Thoughts | Growth Over Comfort

Like everyone’s been saying, I can’t believe it’s November already—so close to the end of the year! October was a busy month for me, with a lot of new experiences, which has been making me think about growth and the struggles of pushing out of your comfort zone.

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Margie Warrell at Wrike Collaborate

At the beginning of October I was able to attend the Wrike Collaborate conference in Nashville, TN. It was a really great conference, but what stuck with me most was the opening keynote by Margie Warrell, and it was about choosing growth over comfort. She talked about how to be brave in every day instances, not just the big moments in life. As an introvert, being at a conference by myself was ‘brave’ for me, and definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone—but I surprised myself, and not only learned a lot but even made some new connections.

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The most appropriate quote for a session on change management.

It was nice to be amongst a new group of people—fellow project management nerds! I came back with so much energy and so many new ideas that I don’t think I would’ve had if I hadn’t gone to that conference and outside of my comfort zone. I also discovered that change management is a ‘thing’ and it’s much more complicated than I anticipated—and the idea of it makes me uncomfortable and creates tension, but that’s how you grow. I think that’s why ‘digital transformation’ has become such a big buzzword in the past few years—it’s change management in new words that sound more exciting and way less scary.

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In continuing my month of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I attended the AIGA DC/Women Talk Design ‘Design Your Talk Topic’ event. I didn’t know anyone else attending, it was a two hour workshop at the end of a work day, and it was raining—if I’d been following what was comfortable, I wouldn’t have gone. But I told myself I needed to, and I was so glad I did. I learned a lot and met some great fellow designers who have some great experiences to share. I was very rewarded for pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and it made me realize that the things I want to speak about are valuable to people, and valid.

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This was nicely followed up by a speaking opportunity! At the end of the month I spoke on a panel at my alma mater, Marymount University in Arlington, about transitioning from student to professional designer. Part of me was thinking, what useful information could I possibly share? I was one panelist of five, and there were many years of experience between the five of us. But if I was invited to speak, I must have had something interesting to share, right? I’m not terribly inexperienced with public speaking (on a small scale), but this was a different environment. I decided this was good practice to be brave and get outside of my comfort zone. I had a great time with my fellow panelists, and somehow filled up all my speaking time! (Thank you again to my former advisor and chair of the Design department, Bridget Murphy, for the invitation!)

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Kyle Bogucki, Jennifer Wong, Raksa Yin, myself, and Beth Singer.

I’m looking forward to continuing to choose growth over comfort in different ways. And as I said at the end of my panel time, thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Event | Explore the World of Phone2Action

Every quarter or so, we at Phone2Action like to bring our clients and potential clients into our office to try out our new technologies and features first hand. Our June Open House was thus branded “Explore the World of Phone2Action” (a title I actually came up with!). We decided to really make it like a travel experience—guests receive a passport, a map, and at the end of the journey they can get something from our souvenir shop! This was a pretty fast turnaround, but very fun, project.

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We had six product stations and two product design feedback stations, and each station had its own custom sticker that guests would receive to add to their passport after visiting the station. At our Souvenir Shop, guests could redeem their stickers for certain swag items (the more stickers you had, the higher quality items you could redeem them for). We were able to branch out a bit from our typical swag items for this event (sunglasses! umbrellas!) and it was a good testing ground to see what people wanted to take home.

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Since we wanted the passport to feel like a real passport, it was sized accordingly, and the interior pages were peppered with custom graphics that showed the names of the product stations, but looked like real passport stamps (also quite proud of this part).

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To see videos of the passport mockup to final product, click here.

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Front cover and a few interior pages of the passport.
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The stickers for each station.

Overall, we had a great turnout, and the guests seemed to really enjoy the theme.

To see more of the project deliverables and photos, click over to the Behance project.

Event Recap | Dot Gov Design Conference

At the beginning of May, I was able to attend AIGA DC’s Dot Gov Design Conference at the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. I didn’t really know what to expect, but since my day job at an advocacy tech company is tangentially related, I figured there could be some transferable insights.

The day started out with an opening keynote by Hana Schank of We Are Commons on “getting the work done.” I really enjoyed some of her key points, especially this one:

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“No one has it figured out.”

This is something I think all designers and creatives need to remind themselves of—there’s always someone who seems to have everything figured out, but in reality, we’re all learning as we go.

Hana also said technology is the easy part—the hard part is everything else, especially people and process. This theme came about later in the day as well.

Rica Rosario’s session on “Quiet Leadership” had some great tactical tips on how to be an introvert in an extroverted world, and talked about how introverts have a longer process because we have a longer neural pathway, which was something I hadn’t thought about before.

I wasn’t originally planning on attending Elizabeth Hira’s session on Legislative Policy, but it turned out to be perfectly aligned with my day to day work, especially when she highlighted the importance of advocacy work.

IMG_8182Elizabeth had some great tactical tips for those in advocacy who are trying to create change.

A few key insights that work for design, in addition to advocacy:

  • Do your homework—back up your stance with validators
  • There’s power in numbers
  • Timing is important when advocating for change

 

The day concluded with a talk titled “Under the Guise of Technology,” presented by Kavi Harshawat from USDS/New America, which discussed instances where technology can be a help or a burden.

The biggest takeaway was that there are always two sides to the technology coin, and even technology has its limits.

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