Reflective Essay

Coming in a new country, with totally diverse culture, language, furthermore starting a University with different set of program, way of teaching and work may be difficult.

I still remember the first class of Design thinking, when Corrine (our lecturer) said: „Go out and find your mentor in a real world“. I was shocked! Really, literary shocked! But now, when a challenge appears I am jumping in it.

How I managed to change that much in basically very short time? (Only 9 months, without having a babyJ)

I will try to rewind now.

First and most important thing that I have learned is that there is no border, or if there is it can be moved, seen from a different angle, and used to make something new or at least something out of it. You just need to have guts to start dealing with it. I have not had that before. I was always thought to learn, to focus more on theory not on practise and that there will be opportunity one day to try all that. I agree and I think that theory is very important but having an opportunity to try what you have learned (before you forget half of it) and to realise that things you learn are real not just some words written in books is also important.  By starting with this module I felt like a baby bird. When baby bird is learning how to fly it needs to let it self-down from the nest. It can be scary, but if they do not try on their own they would be eventually kicked out by their parents. On that way they are either going to learn or they or they are going to die, in this case fail the module. Two of those examples can be seen in the video under.

________________________________________________________________________

For that reason this module was great. It gave me the opportunity to try and to make something by myself at that exact time while studying.

Starting a company

Observing, finding a gap, making an opportunity, and not waiting for it to come.

There are couple of steps in design thinking that I have mentioned in previous posts and the first one of those is observing. Even when I was on the acting classes, years ago, we have been learning how to observe, how not to go through life unconscious. By observing we can see how many things are missing that no one else notice, not because they are not important, but because people generally does not how to perceive. As for everything in life finding a gap in the market, or the product/service that needs to be made, lie in the practise. The more you observe the more opportunities you will find. In addition always ask questions, even the most obvious one, such as why is something like that since the beginning, does it even has to exist, if it does how can it be different then now, etc. After you made observation from which you got the ideas goes research.

This part I didn’t like at all, only because in most cases the ideas you have come up with already exist somewhere. You just haven’t been informed jet. Even though if possible product or service that you wanted to make is previously made, the idea of it does not need to be looked as a dead end; it can be a starting point for something else, modified, or totally new. That’s where the importance of team comes in. The guidance we had on the beginning of the module is that teams need to be formed of at least one designer, one business person and technology person. I had an opportunity to see how important the variety of people’s different skills is for the successful business. I learned a lot how to work in a team and realise that I really like it. For me what is the most significant in entire business are people that are going to be with you in whole process, to share all company’s ups and downs, all successes and failures.

As in life generally it is crucial to have good and true friends around you to keep you normal, so with a business it is practically the same. You do not need to be friends but you all need to be honest with each other so that you can say what you think regardless of whether you agree or disagree with certain issue and you also and mainly need to respect each other equally. If there is no pressure in the team, everything is possible to be made. After those things are set up everything else gets easier. I have to admit I had luck. We manage to form team from 4 different sides of the world (Brazil, Columbia, Thailand and Serbia), all with diverse backgrounds and knowledge, and we manage to become good friends at the end.

The great video I have once been stumbled upon about the bad team meeting.

Prototyping for me the most exciting part!

It can be put as a cheap way of testing your idea and making it more developed, better settled established and more users friendly. Usually while prototyping you start with something and end up with something else. Because while making it, and then trying it, you have a clear picture what is functioning well and what not. Sam Summers said in the Nesta video of prototyping benefits that: “… it maximizes your chances for success.”

What I like also in this part is empathy toward customers. More on empathy can be seen here:

Putting yourself in the place of consumer, whom you are referring to and using a prototype in testing makes everything more easily. I would like to mention also the thing with testing that I found attention-grabbing is how from my experience things that I have been expecting from customers that are testing the products did not occur. Such as the thing that they would not like on the product or that they will notice, even though you think you think you are looking from a real customer perspective. Here is one of my favourite videos from TED about the design for designers that really nicely explain that not having the real customer to test your product.

Kingston University Trade Fair

Selling your product on a fair was a real challenge. Usually people, in this case mostly students just disinterestedly pass by stands on the fairs. I had the experience in selling products on fairs and having a web page as a product needed to involve a lot more work on a stand, and a very good pitch. Having a good pitch sells the product. On the workshop that we had before the Bright Ideas competition I have learned how to make an elevator pitch, which I have used afterwards on the fair and on any other opportunities that I had. What good pitch can do? It can sell your product, it can bring new investments into the firm, and it can also help me in my career opportunities. On this fair we got the prize for best sale in the fair, which gave us additional courage and motivation to work more. Since the three of us are international students and English is not our first language wining that price meant much more than just accomplishment in business.

Time management

Starting a company and being your own boss seems perfect, you can manage your time however you want, do not need to get up early in the morning, and you can take vacations whenever you want. All that can be true only if you are able to master time management skill, if not you will end up working more than you would if you work for someone else. Doing a MA course fulltime and running a company made me to deal with my problem of lacking time. I needed to work on time management issues more and more every day. I have been admiring people how they accomplish a lot of stuff in one day all the time, until I have realised that time management issue is something that you can deal with. It is not something that you are born with. One good thought that I have read made me more motivated and that is that the time and practise it is needed for things to become habit. Nothing happens owner night. So I started pushing myself every day from the small thing such having a diary, making and updating calendar, respond on emails right away not leaving them for tomorrow. I still realise everyday how much more time I have and how less stressed I am when everything is organised.

Networking

There is no successful business without god networks. One more thing that I have realised I over come during these couple of months is capability to approaching people. Whenever some event is happening after it was a part for mingling and networking. Among the crowd have usually been people with long business experience which came to give us a lecture and to talk about their knowledge. I was always thinking that I do not have anything to say to them, that they have not previously heard. Furthermore how do you make a first step? It is ok if there is someone who can introduce you but how do you approach someone by yourself. What works for me is preparation before the event, finding out more about the event and people that are going to be there, as well as the one that might be there. Knowing current issues that converser is involved in and showing him or her that you have a wish to hear their opinion, opens the conversation more. Mainly it can make furthermore a good moment to start pitching yourself. You have to have at all times prepared a pitch about yourself. Pitch that answers the question such as: Who you are? What do you do? What can you do for your interlocutor? Why you and not someone else? How can you been contacted?  You will never know who else might be listening, or if beside the after event you might bump into someone important.

Finding a mentor in a real world was the opportunity to try all above mentioned things. Conclusion is that I would agree totally with a saying that you need only 3 links, 3 people to get to every person in the planet. Everyone is reachable you just need to try, you just need to make that first step and know what and why do you want it, what do you get from it.

Looking back

Looking back now I have realise how much I have learned. I would not agree that last couple of months were easy, for me they were very hard. I was pushing myself over the limits of comfort all the time; I was provoking myself, testing and most of all I was always trying to accomplish more.  I would say that it was not easy at all, but it was worth, every bit of it.

My main happiness is that I have accomplished my inner peace in a way that I am able now to focus more in what I want to do in life, and most of all, I know now that I can do whatever I want, nothing can stop me, except maybe myself. What I have seen in the begging of the course as a flaw, my un-focusness on one field, or on one industry, now I see as an advantage. Especially if I want to start my own company, which very likely is going to happen in near future. I just want to work more on one thing that is going to be my main but I still want to and need to know more about everything else. I need to keep and develop more an inner child in me.

References:

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International Student Toolkit

In a last couple of months we have been working hard on setting up our business. It would be better if we had more time to focus on it, but first of all we are still students and then we are entrepreneurs. So what we manage to is:

  • To set up our web page which you can find here:

www.internationalstudenttoolkit.com

  • To made two adds, by ourselves:
  • We had two fairs and on one we have won the price for best sale

I hope we will continue with this business when we finish our MA course, and that we will have more time to focus on it.

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Piracy or not?

Last Thursday I was attending Culture, Media & Creative Industries (CMCI) symposium at the King’s College London. The topic was about how copyright policy and law understands cultural users and their consumption practices. How cultural consumers observe copyright. Why do they break the law and does they see it as a breaking it.

The list of lecturers and the topic were:

  • Dr Tanya Aplin, from law course in King’s College London. She was talking about “Viewing cultural consumers through the lens of copyright law”.
  • Dr Hye-Kyung Lee – CMCI, also from King’s College London. Topic: “Cultural consumers’ alternative ethics: A case study of anime fansubbing”.
  • Dr Jonas Andersson – Culture and Communications, Södertörn University, Sweden. Topic: “Consumer uproar or net activism? The “pirate” movement in Sweden”.
  • Professor Barry Shank, Comparative Studies, Ohio State University, US and Dr Jason Toynbee, Media Studies, Open University. Their topic was: “4’33”, or how the idea-expression dichotomy collapses when you listen to music”.
  • Professor Andy Pratt, CMCI, King’s College London. Topic: “Can Western consumers really help development by buying ‘world music’?”
  • Professor Martin Kretschmer, Centre for IP Policy & Management, Bournemouth University. Topic: “Opening up back-catalogues through copyright term reversion: Why we need a coalition of artists and consumers”.

For me it was very interesting to find out more about how the cultural products can be and are protected.

The interesting fact for was finding out about Fansubs. Fansubs are groups of fans that are translating manga’s on other languages, and uploading them online for free. By doing that they are breaking the law because they did not bought the rights for doing such a thing, but as one of the interviewed people in the research, that was presented on the lecture, said that those things are done because people cannot wait couple of months or a year for someone to buy rights for distribution in their country and on their language. Viewing from that angle honouring the law means delaying information in time, which in today’s world might lead to producing a large gap between societies and cultures. Does maybe the law needs to be changed, or as some of them on symposium argued, people need to be more educated about how getting things for free influence creatives and the whole creative industry?

More information about symposium can be found:

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/depts/cmci/events/ccc/CMCIsymposium-6April2011.pdf

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Human Traficking

Recently we had a guest lecturer on our Design Thinking and entrepreneurship class Mr Jerry Leisure. He is the UK Field Director of Compassion2one, the NGO which is actively involved in rescuing children from sex slavery and trafficking.

I am a female and I come from Serbia. I am very aware of all those stories about trafficking and slavery.

Serbia had really rough times and in economical view it still has, in addition to that it has a perfect geographical position which makes it great place for human trafficking. Statistic says that before 2004 we were basically the path from East Europe to the West. Slaves from Bulgaria, Moldavia, Russia and Ukraine went through Serbia to Bosnia and then to Italy, Spain or France, or the other way through Serbia, Macedonia then Greece, where they had trafficked them to other countries of Middle East. After 2005 more and more slaves are starting to come from our own country, and the worse thing is that the age limit is getting less and less, from what was before tweenies’ the limit dropped down to from 12 to 14 years old kids.

I think that people generally are aware of the issues of human trafficking, but I also think that they do not know how something like that can easily happen to them or someone from their close environment.

About a year ago, in Belgrade, 13 years old girl had basically only luck, she was really close to be one more victim of human trafficking. She was in a bus on her way from school when one guy represented himself as a cop asked her if she has an id to show (in Serbia you don’t get an ID until you are 18 years old). She said that she doesn’t have it, on what he responded that she needs to go out on the next bus stop and after two of his colleagues help him id her, they will drive her home by a car. Afterward the girl started crying and saying that she hasn’t done anything wrong, that she doesn’t want to get out. One woman next to her heard the whole story and she asked the guy to show her an id on which he refused and started arguing with her. The bus driver heard the story, stopped the bus and with his interference the guy started running and somehow managed to run away.

After hearing that story, which is btw one of the million horrible ones, made me think really deeply how can you protect kid from something like that. This girl really had luck because of intervention of the woman and a bus driver, but what if she was alone? What if so called cop stopped her on a street?

After Mr Leisure lecture we got the task and we were divided into teams. As the Olympics are coming and as they are going to be main market for selling people we as a team needed to provide a solution on how to make a difference. If we have a limited budget and 5 full time resources and these questions to answer:

1.       In the UK there are over 10 different NGOs working on the human trafficking issue, what is your strategy to help them make the biggest impact?

2.       How would you drive awareness around the human trafficking issue before, during, and after the events?

3.       Considering social networks have had the power to bring down governments…how would you use this medium to bring down human trafficking?

4.       Where is the best place to invest our limited money toward saving one child at a time?

We had nearly 4 hours to work and then we needed to present the solution. Since the three of us are from Serbia, Bulgaria and Brazil, the countries where the trafficking is happening all the time we wanted to concentrate on preventing the problem not on solving it. Our idea was to make some kind of platform in which people would leave their data before they go somewhere. Since most of the victims comes from poor families and they don’t have the computers or internet they would go to police and fill the form in with all their details and details such as: where are they going, what is the purpose, who is promising them that, how does that person look like, where did they met him/her, etc. The police would then put the data online after which the person is obliged to go online where ever he or she is and leave something on that platform. If she or he doesn’t log in on regular basic the police would be inform and they would be able to take some kind of action. This platform would mean not only security for the possible victim; it would also provide statistical data of the people that might be missing, because today we don’t know the exact number of victims.

This was the main idea and we had lot more, that you are maybe going to find out in some of the latest posts.

Finally here is one of commercials that MTV in collaboration with EXIT festival made in order to draw attention and to inform the younger population on the problem of human trafficking.

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What is design thinking

A few people asked me what the design thinking is and even thought I study that and I knew what that generally is I wanted to make more research about it. While doing the research I stumbled upon this great video where Tim Brown is explaining why design thinking is important and why is it happening now.

In addition to that you can find a short slide show about what is design thinking.

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Superman

Superman stands alone. Superman did not become Superman, Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he is Superman.

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Clap your hands everybody because the story begins! :D

The 29th of November was the important date for Carolna, Angela, Preaw and Lada.

Four girls who meet on the MACE course started their own company. As they agreed on the beginning of the cooperation that each person in the team is equal, they even decided to name the company after everyone. So they named their company CLAP after: Carolina, Lada, Angela, and Preaw.

What is CLAP going to do you are going to find out soon. For now the only thing that is on our mind is that…..

This is not a love song!


 

Happy to have
Not to have not
Big business is
Very wise
I’m crossing over into
Enter prize

This is not a love song
This is not a love song
This is not a love song
This is not a love song

I’m adaptable
And I like my new role
I’m getting better and better
And I have a new goal
I’m changing my ways
Where money applies
This is not a love song

This is not a love song
This is not a love song
This is not a love song
This is not a love song

I’m going over to the other side
I’m happy to have
Not to have not
Big business is
Very wise
I’m inside free
Enterprise

This is not a love song
This is not a love song
This is not a love song
This is not a love song

Not television
Behind the curtain
Out of the cupboard
You take the first train
Into the big world
Are you ready to grab the candle
That turn of vision

This is not a love song
This is not a love song
This is not a love song
This is not a love song

 

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