How to solve the "wicked problems" in your life and career via design thinking

As you kick off 2018, have you wondered what can be done to get more out of your career? Have you contemplated having a bigger change but don't know where to start?

In the world of new product and technology design, innovators use a methodology called design thinking to break down "wicked problems" and come up with solutions. According to Wikipedia, "a wicked problem is a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize."

Aren't some of the problems in our lives and careers just like "wicked problems"?

What if you can use design thinking to evaluate our life and career and create something more meaningful, interesting, and aligned with what you really want?

Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, two former management consultants, leaders involved with Apple, Electronic Arts and now director and lecturer of Stanford University's Design Program, have offered a Designing Your Life course in Standford, which has been one of the most popular courses. Bill and Dave distilled their learning and share their expertise in the book, Designing Your Life. Their innovation in applying design thinking in life and career design have been adopted in more and more post-secondary institutions' career programs and the momentum shows no sign of slowing down.

To learn more about design thinking and your life and career design, check out the book website,

What has this to do with me?

2017 has been a crazy year since April as I dedicated a lot of my free time outside of working for UBC's MBA program to start BoltCareers. Nothing got me more excited than being invited by a former student volunteering for Vancouver's Lean in Chapter to deliver a workshop on new year goal setting and career planning.  The workshop delivered to 50+ female professionals turned out to be a sold-out success! It was designed by combining the Designing Your Life techniques and my experience supporting the careers of hundreds of clients. At the end, the 50+ women and received tremendously positive feedback. That was the first time I witnessed this tool bringing lots of epiphany and new ideas to so many experienced professionals after just two hours of interactive exercises. Check out these photos to get an idea of the energy of that evening:

Lean in Workshop Photo.jpg

If you want to learn more about how to use design thinking to tackle any career or life problems, feel free to get in touch with me via LinkedIn, comment here, or email me at

Happy (belated) 2018!

Goodbye, 2016! An Year-End Reflection

Goodbye, 2016! An Year-End Reflection

As 2016 draws to an end, I’ve deliberately slowed down by taking two weeks off work, become a hermit by minimizing social activities so that I can carve out plenty of time to reflect on the past year. 

We live in a society and a time filled with so much “doing” yet so little “being”.  We are always asking “What should I do to get there?” rather than “Who do I need to be”, the intention, mindset or perspective much needed to carry us on our journey. 

We are constantly doing the next thing to make us feel more like somebody else, more successful, happier, but we often forget to stop, reflect and celebrate our progress as well as setbacks. 

The #1 Secret You Should Know to Having A Fulfilling Life & Career

The #1 Secret You Should Know to Having A Fulfilling Life & Career

In our everyday lives, we have to make lots of big or small decisions that can change the paths of our lives.  Why do I not like this job?  What industry do I want to move into next?  What is my personal brand?  How do I choose between two similar job offers?  Who do I volunteer for? Is that person Mr. Right? 

What are the common mistakes people make when making those choices? 
•    Following what everyone else is doing
•    Saying what everyone else is saying
•    Choosing what makes money, what is easy, what is normal, what causes the least conflict… 

Although it is perfectly fine to do your research on what’s going on in the world around you, what we often forget is doing research on ourselves. What do you ultimately want in life? What makes you tick? What’s unique about you?  The answers to these questions can ultimately be distilled to your core values.

Knowing your core values and honouring them when you make life and career decisions is the number one secret to having a fulfilling and abundant life and career where you are not just surviving, but thriving.

Life Purpose Week | Day 4: Realization

When you are living “on purpose”, you feel alive and fulfilled.  You live a life with a clear direction and intention.  You make decisions that increases the sense of fulfillment you and others feel.  And you are “unstoppable” (H. Kimsey-House et al., Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives. 3rd edition. 2011. p. 126).  Do you remember a time in your life when you are living “on purpose”?  What did you do?  What kind of person were you being at that time?  How did you feel? 

Life Purpose Week | Day 3: Exploration via Visualisations

An ancient technique, guided imagery has been increasingly proven by scientific research to be an effective method to enhance “health, creativity and performance”.  According to Naparstek, the visualisation process allows the unconscious and pre-conscious process to help a person become more aware of his or her own abilities and desires to accomplish a goal. 

The Power of Journaling in Learning, Mindset and Behavioural Change, Part II

The Power of Journaling in Learning, Mindset and Behavioural Change, Part II

Now that you have a good idea of the benefits of journaling from Part I of this post, what to write is really up to you!  Of course, if you pick up journaling with a more specific purpose in mind, you may want to stick to a structure or theme for a period of time. Below are some examples I generally recommend to my coaching clients.

The Power of Journaling in Learning, Mindset and Behavioural Change, Part I

The Power of Journaling in Learning, Mindset and Behavioural Change, Part I

Widely recognized as an effective tool that facilitates emotional well-being, learning, mindset and behavioural change, journaling is commonly used in therapy, coaching and various personal development practices.  Many famous leaders such as Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan and John D. Rockefeller kept a journal.  They were busy people, too. Why don't you read on, and if this article makes sense to you, give journaling a try?