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After the Class: Design Thinking Flips The Script For An Engineer Looking For Change

by Mel Jackson
featured, money & life, student stories

Matt Jackson is an affable, ocean-loving Project Manager living in the Bay Area.  During the week, he works for a large-scale Construction company and spends his weekends surfing down the California coastline.  He joined us as part of Dave Evans and Bill Barnett’s in-studio audience for their highly-anticipated CreativeLive class ‘Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.

Follow Matt’s adventures via his Instagram @mattpelicanjack

Read on to learn about Matt’s transformative experience learning from Bill and Dave and how they’ve used the principles of design thinking to inspire everyone, from co-ed’s to CEO’s, how to create a rewarding and meaningful life.

Tell us about yourself, what do you currently do for a living and how did you get there?

I have spent the majority of my tenure in construction in the large scale education and life science market segments. Most recently I’ve been working for clients in the high-end tenant improvement market in San Francisco. Over the span of my lifetime, I have been able to experience a fun array of different roles, ranging from lumberyard, millman, city lifeguard, civil engineer, surf instructor/ocean education for SDSU, and a few others. I am very lucky for the things I’ve been able to do thus far in my life, and stoked on what’s coming next.

Where are you in your life at this point and what motivated you to take this course?

I know deep-down that I am quickly approaching that ‘fork in the road’ moment where I will have to be honest and decide between continuing my career in the same old grind or deciding to shake it up and take the leap in starting my own new adventure.  

I’ve realized over the past year or so that I haven’t been living my life to the fullest, and a large part of that is the fact that I’ve been building my career since I went to work in this industry just 14 days after graduating with my Structural Engineering degree.  

I jumped at the chance to join this class because I know I am at a place in my life where I feel as though I am reaching the last half mile of road, and I need to commit to the path I’m already on or creating my own route towards something that outside my comfort zone, but way more aligned with my life/work view.

Did you know what design thinking was before this course?

Well, I did have a basic understanding of design thinking from my college experience as well as with my experience working closely with architects and interior design firms, however, Bill and Dave’s application of design thinking was totally new to me.

It is an amazing concept to apply to the human experience because it really opens the mind to so many possibilities, but it also gives you the room to go crazy and run with a wild design, or to see it from an angle that makes you realize it’s time to scrap it.

How has Bill and Dave’s advice impacted you now that you’ve completed the course?

Bill and Dave shared so many ideas in this class that helped transform the way I look at life and myself, as well as how I work and what reality I’ve created for myself.  I really gravitated to their ideas around developing and looking at one’s life and work views continuously over time and also how to bring those elements into alignment in order to move on to the next phase of life.  To that same point, the idea that we really do have multiple selves throughout life, and that none of them are necessarily ‘better’ than the other – they all add up to where I am right here and now.

The other concepts that really helped open my mind and are helping me grow the most are the idea that it really isn’t too late to do something, and life is all about developing, testing and adjusting one’s ‘life dashboard.’  The other concepts that have really helped me further grasp the concept of how life can be lived, is this idea of organizing and engaging all this energy I’ve build or shared – and that I actually have the ultimate control over what I do in life, how I want to live it and what I really need in it – I mean, I  don’t have to just sit in a monotonous routine that I don’t enjoy, ya know?

What was your biggest ‘aha moment’ or take away from the course?

The ability to have multiple selves, throughout the course of life.  I mean, I remember growing up and being told that you had to go to school, get a degree, get a good paying job, and work your way up the ladder until you can retire.  It’s such a relief to honestly believe that life really isn’t about a linear trajectory with the ultimate goal of retirement being dangled at the very end.  

Any cool stories you want to share about how this class became a turning point for you?

For sure. You know, there are a lot of valuable exercises that helped me understand what I wanted to do in the future – but the biggest thing I walked away with was this idea of reframing the opportunities that are available to me right now, especially in my current position.   It was such a paradigm shift to look at my job in a different way and reminds me to enjoy what I am doing right now, but also recognize the step I can take today that will help me in their future.

What are you most excited about as a result of this course (new career, better relationships, etc)

I think I’m most excited about my newfound understanding that good things really do take time.  As basic as that sounds, it was really important for me to remember that I really don’t have a full grasp on what that is just yet, I all I can control is that fact that I’m doing my best today and enjoying things I’m doing now.  I’m excited to take small, progressive steps to my goals and continuing to design what that is.

Click below to sign up for Bill Burnett & Dave Evan’s course, Designing Your Life! 

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Mel Jackson

Community Marketer at CreativeLive and lover of design, coffee breaks and petting of ALL THE DOGS. Follow her adventures on Instagram @Life_of_MelJack.