One of her go-to sources of advice was Emer Beamer, who one day told her that what she was doing, naturally, was actually a discipline called ‘Design Thinking’, and asked her if she had heard of a school called THNK. Two weeks before the next program was going to start, she got a call inviting her to apply.
“I didn’t know what was coming, but I loved walking into that place and seeing everyone prototyping their own big ideas. And I guess I just saw a roomful of valuable connections: Oh, you have a skill that I need, you have another skill that I need. I thought about in an extremely utilitarian sense: I’m going to drag you back to my cave and extract the information I need. It sounds very predatory, but it’s an exchange: I got dragged back to many, many caves myself. But It took a while before I got the bigger picture. That THNK was not just about the answer to my immediate questions. I was in for much harder work.”
That work involved digging deep, asking tough questions of herself, and working with a coach to look at her purpose and her skills, and the things she needed to change in her life. All of which made her extremely uncomfortable. There were deliberate efforts to push her out of her comfort zone. “I hate improvisation. I plan everything down to the letter.”
Daughter of a marine engineer, with a military background, the idea of pulling an idea from thin air and testing it with a roomful of people didn’t sit well. “I work in the digital space where letting go of control is a path to success, and yet I personally found letting go of control extremely challenging.”
Similarly, she spent her life as a journalist listening to other people.
“And yet I wasn’t in the habit of listening to myself. And here I was in a situation where you couldn’t choose your level of participation: you had to jump all in. We were there to explore. And I watched people make stuff up and try things out on the fly, sometimes with ridiculous success. And sometimes not, but it was always interesting. I learned that the real artistry and mastery is letting go of the script and stepping into the unknown with the skills you have.”