What I learned this year – Heidi Reinfeld

By Egotist / /

2012 has been full of new experiences—lessons I’ve learned and things that I never get tired of learning again. Each has its own merit and has reminded me that there are always two sides to everything; sometimes reflecting my personal life against my work life, sometimes presenting a duality of perspectives.

With that said, here are the top seven (not to be confused with your usual top ten) most interesting things I’ve learned in 2012:

1. 2012 has been the year of increasingly higher demand for me to make decisions in a short amount of time. With an increase of projects and people, there is less opportunity for me to get the full picture, or to understand every aspect of every problem posed. A friend gave me a great piece of advice: For every quick decision needing to be made, there are three channels to listen to—your gut, your heart and your mind. Usually one of those works and so far this lesson has proven to be great at work – not so great outside of work!

2. This year we have worked with some companies with really amazing breakthrough technologies – Lytro, developing a new kind of camera; Leap Motion, who is going to revolutionize the way that people interact with computers; and a few ‘second screen’ applications for all those multi-taskers. The interesting paradox I’ve discovered while designing for these advanced technology experiences is that I continue to rely on my old school, low-fi tools: a stack of clean white paper for sketching, my favorite sharpie, a clean board to post stickies and a room filled with people who love to tackle complicated problems.

3. We opened a New York office this year, which has been incredibly exciting. The office is up and running with a small group of smart and talented people, interesting clients hungry for the mix of work we offer, and a very cool space on the Lower East Side (with a roof deck, which apparently is a big deal). Amazingly, this has all happened without a lot of growing pains or drama (knock on wood). Meanwhile, it took me about 227 Sunday’s, 12 grueling offers and 4 meltdowns for me to buy my first condo here in SF.

4. I learned that Honey Boo Boo is scary and Tim Riggins is amazing. (I was a little late discovering Friday Night Lights, but watching 5 seasons in 3 weeks was well worth it.)

5. Some of the most challenging creative problems that we face today are creating their own new set of challenges that we will need to solve for tomorrow. Never before has this duality felt so real. I learned that the more we design applications for our devices, the more we are trying to find ways to encourage ourselves to put them down and go be more active. And I learned that even as brands drive for growth and scale, they continue to hunger for authenticity, approachability and intimacy. And I learned that the more we unlock new technologies to make our lives easier, the more we need designers to help make sense of them.

6. Every year I challenge myself to take a class in something I’ve never done before. This year I decided it would be a Play Writing class, which in case you were wondering is ridiculously challenging. But I also learned that a blank canvas, a blank screen and a blank protagonist all share that wildly fun yet torturous rollercoaster ride we signed up for when we decided on these types of professions.

7. And last of all, after years of trying to create a clever and memorable holiday card for Sequence, I discovered that when all else fails, all you really need is a Boston terrier and a cardboard box.