Season 2 Episode 5 - Neurodiversity is great for design and for business with Matthew Bellringer - is now available. Listen now.
Jan. 20, 2022

How to find and be your own shape as a designer

Design Leader, Consultant and Coach, Jason Mesut shares how we are all unique as designers, problem finders and makers and learning our own needs first will help us work better with people around us.


#003 - We try hard to fit into groups, whether at work or in our personal lives. But in the process of fitting in, we forget to find out what’s unique about us and celebrate what makes us different. In this episode, I have a deep conversation with design leader, consultant and coach Jason Mesut on his struggles growing up and fitting in and how that shaped him and why he’s now passionate about helping designers find out about themselves through his series of tools called Shaping Design.

In this episode:

  • Fitting into different communities as a designer
  • Reading people and pairing them with the right work
  • Helping people decode themselves
  • Navigating uncertainties by understanding and framing different perspectives
  • Legitimacy of design
  • Using the career timeline map to look at the highs and lows of your career
  • AND MUCH MORE

Shownotes

Alexander den Haijer

https://www.alexanderdenheijer.com/

Life calendar

https://waitbutwhy.com/2014/05/life-weeks.html

Shaping design series

https://medium.com/shapingdesign/shaping-design-and-designers-intro-df9e78bf845f

Creating the perfect experience architect

https://rosenfeldmedia.com/designopssummit2018/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2018/11/mesut-09.png

Blob Mapping

https://medium.com/shapingdesign/blob-mapping-4cda41bae61d

Career timeline map

https://medium.com/shapingdesign/map-your-career-timeline-85df3ea8a890

Year compass

https://yearcompass.com/

It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/114737.It_s_Not_How_Good_You_Are_It_s_How_Good_You_Want_To_Be

Organisations referred to by Jason:

Adaptive Path

https://medium.com/@adaptivepath

UXPA

https://uxpa-uk.org/

Foolproof

https://www.foolproof.co.uk/

Get 30% discount off Jason’s Shaping Design workshop and the pre-order of the book: Use the code “ifeeldesign” at

https://www.designfeeling.co/shapingdesign/

 
Cover art design by Leo Wong and Kim Habib
Transcript

[00:00:00] Jason Mesut: I think it's just making sure that you're conscious of the system that you're working in, whether that's your team and your colleagues, your business, the market, but recognize that you only really function well when you're serving yourself as well. So how can you bring yourself and your, your own needs and desires to the table? Because I strongly believe that that will make you better working amongst everyone else.

[00:00:25] Nirish Shakya: That's my friend, Jason Mesut. Jason is a design leader, consultant coach, and the co-leader of the interaction design association here in London. After 20 years in the design industry, Jason is now focusing his efforts on helping designers know themselves better so that they can find positive opportunities and new paths forward. Jason has called his collection of self-awareness tools, Shaping Design, and I've personally found them really beneficial for myself and also for my mentees. And I thought it'd be great to dive deeper into Jason's story and how he came about the idea for those tools. And in this episode, Jason shares his own personal and vulnerable stories of being shaped by his own environment and why he's on a mission to help designers know themselves better so that they can take agency of their directions forward. And stick around for the top tools that Jason recommends for you to kick off your self-awareness journey in the new year.

[00:01:29] Shivaun: This is the Design Feeling Podcast with your host Nirish Shakya. 

[00:01:43] Nirish Shakya: Hi, I'm Nirish Shakya, and I'm a designer, educator, and the host of my new podcast Design Feeling. Most of the time, you'll probably find me helping organisations put their customers first, or you might find me teaching design thinking and creative innovation, but I'm on a slightly different quest here - to explore the human behind the designer - who you are, what drives you, what frustrates you and why, and ultimately how you can bring more impact and meaning into your work.

On this podcast, my expert guests, and I will be uncovering ways to increase your self-awareness, creative confidence and meaning.

Jason Mesut welcome to Design Feeling. Thank you so much for joining us.

[00:02:32] Jason Mesut: Thanks for having me. Thank you. 

[00:02:34] Nirish Shakya: One thing, um that everyone reads about you is that you like to work with uncertain futures. And every time I think of that word, those words, uncertain futures, I get this vision of, I don't know, this blade runner or something, and you kind of going around, making sure everyone's safe. What, um, what, what does uncertain futures mean? 

[00:02:58] Jason Mesut: Well, I think the reality is, and in a lot of futures and foresight practice, like all features are uncertain in some ways there's no absolute, you know, path everyone's going to take. Um, I think I just lean into that a little bit more because leaning into the challenge of that space and try to get people to feel more comfortable with that uncertainty and to work out like that they, they can have an influence, they can have some agency over their future, but that there's some things that are gonna going to happen regardless. Right. So you need to have a little bit of an awareness of the potential things that could happen around you and. Blend that with your own sort of intentionality, maybe around what you want. And I think that kind of sits at the core of the work I do with individuals, as well as the work I do with organizations any.

[00:03:56] Nirish Shakya: Hmm. Okay. Why is the future so uncertain for, especially for us designers in that 

[00:04:02] Jason Mesut: A really interesting point. Well, you know, like you could, you could talk about it in a lot of different ways from, from the various system things that we're part of. But you know, I look at it from another way, which is just around, just, just literally on the human level, we're all individual humans and we all do things that are either because other people have done them to us or we're just reacting or because they have a choice. And with all these many choices going on in the world that affects what could happen next for all of us. Um, so whether it's pandemic to, you know, how late a delivery driver is to, you know, whether. Whether a particular product is going to be successful in the marketplace. Like there's so many different little things can happen around us. The, um, you know, all resulted of, of lots of little decisions and lots of little happenings that are happening on a human level or any, any kind of level in the, in the wider system that we're part of,

[00:05:00] Nirish Shakya: And, Known in the industry for being a, obviously a designer, a consultant, but also a community leader. And now soon and author, tell us a bit about your story, going through these different stages, life stages, or career stages. 

[00:05:20] Jason Mesut: Yeah. Okay. That's an interesting one. I've been reflecting a lot about this, about the different types of communities you can be part of in your life and the different sort of groups, tribes, I don't know, networks that you can be part of, but I guess I've, I've always been kind of part of multiple sort of networks and groups at the same time, in some ways.

Um, and, and often feeling a little bit on the edge of that. So, um, I was, I'll tell you a little bit about kind of some of the different paths I've taken, but essentially, um, I haven't shared much of this publicly actually, but, um, I, I ha I had the opportunity quite early on. I think it must've been. I don't know, maybe it's about six or seven, but, uh, one of my teachers basically spotted some work. I think it was just a drawing I did about caveman or something. And, um, and she thought there was something in that for some reason and around me that she thought it was worth investing in tutoring for me and picking me to kind of be put forward for a scholarship for a particular school, like a private school, um, in Norwich where, where I was from. And I had no idea what that was really about, but that, that kind of set me on a path where I went to ended up getting a scholarship for this, this private school and being around people that weren't really like me, like the color of my skin or my, my demographics, um, that were not generally wealthier than me.

Um, and I kind of, I kind of try to kind of rebel a lot about around the things around me because I didn't really quite fit in in some ways. Um, so. kind of fast forward after a little bit of, you know, mild racism and all sorts of things. As I was growing up, I kind of found like these different tribes, whoever it was like rave drum and bass music or other things that happened in my life that, that were outside of the core school kind of network that I was part of. Um, and for some reason that got me into design in some ways I was interested about kind of making something, but, but obviously my parents who had kind of, you know, supported me going into to, uh, to a private school didn't want me to do it a design degree. What was the point of that? So I 

[00:07:29] Nirish Shakya: Why was that? Why, why didn't they want to do to a design degree? 

[00:07:30] Jason Mesut: I know I I don't know, well, maybe it wasn't so much them.

I mean, I guess they just thought that, you know, I was just. I dunno, just I was, I was a spotted child, but my both of my other brothers are dyslexic. So they're kind of creative in different ways, but they, but I was, I was found out to be a kind of like, uh, academically really strong and design isn't necessarily something you go into when you're necessarily academically strong. And it certainly wasn't the sort of thing that was entertained at my school. There's such, I mean, we did design and technology and we were doing some early and stuff, but it wasn't something that, um, you know, was, was the core thing you were meant to end up doing. So, um, I ended up choosing a design course that was more engineering focused because it would give me an engineering degree rather than a, even a bachelor of science or bachelor of arts degree. It just wasn't really as respected. Um, So, yeah, it was kind of it, yeah. I felt a little bit uncomfortable. I was trying to rebel by doing design and, um, I think it kind of talks to some stuff will come up to later on, but like around the logistics, let me see, you have design as a practice, as a professional industry.

And I felt that a lot, like every time I say I'm designer to a bunch of people who are in an non-design group, I feel like they're suddenly going, he's a designer. He's not very smart. And, uh, you know, I can sense it is really interesting. And so you have to kind of, you know, be patient and, and demonstrate that you're, you're bringing something to the table that is somewhat different.

So, yeah. So yeah, I went, ended up doing this industrial design degree, which had an engineering aspect to it, very engineering focused, and I kind of dropped down to a BSC rather than a B Eng. Um, and, uh, yeah, but through doing that, um, I kind of found, you know, more of my creative side and more learning, lots of different things about design.

You know, um, mechanical engineering sides of things too. Um, doing some early codings who, uh, ergonomics to, um, futures, contextual design studies and, um, you know, and ultimately the people that came out of that course were meant to kind of create physical products. Um, this course at Brunel and, and, um, it was, you know, when we were trying to find placements, I'd kind of messed up in one of my placements.

I passed up an opportunity to work at Dyson at the time. It was just a vacuum cleaner company in Malmesbury. And I was like I don't for a vacuum cleaner company. And I ended up doing decorating for a, for a family friend's house, but so I had to get proper placement industrial placement, and I ended up going for loads of different jobs. Which possibly was the best decision I ever made. I don't know. But from that point in time, like a few years later, I was like, wow, what was I doing? Because so many different people went from my university to kind of work for Dyson or became very key to it's success.

 Um, but I, up going down a digital path and found it really interesting to kind of get closer to the, the psychology, the usability, um, this, this thing that was kind of emerging called user experience. And, um, and so then when I went back for my final year, I kind of brought that into the work I was doing.

And that led me to kind of get an, um, a really interesting role in a management consultancy, trying to set up their user experience practice. Um, and, and then at the management consultancy again, I was kind of outside of my comfort zone. I was. Around a bunch of suits. And in those days, this is like 2001.

There weren't many designers in management consultancies, and I wasn't like in a separate design team. I was like embedded as a, I went on the graduate program and everything. I learned all the stuff I got kind of brainwashed into different ways to make arguments and to sell and to manipulate and all these different things.

And, um, yeah, it always felt like uncomfortable and on the edge. But what I started to do while I was at PA was go to these, uh, UPA events, which now UXPA, and kind of start to get connected to this kind of community, those AIGA experience design events as well. Um, um, You know, just get connected to these people that had an interest out that was similar to mine.

And so that's when I really started to connect to community and that helped me to eventually get a job, um, at Flow Interactive, which became Foolproof, which is kind of one of the leading user experience consultancies. 

And, um, And then from, from flow, I did a bunch of agency where I spent most of my time. Um, uh, most pivotal was probably at, uh, oyster partners, which became Fram fab, and then LBI, which is now Digitas and that was really interesting because there was a small team about 13 user experience people at that time, which was really large.

And then when we merged, it became about 30 to 40. And then we suddenly had the biggest user experience team in an agency that I was aware of in Europe. At least if not the world. 

[00:12:12] Nirish Shakya: Oh, wow. 

[00:12:13] Jason Mesut: And it was about four. It was 40, right. So that's not that big now, but back then, that was huge. Yeah. And it was amazing. Cause that was so there was so it's such an interesting variety. And so, you know, it was fascinating just seeing the different types of people and working with all of these different types of user experience, people kind of clustered with all these different backgrounds. Um, so that was super interesting. And then I left there, um, partly because the agency kind of went into all of the marketing technology direction and I wanted to go deeper into some healthcare work. I was working on, went to the company called the, the Team, which is a branded communications agency. Um, and then from there went into, um, uh, RMA, which was really focused on enterprise apps, which is kind of like where my heart was, that there's really rich applications. And I spent most of my time hiring amazing people, um, and not really doing enough of the work anymore.

And I, I really enjoyed managing and hiring and doing all this. And I started writing about portfolios and how to kind of, you know, um, get a job with me, for example, that was just my hidden agenda. Um, and, and, uh, you know, trying to help people to kind of work out like where they, they fit it into things.

And then, um, I got a bit frustrated with the management to be honest, the management of people all the time and not really doing the work. And so I decided to kind of, um, take an opportunity, a place called Plan, which was. Um, kind of world renowned, but very small boutique product strategy consultancy. And I wanted to learn kind of, you know, more about strategy, um, from a kind of design strategy, product strategy perspective.

I get a little bit more hands-on again, without the hassle of the, you know, having to look after people and manage them in line, manage and mentor and all those kinds of things. Um, and then, uh, I had, I won one of the biggest piece of work they ever did, and it was one of my most favorite projects, um, service design project, and ended up leaving Plan to work directly with the client on that.

And we've planned as well and set up my business off the back of that. And it's been going about six years doing a whole range of different things from, you know, product and strategy, consultancy futures work, um, you know, a little bit of UX work and, um, more kind of coaching and stuff, more recent.

[00:14:31] Nirish Shakya: um, a lot of the things that you're famous for his, um, um, the are shaping design series that you've been working on for a number of years now, where did that need come from for you? Like, cause it feels like you deeply care about, uh, helping designers know themselves. And like you said, take agency of their own, um, career into the uncertain future. 

[00:15:00] Jason Mesut: Well, maybe, I don't know. maybe, just as I tell that story for the first time, uh, publicly some of that, um, maybe it's because of my own feeling, I didn't quite fit in, in some ways and kind of trying to feel like I had to conform to whichever group I was kind of being post. At that particular time and not really feeling like I was ever been truly myself. Um, cause I wasn't sure if I could be and I didn't know what that was. I'm still not sure exactly. You know, there's, there's a lot of learning and stuff that you can do to, to go into that.

[00:15:35] Nirish Shakya: What, what is the true Jason Mesut? 

[00:15:38] Jason Mesut: Well, no, so I think the interesting, who is yeah, good question. I don't know. I mean, I think the reality is, is that, that we all have somewhat different personas in our lives. And the challenge is, is to kind of make sure that whenever we are showing up in a particular way, that we're not like code switching too far away from who we really are. Um, and that can be really difficult. Like, you know, if you've, if you have the sort of life like me mine, when you were kind of like a one day, you, you hanging out with a bunch of drunks and drug-taking people in a park and then the next day you're going to kind of private school, like suits and boots. You kind of like having to kind of like be different people all the time, because, because, you know, you're just not going to fit in to any of those environments.

You're not going to survive in those in different ways. So, so I became kind of accustomed to that code switching. So I dunno, I guess I have a little bit of schizophrenia about that, but, um, who is the real me? I dunno, there's a, there's a lot behind that, but, um, I'm naturally very, very shy. I'm naturally quite lateral. I like to think I'm I'm fun, but, um, yeah, often I often I can't show up like that in various things that I do.

[00:16:47] Nirish Shakya: It's interesting. You mentioned that, um, you're naturally shy. Cause when I look at you, I don't get that same vibe. Like you're always so confident, you know, public speaking or on stage or, you know, with your videos and then the workshops you run. Um, and then now you're saying you're naturally shy, which kind of reminds me of myself. Like I am very naturally shy, I remember like doing a little survey when I left my previous consultancy saying, what are the three things that come to your mind when you think of Nirish? And I then collated all the words and created like a little, a word cloud and the number one thing, the biggest word that came out was confident. And I was like, really? I don't feel that most of the time.

[00:17:33] Jason Mesut: Interesting. Isn't that quite common? Maybe. Do you think we have rank staffers like us? 

[00:17:40] Nirish Shakya: Hm.

[00:17:41] Jason Mesut: I don't know. Do you, do you, did you feel like you had to kind of develop that confidence?

[00:17:45] Nirish Shakya: I think so I had to consciously work on it. I was never a naturally confident person. I was, you know, I grew up being very shy, very introverted, and had to consciously work on it to get myself out of that shell. But I still feel naturally, um, kind of swinging more towards the introvert scale and on the spectrum. But situationally contextually, I can be more, extroverted and confident.

[00:18:11] Jason Mesut: Um, so I've been, um, exploring this with my coach recently around my social anxiety. And it's weird because I have more social anxiety now kind of hanging out with friends than I do with like industry peers. And it's really weird because I have a social objective and something that I know about, and it makes me feel more comfortable that I can talk to someone when I don't know what it is like the so much I, and I doing, I've been exploring a lot, I think partly it's like a. You know, I'm better. One-on-one who we've had a great chat before we w we, it feels like we're one-on-one right now, but I don't know. I prefer the intimate conversation because I feel like I can give them more full focus in a group setting. I find it really hard because I feel like I'm not really, um, giving everyone a appropriate attention and that, for some reason, that that kind of troubles me and it makes me feel like, um, I, you know, I can maybe be aloof or don't care, and that's not really who I am.

So I think I've been kind of going a bit deeper into what might be the cause of that. And I think there's some attention deficit disorder type things as well related to it. Um, but certainly, you know, I've been having some really interesting intimate conversations with people. I don't know recently I can do that in a group setting. It's very different and you know, there's a different side of me when you see me at the events you've been IxDA London or other things. I mean, I, you know, it's, it's quite energy sapping in other ways, but. There's a different type of me, but it's a performative me. And it's the, it's the, it's the version of me that had to become in a work context. Or I felt like I had to become, that comes with a kind of, you know, um, maybe some negatives, right. Because, because it probably isn't, it, maybe there is some true me in that for sure. But, um, you know, maybe it doesn't always work and sometimes it can be intimidating for other people that they don't feel like I'm as accessible or as approachable. So it has been problematic in the past to kind of have this kind of more performative, extroverted, you know, version of me out there.

[00:20:17] Nirish Shakya: Hmm. And does that kind of relate back to how, I guess when you were a child, you probably didn't feel like you fit into some of the communities that you were trying to belong to. And now you're trying to create these tools for designers to help them. Are you trying to help them fit in or try and help them stand out with a unique uniqueness? What are you trying to do?

[00:20:43] Jason Mesut: That's a really good question. So, um, just quick part of the origin thing. So, you know, back in the, the, oyster farm five LBI, that big agency, when we all came together, we were trying to reckon with like all these different people, because the fram fab, um, user experience, people were more information architect types.

Um, the the oyster type people were more kind of creative, um, designer types. And so we were trying to reckon the differences between them and, um, and, uh, a guy called Warren Hutchinson, a friend of mine who I'd worked with in a couple of places. Um, he'd just been to an adaptive path, a workshop. And so they, they, they brought this kind of framework that I ever, Jesse James Garrett or Peter Murr Holtz had kind of developed or on them together.

And we started joining the shapes on it. And this became kind of one of the most famous tools that I use. Um, even though it was, it was Warren, who's kind of like embellished this adaptive path tool. And we started doing that and that's when I started kind of creating another, another tool called creating the perfect experience architect poster.

And so the, but the point is I was just, just trying to reckon with the fact that we had all these people, but we were trying to treat, trying to resource them into projects that as if they were the same thing and they weren't, we needed to pair people up. We need to kind of have like teams of people and we didn't know how to do that.

We didn't know how to read people. We didn't know how to kind of look at someone. Ah, you're one of them or you're a little bit more like that. And so we were trying to just work out well, what are the things that were important and how are these people different so that we can kind of create better teams.

Um, and there were so many amazing people, but they brought so much different stuff together. And there was some conflict there really, or some conflict between that. And sometimes that's healthy, sometimes it really wasn't. And so kind of how you pair people, how you kind of partner different types of individuals together became really fascinating to me.

And I became really interested in kind of like, well, who was I looking up to too? And what did I want to be? Because at the time the role models in UX were not like desirable from a designer's perspective. Um, they were, they were, they were, um, um, They were, they were the usability people, right? So like, you know, and, and, you know, I love them for what they've done for the world and they are differently funny, but that, you know, you would, it would be the Jacob Nielsen's this world.

Right. You know, and he wasn't cool. He wasn't a designer friendly person, you know, he really wasn't, but he did some useful stuff, but, but he wasn't my hero. He wasn't someone I wanted to live and, you know, look up to these days, we've got all sorts of shapes of designer heroes that we can potentially look up to.

Or, you know, we, we say we shouldn't look up to these people and in those ways, but actually we do, we, when we model behavior, we're humans, we model behavior, the people around us. And, and I didn't want to model the behavior of Jacob Nelson. Um, and so I was trying to think about what is it that I'm looking for?

What is it that I want to be, how do I want to grow and realize that it isn't necessarily a person or single, you know, a set of different people. It's, it's a whole different set of dimensions and skills and capabilities and qualities that if we could just better decode. We could actually, you know, help people kind of go, you know what, I'm pretty close to that I'd bring something different to the table.

I'm unique. And there's some areas that I want to grow. And, um, maybe by, by learning about which areas I want to grow in, that I can invest more time in those then the other things.

[00:24:05] Nirish Shakya: Um, and one thing you talk about is helping people find their unique perspectives. another thing that I do find interesting is around challenging people to combine multiple perspectives.

[00:24:18] Jason Mesut: Hmm.

[00:24:18] Nirish Shakya: how, how does that happen? What does that look like to you? 

[00:24:21] Jason Mesut: Well, that's a really interesting one. So I guess. 

you're, you're you're cutting to kind of like, that is a kind of like a core belief of mine or what I think I bring an extract can be quite provocative. Right. And, and over the past year, I realized I've been holding that back as I've been, trying to be a bit more coachy in the next year that might change. It might release a little bit more of that again. Um, but, but, um, you know, I, I do think there's a lack of critical perspectives on things. People often very narrow in their viewpoints. Um, they'll come from a very biased perspective. We all know that, but they'll, they'll, they'll really struggle to see, um, the other perspective, right.

So, you know, you can look at it and from a politics perspective as well, like, you know, you're, you can be quite left-wing and your thinking, and just kind of go along with all the people who think a particular type of way, and anyone who says something that poses that, or is like anti-vax or whatever, you just go, well, they're just stupid.

Why are they so fucking idiotic? They don't understand science rather than try to understand their perspective, rather than like, honestly, just to sit there and to spend the time and understand, well, what is. About the way they thinking that could be valid, right. That we should be considering. And so in my work and my strategy work, I have to do that.

I have to think about what does the business one, what is the market doing? What are, you know, what do users need and want? What do employees need and want all of these different perspectives have to input into what an organization might choose to do next. Otherwise, something's going to come along and you're not going to anticipate it. You know, that uncertainty is, is even higher. So by kind of taking the different perspectives, you limit that uncertainty. So that's a big part of that navigating of the uncertainty by, by bringing it in, trying to frame it with different lenses, different kind of ways to look at the world to kind of see where the gaps are, to see where the tensions are.

And so I realize. That's what my whole toolkit is kind of about as well. Right. You know, it's just that they're just different lenses, different things you throw on, on the problem. And you suddenly see different strengths, gaps, holes, tensions, you know, you see things in different ways.

[00:26:28] Nirish Shakya: And what, why do you think teams can't do that already before, before your tools, teams have been working together for decades now, or, more than that. 

[00:26:37] Jason Mesut: some people can right, but it's more intuitive, right? It's like a, if you, if you're an experienced design leader and you work with hundreds of designers, you might get a feel of how to use someone really well and how to kind of like put pair people up and go, yeah. You can sense that they kind of work well together and get them to describe why it's harder for them to do. And the difficulty is you'll be loading themselves up with a lot of inherent bias, unconscious bias that they can't really describe. Like for example, you know, their bias towards people that went to world college of art cause they did, or their bias towards, um, you know, design industry people. Cause they did like, I am, you know, like all of these things, right.

And, and, and it's not necessarily healthy. Um, or your bias between people who are like, you. you. know, that's just easier. So I feel that you can, you can totally do it. And that's what people do all the time. And I do think it's almost impossible to kind of decode it, so it's completely objective, but I just, I just think it can be useful to just kind of get people to clarify their thinking a little bit more in the same way as I would use a similar sort of framework or a tool to kind of help clarify someone's strategy as an organization.

You know, you put it in a thing as in a two-by-two you put it in a canine model, you put it something, you bring something to the table and you go, right. Let's look at this problem through the lens of this tool, you're going to see a different thing. And then you go, ah, I don't really see them that interesting through that tool.

Let's, let's frame it up in a different way.

[00:28:04] Nirish Shakya: so are you trying to bring some neutrality into the discussion using these kind of tools as, as shared frames for reference for people. 

[00:28:12] Jason Mesut: Yeah. A little bit, a little bit neutrality to kind of, yeah, to kind of just so, but by, by creating these kind of more neutral frames on things, because it's a really interesting thing. Like when w when you talk to someone about who they are, who they really are, go fuck, where do I start? Really? You know, there's that problem. Um, also, they don't really know, but if you, if you give them a prompt and some, some categories that go over, okay, okay. I don't understand that one by understanding this one. Oh yeah. I'm kind of over here. It just helps you to kind of understand and to kind of prompt and provoke that thinking it's like a prototype in a user test, right. It could be really good for kind of getting you to. Better understanding of the actual requirements, even if the solution isn't right. So by putting a prop in front of someone, giving them that stimulus, you're going to go, oh, right. Okay. And yes, you're biasing them, but like, but you also kind of encouraging them to get out of this kind of blank page kind of like, well, who are you really?

What have you got? And give them something to kind of go, ah, I recognize that in myself. Oh, I didn't even think about that. Yeah. I'm pretty good at that. Oh, that's important. Is it? Oh, listening this sketchy and that's important, you know, writing. Okay, cool. You know, so, so as a result, it's almost like this, holding a certain mirror up to yourself and you seeing things that you may not have seen for a while or ever before. And I think that's incredibly powerful.

[00:29:34] Nirish Shakya: On that note. I think I do remember one of the first times I actually came across one. Um, frameworks, the blob mapping, I think,

[00:29:42] Jason Mesut: Yeah. 

[00:29:43] Nirish Shakya: I remember using this I'm with my team, and there was a, a really talented designer on my team, who used it. And she had the same experience of, you know, having a mirror held in front of her. And then, um, she ended up leaving the team or the company, and I was like,damn you, Jason.

[00:30:02] Jason Mesut: Well, because of the block Babby 

[00:30:04] Nirish Shakya: Yeah. She'd realized that, you know what I have, these certain needs that I wasn't aware of before, and I'm going to pursue these needs, which I can or cannot fulfill in the company, which I was really happy for. And as a friend, but obviously she left the company.

[00:30:19] Jason Mesut: Yeah. That's, that's an ongoing tension. Um, uh, well, I'm sorry about that. But you know, it's better for her, right? It's better for her and it's better for you. It's better for everyone. If people can be in the place that they, they feel that they. 

[00:30:32] Nirish Shakya: Yeah. And I think, that's what I'm assuming you try to do is to empower individuals, to find things or work that is meaningful to them. I remember, I think in your, one of your recent, um, UX live, conference talks, I remember seeing a quote that you showed on the screen, um, from Alexander den Haier um, we said, um, "You often feel tired. Not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you", why does this resonate with you?

[00:31:07] Jason Mesut: Oh, man. I mean, even just hearing it, I, I mean, I, I love that quote so much. Um, why does it resonate? I don't know, because like one, I'm a workaholic. I love the work, but it is really annoying and frustrating at times. And sometimes it's easy to forget that that there's, you know, you're privileged to be able to do design and get paid. But get paid fairly well for it, you, you can lose a lot of energy through the frustration and through the motivation, you know, people not really quite understanding. And then you, and then you, you sometimes it's easy to forget, like why you, what you really enjoy and that, that has value it. And this goes back to that whole legitimacy of design thing.

Right? For, for so long, we, we have to justify what are the value is. And we spend so much time doing the stuff around the edges of the actual work and, and, and not enough time doing the things that are actually the most important, whatever they might be for that particular context. And so, yeah, I dunno, it resonates to me because, you know, life is short and, you know, it's resonating harder with me through, through kind of losing some people in my life that. Many things more recently. So life is short. Um, you want to make sure you're kind of channeling that the value you offer it in the right places and, and, you know, doing something you love really helps with that.

[00:32:42] Nirish Shakya: I think that's a really powerful way to look at it. I recently, printed a life calendar you might have seen that like little boxes representing each week of your life and you just tick off the boxes you've lived. And he could kind of like a visual indication of how much life you've got left. 

As an estimate, obviously. And it kind of, you know, you come to the realization, actually life is not as long as you think, and you have a very limited time on this planet. So spend it on things that, like you said, bring you the joy and the meaning and sparks that light in you.

[00:33:17] Jason Mesut: mm, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I think the difficulty is. like I say people along the way, they might've had it at the start. They came. For example, one thing I used to, you know, found out when I was doing this poster, this, this, um, building the perfect experience architect poster, it was one of those things, just passion of gold, um, passionate of gold, or heart of gold, heart of gold, heart of gold, um, is the passion for the industry. Like people were really passionate coming in this industry more recently. It feels like people are more kind of chasing the money. Um, there's, there's more money going around and people, you know, can get career in this space and all that. So, so maybe some of the passion has dissipated, but also because the nature of the work isn't really kind of leaning into the power of some of that passion that existed before I think. So. I think that people have maybe lost. And as designers become a little bit more commoditized and a little bit more operationalized. And so I would like people to kind of recognize that there's, there's, there's different parts of their own flavor and spark that they can bring, bring to the table still. They just might not have found it yet.

[00:34:29] Nirish Shakya: So that's probably something, a lot of us designers, tech people, creative problem solvers might be thinking of as we start the new year. what's the one thing that they can do, to. I guess become a bit more aware of that.

[00:34:47] Jason Mesut: so bizarrely, I was going to say like, obviously you should kind of, go to my medium articles, but you can, you should, well, I would say it's one of your options. I don't think it's the right way for everyone. Right. And one of the problems with my work in on medium, medium.com/shapingdesign, whole series of articles on lots of different tools. There's too many of them. We don't know which one to use is it's hard to navigate. I get that. That's why I'm trying to 

[00:35:12] Nirish Shakya: That's that's exactly how I felt when I first went on, it was like, whoa, like 

[00:35:15] Jason Mesut: Don't, I don't know where to start. There's no architecture, there's no navigation and all that. It's, it's, it's annoying. So people mail me, email me and go, Jason, what should I do?

I'm in this situation, I go, oh, you should do this and this and this fine. And then they go off and do it. And I can't, I can't do that. But so my, my one recommendation that the easiest thing to do is, um, I say easy. It's an easy hard easy to say, maybe hard to carve out the time to spend, try and get like two to three hours to yourself or break it up into kind of hour chunks to do some reflection.

Use either some. Some of the tools that I've created and maybe the career timeline map is a good start to that because it kind of gets you to look at, you know, the highs and lows of your career and kind of makes you think about what you enjoyed and what you didn't maybe use one of the discipline tools.

Cause it's a little bit closer to, to the UX work that you might do, or just use the year compass if you've ever seen that, which is an end of year kind of reflection, um, toolkit, which we can share the links of which I, I like to do every year, but it's quite in-depth few hours in fact. Um, and, but the point is the same.

Just spend some time really thinking back to your, your career or even the past year, what have you enjoyed? Where have you struggled? Um, why you think that is, and then use that as a way to kind of think ahead to that. I think, you know, well, what, what do I want to do in the future? The longer term future? When, so once you got that clearer, what could I be doing in the next few months to kind of move towards that?

[00:36:57] Nirish Shakya: Great. We will put all the links to the tools that we've been discussing. And you've mentioned, in the show notes, so that you don't have to remember what they said, what those were that we had. Jason just mentioned. so looking forward into 2022, and, and beyond what's the one thing that really excites you and what's the one thing that really scares you in terms of it could be the design industry. It could be, self-awareness for designers or design careers. 

[00:37:28] Jason Mesut: Um, well, so I think it's a perennial challenge, really like the, the ongoing challenge. Ah, the digital design industry, anything to do with uX, digital product design all those sorts of things is getting too swept up with the technology changes happening around us. And I think, you know, at the moment there seems to be anything blockchain, decentralized, NFT related. There's just, um, a little bit too much focus on that. I think at the moment, maybe going to talk and I, I fear that that too many people are gonna get swept into that space. I mean, believe me, it needs a lot of design work and I do feel like it's kind of inevitable that that's that's gonna happen in some degree, but it's not everything.

Um, the same maybe applies to things like AI. And I just really hope that whatever we do going into these spaces, we really do try to kind of stay true to what we're really meant to be about is trying to kind of help support the human society. Moving forward and the businesses depends on your kind of leanings to move forwards.

Um, you know, using technology as an aid towards that as a very human human thing, right? Technology is very human in my eyes, but to make sure that it kind of does, does connect with the humanity and not get swept along with like the trend and the hype and all those sorts of things. Cause it really rarely plays out as quickly as everyone talks about. Um, so I really, I really want people to kind of make sure they're focusing and doing the good thinking and not feeling like they're missing out because they're not, they're not working on a crypto NFT, AI driven, uh, sustainability platform or something. Right. You know, it's easy to kind of think that you're not doing something meaningful if you're not doing all those things. And it could just be that your, you know, you're working on a, on a product that is helping some people with a particular need. It just doesn't happen to be using the latest, coolest technology, just a mature one. And that's okay. more than okay. It's great.

[00:39:43] Nirish Shakya: So accepting. The reality of whatever you're doing. and the value that you're trying to add to the world, just accepting that. 

[00:39:49] Jason Mesut: Yeah. There's a great book and I need to read it again. It's just, it's in eyesight. It's called, but I can't reach it. I can't quite reach it. It's called. It's not how good you are. It's how good you want to be by Paul Arden. And it's like a creatives book. Very short, nice read. And one of the things I remember it always saying is your best project is the current project. You just got to make it. So you've got to find that the opportunities of in it and this, this, this can be considered in the same vein sometimes don't know, always in terms of like, you don't have to just pack your job in, cause it's not quite working out. Just try and find somewhere else where the grass is greener. There might be opportunities within where you are. If you can really think about what it is, you're lacking, what it is you think you're needing, what it is you think you can offer and then have the appropriate conversations, make the appropriate moves to try and see if there's a way an opportunity to kind of do something good

[00:40:49] Nirish Shakya: Is there a question that you'd like to be asked that I haven't asked you yet?

[00:40:56] Jason Mesut: why haven't you, well, when's the book coming out?

[00:41:05] Nirish Shakya: When is the book coming out?

[00:41:06] Jason Mesut: Oh, the reason why I don't even want to ask that question, but like, uh, answer that question. Uh, it's really hard. Uh, I'll answer it because I think the answer is important. It's really hard to write a book for many reasons, but, um, I find it really difficult because I'm so used to having pressure and clients. So it's been really hard to actually commit to finishing. And I realized how much of a poor complete to finish I am, especially when I don't have a client. So the more people that show interest in the work, um, by my pre-orders, which I I've started to kind of lump in against them, uh, public workshops, um, the more likely is I'm going to finish it. And most of it's there to be honest, it's just doing some final refinements. So, um, I'm hoping early into the new year, there'll be some Bita copies going around. Um, but if anyone wants to help review as an end-user, um, I'll be looking for some reviewers in January.

[00:41:57] Nirish Shakya: Well, tell us about this new book you're writing. What's it about? 

[00:42:00] Jason Mesut: Well, it's about helping people who go to my medium page and get lost in all the messy with different tools. So basically it's about, um, using a whole bunch of different tools, um, with yourself to kind of do some of that. Self-reflection so based on some different, um, scenarios, um, there was kind of a set of different recipes. So for example, if you're new to UX or, um, you're switching career from an, from another, um, discipline or something, or you're a new leader, it gives you a kind of like, uh, a few of the kinds of sequences of different tools to use and some kind of guidance on how to do them. That's much clearer and more refined than is publicly available. So you can do it all if you want to navigate at the moment through the medium articles that the spirit of it's there, but the tools are much more refined, sharper. Um, and it's just a bit more self-supporting so guides you through it.

[00:42:54] Nirish Shakya: Do you providing a, a map for people to follow through the amazing, treasure as you've left on that map? 

[00:43:01] Jason Mesut: Yeah. It's like, you know, there's different ways to architect it and different ways to navigate through, um, you know, different ways to, to frame it. So there's, you know, notions of kind of like grounding yourself or positioning yourself or profiling yourself versus doing some envisioning or planning work. So it kind of just breaks those different tools into the different kind of modes. But also, as I say, giving you these recipes, like little playbook of, you know, do this one, then this one, this one sort of like, what happens if someone reaches out to me on an email says, well, I'm in this situation, what should I use? And I'll go, Hmm, this, this and this, you know, and then, uh, and then we'll discuss it and then we go for it. So it's better

[00:43:38] Nirish Shakya: You could create like an, if this, then that, you know, rule for that. 

[00:43:41] Jason Mesut: maybe, maybe, uh, yeah. Let's yeah, yeah. I just need to codify Jason in that sense. Cause I, cause there's not enough for me.

[00:43:50] Nirish Shakya: So one thing that we, you know, we talked about it and we went really deep on this was around, you know, how life is so short. Uh, imagine it's your last day on earth. And someone came up here to you, came up to you with a tiny piece of paper and said, Jason, write down your last words for humanity or for designers that we're going to, we can put up on a big billboard for everyone to see. What would you write down on that tiny piece of paper

[00:44:18] Jason Mesut: Be who you need to be,

[00:44:25] Nirish Shakya: be who you need? 

[00:44:29] Jason Mesut: and then reference that quote you said earlier that

[00:44:37] Nirish Shakya: What did you mean by that

[00:44:38] Jason Mesut: I just, I just there's a lot, like. But I think it's just making sure that you're conscious of the system that you're working in, whether that's your team and your colleagues, your business, the market, but recognize that you only really function well when you're serving yourself as well. So how can you bring yourself and your, your own needs and desires to the table? Because I strongly believe that that will make you better working amongst everyone else. You have to be cognizant of that wider system that you're working in, but you, you were part of that system and that, and, and you need to consider yourself from your own unique self. And it's, it's hard work to kind of get to that, to that point where you can really understand yourself. And sometimes you need help some from the mentor, coach, or therapist, or, you know, some tools in a book or on medium articles, you know that they'll get you clothes. Um, but doing that work to kind of look at yourself, you know, frequently, um, I think is really important.

[00:45:50] Nirish Shakya: Great. So, uh, Jason, you have been running this, a new series called shaping design, a series of workshops to help designers, use some of your tools in your tool kit to learn more about themselves. I'm assuming you run these, on a regular basis. 

[00:46:07] Jason Mesut: I'm going to start to run them more regularly. They'd been typically being run around particular conferences or when organizations once run them in house, but I'm going to be running them, in February 2022 and possibly months after that.

[00:46:23] Nirish Shakya: Great. And you have something special for our listeners. 

[00:46:27] Jason Mesut: If you use the code, "ifeeldesign" all lower case a you can get yourself 30% of the price of that workshop and also 30% of a pre-order of the book, uh, which will be the only place you can. Pre-order it. 

[00:46:44] Nirish Shakya: Cool. Thanks, Jason. And if you go to designfeeling.co/shapingdesign, that's where you'll be able to enter the code and get your 30% discount. So Jason, if people want to find you online after the show, where can they find you? 

[00:47:02] Jason Mesut: Yeah, you can catch me on LinkedIn. I'm just easy to find Jason Mesut M E S U T, and I write a medium.com/jasonmesut, and I'm on Twitter at @jasonmesut. And, um, yeah, I write various stuff from a coaching perspective. Um, we have the service design advent calendar. This has been happening in december and you'll find all my shaping design work there as well.

[00:47:30] Nirish Shakya: Thanks so much Jason , like I said, early in our conversation, every time have a conversation with you, a leave, ending up like a wiser human beings. So thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. We've talked about so many things, we've talked about, Actually having that agency have a, your own future, by, well, first of all, acknowledging who you are and being aware of who you are as a designer, as a problem solver, as a maker.

Also we've been talked about the whole legitimacy of that whole design industry and how we ourselves, as a community are trying to build that credibility, uh, in wider world. And lot of that that can probably take, time, right? So , accepting that fact as well. We talked about, fitting in and also celebrating our own differences, and bringing in our own unique perspectives and combining those perspectives, which is something that you have been working so passionately towards, uh, yourself.

 We talked about how short life is and how we want to be doing things that gets us closer to. What brings us joy and meaning, and why we're, I guess, placed on this planet. We Talked about a lot of the tools that you've developed to help designers and creatives and, people in tech do that, which will definitely link in the show notes.

 So Jason, thank you so much for sharing all your insights, your experience, your stories. Really appreciate that and have a great new year have a great 2022, and we will see you again soon. 

[00:49:01] Jason Mesut: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me on.