Structure of your typical day, how do you divide your time?
I either get started really early around 7:30am in the office, or at 9:30. The later start gives me a little bit of time to sleep in or to spend with the girls in the morning.
Once I’m in the office I knock off and clear out any emails / check twitter / LinkedIn, and circle back with anyone online that I need to.
Each day typically has 4 things:
Internal and external project workshops: meeting with our design or development teams to align on project work, and having time one on one with people that work at DC, whether about external projects or internal launches, or how they’re feeling for the day / week and make sure they’re happy.
Workshops and coordinating with clients: we interact with clients on projects on a daily basis, and the workshops are one of the most fun parts of my day.
Relationships, email coordination and Asana project management: I spend 1-2 hours every day in emails on business and relationships, and coordinating existing work on Asana. I spend 1-2 hours a day as well meeting folks either for studio, education, or DMC, in person, or over hangouts.
Design / strategy / content creation on projects: I split my studio time on either hands on design, or strategy and creative direction with our design and development team, or creating content.
The last part of the day is preparing and teaching our DC Edu classes on Design Thinking and Product Design. This happens twice a week in the evenings, so I have 30 mins of prep time every day, and 3 hours of classes with our inaugural cohort.
There are also lunches with the team at DC, as well as games of NHL 15 that get pretty serious with Toronto, Habs, and Sens fans all working here.
Why do you do what you do, what motivates you and makes everything worth it?
It’s actually really hard to do what I’m doing right now, and the best I described it the other day is like an out of body experience, where while I perform an individual task or interaction, another me in my mind is watching that happen, but also thinking of everything else in the DC world. And this isn’t a complaint, it’s actually a very challenging and motivating daily experience, and I’m really lucky to be able to build out this organization, and seeing this new reality of ours come to life with people, places, and things is a strong motivational factor.
Design Cofounders isn’t just a startup, or a design studio. At the end of the day, we’re building out 3 business units: DC Edu, DC’s studio, and DMC (design makes change). They’re all intertwined, and it’s almost as if we’re running 3 companies every day. It’s really important that we do this since they’re all symbiotically related to each others success, making one another special and successful. Ex: the design studio drives our education program, DMC helps drive the studio, and vice versa, etc.
What motivates me to do this is that the people around me that I work with, and that choose to join our team, see such a future in the company and for themselves here, in that there’s endless opportunity within DC for us to find happiness in our work.
Having the freedom and ability at DC to make decisions based on happiness as a core driver puts us in a unique position to do the right things, for ourselves and our clients. And that happiness makes it worth it. Building that reality for myself, the great folks that work with us, our clients and partners– it’s worth it since it’s the right thing to do for them.
When my first little one was born, it really changed my perspective on work and purpose in life. In that the time spent away from home and family, the relationships we spend building, and the things we put efforts to create must be so worth it. It’s why we have such a core focus on making an impact and happiness. They’re things that make the world a better place. Sometimes it’s easy to forget these things, and this type of interview helped give me a great reminder. Thanks.
What is the greatest piece of career advice/wisdom you've ever received?
My father used to drive me to school every day. All the way through OAC (grade 13 in Ontario). He’s fairly educated in his career, a Ph.D in Agricultural Science and a Masters in Design from Moscow. We used to often speak about success during the drives, and I remember asking him a specific question about success in career and life (something like: “would you be happy if all you had everyday was a small studio, with clay to make art?”). Anyways, I thought that was a clever question of defining success as happiness rather than achievement. I’m going to call him tomorrow and ask him for one single piece of advice, and I’ll let you know what he says.
“Keep yourself safe and healthy (mentally, emotionally, and physically) in order to be able to, all the time, and anytime, take care of yourself and the ones you love.” Dad.
Who would you like to see featured on Ways We Work?
Let’s go out of the blue and put my dad down. Jawshan Redha, scientist and artist. Curve ball.