Season 3 Episode 10 "Beyond the Bootcamp" is now available. Listen now.
Jan. 8, 2023

Best of Season 2: Recap and learnings

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In this final episode of Season 2, Nirish recaps his top highlights and learnings from the 12 episodes of the season.

Share your ideas and suggestions with Nirish at


Tim Yeo, the Quiet Achiever

Courtney Carlsson, Paradym app

Solve Problems That Matter: Design, Build & Launch Your Social Enterprise Idea by Ben Pecotich

Human-Powered Book by Trenton Moss

Matthew Bellringer

Innovation capability paper -

Innovation ecosystems case-study -

Organisational value of diversity -

Joe Leech

“Design, Think, Make, Break, Repeat” Book by Martin Tomitsch

Sophia and Jed Lazar, Cozy Juicy Real

12- Minute Method by Robbie Swale

Kate Pincott, Reality Prototyping

Dorsa Mokhtari

Egle Beliunaite

Rafa Prada

Sinem Erdemli

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[00:00:00] Shivaun: This is the Design Feeling Podcast with your host Nirish Shakya. 

[00:00:13] Nirish Shakya: Hello. Hello. Happy New Year. Hope you manage to get some rest and recharge of the festive break and hopefully manage to also make some time to just do absolutely nothing. See, for me it's one of those few weeks of the year where I don't feel guilty doing nothing. And I, I know doing nothing is crucial for creativity despite what our schools and work have taught us.

[00:00:43] But it's still makes me feel anxious when I'm doing nothing. But yeah, something that I'm trying to be more aware of within myself and just let myself just do nothing. 

[00:00:58] Anyway, this is the last episode of season two of the Design Feeling Podcast. See, when I started the Podcast back in January last year, I had no clue that in less than 12 months, I would've recorded more than 1200 minutes of audio, which would be downloaded more than 5,000 times across more than 50 countries around the world.

[00:01:22] I mean, these numbers have been absolutely mind blowing to. But what's been even more satisfying is receiving messages from so many of you saying how an episode helped you see things differently or maybe try out something new, or even feel less alone in the industry. So thank you so much for listening in for your support and for all the, the kind words of encouragement that you've given me throughout.

[00:01:50] I really feel grateful to have this opportunity to make even the smallest of impact, to bring the focus back on the human doing, the human center design, and increase your self-awareness, creative confidence and meaning. Thanks for joining me in this journey. And for this final episode of season two, I wanted to share some of my top learnings from the last 12 episodes of the season.

[00:02:16] And who better to kick off season two than design leader and proud introvert Tim. Yo, 

[00:02:22] Tim Yeo: I, for a long time, tried to pretend being that picture of what society told me a leader was like, and it was tiring. And that's part of the reason why I started the Quiet Achiever because I knew for myself that there's a different picture of what a leader could look like and it doesn't always have to be that extroverted picture I want to be able to show other people who are on that journey to realise that being who they are is ok.

[00:02:46] Nirish Shakya: Tim definitely made me realize that leadership is not about being this loud, extroverted leader with a big personality. You can still lead people quietly, and in fact, empathy has been ranked as one of the most important leadership skill and empathy suddenly requires a lot of active listening.

[00:03:08] Embrace your introversion and use it as a superpower instead of pretending to an extrovert. In fact, what we need more in creative teams and in the workplace is the authenticity that comes from your own self-awareness. 

[00:03:21] In episode two, outta chat with Courtney Carlson, the founder and c e o of the Mental Health App Paradigm.

[00:03:30] Courtney Carlsson: So I discovered that actually I've gotta solve my own problems. and the role of the therapist is to help asking the right questions. And what I found was that it was a combination of things that worked. Self-reflection a little bit of meditation and mindfulness, but also actually asking myself deliberate questions.

[00:03:45] Nirish Shakya: Courtney stressed the importance of adopting a more proactive role in your own mental health journey, because what works for someone else might not work for you. See, so often we rely entirely on therapists and books and naps and the hopes of improving our mental health, but what Courtney was suggesting was that.

[00:04:05] It's also very important to bring more intentionality of our own into the process, just to help us find out what works for us and what doesn't. One thing that I've recently started doing is capture my own random thoughts in bed, especially if I randomly wake up in the middle of the night. See, before I used to just keep on thinking about these thoughts, and I used to find it really hard to go back to sleep, and I also.

[00:04:32] you know, being mindful and observing my =breath=== and my sensations, you know, things that have worked in other situations , but it didn't really work for me in that context . So what I started doing instead was I just pulled up my phone and I started just capturing those thoughts. And then at the end of the week during my weekly review, I would cluster all those thoughts that I've captured and I'll start to see pattern.

[00:04:55] And one of the patterns that I started seeing was how much my mind is worried about things I need to do in the future. And I realized that a lot of this for me comes from my own upbringing where I was rewarded for attaining future goals rather than living in the present moment. And whilst I can't change my deep set conditioning overnight, What I found was that just acknowledging and capturing and clustering these thoughts have really helped me make sense of them and, and calm them down a bit.

[00:05:26] So my challenge to you is find a technique that works for you in resolving the unique challenge that you are facing. It doesn't have to be what someone else is doing. If journaling doesn't work for you, don't do it. If meditation doesn't work for you, then don't. Do what works for you. Episode three was about solving problems that matter with Ben Pich, who's a designer, coach, and founder of a social enterprise dynamic four.

[00:05:54] Ben Pecotich: How might we balance our need for, contributing to positive change for the people around us communities and our home planet, while also being financially successful and looking after our own personal wellbeing and sustainability as part of that? How do we bring all of those elements together into a cohesive way of being, and doing things rather than being constant trade offs that, uh, at either end of a fulcrum. 

[00:06:20] Nirish Shakya: My biggest takeaway from this chat was to reframe what it means to make money. and make an impact as a designer, I used to see them as two ends of a scale that needs to be balanced. But Ben was like, what if the balance is not the right word? What if it's about blending them together? Kind of like the, you know, the icky guy circles, what you're good at, what you're passionate about, what the world needs, and what you're gonna get paid.

[00:06:50] So how might you start to incorporate more of those in your life as a designer this year. In the next episode, I spoke with my former boss, founder of Web Credible, and the author of the book, human Powered Trenton Moss. 

[00:07:05] Trenton Moss: Everyone has anxieties, some like that, some other ones. And if you can just help acknowledge that person, the anxieties they may be having. And if you are wrong, they'll just say, no, no, no, it's fine. Just, just whatever. It's no problem. That's fine. It doesn't matter. You you've at least shown that you, you care, even if they say no, no, it's fine. Don't worry about it.

[00:07:23] Nirish Shakya: In this episode, Trenton talked about how so important to have emotional intelligence as part of your skillset in your toolkit as a.

[00:07:33] And my highlight from this episode was learning how to prepare for a meeting you're running by making sure that people are not just physically present in your meeting, but also mentally and emotionally There. See, so often we think our job is just to send out an invite and gather people. But, but we don't think about what people are bringing into the meeting and whether they're in the right head space to do their best work.

[00:08:00] You know, they might have had an argument with their spouse or you know, they might have had, um, an accident on the way to work, or they might have been late for something before the meeting. Right. And they might be arriving flustered and. When you are not in the right emotion, you know, even though physically you're there, emotionally and mentally, you might not be, you might be somewhere else.

[00:08:21] Right. What one of the things that Trenton was saying was that when people are not there with you emotionally, then. A lot of that can come out as bad behaviors, like for example, people checking their emails and stuff, listening to you, or not paying attention or being distracted. And then you finish the workshop thinking you've done a great job, but nothing really happens out of the workshop.

[00:08:46] And how often have we seen, you know, meetings after meetings, we bring people together, we get psyched up, we do lots of amazing workshopping and whatnot, but then there's no traction after the work. Because people have not really bought into the whole process, so definitely check out the book, human Powered by Trenton Moss.

[00:09:08] If you want to learn about some of some really good practical techniques that you can use straightaway to improve your emotional intelligence at work. 

[00:09:17] In episode five, we had innovation consultant, neurodiversity advocate, and social entrepreneur, Matthew Bell. 

[00:09:26] and this is where actually is, is is strongly correlated with successful innovation than anything else in organisations. it's not very efficient, actually It is more efficient to have a completely homogenous workforce, but that becomes like a monoculture, like a field full of a single crop. That That if one small thing is a problem for one of those, it's 

[00:10:01] My aha moment in this chat was learning how we're all neurodiverse in some way and how important it is for organizations to welcome and nurture that neurodiversity if they are to be truly innovative.

[00:10:14] And that makes neurodiversity not just a morally right thing to do, but also a competitive advantage. And Matthew has, Kylie shared some additional research studies on this, which you can find in the show. 

[00:10:26] Next up I spoke with advisor and coach to CEOs and recovering Neuro A Scientist and Xa Joe Leach.

[00:10:36] Joe Leech: If you're playing the game by other people's rules, like I'm a mid, tier designer. Therefore I am a, I only earn $70,000 a year, $60,000 a year to be, I need to be a senior designer to earn $90,000 a year, whatever you're never gonna ever break out of that. You're never gonna get to the point where you could be earning a lot more money and a lot more of an interesting job because you're just playing by those rules. And reality is it doesn't always have to be like that. 

[00:11:01] Nirish Shakya: In this episode, we talked about what is the value that you bring to your organization or your client as a designer, and that it's not just your craft. It's a lot deeper than that. It's your ability to understand how the business makes money. It's your ability to build connections with people and and solve problems together.

[00:11:20] It's your ability to uncover the truth. It's your why that brought you into design in the first place, and it's so easy to lose track of all that when you've been in the game for a while, and especially caught in the busy. Definitely check out this episode if you'd like to reframe your perspective and see things a bit differently.

[00:11:38] And while you're at it, I'd really appreciate if you could give this podcast a follow on whichever platform you're using to listen to this podcast right now. That is, if you already haven't done so, and if you can, please do share it with one friend who might find it useful this year. It'll really help get this podcast out to more people.

[00:11:57] So, For episode six, I invited the professor of Interaction Designer at the University of Sydney and the author of the book Design Think, make Break, repeat, Dr. Martin Tomich. 

[00:12:12] Martin Tomitsch: We as designers are really responsible for the wellbeing of future generations. And the reason we are suggesting this is that it encourages long term thinking. So rather than just thinking about the next quarter, or how can I quickly make, a lot of money with this quick idea or app or product, thinking about, okay, what does this mean for future generations?

[00:12:35] Nirish Shakya: I have to say this chat really expanded my field of vision as a human-centered designer. It made me question, are we maybe a bit too human-centric and not aware of the needs of the non-human stakeholders such as animals and plants and environment?

[00:12:52] And Martin also talked about creating non-human personas to help people empathize with them. For example, if your product has an impact on, let's say, birds in the area, then interview a bird expert to understand the pains and gains of the birds and create a persona out of. Martin and his team are doing some much needed work on this space that he calls life centered design.

[00:13:17] So if you're a designer that cares for more than just the products and the pixels that you design, definitely listen to this episode. 

[00:13:26] My next guess were board game designers, group facilitators and founders of the board game, cozy, juicy Reel, Sophia and Jed Laar. 

[00:13:35] Sophia Lazar: what builds trust ultimately is empathy. Is that when people can share shared experiences and often the feedback we get events is, oh, like.We're all different people, but we ha we share the same kind of experiences. We're all have tough times. We all have positive times. And like,and just having that understanding builds trust because it's like, Oh, you are, you're another human. You're like me. 

[00:13:58] Nirish Shakya: In this episode, we talked about Sophia and Jet's journey, designing this board game to help people have more meaningful conversations.

[00:14:07] What was my key takeaway while I learned that human to human conversations happen in three layers, cozy, juicy, and. First you have to get people cozy, ask them easy questions that they can answer easily, and then they might be more ready to be a bit more juicy, you know, where people share a bit more about themselves.

[00:14:28] And then the third and the deepest and the final layer is, , uh, questions that help people reveal their deeper selves. See, small talk is great, but it only scratches the surface of the first layer. If you really want to build deeper connections with friends and colleagues, you need to use the right prompts and questions to help you do that.

[00:14:50] Another thing that we talked about was how we all know that empathy and vulnerability are really important organizations to make people feel more connected, but. What Sophia and Jed was saying was that, first of all, we need to make people feel safe to be vulnerable, to empathize. And this is where a board game like Cozy, juicy reel gives people the container with a shared framework and rules and also clear expectations and boundaries, which makes 'em feel safer because there are less uncertainties to deal with in that interaction.

[00:15:24] And why is this so important at. Well, we spend the vast majority of our waking hours with our colleagues, and I'm sure we both agree that we want to make as many of those hours as enjoyable and meaningful as possible and building connections with people, build that shared meaning with them. 

[00:15:46] In episode nine now is joined by leadership coach, author, and podcaster Robbie s.

[00:15:54] Robbie Swale: So a really important lesson that I have learned is confidence and competence come after. And so, for me then the question becomes what is the minimum viable amount of time that you could spend each week, on essentially, the important but not urgent stuff. But it's about obsessing, about what's, what's enough. what's just enough of that. not what's as much as possible. 

[00:16:16] Nirish Shakya: I wanted to chat with Robbie because I tend to procrastinate a lot when it comes to creating and sharing content. See, for the majority of my life, I've been paralyzed from taking action by my own perfectionism and imposter syndrome, but I learned these three important insights from Robbie. , pick a minimum viable time that allows you to do just enough.

[00:16:39] And for Robbie, it was 12 minutes a week, not more, not less, and that was dictated by the length of his train. Right to work. Create safe experiments. Experiment with less time than you think you can do it for. Experiment with a new technique in a safe environment. For example, try asking a question you haven't asked before in a meeting, but maybe ask that in a meeting with some friendly colleagues.

[00:17:06] Thirdly, let go of expectations once you release something out into the world. This is hard for a lot of us because, you know, chasing metrics is so ingrained in us. You know, things like likes and downloads and you name it. And this is about being aware of the things that you can control and those you can't.

[00:17:25] You can control your effort. You put into creating something, but not the outcome of how people will react to it. But this also comes from a lot of experience. So if you feel stressed about not getting the likes and the comments and the. Just be aware of it. It's okay. It's a very natural reaction for a lot of us, and just give it its own space and just let it pass.

[00:17:50] In episode 10, I invited back Design Leader and coach Kate Pinco. 

[00:17:57] Kate Pincott: When there's a storm, don't build walls, build windmills. It's not saying that we are happy with the situation and we like it. We've accepted this is happening and now we can start to think, okay, what am I gonna do with this? What are my strengths? What are my values? What are my motivations? What are the things that make me curious? And how can I use those to add value to this storm that we're in? What is my version of a windmill? 

[00:18:23] Nirish Shakya: We saw a lot of layoffs happening in the tech industry last year, and I know many of my friends who are laid off as well. And for many of us, our automatic reaction after being laid off is to rush into finding another, the. . And yes, some of us have very valid reasons to do so.

[00:18:39] You know, we've gotta pay the bills and keep a roof over our head. And some of us are also sponsored by our employers, which allows us to stay in the country like I used to be. But if you're in a position where you're not desperate for another role, then Kate suggests taking a tiny bit of time to reflect and recalibrate before looking for another role.

[00:19:01] One of the things that came up in our conversation was that crisis can be an opportunity, but for us to be able to see a crisis as an opportunity, then we need to stop, reflect, and reframe our perspective. 

[00:19:14] And in this episode, Kate gives a step-by-step guide to do just. , 

[00:19:19] my next guest was an Iranian born architect and a recent UX design graduate Dorsa Moari.

[00:19:27] Dorsa Mokhtari: You always have this feeling on the back of your mind that even if I'm a better designer, than this person that is like originally from UK, who are they gonna choose? Is it gonna be me? Are they gonna like treat us based on our designer skills, or abilities? Or is it gonna be based on who has been here first basically?

[00:19:51] Nirish Shakya: It was absolutely fascinating to see things from a perspective of someone who's not just new to the industry, but also new to the country and the culture and the challenges that they face when looking for their first UX role. One thing that Dorsa said that I found super interesting was how sometimes she feels that native speakers give long-winded answers to something that non-native speakers would just get straight to the point.

[00:20:15] See, I'm not a native speaker of English myself, and for many years I felt less capable than my native peers. But listening to Dorsa made me realize that I wasn't worse or better than my peers. I was just different, and I made my team more diverse by being different. . So the next time you're in a meeting or an interaction where you are starting to become conscious of your own language barrier, remember that you are making your team more diverse.

[00:20:44] And if you're a hiring manager, considering hiring someone from a different background, I'd say go for it because it might help you and your team see things differently. For my penultimate episode, I had a candid chat with three friends who are all design leaders and creatives, ed LeBel, RA Prada, and Sy Deley.

[00:21:05] Egle Beliunaite: As designers, we really have to become 

[00:21:08] comfortable with uncomfortable feelings and uncomfortable situations. 

[00:21:14] Sinem Erdemli: Smooth teams or smooth running teams, not 

[00:21:18] that they wouldn't have conflict. I think it's good that they have conflict. It's what they do with that conflict. 

[00:21:25] Rafa Prada: I always think that design is a medium. 

[00:21:28] Design would never be the end in itself, so we all contribute in our ways. 

[00:21:34] If we don't listen to each other, we're not getting there, definitely not getting there. . 

[00:21:40] Nirish Shakya: My key takeaway from this chat was that design is about people. More than the craft, and that it starts with actively listening to your colleagues to understand their goals and needs, and also not being too tied to your methodology that you bulldoze your way through other people's ways of working. And all of this comes with a lot of uncomfortable situations and and feelings, and it's really important for us as designers to learn to be comfortable with.

[00:22:12] Well, that's it for season two and the first year of the Design Feeling podcast. I seriously cannot thank you enough for tuning in and giving me so many words of encouragement throughout the year. , this has certainly been a collaborative effort between you, me, and the guests. And big thanks to my team as well.

[00:22:31] My illustrators, ISA Vice and Kim Habib, my editor Neil McKay, monologue coach Sam Moody. Camera coach, Kieran Morris and my design feeling, crew of device. We have some exciting topics in guests lined up for season three that'll push you even further towards greater self-awareness, creative confidence and meaning, and help you discover more of the human behind the human center designer.

[00:22:59] Until then, take care and see you next time.