Design leader and coach Kate Pincott shares practical steps to heal and grow after a layoff
#024 - We’ve seen a lot of layoffs in the tech industry. Whatever the reasons might be, it can be one of the lowest points in your career and your life. Whilst our natural reaction is to find another role as quickly as possible especially if finances are a concern for you, using this transition to stop, reflect and recalibrate your career trajectory can help you grow and find the next step that aligns with your values and gives you the joy and meaning you seek. In this episode, Design Leader and Coach, Kate Pincott, shares her step-by-step guide to do just that.
In this episode:
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Kate on LinkedIn
10 iconic businesses created during a recession
Kate’s Reality Prototype Program
Illustrations by Isa Vicente
Music by Brad Porter
Episode edited by Niall Mackay
[00:00:00] Kate Pincott: When there's a storm, don't build walls, build windmills. It's not saying that we are happy with the situation and we like it. We've accepted this is happening and now we can start to think, okay, what am I gonna do with this? What are my strengths? What are my values? What are my motivations? What are the things that make me curious? And how can I use those to add value to this storm that we're in? What is my version of a windmill?
[00:00:25] Nirish Shakya: that's Kate Pinco. You might have heard her back in season one, episode two of the Design Feeling Podcast. Kate is a design leader and coach who's worked at brands such as Facebook, US two, and Barclays, and she's coached hundreds of designers to design their own careers. This time I invited her back to talk about a very topical issue, layoffs. You see, we usually tend to rush into finding another job after being laid off. And whilst there might be very valid and pressing reasons for this, such as, well, obviously being the build and putting food on our plate, Kate suggests that taking even the smallest amount of time to stop and reflect first can help you go a lot further in your. So whether you've been laid off or you're on the hunt for your next role, you'll pick up practical steps that it can take to manage your emotions, plan your job search, and find that role that brings you the joy and meaning that you seek.
[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.
[00:02:18] On this podcast, my expert guests, and I will be uncovering ways to increase your self-awareness, creative confidence and meaning.
[00:02:29] Kate Pinco, it's so great to have you back on design feeling.
[00:02:33] Kate Pincott: Thanks for having me.
[00:02:34] Nirish Shakya: Have you been.
[00:02:36] Kate Pincott: I'm good. I'm well. How are you?
[00:02:39] Nirish Shakya: Pretty good. Pretty good. I'm just at the moment, looking forward to Christmas and some rest. , , It's that time of the year, isn't it? When, daylight savings is over and things get darker sooner, and our bodies just tend to Yeah. Get into that rest mode, I guess,
[00:02:55] Kate Pincott: Yeah, like a little hedgehog.
[00:02:58] Nirish Shakya: Yeah, that's right.
[00:03:00] So Kate, let's not sugar coat it. We all know thousands of tech workers have been laid off over the past couple of weeks and it hasn't been the easiest of rides for a lot highly talented and super passionate people. Gave their heart zone energy to all these jobs, and now they've been told they're not needed anymore.
[00:03:21] And this can be probably one of the most um, lowest points, not just in your career, but also in your life to have to deal with this, rejection, being told that you're not needed. And you should, make your own way. So, We're not gonna go into the details of, why this might be happening.
[00:03:38] Different companies have different reasons around, for example, the upcoming recession. There might be reasons given sight such as over-hiring um, maybe, you know, different uncertainties, post pandemic things not going the way people predicted. So there might be different reasons here, right?
[00:03:55] But we're gonna get straight into the topic that we're talking about in terms of you've been laid off, right? What's next? And imagine, We're now talking to whoever's listening right now. What's the first thing that you would tell them?
Accepting the circumstance and negative emotions that come with it
[00:04:12] Kate Pincott: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for setting the scene. I'm there. I'm with you. It's sad and it's confusing and it's deflating and there's a mixture of shame and sometimes guilt. And if you were the one that was let go or if you weren't the one that would've let go, you also have feelings. So I think the first thing to just state start with is that all feelings are.
[00:04:37] And to really feel them we so easily want to move on to the next thing. Okay. Let's go into action mode. Let's go into job finding mode, but we're not really feeling what we are feeling and we're not acknowledging what's going on for us on the inside
[00:04:53] Nirish Shakya: What did you mean by that? We're not feeling what we're feeling.
[00:04:57] Kate Pincott: I think that as a society, we're conditioned to just feel happy, in every scenario you should be feeling happy, and this is an absolute. Robbery of the full experience of what it means to be human. We are telling people that all these other emotions of which there are many are not as valid and not as high and not as pure.
[00:05:18] And yet, let's take sadness for example. If you're feeling sad about leaving your job, leaving your colleagues, leaving the routine and the product that you loved, working on sadness helps you to appreciate what it is that is most meaningful to you. That feeling of sadness is an insight into what does nourish care about?
[00:05:39] What is important to nourish? It's like an arrow saying this is really important to you and that's beautiful and helpful and useful. And I think we too quickly just want to sweep it aside and ignore it.
[00:05:56] Nirish Shakya: And why do we do that? Like why? Don't like when you say this, say it like that. I'm like, you know what? That is actually true. Like all these moments, I've been sad. I've actually learned more about myself in those moments, but I've hated them. , they're uncomfortable and I've tried to get rid of them as quickly as possible so that I can get back to my happier, what I consider to be default states.
[00:06:23] Why? Why can't we just stay there?
[00:06:24] Kate Pincott: I don't think we will enjoy a meal if there isn't any spice or herbs or salt. It'll be bland, it'll be boring. We need the salt, to bring flavor and In the same way. You need a bit of sadness, you need a bit of salt. Otherwise, all the other emotions are just empty. If you're constantly on this high, you're constantly happy, which is impossible.
[00:06:46] But if you were theoretically, then everything would be beige. There would be no variety, there would be no richness. So we have to see it as a little, injection of flavor that we need for a balanced meal. And that's what I want for my life. And I think that's what a lot of people want. They want that fullness and richness.
[00:07:04] They don't wanna have a perfect mundane existence. They want to have an adventure and they wanna have something full.
[00:07:10] Nirish Shakya: that's not how I saw it when I was laid off. So I wasn't laid off from a tech job. But I have been laid off from one of my, first jobs while I was still at university. And I remember coming back home and feeling like a loser, first of all, and crying in my bed. And not wanting to talk to anyone about it, the feeling of shame and blaming myself for it.
[00:07:32] I'm like, I was like, why me? Why does that have to happen to me? out of all the 7 billion people in the world. And like you said, yeah, life is for love. Different kinds of emotions that add flavor to the life make it more exciting and interesting, but when it's happening to in the moment, it's really difficult to zoom out and get that sense of perspective.
[00:07:56] You're so caught up in that, in those negative emotions that, you think that the whole world is coming to an end and it's even hard to see beyond, the next day into where, what your future might look like. So what are some of the techniques that you would recommend to help us get that sense of perspective when everything feels like it's falling apart around.
What are some of the techniques that you would recommend to help us get that sense of perspective when everything feels like it's falling apart around?
[00:08:25] Kate Pincott: I think we, we do need to get perspective. Um, But I think it's a two step process. So I think the first thing is I need to accept the situation I'm in. I need to acknowledge the situation I'm in. I need to process it. We can't move to step two where we reframe and try and think about the world in another way and, start to shift and start to move.
[00:08:47] Cause as you said, when you're in that feeling, you're. And it feels heavy and it feels really difficult to get out of it. It feels very difficult to see that there are loads of opportunities and amazing talented people that wanna work with you and that you have loads of skills and that use so many experiences and strengths that you can use to find your next opportunity.
[00:09:06] And that, the world is full of abundant possibility. Not, I'm never gonna find a job. I hate my life. No one wants to work with me. I'm a loser. So I think the first step is just to write down and journal. And we can't skip that step. You can talk about it to a friend. You can talk about it with a therapist or a coach.
[00:09:24] You can talk about it to your partner or you can write it down. But you need to face what has happened. And if you don't do that, you'll really struggle , to move to the next step. So then the next step is what you asked, which is how do we reframe, how do we see it from a different perspective? And I think we have to take it to an extreme.
[00:09:46] Nirish Shakya: Kate, before we go there, I'm sure there's a lot we can cover there, but I wanted to just take a step back and just like talk about, you know, some of the actual practical techniques that people can use to, for example accept what's happening and potentially write about it in a journal, right?
[00:10:02] One of the techniques that I've learned from my meditation practice is to just observe what, whatever sensations and feelings and emotions that I'm feeling in the moment, and just let it be without trying to change it. Cause what I realized recently was that I'm only always in this constant fixing mode.
[00:10:20] I, I always need to be fixing things , right? Even if there might not be a problem to fix, I think that itself is a problem that I need to fix, right? So we're all constantly in this kind mode where we think our currency state is not perfect or not right, and we just change it. And secondly around journaling, it has definitely helped me I guess bring a bit more neutrality into the whole process.
[00:10:45] When I'm thinking of these things and ruminating and predicting the future, you just get caught up with, the, that identity that you've just lost and now you are like, pretty much identity less or something like that. But when you, put things down on paper as to whatever's going on in your head, what I've found is that it helps you see things without getting caught up with those things.
[00:11:13] Kate Pincott: Yeah, definitely. I think that when I write something down, it slows my thoughts and it forces me to look at my thoughts and it forces me to say, is that really true? And then to question it and is there another way that I could think about this? And where am I feeling it? So a great way to practically start is what am I feeling?
[00:11:35] Where in my body am I feeling it, as you said what is the sensation I'm feeling and what's triggered this feeling? And is it serving me or not? Is it helping me? Is it not? Should I keep it? Should I think about it more? Should I let it go? And those are some journal prompts that you can, you could do once a day.
[00:11:52] You could do three times a day, as many as you need to just keep reconnecting. Does that answer the question more? It's like literally, what are we writing on the paper? Kate
[00:12:01] Nirish Shakya: pretty much. And another thing that I know I'll probably mention is, don't be afraid to just cry. I've cried so many times when, I've been let go. Or when I get that rejection letter saying, no, you didn't get the job. Or you didn't make it, and it hurts. And it's really scary to cry, especially cry around, other people who think that you need to be brave and strong.
[00:12:23] All the, but there, there is a sense of release when , you just all out
[00:12:30] Kate Pincott: Absolutely. I think, yeah, whatever your feeling is, just keep telling yourself it's allowed, it's valid. All feelings are valid. I'm allowed to feel this every time we have that like resistance coming up. Oh, I shouldn't feel that. Oh, that's really bad. Or I shouldn't say that. Say it. Let it out, and then you'll feel so good.
[00:12:49] Things like things that feel ugly as well. Things like, I didn't deserve to lose my job, but this other person did. Okay, you're feeling jealous. Let it out. You feel bitter, maybe let it out. I didn't even enjoy that job anyway, but I worked far too many extra hours for them. Okay, , because letting it out again is these little arrows that are pointing to all the things that you care. And almost projectile vomiting them on a page is gonna be relieving, but also is gonna litter your notebook with shiny, arrows saying, come back to this, come back to this, work life balance is important to you. Getting recognition is important to you. Working with people that ask you to play to your strengths rather than your weak areas is important to you and so forth.
[00:13:41] Nirish Shakya: Like what you're doing here is pretty much collecting data points, right? Just like when we do affinity or whatever, you're just looking at what are the clusters and the patterns. We can see here inside our own of times, we can't see inside our own, unless we externalize what's.
[00:13:58] Kate Pincott: exactly. Exactly. And I think we can all identify, even if we haven't been laid off, we can all identify with a no, the time of experience, some kind of rejection. That closed door has always led to another opportunity or another open door. And so I think just resisting it and pretending, or wishing it hasn't happened, it just keeps you in this stagnant place.
[00:14:24] It's not creative, it's not open to new possibilities and open to new options. It keeps you locked and trapped in. And you and people often feel that they feel trapped. They're like, I have no options. I have nowhere to go. I have no one to dress. This feels really small like we were doing before with that mouse
[00:14:40] You don't feel big, but when you let all out your emotions out and you write them down, you are free of them. All the rocks in your backpack emotionally are off you and you're like the lion. And I think that's a really good place to start your to-do list. Your planning and reflecting and all the actions you're gonna take, don't skip that step.
[00:14:58] It will just make it so much harder for you if you repress it.
[00:15:02] Nirish Shakya: What Kate's was referring to there in terms of the mouth and the line was a little warmup that we did before the starting the recording where we basically pretended we're a mouse and really contracted our bodies and then pretended we're a line and then really expanded our bodies in face. And yeah, sometimes, like we go through those different phases in life where we contract sometimes to feel safer and then we expand when we wanna take those risks and explore.
[00:15:28] Great. So imagine, okay, so it's. First day back in work when you've been laid off you've cried a hard out, You've journaled some feelings, you've accepted what has happened what's next?
Reframing the situation
[00:15:39] Kate Pincott: Next is thinking about all the things that you want from your next. All the things that you need, things that you require, like a plant needs water and soil and sunlight. Thinking about what you need individually, not what other people need from you. I think that's a really good reframing. Often we think, oh, here's five different job lists and they all have these criteria and I have to fit into these and I have to have five experience of this and I have to have five experiences.
[00:16:08] Years of that. And we constantly kinda bend ourselves and we end up kinda creating a, a list a bio or a cover letter copy, pasting it to loads of different places and just generically spraying and praying and hoping that, one of them will work. But really we haven't connected, we haven't thought about what we want and what we need from a career and from a job.
[00:16:30] And so I think that's a really sensible place to start.
[00:16:35] Nirish Shakya: Yeah, A lot of times when I ask those, that question to myself, I just said, I what more money or a good paying job? . And that's what I hear from a lot of people who I ask this question, they're like, oh, I just want a good UX job or design job in which pays them great money. And for a big company like Google how can we dig deeper than that
[00:16:57] Just chop title?
[00:16:58] The pay and the brand you're working for?
Identifying your deeper needs
[00:17:02] Kate Pincott: Yeah. I think we need to acknowledge that we have lots of different needs, not just money. We have needs for creativity, needs for growth, needs for friendship and connection and com comradery. We have needs for rest and balance. We have needs for adventure. I think it's helpful to have a little think about, what would I have liked to have changed about my previous role?
[00:17:30] And so that's where you can go back to your kind of reflecting word, vomit, , and you can pick
[00:17:35] out some of
[00:17:36] Nirish Shakya: love that
[00:17:37] Kate Pincott: doesn't have to be tidy, it can be a mess. And just pick out some of the things that you are identifying as issues. didn't have enough time with my manager because they were always overstretched or I.
[00:17:47] See any way that I could grow or, I was the only designer maybe, and I wanna work with more senior designers, or I didn't really resonate with the mission of the company. It was a nice team, but I didn't really care about what we were shipping. So just of notice what are the things that were lacking for you, and then you can use them to flip and say, okay, I'm gonna write my new pdr, my product requirements brief for my new job, my new spec and my needs, my user needs as a, if you're doing a product for yourself, I need to know that I have a manager who, who is gonna invest in my growth, or I need, maybe even specific, maybe it's I really want to work with a male or female boss that might be important to you, or a boss of color.
[00:18:32] Like it's okay to get specific, or I really want to make sure that I have a senior designer in front of me. And actually what's really cool is the more specific you get, the easier it is when you're going through the interview process because you can start to make trade offs. You can say, Ooh, this opportunity is ticking none of my boxes, and I'm actually emotionally completely detached from it and I don't care if I get it or not because it's not ticking any of my needs'.
[00:18:59] Or this one is really close cause they've got this great training budget and I want, them to invest in my growth. But sadly, they don't seem to have a work life balance culture and they want me to work all hours. And now I can have a really good conversation with my manager, the interviewer about that trade off.
[00:19:18] And suddenly you're having a really meaty discussion in an interview rather than just like a surface level one.
[00:19:23] Nirish Shakya: Yeah I love that approach where you said, how can you identify these issues that you've faced in the past? It's listing problem statements or inside statements when you are designing a product, right? You're looking back at the past or the past data and clustering this, these insights as to what didn't go well that could be improved, and then just Reframe into design process with, let's say, how might we questioned or something.
[00:19:46] So you might wanna reframe that into an opportunity for improvements. And like you said, so what was the need not being and what is the opportunity for you, for me to meet that?
[00:19:58] Kate Pincott: Absolutely. And like you said, affinity mapping are saying, oh, there's a pattern here. All of these things are around connection or around growth, or they're around not feeling alone or whatever it is. I'm making these up. You'll start to see a pattern.
[00:20:12] Nirish Shakya: Yeah. Love it. Love it. One thing that you mentioned earlier that I really liked was around the specificity. How, making it specific. Actually helps you be clearer as to what you want. And that's something that I have very seldom done in my own career. You, I've been so vague. Even when you go into an interview you basically stay at that surface level in terms of yeah.
[00:20:35] Does this job allow me to manage people or does this job allow me to travel ? Does this job allow me to work with different brands? So like very vague surface level requirements. Is there any techniques that you recommend to go a bit deeper in terms of those specific aspirations that you might have, hidden under those layers?
[00:20:55] Kate Pincott: In terms of identifying them for myself when I'm going into an interview or pulling them from the interviewer. When you're in the, I.
[00:21:05] Nirish Shakya: I don't think we're even at an interview stage yet. We're still crying. It was the next day after we stopped crying.
[00:21:09] Kate Pincott: got it. We stopped crying or maybe I'm still a little bit of crying, but we're trying to dig into what are the gems in these journals. Ok. So what are the sub levels? Maybe we can turn this into a little worksheet, after this call, but I would write down all my kind of key human needs and the things that are important to me.
[00:21:29] And then I would write down, and I've done this before, so in a spreadsheet, and then I've highlighted the areas that are. Red flags or boundary like deal breakers basically. And what's cool is that what's a deal breaker for you now might not be a deal break in the future. And it might not have been in the past, but for you now it is.
[00:21:52] And that could be to do with your family. you, You, a hundred percent needed to be a remote hybrid role where you hundred percent need to make sure that you are working in this particular industry. And a specific topic. You wanna work in crypto or you wanna work in banking, and then maybe in other parts of your life that's not important.
[00:22:11] So really identify what are the things that I'm not willing to budge on. And that's helpful because that stops the whole thing becoming a tick box exercise, because no job is perfect. No job has every single box ticked. you don't wanna be going through the lists, oh God, your different interviews and being like, you know what?
[00:22:29] None of them tick all of my boxes. Therefore, none of them are good enough.
[00:22:33] You just need the deal breakers to be ticked, right? These are the things that you will not budge on. The other ones are just there to provoke discussion and to help you go into the interview. Understanding and identifying if there's a good match, a good fit or not.
[00:22:48] But we can't ever know completely until we, until we actually are in the job. But you can do really, Question asking and ask better questions. In the interview, you normally only have 30 minutes with someone and even then they take up 15. So you've got 15 minutes. What are your top questions? So take your deal breakers and formulate them into an open-ended question.
[00:23:12] So for instance, when we're doing user testing, we never ask somebody do you like this prototype ? Cause we know that they're just, that's a leading question. And they're gonna say, yeah, they're gonna just wanna please you. It's the same with an interview. If you ask someone a closed question, they want to defend their job and they don't wanna speak badly about their employee.
[00:23:32] So you are gonna have to read between the lines a bit like a user research session, right? And so you wanna ask a question like, can you tell me a time in the past, When, you've wanted to work on your growth areas or even broader, what are your growth areas and how are you working on them right now?
[00:23:49] That's a great question. Cause then you'll hear are they mentioning their manager? Have they even thought about it? Are they like really taken by surprise? you'll, You'll read a lot into that. Example might be, let's say you really care about work life balance. Can you think of a time when you didn't finish your whole to-do list in in, in, in a week and you had to work all weekend?
[00:24:12] How did it feel? Tell me what was happening for you. Just that's really broad, and, and allows them to then elaborate and they'll often give you a lot more information. Whereas if you say, does your team have work life balance? They're not gonna say no . You've just gone in for the jugged and they're gonna think, oh God, I can't say on this interview that we don't have work life balance.
[00:24:35] Nirish Shakya: So let's imagine that our listener has done that. They've been to a few interviews, but all they've heard is just no from everyone. And that can be really hard to swallow where you've tried so hard to apply for, the very few roles that maybe were available at that time and you've been rejected from all of them.
[00:24:55] How would you manage your emotions then?
Dealing with rejections
[00:24:59] Kate Pincott: I think in these moments when you get lots of rejection, you feel really alone. The best antidote is to remember that you're not alone. That this is very normal. It's not abnormal. That you're not the only one. Hundreds of thousands of people are going through this and that many people around us, brilliant startup examples, have managed to succeed in a recession time or a global pandemic time.
[00:25:24] Many amazing story. And so I would just start searching for those stories to build myself up and to pump myself upwards. Say, I'm not alone. We're in this together. And to look for ways of creativity, because really the only difference between you and the person that gets it is that they kept going, they just kept going past all the no's until they got to a yes.
[00:25:46] And so sometimes we need a bit of motivation, a bit. Joy and fun to an inspiration to push us to keep going. Cause it's really hard slog, isn't it? Another email, no, another phone call, no another, and you just feel like you're on Zoom all the time. These aren't in persons. You don't even get refreshments for free , you don't even get
[00:26:04] Nirish Shakya: Yeah, we get you on water
[00:26:05] Kate Pincott: Yeah. God, it's awful. So you're literally just on Zoom, you're not getting any interaction. So I, I get it. And you need to find a way then to get that inspiration. So I often, start typing into Google companies that were born in a recession time. Yeah. And then read all their stories and work out how they kept going.
[00:26:24] Nirish Shakya: Yeah, we have heard of, so many startups that, formed out of the last recession back in, 2000, 8,009. And I think one of the things that I read you mention was around how these times, What's, you seemingly troubled times or tr times of transitions can be also times for creativity.
[00:26:45] Could you talk more about that?
Using crisis as an opportunity
[00:26:47] Kate Pincott: I saw a post with a brilliant quote. It was a Chinese proverb that said, when there's a storm, don't build walls, build windmills. And I love that because you're saying in this crisis there's an opportunity to generate even more value. It's not saying that we are happy with the situation and we like it, but again, step one we did earlier was accepting it, acknowledging it, not resisting it.
[00:27:11] We've accepted this is happening, and now we can start to think, okay, what am I gonna do with this? What are my strengths? What are my values? What are my motivations? What are the things that make me curious? What are the things that bring me a light? And how can I use those to add value to this storm that we're in?
[00:27:28] What is my version of a windmill? And that way, You're not suddenly a victim of something awful that's happened to you, your empowered observer of the world around you and a problem solver. And you are looking for ways to improve it for yourself, for your colleagues, for the people that whose lives that you are most interested in affecting.
[00:27:50] And that feels really exciting. Suddenly now you're in a movie, you're in an action movie, a terrible cataclysm has happened, and you are coming in to, to save the day and to be, to make that movie interesting. If the movie was just, , nothing ever went wrong, it'd be really boring to watch.
[00:28:05] So there's a, there's an excitement that can be found in that next phase.
[00:28:09] Nirish Shakya: One thing that, I've done in the past After being laid off or if I was looking for my next adventure is to just go straight into looking for my next role in, in a company. And that seems to be the most traditional and accepted pathway for a lot of, know, designers, tech workers, who've lost job.
[00:28:27] They're in a pretty much a rush to look for a, a similar kind job, but in another company. Is that the only option or are there other things that they could potentially, pursue.
[00:28:40] Kate Pincott: Yeah, I love that there are so many possibilities, aren't there? It could be that you want to go freelance and just deal with, you know, one to one with clients. It could be that you want to join a small startup rather than a large company. It could be that you want to do part-time work for a while rather than full-time work.
[00:28:57] It could be. That you want to do. Flex working is where you share a job with someone. We can share some links at the end of the website.
[00:29:06] Nirish Shakya: Put in the show notes.
[00:29:07] Kate Pincott: yes, within the show notes. And, it could be that you decide you want to go on a sabbatical if you are enough to be in the position to take a few months off and do something different.
[00:29:18] It could be that you work for a charity for a bit. It depends what you know, your financial situation is and how comfortable you are. If you need to hit the road running, then you probably want to just find a freelance job immediately so that you can plug that money gap. But if you have the opportunity, the benefit of being a bit more thoughtful and if you can take a week off, it's amazing what you can do in a week to change your perspective.
[00:29:42] And doing something radically different, something that you're scared of or that you wanted to do for a while, something adventurous, something that sparks your curiosity, can really change the way you think. And I think that's a great antidote. When you're feeling small, limited, there are no options.
[00:29:57] Negative, trapped. You wanna break that wall, that invisible mental wall, and you wanna see possibilities, options, creativity, abundance, pathways, opportunities. And I found that, going to a different part of the world or going to talk to people that I don't know specifically volunteering for people that are in a worse situation than I am, can make you feel a lot better and can make you really grateful.
[00:30:21] Grateful for what you have in front.
[00:30:23] Nirish Shakya: And also, when we lose a job, it's like losing a sense of purpose, right? Because we associate so much of our meaning and purpose in the work we do. And when you then go out and, for example, volunteer or work for a charity, you are in a way regaining that sense of meaning and purpose, which is what, we as humans seek on a daily basis.
[00:30:46] And it can be really difficult to, pull yourself out of that misery you're feeling and then going out and doing something for free. , but you still, you can still use your skills. You can still apply your values into that work you're doing, and the way I see it is you're still adding value to someone or a company that otherwise might not be able to afford someone of your caliber to solve those problems.
[00:31:16] Kate Pincott: And that feels really good. You're really tangibly helping a small business, as you say, or a charity could be a family member. It doesn't have to be a huge project where you're creating some brand new app. It could just be tweaking their webpage, making them some business cards, creating a logo, optimizing, just giving them some tips on a landing page or a checkout flow.
[00:31:37] It could be about how they operate within the shop, or it could be anything using your product thinking and your iterative mindset that could really help them.
[00:31:47] Nirish Shakya: Yeah, absolutely. And if you just look around within your neighborhood, there are so many opportunities to help, local businesses, small businesses, mom and pop shops who actually need, their custom experiences to be, really analyzed and improved on.
[00:32:01] Which they might not have the skills of the know how to do it.
[00:32:03] Kate Pincott: The other thing to mention with that is in our techy world, we often. Very used to the way that we work in our teams. And especially if you've been somewhere for a while and you start to think that everywhere is like that. And then you come out of your bubble and you start to go into different companies and different environments and you realize that you have taken for granted a lot of the systems and processes and that a lot of people do not know about, right?
[00:32:31] And so immediately you have value just by even sharing some of those processes techniques with other companies or with your small business. So what might seem obvious, duh, this is how you do design processing. This is how you do prototyping. I know how to choose a font. I know how to lay out a page to someone else that could be cripplingly awkward.
[00:32:54] And destabilizing and they could never make that decision. So it's just remembering that you do have superpowers as a designer no matter where you've worked that are transferable and can help others, and that you're probably taking them for granted. Just in the same way that if you suddenly had to, write a legal contract, you might be paralyzed with fear because you don't know anything about law and you don't know anything about contracts or detailed, legal protocols and that same feeling people are gonna have about your skills.
[00:33:22] Nirish Shakya: Absolutely. And all days these can, go into a portfolio as well. , right?
[00:33:28] Kate Pincott: exactly. It's all about how you frame it. What was the situation before and what was after? What was the impact that you had, not just what you did or how you did it, but what is the result that you drive for them? And that's apply. Any sensible company is not going to dismiss that. If you drove impact, it doesn't really matter where it was.
[00:33:48] It doesn't matter how small you are, a person of action, you're impact orientated. And that's a really desirable attitude to have in a product designer. Not someone that just put pushes pixels around and tries to make things look pretty, but someone that actually changes the world around them because they're in the room.
[00:34:06] Nirish Shakya: So seeing yourself as not just a craft person, but an actual impact maker through that craft.
[00:34:13] Kate Pincott: Absolutely. And that makes you feel good as well. And then, so you've got a full loop now you're doing stuff, you're acting, you're helping others, you're feeling good and you're building your portfolio. And I don't think that's a waste of time if you. enough money to do that in a week or t.
[00:34:30] Nirish Shakya: Absolutely. A few years ago I actually joined an acting lesson. Not that I wanted to become an actor, but I just wanted to just do it just for fun. Bring some more joy and, curiosity into my life. And I realized that. By attending these lessons, I learned so much of more about emotional intelligence, like emotional self-awareness, how to be mindful of how other people are feeling, their body language, their expressions, their tone of voice.
[00:34:56] And I was able to actually apply those learnings back in my, work world where I could see myself being more mindful of how people are feeling and how I was empathizing with them. And yeah, just that kind of sense of better self-awareness gave me I wouldn't say better sense of control, but it's a better sense of peace as to what was happening and why I was happening.
[00:35:17] So one thing that I learned from that experience was that just cuz you know, where you would do something that you think is totally unrelated to design doesn't mean that it's totally unrelated to design. Cause there's so many things that are now so interrelated, right? And you might learn about design from going on a walk to your, into your park next door.
[00:35:38] Or going and speaking to a next door neighbor about maybe some of the issues that they're facing in their life, or just, yeah, going and volunteering in a care home and how that experience is shaped and designed by the people who work there. And maybe there's something that you can, contribute.
[00:35:53] Kate Pincott: I love that. Yeah it's so tempting to go inside ourselves when we have a no or a layoff, but actually the best antidote is to look outside of ourself and to go and find a new experience, like you said, with a new neighbor or. At a local charity event or just having a conversation with a local business, start to say, how can I connect?
[00:36:16] How can I make eye contact? How can I start to live and see and breathe the people around me in their lives rather than go into myself? Because that actually opens us up, stops us clamming up, and it helps us to see the new opportunities in front of us. And there's that there's that classic parable.
[00:36:33] You know, the story of, the guy that was drowning and he asked God for help. You heard that one.
[00:36:39] Nirish Shakya: I think so. Come on
[00:36:40] Kate Pincott: the parable where he's like, God's gonna save me. He's in the middle of a storm, he's clinging onto this tree, and it's like blowing wind in his face. And he's Ugh. And then he's no, God's gonna save me.
[00:36:49] And then this boat comes along and says, oh, you right George, do you want us to pick you up? He's no, it's fine. God's gonna save me. And then the wind's getting and more ferocious, and this helicopter comes down and it has like a light beam on him. And they're like, are you ok mate?
[00:37:02] You look, you know, you look like you're about to die. He's don't worry, God's gonna
[00:37:06] Nirish Shakya: gonna save me.
[00:37:06] Kate Pincott: And this goes on for a while, right? And this guy dies and he gets finally flung off into a rock, poor guy. And then he goes to heaven and God. What's going on? I sent you a bow, a helicopter, and a whole search party.
[00:37:24] Why didn't you say yes? And of course, this guy had this fixed idea of how God was gonna save him, and he had a fixed idea and his world was limited and small. But when we take off that limited way of how the path should be going forward, we can actually be open to new conversation, new paths, new connections, new opportunities.
[00:37:44] And we can say The one thing I know I don't know is that I don't know how this next opportunity's gonna come to me. I don't know how my next love, my next exciting project's gonna come to me. But if I'm open and I'm watching and I'm talking to new people and purposefully new go rock climbing, go your park, then you, those happen
[00:38:07] and they'll come to
[00:38:07] Nirish Shakya: I just had a thought maybe you can do a crazy eight to sketch out all the things you can do. All the activities, solutions for the next step of your life. Cause a lot of times, we only, you know, for example, we have a problem, which is we just got laid off and we only see one solution, which is to go and find another job.
[00:38:27] And I think I heard a quote in design somewhere and something that goes something like if you only have one solution to a problem, you haven't understood the problem well.
[00:38:36] Right. So maybe there's multiple solutions that we have not considered that we could consider.
[00:38:45] Kate Pincott: I love that. Crazy eight everything. And then you can use those to start planning, okay, which one of these peaks my interest, which one of them feeds my curiosity? Cause again we often tend to lean into what should I be doing? What is right? What's the best practice of what I should be doing?
[00:39:02] I should be going for something that's gonna give me loads of money. I should be going for something that's going to give me stature and authority and make me look amazing. And then we skip over all the things that genuinely trigger us into flow state. The topics that you could just spend hours on YouTube and you just get sucked into them.
[00:39:20] Write down those on your crazy eight, right? The things that just catch your attention and you don't, you lose all perception of. Those are the things that you wanna start thinking, okay, how can I turn this into a job? What industry is covering this problem? I wanna solve that because they're naturally feeding your innate curiosity.
[00:39:41] Nirish Shakya: And things that bring you that true sense of joy.
[00:39:43] Kate Pincott: Absolutely.
Bringing joy back
[00:39:44] Nirish Shakya: that's a great segue to the next topic that I want to talk to you about. Joy and, okay, so we have cried, we have journaled, we have, reached out, we've talked to people. And now let's say now we are ready to feel in more sense of joy back into our lives.
[00:40:03] How come we start to bring some of that back in
How can we strive to bring joy back into our lives?
[00:40:06] Kate Pincott: Yeah. This is a great phase. This is a great phase. This is one of the things that in the self-help community, we often skip too straight away. And we're like, okay, just be grateful. Be grateful. And you're like,
[00:40:18] Nirish Shakya: Just be happy,
[00:40:19] Kate Pincott: Yeah, just be happy . Remember, we, in case you're coming into this podcast you've scrubbed through or you've listening to us on two x.
[00:40:26] Remember we've done the first twos Now , we're thinking about what we're grateful because no experience is all, is it? No relationship ending is all bad. There's always something that you've learned about yourself, something that you've grown from. You might have learned that you really don't like working on Android applications, or you really don't like the fashion industry, or you really don't like working in big teams.
[00:40:52] Great. That's a really good insight. Okay. You had, it came at the cost of something quite painful perhaps, but nevertheless, no one can take away that learning from you. That's amazing. There are so many ways that we can be robbed and blackmailed and gas lit in this world, but nobody can steal your learnings from you.
[00:41:14] And so that's why this step is so precious. It's let's write down all the things that I learned. Let's write down all the ways that I've grown, the things that I want to take away. And the maybe even some joyful memories, what were the high points and the low points.
[00:41:27] That's a nice way to journal what were the things that I'm gonna remember for next time that I want to keep with me. Stop, start, continue. You can also have keep throw away and burn
[00:41:38] Nirish Shakya: Hmm.
[00:41:38] Kate Pincott: or,
[00:41:38] Or just give on to someone else.
[00:41:40] Nirish Shakya: Like you self retro,
[00:41:42] Kate Pincott: yeah, exactly. I love all of our conversation. NORAs going back to the product life cycle.
[00:41:47] It's just, it's perfect. So we're gonna have a little retro and reflect on all the things that we wanna yeah. Take away. And that is also gonna lead therefore, into making you feel a bit happier and calmer. You're like, you know what? This whole experience has given me some rewards, and that's gonna boost your hormone levels and make you me feel a bit happier after your little sad patch.
[00:42:13] What happens if you do this exercise and you can't think of anything that you are happy about or that you've taken away? What happens if you're feeling really low? That's the signal that you need to go back into the second phase. Talking, connecting and opening up your world because it's a signal that you're not ready to move on.
[00:42:36] If you literally can't find anything, then you need to talk to maybe some of your colleagues that have also left. Talk to your family. Ask them, have you noticed a change in me? Ask your friends. Do you think that there's anything positive I can take from this? It means that you need to do a bit more connecting, and it's the same for the connecting phase.
[00:42:53] If you are feeling so sad that you feel that you can't connect, it probably means that you need to stay in the reflecting phase a bit longer. So just listen to yourself about how you wanna go through these. Don't be like, okay schedule time. I need to go through phase one and day one, phase two, and day two,
[00:43:10] Nirish Shakya: so a proper design sprint
[00:43:11] Kate Pincott: exactly. You choose how long these phases take you and when you're ready to move to the next one.
[00:43:16] Nirish Shakya: That's very wise advice. Thanks for sharing that, Kate. What's the role of a therapist or a coach in this scenario?
Role of a therapist or coach
[00:43:26] Kate Pincott: So a therapist will help you look back in the past at trauma or something that's been unresolved and they'll help you to unpick some of the behaviors and beliefs and identities behind that, coaches on the other hand look forward to the future and the present. And coaches won't go into your past or your trauma, but they'll be asking you questions to help you pull out your inner world.
[00:43:53] So a coach can help you to identify, what are your values and how can you recognize them? how can you recognize a company's values and how can you see if your values align with that company? And they can help you identify what are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? What are my growth areas?
[00:44:10] I think I know what they are, but I'm not really sure. And, I had this feedback, but, how can I identify that? How can I be confident that these are the areas that I should focus on? And a coach can also help you to articulate your story. When you go into an interview, people say, tell me a bit about yourself.
[00:44:26] And you've got couple of seconds to quickly go, oh my God, who am I? What am I, what do I care about? But if you go through. , all of these different areas of my values. What motivates me, what I care about my story, my, my strengths, my weaknesses. You can start to create a really coherent story that really represents you well in this moment and also helps you to come across in your best light and that makes you feel really prepared and makes you feel a lot calmer going into the interview and just looking for jobs in general, cuz you know what you want.
[00:45:00] Part of the fear of jobs searching and hunting is not knowing what you want and if they're gonna like you or not. Whereas when you know who you are, you don't even care. You're like, stuff you guys, I'm not interested in you cuz I know who I am and that's powerful.
[00:45:14] Nirish Shakya: I love that. I love that. It's like knowing exactly what flavor of yogurt you want and just going straight to that rather than. To out which one should I get? And then giving up
[00:45:25] Kate Pincott: Yeah. So actually slowing down speeds you. Because slowing down for a week to do reflecting and journaling or two weeks and going through this whole process however long you need, is actually gonna speed up the job search, which can take three to six months. It can take a year sometimes in, in senior roles.
[00:45:46] You can speed up that whole process by not even bothering, applying to certain jobs that you know aren't gonna fit you or by replying to the recruiter before they've even responded to you. Thanks so much for your time, but this wasn't a great fit for me because you are interviewing them as much as they're interviewing you, and you don't have to wait for them to reply to you when you know that it's not a good fit.
[00:46:05] You're sailing everyone's time there as well, and also puts you back in the driving seat, right? This is your car, your movie, your life, and you choose where you get to spend your.
[00:46:16] Nirish Shakya: I love it.
[00:46:16] So Kate, you are a design coach and you have been coaching designers for years now. So how can someone like you, who's a design coach, help in this scenario where people are laid?
How a design coach help people
[00:46:31] Kate Pincott: so I've worked with huge number of different designers, hundreds who are in the situation right now. And we had it a few years ago. When there was a, it wasn't a a big layoff, but there was a bit of a, a crash because of the covid situation. And there were lots of designers looking for jobs.
[00:46:48] And so I've helped designers to write their ideal job brief and description to help them on their search. And that saved them loads of time. I've helped designers to format their portfolios and CVS to be aligned with the type of work that they want to attract, not the type of work that they've done.
[00:47:06] I've helped designers to tell their story and work out how do I wanna position myself now? I wanna move into this different type of design. This type of what I identify, the new area I wanna work in, but I don't know how to position myself. I've helped designers to Go for more money to ask for, bigger and better roles and to think bigger than where they're at.
[00:47:26] Maybe they're not seeing growth because they're playing it safe. Maybe that you keep going for boring, safe roles and maybe this is your time to take a risk. And I've helped designers get, 20, 40, 60 K salary increases because they've been able to reframe their skills and their strengths and story tell.
[00:47:44] And lastly, I've been able to help designers just feel a bit more confident and prepared for what it is they want and to articulate it. And I think that's no matter what stage, you know, it doesn't matter whether you are junior, a midway or senior staff or design manager. I've worked with all different levels and all of us.
[00:48:00] Confidence at some point. And we need to feel good about ourselves. And so often just thinking through with someone in thought partnership about those areas that you're feeling unsure about, relieves, a lot of anxiety and can make you realize that all of those things can be turned into actions and you can, have helped designers to put a plan in place to actually go from being jobless to finding the job.
[00:48:24] And I've helped hundreds of designers find jobs from Amazon to meta to Monzo and not just one or two job offers. I help designers to get lots of job offers because again, we want to be in this abundant mindset where there's lots of opportunity, not that we have to fix ourself on a narrow scope.
[00:48:38] Nirish Shakya: And we'll put Kate's contact details in the show notes. So if you'd like to reach out to Kate and have a chat with her then please feel free to do so. and um, Kate, you would also like to offer a free coaching session to help people get clear on their goals plans.
You would like to offer a free coaching session to help people get clear on their goals and plans?
[00:48:53] Kate Pincott: Yeah, I think the best way to experience coaching, which is quite a different type of conversation, is just to try it. So try before you buy, come along, book a session experience what it's like rather than me tell you , and then you can see all those light bulb moments go off and get clarity on your next steps.
[00:49:11] Nirish Shakya: Love that. And Kate has been generous to offer 10% off the program. If you use or mention design feelings in the booking form, the booking form that we have put in the show notes. Thanks.
[00:49:24] Kate Pincott: You're welcome. I'm a big fan of what you do. I think feelings are very important. We go full loop back to the beginning of the show. All feelings are valid whether we're in time, recession time, plentiful time and they guide us and they are our insights. So hold onto them.
[00:49:39] Nirish Shakya: Absolutely. And hence the name of the show, design Feeling
[00:49:43] Kate Pincott: Perfect.
[00:49:43] Nirish Shakya: Okay, so I'm gonna ask you the question that you suggested or that I asked last time, which is, what's the question that you would ask yourself that I haven't asked you yet, Kate,
[00:49:53] Kate Pincott: Oh, what's the question they'd like you to ask me? Something about how do we bounce back or reframe? Cause I, I think I get that asked that a lot and so maybe it's a good one to share with your audience.
[00:50:09] Nirish Shakya: go for it.
[00:50:11] Kate Pincott: So I get asked a lot, how do I bounce back or reframe when I'm just feeling really low and rubbish and I know I'm meant to be going to this more positive mindset and I know I'm meant to be resilient, but I just dunno how to get there.
[00:50:25] And I think the assumption here when we're doing assumption mapping is that you do it in one step. It's like a one bounce , like a slam dunk. I've got it in, I've got the ball in the net in one. But actually in reality, it's more like a series of attempts. It's more like a practice, so if we take the basketball metaphor, I don't know where that came from.
[00:50:45] I don't play basketball but if you're trying to shoot in the net, you might miss the first time. The analogy here is, okay, I'm gonna reframe and I'm gonna write down what are some of the ways that I could. See this situation as positive? What are some of the benefits? Oh, I get to spend more time with my family.
[00:51:05] Oh, I get to not have to wake up in the morning as early. Oh, I get to decide my schedule more freely today. Like literally anything you can grab onto . Oh, I don't have to be around that smelly coworker who has really bad breath. Like we could be drawing at straws here. It doesn't matter what, it's, what you wanna focus on is there some benefit or joy that you're experiencing?
[00:51:27] And then the next time you throw. You might be able to think of something a bit faster, but you are practicing, you're building up a muscle. And so the only rule in reframing is that you dedicate, you commit to doing it regularly and you can even turn it into a game. So something that me and my husband do is we play Flip it.
[00:51:44] And you do it. We do it both ways. So if he says something really positive, I'll say, flip it and get him to say a really negative version of
[00:51:54] And then if I say something negative, he'll say, go and flip it. And obviously it's always harder that way round, isn't it, when you're trying to think.
[00:52:00] But if you make it into a game and you're constantly practicing, then guess what? You get really good at it. Yeah. So people say, how do you reframe? You just practice no one wants to hear that. Cause that's, that sounds long and full.
[00:52:15] Nirish Shakya: work.
[00:52:15] Kate Pincott: Yeah. But you can turn it into a game and you can make it fun. And that is the literally the biggest strength you can possibly develop, whether you are in a good time or a bad time.
[00:52:27] Because if you can flip it, then you can be like, and I'm gonna go to a dark place. Now you can be like the soldiers in the trenches who are in the middle of war, right? They're about to lose their life and they're cracking jokes to each other because they're able to focus on something that's funny and joyful, and they are choosing, despite the craziness around them, to focus on something fun and to focus on something silly.
[00:52:53] And then that's what comedians do as well, right? They take the pain, they put their finger on it, and they turn it into something funny. And it always starts with pain. So another way that we can reframe is just to remember that all funny moments come from really painful times. although we
[00:53:09] can't see it
[00:53:10] Nirish Shakya: acting teacher. Yes,
[00:53:11] Kate Pincott: did.
[00:53:11] Nirish Shakya: There's no comedy without pain apparently.
[00:53:13] Kate Pincott: There you go. There you go. I like that. There's no comedy without pain. There's no growth without pain, and there's no joy without pain either. So
[00:53:22] Nirish Shakya: is essentially, is that what you're saying?
[00:53:24] Kate Pincott: essential. So everybody go out and find some pain right now. No, but I don't wanna make light of it. I know this can, if you're in the first phase and you're listening to this, then this, all this joking might feel a a bit too soon.
[00:53:38] So take your time, go it your own pace. Listen to your own rhythm, your own drum beat, and your own measuring stick.
[00:53:45] Nirish Shakya: So Kate I'm gonna do a quick recap of my key learnings here, and I've been like taking notes furiously throughout this conversation. And one of the things that we started off was by. Just trying to remind ourselves to just accept, whatever we are feeling. Like you said, just acknowledge them without trying to change the situation.
[00:54:04] Cause a lot of times we're, it, it is painful and uncomfortable to be in that situation of being laid off. And it can be one of those lowest points in our career and life and can be really painful. But one of the worst things they can do at that point is to just push away or ignore or bottle up that pain.
[00:54:20] And maybe it might be better to just accept it and just let it exist in its own space. You could cry, you can journal, whatever those in your head, just let it all out. And then you can probably, choose to reframe how you're feeling. So any issues that you might want to address from your past roles or jobs, write them down and maybe reframe them into any aspirations that you might want to aim for in terms of, addressing those past issues that you know you don't want in your next role.
[00:54:48] We also talked about maybe using this time for self-reflection. Digging deep into what are our strengths or our weaknesses, what are our values what's brings us joy, what our SoFi deeper needs? And these will help you create, better filters to filter out the jobs you don't want or the opportunities you don't want, and then get faster to the opportunities that you do want and that actually bring you the joy in the. And I love that Chinese prove you mentioned around, building not walls, doing storms, but maybe building windmills. So what are some of the opportunities that we haven't seen in this turmoil that, we might be going through, after being laid off? Are we trying to build walls to protect us from the storm?
[00:55:32] Are we trying to build windmills that might help us make a better impact with the opportunity that we were given? And again, being the design nerds, we are, we talked about maybe doing crazy a to help us see multiple solutions to the problem that we're facing, right?
[00:55:46] So a lot of times we think the only solution to losing a job is getting another job. Maybe that there's more to life than that, right? And sometimes we might need to use our own design skills to be able to see those different solutions. And ultimately no one can steal your learnings from you.
[00:56:03] So have, a reflection on those learnings you've had so far. Maybe even go out and share them so that you are still adding value to other people's lives even though you might not have a a paying job at that particular moment in time. And the next steps after this, might not be that one slam dunk.
[00:56:22] When the basketball analogy that we use, it might be a series of different attempts. And a lot of times we don't see all those attempts that, everyone else around us, had been making. We only see that final slam dunk, which gives us the impression that maybe other people are better than me.
[00:56:35] They more accurate than me, right? But it's a lot of times not the. But also we talked about the value of maybe having a coach in these kinda circumstances where, they might help you with visioning a better future repositioning your proposition to fit that vision. And maybe even with designing your approach so that you are getting to your next dream opportunity faster, rather than, fumbling around in the dark, looking for the thing that comes up and then realize it's not the thing for you.
[00:57:06] So yeah, so many insights and wisdom. As usual, Kate, every time I speak to you, I become wiser myself. So thank you for us so much for sharing that, Kate. And thank you so much for joining us again. So Kate where can people find you online if they would like to reach to you?
[00:57:22] Kate Pincott: On LinkedIn. Yeah, LinkedIn is the place to be. So just reach out follow my remote design coaching page and you'll see lots of jobs I'm posting there, tips, wisdom tricks, and um, yeah, look forward to hearing from you.
[00:57:38] Nirish Shakya: Awesome. Thank you so much for joining us on the Design Feeling podcast again in season two. And if you haven't listened to Kate's interview in for season one, please do check it out. It's the second episode in season one. She was my first ever guest on the, in the show, and it was such a great start to the whole theme around the podcast around self-awareness, creative confidence, and so thank you so much for coming back and I hope we'll see you again soon.
[00:58:05] Kate Pincott: Yes. I love your podcast. I watch every episode and I can't wait to see what else comes out.
[00:58:10] Nirish Shakya: Thank you very much.
[00:58:12] Thank you so much for joining us in this chat. if you are enjoying listening to the Design Feeling podcast, please do consider leaving an honest review on Apple Podcasts. It'll really help get this podcast out to more people. And please do share the podcast with a Design Thinking friend who could benefit from these conversations. See you next time.