridge to connect it to subsequent screens and tasks. Animated transitions are used to enforce that mental model for the user and keep them in context while taking them to the next part of the interface.

Here is a demo of Delve’s UI in action


The human side of business

When I first came to the States, I carried with me a lot of stereotypical expectations nourished by the American media that I was exposed to before I arrived. One of them was about medicine. And of course, no show gave a better stereotype about it than E.R. My first month in America proved the medicine stereotype to be completely bogus. When I broke my toe by accidentally hitting the bed frame in the middle of the night, I did what I’d always done when I broke my finger playing basketball: I taped it to its neighbor. But then I thought that I might as well explore the marvels of American medicine and visit a clinic. The conversation went something like this: read more…


The secret life of ideas

About a year ago, I had an experience that taught me one of my life’s biggest lessons. I learned it the hard way. Probably the most painful way.

A couple of friends and myself got together in Borders and sat down to chat about some ideas we had, and pick one to start working on. We had big ideas. Ones that can potentially change the world. Surprisingly, one small and simple idea kept presenting itself in many of the things we’ve discussed. One that’s so trivial that anyone can sit down in a couple of weeks to design it, code it, and publish it. We decided to give it a shot anyway, and to see how our collaboration will turn out. We all had our own thriving consulting/freelancing business, and we agreed to to this work on the side, in Google’s 80/20 manner. read more…


The catch

Two young MBA couple graduated and landed great jobs in California. They realized that they had some time before their job starting date, so they flew to California a couple of weeks earlier and enjoyed spending their days on the beach.

One day, the Devil walked by and saw them, so he approached them and said: "Hey. I see that you are enjoying your time here. I have a proposal for you:

I will offer you everything you ever dreamt about: fame, success, money and prosperity for as long as you and everyone of your descendant shall live. In return, I need you to offer me one thing: your soul."

The couple looked at each in bewilderment, then looked back to the Devil and asked: "What’s the catch?"


The circus elephant

When I was a kid, my school used to host a circus every summer. In the morning, I would sneak behind the circus tent and watch the animals being fed and trained. That was one of my greatest joys.

I remember looking at the elephants, and noticing something that fascinated me and kept me wondering for a while: knowing how powerful an elephant is, I was surprised to see a thin rope tying the elephant’s leg to a pole, and that the elephant never tried to escape even though it wouldn’t take any effort for it to cut the rope and walk away.

After a while, I gave up guessing and went to ask one of the trainers. He smiled and said:”It wasn’t always a rope, you know. When the elephant is young, we put a hard chain around its leg so that whenever the elephant pulls, it would feel the resistance of the strong chain and know that how far it can go.”.

“When the elephant grows up”, he continued, “there is no need for the chain anymore. We just put a thin rope around its leg and the elephant stops pulling whenever it feels that rope. The elephant doesn’t know anymore that the chain is gone, and that the rope tying it to the pole can be easily broken as soon as it decides to walk away. The only limitation that elephant has, is in its own mind.”

“For the elephant,” the trainer said, “all that it knows is the memory of the old chain, and the slight feeling of resistance from the thin rope… The elephant doesn’t know the difference. “


Finding a way around constraints

An old Italian lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:
Dear Vincent,
I am feeling pretty sad, because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.
Love, Papa
A few days later he received a letter from his son.
Dear Pop,
Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where the bodies are buried.
Love,
Vinnie
At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.
That same day the old man received another letter from his son.
Dear Pop,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.
Love you,
Vinnie


Adobe Flash Catalyst – First impressions

Yesterday, Adobe made a pleasant surprise and quietly announced that the Beta version of Flash Catalyst is finally out. I’ve been teased by many presentations over the past few months and I was excited I could finally get my hands on this product and try it out.

In case you don’t know what Catalyst is, it’s an ambitious effort to bridge the gap between design and development workflows. This is a very interesting topic to me as I worked hard with the Expression Blend team from 2004 to 2007 to solve that problem. Blend and Catalyst are very different from each other, and I will not be attempting a comparison here.

I played with Catalyst for a couple of hours yesterday, simulating some workflows for a couple of RIAs that we’ve worked on before, and trying to get some graphics into Flex for a project that we’re currently working on. read more…


Standing out – Advice from Seth Godin

In his book, Purple cow, Seth Godin gives very valuable advice on how to stand out from the crowd.  Here are some key points from the book:

  • Being remarkable doesn’t mean likable. Remarkable means “worth making a remark about”. Whether it’s positive or negative, that’s up to you.  Or as Oscan Wilde put it: “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”
  • You need to figure out who cares about your business, and cater to these customers.
  • Being normal is boring. Being very good is the opposite of being outstanding. Being safe is risky.
  • Once you have a purple cow, milk it to the last drop. Create a team of milkers who take full advantage of your success, and a team of innovators who create your next purple cow.
  • Differentiate your customers, and cater to the most profitable and reward the most influential ones.
  • Pick an underserved niche in your industry and cater to their needs. Pick the smallest conceivable market and create a product that’s remarkable enough to overtake it. Make it fresh and intriguing. And market it to those who desperately need it.
  • Being remarkable isn’t always just about the product. It may be the way you pick up the phone, or the way you care about your customers.
  • Make your product or service conversation-provoking. Make it an idea and a story that spreads.
  • Find the influencers and target them. They will create a great word of mouth campaign for you.
  • Examing your four P’s (Product, Pricing, Positioning and Publicity), determine your outer limits, get out on the edge, and don’t be afraid of getting started.

The book is a light and enjoyable one, and I strongly recommend it for anyone who wants to start a business and succeed by being remarkable.

And here is a video presentation by Seth from TED about the same topic.


Purpose

This past Saturday, I had three different discussions with three different groups of friends about purpose. I almost believed there is a self actualization bug going around town. But I’d feel selfish if I didn’t share the main highlights of these conversations, hoping to hear more about what others think about this topic.

The conversations revolved around the same questions: Does life have meaning? Do we have a purpose in life? if so, what is it?

Let’s start with a simple assumption: that God really doesn’t play dice, and that everyone is here for a reason.

If this is true, then there is no insignificant event in our lives. Let me highlight this with a fictitious example:

You’re standing in a bookstore checking out a book that looks interesting. You take it off the shelf, flip through it, and return it to the shelf. Only this time, you didn’t put it in its original location.

Someone comes few hours later looking for another book, and stumbles accidentally on the book you put back in the location where this other person was supposed to find her book.

She picks up the book, flips through it and is immediately captured by the information inside it. She buys it, goes home and spends the following days devouring the material inside it.

She’s finally found something she’s passionate about, and for the following years, she studies everything she could find about that topic.

A couple of decades later, she wins the Nobel prize in medicine for discovering how to reconnect damaged spines, ending the pain for thousands of paralyzed patients who could finally walk again.

And this could not have happened if you didn’t pick up that book, and put it back in the wrong place.

This is the butterfly effect that’s going around us in every single moment in our lives, and we’re not aware of it.

I remember reading in Paul Madonna’s book how his grandfather, during a walk in San Francisco, while they were both ready to cross the street asked him to wait for the next crossing light, saying: “Let’s change the fate of the universe”.

And we all do, on a daily basis. Everything we do alters the fate of the whole universe, whether we are aware of it or not.

This leads to a simple conclusion: everyone has a purpose. Whether we are aware of it or not, that’s a different story.

There are those who live their lives completely oblivious to its purpose, those who don’t care about what their purpose is, and those who think they have one purpose and discover later, or never, that their life had a completely different purpose.

My point here is best illustrated through a fable that I read a long time ago:

Once lived a good man that God was so happy with, so he sent him an angel to grant him a wish for his virtuous life. The angel showed up for that guy and told him that he’ll grant him any wish he wants.

“Do you want money?”, the angel asked. “No. I have enough money to live gratefully day by day”, the man replied.

“Do you want long life?”.

“No, I want to live my days on Earth, and leave when my time is due”.

“Well, I have to grant you a wish, so please ask for anything you want.”, the angel said.

“I want to live the best life God wishes a human being to live”, the man replied.

God granted the man his wish, and made his shadow heal everyone it falls over, whenever the sun is shining on the man’s face. The man lived the rest of his life, going around the world, doing his day to day business, performing miracles he was never aware of.


How to spot a good designer in an interview

Few weeks ago, one of my friends asked me to help him hire a full time designer for his startup. As it takes a theif to spot a thief, it takes a designer to spot a designer.

There are of course questions that I ask about the person’s background, experience, style and ethics. There are the common questions that I ask in every design interview: describe a product you love, how would you improve it, describe a feature you hate, how would you fix it, etc…

But the one question that helped me spot a bad designer has been the simple request of redesigning something common and simple. Like a pencil.

This is probably one of the trickiest design questions because it doesn’t involve much design. Pencils have been arounds for centuries, and people are very comfortable using them. Is there something wrong with them? I don’t know. But that’s what I’d like the person I am interviewing to ask. This question is mostly about measuring the designer’s ability to ask good questions. The quality and quantity of these questions will help me understand how much the designer wants to understand who he audience is, how they use the product, what they like about it, what they hate about it, how much they are willing to pay for a better pencil, etc…

Design, like many things in life, is about getting over one’s previous experience, learning and conditioning to open one’s mind to different possibilities. When I was at school, I wasn’t taught to ask the right questions, but to find the right answers for the questions I was given. In learning design, I learned that the quality of the answers I am getting depend on the quality of questions I am asking. And that the sooner I reach an answer and I decide that it’s the right one, the more I close up the potential for innovation and creativity in finding the best solution.

Next time you interview a designer, ask them to redesign your favorite product, and listen carefully to the questions that they ask. The more curious they are to learn about you, not just the product, the better chance they have in helping you get your product design done right.

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Every man dies, but not every man lives.

When I was at Microsoft, I attended a presentation where Dean Kamen talked about his inventions: an iBot, a power generator, a water purifier, etc…I was really moved and inspired by one man’s ability to change the world by creating many artifacts that benefit humanity in this magnitude.

A friend of mine who was sitting next to me during the talk whispered in my ear:

– “This guy reminds me of Howard Roark”.

– “Howard who?”, I asked.

– “Howard Roark. You know? The Fountainhead!”, he answered.

Apparently this is a book that has been taught in high schools in the U.S., while I was studying Camus’ L’etranger and Hugo’s Les Miserables in Egypt.

Since I am a big believer in the third omen (things that appear in my life three times must be telling me something), and that it was the third time someone mentions this book to me, I bought it on my way back home and started reading it that evening. The book was over 700 pages, and I couldn’t put it down. I took the following two days off, and did nothing but read the Fountainhead cover to cover. And when I was done, I was transformed. Transformed by a fictitious character that represents a human ideal to strive for in many aspects. One who’s immune to people’s expectations and judgments. One who holds his beliefs and values above his desire to please others and the urge follow the status quo.

Long story short, two years later I was reading a memoir by James Dyson where he mentioned Buckminster Fuller as an inspiration. I researched Fuller and realized quickly that he was a manifestation of the values that Ayn Rand portrayed for Howard Roark in the Fountainhead: selfless, confident, different, and in some way, scary. (I should mention that selfless in this context does not refer to the act of self sacrifice for the pleasure of others, but to put oneself out for the good of humanity and for the sole goal of doing what’s right with no regard to others’ judgments, or to one’s personal desires).

At 32, Fuller was already penniless, jobless, and his second child was just born shortly after his first one died of meningitis few years earlier before her fifth birthday. Since the age expectancy for males back then was 45 years, he realized that he had two choices to live the remaining ten years of his life: To join the game of money making that’s been played all over the world, or to start thinking on his own. He vowed himself to silence for two years to get over his reflexive talking habits. Once Fuller stopped communicating with the outer world, he started tapping into a different world: his inner world. He started listening to his intuition and learn about what needs to be done.
And in doing his own thinking, he gave up what he’s been taught, and stopped accepting taking for granted what others told him.

His silence and thinking led him to a simple theory: If one attends to the problems of humanity and commits oneself to solving them, the universe will care for that person the same way it cares for a flower or a bird. So he committed himself to working on the bigger tasks of the world on the absolute faith that the universe’s integrity will pay him back. His philosophy was that changing the world does not occur through preaching or social reforms, but through artifacts that solve the existing challenges of humanity.
In the following fifty years of his life (he lived well beyond the statistical age expectancy), Fuller wrote more than thirty books, created numerous design and architectural inventions, was awarded more than twenty five patents, held over forty eight honorary doctorates, and traveled the world lecturing and teaching.

Throughout his life, he always focused on what he can do in a given situation instead of dwelling on the negative aspects that presented themselves to him. He did what nature, and the universe, wanted him to do, and not what the system expected from him.

And in achieving all that, Fuller never gave up his humility. He always referred to himself as a “throwaway guinea pig” who is in constant experimentation with his own life for service of humanity, and who dares to be naive to learn what he needs to know.

Below is one of the most inspiring interviews I’ve ever watched. I strongly recommend it!

Here are some of my favorite excerpts from that interview:

– Can you trust yourself that once you get the  knowledge necessary & apply it to solve the  problems of the universe that you won’t  mistake yourself for being big? that you are  still the small you? the “throw away ” you?

– Dare to be naive. That’s the only way you’ll ever learn.
– Become a comprehensive student of the world’s repository. Learn to see the invisible world. Do much more with much less.
– Great religious and political institutions rely on man’s belief of being a total failure.
– Our challenge is not lack of knowledge, it’s lack of faith.
– Find out the truth and commit yourself to the truth of your finding.The truth is out there. You only need to tune “in”.
– You need to realize that you’ve got some of the mystery of the universe inside you, and you need to make it available for others.
– Humans have the unique ability to access the secrets of the universe. Hence, they should be here for a great purpose.
– Every human being is born genius. But we degenerate from that state very rapidly because of fear.

I also loved what the interviewer said at the end of the show: “May the force be with you, and the force will be with you when you realize you are the force”.

Hope you enjoy the interview!


2008 – A year in review

Last year has been good. It’s been actually good beyond our wildest expectations.
We met great people, worked with amazing startups, and enjoyed designing a wide range of exciting products and services.

Here are some of the highlights of 2008:

  • In January, blist was shown to the public for the first time in Demo 2008.  Blogs raved about the product, its slick user interface and its ease of use, and Kevin Merritt’s presentation became the #1 most watched video on DEMO’s website. It was one of the most fulfilling experiences for us given the amount of work and number of iterations that were put in the product up to that point.
  • In February, we started working with Delve Networks (formerly Pluggd) on their new platform and user interface. We worked with the executive and product teams during 6 months to create user experience roadmaps and innovative UI and interactions. In June, Delve showcased their new user interface which was received with great praise and provided the company with a competitive edge over existing platforms.
  • In February, we also started working with inCampus on the new version of the product. We provided them with strategic design and product planning advice that helped them compete against existing products and win student’s audiences in several universities.
  • In May, we started working with UStream TV on the redesign of their product. UStream is one of the most fun and exciting team to work with. Two months later, UStream released a redesigned homepage, and numerous social and viral features were added to the site.
  • In August, we met with the DocVerse team who told us about their plans to take over the document collaboration world. We loved their vision and charisma so much and committed to helping them realize it. DocVerse was one of the product that we surprised ourselves with the outcome, being one of the most fruitful and elegant projects we’ve worked on so far.
  • Finally, in September, we started working with Stuart Skorman and his team to bring the ClerkDogs vision to reality, solving many conceptual and visual challenges and accelerating the product release, which was raved about in the press and blogosphere.

At the end of the year, we realized that we worked on a social mainstream database, a media publishing platform, a social commerce application, a web streaming site,  a document collaboration software, and a movie recommendation engine.

That’s a handful of diverse projects that we never imagined working on in just one year. And we learned a lot from working with driven, positive entrepreneurs who want to change the world. Their charisma has been a constant inspiration to us, and their attitude towards problem solving always reminded us why we are doing this in the first place.

But what we learned the most, is that no matter what we are designing, the goal is the same: to empower people to do more than what they imagined themselves capable of doing in the first place. To make them unleash their creativity and enjoy some blissful moments of flow. To create extensions of their minds that enable them to express themselves and connect with others.

That’s the power of good design. And that’s what we strive for in every moment.


Malcolm Gladwell outliers – A very personal review

I’ve recently finished reading “Ouliers” by Malcolm Gladwell (or rather, finished reading the first half, and skimmed through the second one). At the end of the book, I was both inspired and frustrated. I was inspired by the author’s demystification of success as a singular hero’s effort, and frustrated because there was a missing chapter that I wanted to read at the end of that book.

Gladwell used his clever storytelling techniques to cite examples of “lucky” hardworking geniuses who were at the right place at the right time. From Bill Joy, to Bill Gates, to Steve Jobs, he makes the argument that these names would not have been known today if they were not presented with an opportunity that took them from being no ones to being someones.

Gladwell also provides the recipe for becoming a genius: 10,000 hours of work. It’s the magic number that separates the amateur from the professional, the no one from the someone.

I found myself nodding in agreement with many points that the author made, only to realize after turning over the last page that the proposed theory is incomplete. What Gladwell proposed is that there are some lucky ones among us who were able to break through by unique opportunities that was presented to them: A super computer at college or high school, being born in a specific month, or living in the heart of Silicon Valley. He also proposes that these opportunities are presented to selected fews, and not to everyone. Here is where I started shaking my head in disagreement. But what happens to others? Do they not get their own opportunities? Is life unfair? Does God play dice?

I’ve long believed in unfair opportunities that favor some over others. It was easy for me to assume this, than to put in 10,000+ hours of work and be aware of the opportunities that are constantly presented to me. Call it laziness. Call it fear. Or even call it denial. It’s one of the things that makes us favor our comfort zone over our true potential, and choose luxury over self realization.

In my opinion, these outliers are unique, not for the opportunities that were presented to them, but in their recognition of, and ability to act on, these opportunities. Every day, every one of us is presented with unlimited possibilities and unique opportunities. But many of us walk past them, looking at what we want (or what we think we want), unable to hear the secret calling in every omen that speaks to us. Among the noise that surrounds us, it’s becoming harder and harder to hear that faint genuine voice inside us that somehow knows the answer to all our questions.

There is a mysterious force that starts acting with us once we recognize an opportunity, and without having any fear or desire, start acting upon it. Once we start something that we cannot finish alone, somehow we are no longer alone. People and circumstances start appearing out of nowhere to help us. What Paulo Coelho called our personal legend is no more than this faint voice calling us to action, when we see an opportunity that feels right for us to take.

Of course, there is the antagonist that always acts against our call to action. That stronger voice that was bred by our parents, teachers, friends who inherited it over millions of years. The one that tells us that we are not good enough, that we may make fools of ourselves, and that we would crash and burn while attempting to fly. This demon that knows us far better than we know ourselves, is often successful fighting that faint light that’s starting to grow inside us. And that demon is always clever in finding the right excuses for us not to act, pushing our idea for another day, and living a life of postponed dreams. For each one of us, this demon has a different name. And for every one, it has a million names. Sometimes it’s easier to fight that demon when we can find a name for it, and other times we can just fight it by moving forward with what our gut feeling is trying to push us towards.

There are few myths/realities that I realized lately, that are changing the way I think about these so called “outliers”:

  • Myth: Successful people know what they are doing: What’s probably separating them from the crowd is not knowledge about their path, but their ability to move forward with a good deal of uncertainty. They move forward out of their confidence in taking a step towards an initial direction and adjusting their path as they move. As Einstein puts it: Life is like a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep on moving.”
  • Myth: Successful people don’t have fear: Only amateurs don’t have fear. Having fear is probably the best indicator that you should take that specific direction. What separates these “outliers” from others is their ability to act despite their fear, not their ability to overcome it. If fear is gone, that’s a bad sign.
  • Myth: The path to success is a straight line from “here” to “goal”: Since I came to the US about 7 years ago, I’ve been dumbfounded by the goal-oriented mindset that people live by, and that thousands of self-help authors keep feeding people’s minds with. Goals are great if I know exactly what I want to accomplish. But having that 5 year outlook or that new year’s resolution has rarely worked for me, or for many people and companies I’ve heard of. The challenge is that these targets are always moving. Once we get to the next milestone, life has completely shifted. As one of my mentor put it once: “Change is the only constant in life”. And so I learned that the path to the future is a winding, zigzagging road full of turns and obstacles. We can only see the next step in the path once we move along the current path and take the turn. As Steve Jobs put it in his Stanford Speech, you can only connect the dots looking backward.
  • Myth: One must wait for inspiration to act: Inspiration comes from acting. Our actions, our creations and products, will pay us back the love we invested in them with more inspiration. It’s another mysterious fact that these creations start to take a life of their own, and if we already wait until we know exactly how that book we wanted to start writing will end, our story will be probably mediocre: we didn’t leave enough freedom and uncertainty to the characters to act and create their own story; the story they wanted us to write when they called upon us with this small voice called intuition.
  • Myth: One might get very lonely working alone: There is a great difference between being alone and being lonely. When we are alone, without our TV, our iPhone or our internet browser, we are faced with the person we’ve been out of touch with for most of our lives: ourselves. Trust me, this person has A LOT to say, and if we miss what it’s saying, we would have lived a second hand life. As one of my dear friends puts it: “I am not bored being alone. I think I am a very interesting person to be with”.

I’ve learned these lessons the hard way, and I wish I had someone telling me these facts twenty years ago. However, as the saying goes, if the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, the second best time is right now.

[Disclaimer: The thoughts and ideas in this post have been inspired by some books that I had the opportunity to read lately. Most notably, Strategic intuition, the War of Art, Surprised by Joy, and Art and Fear]


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I'm a serial entrepreneur, product designer, and startup advisor.

Previously designed and helped launch more than 12 startups, four of which have already been acquired.

Currently, I run several profitable eCommerce and educational platforms for designers, and I am working on a new startup.

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