How to be an explorer of the world

From a skills perspective, we look for depth and diversity. Sometimes this is described as T-shaped: people who have depth of ‘craft’ in a discipline such as design, business, engineering or the social sciences, but who also have a breadth of perspective and an insatiable appetite to cross disciplines and collaborate.

In terms of traits, we look for people with empathy (because it is hard to design for others if you are not interested in understanding them), with creative imagination, with a drive to make ideas real rather than merely speculating about them, and, finally, with storytelling skills, because new ideas rely on great storytelling to get out into the world successfully.


A few days ago, I celebrated my month-iversary with New York City.

Pretty awesome, right?

I’m still getting used to a few things. Like how weird it is to walk into a bar and not recognize most of the beers on tap.

And I keep getting funny questions like: “Do you ever paint your nails?” and “Wow, you know how to cook?” New York sometimes has different priorities, I suppose.

But in the big scheme of things, I feel like I’ve made some pretty good progress towards becoming a real New Yorker.

I haven’t been lost on the train for a good 3 weeks.

I’ve done the establish-a-coffee-shop-as-your-second-home thing.

I drank wine on a fancy rooftop in Chelsea.

And I went to Coney Island for a hot dog and a baseball game.

Pretty good so far, I think :)

I updated my portfolio...

Any feedback is much appreciated!

Notable Reads // Volume 2

Well, I’m already behind so this post will be a summary of things I’ve read/loved over the past two weeks. Ya dig? Okay, onward!

1. Generation Sell - NYT Opinion
A fascinating view of the millennial generation as a product of the salesman mentality.

"Today’s ideal social form is not the commune or the movement or even the individual creator as such; it’s the small business. Every artistic or moral aspiration — music, food, good works, what have you — is expressed in those terms."

I can’t say I don’t identify. Maybe it’s because I’m so immersed into the world of advertising and brands. But I guess most of us are.

2. Save Energy, Win a Prize - NYT Business
Some smart and simple energy company initiatives to reward people for reducing their energy use. I love the idea of pitting neighbors against each in an energy reduction battle.  See also: a redesigned electricity bill and neighborhood scoreboards.

3. Dear Mark Zuckerberg - Dalton Caldwell
If you only click one link in this whole post, make it the one to this article. It’s an important read as we transition into a time when Facebook and Twitter dictate a huge portion of our digital lives. For outsiders to the developer community, this article gives a great window into the hardships that they are experiencing with the big companies mentioned above. Caldwell writes:

Your company, and Twitter, have demonstrably proven that they are willing to screw with users and 3rd-party developer ecosystems, all in the name of ad-revenue. Once you start down the slippery-slope of messing with developers and users, I don’t have any confidence you will stop.

4. Toni Morrison on Love, Loss and Modernity - The Telegraph
Toni Morrison was the hero of my senior year of high school. I read her book Beloved for a class and was stunned that a single piece of literature could be so powerful. So of course, I almost jumped out of my seat upon reading the headline of this article. Such a smart woman’s take on the world? Count me in! She talks about death being constructed as a loss for the living, writing to fill the silences in literature, and home is an idea rather than a place. What an amazing woman.

After four full weeks at Collaborative Fund, I can’t believe how much I love it.

I’ve already done so much, met so many cool people, and I’m incredibly happy with my decision to take a summer position here (even without promise of long-term employment).

In just a short time, I’ve already had my hands on so many projects. I’ve done analtyics, created decks, tweeted, tumbled, researched and brainstormed. I’ve visited cool places like IDEO and met countless entrepreneurs and designers.

Oh, and did I mention that the people I work with are awesome? They’re incredbily smart and so generous to teach me all that they have. In conclusion: CollabFund is where it’s at.

Notable Reads

This is the first installation of my new blogging adventure, in which I discuss the most interesting things I read each week (in the tradition of some of my favorite series by Huge, The Atlantic, O’Reilly Radar, and Big Spaceship).

image via Tattly

1. Tattly = 1 | Things I’ve Learned - Swiss Miss

Tina Roth Eisenberg shares lessons from an amazingly successful first year of Tattly. My favorite piece of advice: “Never hesitate to challenge a status quo of a product or service that already exists. Put your own spin on it, stamp it with your personality and you might redefine an entire industry.”

2. Digital Jiminy Crickets: Do apps that promote ethical behavior diminish our ability to make just decisions? - Slate Future Tense

Apps like GoodGuide and ToneCheck are designed to help us make decisions based on pre-determined “moral” values, but is it dangerous to outsource our morality? The authors of this piece argue that much of our humanity depends on morality and that depending on these tools “may be a regressive step away from what makes us all real.”

This topic’s relation to self-tracking and the Quantified Self really interests me. Many self-tracking tools have a “good behavior layer,” encouraging and rewarding users for making improvements upon themselves. I think this is okay, to a certain extent. But there is a point where taking judgement completely out of the hands of the user will come with costs, especially in the realm of self control sans machine. A few other takes on this issue, here and here, are worth the read if you’re still curious.

3. The Personality Layer - Smashing Magazine UX

An incredibly thorough article exploring the how and why of making tech products more human. It begins with a little theory about emotional design and then launches into a cornucopia of awesome personality layer examples.

an example of emotional design from MailChimp, image via Simon Schmid

I actually got the CD Baby conformation email a few years ago and it made me so happy. The article ends on an advisory note: “Emotional design is risky. Don’t be afraid, though, to show your personality, as long as it’s geared to the right people. You can’t and don’t want to be everything to everyone.”

4. The Clothesline Paradox and the Sharing Economy - Tim O’Reilly

A slideshare (with speaker notes) supporting O’Reilly’s belief that companies should stop trying to make money and start trying to make things that matter. He discusses how open source can actually create economic value and urges entrepreneurs (and everyone) to “create more value than you capture.” My response: yes.

5. Marissa Mayer for President - Skillcrush Blog

Women in leadership, especially those who are mothers, often receive a lot of push-back for putting themselves in highly demanding work environments. The Skillcrush team’s simple request: “Stop asking us ‘how do you do it?’ and start acknowledging that we CAN do it. We are doing it.”

Hi, my name is Rachelle.

I'm interested in compelling communication, the quantified self, and saving the world. This blog is the collection of my professional goals, insights and inspiration.

You can check out my portfolio here
and contact me here.

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