Running out of patience

Running has been a good exercise for me not only for the physical aspect of it but for the mind. Besides being a good way to release stress, running long distances (10k, 15k, 20k) has been a great exercise for patience and determination. The former I find the most challenging.

In our day to day, we are constantly connected and being distracted. We are not used to feeling bored anymore, we change subjects, we change channels, we pick up our phones. Being on your own with your own thoughts for a long period of time, whilst struggling, can feel boring. Oh, so very boring at times! “Why am I doing this? I want to stop.” but you just keep going.

While running, you hit the famous “running walls”. For me these are around 3k, 5k and 10k. When you hit these walls, you are aware of how much more there is ahead of you. This is not an easy thought. Boredom is a big part of running but you just learn to be more patient and you keep going because you know that at the end you’ll feel awesome because you made it!

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Photo copyright: Photo by Glen Carrie (Licensed under CC0 1.0)

Was very happy to receive by email a lovely video made by Stephen the project manager I worked with last year on the Lambeth Parks project at White October. In this project, I was responsible for the creative direction and user experience. The team included Sophie Klevenow, who did the amazing illustrations and animations and Pete West, who did the development.

See the project on my portfolio or see the Lambeth Parks Challenge website.

Creative Leadership

It’s the weekend (already)

When you enjoy your work, weekends come unexpectedly. They feel like a gift not like an escape. You look forward to another week. Sundays feel just like another Saturday.

That’s how it should feel, always. ;)

Working out of hours

Very good points raised in this blog post. I think that working out of hours is almost inevitable when you are really excited with something you’re working on. However creating a culture around that is unhealthy. In this article, I particularly like the point about not broadcasting it when you do so.

One of the causes [of working outside of office hours], as corny as it sounds, is people taking an interest and enjoyment in their field of work. It’s certainly true of myself and I daresay true of some others. I find it particularly hard to switch off and put down an interesting problem that I’ve been working on during the day. (…)

One simple solution is to just reduce the amount you broadcast while outside of office hours. By all means work, if you so wish, but don’t do anything that generates noise and makes other people aware of it.

Read the full article

On listening…

“Listening is not an automatic pilot. It is a conscious decision… STOP EVERYTHING YOU’RE THINKING and listen. Suspend your own frame of reference. Focus externally. Turn off your ego. Quit thinking everything revolves around your opinion. Give the stage in your head to someone else!” – Sunni Brown

I think it’s a constant exercise.

"Everyone has a story. When people are talking about something they know well and do well, they’re almost always interesting. And if they’re not, it’s generally your fault because you’re not asking the right questions and you haven’t made them comfortable."

Malcolm Gladwell#


Excellent talk about courage and vulnerability by Nina Burrowes at the Dare Conference

Giving constructive design feedback

Imagine this situation: Someone comes to you and asks:

“What do you think of this design?”

You then see that what they’ve created doesn’t look very good. In fact, it looks so bad you don’t even know where to start with your feedback.

All designers have been in this situation several times in their career, sometimes on things that can be, erm, quite painful to look at for a trained pair of eyes. From being angry and almost in despair to being mature, serene and genuinely try to help, we, designers, have some techniques to help giving constructive and useful feedback.

These are techniques I use every time I’m asked to evaluate someone’s design work (and that I also find helpful when someone is giving feedback on my work):

1. First: Look for the positives

Start by looking for all the good things and things that work in the design. And then give your feedback on those. By giving positive feedback first, you’ll show respect for all the work they’ve done and it’s more likely that they’ll to be open to hear the following criticism.

2. Think before you speak

Take your time, don’t rush to speak immediately. And look carefully. Keep in mind that what you see has probably been done by conscious decision by whoever created it.

3. Pick 1 thing

If you had to pick 1 thing that would make a major difference on the design, what would that be? Things to look out for: colours, position and alignment of elements on the page,  hierarchy of information, general concept and idea, visual style, sizes of elements.

4. Understand why

Once you picked the thing, understand why it’s been done the way it is. Consider the fact that the person might already have thought about what you are going to say and may have made a conscious decision. It could be for technical reasons, requirements restrictions, time, all sorts of things. Ask them.

5. Say what you think the problem is

Don’t try to solve it, say what the problem is. For example, “this button is not prominent enough”, “this colour is not in line with the rest of the design”, “this area is a bit confusing”. Be tactful on how you say it. You might want to use sentences like “Maybe this…” “I’m not sure about…” “Do you think this could be…”

Repeat 3-4-5

Repeat 3-4-5 as much as you need. This process may sound like it’s long but in reality it’s a quick thought process and conversation. Once you’ve done this a few times, it’ll just come naturally.

Great talk about market research.

You can also find more about his book “The mum test” on