12: Ands Not Ors (ft. Maria Giudice)

In which we are joined by Maria Giudice, founder of Hot Studio, former design executive at Facebook and Autodesk, for a whirlwind discussion of her career, design leadership, and coaching.

Topics: Frank Frazetta; Working Girl; art school; white designer dudes; New York in the mid-80s; Richard Saul Wurman telling us we’re all full of shit; designing guidebooks; command-and-control leadership style; San Francisco in the late 80s; becoming a design leader; hiring misfits; match between leader and the team; inheriting teams; the brutality of corporate America; learning from mistakes; change-making at scale; consulting vs in-house; the need for executive sponsorship; where we find joy in our lives; meaning and purpose in our work; leading and coaching in a fashion authentic to you; the value of coaching for senior leaders.

Transcript

Peter: Welcome to Finding Our Way, the podcast on design and design leadership. I’m Peter Merholz. And with me as always is Jesse James Garrett.

Jesse: Hello, Peter.

Peter: And today we have a special guest, Maria Giudice.

Maria: Hi, everybody. Peter. I’m so happy, you know how to pronounce my last name.

Peter: I’ve known you for, has it been 25 years? 1997. And so, we’re excited to have you with us today. Maria, I think you’ve, as… as we were saying, have a lot of lived experience as a design leader…

Maria: Yes we have…

Peter: I also am interested in your experience with other design leaders, maybe even earlier in your career before you became one. So, you know, I want to kind of cede the floor to you to let you talk about yourself and how you would like to introduce yourself to, to our audience.

Maria: So my journey, boy, it’s like if you look at it in terms of timeline, it’s a lot of years, but the good thing is I always feel like, because things are always changing, it feels like it’s a relatively short timeline in weird ways. Does that make sense? It’s sort of like, that’s the beauty of the industry that we’re in, that we have had the gift of constant change throughout the courses of our career. 

Jesse: You can’t get bored, for sure.

Maria: No, you can’t. So, but when I started out, I thought I was going to be a fine artist. My uncle was a pretty well known fantasy painter named Frank Frazetta, and some people right now who are hearing this…

Peter: I bet Jesse had some of his posters in his dorm room…

Jesse: I was not that guy, but I was friends with that guy.

Maria: Yeah, exactly. Some of your people on your podcasts are like, their mind is blown right now, but most people on your podcast don’t know who he is, but some people it’s like, a secret code. If you know, Frank Frazetta’s work. 

Jesse: If you have any visual memory of the classic poster of Arnold Schwartzenegger as Conan, the Barbarian, Frank Frazetta painted that poster.

Maria: Yeah. So I grew up with a famous uncle who was a painter. And that just was like permission to want to be a fine artist as well. So I never thought of fine art as something that was a nice-to-have. I saw I had models early on that you could follow your dreams and make money doing those dreams.

And in my senior year of college, I was taking design classes. And I was really struggling with design in general. I thought it was incredibly formulaic and I was like, “Ugh.”Iit was all about the Bauhaus, was all about like grids and white space and hierarchy and find a nice image and use Helvetica and wear black and be a white man. It was like, these are all the formulas of what it meant to be a designer. It wasn’t until my senior year when Richard Saul Wurman came in and gave a talk to our class.

And did you guys ever see the movie Working Girl? With Melanie Griffith.

Peter: I have not.

Maria: You should look that up because I

Peter: Melanie Griffith and, Sigourney, Sigourney Waver…

Maria: Yes, I, I was that girl. I was that girl working from Staten Island. Yeah. I did not look like a typical designer. And so I grew up in the era of Vignelli and, Rudy de Harak and like these, the New York, Pushpin Studio. Yeah. Yeah. Milton Glaser. I grew up in that era and those were all men who had basically harems of people, peons, working for them. So first model of leadership, command and control. And it was really formal and you had to look and act a certain way.

But then in my senior year, Richard Wurman walks into our class, who does not look like a designer. He’s short, he was overweight. He had a big scarf and he was cursing up a fucking storm. And I fell in love. I totally fell in love. That was like, Oh my God, this is the first person that doesn’t follow and conform to the norms of what typical design leadership was like.

And he basically yelled at us. He basically said you’re all full of shit. And he talked about design being in service to others. And I’ve said this story over and over again. I don’t think he used those words, but this is my version of the story because It just hit me over the head. It was one of those moments in life that we all have, you can reflect back on it, where suddenly something gets hit on the head and you go in a different path. And that was a very seminal moment in my life where he said the right thing at the right time. And design started making sense to me. That my job, my purpose, was to help people navigate life through the lens of design. And I went to work for him. I graduated college and I worked for him designing guidebooks in New York City. 

I started working with Richard in 1985 as a graphic designer, but it was really a human-centered designer. It’s that philosophy of thinking about who you’re serving and what is the appropriate way to deliver that content? What’s the appropriate medium, what’s the appropriate format, what’s the appropriate way to categorize information? It’s still the same stuff that we do today. It’s the same thinking process. Like, I have not deviated from my thinking process and the way I think about design since that lightning bolt struck me in the head in 1985.

Peter: You mentioned the primary model you had seen was this command and control model. And then there was Richard, what was Richard’s approach to leadership? Was he…

Maria: Command and control, too. 

Peter: So he was a creative director. You were an extension of his brain.

Maria: Oh yeah. Yeah, I remember. I’m rough around the edges. I’ve always been rough around the edges. I was really rough around the edges back then. ‘Cause I had the lack of experience and the nuance and I loved the way he saw the world and the way he looked at information at different lenses and different

categories and different scales. I just was soaking that in. 

That’s command and control style back in the day where you had a creative director and then you were his pair of hands. Right. And I would just argue with him constantly about the layouts, or I would give him alternative layouts. I would redesign the cover and he just would never, ever listen to me. And I just remember at one point sitting in his office, just crying and saying, “You know, why can’t you listen to me? Like, why can’t I have a point of view?” And he just dead-pan looked at me and he said, “Maria, I’m 50 years old,” I was like 25, “I’m 50 years old. Chances are, you are not going to change my opinion anytime soon.”

Jesse: [Laughs]. 

Maria: I accidentally moved to California because he opened an office to redesign the Pacific Bell yellow pages, and I knew that if I didn’t get out of town, I was going to get fired, that, you know, like, our relationship was souring pretty fast, and just so happened that my girlfriend was moving to California and I was thinking, oh, I could do a road trip and hang out with her for six months.

I had no intention of living in California. I didn’t even care about the yellow pages. I was just like, “Free road trip. I’m going to go.” And it was the best move of my life because I went and I worked with a small group of people who had to create the office, which became The Understanding Business.

And it wasn’t until I had distance from Richard, where I had leverage.

Peter: So, how long were you at The Understanding Business?

Maria: I was there from 1987 to 1990, and by the end of the three years, I was a creative director with like 25 people reporting to me.

Peter: So you were now a design leader.

Maria: I was a design leader because I was in charge of maps and then it was like, I can’t do all the maps myself. So we started hiring people and then I became in charge of all the maps. And so suddenly I had a group of people working with me on maps and this is where I first discovered that I was really great at being a good leader. 

Like, if I really am honest about myself, I used to throw great parties. I’m great at getting people together around some sort of purpose and I became really great at motivating and inspiring people to work really hard and believe and hit a high bar of quality.

Peter: You felt, you demonstrated good design leadership. Were you operating as a command and control leader the way that you had seen and if not, what was your mode and how did you develop your leadership style?

Maria: it was totally intuitive. It was really just maybe because I was not like most people. And I felt very intimidated when I was in college by not looking like a white male with good clothing. I felt very empathetic to other people who didn’t fit the format.

I looked for the weirdos. I look for the edge cases. I looked for the misfits. I looked for people who really wanted to learn, had a voracious appetite to learn, had incredibly good, great design and production skills. I cultivated that and I really acted more as a coach and a teacher and collected good ideas.

I never thought of myself as a great designer. I still don’t think I’m a great designer. I think I’m a really good designer. I think I have a great eye for design, but I don’t think that I’m the best designer. So because of that, I cultivated and looked for people who were better than me and I mined for the best ideas.

And then we adopted the best ideas as a collective. So I really was very focused on the collective body of the people that worked for me. 

Music break

Jesse: I think there’s something in your story about the match between a leader and the people on the team. You talk about the way that you were seeking out the people who maybe didn’t quite fit the mold of what a traditional designer looked like, or maybe who didn’t come from the same kind of background.

And I think that if you had inherited a team that was full of those more traditional graphic designer-type people, it would have been much more difficult for you to be successful as a design leader. So there was something about you also selecting for people that you could lead and bringing them into the team.

Maria: Yes. Yes. I had the ability to continue to hire people that I wanted to work with. It wasn’t until I went to Facebook where I started inheriting people. And that’s a whole nother ball of wax when you have to inherit people.

Peter: Well, let’s talk about that for a little…

Maria: Yeah.

Peter: ‘Cause you know, we have some similarities here, like you, Jesse, and I started a consulting business, doing design. We hired people we wanted to work with. We, I think, similarly had our flavors of misfits, which might be different than your flavors of misfits, but still certain misfit personalities.

Maria: We all had our own brand of misfits. They all found their home in the misfit land of agencies.

Peter: Something we’ve talked about before is inheriting teams. I’ve had to do it, after I left Adaptive Path. And, so I’m wondering, what your experience was when you inherited teams at Facebook and then I’m assuming again at Autodesk.

Did you have to adopt or adapt your style or did you just try to get rid of as many of the people who were there as you could and bring in your own misfits, or, like, what’s your approach when it comes to inheriting teams? How has that worked for you, or did it not?

Maria: Yeah, boy, I really struggled. I don’t know about you guys, but to go from like master of your own queendom to suddenly in corporate America where you have to fit into a system, that was a really rude awakening for me. But, I want to jump from Facebook to Autodesk because Autodesk was really interesting in that it was kind of brutal.

And I think this happens a lot in corporate America, where I get hired, and I have to assume that this is the test of a lot of like C-level people. Or, you know, SVP level people. Right. I get hired in as VP of Design and I don’t have like a budget. I don’t have like staff.

Peter: Are you the first VP of design they’ve ever had?

Maria: Yeah, first VP and this is a company that’s rooted in traditional engineering thinking for 30-something years. And I just had an enlightened boss who wanted this change, and also Carl Bass is very creative. So I get in and they didn’t budget me in. Like in corporate America, right, they budget you, you get head count.

So suddenly I get hired and I’m not in the plan. So, an SVP wanted to get rid of his design team. And so he gave me his design team, so basically they moved money from his over to my new org by giving me this design team.

So he gives me this team, which has nothing to do with my mission. This is a product team and I’m in charge of weaving design throughout the company. My job was still unclear at that point. I had a three-month period to define my job, but they give me this group of people who didn’t fit any of the profiles that inevitably what I needed.

So they gave me this team. Woohoo. I don’t have a plan for them. And this is the move. This is the perfect move, Maria. This is your head count. This is the budget you’re getting. In order for you to hire new people, you have to fire the people that you have.

Jesse: Wow.

Maria: Fucking brutal.

Peter: So how do you approach that?

Maria: And I didn’t even know who these people are. Right. But this is what they do when you’re a VP, they want to test you. Okay, let’s talk about, like corporate America, corporate America can be brutal at the top.

So it’s like, okay, how tough is she? She’s going to lay people off. 

It’s true. It’s the same way at Facebook. This is what I didn’t like about Facebook. Facebook considers it an act of strength when somebody is struggling, they feel like you are a strong leader, if you can get rid of the weak people, right?

Peter: Up or out, is what I’ve heard. 

Maria: And that’s true. You’re only as good as your weakest person. We all know that. But give people a chance to grow and succeed. What happens in corporate America, if you’re struggling, they put you on a PIP, right? Maybe you get “meets most” two or three times and you get put on a PIP.

Right. But once you’re in “meets most” you’re basically feeling so unconfident, you’re feeling like you suck, you’re in the dog house when you’re in “meets most.” So your mindset is already in this really low point. And then it’s like, fuck you, corporate America, here’s the list of things you gotta do to pull yourself out. And if you don’t do it, we’re gonna push you out. And it’s a sign of strength when the leader can push those people out. It didn’t sit with my values. It doesn’t sit with my values.

Peter: I hear you. I’ve inherited a few teams and, I’m not the only design leader who’s inherited a team and had either your boss tell you or your peers tell you, part of the job is going to have to be managing a couple of these people out that are underperforming. And you’re like, why, why did you wait–?

Maria: Passing the buck to you, right. Passing the buck to you.

Peter: But what I often found is that the designers that I inherited were often capable, but they had been put in a context that, that didn’t allow them to be a good designer. So it wasn’t about the designer. It was about the stuff surrounding them.

Maria: Exactly. And that’s how I feel like you got to really unpack why somebody’s not doing well. Sometimes, it’s not a good skill match, but sometimes it’s because they had a shitty leader who, like, knocked them down. But in Facebook, if you don’t push that person out, you are considered weak.

And it really killed me because I wanted to give those people time to. Evolve or if it wasn’t a good match, what is a better humane way to give them dignity and get them out on their own timeline? 

Peter: Let’s rewind a bit then. You ran hot for, what, 15, almost 20 years? How long did it last?

Maria: Over 15 years 

Peter: 15 years.

So you then had Richard Saul Wurman as a model, good or bad.

Maria: Yes. Yeah. Good and bad. 

Peter: Then you went out on your own (good or bad). Then you went out on your own and you were intuiting your way through design leadership and, and, I’m assuming largely self-taught. 

And then, you know, Hot gets acquired at Facebook. You’re there for a couple of years. You’re at Autodesk for a couple years. You’ve clearly had some challenged experiences, but I’m wondering coming out of Autodesk, you know, those four to five years in corporate America, what did you learn that you were able to take away and actually grow from?

Maria: Yeah. Great question, Peter, because, and, you know, my exit at Autodesk, wasn’t, like, lovely, right? I was kicking ass at Autodesk and making great change at scale. And then there was a change in leadership. Carl Bass steps down, my champion steps down, a new leader comes into place and basically tells me to my face that I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He basically said, “We’re not ready for somebody like you. You’re Autodesk three years from now.” The things that I care about were not their priority. 

Fair enough. But it hurt. But it gave me a lot of time to self reflect. Like, what are the lessons? What are the opportunities? What were the things that I did really well? What was the things I really fucked up because really, I was so ill-prepared for corporate America and I made so many mistakes. And then when I got to Autodesk, I was like, I’m not going to make those mistakes again. So I made a list of all the things I fucked up and I was like, don’t do those things at Autodesk, do the opposite. Right. But now, like two years at Autodesk, there was a whole bunch of things that I fucked up that I could reflect on.

And so this got me really passionate about change-making at scale, that there are people like me who are entering companies at the VP level, they’re told that their job is X, but their job will really be Y. There’s no playbook for being that person.

So I started getting curious and I started interviewing design leaders, VPs and above, and I’ve collected like 25-30 stories from people in all different industries. And now I’m ready to write a book on change-making at scale. I speak about it.

It led to coaching. I want to bring these lessons to light so that somebody like me who is entering a new company could read, and better prepare for the change that will inevitably hit them. And so there’s tons of lessons there that I want to share, not only from my own life experience, but the people who are living it now.

Jesse: I’m interested in this idea of change-making because I feel like for my entire career, I have been, and Peter has been in, you have been constantly driving change in one way or another. We’ve been a part of this wave of digital media and the internet and all of the evolution of user experience design that has sprung out of that. 

And I find myself wondering, like, are we condemned to forever be change agents? Or does user experience design at least get to some place where somebody coming into an organization as a design leader no longer has to carry the assumption that they’re going to have to do a whole bunch of change-making work in order to be successful.

Maria: Really depends on the maturity of the organization in terms of how they’re embracing design and human-centered design. Most companies, design is not part of the culture. Design is a new phenomenon that people are learning about and embracing and this was where I got very cavalier. It’s like, Oh yeah, I’ve worked for hundreds of companies over my 20 year tenure, working in an agency.

It’s nothing like when you’re inside a company, because when we’re working in an agency, people are hiring us to do change. They know time is money, we like basically go in and have sex and leave. We don’t stay the night. We’re like, that was great. Get the clothes back on, go home, sleep in your own bed. Right.

When you’re inside a company, you are living in the house  

Music break

Peter: I want to pursue one thread there. You were brought in by a CEO at Autodesk, Carl Bass, who recognized it.

Maria: Yes.

Peter: Now, most people are working at companies where the CEOs don’t get this. So do they have any hope or are they…

Maria: Are they, are they fucked? Are they fucked?

Peter: Are they, like, what is the opportunity for change when you don’t have the CEO providing some cover? Or, and how can you get this? How do you help a CEO understand…

Maria: See, this is the thing, if you look up and you don’t see people who believe in your agenda, you are pushing water upstream. You need somebody at the high levels or you gotta look for those tradition holders, those people who’ve been in companies a long time who have some cache and power. And if they can believe in it and give you time. 

If you look up and you don’t have somebody who believes in your mission, that is a huge red flag and it may not be worth your time. So you have to really decide, are you at the right place at the right time in your career?

I’m an executive coach and I spent a lot of time helping people. Figure out that they have to quit their job.

Peter: Oh, that one’s tough, right? ‘Cause we all need jobs. You know, when Jesse and I were younger and maverick and running Adaptive Path and we’d speak at conferences or hold our own events and we would talk about the glories of good UX practice and inevitably someone would raise their hand and say, “There’s no way I can make this happen in my company” or “How can I make this happen in my company, ‘cause conditions aren’t allowing it.” And I was the glib privileged white dude who was like, quit, get a job elsewhere.

Maria: Yeah, I know. Yeah. That is a very privileged place to be. I always ask people, “Why do you have your job? What’s important to you. What brings you joy? How can you bring joy into your life?”

Some people bring joy into life after they leave their job. Some people say, “There’s enough there for me to be interested and I’m going to go and leave. And I’m going to paint for three hours a night.” That’s valid. You have to find your purpose in life, and figure out what are the baseline ways that you need to survive. 

So you can’t just say, “Look, you hate your job, quit it.” Some people can’t, okay? But then what are some other mechanisms that you can do to bring joy into your life?

People might say, “That’s my job. My joy is my children.” And then I would ask, “How can you bring joy into your work life?” So that it’s not something that you hate going to, and I knew that I was not happy at Facebook because I was so happy when Friday came along and I was so miserable when Monday started. 

Jesse: Telltale signs. 

Maria: So I had to cope with being in a company that wasn’t really congruent with my values. Was it the right move? Absolutely. Was I prepared for it? No fucking way. 

Jesse: Well, I think that we’re all looking for our right fit, right? Regardless of where you are in your career, whether you’re a designer or a leader, designers are looking for leaders who are going to be the right fit. Leaders are looking for people to join their teams who are the right fit. And they’re looking for larger organizations to be a part of that are the right fit. 

Maria: Yeah. So you have to really weigh everything and you have to find the joy because life is short. Life is short. If you are waking up every day miserable, you have to figure out what do you need to change in order to bring some joy into your life, some purpose and meaning, and you might not get it from your job. And that is okay, but that means you have to get it somewhere else.

Jesse: You mentioned meaning and purpose. And these are concepts that Peter and I have talked about a few times now, because in the coaching work that I do, I am trying to connect leaders with their own personal sense of purpose, because that is what energizes them to be able to connect other people with a sense of purpose, and galvanize a team.

And although I agree with you that you gotta find your joy somewhere, I do feel that if you are doing work that is meaningless to you, that feels purposeless, even though you may be finding great joy in other parts of your life, that is eventually going to drag you down. The weight of that purposelessness.

Maria: It will. When you talk about purpose, coming full circle, when I talked about how that lightning bolt hit, when Richard said “Design is about being in service to others,” it hit because that ultimately is my purpose in life. And thenmy intuitive leadership when I was running The Understanding Business as a creative director, it was congruent in my purpose in life, which was to be in service to others.

Jesse: I think that you can find a sense of purpose in your work without it being the highest purpose in your life. 

Maria: Yeah. I think that that’s fair. If you are going to a job and you are miserable, you really have to weigh the cost of that. You have to weigh what that is worth. 

Peter: So another podcast I listen to, which I’m assuming neither of you do, is a podcast with sports coaches. 

Maria: Hmm. 

Peter: Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors and Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

And it’s not about being a sports coach. They talk about coaching and leadership generally, and their own success. And one of the things that they have recognized in their own success is that there is no ideal for coaching or being a leader. That there are maybe principles that work and strategies that work, but neither of them became successful until they figured out how to be authentic to whom they are, right. 

Steve Kerr talks about, he learned under Phil Jackson, who was Michael Jordan’s coach, Gregg Popovich, the coach of the Spurs. So he had models as great coaches, but Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich were very different people, but both successful. And he’s been successful as a third different type. 

And I’m curious on both of you, ‘cause I’m not a formal coach, you guys are both formal coaches, but something that I suspect is that not enough leaders reflect on what is authentic to them. They might have models, they might have seen other types of leadership and just kind of adopt it as opposed to really stepping back and trying to figure out how do I lead authentically as me, even if that’s different than what I’ve seen succeed, but I can’t do what that person does. So how do I do what I do and still succeed? 

Jesse: Yeah, it’s huge. I mean, the unlearning that people have to do. I’m trying to think of a good metaphor. It’s like the kid who shows up in a suit for the first day of school with the briefcase, they feel like there’s this way of being that is asked of them. I remember years ago having a conversation with somebody who was, running a small interactive agency and they were really entrenched in Jack Welch’s ideas from GE, and, like, he had this whole model, which was how he ran General Electric, another giant hundred year old company. And I’m like, you got like 20 people doing something very, very different, trying to emulate Jack Welch is not how you get successful at this, in this context. And it’s not even who you are. And the more that you try to be this thing that you aren’t, the more, you’re actually fucking up doing the thing that you think that thing is going to do for you.

Maria: Yeah. You treat everything like a design process, right? I mean, when you were saying that, Jesse, I was thinking about our old clients that would come to us and say, Hey, we want to be like that… Everybody wanted to be like Apple, right? 

Peter: Wes. I want to be the Apple of whatever I do. The Apple of… yeah… time-tracking software. 

Maria: And your job is to be different than, not to be the same. Don’t shoot for parity. Right? So what is authentically you? So it actually comes back to design. I really do believe that you could treat everything like a design process.

It’s collecting stories. And looking for patterns and then finding out the things that resonate with you that match your authenticity. 

I took a short course on business, but most of it was research and then making it your own. So get intelligence about the domain and then pick the 10 to 20% that you need and figure out the rest based on your own authenticity.

You know, I know a lot of people look at me now and they go, “Oh my God, Maria is so authentic.” You know, like, I love hearing that feedback, but it really started with just feeling like an outcast. I started out feeling really bad that I wasn’t the same.

And then there was some point in my career where I went, this is design. The beauty about design is being different. Like back when I was competing against Adaptive Path and we were competing against Method and we were competing against Phoenix-Pop, most of those leaders were men. Most were men. And I realized. I’m a woman. Holy shit. I am different now. There were tons of pitches that I went on where they didn’t want to see a woman that’s when I sent Rajan in.

I’ll stay in San Francisco, you stay in Silicon Valley. We can laugh about it now, but it’s kind of brutal. 

Peter: No, it’s, it’s terrible, right? Yeah. 

Maria: But at some point I doubled down on the difference and I realized, let’s celebrate our difference. So people can pick us for who we are, not parity. So being different is a gift. But on the journey, you don’t always feel that way. You feel like an outcast.

Peter: I’m wondering, What exposure did you have to coaching, as you were a leader? You’ve been a coach, but were you coached?

Maria: The first coach I ever had was at Facebook.

Peter: So you didn’t, so all, all throughout Hot… 

Maria: No. No, I had, I had peers like you where we would meet for drinks and share war stories and ask each other advice. That’s our coaching. We had peer coaching back in the day.

A lot of people I coach now, they are looking to their bosses for inspiration and motivation. I’m like, look, when you get to a certain level, you’re not getting that from your boss. You have to pay for a coach.

When you’re starting out your career, your manager becomes your coach. But as you move up the ladder, chances are, you’re going to report to somebody who’s not somebody who you’re going to learn from. So it’s just a reality.

Or even if you do, you can get re-orged out of that person, right? There’s no guarantee that you’re going to find, keep, have somebody who can really help you grow. So coaching is super important as you get to a certain stage in your life. So I had a coach at Facebook and then I brought that coach in to Autodesk, but instead of me getting coached, I used the budget to coach my directs because I felt like it was important for them to have a different perspective. 

But all of the things that I’ve learned in my life add up, they’re all ands, they’re not ors. All of these life experiences are ands. And that is the only good thing about getting older, by the way, that’s the only good thing. Your body breaks down. You’re closer to death, your hair’s turning white, your belly is getting bigger.

But the thing that you gain is wisdom, and that is invaluable. And I love that. I love that I can now talk about my life experience with confidence. I couldn’t do that when I was in my twenties.

Jesse: Excellent. Well, thank you for sharing so much of your life experience with us.

Maria: It’s so much fun. I love you guys so much. You guys are so much fun.

Peter: Well, that completes another episode of Finding Our Way. I want to thank, deeply, I want to thank you, Maria, for joining us, in this conversation and joining us on our journey. As always you can find me on Twitter @peterme, Jesse is @jjg, and our website is http://findingourway.design.

Maria, come back. How can people find you? How do you like to be found, if at all, on the internet?

Maria: Well, best way to reach me is through LinkedIn, Twitter and, there will be a new Hot Studio website emerging, in the next month or so, which talks about all of my coaching and workshop offerings. But in the meantime, you can just find my email there.

Peter: Great. So feel free to reach out to any or all of us about anything we’ve discussed, during this conversation. And, we look forward to having you continue to join us as we continue finding our way.

Maria: Whoo! Fun.

Peter: So what has been your quarantine pastime or hobby?

Maria: I’m painting and I’m getting back to doing some art, but not full time. I’m not ready to be like… an artist. 

Peter: Have you, is this your first painting since like you left school, 30 years ago?

Maria: I, I, it’s funny. I, when I left Autodesk last year, I, I, I said, I’m going to paint, I’m going to do an oil painting. I haven’t done that since I was like 17, so 40 years. So I made an oil painting and it turns out that next week I’m actually taking a three-day painting retreat with a friend of mine who’s a professional painter.

He’s in Marin.

Peter: You will be social distancing, right?? 

Maria: We will be socially distant, there’s only five of us, but he and I went to art school together and I’m tickled and I’m going, and I’m studying painting with him.

Jesse: Wow. That’s wonderful. 

Maria: Yeah. You have three days in Marin, outside in plain air. So we got to like stand with the easel and like an umbrella. And we got to paint what we see.

Peter: Are you going to wear a beret? Do you wear it to the left or right?

Maria: No beret. It’s gotta be like shade situations. So…

Peter: Do you have a palette? I want this to be a stereotypical as possible…

Maria: It’s going to be very stereotypical. It’s going to have, like, I have a palette, I got an easel. It’s like, have you ever like gone on a hike and seen people painting in plain air, I’m going to be that person. I’m going to be one of those people that you walk by and you look at them and go. Yeah.

I’m gonna be one of those people.

Peter: That sounds great. That sounds awesome. 

Maria: Yeah.

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