A Collection of Experiences

Never let any one define you.

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride
Nissan Commercial

I’ve been a McDonald’s Manager. A newspaper editor for a community newspaper. An art director for an automotive magazine. A newspaper reporter during a riot. A music critic of a one-hit wonder. A political activist. A photographer. A recruiter.

I’m not a college graduate. I am an Interaction Designer.

But does it really matter?

Life is your education.

It is a composite of your past experiences. Every event in your life has something for you to learn from, becomes who you are and how you will grow. Here are some of my past experiences:

As a McDonald’s manager, I’ve learned the importance of repeatable processes, consistent branding and excellent customer experiences, even if the customer is speaking Japanese while wearing a Mickey Mouse ears hat. I also learned I don’t like mornings. Ever.

As a newspaper editor for a community newspaper and art director for the automotive magazine, I’ve learned how to make the most of your time, that people never remember being quoted and importance of deadlines. I also learned that there is much to be said about shipping no matter what.

As a newpaper reporter during a riot, I’ve learned that you should always keep your press pass with you or learn how to talk fast so you can stay out of jail.

As a music critic, I’ve learned that all creations have their own beauty, and that artists will always take a different path, no matter what their medium is. I also learned that many artists will always go undiscovered.

As a political activist, I’ve learned that politics is nothing like what they teach in school, but still an amazing process nonetheless, even when working on a campaign that spends millions in a losing effort. I also learned you can look big even if you have no resources with the right amount of branding and effort.

As a photographer, I learned that a moment can be beautiful and fleeting at the same time, and that catching it can amazing.

As a recruiter, I learned that the value of a hard day’s work is important to almost everyone. There’s nothing like hearing someone say “thank you” when they start their next great opportunity.

None of them appear officially on my LinkedIn profile or my resume, because what I do is much more than what I do professionally. But each helps me in the day job more than I could ever admit, because while it’s not relevant to design, it is to the process to creating amazing things and seeing the big picture.

I don’t tell many of my friends about some of them, because it seems overwhelming and I’m a fairly private person, but when I meet other people that have also taken unorthodox paths in life, there’s a certain kinship that is wonderful. It’s almost like a secret handshake.

Each experience brought me something different and varied, and each had it’s own unforgetable moments: from a shake machine catching on fire, to photos that seem to capture something other than reality, to driving down the Harbor Freeway and seeing the rightful anger of 1,000 neighborhoods glow in the night.

Each I’ve took pride in and I’ve grown from.

Each has helped me learn from my mistakes.

Each has helped me leave a legacy at places I go, friends I meet, and places I have worked.

But they are part of me, and made me who I am today, for better or worse. Many have taught me much more than I could have ever learned in a classroom, and I am grateful for them all.

People miss that — they let a single piece of paper or single event define someone and deny them greater opportunities, without looking at the big picture. Life experiences are always be worth more than a college course, because life doesn’t have a syllabus or even a final.

Life experiences build perspectives, skills and raw talent. Life experiences contribute to wisdom that no one can take away from you. Ever.

Never let one thing define who you are, whether it be a job title, a piece of paper, the neighborhood you live in, the car you drive or who you are with. The only person that should define you is yourself.

What are your past (and most memorable) experiences?