Okay. Here we go.
Before we get into all my hard-earned lessons, here is a short history of how I got here.
The first time I used photoshop was in high school. I had gotten good-for-a-teenager at drawing and decided to enter the inaugural Blizzcon fan art contest. So I wrestled with the burn tool for the first time and made a really crappy fan art submission. Life was good.
Despite my parents' best efforts, I decided to do something creative in college. I studied drawing and painting and sculpture. A 19, I created a large stainless steel sculpture for a famous golf course in Florida. At 20, I circumnavigated the world in a ship. At 21, I quit school after my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer.
She was paralyzed on her left side. Notice the "was" in that sentence.
We spent two hard years together. She figured out how to walk while I held her by the belt loop. She figured out how to pick up coins from my palm. Now, she can drive and she uses a walker to make her way around the house. She can dress and shower herself. Life is good again.
I feel a lot of empathy for people who didn't happen to have someone dedicated to helping them recover. What was the fate of those people? Could a digital product help?
So when I went back to school, I started on that exact project.
Two years later I had a degree, I had helped start the Social Apps Lab, I had presented the game I made for people like my mother at conferences in the United States and Switzerland. I felt like I could really take on the hard problems.
But there were no jobs. I struggled.
I lived with my dad.
I moved around.
I wanted to try everything.
Finally, I started working in startups. I learned what a design process should be and then I learned it wasn't that easy to actually do (especially for people who are making B2B software). I learned how to figure things out with no resources and no support. I learned how to advocate over and over for understanding users and that design is more than just "making things pretty"
So let's dive in.