I took a few days during my short August break to explore San Francisco. I have gotten into a habit of telling folks I’d love to move there after graduating, but had never actually visited the city before. I figured it would be an important thing to do before thinking of moving across the country! Here are some of the exciting things I saw while on the west coast.
I was excited to take the train down to San Bruno to explore the YouTube campus with my friend and fellow WashU alum Will Bates. It was pretty wild to see some of the work he was doing out there, and it was impossible to not fall in love with the campus. From slides and napping pods to abundant amounts of healthy free food and smiling colleagues, this first exposure to life at Google helped me truly understand what all the buzz is about.
Speaking of life a Google, my cousin Adam Nedelman (yes, he spells it differently) helped me get into an IXDA panel event at Google’s downtown San Francisco offices. As well as providing more delicious free food, this panel discussion introduced me to some of the many faces of UX at Google. I learned more about life within the organization, their large definition of design, and their ability to make global impact through technology and design.
My favorite moment of the panel discussion was when Brynn Evans started geeking out about Gamestorming – an XPLANE methodology. After the panel discussion Brynn and I bonded over our favorite Gamestorming techniques, which really helped me feel at home in Google.
Anybody who knows me can probably guess how giddy I was to have the opportunity to explore IDEO’s San Francisco office. I grabbed lunch with Jenn Maer, the project lead for Bedsider on the IDEO side. As a bit of history, I fell in love with Bedsider while the project was still in early beta and I was just beginning to work at Planned Parenthood. As noted in my portfolio, a video Jenn posted in 2010 about changing conversations around sexual health affected the trajectory of my work at Planned Parenthood. This short video (that eventually became a robust design project) backed me up when I challenged 80 years of clinical language and endless bullet points, and ultimately helped countless more Missouri residents receive the affordable sexual health care they needed.
I could talk for ages about the impact Jenn’s work has had on my work, choice in graduate programs, and more. Sitting in the IDEO dining area overlooking the water and hills of Oakland was truly an unbelievable experience. I am thrilled to be entering a field where the people I most admire are accessible and extremely passionate about what they do.
This was definitely a highlight of my August break.
During my first year of graduate school, Nancy Duarte’s books (Resonate and Slide:ology, in particular) had become a staple of many classes. Nancy and I had worked on projects together years ago while I was at XPLANE, and I figured a trip to San Francisco would be an ideal time to reconnect. Her large office in Sunnyvale is welcoming and beautiful. It was really inspiring to have an hour to sit and chat with her in the morning before work really got started for the day. She helped me remember the importance of being a female design leader, and shared stories of other inspirational female leaders she has had the opportunity to meet over the years.
It is always important to recognize those who have paved the way to make my future possible. I am thrilled to know strong female business and leaders like Nancy who push boundaries, defy expectations, and change perspectives on a daily basis.
While in San Francisco I was staying with my St. Louis friend, Katie Sawyer, who now writes for Stanford’s Law School. Once I made travel plans to SF, I knew I’d be carpooling with her to work one day to explore the famous d.school. I was super lucky that they Friday I was flying back to Baltimore there was a lunchtime tour! It was great learning from Fellowship Director Justin Ferrell, and hearing stories I’ve read so many times directly from the source.
Immediately before leaving the d.school for happy hour with Katie and my flight back to Baltimore, I ran into this polaroid of David Kelley. It was the perfect way to end a whirlwind tour of design thinking.
Tweetable Quotes from the d.school tour:
“We don’t interview people to ask them what they want, we interview them to uncover what their needs are.”
“If you want to come up with a really unique idea you need to stop yourself. Don’t go with the first solution that comes to you.”
“Fail early fail often is really about getting feedback early on before investing significant time & money. It also sets you up to listen.”
“With rapid prototyping, By the time you spend money on prototypes you’ve gotten so much feedback that you’ve really mitigated your risks.”
“It’s easier to learn a new thing in an area you’re not already invested in, you’re more likely to take risks.”
“We’re about focusing on unlocking innovators, not innovations.”
“With multidisciplinary groups, it’s important to identify when you’re an expert and when you’re the outside perspective.”