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Adventures!

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See you on the other site! www.kiransajwani.com

Whatcha doin’?  Methinks you’ve wandered over to the first iteration of my blog – I’ve transitioned over www.kiransajwani.com where you’ll find all my previous blog posts, and new ones too!

Come on!  Click on www.kiransajwani.com – and you can read some of my thoughts on Design Thinking, Golf, and even The Godfather! 😀

See you on the other site!

-Kiran.

Back to the (blog)board at www.kiransajwani.com

It’s been quiet for a little while, but I’ve been itching to get typing my thoughts!

The latest post and subsequent posts will be updated on my blog at www.kiransajwani.com – don’t worry, the previous blog posts are there too!

So, I endeavor to write about all the awesomeness I come across along this continuing adventure, and I hope you’ll join me for the ride! 😀

KS - Logo (Blue)

Bye-bye Rail Container, Hello FlexBox!

While my journey with human-centered business design may have begun at Rotman, I was determined to not let it end at Rotman. I was determined to continue my pursuit of designing better solutions, and jumped at any and every opportunity to be able to practice my design chops (is that even a term? :P)!

Fortunately, I’m not alone in that boat, and when three amazingly talented classmates and I happened to chance upon an interesting challenge to redesign rail freight, we jumped pretty high! The innovation competition challenged us to explore how might we extend network capability and improve the user experience for the UK rail freight industry.

We (Team Novus Capsa) were pretty stoked about the challenge, but we had no idea about rail freight whatsoever! Also, it was kind of tricky to figure out the freight space in the UK while we were sitting in Toronto, Canada! So, what do you do when you don’t know something? You research! We reached out to brilliant academics researching urban planning, real estate economics, operational efficiencies, and marketing strategies. We spoke with seasoned professionals who shared their insights from sectors such as shipping, logistics, postal services and industry analysts. We chatted with enterprises, business owners and individuals who had previously, are currently, or may use freight or freight forwarding services at some point in the future. We are incredibly grateful for the knowledge, experiences and insights that these generous individuals shared with us, and they helped us deep-dive into the world of freight.

FlexBox - PrototypeThen, last, but not the least, we looked at the freight container itself, and that’s when we realized the box had changed the space of shipping and trade. While the humble box had changed a lot, it remained relatively unchanged since its invention. Well, if we wanted to change the current state of rail freight, we had to change the box. So, that’s what we did! We brainstormed, ideated, prototyped and repeated until we were out of Lego blocks!

Eventually we conceptualized a redesign of the box – “FlexBox” – where the box comes to you! It would be a unique freight solution for small and medium enterprises, with door-to-door service. Our concept was to change the box, which would change rail freight, and redefine the rail user experience. Curious? Take a peek at our concept solution, and tell me what you think!  🙂

When Life Gives You Roller-Coasters…

I sat down to write a post on a design project, but before I knew it, my fingers had taken over and were typing something completely different… So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is my post of gratitude for those cheering me on to ride roller-coasters 🙂

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KS - Roller-CoasterLife is a crazy roller-coaster, with plenty of twists, turns & double loops to leave your head perpetually spinning.  But even as you ride this crazy roller-coaster, there’s an element of excitement and exhilaration, with a shot of adrenaline to keep you shooting in the direction of your dreams.  It also leaves you a little hyper and loopy, with your family and friends telling you to simmer down and be realistic!  Within this cacophony of emotions, it falls upon you to center yourself with the right combination of idealism and realism, and find your peace amidst all the madness.

This may sound a little odd, especially given my frequent references to roller-coasters, but I am afraid of roller-coasters.  I rode one when I was about eleven, and it terrified the living daylights out of me with its double loop; I couldn’t wait to get off, and haven’t gotten on one since then.  Why is that important?  Because I think my fears run deeper than I fear, and trying new things, experiences and emotions has always terrified me.  I have been hesitant about doing or saying something I feel, and I have held back quite frequently, with the result that I have a running inner monologue about how I should have done this or said that, and perhaps things would have turned out differently.

A little over two years ago, on a miserably cold evening, a dear friend told me that it’s okay to be afraid, as long as I don’t live my life in fear.  I made up my mind then to at least try to face my fears instead of cowering behind them.  When faced with the prospect of trying something new, I at least attempted it once, and when thinking about saying something, I at least attempted speaking my mind instead of relegating myself to days of recurring inner monologues.  Even when you try to change something for the better, you do slip into old habits without realizing it, and so it happened to me.  Recently, another dear friend wondered out loud how life could be different if we weren’t so afraid, and didn’t overthink everything.  It reminded me to keep charging ahead, and face my fears instead of running away from them and hiding.

This Thanksgiving, I am immensely grateful for these Angels appearing in my life, in the form of family, friends and complete strangers, reminding me to do what’s right for me, and keep charging ahead towards my dreams.  They often think what they said or did was completely insignificant, but their words and actions are immensely powerful.  While I’m unlikely to get on one of the terrifying roller-coasters at Cedar Point or Six Flags, these Angels remind me to get back in line for the roller-coaster of life, and ride it with my face in the wind, smiling through all the twists, turns and double-loops 🙂

Take a Moment for Joy!

KS - Love & JoySometimes, all it takes is a little moment to remind you of what you need to do, in order to materialize the life you have envisioned for yourself.  I’ve been told that I was a happy burst of sunshine as a kid, brimming with optimism, and beaming with a big smile.  I think, nay, I believe that every kid comes into this world in a state of joy; that’s why they are most likely to smile in their sleep.

However, the increasing pressures of the world erase most of these innocent smiles, leaving them with sullen mumbles in their teenage years, and confused drudgery as they transition into adulthood.  At least that’s what it was for me; I turned into a cranky, pessimistic grump, dragging through my days, and for a while, I didn’t think it could be any different.  Until one day when somebody tried guessing my age, and came up with a number that was about ten years older than my chronological age… If you want to give a twenty-something a panic attack, tell them they’re old!  After many hours spent peering at myself in magnifying mirrors looking for fine lines, it hit me.  It wasn’t my face itself that was making me look old, but my internal self, reflected on my face, that was aging me beyond my years.  I took a good, hard look at myself, and realized that no amount of potions and lotions would help me look younger, unless I returned my mental state to a state of joy.  Easier said than done!

Being happy is expected of kids, and hoped of teenagers, but generally elicits confused stares of bewilderment in adults.  I encountered those stares fairly often as I began my conscious commitment towards being happy, and quite often, it was easier to be cranky than happy, but I had to try to be happy, especially if I wanted to be guessed as a twenty-something again!  The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and for me, my journey towards joy started with baby steps – simple things like taking a moment to smile after waking up and being grateful for this new day, rather than just slamming the alarm clock and stumbling out of bed; taking a moment to look up at the sky and breathe in the dawn before getting behind the wheel, rather than succumbing to road rage and honking at errant drivers; taking a moment to ask my colleagues how they’re doing and listening to their response, rather than just getting straight into the task; taking a moment to look at my plate and savor all the aromas and colors, rather than just shoveling food down my throat; taking a moment to do a fist-pump at scoring a great parking spot in a crowded lot, rather than just jumping out and rushing off; taking a moment at the end of the day, to reflect on and being grateful for all the wonderful things that I’ve been blessed with, rather than just grumpily falling into bed, and complaining about everything that went wrong that day.  All it takes is a moment to savor the experience and be genuinely grateful, to change from being apprehensive about all the craziness that awaits, to being anticipative about all the joy that’s waiting to embrace you.

Even though I have become more optimistic and joyous, that doesn’t mean I’m in a continuous state of helium-induced excitement – life has its fair share of problems and disappointments, and it’s natural to feel sad or upset when things don’t turn out as you had hoped.  However, I’ve learned feeling defeated doesn’t mean that I’ve been permanently defeated.  I get angry, sad and frustrated, and I recognize that those are my natural responses; accepting that it’s okay to be unhappy, for just a little while, allows me to take a moment and take a step towards happiness.  Sometimes it’s taking a walk (fresh air amidst nature works wonders), watching a funny movie (laughter is the best medicine), baking a decadent delight while listening to peppy music (cookies solve most problems), talking with a friend (I’m infinitely grateful for my patient, nonjudgmental family and friends), all of the above (What? You’ve never walked to a friend’s house to chat as you two baked, and then watched a comedy while eating cookie dough?), or something completely different (maybe you’re the anomaly in the human species that doesn’t like cookies).  Happiness comes in ebbs and flows, and not everything in life will go your way, but how you respond to the lows, by getting back on your feet, and taking a moment to find that little thing that makes you smile, even if for just a moment, before charging on, full-steam ahead, towards joy.

Why have I been talking about being in a state of joy?  It’s because being joyous allows you to be more proactive towards, and receptive of the even greater joy that awaits you.  I believe that to be true, and have experienced that to be true.  But even when you know something, you forget – we’re only human, after all.  And sometimes, all it takes is a little moment to remind you of what you need to do, in order to materialize the life you have envisioned for yourself.  I was lucky to be a guest at a Rotary meeting earlier this week, where they wrapped up the meeting by passing around their Happy Box, and every member expressed gratitude for something good that they had experienced during the past week.  It didn’t matter if the happiness was big or small, it was the mere act of expressing gratitude, and sharing that joy with others.  The past few weeks have been a bit of a roller-coaster  where I barely appreciated the highs, and tended to dwell in the lows longer than necessary.  The little moment of sharing joys with the Happy Box, reminded me to take a little moment to be truly grateful for all that I have been blessed with.  It may take me longer than a little moment (especially if I’m trying to write about it), but I think gratitude is worth the effort.  So, here goes my top three for today… I am very happy and grateful for my academic and professional mentors who continue to guide me with their experiences and insights; I am very happy and grateful for my family and friends who continue to tolerate my quirkiness, encourage my creativity, and support my dreams and aspirations; and I am very happy and grateful for the invention of chai – it’s the perfect beverage to keep me warm and cozy for when it’s cold and rainy outside, and great for dunking cookies too!  Hey, I already told you I was quirky!  And being in a state of joy isn’t always about the big happiness moments, it’s about being happy to recognize (and appreciate) those little moments that make you smile and happy.  So, thank you, dear reader, for patiently reading this post, sticking with this blog, and sharing your comments and words of appreciation 🙂

P.S.  I am guessing there might be some wondering on how taking a moment to be grateful and joyous has to do with creativity, design or adventure…  I believe a joyous state of mind not only helps you look happier and younger, but it also helps spark more creative ideas, and this adventure of life needs ideas and solutions that are better designed, with a dash of quirkiness to make you smile 🙂

P.P.S.  While I will persist in my efforts to be joyous, I promise to have my next post focused more on design and/or an adventurous spirit!  Thank you for your patience and support!  🙂

The Adventure Continues…

ImageI started writing this blog – “MBA: Must Bring Adventure!” – as a way to chronicle my experiences during my MBA at the Rotman School of Management, and share my journey with family and friends.  My MBA culminated this summer, with a glorious graduation ceremony that had me grinning from ear to ear, surrounded by wonderful family and awesome friends, some watching and cheering for me from the other side of the world, as I finally achieved this long-held dream of mine.  While my MBA was nothing short of a terrific, high-adrenaline roller-coaster, I feel like the adventure has only just begun. Life’s too short to be just ho-hum; it deserves our best effort to bring an adventurous spirit as we charge ahead to leave our own mark on the world.  So, I intend to continue approaching each day as a new adventure, knowing not where it may lead me, but just that it deserves a creative, optimistic and determined spirit.  I intend to continue chronicling my adventures, and I hope you continue to join me on the road ahead…  🙂

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