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 grow as a designer by stopping, listening to yourself and trusting your gut

Design Coach, Kate Pincott shares her personal and vulnerable story of her career highs, burnout and how important it is for designers to stop, reflect, listen to themselves and trust their gut.


#002 - How can you learn and grow continuously as a designer without burning out and veering too far from who you are? In this episode, I interview Kate Pincott who is a Design Coach, CEO and Founder of Remote Design Coaching. She’s on a mission to help designers get unblocked in their careers so that they can find their own design voice that the world desperately needs.

In this episode:
  • Designer burnouts and value of stopping and reflecting
  • Giving ourselves permission to experiment on our own lives and careers
  • Finding coaches who you can be safely vulnerable with
  • Setting intentions in our daily practice as designers
  • Trusting your gut
  • AND MUCH MORE to help you start off the new year more grounded in yourself!
 
Shownotes
Lean Loop, Lean mindset by Eric Ries, author of Lean Startup
 
Mcinksey report - tangible ROI of design
 
Kate’s Reality Prototype Program
 
Feelings wheel
 
Rumi (Persian poet) and Kate’s favourite Rumi book, the Masnavi: Book One
 
Go to www.designfeeling.co/kate to book a chat with Kate and enter the code “designfeeling” to get 10% of her Reality Prototyping Program
 
Cover art design by Leo Wong and Kim Habib
Transcript

[00:00:00] Kate Pincott: Designer satisfaction has a lot to do with intentionality. The ultimate design quest as a designer is to design our ourselves.

[00:00:08] Nirish Shakya: That's Kate Pincott. Kate is a design coach, CEO and founder of Remote Design Coaching. She's on mission to help designers get unblocked in their careers so that they can find their own design voice. She brings in her own vast experience as a product designer, working for brands, such as Facebook, usTwo and Barclays. I invited Kate on my show because I think her work really embodies what I'm trying to convey through this podcast, which is helping designers know themselves better so that they can make an impact that aligns with who they really are. In this episode, Kate and I talk about how designers can conduct lean experiments on their own lives and careers to continuously learn and grow. Kate also shares her own story of success, burnout, and reflection, and how important it is to trust your own. Stick around, cause Kate will also reveal her findings on the top three needs for designers.

[00:01:05] Shivaun: This is the Design Feeling Podcast with your host Nirish Shakya. 

[00:01:18] 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.

One of the first thing that I wanted to know from you. And this is probably the classic question that every designer gets asked . How did you get into design?

[00:02:13] Kate Pincott: I fell into design by mistake. Actually, I was an old student in art college in London, and I was doing weird art installations with hairdryers hanging from the ceiling and watching motion sensors and electronics. And I wanted to trap people inside my installations and see what they would do. So it was really interested in communication.

Um, but in a very playful kind of cheeky way. And my tutor at the time said, it's not that much money in art as a career for you. And I think that you might be better going the graphic design route and kind of looking at communication. So I kind of went into. Um, wayfinding the kind of museums and, um, physical interaction and, and then slowly that led to the website, boom.

And, and everybody wanted a website and I kind of just fell into it. So there was never any plan . Um, but I just was so curious about how people work and, um, what motivates humans and their behavior. And that's what kept me going.

[00:03:23] Nirish Shakya: Yeah, it's always so fascinating to hear about these stories of how designers get into design. So, Kate, you had a very stellar career in design. And then from there you transitioned into becoming a design coach. How did that transition happen for you? 

[00:03:39] Kate Pincott: Yeah, I was kind of top of my game, felt like I was flying on the outside. I had a top job in town. I was traveling the world, doing user research, everything paid for me, business flights. I was doing talks at conferences and speaking about things I cared about, I was working with super talented people. And the work that I was doing was affecting billions of people.

And so by all measures, you would have thought that I was super happy. Um, you know, I'd worked really hard to get to that level. And you would've thought I sat on the top of the hill and said, woo, I made it. But actually I was not aligned with myself. It was not aligned with my values. And I started to realize that I knew my users better than I knew myself.

I knew all the people I was user researching and fighting for and designing for. And problem-solving for more than I actually knew my, my own values and what my pain points were. And then. That mattered to me the most and I crashed and burned. So I had a really big burnout. I, and my mental health was not very good.

And I ended up quitting my job. And, um, I spent some time with my husband Abdullah. Who's a woodworker, and we spent lots of time in the tree learning about mood and plants. And I started to use my hands and moving away from the computer for a while, just to. Do something different. And slowly I was able to learn what mattered to me the most.

And I slowly started to realize that it was actually the people that I was most passionate about, not the pixels. And that's when I transitioned from pixels to people. That's when I started learning about coaching. And I realized that I had managed to get myself out of a really, really tough situation into a place where I was thriving and calm and confident again.

And I was thinking, I wonder if I can do this for other people. So then I started prototyping and playing with this framework that I developed, and that's how I started my coaching.

[00:05:54] Nirish Shakya: I love how you say people not pixels. Right. And I mean, that does remind me of what we do as designer. We do design for people, but like you said, it's so easy to just forget about that, that the person who's actually doing the design, how did you come to that real realization? How about yourself? Like how did you even see yourself or make yourself aware of yourself?

[00:06:20] Kate Pincott: Um, yeah, I think the biggest blocker I had to learning about myself and doing user research on myself was I wouldn't sit still for long enough. I was always busy moving, doing, going, being, and I prided myself in being busy. Oh yes, I'm doing all these things. My calendar. So booked as if somehow that gave me some validity or significance.

And when I spent time in nature and in the trees. And in the woods outside of our golden time would just fly. And the tangible result that I would get from that time was this beautiful sense of peace and calm. And then I started looking at that output or impact on my life and thought, wow, I value this way more than some new page view metric or some other kind of OKR that didn't resonate. And so I think it was just learning to be still. And obviously a lot of people listening will be aware of meditation and the mindfulness movement that we're seeing across the globe standing and, and then doing lots of little experiments. That was the next thing. So listening and then starting to do some experiments.

And what does the new Kaitlin. I have an MVP and I was Cate 1.0, what does 2.0 look like ? How does she walk? How does she talk? What does she think? What does she wear? What did she say? How does she smell everything about that new version? Let's can visualize it and imagine it and get clear on who I am.

[00:08:00] Nirish Shakya: Great. Well, tell us about this story of going from 1.0 to two point. Oh, how did that transition happen? What would some of these experiments you were running?

[00:08:09] Kate Pincott: Some of them, you know, when we think about experiments, we often think about hypothesis driven design and having to write a hypothesis statement and it being quite heavy and, you know, requiring all the stakeholders on a team. But when it's just you and you're the only state code. It's quite easy to define quite quickly .

What's the outcome that I desire and what's one small baby step that I can try to optimize that outcome. And so it might be something for me, it was things like, well, in between my meetings, I'd like to be a little bit more present to my fences. So I would plant middle essential oil bottles in different rooms.

And every time I went into the room, I'd grab one and have a deep. Um, and I'm really enjoy that's now, or it might be, I'd like to not take myself so seriously, I'd like to be more playful in the light. How about I try and end every meeting or every conversation with something really frivolous, something really silly, no matter what the consequences let's have a go.

Because as a designer, I saw myself as very serious and I have to be serious and I was thinking, okay, how can we change that? So just like we try on different hats. You know, when we're playing the, the crazy eights and six half games in user research, you can do that with yourself. And you can say, what happens if I put a different hats on today and I try different personas . So I started to document that a lot with journaling, and that's how I slowly saw what is serving me. What is working really well. And what's not because let's drop that. And so I started doing this kind of lean loop process, but to myself, I'm very consistent. Um, but it felt light. It didn't feel like a 360 peer review that you get in some of the big tech companies where you're constantly being examined and, and, um, you know, stressed about your performance. It felt effortless. 

[00:10:03] Nirish Shakya: You mentioned something called lean loop. Could you tell us a bit about that? 

[00:10:06] Kate Pincott: Yeah. So the lean loop. Kind of came from, you know, Eric Reis the lean startup and build measure, learn, build, measure, learn, build, measure, learn. And this was around in 2011 was 13. I can't remember the date. And this was revolutionary because, you know, Eric was saying, instead of building, you know, 10 things and seeing which one works, why don't we test and experiment?

And why did. Um, actually just go for it and make it, and then we're going to measure, and then we're going to learn. And this kind of way of thinking, um, was very different to the waterfall methodology that was around at the time. And it really helped, um, big companies to, to re evaluate how they might go about the design process and their manufacturer.

And. I think that the biggest kind of outcome was that design and started to be needed on a more regular cadence. And so it started to introduce this more frequent talking between the engineering and the managers and the stakeholders and slow. We started to see, um, design is being brought into the conversation a little bit more upfront rather than just at the end.

Hey, can you make this pretty well? Hey, can you make this look harmonious and

[00:11:36] Nirish Shakya: classic one is, you know make it pop!

[00:11:38] Kate Pincott: Yeah. Make it pop. Oh my gosh. Yeah. You're so right. 

[00:11:42] Nirish Shakya: I'm just curious to know what stops designers from. Doing what you just did. The way you describe, it sounds like such a natural way to think about yourself in terms of, stopping and reflecting and learning more by yourself, but what stops designers from doing that right now?

[00:12:07] Kate Pincott: I don't know the answer. I think two things come to mind. Um, one being that often when you have a super power, it's very easy to use it for other people. Um, if you think about doctors and their health, they're often notorious for being very naughty with their health, but aren't, they all smoking or something like that.

Uh, if you think about athletes, um, you know, they're meant to be super fit, but you often see, you know, on all a day completely stopping. Their exercise regime. So I think as problem, definers and solvers, who interrogate, and then re-imagine, sometimes we're tired when we go home, you know, and we don't want to interrogate and re-imagine for ourselves.

And so we kind of leave our sleep, a power suit at work and we don't bring it home with us. I think the other thing that comes to mind yeah. Normally the rules and regulations around where we operate as designers is predominantly in a group setting with stakeholders, with leaders who give us permission to start this process.

Now, obviously there's a slightly different with the entrepreneurs out there. I salute you. I love you. You, you just go for it proactively, but most people have a space within which they do that design thinking within a box. So I think that we tend to compartmentalize and we forget that actually we have permission to have experimental mindset in all parts of them, not just when we're doing our quote unquote job. So I think it's got permission.

[00:13:44] Nirish Shakya: who is meant to give that permission the way is that meant to come from? Why do we even need a permission for that?

[00:13:49] Kate Pincott: That's a great question. I think it goes back to kind of the history of old tack and design. So I think, you know, the last decade has all been about how can we give designers a seat at the table? Um, the, the, the 2010s. And we've done a brilliant job of that, right? Because we have designed founders that are really successful.

We've got design led companies like Uber and Airbnb that are doing really well. We've got chief design officers all over the world there, the McKinsey report came out and told us how, you know, design does have a tangible ROI. So we've had lots of ways that design has been raised and brought to the boardroom. But now that we have a seat at the table, what are we going to say? And how are we going to be heard? So I think that the next decade, the 2020s is going to all be about, well, how are we going to be heard? How are we going to speak the language of business? And that's why historically we haven't felt like we had for me.

Because we were shoehorned in this little box where we're constantly having to fight the user-centered design and our way of thinking. And we're just not used to it. We're used to more of a service agency kind of interaction where people tell us what to do. And then we follow it within a very small limited frame.

[00:15:11] Nirish Shakya: I think that's a really, eyeopening perspective in terms of, um, you know, looking at the, the history of the role of design itself in, in, in the company. Um, and you, like you said, I, I think that is so true in terms of how it's still trying to find its feet and its identity as to what it's meant to do and how it's meant to help the company, as opposed to some of the more.

That the older traditional roles that company might have. When did you have your, let's say breakthrough moment where you started to kind of realize, I guess the problem, and then looking into the solution, not just for yourself, but things that potentially could help other designers and creatives.

[00:15:59] Kate Pincott: I think it's when I realize that everything is an experiment and everything can be turned into an experiment , a mindset. Um, an emotional response or reaction the way that I reframe things, I think I started to realize that pretty much any problem I have could be broken down into an experiment and I could have a hypothesis or a gut feeling, and I could do a little baby step towards it without fully committing, to being a totally radically new person.

I found that really uplifting and empowering and. I realized that I was following the lean loop and it just occurred to me one day, I was like, oh my goodness. I'm literally doing this to myself. And I felt like, I wonder perhaps this could be repeatable and rigorous for others. So then I started sharing it with some design friends and, um, I started trying it out.

And again, it's a reading doing very small experiments with some. And seeing if it would work for them and it was working and I was so excited, I was like, yes, it's working. This is reliable is amazing. And then I started thinking, well, maybe this needs to scale up, but I need to share this with more people.

Um, because when you go from feeling lost to having clarity, but when you go from feeling low confidence to having confidence, that changes lives, that changes your whole outlook. And that felt really powerful. And then one of my values that's really important is stewardship, which is this idea of leaving something better than, than when you found it.

And that could be, you know, when you go to the toilet and it's a little grubby and you make it nicer for the next person, or it could be in a conversation that you have with someone to help them grow. And so I started asking myself, how can I use this framework to be a steward, um, and to help unblock people in whatever it is that they're wrestling with within themselves.

And to really listen to their intuition and their gut. And that's how we started to develop the process and kind of the rest is history in the sense that I just kept working on it and iterating on it and sharing it with friends until kind of made some kind of sense. But I'm still, I'm sure I'll continue that.

[00:18:14] Nirish Shakya: Tell us about, um, you know, your favorite experiment or the lean loop that you ran me on yourself and what.

[00:18:24] Kate Pincott: Yeah, not all of them went well, nourished, that's the point? Right. So the whole point is to, um, to see what works. So I wanted to try and be more concise. And when I inspire. So you have a really sharp, short story and boom, see if I could set some plans on fire. I felt that I was being rather the boats, right.

I was like, how can I be more shocked and, and concise? So with one of my coaches, I said, okay, we're going to watch a little short video clip , and we're going to look at this character and then we're going to take something from it, played the video short and listening. I was like, so what did we take from this was listening to people. Yeah, we don't take no for an answer. I'm like brilliant. Yes. And what else did we take from this video? We need to push forward and have our voices heard, like, yes. Brilliant. Okay, great. So I want you To all go out today and be persistent with what it is that you want to be heard and make sure that you're heard in the room. I get a call a few hours later from another manager. Say. I dunno what happened, Kate, but that was a car crash of a meeting and you need to go and sort it out because one of your designers is off the rail and I was thinking , oh God, what have I done? And I had pumped them with bravado and bravery and passion, but maybe a little bit too much.

And hadn't found a way to channel that in a diplomatic way. And this particular designer had spun off the rails and got quite angry in the meeting. And so I learned my lesson, right. Which is that, you know, when I pumped someone up, like when you pump a balloon up, you have to be careful that you tie a knot in it, or that it goes. We'll fly all over the place. So I have that balloon metaphor whenever I'm pumping up and yeah, I'm going to make you pumped. I'm going to get you excited tire, not make sure that there's a clear boundary and context with the advice that I'm giving so that it doesn't fly all over the place.

[00:20:32] Nirish Shakya: But that's why it's an experiment, right? It could work and it could fail. Um, but what that's reminded me of is I might have unconsciously ran those experiments, doing Mt. Korea, myself, but. Maybe I didn't have someone to guide me through that experiment or maybe I didn't know how to measure it or do it safely without the risk of, for example, like pissing off your manager, which sometimes in any, maybe you can do, but in, within that context of the constraints, One of the things that I'm starting to see here is the value of finding a mentor or a coach in the, in the clinic career for designer, which I have to say I was really bad at.

I was really well at first of all, I was really shy asking for help. And also I had a really big ego as a designer. Thinking I knew everything, right. I learned this at uni and I know what I'm doing and Hey, I'm a great public speaker or in can act in confidence and be this person and whatnot. Um, it was only a bit later in my career that I started realizing, you know, what, you know, I would probably, would've gotten a lot farther and faster if I had coaches and mentors helping me.

How do you think. And creatives can find mentorship and coaches doing pretty much any stage of their career.

[00:21:57] Kate Pincott: Yeah, it's a great question. And I get asked that a lot by design and because, you know, it's not the designer's fault that they think just like the way you mentioned, I felt the same. I've got all this bravado and all this confidence, I can do everything and it's, it's actually not designer's fault at all.

It's the system that they're in. And they are taught. Don't show vulnerability. Don't show your cards. Don't tell me all the things that you all finding difficult because you won't be trusted them. And there's a lot of pressure on designers to have trust in their team because they are the glue, right? The designers are the invisible glue that holds the team together.

And if they are perceived as weak or not knowing what they're doing , um, they feel like they're going to be judged as incompetent or not a good designer, and that will reflect badly on their performance. So we need to change that because that's not okay. All of us should have space to make mistakes and to ask questions and to hold doubt.

Um, because you know, leadership is about that clarity and confidence and doubt we need both. And so I think that, you know, the old model of leadership is this dictator Oriel leader that knows all the answers. And actually now we're in a, in a new era where leadership is servanthood and. and relying on the people below you.

So I hear a lot of people say, well, how can I get a coach? You know, I can't talk to someone in my team because they know me. They're not a neutral thought partner. How can I can't talk to my manager? Because they do my performance review. I've got lots of design friends, so I could call them, you know, I've got good network.

I could talk to them. It's kind of ad hoc. It's not very regular. I'm not getting that regular gross in progression. I can't talk to a mentor because they tell me what's gone wrong in their life. And they tell me their values and their career paths and all the things I should avoid that they did, which really have nothing to do with me.

So they kind of stuck, you know, and it's very lonely and a lot of designers feel very lost and when they experience coaching, they see quite different conversation where actually I'm asking them questions and they are tapping into their internal wisdom. And I'm not telling them my internal wisdom. I'm trying to get at what matters to them the most that I'm reflecting back.

So I think the first answer to your question is to find people that number one are trained in COVID. Because it's not a normal conversation, it's a different type of conversation, which has a very clear structure and framing. And second of all, to find someone that's coaching within your industry. So someone that's walked the path that someone that's been in your shoes, someone that really understands design. So something that I hear a lot is that designers are looking for a bespoke tailored coaching package that acknowledges their strengths, like knowledge is their personality, their values, their drivers, and is not a generic coaching journey that is, could be fitting in.

[00:25:05] Nirish Shakya: and one of the things that I've read in terms of liking the things you talk about is somebody called designer satisfaction. What is designed to satisfaction because I'm mostly heard of things like customer satisfaction and user satisfaction, but I haven't really come across this term called designer satisfaction.

What does that mean to you?

[00:25:27] Kate Pincott: I hadn't pulled that out as a marketing word in my mind. So I got to think of. Um, I think generically, what I'm optimizing for with my coachees is that they are aligned with who they are. So the work that they're doing is aligned to their values. They are aware of their drivers, their motivators, intrinsic, and extrinsic, and they are intentionally going forward with that.

So I think designer satisfaction has a lot to do with intentionality. Um, if we kind of just bumbling in the dark , kind of trying to find our way forward and we're not really designing our career, then it will design us. And so I think it's really important. The ultimate design quest as a designer is to design our ourselves.

And so I think designer satisfaction comes from how, how much are we aware of that? How intentional are we being or are we just kind of going with the flow and hoping for the best, and actually not seeing much alignment with who we. And I think a lot of pain, if you look at it in any of the kind of wellbeing self-help world, it always speaks about the importance to be aligned with who you are in all parts of your life.

And when we pull away from that, that's when we suffer and we feel a lot of pain and I think that's the same with designers. So for me, I hadn't worked out what my key values were. Um, I was optimizing for things like ambition and recognition and prestige. Um, whereas actually I don't actually care about those things.

What I actually care about when you go. Why, why, why, why, why, you know, doing the five why's all the way down is connection. Connection Is what gets me really a native, I love connection, creating connections, um, thinking about frameworks and processes to enable connection, connection, to self and connection with.

And I never would have known that if I hadn't done some serious internal work and through coaching methodology.

[00:27:25] Nirish Shakya: Well, so are you saying that a lot of times we do things as designers, without a conscious awareness of the intention behind which we do things and the why? So for example, for you, you value connection and I'm assuming that's what makes you happy. And it might be something different for me.

[00:27:47] Kate Pincott: That's right.

[00:27:48] Nirish Shakya: Um, and that is.

That is a very powerful thing to be aware of for me. Um, in terms of knowing why you do things, um, so that maybe you can do more of that, right. Things that bring you more joy, um, rather than the things that don't, how can us designers start to learn more about what should be our intentions? Uh, what are our intention?

[00:28:21] Kate Pincott: Yeah. I don't think there is one silver bullet. There's one magic question that you have to ask yourself. Or one process I've come across many, many different ways. Um, but the baseline, the common denominator is to ask yourself better questions and to do that through a reflective practice. If anybody's interested In being more intentional and in learning a self-coaching methodology or even adopting the reality prototyping methodology for themselves, it would be scheduled time, schedule a small amount of time, not a huge, we don't want to set ourselves up to fail immediately do a reading baby step to schedule 10 minutes. And in that 10 minutes, I'll ask yourself, what are my intentions for this? What am I goals per day? And once you've got that, you're just practicing, thinking within yourself and being still. And then you can maybe increase it to 20 minutes and you can start to think of, well, what am I scared of? And then what do I maybe need to let go of today? And then maybe you can increase it and you can ask yourself on different days. How am I feeling? What am I emotions? Let's just write them down. Let's learn to name. So, you know, so much of what we do is about emotion. We designed for emotion and yet our vocabulary as designers as shocking. Again, no judgment.

It's not our fault, but as designers , we need to get better at naming motion. So I have the feelings wheel.com opened all the time, so that I've got the names of emotions that we're

[00:29:55] Nirish Shakya: What is that a, is that a website feelings, wheel.com.

Okay. I'll check it out. So let's say today in the morning, I am running some user research or let's say some it collaborative ideation workshop with my stakeholders or clients. What could I write down as, as an example in that 10, 15 minutes.

[00:30:18] Kate Pincott: So our intention is, as many of them will know is our approach to things. How do we want to go about things today? And the goal is the specific tasks that we want to unlock. So the intention might be to go about this user testing playfully. It might be to go about it. Um, diligently. It might need to go about it with calm and confidence.

Maybe you want to go about it with curiosity and all. So when we think about what is our intention, how do we wish to go about today? Then we can look at the task that we want to achieve, which might be. To get really good quality user insights for, to avoid using leading questions or, you know, biasing the interview or to making sure that we build rapport with that interview before we go into the interview or something like that, then we carry that intention with us. And so even if we don't achieve the goal, at least we've achieved that intention. We've approached it with an attitude. And we've had that calm or we've had that joy or that curiosity, and it kind of takes the sting away from the goal being achieved or not being achieved. Doesn't really matter because actually our way of being the journey has been more important. And I think That's the key to enjoying any career, not just design careers, but to enjoy the journey and not just the end goal and the destination, which I know is a bit of a cliche.

[00:31:48] Nirish Shakya: Kind of reminds me alpha for design manifesto or design principles. Is that similar or is this what you're talking about?

[00:31:58] Kate Pincott: I think in the program , reality prototyping, I encourage each designer to write their own principles, their own manifesto. And so that they're really clear on what matters to them the most. So it is very similar. Um, and I get the coachees to write out some affirmations. And some statements which are very similar to amount offensive because it's, this is what I am . This is I acknowledge who I am. I am all these things. And I see myself as these things and it's very positive and affirming and empowering. Um, and it's a great reminder to come back to just the way that principals help us, um, in our software to remind us what we care about as.

[00:32:38] Nirish Shakya: Tell us about reality prototyping. What is reality prototyping?

[00:32:43] Kate Pincott: Well, I'm considering, um, you know, thinking, I'm thinking about the name all the time. Um, but at the moment, reality prototyping is acknowledging that prototyping happens in every industry, in the building industry and fashion, where they made it a local. Um, architects make little buildings, you know, ceramicists make little clay models.

We all make prototypes and we practice and we envision what we want our future to look like. And we, we try and do it to save money and to avoid wastage and to save time. But all those examples and so physical and reality prototyping is. The idea of things as they are, as you perceive them, your reality is your perception of the world around you.

And it's, we often think of it as quite a physical. actually, if we think matrix style, it's really bendy and depending on your blood sugar levels, depending on your hormones, um, lots of different factors in your biology, you will, reality is completely different. Right? And we know this because you can walk into a room and say, I can't find the pen.

Where's the pen. And I really define this pen. And then your partner says, yeah, Um, darling, it's right in front of you. And you're like, no, it's not, I can't see it. It's literally right in front of you. And obviously when you open yourself to the possibility that it is in front of you, and you're not just angrily rushing around the pen is there.

And so we know that our reality hugely shifts, depending on what mood we're in a moment. And that shouldn't be a negative thing. That should be an exciting thing. Wow . I'm a reality bender. I can bend my reality any way I want. How cool is that? And so I think as designers, it is a great question. Well, how do we want to bend reality?

Not in a, in a, um, delusional way, you know, to go around pretending that you are something you're not, but in a way that empowers you to feel like you have agency.

[00:34:59] Nirish Shakya: So is it to do with how you perceive things, because there's a say your, your, your perception becomes your reality. And in being aware of that perception,

[00:35:10] Kate Pincott: Exactly. So it's just playing with self prototyping. So I look at who I am. I look at my perceptions. I look at my self-awareness. I look at how I perceive things around me. I come up with an experiment and I prototype a different way of perceiving things around me or approaching things. So it's really playing with your perception, your feedback, your reflection, um, and, and who you want to be going forward and acknowledging that that's always changing and it's not a constant sort of thing.

[00:35:42] Nirish Shakya: And how did you come up with this?

[00:35:49] Kate Pincott: I was doing it on myself. I was coming up with lots and lots of experiments myself and I was looking at the cycles in nature and we see the cycle of the moon. We see the cycle of, and the seasons. We see the cycle of an infects, you know, from a Mayflower into a butterfly. cycle or the menstrual cycle.

We see cycles of the field, um, in, in industry being plowed, resting, and then growing . And so I started to wonder, what is this self discovery cycle? I began to wonder in the same way that we have continuous discovery as engineers in product teams, what would continuous self discovery look like? And that's when I started. What would build, measure and learn, look like on an individual basis. And how can I adapt this model to serve humans in a really reliable way that is empowering and uplifting. And ever-changing

[00:36:59] Nirish Shakya: Wow. So in a way, kind of, um, treating yourself as a product that needs constant iteration.

That's a very powerful way to look at itself.

[00:37:15] Kate Pincott: And, and I will say, I think that it's a forgiving way. It's filled with compassion because we are never done who is learning and it gives us permission to just be, and that's something that I really care about is just the permission to be wherever you are at, just accepting where you're at and not resisting it.

And. That's another thing that I think designers struggle with. I don't know if you have noticed this, but designers often a perfectionist. They want to do amazing work. They really want to do social good. They really want to help others. And that's what draw draws them in to design, but they're also really harsh on themselves.

There was a really critical, and they often suffer from imposter syndrome. And I think that permission to just be wherever you're at and know that you're going to be going through more and more loops in the future is quite heavily.

[00:38:07] Nirish Shakya: what stops us from just being

[00:38:11] Kate Pincott: It's a deep question and I'm 

[00:38:14] Nirish Shakya: that's what I'm here for.

[00:38:16] Kate Pincott: It's a D it's probably different for every human. And I think that the key that I found for myself, I can only speak for myself is not being comfortable and knowing who I am. So if I don't know who I am, and if I'm feeling lost and overwhelmed and unsure, then I'm going to try and copy everything around me.

I'm going to try and be, you know, um, a design guru that I've seen on YouTube, or I'm going to try and be Steve jobs, or I'm going to try and be someone in Silicon valley and copy them, or I'm going to copy my parents. And we we'd learn by copying. That's not a bad thing, but it shouldn't be. A whole definition.

We can learn little pieces from them. And I think that when we don't know who we are or who we want to be, it makes us very restless. And the image that I like to use is like a little jar, like imagine a little jam jar filled with water and soil. And when you shake that jam jar, it gets really muddy, right.

It gets really cloudy and you can't see anything through it. But when you sit that jam down on the surface and the. And you let it settle. All the dust goes down to the bottom and you can see through it really clearly. And that's when we have that clarity meter. Oh yes. I know who I am. I know what I stand for.

I know what matters to me the most. And I give myself permission to be.

[00:39:47] Nirish Shakya: Yeah. I remember like when I was a child, I really wanted to be, uh, an engineer and electronics engineer because my uncle was one and I thought he was very cool, but I hated maths and I didn't know that you needed to be good at that to be a good engineer. Um, And it was only later in life that realize, you know, what, I'm more of a people person.

And luckily I actually found something that actually enabled me to do what I enjoy doing, which was interacting with people and that's what led me to design. Um, and yeah, I think, um, that lack of self-awareness right. Can. Preventing a must designers from going down the path that gives you that joy and meaning.

One thing that I also notice in lot of your writing is how you talk about the, the value of bringing in your heart and your gut. And combining that with the head, what is that?

[00:40:45] Kate Pincott: I think that, you know, Jen really in Western society, we've kind of severed the head. We think of Ourselves as these floating heads. Whereas in Eastern cultures have a more holistic approach. They acknowledge the. And then you think about Ayurvedic medicine, there's a lot more integration going on. Whereas, you know, the kind of white supremacist culture says, you know, you are your intellect and that's the most important thing you will book smart and you will accolades.

And so I think sometimes that seeps in to the design world, to the tech world, the entrepreneurial world, where we think, oh, well, I need to make sure everything's logical and. And we also see that, you know, in the science world, which is everything must be predictable and proven, otherwise it's not true.

And I think That negates a lot of historical wisdom, indigenous wisdom and, um, things that are very difficult to explain and mythical and marvelous. And so, you know, and see the next 10 years, there's a real rebalancing of that as we start to, um, acknowledge different types of wisdom, different types of, um, internal. That leads us into a place where we can explore things, um, from a multitude of approaches. Um, and we can kind of again, accept and be, and say, well, when I have that voice inside me that says this is wrong. It's okay. I can listen to that. Now, most of us don't we ignore it, completely ignore it.

And we say, nothing's happened. And that's when we start to suffer and have pain. So for instance, in my career, I remember the first, you know, first few weeks into a job that I was doing. I had that little voice. I was like, there's, there's not for you. These people are not on the same wavelength at all. And instead of listening to that, I said, oh, don't worry.

I'm going to change them. It's fine. I'm going to, I'm going to change every one. That's going to be great. Um, don't let that bother you. And then, you know, This is really like, your health is suffering. You should probably find another job. And I'm like, no, no, no, it's, it's not them. It's me. It's always my fault.

Everything is my fault. I'm terrible. And then The third year, even when I was really suffering and had a terrible performance review and you know, my manager was like, are you okay? Because you look really? And I was like, yep, I'm following just completely in denial, not listening to my inner voice. And I paid the price. And I think all of us do that in different ways, in different parts of our life. And so there needs to be this connection to what is my inner voice saying? What is my gut saying? What is my heart saying? And this connection, and even science has proved that actually the gut is a third brain and the heart has got a micro nervous system inside.

It, it has its own nervous system. Science has proved that and that's mind blowing! . actually it's not that everything is coming from the brain down wards in a hierarchy to the heart and the gut, but actually there's a very complex, um, set of instructions going both ways. And I think that's a really good reminder to us that we should trust our instinct as long as data.

[00:44:08] Nirish Shakya: Um, it sounds like we could just have a whole another episode just talking about this, this topic, I'm this so much, uh, for us to learn about this in terms of how we know how we function as a human being pretty much, right. It's not just about the brain. And I think. Basically the programming that I was fed in terms of like, you are your brain and whatever you do, it's, it's all about what happens in, in here in between your ears.

But there's so much more to that. Uh, so thank you so much for sharing that. What has been your most favorite resource that has helped you in your career? Either as a designer or as a coach, or maybe just as a human.

[00:44:49] Kate Pincott: Two things spring to mind. Uh, one is a generic answer, not going to like it, but I have a lot of coaches, so I actively seek out and learn from other people because I see it as a shortcut and I'm very hungry for growth and I'm very hungry for development. And so. To me, spending money on seeking those people out and learning and absorbing is really exciting.

Just as much as, you know, a post time like collecting little cars or to someone else, it might be , , fancy watches to me. I would like to invest in, in, in meeting of minds, meeting of minds of amazing people. So that's something that I've done for a long time and that's definitely helped me no doubt.

Uh, but there's no one specific name because there's quite a few of them. Um, But then in terms of a specific resource, my husband is Abdullah and he's from Iran and his family are all, um, very much, um, celebrates celebrants of Rumi, who is a poet and a philosopher. And so when I got married a few years ago, I was introduced to Rumi and his writings and his poetry.

And this was the first time I could just read writing for hours and hours, a translated version. I don't speak Farsi. And I would just weep. I would just weep with the beauty of the writing, and I really felt like this human understood other humans. And I really loved the, the beauty in which he saw the world.

So if you have a translated copy , go check out Rumi.

[00:46:26] Nirish Shakya: Great, thanks for that Kate. And let's imagine that it's your last day on earth and. Someone gave you a tiny piece of paper and said, write down your number one advice for designers and creatives all around the world. Just one thing that you could say and write down on that piece of paper, what would you write down

[00:46:50] Kate Pincott: Trust your gut

[00:46:52] Nirish Shakya: trust?

[00:46:53] Kate Pincott: yourself. Trust yourself. Yeah,

[00:46:59] Nirish Shakya: That is 

[00:47:00] Kate Pincott: because I get.

[00:47:02] Nirish Shakya: Love it. It's short and it's powerful. 

 So Kate, is there anything that you'd like me to ask you that I haven't yet?

[00:47:13] Kate Pincott: I have to think about, I think that something that we, we didn't cover was, um, just kind of talking about from speaking to hundreds of designers, what are the kind of key themes that I've noticed? Um, some kind of mentioning, you know, as a holistic study, a bit of user research on the species called product designers.

So one thing is that in my research, as a coach, I've spoken to hundreds of product designers now, and I started to collate affinity mapping and some themes. So the key overarching theme, which was really strong, which I was quite shocked about was that all of the design, as I spoke to. Has this, um, strong need for creative freedom, trust and growth.

Those are three common factors that came up again and again, and the reason this shocked me was because I had this idea that a lot of people just go into design because it pays well and they just want a job, right? Not everybody's, you know, dying on a stove. Blood drawing, you know, desperate in their career to grow.

Um, but everyone that I spoke to really wanted creative freedom, trust and growth , and I was thinking, well, why didn't they go into art or something? You know, Y Y if they want creative freedom, because design has so many limitations and it has so many technical and, um, stakeholder and somebody factors. Um, but I think that the key, um, takeaway that I got from that. Even if they are in some small box, even if they're only able to deal with some small part of the interface, or even if they're only able to deal with in some small parts of a team, they still want that permission to go crazy in that space. So it wasn't actually the size of their creative freedom. It was just do I have some sort of creative freedom?

[00:49:15] Nirish Shakya: Some 

[00:49:15] Kate Pincott: really interesting. Some space yeah , exactly. To express themselves and to be. Where they can, they don't have to be accountable to someone. They can just do what they want to have autonomy. And then the other thing is that the three things that product designers have been telling me that they crave the most, um, as an outcome is influence impact and income.

So those are the three things that they want to optimize for, um, impacts as in, you know, real world impact. Am I actually helping real people? Um, am I helping my team and. Then influence is how much am I driving the agenda? How much am I able to control? What actually gets on the roadmap? How much am I able to imprint myself and then income?

How can I ensure that as I'm growing , I can actually increase my income rather than it just staying the same. Um, so yeah, those were the three things.

[00:50:08] Nirish Shakya: Influence income and impact the three eyes,

[00:50:13] Kate Pincott: Yeah.

[00:50:14] Nirish Shakya: which is all about, I like me, like, what can I influence? What can I impact? And also the income I can get for it. Is that what you meant?

[00:50:24] Kate Pincott: Yeah. Yeah. So w what, what financial reward, what kind of financial peace of mind and stability can I get from it? And this was a cross, um, freelances and perm permanence people.

[00:50:36] Nirish Shakya: Love it. Love it. Thank you so much for adding that. Um, Kate.

[00:50:39] Kate Pincott: Thank you.

[00:50:40] Nirish Shakya: We've gone really deep, in, in the past, half an hour, an hour off our chat here. Uh, we started off with talking about just, uh, the awareness of the self and just accepting. Yourself accepting yourself as who you are and running experiments.

I think that the value of experiments, it seems to be so much more relevant beyond just the, the software and the product world into the human world. Pretty much, right. We're pretty much our products that can be shaped that can be. Reiterated at and improved on, and treating ourselves as part of that experiment seems to be a very powerful way to look at it rather than, or thinking I can't do something about it all.

I'm just the way it is. Right. Just going for it. Running the experiment, the lean loop, you mentioned that. Build and measure. We do that so often in the product world. Why not? Why not just do that? In our own world, like personally and professionally as well. And the value of maybe getting help from people, if you need it.

Like, for example, from coaches or for mentors, who've been there and done. And obviously the one you mentioned around taking some time out every day to just set your intention. It's something that I haven't done myself much throughout my career. I just grabbed my coffee, just run out the door, into that meeting or into their workshop or that research session without really understanding why do I intend to get out of this?

Or what do I intend to get out today? And it seems like just. Taking the time out, we'll help you set in the right direction. Um, so thank you so much for sharing all those insights and your stories today, Kate. Um, so lastly, uh, how can people find you online?

[00:52:23] Kate Pincott: Well, thank you and Eurasia. Thank you for this wonderful platform and just kudos to you for coming up. And then if people want to hear more about me, they can go to reality prototyping.com and they can click on the free training, watch free training. And this tells them a little bit more about the program, about me and at the end of the training, if they feel like it's a good cup of tea, a good fit, then they can book a call with me.

[00:52:52] Nirish Shakya: Awesome. And Kate has also kindly offered a 10% discount for you on reality prototyping, which is a 90 day program for designers to level up their careers. You can go to design, feeling.co/kate where you can book a chat with her and enter the code 'designfeeling' that's one word 'designfeeling' to get your 10% discount. 

[00:53:15] Kate Pincott: Thank you. 

[00:53:17] Nirish Shakya: Great. Well, thank you so much. Great. hope you've enjoyed that. 

[00:53:20] Kate Pincott: That was so much fun. So much fun!