Studio Sync + Resonant Leadership

I’m currently in Week 4 of my MS Strategic Design and Management. My studio team had our design crit last week and I’ve taught an Inversion during Design Leadership class on What is Resonant Leadership.

For design crit, my studio class’s prompt was to make a map of Parsons as a whole —with the constraint that we could not use geography. My team decided to research all the faculty’s backgrounds (there are 1400 professors at Parsons listed!) —and we learned that many faculty are entrepreneurs and come from a background in Architecture. My team decided to map faculty by where they had taught previously (teaching experience) to see if there was a connection — but after crit, we have decided to take a different route to look at both where faculty are from and where alumni go.

Design Innovation and Leadership has been an exercise in self-awareness. I taught a class on Resonant Leadership with my partner Vonetta and learned about the importance of being Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA). People gravitate to positive people (14 neurons in your brain light up), and away from negative people. Also, I looked at the dichotomy between those who give feedback and mentors. Mentors and people who provide feedback can provide the same information, but present in different ways. As resonant leaders, mentors present positive feedback, in terms of growth potential and goals.

Who do you look at as a resonant leader?

Image from: https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/02/ruth-bader-ginsburg-notorious-rbg-cult-following/

Image from: https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/02/ruth-bader-ginsburg-notorious-rbg-cult-following/

SDM Semester 2: Studio + Design Leadership

After a great winter break, I’m back to school at Parsons for my MS in Strategic Design + Management. I’m doing this while working full-time and on-campus at night 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday).

This is Week 2 of the semester, so I’m definitely easing in. My classes are:

Studio (M, W):
My general review about Studio so far is that we’ve been focusing a lot on the brainstorming, creative process. Our professor is a Creative Director-type, so he is certainly an ideas person and helps facilitate our ideation. I like the free-form of the class because I believe that Studio is what you make of it and too much direction ends up making the project the professor’s project.

My teammates are Maria and Subrahi. They are from Colombia and India, with backgrounds in marketing and product design, so our diverse backgrounds will definitely complement each other. I really like my team and am excited to see what we will create.

Working in Studio with Subrahi, an Industrial Designer with her own line of artisanal ceramics from India.

Working in Studio with Subrahi, an Industrial Designer with her own line of artisanal ceramics from India.

Design Leadership (Th):
I had a great feeling after our first class because Design Leadership focuses a lot on self-reflection and awareness. We looked at leadership models in our own lives to see what characteristics we wanted to model ourselves after.

Students are expected to teach at least 2 classes, and I signed up with my classmate Vonetta to teach the next class on “Resonant Leadership and Systems Design.

What are your thoughts about leadership? What makes a good leader?

New Economies, Business Models, and Teams: First Semester Overview

I survived my first semester of my part-time MS in Strategic Design + Management at Parsons while working full-time!

My overall thoughts:
Management - Three classes is tough to manage, some which require more reading than others. However, I am very good at time management and this isn’t my first rodeo at working while going to school. I worked while I was in college and consulted part-time between two cities in law school. My grades have gotten progressively better throughout the years.

Content - I was initially very skeptical about what I would be learning, but came out of the 12 weeks with my “life changed” and very impressed. High level topics like sustainability and circular economy have been applied to my own personal life.

Classes Breakdown:

  • New Economies - I was most skeptical about this class initially because I didn’t know how I would be able to apply high level ideas to my work or life. Instead, Cody Fleishflesser (my professor) was an impressive facilitator and got the class thinking each week about different ideas through videos or readings — that we would end up teaching each other with (classmates taught classes). My biggest takeaway was thinking about design and innovation where design can help dictate strategic decisions — and how I can play a role in this as a design facilitator.

  • Sustainable Business Models - This was the wildcard class for me, because I didn’t know what to expect. When I see “sustainable”, I think “eco-friendly” —but found the content of the class far more interesting. “Sustainable” was defined broader — to see what one could do with what resources were available (not just environmental). I learned how to build quick business models through lean, social, business model, transitional, among other canvases. My personal sustainability plan affected me the greatest because I tracked my financial habits and learned how to create KPI’s and measure success for myself…and use these metrics to improve.

  • Managing Creative Teams - I worked on a client team for Citi on Campus with my classmates Morgane and Shemar. Morgane has a consulting background and Shemar was a graphic designer. We got hands-on experience designing a chatbot for Citi’s recruiting team and really enjoyed the interviews, prototyping, testing, and research we conducted with real-life undergraduate and graduate students. I really enjoyed getting to learn more about how each of my teammates worked and how we could figure out how to best utilize each others’ skills to bring together our final client presentation and playbook. This project helped me realize what my skills were as a facilitator and where I myself could grow as well.

Thanks! Feedback and Iterative Design

November means it’s almost Thanksgiving! Around Thanksgiving, I like to reflect over the past year and think about what’s great, what could have been improved, and overall highlights. Think of it like a yearly progress report.

For me, feedback is a really important part of learning. How can I grow? How can I develop? What skills can I gain? What am I good at? These are a few questions I try to ask myself to learn more about how I can be better. In school, when students are measured on a metric of grades, perfection is the goal. But in seeking feedback, I’m looking more for what I’m good at, and how I can substantively improve…and iterate my life accordingly!

We’ll start with the good. This year, I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about my IGTV videos, ability to learn digital marketing and branding, and skills in synthesis and facilitation. Further, I’ve started tracking food and money —learning more about myself and creating actionable insights of how I plan my week. I’ll consider those my pro’s.

I also have learned that I want to learn more in the areas of presenting more, leadership, and communication. Something I picked up from a friend at a hackathon is perhaps a bi-weekly check-in about “How am I doing on a scale of 1-10?” and following up with “How can I be a 10?” to get more imminent, actionable feedback.

Will end on a few things I’m grateful for this holiday season:

  • Family (spouse, parents, brothers, cousins coming out to support me)

  • Self-Awareness (to reflect on and learn more about myself)

  • Good Coffee (for the last push of the semester for grad school!)