Merging creativity with your personal story has been left for artists, but imagine what would happen if you could apply that level of meaning to your work in any industry. In this episode of Before It Happened, host Donna Loughlin chats with Donald Burlock Jr, veteran UX designer and author of Superhuman by Design. Through his experiences working in both the automotive and tech industries, Donald says he’s learned that while just about everybody has a superpower, few know how to unlock it. In this conversation with Donna, Donald explains how maintaining a creative core and an attitude of expectancy will push you forward in unpredicted ways.
Before any world-changing innovation, there was a moment, an event, a realization that sparked the idea before it happened. This is a podcast about that moment — about that idea. Before IT Happened takes you on a journey with the innovators who imagined — and are still imagining — our future. Join host Donna Loughlin as her guests tell their stories of how they brought their visions to life.
Jump straight into:
(03:20) - Donald’s childhood: The foundations of an artist - “My entire experience as a child in Dallas was just full of wonder, a lot of creative wonder.”
(07:25) - Artistic minded, mechanically inclined: Donald’s life-changing exposition to a world of diverse individuals - “It was definitely a time of understanding the different dynamics that the clash of cultures brought to an environment. It was really fundamental to opening my mind. Especially being a PK.”
(10:53) - How do you create an experience? Donald's eye-opening semester studying abroad in Europe- “Everything in the States it's always about convenience and everything's disposable and a bit forgettable and to experience a place where there were things that had that longevity to them, that were considered in terms of materiality, that was very different.”
(15:21) - The Aha! moment: Discovering the design world - “This is truly how it started. I'm 24, I'm looking into a window and there are these people who are controlling a machine that is machining clay to create wheels and the wall is just full of all of these amazing sketches.”
(18:14) - Getting invited to Steve Job’s Apple - “It was just literally an entirely new world that had opened up for me through that one trip to the Valley.”
(21:46) - Brand design & creative thinking: Donald’s work at Coca Cola and IDEO - “It didn't matter if you were doing something digital for a banner online, or if you were doing a can, every single aspect of their design was rooted in some precedent that they had established with their brand.”
(24:29) - Joining the tech startup boom & the philosophy behind Donald’s book Superhuman by design - “Superhuman by Design intends to build a bridge so that there's a very clear linear thought about how creativity and also your impact as an individual, are very much related.”
(34:23) - Yellow legal pads and highlighters: The physicality of words and Donald’s family contribution to the book - “I gave it to my mom because I knew at some point I was going to write about my grandfather and that was going to be a deeply personal story.”
(38:07) - How to hold on to the attitude of expectancy, engage your creative core and dial down inhibitions - “You have every superpower you need inside and there's more that you can get your hands on.”
(40:29) - What’s next for Donald? Supervillain by design - “I started writing about all the topics we're discussing very openly right now, everything from the imposter syndrome to the effects of what's happening with the pandemic to talking about, hopefully, more in-depth, my experiences as a black man.”
Get Donald’s book SuperHuman by Design
See more of Donald’s design work
Before IT Happened is produced by Donna Loughlin and Studio Pod Media with additional editing and sound design by Nodalab. The show coordinator is Deanna Morenci with audio engineering provided by Dave Clarke McCoy. The Executive Producer is Katie Sunku Wood. All episodes are written by Jack Buehrer.