Wow! The first weekend of the MFA Design Entrepreneurship class just wrapped up and it was amazing and intense. During the two days, we actually had 5 teachers—leaders at the intersection of design and business—communicating a wealth of information about how we can become smart, creative, and successful at innovating and enterprise. Not only were our own Alvaro Soto and Claudia Röschmann our lead instructors, we also had guest instructors Christian Helms, Debbie Millman, and Liza Willmore. During the semester, we will see Christian and Debbie again in addition to other notable guest instructors. For the nine of us students, the days were chock-full of new ideas, useful resources, helpful exercises, and invaluable insights.
All the teachers covered a wealth of information. Our first guest, Christian talked about his experiences as one of the original founders of Frank’s in downtown Austin and his varied involvement with craft breweries as a developer, founder, and brand creator. Debbie Millman offered, among many other things, insight into the interplay between courage and confidence. She explained that the language of business revolves around cultural anthropology, behavioral psychology, economics, and design. On Sunday, Liza Willmore, discussed aspects of several businesses and their unique approaches.
When asked how Debbie manages to juggle so many endeavors, she replied, “You don’t find time, you make time” and said that “busy is a decision”. She went on to elaborate that at one point in her life she realized that meaningful work is a priority and she found herself asking, “If not now, when?”
Over the course of the semester, each of us will be investigating an area of our choosing from one of three broad topics: education for the future, Austin identity, and women in leadership, to see how we might create a beneficial enterprise to make a difference.
All five teachers, in different ways, conveyed a common concept, but to paraphrase Debbie Millman: every designer is expected to know type, good kerning, and be a good designer, but it is those who can compellingly communicate an intelligent understanding and real value of an idea, product, or service, who are the ones who effect positive transformation in lives, business, and the world.
Isn’t that what each one of us hopes to accomplish?