Passionate People – Interview with Entrepreneur Angela Ognev

Posted On: February 16, 2015

I interviewed Angela Ognev who is a tech geek and doing so many cool things! She inspires me with her joyful energy, beauty, kindness, wit and intelligence!

1) What do you do?
angela-sideI’ve found that I’m a much better collaborator or freelancer than employee, so I like to have a couple projects. Most of it has to do with design (communication, intention, engagement) and happiness (sheer joy, iteration, interesting moments).

My day job is coaching and consulting on how to understand people, whether its about designing an experience for your customers, or reframing your career to suit you, via Redesign Happy. I enjoy mentoring start-ups at the Hub or JFDI.

My night jobs involve workshopping design (through The Orange Hive), or code (through HTML Crashcourse). I organise conversations on sex, failure, relationships, shame, and more via Cut The Small Talk. I’m working on my photography with authentic candids (Happiness Is Beautiful), and growing with yoga teaching (personal goal: push up to handstand). To mix my introversion with my desire to write more powerfully, I keep a blog just for book takeaways.

2) Why do you do what you do?
I try to say “yes” to everything that fascinates me. I used to judge myself for pursuing so many ideas, but now, I decide that curiosity is the priority and see where that takes me. (That said, I often quit things or put them on hold, if I’m working on them for the wrong reasons.

Why do I do what I do? I enjoy having interesting and difficult conversations, and like to provoke them. We each live full lives and can do more than small talk. I’m constantly challenging myself to put hard-to-say things into words. I do what I do because I want to cultivate more curiosity and more interdisicplinarians, because that makes ideas more interesting and life more fun. I like to workshop topics that give us a new toolkit or mindset to think with — so we can problem-solve, but also explore issues more deeply or reframe the question.

3) How do you find time for all that?
I find that having lots of things to do helps me be productive — I’m always in the mood to work hard on something. I work in short bursts so I can drill down on the urgent items, and have some time for the more urgent ones. Here are some guidelines I follow:

  • wake up early and drink a whole bottle of water (you get dehydrated when sleeping)
  • find awesome, effective teammates to have fun, action-driven meetings (go, Orange Hive!)
  • say NO to clients and teams that don’t fit (and refer someone else) — we’ll be best when we go our own ways
  • write down ideas (I do it in my calendar. I put everything in there!)
  • know how you work (I need ambitious deadlines to get me moving, or else I wait forever!)
  • eat while reading or enjoy with friends
  • speedread! (Great skill. I sometimes read for leisure, sometimes for speed)
  • angry, confused, annoyed? take the longest exhale to refocus
  • it’s good to be lazy (say, on weekends)
  • no excessive drinking. It’s amazing how much extra time you have when you wake up early and have no hangovers on weekends.
  • exercise! I do yoga 30 minutes at a time, shooting for twice a day. Try out these videos if you like yoga!

4) What does the future hold for you? Future plans etc? Give us something special.
redesignhappywho knows?
Aside from the longer vacations, I don’t plan too far ahead! What I’m excited for now are taboo and crucial conversations at Cut The Small Talk and more self-discovery and life design workshops (a deviation from our usual user experience, design thinking, and Adobe ones) at The Orange Hive.

As far as what the future holds… here’s what I can come up with right now:

  • Write a book on understanding customers OR how to synthesise OR on having interesting conversations
  • Successfully make more complex things on the pottery wheel
  • Paint a series of dresses based on birds
  • Getting a phd (I’m loving and hating this idea)
  • More photo portraits of strangers
  • Life coach for tens of employees of one company

5) What advice would you give to
– women:

Notice your train of thought and emotion — see where your ideas, fears, comments, etc are coming from. Is it a certain part of you? An echo of a friend, boss, or parent? Be curious about how you’re feeling and thinking, without judgement. You are enough. You have all that you need.

– entrepreneurs:

Dig into what excites your customers — talk to them, live in their shoes, and read between the lines. Figure out who are NOT your customers and forget about them.
Build a team where you can be vulnerable, supported, open, clear, and blunt. Hire the person, rather than the resume.

– tech idiots:
Ask for help and be open about where you are. If anything, we’ll think you’re clear and brave for asking. Resources are all out there — friends and strangers will point you to places or wonderful people. Since most people want to make a personal site, try Strikingly one-click to make your LinkedIn page into a mobile-friendly website! They’re great for quick, beautiful, and bold business websites too.

– mothers:
Save time for yourself. Look in the mirror — if the woman you see is a separate person, how would you support and love her? There’s sometimes guilt associated with taking time off, so what if you can see time off as a way of being better for those around you?

– wives:
Spontaneity takes effort — plan a bit and see what blooms! Contrary to popular belief, spontaneity doesn’t come out of the blue. Be excited about being thoughtful. “Foreplay starts at the end of the last orgasm.” (Esther Perel)
Smile often and hug tightly.

– daughters:
Ask questions about all the “should”s and “have to”s in your life — not to challenge authority, but to be curious, so you can have context and rational, and so you choose to live happily.

Visit the below links to find out more about Angela:

Redesign Happy, Coaching & Workshops

Note: I have not vested interest or benefit from interviewing Anglea Ognev. I am doing so in the pure intention to inspire more people.

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