I had a seemingly innocuous yet insightful encounter last night. During a CrossFit workout, I partnered up with someone new to the gym. We were sharing the same barbell and weights, alternating front squats. After a few rounds of increasing weights, he looked like he was struggling a little bit. I whispered to him: "You know you can take some weight off, right?" And he looked at me wide-eyed and responded innocently: "Really?" So, we shared a smile and quickly striped off a couple tens.
In that moment, I felt a little like Oprah -- so empowering! What felt so good about that simple encounter was that this new guy had no ego about it. He knew his limits, accepted that he just wanted to do it right and worked within his means. He did not let literal or figurative pressure determine his strength.
It made me put into perspective how often we try to add more and more weights, to prove our strength or our value to those around us. We so often seek extrinsic confirmation of our abilities rather than intrinsically trust our own strength. Once we accept the latter, we ultimately feel lighter, less bogged down by unnecessary weight that is not healthy nor productive for overall growth.
When I was 11-months old, I took my first steps. My mom was across the room with a cookie in-hand, cheering for me to come get it. Within a few swift movements, I swooped in and shoved it in my mouth. Ever since, I can honestly say not much has changed. Anyone who knows me even remotely well knows that I have a massive sweet-tooth (but with the inclusion of nutritional education and CrossFit workouts, I have recently reduced my need for sugar intake).
With all of that said, I found a lovely little place this weekend called Dessert Gallery. Not only did they have consistent branding — colors, fonts, menus, welcoming and comforting decore, beautiful displays — they had delicious treats.
As you can see below, I have not been able to contain my excitement over this slice of Unicorn cake! We also got some “The World’s Best Brownies” and some Monkey Bars to take home for later ☺️
When I graduated from my Bachelor of Arts & Humanities program in Decision Sciences & Design, the program gave me a kaleidoscope along with my diploma. I remember initially thinking, “What am I going to do with this?” But it turned out to be a really insightful and important reminder.
Life is like a kaleidoscope. It is the lens with which we view the world. Each tube has similar components — shapes, colors and mirrors — like life has its constants: family members, coworkers, circle of friends; work, school, extra-curriculars; minutes, months, years. Each rotation makes a new configuration different from the last and the next. With each shift, there are infinite possibilities.
The word kaleidoscope derives from the Ancient Greek: kalos (beautiful) eidos (that which is seen) skopeo (to examine) to mean "observation of beautiful forms." It reminds me to keep moving to find that fresh perspective, to find the beauty in the chaos and to appreciate each new composition.
I recently went though the brand refresh for Rice Athletics. During that process, I faced a little push back. Change is hard but what is even harder is facing the unknown. Many fans and alumni did not want something new but it is probably more to do with the uncertainty associated with what it could become than the actual end result.
After dozens of interviews, as a brand researcher and designer, I thought, “There is a clear need for change so it is better to support the process than fight it.” I would ask myself, “Why are people so reluctant? We have a well-thought out solution!"
Then it hit me. On a hot summer day in Houston, I noticed my rear-view window decal was burnt off and disintegrating. As a proud alumna of Carnegie Mellon University, I wanted to buy a replacement. So I went scouring the Internet for the same exact sticker. No luck. Frustrated, I wondered why the bookstore or even Amazon would not sell such a simple and obvious item.
It turns out that in the time since I graduated, the Athletics Department had done away with the old logo. I was looking for what I imagined to be current but it was no longer. I experienced that same sense of disappointment and confusion that Rice fans and alumni must have felt when something they were familiar with, had memories associated with, was not in-line with what they knew to be true.
But the truth is, once you get the new sticker, see it on your car, build new associations, you quickly forget. You accept that it is out with the old and in with the new. Branding is that innate emotional connection that may need to be explained initially, then re-established and fostered. From there, it lives and breathes on its own.
I am not afraid to admit it. But I maybe should be. My biggest flaw is lack of patience for incompetence. To me, incompetence is not the inability to do something but the inability to try to do it.
Say you are in an unfamiliar bathroom and attempting to draw a bath. You do not know how to convert water flow from the shower head to the tub spout: do you test all the levers until you get the desired result? Or, do you quickly resign yourself to not knowing and thus seek assistance? Or, do you just give up on the bath altogether?
I have always had a curious mind. One of the first big words my dad taught me was "inquisitiveness." From then on, I used that word to describe myself. My life has been filled with questions and experiments: Who can teach me something I do not already know? What can I learn from him or her? When can I try a different approach? Where can I get more information? Why are we doing it this way? How does it work? If I just keep asking questions, then I will eventually get to the true cause.
I do not quite get when people are too "hesitant" to try or simply lack the initiative. Why stay in the comfort zone when you can learn something new and exciting? Maybe challenging the status quo is seen as too aggressive a mindset, or lacking empathy, but to me, the pursuit of knowledge is empowering. Knowledge is fuel. Fuel stores energy to ultimately propel things forward. So, without knowledge and thus without fuel, you are at a standstill. You are no better than you were before. Wouldn't you want to improve your current condition? Wouldn't you want to at least try?
But then again, if you do not even view bathing or utilizing every-day appliances, for instance, as an improvement, then maybe there are bigger issues at hand.
I value learning so much that I have difficulty understanding how others do not share that same excitement in gathering new information or being exposed to new adventures - no matter how big or small. Education - whether informal, non-formal or formal - provides you with the toolkit to assess life and better tackle its challenges.
Education can decrease poverty, violence and most "isms" - like racism, sexism, heterosexism, anti-antisemitism. With education, you begin to step outside the givens and make sense of information yourself.
This reminds me of Plato's Cave: what we see and hear is what we believe. But unlike those prisoners, all we have to do is look around us to see the true cause of the shadows and actually face reality. Then what illuminates can also enlighten.
I like that thought. But it is much easier said than done.
We create this never-ending list of "have tos" or as my mentor calls them "untils." I have to do this, that and the other thing then I will be happy. I will just wait until something better comes along. But while wearing our blinders and waiting for everything to fall into the line of sight, we miss out on so many even better opportunities just beyond.
The most rewarding experiences in my life have been where I have given myself permission to stop moving the finish-line and stop competing in some imaginary race. When I give attention to the intention, there is no tension. And that is when I am happiest.
Based on feedback we received during the Research Phase, we worked closely with designers from Torch Creative and adidas to ensure our marks represented an authentic Rice Athletics brand: dynamic, sharp, aggressive and relevant. We also frequently met with our key stakeholders to get their input as the marks evolved. The result of this process is a refreshed family of design elements centered around our primary mark the Old English R, including a refreshed wordmark, owl head, owl body, fonts and a set of numerals.