Everything I Know About Graduation

The day I left school was the day I went into our family business full time. 

That day was the same day I learned that I knew absolutely nothing about anything, especially after 5 years of design school. 


Because what they teach you in any given academic program is so narrow. You end up leaving everything else the world has to offer on the table, while at the same time believing that you know so much because you’ve “graduated” and have a fancy sheet of paper. 

If you’ve recently graduated, or will be graduating soon, there are a lot of things outside of school that you have yet to see. Don’t let your degree fool you into thinking you’ve got everything together (by the way, it’s totally okay if you don’t have everything together. Nobody has everything together). 

The best way to grow your creativity is by using it and being okay when things don’t work out

There were multiple times I had ideas that didn’t go the way I thought they’d go.

Here’s one.

At our restaurant, I’ve launched 2 online cloud kitchen concepts in the past year.

I thought sales were going to go through the roof. I thought we were going to make it big with these 2 different delivery ideas. 

As soon as we launched, nothing.

Days passed, zero.

Months passed, zero.

In the span of probably 3 months, we had maybe 5 sales as a result of our project. 

Not my proudest moment. Although had I not tried it, I would have never known it would be so bad. 

It was a complete flop, but now I know slightly better. 

Learn and go,

Learn and go,

Learn and go.

Where’s School Outside of School?

Learning doesn’t only happen inside a classroom.

Finishing your assignments and getting an A is one thing, but making meaningful change happen in a real environment is another.

We’d be in deep trouble if we all approach everyday life the same way we approach rubric-guided assignments. Everybody would be afraid to get a C- when they do a push up for the first time in months. It would be devastating to receive a D when all you wanted was to learn how to draw or code.

If we’re not going to be graded, how might we conduct ourselves moving forward? Where else can we get an A?  To start, maybe that’s not the question we should be asking.

When we don’t have to be graded, how do we do our best learning?

The bottom line of this post is the following:  Learning is not a grade. Learning isn’t exclusive to young people in an educational institution. Most importantly, learning continues after graduation.

Answering Your Own Big Question

18 months ago I had the following questions brewing in my mind: 

What is learning, really?

What would happen if we removed all teachers in a classroom, and only had students?

What if we told them there was no set curriculum, but rather a plan you make and test for yourself?

And so we created a project called the Marathon during our time at OCAD, which led into what we’re doing now at the Habit Factory. 

Now I ask, 

What does a better creative look like?

What does it mean to grow alongside a community?

What’s the power of a generous stranger?

How do we create an environment where people willingly answer the questions they themselves have been asking?

A Year of Working With my Parents

What a year of working with my parents taught me is the following 3 things: 

  1. There are a lot of doors in the world. Although my parents didn’t attend any form of higher education, the world they know of is vastly different from my own and I think there’s a lot of things they know that I don’t. From the way they interact and do business with others, to how they manage to deal with uncertainty.
  2. Hungry customers are vulnerable customers. I’ve seen people cry, shout, and/or get angry when cooked food takes 15-20 minutes to prepare.
  3. You can be doing the same thing every day for a year and still not know everything. 365 days of serving customers, making tea, and social media later, every day presents something slightly different and new.

There’s a lot more that I’m not able to put down in words just yet, but those will be saved for a different day.

Are We Fearing the Learning?

Sometimes we fall into the trap of doing as much research as much as we can before we go.

But we forget how we learned to swim, or how we learned to ride our bicycles, or how we learned to walk.

It’s not because we forgot how to learn. I believe it’s more so because we realized there are things to fear.

What if we fall down and scrape our knees? What if we go to the deep end of the pool by accident? That would be terrifying, wouldn’t it?

And so there’s a different kind of learning and research. One that’s far from just the books.

As much as we want to be prepared for what comes next, sometimes the best way we can do that is just by doing it.

Maybe you’ll finally turn the corner and see that there was no boogeyman after all.

Coffee, Voices, and Your Brand

Everybody is familiar with the taste of coffee.

Yet there are still a million different coffee brands around the world, each telling their own bean story or roasting process or how they want to brew the perfect cup over and over again.

The stories are all similar. After all, how many different ways can you really grow a coffee bean?

Regardless, millions still itch to tell their own coffee story, in their own voice, their own way.

Similar to a designer’s portfolio, a designer’s voice is everything. Besides the projects, besides the achievements, and the resume, your voice is one element that often gets overlooked when preparing a portfolio.

For me, I like to consider the following questions:

What do you naturally sound like to someone else?

Where are the people you want to connect with going to find you?

More importantly, are you going to be someone that other people similar to you want on their side?

Millions of brands of coffee, but we only choose to stick with a few because they sound like us.

Find your voice, tell your story.

We’re dedicating the next Habit Factory cohort to helping creatives like you build on your brand and portfolio. Find out all the information and register today at https://www.thehabitfactory.space/

It’s always a good time to invest in your own voice.

Hope to see you there.

Create Better Distractions

Like a great playlist of music you actually like.

Like going for a walk.

Like cleaning up your room for good.

Like organizing your budget.

Like cooking for yourself.

We get distracted all the time, every day. It’s a human thing to do.

Distracted by what? is the variable that sets us apart.

I have another announcement to make, and it’s one I’m really excited about.

If you’re ready to cut through your own noise and join a group of others, please check out www.thehabitfactory.space for the 14 day online workshop to commit to your creative self. Our first cohort just finished earlier on Monday and we all went through a journey of practice, introspection, and learning there.  

We’re now accepting applications for our second cohort (with early bird pricing for those who come early). If you want to join us (which I hope you will) you can use the code BEGINNING for a nice amount off of the original ticket price at checkout.

Connection and support is so important, especially now. With that said, I hope you create better distractions for yourself.

More than Meets the Eye

Because we only believe what’s to be possible by what we see, it’s worthwhile to go out of our own way once in a while to see more.

It’s like only knowing of red apples, when tons of yellow, green, pink and everything in between exists too.

The world runs on an endless number of paths, yet depending on the type of society or community or friends we choose to hang out with, we eliminate the number of possibilities of where to go down to just a few.

Lessons from Piano Class

When I was a kid, I had a teacher who would come by my house every Tuesday to teach piano for 40 minutes to an hour.

She would sit on the side and I would play the notes on the books, ending off every session with a sticker as a reward.

The very beginning was okay. I tried my best to learn the notes, the scales, the finger exercises, and to keep up song practice every day. But as time passed, I began to lose momentum and interest. Bit by bit, week after week, year after year.

I was a student. She was my teacher. Yet by the 5th year I felt like as if there was nothing left to learn. All I was doing was following the numbers, following the notes, following what the books told me to do. It wasn’t because I was really good or talented (far from it), but it was because as a student I stopped feeling invested in the process. Soon enough, my teacher also stopped feeling invested in my process.

And you’d think that if neither of us cared that much to be there, then the classes would end.

We dragged on for several more years, with each one becoming more and more unbearable.

Mom’s money kept coming in to feed the lessons, and the piano teacher kept coming back every week to show up.

And what I came to realize is that I was in a broken culture of learning.

It’s a culture of learning where we believe just putting the money through the system will make things better. Where it’s okay if the teacher and student aren’t really invested in each other, but because a transaction is made it’s okay to stir up emotional friction and distance for both parties.

So where do we move on from here? How do we move towards a better culture of learning as students?

We can either choose to keep feeding the same system—the one that is lazy, unpersonalized, and doesn’t care about you. Or, we can try to seek more emotional understanding, more human connection, and more intent to listen.