Sunday, December 11, 2011

Switch It On! - Jonathan Ives

I came across this video of Jonathan Ives (Lead industrial designer at Apple) earlier today as I searched for people who were amazing user experience designers.

Designing things is an obsessive process, and I find that you can often isolate yourself for hours, or even weeks thinking about something in a trance. This can be productive, but the success of any idea is how well it works in "reality" and the only way to learn about the real world is to get out of your head, and be present in it. That way, when you go into your trance, you're working with better assumptions. I think Jonathan sends this message really well and I hope this video will inspire someone to "Switch it on" as much as it inspired me this morning:

Objectified - Jonathan Ives from Elthé on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Dangerous Comparisons, Ben Zander and giving back

Some years back I was lucky enough to listen to Ben Zander (conductor of the Boston Philharmonic) talk about his other passion: "The Art of Possibility". It was the last day of a 3 day conference and I remember walking into the auditorium feeling deflated.

I was attending my employers annual "elite" conference where top employees from all over the US come together to exchange experiences. My ticket to this prestigious event came from a sentiment other than greatness; I had come to work for my current employer through a series of corporate acquisitions, i.e. "they" didn't hire me and my management team wanted to help me feel part of the company. Unfortunately, by the morning of day 3 the conference was having a weird and opposite effect: I felt like I didn't belong in this crowd of geniuses … and I was feeling this right down to my bones as my brain replayed every professional screw up I'd ever made in crystal clear hi-def. As I got lost in thought Ben started talking to us with lots of energy and enthusiasm, I cheered up a bit … and then he said: "Think of a problem, any problem, and I promise by the end of this presentation it'll be solved". I was "optimistically skeptical".

Unbelievably Ben actually delivered. He delivered a number of important messages dressed as hilarious stories about his life. The solution to my particular problem lay in Ben's story of a broken relationship he'd had with a former wife. "We will always be in a relationship Ben - it's just the way we contribute to it that is transforming into something new" At that point Ben had an epiphany - he would make his life about making a contribution rather than seeking personal accolades. I smiled.

Comparisons are as insidious as they are destructive. Lately they've been catching up with me big time. It seems every time I put myself out there, there's a negative result - I want to recoil, focusing on what's gone wrong I lose sight of what's gone right and what's important. We can all give a little something back, maybe this contribution will help many, often it just helps a few and that's ok, in fact that's perfect.
Thanks Ben.

WARNING: This might just brighten up your day :)