I had the immense pleasure to be featured at a women-run conference with my talk about – yes, yes – design thinking! This one, however, was not predominantly about the methodology, but about how it can empower you to be better, both professionally and in personal life. I found my superpower (well, besides speaking Polish, gżegżołka, ha!) in applying the general design thinking mindsets in my day-to-day life. Let me show you that design thinking, life-wise, teaches empathy, vulnerability, and courage. It’s only a design-focused trick, per se.

What a day! My first official public speaking gig in Northern Ireland (NI), after being here for almost a year (355 days, calculated on the spot while drinking Prosecco, must be correct!)! The yearly summit of Irish girls in tech was organized by Women Techmakers Belfast, and oh boy, what an event it was. A massive thank you to you, WTB girls – a bunch of “we’re not event organizers” – for putting together a welcoming, friendly, and inspiring event! And not one technical glitch, bravo! But most importantly, you have chosen great female speakers that at some point in their careers said, “screw it, let’s do it!” and became bosses of their own worlds… Worlds that, a few years back, were mostly male-dominated!

Here are the inspirational success stories from my talk. Those projects were possible because the designers used their empathy, vulnerability, and courage superpowers:

Embrace Infant Warmer:
+ Embrace Innovations website
+ Embrace Global website
+ Video TED talk about how the Embrace Warmer saves lives, by Jane Chen

Wello water wheel:
+ Video TED talk about the success of the Water wheel, by Cynthia Koenig
+ Wello Water website
+ Article about the water well for rural India

Miracle Feet brace:
+ Video about the Miracle Feet brace
+ Miracle Feet website

Adventure MRI Series:
+ Article about changing healthcare through empathy
+ Video TED talk about the Adventure MIR series failure and success, by Doug Dietz

Tim Ferriss and his personal suicide story:
+ Tim Ferriss’ blog post about his suicide thoughts

Burt Munro, Motorcycle record breaker
+ Article about Burt Munro breaking world record
+ Burt’s bikes in the Motorcycle Museum in Ohio, USA



There’s so much pressure put on being sympathetic towards others, but we don’t talk about empathy that much. While sympathy deals with feeling for someone, accepting that they can feel in a certain way, empathy is feeling with someone, being with them in their feelings. Since being exposed to design thinking, my question is always about how we can do anything – and I mean ANYTHING – with other people if we don’t know what they are going through? It’s not easy, because sometimes we haven’t always felt the same as our friends, but we should always try.

There are already a few great videos explaining the concept:
+ Video of a Canadian ad based on the feeling of empathy
+ Video of Sesame Street video explaining empathy, with Mark Ruffalo and Murray
+ Video of Brene Brown explaining empathy
+ Video of Brene Brown explaining blame (a follow-up to empathy)



I can’t stress enough how vulnerability is crucial in our lives, how acknowledging the fact that we are not invincible can make us… invincible. We might want to be superheroes, but even heroes have the right to bleed! The moment we accept we can make mistakes, and it’s ok to make them, we become free. The moment we accept we can fail, we can then pick up the pieces and try again!

There is actually lots of research on this topic:
+ Video TED talk of Brene Brown about the power of vulnerability
+ Video TED talk of Brene Brown on the price of invulnerability
+ Video TED talk of Tim Ferriss about his struggle with suicide thoughts
+ Video of Lewis Howes talking about embracing vulnerability and living to the fullest, with Melissa Ambrosini



Courage is essential. We wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for courage. No computers, no medical inventions, no advanced technology, no city enhancements, no… no nothing. ‘Nuff said.

Let’s hear some good stories about courage (or being scared):
+ Video of Start Wars: Rouge One about being courageous
+ Video of Lewis Howes talking about loving yourself, with Najwa Zebian
+ Video of Brene Brown and Oprah Winfrey talking about living brave
+ Video TED talk of Aimee Mullins talking bout her prostetic legs and being brave