These past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to make and partake in some really wonderful brunches with friends. This Sunday morning, my roommate and I perused the farmer’s market to make brunch Julia Child-style. On the menu: poached eggs with wine-sautéed mushrooms, pear and gouda crepes garnished with thyme, and goose pâté with ciabatta toast!

"Is it you or your roommate who’s a really good cook?" my friend asked.

"Neither," I answered sheepishly. "We’re just both trying to get better and keep attempting ambitious recipes that are way over our heads. Fake it ‘til you become it, right?"

"I’ve come to understand and believe that each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. I think if somebody tells a lie, they’re not just a liar. I think if somebody takes something that doesn’t belong to them, they’re not just a thief. I think even if you kill someone, you’re not just a killer. And because of that, there’s this basic human dignity that must be respected by law. 

I also believe that in many parts of this country, and certainly in many parts of this globe, that the opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.

And finally, I believe that, despite the fact that it is so dramatic and so beautiful and so inspiring and so stimulating, we will ultimately not be judged by our technology, we won’t be judged by our design, we won’t be judged by our intellect and reason. Ultimately, you judge the character of a society, not by how they treat their rich and the powerful and the privileged, but by how they treat the poor, the condemned, the incarcerated. Because it’s in that nexus that we actually begin to understand all the truly profound things about who we are.

Bryan Stevenson: “We need to talk about an injustice”

This weekend, I went to New York with some of the KA team to help conduct a teacher workshop. I seized the opportunity for a firsthand user research and feedback session.

Random things from the past few days that have inspired me:

  • Seeing so many teachers sacrificing their weekend and energy, unbidden by school protocol, to address their class’ learning needs. KA is not an easy product to use right now, especially for teachers who may still be intimidated at the prospect of integrating technology too deeply into their curriculums. Yet everyone was extraordinarily earnest and enthusiastic about using it if it meant their students would learn better. After speaking with many of them, I admire teachers SO much more. Definitely ensuring their problems are addressed with the upcoming improvements we have planned!

  • Dinner with Moya, the student from Columbia University featured in Humans of New York. We were all deeply awed at his resilience and optimism in the face of some truly excruciating circumstances (“I should put on my resumé that I’m really skilled at surviving while homeless in New York — I know all the best dumpsters to find the essentials you need! I even drew a map!”). He’s managed to stay positive and grateful through it all, and all we can do is hope to be more and serve more like him. 

Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more: I truly believe that you can find beauty anywhere if you look hard enough.

Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times — times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation — that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils… Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life… While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.

—    Nelson Mandela (via aufait)

(via telogram)

"Your job as a designer is to fight for the unreasonable. You want every experience to be magical."

Visited the Github office today for a Girl Geek Dinner celebrating some incredible female leaders in design (including Elle Luna, designer of Mailbox and Uber, and Alice Lee of Dropbox and Dear Instagram fame). My dreams for my work are sprawling and enormous, and all the inspiring ladies who spoke at this event reminded me of exactly how much is possible.
Some of my favorite moments:
"Do you remember when you were a beginner? You weren’t afraid of anything. You had no concept of limitations. If you were a kid and you wanted to paint, you never said, ‘Should I get a painting degree?’ You just did it. Be that bold."

"Nobody cares about delighting the user. Craigslist delights nobody, and yet it’s still around and the most successful company of its kind. When you talk about why you make a design decision, get your numbers and your results. Then sneakily make it look better and delight the user along the way."
“You make the map of everything that’s possible. Share your battle plan; externalize your process.”

Every day I’m hustlin’!

"Your job as a designer is to fight for the unreasonable. You want every experience to be magical."

Visited the Github office today for a Girl Geek Dinner celebrating some incredible female leaders in design (including Elle Luna, designer of Mailbox and Uber, and Alice Lee of Dropbox and Dear Instagram fame). My dreams for my work are sprawling and enormous, and all the inspiring ladies who spoke at this event reminded me of exactly how much is possible.

Some of my favorite moments:

  • "Do you remember when you were a beginner? You weren’t afraid of anything. You had no concept of limitations. If you were a kid and you wanted to paint, you never said, ‘Should I get a painting degree?’ You just did it. Be that bold."
  • "Nobody cares about delighting the user. Craigslist delights nobody, and yet it’s still around and the most successful company of its kind. When you talk about why you make a design decision, get your numbers and your results. Then sneakily make it look better and delight the user along the way."
  • You make the map of everything that’s possible. Share your battle plan; externalize your process.”

Every day I’m hustlin’!

On authenticity: a personal reflection of a year in review.

In 2012, I felt like an impostor in my own life.

To an outsider, I had all the accruements of success at my age: a prestigious internship, a laudable design education, even a brilliant and attractive boyfriend. But behind the scenes I felt trapped by inertia, fear, and compromise. I cared about performance and pleasing others more than about being authentic. I was a liar and I hated myself for it.

After a series of catastrophic personal events wherein I had to confront some of my deepest failures, I clung to a single hopeful sentiment from F. Scott Fitzgerald:

“If you find that you’re not [living a life you’re proud of], I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

2013 was the year of starting over. It was the year of deciding who I wanted to be, and taking every step to become that person. It’s not much, but these were some things I did and learned along the way.

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