This past spring break I had a great experience in California during the University Innovation Fellows national conference.
Having gone to the conference last year as well, I was not invited to all of the sessions since they are reserved for first-year fellows. During that time I caught up with fellows I'd met last year, explored Stanford’s innovation ecosystem and pursued other opportunities.
I spent as much time as I could getting to know new people to really understand what it is like to live in such a place. The hotel we stayed at offered a free shuttle service Monday through Friday that came in handy.
One day I was using this shuttle to get to Stanford’s campus with a driver named Steve. While driving, Steve offered to show me around town after learning that I wasn’t from there or familiar with the area. After showing me the garage that Hewlett Packard was founded in and Steve Jobs' house, an unexpected opportunity came my way.
Knowing that I was in California for an innovation conference Steve suggested I go to IDEO to see what I could learn and maybe score a tour. Before I knew it, I was in IDEO’s lobby introducing myself to their receptionist, explaining who I was, and asking if I could possibly be shown around. The receptionist told me I had just missed Barry Katz, but encouraged me to email him and see if I could set something up.
For those who don’t know, Dr. Barry Katz is a professor at the California College of Arts (CCA), a consulting professor at Stanford University and he is also a fellow at IDEO, one of the world's leading design companies.
At CCA he teaches in the graduate design program and undergraduate programs in Industrial and Interaction Design. At Stanford’s d.school, he teaches in the joint program (MSc) in design. He has written books on design thinking and has helped shape the way it is viewed/practiced around the world.