Month: June 2013

Be the blue umbrella that you are and smile

Last night, I saw Monsters University with a few friends and one of the films included in the previews was a short film by Pixar titled ‘The Blue Umbrella’ which was one of the most creative short films ever! The story is about a blue umbrella and a red umbrella that fall in love.

I would love to be able to share the entire short film but I think you can only see it in the previews before Monsters University. Basically, everything- the mailbox, the walk-sign, the sidewalk- has a face and is an animate object in the short. As the blue umbrella, who is cheery and smiling for being alive, travels in the hands of his owner down the street along with tens of other umbrellas, everything smiles as a result of him smiling.

If the author meant to include any lessons or messages for the audience, I would infer that these are them:

Smiling is contagious- if you smile at a stranger, chances are he or she will smile back at you! Most people would probably say they already know this but I think more of us could do it, including myself. What’s the worst that could happen? The person doesn’t smile, we feel awkward and quickly look away and then laugh quietly to ourselves and say, “Well…At least I tried!”

Be yourself– the blue umbrella sticks out from the rest because he is acting himself. He’s not trying to mirror the black umbrellas who are boring and act like the next umbrella to avoid being different. Instead, he curiously looks around and ends up seeing another umbrella, who is red and enjoying the feeling of rain on her face. As a result of him not focusing on conforming to the social umbrella norm, he is able to notice life, enjoy it, and even meet a lovely red umbrella 🙂

Now, I could be completely wrong about the message of this short film but this is how I interpreted it and I only wanted to share my thoughts with you because I loved this short film and thought it had meaning worth sharing.

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If you saw the film, how’d you interpret it? If you didn’t, what did you interpret from the 30 second clip?

Make Something Cool Everyday

man standing on water with green circle

The Man on the water

While staying at The Embassy Network, I met one of the nicest guys ever. His name is Bernat Fortet and he is a designer from Barcelona, Spain. I talked to him about design and he introduced me to a super fun project idea called Make Something Cool Everyday. 

The idea of the project is that you create something everyday and experiment with new elements. He recommended that I take a look at a well-known designer named Mark Weaver who completed the project in 2010 for inspiration in my own project.

Although I only took two years of graphic design in high school and I don’t have a lot of experience outside of those classes, I think it’s a great way to learn and explore my creative side through design with this project. I believe the ability s to design well is extremely versatile because you can apply it to numerous areas of life. I use Pixlr photo editor for this project. It’s a great knock-off of Photoshop and you don’t even have to download anything! 🙂

Another fantastic tool for learning more about design is hackdesign.org. I stumbled upon it months ago but just recently started following the lessons. They’re a great start for anyone who is curious about design in startups and businesses. I thought I’d share this project with you guys because it piqued my interest and I thought it might do the same for you!

Feel free to share any thoughts about MSCED, design, or personal projects below! 🙂

24 days, 313 emails, 6 trips to Safeway and 1 sailing trip in San Francisco

san francisco, california, verbling

Today, was my last day of my internship at Verbling and tomorrow, I leave San Francisco. I have learned SO much from being here and I want to share my reflection and insights with you in this post. I’ve split it up into two categories to specify what I learned directly from my internship and what I learned from outside my internship:

What I learned from my internship:

 Customer Support is more important than you think technically I learned this from Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh but the idea is that customers will always be the most important aspect to your company(in my opinion). It’s important to help them out as much as you can and make sure they’re happy. If you happen to be placed in the customer support sector, learn to enjoy it! It may sound hard but assisting other people find solutions to their problems can make you happy 🙂

Everyone’s opinions are valid- I really loved this part about my team. Even though I wasn’t an engineer or a co-founder, my opinion still mattered and my team members listened to what I had to say. If I had an idea and explained it, people listened. I felt extremely lucky to have the ability to share my thoughts as an intern.

You can work outside of your “field”– I mostly did customer support and social media management but one day, I asked if I could try coding a little bit and I actually got to! It was beginner stuff but at least they gave me the chance to try it out and I enjoyed it! I also had to do research statistics for my boss for a meeting with an investor and that was something I felt inexperienced in. However, I did it to the best of my ability and succeeded with the help other team members!

You won’t always be told what to do- I think this is especially true with startups who are still at an early stage but I imagine this applies to other jobs as well. A lot of the times, I had to find my own projects because everyone else was busy doing their own thing. One project I completed was a press release. I wrote up a press release for the first time and my journalist friend edited it, and I sent it out to a few blogs. I haven’t received any replies yet but it’s now I have an idea of how to write one!

40 hours is A LOT per week-  I felt so relieved when they told me I didn’t have to commit 40 hours a week if I didn’t want to. Working six hours everyday drained me- I can’t even imagine putting in 70 or 80! It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the work but rather some days were long and repetitive and others were exciting and dynamic.

What I learned from living in San Francisco:

Co-living spaces are definitely better than a hotel or regular hostel– living at The Embassy Network was, by far, the best decision I could have made as far as accommodations. It’s hostel/co-living space. I created strong friendships with the permanent residents and met a wide variety of unique people who stayed in the hostel. The community in this house is so welcoming. Every Sunday night around 7pm there is communal dinner where up to 50 people come  to eat and we prepare the food. I can’t wait til I come back to San Francisco and stay here again. Oh, and on the floor below the main floor is a bowling lane 😉

Learn from people- From each person that has lived at or visited The Embassy Network, I have learned something new. Whether it’s about bitcoin, cognitive science, hacking, or decision making, I’ve gained new knowledge that I wouldn’t have if I had been elsewhere. It’s fun and exciting to learn about new subjects or subjects I haven’t studied before. Sharing knowledge is one of the greatest abilities ever 🙂

Strangers may help you- I wasn’t directly helped by a stranger but one guy I met came here from Spain and didn’t know anyone and found a job from talking to a random stranger. He was on his bike, waiting at a red light when he asked the guy next to him how his day was going. After that, they talked and my friend explained his situation and the guy said he knew someone who could help him out. Next thing he knew, a company employed him as a designer. Now designers from amazing companies such as Google and Twitter mentor him and he loves the culture. You never know what can happen- you could put a smile on someone’s face or find a job!

From my parents, to high schools teachers, to professors, to mentors- they all have reminded me of how important it is to reflect on activities and events in our life. I try to practice this exercise with anything that involves learning because it helps me remember what I’ve learned and apply those things to other areas in my life. I hope my reflection and insights have encouraged you to at least visit San Francisco for a week! You can definitely learn a lot! I plan to come back after Argentina and continue learning as much as I can.

Lastly, I want to thank the University of Arizona Honors College for the extremely generous scholarship. This experience would not have happened without that scholarship because San Francisco is WAY too expensive to live here regularly. And, thank you to The Embassy Network for letting me stay for four weeks 🙂

What methods do you use to reflect on different life experiences?

An unexpected conversation on the light rail home

Yesterday, the coolest thing happened on the light rail on my way home from SoMa, the area where I work.

I hopped onto the light rail near AT&T Park and sat down next to the window facing one way, while the train took off the other way. I opened my book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and divided into the world of lean startup production. As my journey in the book continued, more people filled the train at each stop.

Before the second or third stop before my stop, a young man around his early twenties boarded the light rail and ended up next to a lady who was reading a magazine in front of me.

“Hey, so what are you reading?” He said in a half-joking manner and then laughed to himself. I couldn’t keep in my chuckle because she didn’t reply and nobody ever talks to one another on the light rail. I think people think it’s weird or awkward.

He noticed my chuckle and then decided to say, “So what are you reading then?” I didn’t even think twice and immediately started talking to him about The Lean Startup and the travel website that I’m working on with two friends.

He actually seemed interested and even gave me a few suggestions, which I may end up using. I couldn’t help but notice at least four people listening to our conversation-not because it was particularly interesting to them but because we, two strangers, we’re having as semi-in-depth conversation and that wasn’t “normal.” It amazed me because I felt like he was breaking a mini social norm.

We were still talking when the light rail arrived at my stop and unfortunately, I had to get off.

“My name’s Joe by the way.”

“Jake. Nice to meet you, Joe.”

We shook hands and I hopped off the train. I couldn’t believe what had just happened.

You’re probably thinking, “It’s really not that big of a deal. There are always random strangers who will strike up a conversation with you.” And you’re right! It wasn’t the first time ever but it was the first time on the light rail in San Francisco.

I’m not 100% sure why I felt so moved after it happened but I still think it was the coolest thing ever. I wanted to share it with you guys because of how it made me felt! It also made me realize, “Hey. Why am I not that guy who starts random conversations?”

I think most of us are scared. I know I am. But I want to at least try and change that. I’m not saying everyday I’m going to try and start a conversation with a stranger but I’m going to take advantage of more opportunities like that guy Jake did. He made me laugh and he saw me reading-a puurfect opportunity to start a conversation. You should try it to- at least once. See what happens and let me know! When I try it, I’ll share with you what happens.

Have you ever been approached or talked to by a stranger that made you feel positive afterwards? Feel free to comment below! I’d love to hear about any similar experiences 🙂

P.S- If you’re from AZ, please “like” this page for David Garcia’s campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction: https://www.facebook.com/pages/dg4az/492602880810729