Season 3 Episode 10 "Beyond the Bootcamp" is now available. Listen now.
May 25, 2023

Beyond the Bootcamp: The Nuances of Becoming a Competent Designer

Host and UX educator Nirish Shakya has a heart-to-heart conversation with three of his students Junying Lim, Sarah Willet, and Freddie Grzybowski on the nuances of becoming a competent designer

Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Stitcher podcast player badge
Deezer podcast player badge

#037 - In this podcast episode, host Nirish Shakya has a heart-to-heart conversation with three of his UX design students from General Assembly, Junying Lim, Sarah Willet, and Freddie Grzybowski. They discuss the nuances of becoming a competent designer beyond just the methods and tools learned in a boot camp. They delve into personal and professional journeys that shape a designer's perspectives and approach to design.

Key topics discussed:

  • The courage it takes to embrace the unknown and the discomfort that comes with learning something new
  • The importance of personal experiences and perspectives in shaping a designer
  • Why knowing your strengths and weaknesses will make your career more sustainable and joyful
  • And much more!


Junying Lim

Art Instagram


Sarah Willet




Freddie Grzybowski



Show credits

Illustrations by Isa Vicente

Music by Brad Porter

Follow Design Feeling on social!







Nirish Shakya: [00:00:00] Design boot camps love 'em or hate them. It's a pathway for many designers to get their foot in the industry, but there's a common tendency to stereotype boot camp graduates as robotic problem solvers. I confess, I once shared this perspective myself. Boot camps didn't exist when I was starting out, but I've taught in them for a while now and there have been times I've pondered whether I was part of the solution or feeding the problem. In today's episode, we're having a heart-to-heart conversation with three of my UX design students from General Assembly, Junying Lim Lim, Sarah Willet, and Freddie Grzybowski, who is now also a teaching assistant.

What struck a chord with me was that it's not just the methods and the tools that you learn in a bootcamp that makes you a competent designer. It's a bit more nuanced than that. It's also who you are, how you view the world, and what personal and professional journeys you've been on that shaped your perspectives and approach as a designer. And regardless of [00:01:00] how you learn to be a designer, the very act of learning something new is a testament to your courage. Your courage to embrace the unknown and the discomfort that it brings.

So whether you're thinking of becoming a designer, whether that's through bootcamp or through other pathways, or maybe even considering hiring a graduate. From a bootcamp, this episode will open your eyes just like an open mine.

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

Nirish Shakya: Hello. My name is Nirish Shakya and I'm a human-centered designer, educator and coach. And this is a podcast for well, human-centered designers and innovators and problem solvers who tend to forget the human within the. The conversations you'll hear will help you [00:02:00] increase your self-awareness and creative confidence so that you can make the impact that gives you the joy and meaning that you seek.

Let's get started. Freddy Journeying. And Sarah, welcome to Design Feeling.

Sarah Willett: Hey, thanks. 

Junying Lim: Excited to be here.

Nirish Shakya: Yeah.

great to have you guys. I mean, we have been seeing each other for the past three months almost, on the ga ux immersive course. so I thought it'd be great to have a, a proper chat with you about your experiences, growing and learning as a designer over the past three months, and also how it's actually helped you learn more by yourself and also maybe gain a better sense of creative confidence and your sense of purpose as, as, as human beings, as designers as well.

So, well, thanks for offering your experience and the wisdom you've gained so far. So [00:03:00] Freddie, do you wanna go first, in telling us who you are?

Freddie Grzybowski: well I'm Freddy, Freddy Kovski. I'm a UX UI designer, but I've got a little of background in beekeeping and actually streaming and music as well. I actually did the general assembly course for UX back in 2021 with my sister, which made it really fun. So you used to be, had a gossip of her during it as well.

and was actually, yeah, got some funny stories. and well actually got introduced to UX through my sister, actually. Her friend also did the course at GA and was also a teaching assistant, which I've ended up being as well. general assembly. So I've been around sort of tech teaching, quite a bit.

So everything seems to have sort of fallen in place now, so I'm pretty happy where I'm at. but yeah, it's a quick, brief description of me.

Junying Lim: I'm Jin Ying, or you can call me Ying. I'm a UX designer with 10 years of experience in the apparels industry, having worked in Macy's and also in Nike. So I've always been drawn towards, creative [00:04:00] work. I've studied fashion textiles, and I've also had some creative ahop projects in Nike. I also love illustrating, so that's what I do for my hobby, and I also share it on my Instagram and Facebook.

I'm very happy to be here and excited to share my experiences in the ga UX immersive course.

Sarah Willett: So my name's Sarah Willett. I, I've got 15 years industry experience as a graphic designer, and now having completed the immersive UX course, I kind of see myself or describe myself as a, a problem solver by trade and UX designer at heart, cuz it's, for me, what I feel has been missing for a lot of my graphic design career.

but other than that I'm also, a mother of two children, which is fun and keeps me busy. but I'm also really interested to explore and help other people have the confidence to sort of keep their, [00:05:00] fulfill their creative ambitions. And that's a project that I hope to sort of pick up pace now and start working on.

And, it's called the will It way. And I just hope that it will help infuse and inspire and give people the, mainly the confidence to be creative. Cuz I think it's something that I've struggled with and I now having partly done the course as well, I just feel like I could really, it would be lovely to help other people do the same sort of thing. 

Nirish Shakya: Yeah, I'll, I'll definitely be picking your brains there. In terms of the, the will it weight that, you just mentioned, it sounds really fascinating. but before we go there, I was also really curious about what led you into spending three months of your life full time in learning UX 

Sarah Willett: I, I looked into UX for 

several years now. It's been on my radar. and during the pandemic, I had a massive, I think like similar to a lot of people. It made us question [00:06:00] what we were doing and why we were doing a lot of things.

Nirish Shakya: it's a good old 

Sarah Willett: yeah. so, so I think frustration, really for want of a better, a word for me as a graphic designer, just something wasn't sitting right. I just felt that perhaps my ideas weren't being taken seriously. And that e even like thinking about that like sentence in itself, now, it's, I was saying my ideas, and that's what I've come to learn now as a UX designer, that it's not about my ideas.

It's about. The user and serving their needs. but at the time I didn't know that. I just, I sort of felt before doing the course, I felt there was something missing and I didn't know what it was. And I actually like delved into brand strategy thinking that that was the answer, that that could give me that source of information behind projects that I felt was missing a lot of the time.

so it's been a wild journey, but it feels like the [00:07:00] puzzles like clicked into place and a lot of things make a lot more sense to me now. 

Nirish Shakya: That's fascinating. so much to unpick there, Sarah? in terms of, yeah, just how sometimes we are so attached to our ideas, and we treat our ideas as the, as the end in itself. When it's just a means to an end, which is what you said around how do we help the, the users and other, other humans. awesome.

what about you, Freddy? What, led you into doing that course and then now you are, you've been teaching, you've been a teaching assistant as well.

Freddie Grzybowski: Yeah. well as, Sarah mentioned the pandemic. so I was, streaming online at Twitch some games, and I was, teaching guitar. I had started beekeeping cause I had a lot of little things on the game, but nothing felt quite solid and sort of in place. so I felt like something was a bit missing.

but that's when I was introduced to UX through, like I mentioned my sister's friend. And, she mentioned about the GA course, which she'd done herself and she'd all sorts of TA on as well. [00:08:00] And, after researching a bit about ux, it's quite interesting. having to interact with other people,understand their problem and how to actually solve it, I found it was quite interesting thing to do as well as the creativity behind actually problem solving as well.

and, to actually do the course of my sister, which, was really good fun. that was a three months and I absolutely. I loved it. I learned, I dunno how to explain. I mean, it's crazy, especially at the age that we are at, well I say we, where I'm at now, I'm 29. the fact that you can still absorb so much information within such a short time span is incredible.

I honestly didn't think I'd be able to. it's an intense course, but you learn so much and not just about, the subject matter, UX or ui, just about yourself as well, like your journey through the course. and especially how, it doesn't have to be perfect and, you also, that that's, I mean, that's what actually, that's what really helped me as well.

Like doesn't, nothing has to be perfect. because I was such a perfectionist, like before I joined the course, I, I do, every little line has to be perfect. the research has gotta be always on point. The questions I ask have to be completely perfect, but [00:09:00] I mean, it just, it doesn't need to be. But, yeah, so I've, I did that and then I, yeah, as I said, I, I became a teaching assistant as well at ga and I've learned even more.

well, everyone knew that I, I meet, that do the course I

Nirish Shakya: The learning never stops.

Freddie Grzybowski: And it's just crazy. I just can't stop learning now. So I'm just, I'm absolutely just excited every time. I just wanna get another course and be a TA or hopefully eventually start teaching it. And it's just ridiculous how much I learn all the time, especially when the students as well.

but yeah, sorry, I went on for a long time there.

Nirish Shakya: Nice.

Sarah Willett: I love that. 

Nirish Shakya: Yeah, it's, it's always fascinating to hear all these, like, journeys that we take into, into ux, what about you, Jenny?

Junying Lim: Well, mine is not. it didn't really start out very well, so I joined as a merchandiser at Macy's. but it wasn't my top =pick=== of a career, but it's just that at that point I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I just knew I needed to work. So I went in there and then later on I joined Nike as a [00:10:00] a, an apparel product developer.

And I really liked the culture there, but I think my job role or job scope wasn't as creative as I thought it would be. and UX was introduced to me by my partner Alex. I didn't even know what UX was, so at that point I had to go and do my own research and stuff like that. and also he introduced me to gaming.

So that was a very interesting thing because he told me, UX designers and, and other developers, they create this world for you and it's so seamless and beautiful and they put a lot of thought into it for the users and you could be one of them. So I was just like, okay, maybe I can consider that.

And I think he was the one who introduced me to General Assembly because they have a very good reputation. And that's how I got into it. But honestly, I was, I, I'm normally very scared of change. That's why I've been stuck, kind of stuck in my job for like many years without changing. and GA has really [00:11:00] taught me to embrace uncertainty.

and also the, the immersive course makes you learn so much in such a short amount of time. it doesn't even give you enough time to worry so much. So you're just like, I just need to do my work to complete project worry. Just so something learned from this course.

Nirish Shakya: I love that. it's like severely timeboxing yourself to like, not give yourself a chance to think or overthink and just, and, and just do. yeah. I, I, remember, and by the way, just a caveat, like we're not trying to sell general assembly or any other, boot camps here.

Freddie Grzybowski: it so many times now. Yeah.

Nirish Shakya: This, this is, this is just meant to be an honest coffee conversation between, teachers, teaching assistants and students. so I remember like, three months ago when we had our first one-to-ones,just, I did sense a, a, this kind of sense of, fear of, uncertainty not knowing what [00:12:00] you're doing.

kinda like a lack of confidence. I, I did sense that among students. I'm not sure if you kind sense that between like your

Sarah Willett: Mm-hmm. 

Nirish Shakya: how, how was it like in the beginning.

Junying Lim: Fred Freddy.

Freddie Grzybowski: okay. I cuz I've got two perspectives here. I've got when I was a student and now being a te teaching assistant, so I definitely remember heading my first one-to-one with, with a teacher. And I was, I remember I was thinking, I have absolutely no idea what is going on this course. It was cuz it started moving so quickly and it was so intense already.

But it was like, it was a good intensity though. It's hard to kind of explain. It's like, it's, it's like, it's a challenge but it's, it's, it's a really fun challenge to try and overcome and you're learning all a lot on the go at the same time. So my first one-to-one I was, I felt really lost but also really excited as well.

and I think, cause I was doing course with my sister as well, I was lucky enough actually been able, talk to her at the same time, especially like during breaks and that sort of thing. So we were able to,[00:13:00] bounce stuff off each other as well. And that really helped actually, as well.

So after our one-to-ones we taught her be like, oh the teachers are are amazing. They're really helped me understand, this area in that era. So there was definitely a feeling of I guess a bit more, control, not control, but I guess, what's the word I'm looking for? Not like, will definitely felt a lot less anxious.

Yeah. Reassurance. Perfect. Thank you so much. Yeah, a lot more reassurance about, what, what's going on now. and being a ta it's very interesting cuz I can kind of see where, the sort of. It's almost like a little reflection of, of like me being on the other end. Now I can kinda see people in the same situation as me and I

Nirish Shakya: Hmm. The journey you've been on?

Freddie Grzybowski: Yeah, I think it really helps. having been in their situation before and understanding the sort of feelings that I, which I went through is probably similar to what they've gone through as well, so I can relate to them quite a lot. So it's, I find it quite, quite nice to actually see how they grow into their own sort of a new sort of version.

And it, I mean, it's not gonna be similar to me. I'm gonna be completely different to how, the sort of version that they are. But it's just interesting to see how people develop through that. So the first, the first, one-to-one of someone's always really [00:14:00] interesting. And then once we see the course progress and to the very end, I could, the growth everyone get like goes through is incredible, especially in that three months against a short time.

So much has learned so much growth. but yeah, I always see myself in their shoes. so I feel like I can relate really well being a TA now, but, yeah.

Junying Lim: Okay.

Nirish Shakya: Yeah. I mean, Jin Yang, like, do you still remember like your first, couple of projects, like solo projects? He did. Do you remember how you felt back then in terms of like, the, the process, the methodology they're trying to learn at the same time you're trying to

Junying Lim: Yeah, I did. it was a lot of information and I think I was so nervous actually. but I could tell other classmates of. Ours was, they were also very nervous. So I didn't really feel alone because we are all in this together. So it kind of helped to know that others were feeling the same way as I did.

but I, I felt, I found the pace of the course pretty good. So they gave us [00:15:00] like one task to do at a time, and then they would go through it together so it didn't feel so rushed. So I, I was alright with that. but getting it or rather improving on certain skills at that stage was a bit difficult because it was so new to all of us.

so you, you, you still wonder if you are, you, you would be good at it or not. but you just, at that point, I just felt like, yeah, it's still, it's still like week two. I, I have 10 more weeks to go, so there's no point over worrying about it. Just proceed on, that's how I.

Nirish Shakya: Hmm. I, I find interesting what you mentioned around,that question that just constantly we have in our head like, oh, am I good enough? did you feel that Sarah?

Sarah Willett: Yes, like the whole time I think I. For me it was this fear of looking stupid. Really was, that was what was sort of staring me in the face. I think I felt a bit like a rabbit in the headlights [00:16:00] and, but I think I kind of, that's what I quite like the side of my personality, that I feel that, and then I think, yeah, you gotta do it then come on.

Like, face it like head on, come on. Then like that kind, like I've, it's like I've got two sides to me where I'm like, feel the fear and it, and it actually feels horrible. And then actually being like, well now I know I'm scared of it. I have to overcome that. but it, I mean it, I just think words don't do those feelings justice because it is an ick, it's horrible.

It's, I dunno, I think like not wanting to go like too deep, but I think my, like personal character, I've got a lot of shame around feeling stupid because I didn't do particularly academically well when I was a young child and going into the arts and creative industries, I've always felt like a little bit inferior from an academic point of view.

And I think that, I think that is just like something that I've got internally that I [00:17:00] then see the world through. And I'm always like worried that I'm gonna be judged in that way. but I like to think that now, Even just knowing that is so helpful to know why you might be coming at something, feeling a bit embarrassed or a bit worried or cuz I mean how like when you actually rationalize it, you're like, well of course you didn't know how to do it.

You've just been taught and you've just been taught this tiny bit. But it, so when you say it like that, you're like, yeah, of course. And actually we will reinforce that over and over and over again. Even to the point like where like Freddy was like, it's fine. Like, trust me, you don't need to know like you are doing well.

Like, and everybody's sort of like, like, and I think it's just that not knowing where you are, it's like try, it's sort of, huh, where I, where am I in a scale of this? Have I nearly got this? Do I not have a clue of, I still, is this right? It's, yeah, I dunno. It's like juggling those emotions. But then the more you do it, the [00:18:00] more you gauge and then, and then seeing your peers and seeing what they've done and, and learning from them and discussing it with them just helps it all come together. 

Nirish Shakya: Hmm

Junying Lim: I just wanna add on to Sarah's, point. So I also felt the same. I didn't do very well academically, when I was a lot younger. And I think in Asia or maybe in Singapore, the, the pressure to perform in school is very intense. And people who go into the, the arts, the arts or the, or art schools, we are not really seen as very clever people or intellectual people.

So the, the feeling of inferiority is there, and that's something I share with Sarah as well. but I, I suppose as we grow up in a way, you realize that ac academic performances are not that important, but it kind of stays with you a little bit, even though you know that logically shouldn't.

Nirish Shakya: Yeah.

Junying Lim: Yeah. So, yeah, I feel you, Sarah.

That's what I'm saying.[00:19:00]

Sarah Willett: Yeah, absolutely. And it's funny now cuz I think like having kids, I actually think like creativity nowadays. I think Seth Golden talks about it a lot in like when you think of education, it's built for the industrial area where, we had to memorize information. Like, come on, we've got AI now. Like the world's changing and we need to like catch up.

And actually what is the one strength humans have? It's creativity is like to reinvent. To iterate on everything. like that's our strength. And actually memorizing information isn't everybody's strong point, but for some reason in schools that's what your it's based on.

Nirish Shakya: Yeah, I mean, every, I guess most school exams are just a

Sarah Willett: Yeah. 

Nirish Shakya: right? Who can remember the, the most information. and, computers will always beat you even if, even if they're best at it. and yeah, I mean, I grew up in, in Nepal and, we also had the same pressure of, being [00:20:00] good academically, being good in like maths and science and physics.

a lot of times I hated these subjects. I always enjoyed, yeah, like drawing more than, doing calculations and, and formula and things like that. But yeah, just like maybe you guys, like I also had the pressure of being good at these things, even though I didn't enjoy it. and yeah, I, I, I remember going into UX for the first time. And how it was so different to what I had been used to in terms of computer science and, and coding, which was such, so logical. Whereas now we had to think a bit differently. you had to think divergently, you had to empathize. Like, what, what, what is that? which, I, I had never even heard of before.

and you know what, it actually gave me a lot of, anxiety not knowing like, well, how to even do it cuz there was no proper rule book for it. There was no like, okay, step one, do this, step to do that. and that did bring a lot of uncertainty into the way forward. and back then when I was, learning to do work there, there [00:21:00] weren't many, there weren't any boot camps around.

There was, there's no many courses around. So just pretty much for me, like fumbling my way in the dark, like looking for mentors and just seeing how other people, people are doing it and just yeah. Learning on the job.

Sarah Willett: I think that's what I like next steps for me as well, is trying to find those kind of characters in my own career going forward. I think you, you mentioned last week about like learn, like even just observing experts or people that you believe are better than you and, and how it can rub off and just observing how others do things well and if you admire their process. 

Nirish Shakya: Yeah. I actually learned that concert from, Jared's Pool who was there at UX Australia in 2010. I think it was a long time ago. That was my first, yeah, that was my first UX conference. And I had been in UX like for like two weeks then. And yeah, he basically talked about this concept of chicken sexing, which is basically a profession where you determine the gender of a baby chick.

and apparently like [00:22:00] there's no training for it. There's no instruction manual. The way to learn it is just you stand next to an expert chicken sexer and the knowledge just gets infused into you. The more you, the long we do that. and yeah, so I think, yeah, I've learned so much from UXs who are better than me by just being next to them and just watching them operate.

which is a bit challenging I think, when you are kind of doing most of our work virtually now. but I think in there, there are still ways to Yeah. Spend as much time as possible, especially in the early days of your career.

Junying Lim: What would you suggest then? if, let's say I wanted to follow a UX person, but I don't know that person and you wanna watch them work, how would that happen?

Nirish Shakya: That's a really good question. I don't have a clear answer to that, to be honest. and I think it's, it's the whole industry is struggling or trying to find the, the answer to that question. How do we help, people new to the [00:23:00] industry grow and develop, when they don't have anyone to. Be with like who are better than them, on a regular basis.

Cuz there's so much like, I learned from my, mentors and seniors by just, going to a coffee shop with them and just, having, having a chat about how that meeting went just on the way to the coffee shop. And we don't have that opportunity anymore because as soon as you finished the, the gym zoom meeting, we just hang up and then back to work.

Right? so we're, we're kind of missing out on these, liminal transitional conversations that happens in between the series conversations, which also act as the glue between these bricks. It's just bricks and no glue.

Sarah Willett: Yeah, that's what I do kind of admire that. The concept of hybrid and looking for a role. I just, I love being around people and learn, just having proper human connections. You can't always forge that through a screen and like, you don't like, and I, I, I felt, I actually felt it in [00:24:00] my previous like roles as a graphic designer working remotely.

Cuz if you just have like a really silly little flippant idea that you just wanna be like, oh yeah, what about this? And like, you have to raise like a zoom meeting to be like, oh, what about this? And it's like, it kind of be gives, it's like you are having a meeting for something that would be so like tiny and just throw away comment.

It kind of puts more significant value to it and it, I dunno. So then people are put off from doing, having those kind of just like ping, I call it like the ping pong of like ideas between one another. 

Nirish Shakya: Absolutely. Absolutely. And so much of that happens, outside of like formal,work meetings and gatherings. and a lot of them also happen like, serendipitously

Sarah Willett: Yeah. 

Nirish Shakya: without any pre-planning. and I think there's, there are still ways to kind of create that in terms of,creating these, even like virtual spaces where we allow that to happen, where maybe we go into a meeting, not talking about [00:25:00] work, right.

Maybe put people in breakout rooms and stuff. And I think a lot of what,we've been also doing in this course as well. Freddy, ready?

Freddie Grzybowski: Yeah, I was just gonna say, what also interests me actually in, in, in doing UX is, how it could be also be just done, online, remotely. especially, especially cause my location where I'm at the moment, it's quite hard for me to go into, to London. It's four and a half hours on a bus. so that's what really actually brought

Nirish Shakya: Could you, could you tell our listeners, where you currently live?

Freddie Grzybowski: Yeah. right on the board on a small little. Well, my parents call it a town. It's, it's a village, I'd say. it's called Pristine. It's right on the board of England, Wales. it's a lovely place, but, I have to say it's quite hard to get out of here once you're here. The tra there's one bus, and it comes here and then it just, it just stays here.

Doesn't actually leave. but, so having the, the, the chance of, being able, able to do remote work is, is really good, is great. but I do feel like I'm also missing out as you, as everyone said, connecting people on, on, a close level and actually just having these normal chats.

[00:26:00] Finding out more, learning more. cause you can, there's so much you can learn online, but as you said, also, talking before a meeting and just talking while you are walking to like, I dunno, the office or something like that. You don't get that when you are, I, I get up, I slide out of bed and I'm at my desk.

That's my walk, that's my walk to work or my crawl, you could say. my slumbering little crawl to the, to the desk. But, and I don't get to interact with anyone until I, I got into Zoom and, people start, but then you just, you kind of just start straight away quite often. Or you just, you get put into a waiting room and you're just in a waiting room now, just waiting, twiddling your phones.

But, so there's no that sort of interaction. So I feel like if you do have a hybrid work, I think that's really, really nice. Cause you know, you can go in, still meet people if you have, you can stay at home as well and work. So something I'm, I want to try and get, get into maybe some something hybrid, but yeah.

Nirish Shakya: Yeah. I wonder if there's things that, you can get people to do while they're in a may waiting room.

Freddie Grzybowski: Yeah.

Nirish Shakya: There's, I think there's a room for innovation there.

Junying Lim: I did think [00:27:00] of that the other day, because of our clients. Like it's very boring to just see a blank screen and just say, oh, waiting. Why not have something interactive? Something

Nirish Shakya: Yeah.

Freddie Grzybowski: Yeah. Gamier.

Nirish Shakya: Yeah. Or, I don't know. Let them chat or something. Like with other people in the lobby.

Junying Lim: exactly.

Sarah Willett: Yeah. Like you would in a Lyft, but cause, but I'm, you see, I love those sort of like stupid, silly interactions, but I know that a lot of people hate it. I love small talk. Like, just like, oh hey, how's it going? Like, but I know that a lot of people don't, so yeah. I kind, I kind of see both sides that some people might 

Nirish Shakya: Well, we can give them the

Sarah Willett: Yeah, 


Like forced fun, forced fun. 

Freddie Grzybowski: Yeah.

Nirish Shakya: They can click. No. Yeah. I think, I mean, yeah, I think that the, the whole, virtual working technology really needs to, [00:28:00] needs some. Innovation. I think it hasn't happened in, in a long time. It's still just a bunch of, videos in a grid of people talking. So looking back at yourself, three months ago when you started the, the course and now, what's, what's changed within you in those three months?

 you feel different as a problem solver, as a designer, as a human being?

Freddie Grzybowski: I'll have to go back a bit, bit long, a bit more than three months from my side. But,

Nirish Shakya: Go for it.

Freddie Grzybowski: yeah, I,

Nirish Shakya: Take us on a ride.

Freddie Grzybowski: massively. I mean I already had quite, I, I think I had quite a good idea of problem solvent kind of already. cuz I loved, I feel like games actually helped with that quite a bit.

They kind of make you open up your mind a little bit actually. Cause I used to stream a lot on, for games and that really helped me sort of open my mind to different, looking at d things different ways and being more creative of solutions as well as beekeeping and [00:29:00] beekeeping as well. You have to just learn on the go.

And it's always really tricky to try and figure out how to try and solve something. Cause you never really know what, what they're thinking. You can't UX them, you can't ask them how are you feeling, you know about this. so you have to sort of just learn on the go. But, so that sort of opened up my eyes in that sense.

But, but I feel doing, when I did the course, I just learned so much more about how to sort of, I guess, explore that, explore that split up further and how to actually just get the, cause I'd never interviewed someone before as well, before I did the course. So it was so, so interesting to figure out. I could learn so much from people, just from a few questions and how to actually expand on those questions.

Asking, why the famous, was it five whys, isn't it? and I, I always, I think I always remember, I can't remember, it might have been you Nish actually, but it might have been you or it might have been, might actually, it might have been Letty. And I remember I got picked out on the class on Zoom and she kept asking me Why, why, why?

I just kept going deeper and deeper and deeper to like the reason why I was feeling anxious or something about the, about the presentation stuff that in front of the whole class I was like, oh my God, I've just told you like everything [00:30:00] just from these five whys. so I remember learning about, that how to interview people, the whys, all this sort of thing.

And, just, that was from going from, never having done interviews to like, doing interviews. so I felt like gained so much more confidence, I guess is the word you could say from those three months. and now coming over to here, up, up to now from 2021 being a ta, Not. Anyway, I sort of, I guess, doubled, in growth because of, obviously I'm, I guess I'm kind of repeating stuff as well, but, I'm learning from, from the actual students as well, because the students, the students come in with these fresh minds.

They haven't gone through the course like, like I did or, or I guess even teachers have, spent years, in, in, in the UX world industry. but the people come with these guess fresh minds and they come up with these different sort of ideas and everyone sort of ends up working slightly differently.

And I find that absolutely fascinating and I learned so much from these individuals. I go through their work and I, I talk to them and I think, and it opens up my mind even more so that different possibilities, like solutions I was talking about, problem [00:31:00] solving and how to get past it and around it.

And I just find it incredible how many, how many paths you can take to, to, to get somewhere, as a, for a solution. I just find that absolutely incredible. And, yeah, I guess I've just, like I said before, I've, I've said it so many times already now in this podcast, learning so, so much constantly, and how it's just constantly just expanding my mo my horizon and all these different solutions and how to get there and, the methods that you can use and, just all, all of that basically.

So I feel like I've learned so much, even just from like this, this these couple years. So, yeah. I'm gonna have to say thank you to everyone that's been a student and has taught me stuff as well. But yeah,

Nirish Shakya: Oh, 

Sarah Willett: All right, Fred. 

Freddie Grzybowski: Yeah.

Junying Lim: Wow. Freddie, you've covered so many, so many topics.

Nirish Shakya: yeah,

Freddie Grzybowski: Sorry.

Junying Lim: No, sorry. It's, it's perfect. Yeah.

Nirish Shakya: and I mean, both, Sarah, y yourself and, Xin. You, you, you came in with a lot of experience under your belt, as a graphic designer, and also as a product [00:32:00] developer. so I'm sure like, you came in with art with's, confidence that you had gained in the industry. how was that different to what, what happened over the last six months or three months?

Junying Lim: What was different or how did I feel when I

Nirish Shakya: Yeah. Were you able to like, use the confidence that you already had from your experience, working in the

Junying Lim: Oh, definitely.

Nirish Shakya: was it something different?

Junying Lim: so because I worked in the, in the corporate world for 10 years, I feel like I can hold myself quite well in front of people or strangers. So that was a really big benefit for me. I realized that when we had to do a lot of presentations, even on the first week, and even just speaking up for 30 seconds at stand up or, or stand down, I was like, at first I was a little self-conscious about my age because I'm a bit older than most of the students in there.

But I realized I come with a lot of [00:33:00] advantages just by working, for a number of years before joining this course. I can make use of that leverage and, I think I am, because I've experienced working with other people for 10 years, facing like 23 other students that I didn't know of is not that big a deal.

Of course, it was a little bit nervous on the, on the first day, but, I got used to it really quickly and I think, yeah, I think that that kind of helped me cope really quickly. What about you, Sarah?

Sarah Willett: Yeah, that I feel really similar in that, in that. Way. cuz you, there's so many transferable skills that we both have that do blend into like the new skills that we are learning. But I think something that I kind of, it's quite hard when you've been, if you've kind of been taught, it's like unlearning that idea of unlearning things that you've been taught And, trying to have a fresh mindset or an open mind. I think, that was the, the key really was I wanted to be in that, [00:34:00] I guess growth mindset in the sense that not not have too many assumptions, but you just naturally do or you, cuz you are going on your own past experience. So it, it sort of plays in both parts. It's an advantage definitely that you've had the experience of working in the real world and in, like for myself, cuz I actually freelance, so I've then been in loads of different types of organizations as well.

And that just gives you a perspective, quite a liberating perspective in the sense that a lot of people do the same thing very differently so that, there's no, in the sense that there's no right or wrong way to do something. But, yeah, I think I was just really keen not to, yeah, to, I, I wanted kind of like break free from any mindsets that I might have that I didn't realize I had.

So just, yeah, just trying to be as open minded as possible.

Nirish Shakya: And, I think, yeah, we'd like, I can definitely relate. I think a lot of us can relate to, [00:35:00] what you mentioned around,age being our mental barrier that we create for ourselves. but I think we are in, in a, in an age where we have to force ourselves to Yeah. Push ourselves beyond the comfort zone to constantly be that beginner again and again and again.

I was watching a video, I think, Freddy, like, I think I shared this with you last, last week, around divergent thinking and how it's, it's so important to, be that clumsy student over and over and over again. Cause once you stop being clumsy, that means your brain has stopped working or has stopped trying harder.

Right. Comfortable with what you're doing, cuz you could at it. that's why it's so important to be that clumsy student again. 

Sarah Willett: It's so hard to do when you are nearly 40. I'm like 38 and that's it. I dunno where, I dunno where it comes from. Maybe it's this societal expectations of you should know [00:36:00] everything, you should know what you're doing and where you're. No one does. That's why people have like midlife crisis. Like, and that is like a proper thing.

Like, or, or why you suddenly like question what you've been doing. Like time goes so fast and you don't realize that. I thought 40 year olds were really old when I used to think of my parents. And it's like, now I'm like, I'm 38 and I'm like, what? I've still like, I've still feel down with the kids.

Probably that sentence isn't down with the kids, but I still feel like, I, I, I feel relatively in touch. so it's funny isn't it, like your perspectives of, of what old means and, and, and, and, and how you should be at a certain age and what you should have achieved by now and then that, that's the magic that children have is because they're in proper learning mode.

They don't, they're actually so oblivious to the world outside of them that they, they kind of just go crazy for like learning, for just trying stuff. They don't [00:37:00] really understand or they don't have that pressure that, that they, they should do be doing something. 

Nirish Shakya: Yeah, it feels like the more we follow the rules, the less our growth becomes 

Sarah Willett: Yeah, definitely. Like, it's so hard. And then it's like when you add like creativity as a industry and, and setting that in a business setting, that brings that dynamic to it as well. Because sometimes worked in departments where they've just like the, the creative depart and they just muck around. Like they're just having fun.


Nirish Shakya: It's only their job to be 

Sarah Willett: yeah. Like exactly like, so it's, it, yeah. I dunno. Like, it's just like, it's ba it's, it's being open, isn't it? And just being open to explore, open to fail. That's the biggest, isn't it? Creativity. Essentially making something new. And when you think of that, how do you make something new if you are not afraid to fail and actually make it wrong the first a hundred times before you then make it Right.

And then it becomes [00:38:00] something new 

Nirish Shakya: Hmm. But do you think, at the same time, the, the older we get, the, the more risk averse we 

Sarah Willett: properly. Yeah. 

Nirish Shakya: in terms of like our, acceptance of failure because there, there are more things at stake like a mortgage kids, things like that. 

Sarah Willett: I, I mean, that's such a good point because, like my family, for me to have to do this, it's like I've sacrificed of lack of earnings for three months. when you get to a point in your life, To, I dunno, like, it, it, I'm obviously like extremely fortunate that I've been able to do it for that reason.

But, it's such a gamble, like, will it pay off? Oh, are you sure Sarah? Like, I'm a, I I love doing online courses And it's like, really another course. But this is something like, it definitely wears on a another level that I just, I just had faith that I was like, no, I'm re I'm really sure that this is something worthwhile.

Nirish Shakya: And speaking of [00:39:00] things that are worthwhile to us in our lives, what's worthwhile to you guys? I know it's a loaded question, so 

Sarah Willett: I l I love it. I love it. I could deep, let's go deep guys. 

Freddie Grzybowski: my goodness wasn't

Junying Lim: There's so many things though.

Sarah Willett: No, I th I I can answer if I, I can, I can dive in if you don't mind. happiness, and I know that's gonna sound really lame, but, I think without getting too like. Too deep or emotional. my father actually passed away in 2018 and before that he was really ill. He was like quite dis He had had a cardiac arrest and he was quite disabled.

from 2012 to when he passed away. And I'm not gonna lie, like during that period of time, I learnt a lot about life and what it really means. Cause during this time I had two children as well. So I was witnessing someone [00:40:00] like amazing in my life du like dying. And then also the birth of life so profound.

But I, I'm laughing maybe cuz I'm a bit, a little bit like, it, it, uncomfortable perhaps, but, and it's quite, when you think of like it's, that's crazy. Like it just to witness and to go through all of that stuff. And then it, it did make me have like that ex Existential. is it existential? Nearly?

Yeah. Like, thought of like, what the hell are we doing here? What does this all mean? Like, and then what is important in life? And I took from my dad that he had like quite a, just like a normal job and normal family, whatever normal is it's, or clearly my normal. but he wasn't like, he wasn't like chasing a corporate position or anything like that.

He was quite settled on his role. It was a nice role and his passion was his and racing and. And he didn't, he wasn't forced to like, monetize his passion. He got, and actually, me and my [00:41:00] mom used to joke that he used to get really angry, like mending and fixing his car all the time. We were like, why are you doing this?

Like, we only ever see you angry. but it was actually after his accident when we used to take him to see his friends race, that we actually became part of the community. And actually that community I think helped bring him back to life. But, and then that's when I actually thought, Wow. like life isn't for working.

And as much as I love being a designer and I love working, like I actually wanna do something for me and, and to feel, what does success mean? Because my father wasn't necessarily successful in a corporate position, but I felt he was so successful in the sense that he had a, a, a loving family. He had, a passion that he cared deeply about, and, and then you just think, what are we, what are we craving for in life?

What is it? I just think it's like decent connections and love and happiness with people. Wow. That was,

Nirish Shakya: Wow. [00:42:00] someone 

Sarah Willett: yeah. 

Junying Lim: Well, to follow up with Sarah's point on, happiness, is it relationships and, connections with people. I think I find a lot of joy from that when I make new friends or even with my old good friends, when, when I have like that safety or security with them, or I know that they care about me, I feel very full.

And that gives me a lot of happiness. So I think I, I do have, I, I place a lot of importance on connections with people. another thing would be like maybe self-expression. So when I draw or when I dance, these, these are all self-expression and I feel more alive when I do it, even when I just speak in class.

That's also self-expression. Maybe, maybe my classmates think I'm very annoying or whatever, but I, I still do it anyway because it just feels natural to me. and maybe also freedom, I think. So being stuck in, in cop in something [00:43:00] very cop corporate, it always felt very. Stifling kind of, because you only have that amount of free time, like Mondays to Fridays you work and then you have your small weekend, and then if you, if you wanna travel, you have to do it at like certain periods of time.

so that, that was something that I wanted to move away from. And I think from that I kind of learned that, yeah, I do value freedom quite a lot. yeah. Soro, what was your question? What is worth, worth to ask, right?

Nirish Shakya: I think you've already answered that. So you, you said like you value connection, self

Junying Lim: Yeah. I lost track.

Nirish Shakya: I think that was a perfect answer.

Junying Lim: Freddie, your turn.

Nirish Shakya: Oh gosh, I've gotta follow up both incredible answers. Where do I start? pressure.

No pressure, Freddie. 

Freddie Grzybowski: I should have gone firsted. I mean, I completely agree and echo of what Sarah, and, and you have mentioned as well, I think it's,finding that purpose in life. what makes you happy? what, [00:44:00] what is it that you, you are, you are, happy with doing?

And, once you, I guess like for me at the moment, I'm, I'm happy cuz I've, I'm, I'm making connections all the time, being a teacher, seeing new students, seeing, seeing their growth. plus I'm still learning, growing myself as well. And also just being here and like, like, it sounds like the bees, honestly the bees changed my life as we, and I dunno, I don't wanna turn this into like a story about bees now, but, cuz

Nirish Shakya: Tell us, please tell us more about how they 

change your 

Freddie Grzybowski: severe anxiety several years ago after doing a music course in London.

I had to leave a couple times early for operations, and I couldn't go back to course change. I had to pay for it again. I felt quite lost. And that's when I started, online streaming, and just teaching guitar online. And I had the chance to get some bees and I got some bees and. Just something, it's very scary to start with, getting the bees and all this buzzing, that sort of, stuff.

But after a while you get used to it and it's so relaxing and calming and just seeing how, [00:45:00] I guess the bees just will just get on of life. And I guess, I guess they're, they're happy, aren't they? In their way? They've got, they go, they find a flower, they get some nec to, they come back, they look after the hide, they look after each other.

They're all connected in a way. and I just, I dunno, it just, something about that just calmed me down. I just, ever since then, I've just felt if I ever, if I ever did feel somewhat anxious, anxiety, I'd just go to my bees and just watch them work. And, I'm 

Sarah Willett: Hmm. 

Freddie Grzybowski: now. So I'm really content with everything at the moment.

But I think it is, yeah, it's just being happy and at that moment, I think that's what, that's what I just feel, I guess you just feel that sort of purpose, isn't it, in life, I guess? You, you sort of find, I mean, obviously I still wanna make connections. I still wanna meet you. I still wanna meet someone and, and, carry on.

But I'm, I'm very happy at the moment with what, with what's going on. And that's why I feel like I'm, I found that purpose already, I guess in a way, teaching and beekeeping and I'm, I'm extremely happy.

Sarah Willett: so lovely. I like that. 

Nirish Shakya: [00:46:00] And I think bees are probably the perfect example of, how connection works in nature. Like they're so connected with each other in terms of that community, and they're also very self-expressive. They create all these wonderful hives, produce honey. They do, they, be dance, whatever you call them.

And they, they, they have the freedom to roam around, pick the flowers they wanna pick, go back. But there are, it's all kind of within a framework of how that community operates. and yeah, I, I, I, I can definitely empathize with it in terms of how that can be,so I guess therapeutic to observe or be, be part of or look after. 

Sarah Willett: It makes me think, it might be slightly off topic, but when I had, my children, I actually suffered a lot of anxiety, like having a new baby and, and how to look after them. And my mom was just like, Sarah, like, look out the window, look at the birds. Like they [00:47:00] don't have Google. They, they, they get, they instinctively know, like, trust your instincts.

And I think that was a really nice piece of like, look back to nature. and I think that's something I've always actually like, not been particularly outdoorsy or anything like that. And I think, but that as I get older I start to realize the importance of it and, and to try and connect a lit, I think we should all try and connect a little bit more to nature and like, where we came f where we came from really.

Cuz we're in such, which is so funny, isn't it, that we're in this like, tech landscape and it's, I guess deep down it's marrying both worlds, isn't it? It's trying to get the beauty out of each together. 

Nirish Shakya: Yeah, and I think,we always, our minds always are telling us stories, these fabricated stories of who we should be and who we should have been and what should we should be aiming for. A lot of that times these stories are constructed by what we [00:48:00] see outside in the external world of what other people might have done.

For example, a a designer or a senior designer who works for, I don't know, apple or Google, or, might be a big influencer on Instagram or YouTube, and we basically, pick, like, pick up these examples and then try to create our own story that try to fit into that story rather than looking inside in terms of like, joining you said, what gives you that energy, what that you make to feel alive.

And like you said, the connection, the self-expression, and we're always chasing these external stories of who we should be, and not really stopping and slowing down to look inside. And that's, yeah, I, and I'm, I'm guilty of doing that myself, where throughout most of my career I was these, I was chasing these external milestones of, yeah, now that I'm a designer, next I have to chase that mid designer role and next is a senior and that lead and a principal.

And I did that. And that constant chasing didn't really make me happy.[00:49:00] And during the pandemic, yes, I did, get into a state of burnout where work just became about work. it wasn't about meeting people anymore or just chatting them in a coffee shop anymore. It was just you log into Zoom, you talk about work, turn off Zoom, get back to work on your computer, back to normal meeting work.

Right. And what I realized was that yes, it wasn't the actual work that kept me going. It was like the, the people and the, and the, the exchange of energies, that, that used to happen in a, in a, in a real workplace setting, physical setting that was really missing from, from my life. and we, I think we just tend to kind of take for granted as well.

But I think what I'm trying to say here is, if we don't intentionally create what stories important to us, those stories will be created for us and them are not necessarily be the right stories for us.

Junying Lim: Hmm. Yeah, that's quite true.[00:50:00]

Sarah Willett: I think that's why we all did this course. we were trying to make our own, like change our path, right? Cuz we're, maybe there was something that was pushing us to want to do, to be on the right path to join this, to change, to write our story. 

Junying Lim: For me, it was because my partner is moving to London to work and I want to join him, but I know that my industry, I mean, I could easily find a job there with my, my, amount of experience, but I didn't wanna continue that. So it forced me to find something different. And now when I think back, I'm just thinking, why did I wait so long just to, have that.

That, that situation happened to me, then I make a move. But I don't know, I, it is just something that I was stuck with. But now that I've been through the course, that I've learned more skills about resilience, being more [00:51:00] daring and not being afraid to fail, or just asking questions to somebody, it's something that I, I'll definitely improve on, like from here on out.

Nirish Shakya: Cool. so looking back at your journey in the, the UX bootcamp of the last, three months, was there a one of those like. bulb moments when things just click. was there one of those moments or were there like multiple of those moments,

Freddie Grzybowski: I've gotta go,


Nirish Shakya: or were there No moments like that,

Freddie Grzybowski: I think there's multiple, I think there's

Nirish Shakya: or maybe even as a ta.

Freddie Grzybowski: Yeah. I guess even as ta I mean like, yeah, I mean, like I said, constantly growing and learning, but I think there's always just light bulb moments throughout it cuz you always, I feel like, I feel like I'm always thinking, especially in UX and it's maybe it's sort of changed the way I think about stuff as well, the way I see stuff.

So I'm always getting these sort of moments of thinking, oh, maybe this, this could work. Maybe [00:52:00] that's, but I think you have to, I, I can't quite pinpoint, back when I did the course. but I know for a fact I remember there being so many moments. oh yeah, like I said that the five why's moment, and I'm thinking I can learn so much more from my interviews just by asking a single word.

Well just, just up asking why and. That I remember helped me so much in my, in my, in my course and actually getting deeper into the problem of what it was for the user. And then actually, and actually having a much more solid research to build off, off. And then actually coming from a much better solution that was better designed for, for the user itself.

And not just going off a little bit of research and then me designing something and thinking, oh yeah, I understand this, this works for me. And then testing it and thinking the user has no idea what's going on. So I think if you can, like, yeah, for me the, I think that's probably the biggest light bulb moment for me was just understanding about how to actually draw out more information from, from a user, and getting deeper into the problem.

cuz I've always struggled, I guess I, [00:53:00] I've struggled. I love creativity in that, in that, in that, that part. So, having a deeper understanding of the research part and getting to deeper the problem made, it made that actual creativity side easier as well. So I learned a lot from just the one word

Nirish Shakya: Hmm.

Freddie Grzybowski: Ask him why,

Nirish Shakya: Yeah. And also in, even in, in real life, we, we tend to stay on that surface in our day-to-day, interactions with people, right? We never go beyond that. Mostly our conversations are about work or how's the weekend? Just small talk. But how often do we really go deep? So, We are habituated to do that, I'm assuming,

Freddie Grzybowski: yeah.

Junying Lim: So for me, the light bulb moment,

Freddie Grzybowski: So, No,

Junying Lim: what? What? Funny my light bulb moment.

Freddie Grzybowski: No, I was just, I was just saying I found it quite funny how, how, don't worry. I was just saying I found it quite funny how, news is, it's right. We just sort of talk, [00:54:00] but there's like no meaning behind what we're talking about. Sometimes you just talk for the sake of talking.

You don't really go into much of a conversation or deeper. I dunno if that makes any sense. 

Sarah Willett: Yeah. 

Freddie Grzybowski: does that make sense? Not you just talk, it's just 

Sarah Willett: Yeah. 


Freddie Grzybowski: but it doesn't mean anything.

Sarah Willett: I think it's interesting though, cuz I do like on this course, I have made friends that I've, I really like to think I'll have for a very long time, if not for life going forward. 

Junying Lim: Who are these people?

Sarah Willett: Oh, you guys, of course. 

Nirish Shakya: but you have to say that right.

Freddie Grzybowski: Yeah.

Sarah Willett: No, honestly, like, I think, I just think you just, it's through sometimes the silly chat that you just, you kind of have fun and you get to see people's sense of humor and, and you get, you wanna find out a little bit more. And it, and it's over time, isn't it? But what was your light bulb moment, ying? 

Junying Lim: Oh, oh, I think it was [00:55:00] when I attended the classes, I didn't realize that it was structured in a way where you would share your feelings and your thoughts with the class. And this is something I've never experienced in my life before. Not in Beijing, not in Singapore. None of my, none of my courses or classes ever had that before.

Even in at the workplace. There's not much of these, but I really felt so a lot more connected with my class, just understanding what kind of troubles or what were their wins like, so I thought. That, that's a really, really good thing to move forward with. Even if I go back to work, I can kind of adopt this new like process and bring it to my team, for example.

I think it really benefits everybody. and it helps, I guess it helps everybody open up a little bit just to be a little bit more expressive and just knowing that somebody's out there wanting to listen to you. I, I think it encourages them to be open and [00:56:00] also like maybe some, maybe be a bit more honest at work.

And perhaps that would, that would improve the way you work with them as well. Yeah. So that was my light but light bulb moment in class.

Sarah Willett: I love that. for me, I think it was, that when it, well, there, there were kind of two, but the, the first one was when we did, when I did my first usability test with my first light project and I was like, yeah, course this makes sense. Everyone's gonna know how to use this. Like, and they didn't at all.

And then I was like, what? Oh my God, I, I get it now. And actually like, I get like, it's such, it's so easy to a certain extent, like to do a usability test and that need to do it like as soon as you can get, like just get it in front of people and really test your product as soon as you can be before you go too far off on a tangent.

That really doesn't make sense. But it, it obviously it [00:57:00] does to you because you are creating it at the same time. And that, for me, I, I loved, that was actually a really nice learning curve. Cause it, it did make me laugh that I had, that I thought it was so obvious and it really wasn't. so I. Another thing that I, it's the double diamond design methodology.

Like how have I been a designer, a graphic designer, and not use that kind of design methodology ever in none of my other jobs? Or, it's not even mentioned like, as a process. And I just think, wow. Like, guys, you, you're missing out. Like you really, if you like, use this, I think that would inform the basis of so much work.

It's, it's, it's not only like a framework, but it, it, it kind of like it once, like having practiced it a few times, it, it's, it makes so much sense. It's just like, why haven't I been doing this, like before? Why haven't, yeah, it [00:58:00] just, it, it, it seems so obvious in hindsight that that's like a really good method to follow for any project. 

Nirish Shakya: Hmm. I think speaking of, methodologies, one thing that I do here in terms of like, how people find, some of these boot camps controversial because, they feel like it's basically just a factory that produces Lydia thinkers who only follow the process cause that's what they've been taught and they try to go into the real world and they try to follow the process and obviously, obviously doesn't work cuz the real world does not work in the, within the same, finite, finite, linear parameters.

What are your, what are your thoughts on that? What's been your experience and have you heard of similar opinions?

Freddie Grzybowski: I've read articles about this. yeah, I mean I, I haven't really heard that much about it because I don't personally know anyone else outside of my class who have done this, any similar boot camps. but [00:59:00] I would, I can kind of see why employers may see it that way. However, I think it's a very, it's very shallow of, it can be a little bit shallow of them to assume the person will be like a, what, what do you call that?

Junying Lim: The worker, manufactured out of this bootcamp. You, you kind of have to know them better cause they could, they definitely have other skills to bring into the, the new role that they wanna go into. And why would you assume that they will be exactly the same as every other person from a.

Nirish Shakya: Hmm. Freddy, did you?

Freddie Grzybowski: yeah. I was gonna say, it's interesting, you say that, especially after doing the course and, being a TA on it, I can, I see that, how different people are, from all the different cohorts I've, I've, I've, I've been on e everyone is different. even if they get taught, I guess in a similar, similar way, I don't think I've seen a single, bit of [01:00:00] work or, a single design sprint. Look the same or be complete the same, or have the same sort of results. It's, it's always different. Everyone has, their own mind. Everyone has their own, just cuz they get given a tool doesn't mean they're gonna use it exactly the same way or,stick to, stick to the order they've been told to use it in or so of that.

It's, it's just, it's a tool and it's just you, you are given that tool and you use it the way you, you need to use it, to, to get to your solution. yes, like I said, so through, through my time being, being at ga, I, I haven't seen anyone I guess use something the sa the same, which is quite strange.

But, because, they're taught by, I guess the teacher, the whole class. But everyone takes it in. They interpret it in their own way. which I think is really fascinating, which is why I say I've learned so much from the students as well cuz I've got my own way of, I interpret it and their own way I see it.

but everyone else has their own, their own other way. So I just find that absolutely fascinating and just seeing that, the, the, the variety in how it can be used or [01:01:00] how people use it. so I think if, if there is an employer out there that says, just cuz you've done this course, you're gonna be the same as everyone else that's done this course.

I think it's completely wrong way of looking at it. and it's just doesn't also, if you say that to someone, I mean, how, how are they gonna think? It's not, it's not nice to say that to someone, is it? but, but yeah, it's It's interesting. but no, I, I, yeah, I've seen people using stuff completely differently, so yeah, everyone's got their own way of using the tool.

Sarah Willett: Yeah, I totally agree. Yeah. I think, it, it that, and that's what I learned is that it wa it is a toolbox and you take from it what you, you think you need at that particular point in time for whatever reason. And actually, I think a lot of us, as students wanted to be told, what do I use now? And it's like, well, it doesn't really work like that.

Like that's the point you need to, that's actually the learning is figuring out when and when not to use something and when it's appropriate. And I think, that I, I chatted to. [01:02:00] A few people before I decided to do this course, and two of them who I, I like highly respect and, and their career. So like they actually said, oh, boot camps.

Yeah. They've got a bit of a bad, bad reputation. And I think it, it like learning what they were saying behind that was like, I think essentially don't expect it just because you've done this course that you're guaranteed a job. And I think you'd be quite naive if that was why you were choosing to do it.

I think like this, that like life's com, like life's pretty competitive anyway. You need to like bring something to the table. It's not just ticking a box that you've done this particular course, it's how you've done this particular course that makes the difference. 

Nirish Shakya: Yeah, think one thing that you guys, have helped me see just then was how it's not just what you learn in a bootcamp that the designer is bringing [01:03:00] into a new, into a new role. There's so much experience and wisdom they already have from their past experience. Not just professional experience, but also personal experience that they can use, in terms of their skillsets to solve new problems in their own interesting ways.

that's something I hadn't actually thought of that like that before. Cause I was actually just seeing far, this, their set of skills. I'm teaching students and they're gonna just use their skills and this can be hundreds and thousands of other people using the same skills. But now I think I was actually wrong about that. 

Sarah Willett: it also, it did make me think like we've got at least four tutors and e each of your different styles are like you all like tell the same story differently as well. So that's what is so dynamic. What I found like so interesting is because you can, you are learning the same thing in a different way as well.

Like, you are not just being taught a precise thing, the same way [01:04:00] you are. Even how we've been taught has been from different perspectives. So it makes it so much more Yeah. Dynamic all round. 

Nirish Shakya: Absolutely. Yeah. And yeah, I mean, I might be biased cause I teach boot camps, but, looking back in my own kind of, the beginning of my journey as a UX designer, I didn't have anything like this. we did a few units, at university when I, doing my both masters and post, my undergrad and postgrad on interaction design in interface design.

but I had to like, spend a lot of time just fumbling in the dark, learning all these methods and tools and mindsets, and took me years to learn what you guys learned in three months. if I had something like this back then I would definitely would've, and that would've, sped up my growth in the industry.

but yeah, having, having said that, I think, like I totally agree with you, which you said Sarah, in terms [01:05:00] of, it's not just that silver bullet, the magic pill that it can take, then it just solves all the problems for you. I think there is so much self-reflection that you need to do. To make sure that whatever you've learned actually is relevant to you and what gives you the energy and the joy that you seek from, from life.

and another mistake that I see a lot of students make is trying to be good at everything. Like you can't be good at everything. You can't be good at research and prototyping and visual design and stakeholder management and leadership and everything just, that's not possible. that's like trying to, please everyone, when you try to please everyone, you please no one.

Right. so yeah, my advice that I tend to give to the students is, yeah, just find out what bit of the design process that gives you that energy that he could do all day long without even getting paid for in, for it. and maybe try to use that as, as a foundation to, to grow within. doesn't mean that you have to stay there the whole [01:06:00] time.

You can always kind of jump off to new things and new things, but especially when you're starting out, you don't have to be great at everything. 

Sarah Willett: Yeah, it's like the con, the T-shaped designer, right? So, I think it, like the two parts for me, like straight away is like un like the user, and the user research for me is just fascinating. But even if, like, I'm aware that there might be, depending on the size or type of organization that you go into, there might be a whole department that deals with that.

But I'd like to think that now I have the skills to even interpret that data and their findings in a way that would enhance the rest of the project going forward. And that, that skills, the skills that I have learned would aid that even if it was, already done per se. But I'd be able to dig into it and really help it throughout the rest of the project 

Nirish Shakya: Absolutely. [01:07:00] Okay, so I'm gonna get you, imagine a scenario now cuz you're all designers, you know how to imagine scenarios. Imagine that it is your last day on planet Earth and you are in your deathbed and someone comes up to you with a tiny piece of Post-it and a Sharpie and asks you to write down your last few words for humanity. What would you write?

Oh gosh. I dunno. Oh my goodness. No, I, I'll just be, I dunno. but again, it's the last, my last few words to the world, I guess. Just don't, don't be afraid to, be wrong. Just, yeah. Don't be afraid of failure. I think just, just go for it. You mean what, what you got to lose really? powerful.

Freddie Grzybowski: just don't feel afraid to step out your comfort zone.

You, you're gonna grow from doing that [01:08:00] anyway. see, I think that's probably what it'd be. Don't be afraid to fail. yeah, if that was the last few words, I mean, I'd probably be barely able to write them. I can barely, go a day about some back pain. Now, I dunno how I'm gonna be.

Nirish Shakya: Don't worry. Someone can write them for you. Great. Thanks Freddy. Jining,

Junying Lim: Well, mine would be, I tried.

Sarah Willett: Oh, I love it. 

Nirish Shakya: could you, expand a bit? What did you mean by that?

Junying Lim: Yeah, it's, it's a bit like you never, or rather, when I'm alive, I'm always looking for ways to grow or learn, even when I was at my lowest. In my life or when, when I was very nervous and shy and very introverted, I still found little ways to, to learn and try take new things. Or even if the, the growth was very tiny.

It was still something that I could take with [01:09:00] me. Like even just going to the library and finding books despite being lost and I didn't even know what I wanted to do, but I still found that, that drive to go, go out and find something to do within my little comfort zone. But still, I did something. So it, it'll be good, like maybe for people to know that I've tried.

Nirish Shakya: Nice. Thank you, Sarah. 

Sarah Willett: I hope it's not a complete re like repeat of the both, but get comfortable being uncomfortable. Get you'd like. You're not growing it. Like I've like you kind of, in order to grow it, you have to really push through hard times, Or like, and yeah, just it's okay to feel like feeling bad, like can bring you good things, So like, just like have faith kind of, you got this. 

Nirish Shakya: Love that you guys are all such, so, so much [01:10:00] wiser than me. I seriously, I've learned so much from like the past hour that we've been talking to each other. just like,

Junying Lim: We want to know yours too,

Nirish Shakya: like right now,

Junying Lim: of course.

Freddie Grzybowski: Yeah, I mean,

Nirish Shakya: I don't know how I'm gonna be able to kind of follow up after that. It's, yeah, I would say, something I'd said earlier, keep being a clumsy student. Is that 

Sarah Willett: Yeah. Love it. That's great. 

Nirish Shakya: and then the reason I say that is because, I, I recently took up, dancing, and I always thought that I, I was a bad dancer. Never had any confidence on the dance floor, especially when I was growing up, especially dancing around, girls. I just always felt really awkward. and yeah, I, I recently turned 40 and I was like, Hey, what the heck?

I'm gonna learn to dance. So I signed up to like a dance school. And I remember like my [01:11:00] first few lessons, I was just so clumsy, in the dance, class, I didn't know what I was doing. I could never like, pick up the moves. I could see all the other people in the class just like dancing, like as if they're like Michael Jackson.

and I was like, why can't I do that? It's, for them it's like, just makes, makes, makes, they make it look so easy. but yeah, I just learned this concept of, being a clumsy student, it's okay because the reason I'm clumsy is now my brain is actually trying, trying to learn something new.

And if I was, wasn't clumsy, then my brain was not growing. So if you feel clumsy, if you feel uncomfortable, that means your brain is growing, right? and I just kept going back and back, although I, I, I was super uncomfortable and slowly but surely, I, I, I did become more comfortable and once I became more comfortable, I did start to feel myself getting better at the actual craft of dancing.

and recently, we did a, a massive performance, in a actual theater for [01:12:00] the public. Did like a proper routine of a hip hop 

Sarah Willett: was our invite? 

Nirish Shakya: really proud of myself. 

Sarah Willett: we get an invitation to see this? 

Nirish Shakya: Well, I wanted to kind of just, see how I would go first, but I could share the video with you maybe sometime.

Freddie Grzybowski: I'm still waiting for the video.

Nirish Shakya: but now that I'm comfortable with that, style, I want to be a clumsy student again. So I basically signed up to another style of dancing, and I went to another, a class last week for the first time, and I'm back to being clumsy again.

Junying Lim: When I get to London, I would love to go to those salsa clubs or whatever places that they have salsa would.

Nirish Shakya: Yeah. I'll be very clumsy, but that's exactly what I wanna do. Let's do it. Yeah. I think designers, all designers need to learn to dance. It just teaches you so much about design and learning. 

Sarah Willett: Oh, like breaking it down step by step? That kind 

Nirish Shakya: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. And you [01:13:00] don't have to learn the whole routine in one go. Like you can pick up like tiny pieces of the puzzle and you don't have to connect the puzzles in the beginning. They, they won't connect in the beginning. Right. But slowly but surely they'll start to

Sarah Willett: Yeah. I have got a funny story that whe when I was gonna get, when me and my husband were getting married, he randomly for my birthday, my birthday was quite near to when the actual wedding day was. And he brought us, dance lessons to help us with our first dance. But it was so bad because we had the tiniest flat and that we, we invited this like flamboyant Italian dancer, came around to this tiny space.

We didn't have enough space to do it in our flat. And, and both of us were so bad and, and we filmed, he filmed it for us at the end on his iPad so that we could then practice it. We couldn't even manage a simple box step. And then it was so funny cuz my, it was so like silly cuz my husband was then going and working away.

So we never practiced and I was like, I'm sorry for, I'm not gonna [01:14:00] do this as our first dance. This would be so humiliating. But it get, like, if we had practiced, we probably could have pulled it off, but there is no way we, without practicing it. But I just wanna say it's really hard just doing a box step.

We couldn't do it. 

Nirish Shakya: I know it sounds so simple, but when you actually use your body to, try it out, it just feels 

Sarah Willett: Yeah. 

Nirish Shakya: Yeah. Wow. this conversation has taken so many directions that I wasn't an anticipating. I usually summarize the conversation at the end, but I don't know where, where to start. There's, there's so many things we've covered here. maybe maybe you guys can help me out here. but I think, the general theme for me has been definitely around. yeah, not settling, for what you have and always, wanting to learn regardless of how old you are or where you are right now, [01:15:00] or how successful you think you might be. I think there's always that space to grow and learn.

and that learning will involve being uncomfortable, being clumsy, which means that you're actually growing, and getting better. doesn't mean that you are stupid or it doesn't mean that you're not good. It just means that yeah, your brain is like firing those neurons constantly and making those connections. and you don't have to learn everything in one go. Maybe start off with things that give you energy, things that you really enjoy doing, whether it's talking to people, whether it's not talking to people, whether it's research, whether it's ui, whatever that means that might be, but maybe brings more intentionality into learning what those things might be for you rather than just, doing what you're told in terms of like, this is what I've learned, I gotta do exactly like that, following the [01:16:00] rules and so on. and also there's, one thing that I wrote down in my notes was learn from nature. 

Sarah Willett: Mm 

Nirish Shakya: whether it's. Freddy's bees. or maybe, I think the, the trees that you mentioned, Sarah, like, they just are, they just, they, they don't try to think ahead. They don't try to strategize or plan or, worry about the future.

They just are, you just learn to be rather than overthink. and I think that just comes down to the age old wisdom of, just do what you are doing, be where you are right now. and you'll find a, a way forward as long as you're present where you are. it's, it's, I mean, it's such a simple concept, but it's a really hard thing to practice. It's been taking me a long time to kind of constantly trying to practice this, with a, my own mind, mindfulness practice. But we all gotta make a start. yeah. Mind blowing conversation. what about you guys? What's, what's been your key takeaway?[01:17:00]

Freddie Grzybowski: talking about the course, everyone sort of felt the same throughout the course in aspects every, like, you might be thinking that, oh no, I'm, I'm not good enough. I, I dunno what's going on. I dunno what I'm doing. I'm gonna look silly asking this question. but when you think about it, when you actually ask other people as well, and I think it was Sarah was mentioned it as well, you actually find out that everyone else is thinking like that as well.

So it's, it's actually, it's, it's fine to think like that, but it's just about now just being, not being afraid of, stepping out your comfort zone, asking these questions. and just, I guess learning on the go and growing, growing and learning off others and people as well. so yeah, that's what I learned.

So thank you Sarah and Ying.

Junying Lim: Well, for me, I think my key takeaway was, Freddy's story about his bees, how it comes him, and just being with them, you, you kind of see how they, they run or operate. They're just very focused and they just do what they have to do. Right. And then for Sarah, I feel like your, your story of your dad, I think it [01:18:00] really, it made things, or your perspective on, on being happy, really stuck with me.

and. As well. I feel like you ask very good questions. So this is kind of my takeaway from this whole podcast, like the three of you. I really appreciate being here today, and I've learned so much. Thank you.

Nirish Shakya: Thank 

Sarah Willett: Yeah. Well that wonderful words Ying. I couldn't agree more. I think my takeaways Yeah, you've, you've sort of sum summarized them. It's that idea that we are not alone and, and actually having, having these kinds of conversations are really important, aren't they? It does bring us like closer together, get to get, to make stronger connections and not feel so alone.

And, and, and you, you share or gain insight from other people is so important. Yeah. Great chat guys. Thank you.

I feel [01:19:00] privileged to have taken part, so thanks. 

Freddie Grzybowski: Yeah. Thank you

Nirish Shakya: Virtual group 

Sarah Willett: Yay. 

Nirish Shakya: So if,people would like to connect with you, or follow you, online after this episode, how can they do that? Yeah,

 I guess you can go to my LinkedIn, Fred Kovski. I guess. I guess I can leave a link, with my details for that. we can, leave all those links, in the show notes.

Freddie Grzybowski: I've also got an Instagram if you wanna look at some b pictures called Bees 

Sarah Willett: Hmm. 

Freddie Grzybowski: a

Zed on 

Nirish Shakya: We'll put those in as 


Freddie Grzybowski: of the kids as well, Sarah. but yeah, that's probably the best.

Junying Lim: for me it would be LinkedIn and Instagram. I have a, I have, Instagram just for my drawings, so it's called Xie doodles, like E G S Y doodles. That's.

Nirish Shakya: Cool with the put put then the show notes as well. 

Sarah Willett: similar for me would be, LinkedIn. that would be awesome to [01:20:00] connect. I'd love to connect with anyone. And then, the will it is what I'm hoping to launch in the very near future. and also the Wille way on Instagram as well. yeah, it'd be great. Yeah. 

Nirish Shakya: Could you maybe tell us briefly what the will it weigh is?

Sarah Willett: Ah, so the will it way, it's a pro project that I've, I've been procrastinating upon for probably the last seven years, but now I feel really, passionate about it.

Like everything's clicked into place. It makes so much sense for me now, but it's essentially, helping to support or give other people the confidence to follow their creative ambitions. Cuz similar to that conversation that me and Ying had at the beginning about not feeling like creativity is necessarily championed and creativity can mean a lot of different things.

Not just drawing like an Excel spreadsheet could be creativity, it's, it's just thinking differently. But giving people that are perhaps of an older, in bracket's age, just o [01:21:00] like 30 plus should we say, or even 25 plus like that sometimes you feel like you should have is too late, oh, if I'd really wanted to fulfill that, I should have done it by now.

And actually I really disbelieve that and I feel that I want to, to. In some ways it's the confidence I wish I always had and I kind of wanna prove and show people my journey to help inspire others that come on, we've, we can do this, we can all do this together. And we've all got so much to offer.

I mean, so many people that, JK Rowling, she created her books when she was on maternity leave, Harry Potter. like at an older age, you don't always have to be, have done it already. Like so many entrepreneurs are actually 40 plus. So I think it's just shining a light on that because sometimes in the creative world what I've noticed is? it's very geared at a students and undergraduates and the support isn't necessarily there for older people.

And I just hope to maybe find a bring [01:22:00] same and we,

but it's Will. Yeah. Figure. Yeah. Come and join me. 

Nirish Shakya: Awesome. We'll, put all those links in the show notes as well. So pleased to, to join Sarah in our mission. 

Fred Jing and Sarah, it's been such a pleasure having you and like I keep saying, I've learned so much. I think I've, I've turned into a better person in the last hour and a half, just talking to you guys.

So thank you so much.

Sarah Willett: you so much for having me as really enjoyed it. 

 Thank you so much for listening in. If you have any suggestions or topics or people that you'd like to have on the show, please email me at I respond to every email. And see if you can share this podcast with one friend who wants to increase their self-awareness, creative confidence and meaning. See you next time. [01:23:00]