After October 5th, 2011 it was hard to visit an Apple store. Flowers, candles, and prayer cards with anecdotes and well wishes littered the fronts of the stores. There were millions of images and videos on the internet of people, old and young alike, pouring their heart out to show their gratitude to a person they'd never met. I never had a chance to meet Steve Jobs either but that didn't stop him from completely changing my life. Albeit in a different way than others may have. The experiences he created for people using software and hardware will likely cement his legacy alongside Edison and Tesla. 

Just before returning to Apple in 1997 Steve gave a backroom interview in which he said,

"When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you're life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. 

That's a very limited life. 

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again."

Hearing this at 18 changed my life forever. This principle is my foundation as a designer and is present in every project I work on. If you don't like the way something works, change it! Take the time to educate yourself, make sure you work hard, and see through a change if not for anyone else, for yourself. 

Approach to Problem Solving

When I approach a problem I ask myself a few questions:

  • What is the user trying to accomplish and what's important to them? 
  • Who is the competition and what are their design tactics?

                            Lean Manufacturing; Image by Gallus Group

This approach is echoed with two business cases that have had the biggest impact on my problem solving skills were the rise of Japanese Auto Manufacturers and the reinvention of the Taiwanese Health Care Industry

In both instances they were able to leapfrog the current leaders by absorbing what worked and fixing what didn't. Major takeaways for me included: 

  • Incremental Continual Improvement
  • Integrated Effort
  • Just-In-Time Manufacturing 
  • Reduction of Process Complexity

I find that picking and choosing the best ideas from companies or groups doing something well and adapting or molding it to meet my requirements seems to have the best outcomes. There is a given with 99.9% probability that someone has said something better than you. I often try to learn from the thoughts and ideas of brilliant people. Here are few I use frequently. 


The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. it’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.
— President Barack Obama
If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it
— Elon Musk
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
— Thomas Edison
The problem isn’t thinking too big.. it’s thinking too small
— General David Maddox, US Army, retired
The simplest solution is often the correct one
— Occam's Razor
The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.
— Bill Gates
An innovator is one who does not know it cannot be done
— R.A. Mashelkar
Believe you can and you’re halfway there.
— President Theodore Roosevelt
The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change
— President Bill Clinton
If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.
— Henry Ford
Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak
— Sun Tzu
Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.
— Marie Curie
On street corners everywhere, people are looking at their cell phones, and it’s easy to dismiss this as some sort of bad trend in human culture. But the truth is life is being lived there.
— Ze Frank