Frequencies Podcast by WGI: Superhuman by Design with Donald Burlock


Frequencies is a podcast by World’s Greatest Internship (WGI) that shares stories and advice from creative leaders around the world. Through conversation we explore the importance of culture, self-worth, and the business of creativity. WGI is bridging the gap between the best emerging creative talent and the most innovative companies large and small. We enable connections between people who care about culture and the business of creativity.

In this episode, we’re joined by Donald Burlock. Designer, creative leader, and alumni of IDEO, Dolby Labs, Coca-Cola, Facebooand currently Creative Technologist Lead  We explore the importance of culture, self-worth, and the business of creativity. ⁠

Donald shares some lessons learned along his way and talks about the book he’s working on titled Superhuman by Design. He describes the ingredients to becoming superhuman—not only in your career but also in life: consciousness (self-awareness), connection, and community.⁠

Here is the transcript from the conversation.

Please note we use an automated transcription process that is not 100% accurate. If you read something that seems a little off, it may not have been transcribed correctly. We try our best to catch them. If you catch one, shoot us a note so we can update it!

Ian: [00:00:42] Donald Burlock. Welcome to the podcast. Happy to have you here.

Donald: [00:00:45] Thanks Ian. Happy to be here.

Ian: [00:00:48] All right. Let's kick this by telling us who you are, where were you born and raised and what did you want to be when you grew up?

Donald: [00:00:56] Yeah, all the essential questions. I, I was born in Dallas, Texas. A lot of people don't know that.

And I moved when my family moved to Indiana when I was six years old. So I went from a hundred and probably 15 degree heat to a winter of highs of like 25 degrees Fahrenheit at the age of six forever changed my life. And I grew up there. I grew up in the Midwest, grew up with all four seasons and ended up, starting my path towards, a  career in design  once I got in my twenties. So it was, it was not something that I looked into early on. So something that emerged as I, as I went about things.

Ian: [00:01:41] And  that's a good segue into your journey, where where'd you go to school?  did you go to school for design? Did you  go into it with that mindset? That, that was a possibility,

Donald: [00:01:53] you know, I didn't, I really didn't, get the opportunity to be exposed to design until I was almost finished with undergrad. So I decided for all types of reasons to go to school for engineering, mostly because I was really into cars and I was really into the mechanics of how things came together.

So, so at the time I knew that the sciences and some of the other endeavors just weren't for me. But I really felt inclined to see how things were built and see how things came together. So engineering at the time felt like the way to go about doing that. I was really curious about how things came to life. But when I was almost done with engineering school, I got a chance to go to General Motors.

And I remember going to downtown Detroit, which is always an experience being in downtown Detroit. That's another podcast. And I actually ended up in one of the studios, one of the design studios, and just one of those moments where someone pulls back the curtains  and the world becomes just so bright and full of possibility.

There were a couple of people guiding this machine that was cutting wheels out of clay. And I had never seen anything like that in my entire life. I mean, now I think you see that stuff all over the place in commercials and things like that. But I had never seen that. I had never been exposed to that and the studio, which I didn't even know it was called a studio back then.

I was like, well, what is that room? Was this machine cutting clay? I just thought was incredible. It was just full of color. Materials all over the place. Parts of cars, all over the place, drawings all over the board. And as someone who was in engineering and working towards figuring out how to build stuff, but had a secret life of painting and loving art and drawing and keeping sketchbooks and seeing it as a hobby. I had no clue that you could maybe put those two things together until I was in my early twenties.

Ian: [00:04:09] So was that, was that a visit to GM or was that an internship?

Donald: [00:04:13] It was really a visit.  I was doing an internship with a company that produced parts for general motors, and that opened up the door for me to work with a team that basically did the engineering for car radios.

And at that stage, it was still a big deal to have a navigation screen in your car. It's like we were one of the first teams back in like 2003 that basically were engineering radios with NAV screens, which, I mean, again, you know, fast forward with the speed of technology to now. And that just seems like so archaic  they were huge, there were like these big boxes that they would, you know, stuff into the front of the cars and, and they were really novel at the time. People were trying to figure out how to design the buttons. And there was a lot of push at that time.

To figured out how to make the technology work in terms of touching the screen. So anyway, that team had a meeting at GM to look at the possible direction of those, uh, of those radios. And that's what gave me the exposure to that studio. And it changed me that totally changed my world.

Ian: [00:05:23] So how did you decide to you go from where you were to pursuing a career in creativity.

Donald: [00:05:30] Well, uh, you know, it's always a force of   what's happening and then external circumstances.  The situation changed at GM. They went bankrupt, which was a sign of a lot of things happening in the  automotive industry at the time. And so being new to my career at that stage, I found myself.

Basically in a position of, almost being unemployed, they had cut wages like 40%. They were doing a lot of layoffs. So 2008 was if you're kind of in this millennial range, 2008 was perhaps a tough year because either you were coming out of school and starting your career, or you were new into your career and country is going into a recession.

And that really brought me to a place of asking whether or not I wanted to continue as an engineer, whether or not I wanted to, to continue as someone working in the mid West,  working in automotive. And at that point I decided, I want to see if there's something with this creative aspect of me because people had always told me you're really creative,

you're a guy that's always bringing really creative thought to your work.  at that stage, Ian I was working on different patents and I was submitting drawings and I was doing all of this like creative stuff. And I was painting on the side. I was doing art shows. So I said, well, maybe I should go back to school.

And I I'll never forget. There was a conversation I had with my director at that point. And he was like, you don't need school. You just need to get an internship at a studio and get in there and learn and roll up your sleeves and you'll learn everything you need. Don't go and pay for grad school. And I always come back to that conversation because in some ways he was right and then another ways he wasn't.

And so it's a really, it's a really powerful inflection point that I come back to sometimes. But I did go to school. I went to Georgia tech for three years and studied industrial design.

Ian: [00:07:26] And so that was, that puts you on the path forward.

Donald: [00:07:29] It did. It really did even the application process for school, put me on a path forward because I applied to Stanford's D school, Georgia Tech, and then Carnegie Mellon.

And as someone who was in their mid twenties and had no design background, no exposure to it, my portfolio was basically any and everything I could cobble together, it was paintings, drawings, sketches, patents,  Things I had made for people, you know, if I have made a shed or designed like a extra like shelf system to help someone out in my family, I threw all of that in there.

And I just sit and over to all these schools and said, Hey, I don't have a design background, but. I'm Smart and creative and let me know your program and I'll pay you a lot of money to come study design

Ian: [00:08:17] it gave you the skills that you needed to come out of there with being able to, understand of how to apply them to creating products and services

Donald: [00:08:30] That's right. It did. It did. Yeah. Open up a lot of doors to the skillset, but it also opened up the doors to other people like me, I didn't know, before going to school, that there were other people who were like me . In the sense of I'm really creative, I'm in a totally different field.

Or I went to school for, or something completely different. And I'm trying to figure out how to create something new and put it in the world. I met those people for the first time, a lot of them, and it was inspiring to see people like that all around me.

Ian: [00:09:06] Probably gave you a good community. Right. A good foundation for community.

Donald: [00:09:10] Yes, definitely

Ian: [00:09:12] building those relationships. I know, since we're friends  I know how much you value community and how important that is to you and finding people that you can really relate to, but also people that are outside of  maybe your expertise or your, your craft . And it's good to have sort of this diversity of relationships.

Because then you're just all talking about the same thing, design creativity. I  think for a lot of people, that's such a huge factor of school. Right. And getting an education is building those, those friendships and relationships.

Donald: [00:09:50] That's right. And also, while I was there, I spent time getting exposed to industry.

That was a big part of the journey as well. And it was a springboard to everything that happened after school.  I don't know if I've even shared this with you, Ian, but the role that,  landed me at IDEO,  during the transition from grad school back into industry started when I was in school, it started with an internship at Coca Cola during my last year of school.

And came to me as extra work. Felt like I didn't have time for it, but I, I made time for it. And that exposure to industry, seeing other creatives who had already made the jump to becoming professional designers visually,  in terms of industrial design, that was a game changer. Because again, I was meeting inspiring people, but I was also meeting them, working as practitioners in the field.

Not just as you know, my colleagues, my student, right. Other students in the studio space.

Ian: [00:10:59] Okay. So Georgia tech to IDEO. Good. First, first jump. How long were you at IDEO?

Donald: [00:11:06] IDEO is just shy of two years. It was  from 2012 until that into 2013 before Boston, Boston, in the Boston studio, which is actually in Cambridge.

Ian: [00:11:17] Very cool. So from IDEO, where'd you go from there? Did you come out West?

Donald: [00:11:22] I made it out West. Yeah. That's when the West transition started. Yeah. This goes to show relationships within our world. They are so,  I would say pivotal to the types of experiences we have.  so I actually. Ended up following the design lead, who I worked for at Coca Cola to the Bay area in 2013.

So I was,  at IDEO, still working as a product designer. And I got a call from the guy who decided to take on a VP of creative role,  at Dolby Labs. And that's when I decided to come out, I interviewed. And at the time, it just felt like something that was so big. I had not seen anything like what Dolby was trying to achieve and to understand the role that I was going to play as a creative in doing something with a brand that I had a lot of affinity for.

It was meaningful.  So I made a really big decision  to leave IDEO, which was, that was controversial in a way within my community, because so many people said to me, Hey, you got into IDEO, you're building a great portfolio there. Why would you build your career? Why would you leave? Yeah. Why would you transition?

And so I think that actually became one of the sort of big moments in my creative career was taking the risk of leaving a well-respected, a very lauded community of incredibly talented designers and creatives and researchers and everything in between and making the jump all the way to the West coast and coming on board at Dolby.

At Dolby, that's where you and I met.

That's right. Oh yeah. I remember that. special days, special days getting to know each other at Dolby . Yeah.

Ian: [00:13:20] James Butler hired me on shout out, James.

I think on my first day,  I think he came up and introduced herself to me.    That was a good time there because there was so much happening and, although we were working on different projects, we became good friends, pretty much right off the bat.

Donald: [00:13:37] Yeah. I feel like right after you come on board and it might've been during the time you were still early on, we had to do you a special event for Ray Dolby and tons, tons of material to go through all types of archives  and if I remember correctly, it's been a while, Ian. So you have to keep me honest here on the podcast and sort of recording, but I feel like you are definitely one of the people very early on that was instrumental to, handling some of the most precious assets that Dolby had in their history of the company 50 plus year.

history of the company. And I remember just a type of a,  care that you, you showed,  to what we were working on. And, uh the empathy,  the empathy is a, is a huge aspect of what we do. And that was, that was very much in your design process.

Ian: [00:14:38] Thanks. Yeah. Well, I think he was actually entrusted to, to James, our creative director, but,  you know, trust, begets trust.

Donald: [00:14:46] So that's right.

Ian: [00:14:48] You know, it's like when you have a good team, it makes it easy to.  just to move fast, right? You don't have to question people's integrity and what they're all about and what their intentions are. And it's just all about when you've got a great crew. You don't have to spend time mentally thinking about,  is this the right approach?

Are these the right people? It's just all that stuffs. It's a go that's right? Yeah. I couldn't agree more.

Donald: [00:15:18] Yeah.

Ian: [00:15:18] I think trust is, is pretty crucial. you talk a bit about trust and relationships  a lot, but specifically in your book that you're working on. Want to tell us a little bit about this?

Donald: [00:15:31] The big news.

Ian: [00:15:32] This big project. Speaking of challenging yourself. Eah. Challenging.

Speaking of


Donald: [00:15:36] Yeah.  so yeah, for the first time Ian because it's you, because it's this inaugural really special podcasts happening today. I am going to introduce my book. It's going to be called. Superhuman by Design,  and it's hopefully coming out later this year.  I'm working on it and it's been a two year process, hopefully coming out before the end of 2020, which my hope is it's a beautiful way to end what has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us. Right? So it's my, hopefully my Christmas, New Year's gift to the world.

Ian: [00:16:17] What's it about, what's superhuman sign all about?

Donald: [00:16:21] Superhuman by design is really about one my journey,  because our journey as creatives specifically, in our case as designers, is so meaningful to other people,  other people in industry, other people out of industry. And you and I, we talked about this a little bit before, but at the end of the day, what we do has other people at the heart of it.

And for me, the journey is really about learning how to continue to give something really valuable to people. But it's also about stoking the value that people have in themselves,  we all bring creative gifts to the table. We all can be creative. I'm a firm believer of that. I echo a lot of great creators and designers and writers who have put things out there about how we can all be creative.

And so much of my journey has been about helping other people be really creative. It doesn't matter who you are, whether you're someone who considers yourself  technical and you're an engineer and you want to be extremely objective in everything you do. Or if you're someone who is maybe at the opposite end of that spectrum, it doesn't matter.

Whatever you do. I truly believe that stoking your creative nature, your innate creative nature is one of the key aspects of being not only a great designer, but an amazing human. And so superhuman by design gets at that. It gets at the fact that one we're all human, right. Which is sometimes you have to say that because all right, have emotions and feelings and

we all can be objective. We all think was two minds, both logical and emotional all at once. It's a beautiful, complicated tapestry, complex tapestry, but in order to be super human, we have to be more and we have to do more. And for many of us, we want that, especially in moments that matter to people we love.

And so I get at the heart of how to be your best creative self so that you can be more and you can do more and you can live superhuman. So that's the first part of it. The second part art has to do with the how right. Cause we always talk about the why, why, why is so, so critical right? To, to how we approach our work.

So the first part of the book is the why, like, why superhuman? You know why we want powers? Why do we ask people? What's your super power? What's your talent? What's your gift? What's your ability. Like why we ask people to be more, do more, be great. Why we are inspired by people who are that way. The second half gets into the how, and that's where my experience over the past several years as a designer, as someone who has worked in the Bay area, as someone who is, you know, doesn't look like most people want to walk in the room, right.

as a black designer, I'm giving people the how. So I talk a lot about how design process. Which inherently has many of the tools that we use to create the next fill in the blank, the novel fill in the blank, the next innovation, how those tools can be applied to your creative self. In order to produce game, changing, life-altering results.

So I split it up for people and make it a little easier. Like here's the why now I'm going to give you the how and now put on your cape. Doesn't matter who you are, and launch, so super simple design.

Amazing. So there's some practical, practical steps and application that you cover in the book that people can take.

And actually  integrate into their  creative process and not just their craft, but it sounds like in their emotional awareness and, how to exercise, empathy and build relationships.

That's right. Yeah. I really, Ian wanted to create something that felt different from a lot of the other mojo motivational material out there.

Nothing against that material. Yeah. There's tons of books I'm actually recommending in my own book. And there's a lot of books out there about creativity and the journey of being creative and there's books out there about how to leverage design,  or design thinking. I play on this feeling of superhuman of understanding that our innate creative self is

unlocked potential. And if we can unlock that, we can answer a lot of the questions that people ask us all the time,  like even in design, people will ask you,  what are your superpowers? Like what makes you amazing? Right matter if you're an intern or professional, right.

Ian: [00:21:29] What are some of those things?   do you go into you go into some of these pillars or ideas in the book? I mean, what are some of those things that, can  unlock somebody's superhuman abilities or maybe help them acquire them.

Donald: [00:21:44] It's great, great way to kind of lead into it. I do that by breaking down what I mean by superhuman.

Cause a lot of people ask, what does that mean? Yeah, you are totally superhuman in all day, all day doing a podcast in the middle of 2020. It's your superhuman got, gotta get my Cape on superhero. You have it. You're flying 50,000 feet in the air. You're amazing. And you know, here's the thing, Ian that I love about what I'm writing.

Writing has to reflect the level of thought that you have about the world, because you have to spend the time thinking about how you're going to communicate something that is going to have great reach, not just great impact. Great reach. Yeah, it has to be interesting enough where people can grab onto it.

And we do that really well. You do that really well because sometimes it's simple diagram, a simple framework or simple sketch. It can do a lot to create new mental pathways and bring people onto the same frequency. Right. So I love that. And I spend a good portion of the book talking about three elements.

I call them the three Cs of creativity. And I love this because it plugs into a lot of things that people talk about, creativity, the creative self power,  breaking through creative blocks, all of these things. And I just pull it into a nice  neat package if you will, for people to understand.

And th those three CS are consciousness, connection, and community. And with those three Cs, you can be on the pathway to setting up a foundation of creative wellspring coming out of you. Even before I talked to you about design, like just understanding these three elements together is a foundational aspect of leveraging your creativity to be an incredible self.

Ian: [00:23:47] how would you define those three CS? I mean,  like consciousness  I, I hear that in such a big word, right?   that's a big responsibility, but  to become your best self that calls for great responsibility, right?

Donald: [00:24:00] It does. And consciousness really breaks out in a lot of different ways, but consciousness, as I use, it gets at something that I think everybody can leverage that they have.

And especially as a creative and I share this with designers who are getting into the game. Self-awareness is a huge part of consciousness.  gaining awareness about your failures, gaining awareness about your successes, gaining awareness about how you work by yourself, how you work with other people.

Learning the things about you that help you be better. All of that has to do with awareness. When a designer talks to me about their portfolio, I'm listening to see how aware are they about feedback that they receive? How do they process that? And then what do they relay back to me as we're having a conversation?

So self-awareness is a big part of it. We also have to be keen on the world around us 2020, like never before has brought in elements that have, for many of us brought us into a new place of understanding new perspective, sometimes really uncomfortable conversations. And I think as a creative, as a designer, especially cause I want to speak to those folks who are listening in.

We have a responsibility to lean in there and not be afraid to listen and gain new perspective, gain understanding of the world around us. I think in a greater sense though, Ian it's, even for folks who don't consider themselves professional creatives or professional designers, all of us right, can gain a new level of awareness by taking progressive steps.

To be more perceptive of the world around us. So, so consciousness without getting really deep into it has a lot to do with awareness  self-awareness and then the awareness of the world around us

Ian: [00:26:03] Sounds like accountability as well.

Donald: [00:26:05] It's a lot of accountability, it, depending on what you do professionally,  or the responsibility that you have or others, and by way of understanding consciousness, You are actually able to make the link to the next C, which is connection.

 that's what we're doing right now. Like our friendship.  you said, so yourself, in the story, you like how it started, I'm aware of you coming into a new place and I'm looking at understand what makes Ian tick,  what's this guy's super power, right? Like he's super friendly. Super cool. He's got this cool sketchbook,  and we start to connect,

and, our profession is all about connections, right? Like this doesn't happen today unless we have a connection that's span time, right? Connection is really, really big and you get enough of those connections and then you start to form a community   and the community works in both ways. It lifts you up.

And at the same time, you're adding value to it. And it works in a really beautiful cyclical fashion. That's all you need to stoke those creative fires that you have inside.  

Ian: [00:27:11] Amazing. Yeah, so  critical to,  our work and go outside of work to life relationships, right? That's all about strong relationships and relationships are built on communication.

That's something that we hope to do through the podcast is to help people become. Better communicators, more confident, understand their culture and their community.  so we share a lot of those Cs in common

we do, and communication is the thread and I feel runs through all of it. I mean, consciousness has the communication level with yourself.

Donald: [00:27:49] The dialogue that we have with ourselves, our beliefs, our thoughts, so much of being able to break through insecurity. Which is crucial as you know, right. We both know for design, right. Presenting to a client, being able to break through bias, which is huge. If you're designing for other people, if you're trying to be creative to reach a wider audience,  how do you deal with bias?

So like the communication with ourselves is huge. The communication we have with each other. That's a big deal.  and then finally,  what are we broadcasting to more than just the one on one relationships?  What are we broadcasting in mass? So I I'm just building on that. Totally. Communication's a huge part of it.

Ian: [00:28:29] Yeah. Let's,     dive into that, cause it's not all easy peasy, right? It's not all right  there. And you talk about this a lot. Can you talk about the tension in. Connections. You talk about the tension in relationships, which can be, you can harness it to be a positive thing, or you can resist it and  pile things up and make it difficult to get to the essence of an idea or  whatever that, that thing sells to your, whatever the tension is built around.

Donald: [00:29:02] That's so true, so true. And a lot of what I've learned and what I relay in the book, superhuman by design in terms of what we're talking about with tension. And so much of that is coming through experiences where I have failed. It hasn't gone well. I've certainly had some great relationships that have led to amazing collaborations or friendships or

incredible opportunities either with jobs or within the marketplace, speaking on panels or, or being a part of communities like, industrial design society of America IDSA, but I've also had a lot of broken relationships personally. And then professionally times where my ego got in the way and my communication was not

at the aptitude that it needed to be at in order to lead or to foster some amendment, if there was a level of,  conflict within a team. So, yes, I think that a lot of what I'm sharing is coming from both the good and the bad

Ian: [00:30:07] and that builds somebody's reputation, right. These relationships. Not just your achievements, but your failures as well.

Donald: [00:30:15] That's right. And not, they're not necessarily bad, you know, failures aren't bad. And I think there's such a trend to fail fast and, I think that's a different mantra or mindset, but it's the whole thing, right? The whole sphere of what makes up somebody's reputation.

Ian: [00:30:32] And, I think people's reputations are built on their relationships.  it's so crucial for people to be mindful of that.  How do you think somebody builds a good reputation and how do they protect that?

Donald: [00:30:46] It's a great question. I think that at the end of the day, I do agree with you in terms of how much weight we have to put on relationships. And  I'm speaking to audiences that are in the design space, in the creative space, entrepreneurs, people in the business space as well, but even people who are in the social impact space, people who are emerging as leaders in their community

they have civic duties or they have community driven,  you know, activeness and they're looking for ways to build relationships and build reputation. Trust is your credential. That's a big part of it. I actually talk a lot about a code that I call this superhuman code, which really gets at having an ethical standard that you try to adhere to as much as possible.

And you won't be perfect. None of us are, but having that code. Guides you in moments where your reputation is at stake, because other people are saying things about you or in moments where you have a lot of success, perhaps, and maybe that's a day where you want to lean in on your ego and really take advantage of the power you have, but you decide to do something better for the team.

And so the reputation has a lot to do with the decisions you're making. In the context of others. And I write a ton about that. And the reason I feel Ian, that that is so critical is because your reputation, as we know, goes ahead of you in areas that you can't even imagine there are definitely places where I have not succeeded as a leader, as a creative leader, and I've had to work hard in another place after that event.

In order to try and to some degree elevate myself in terms of what I've learned from that experience, that didn't go well.  So sometimes you can't make amends for mistakes that you've done in the past.  Maybe it was professionally something that didn't go right. You learn from that, and then you try to be right the next time, but then you also try to  pay it forward by projecting yourself into a new space where you,  carry those learnings forward so that others benefit from where perhaps you messed up. So I think that's a big part of reputation. Do you carry those characteristics? Or do you  try to figure out how to reorient those so people understand you a little better,  

Ian: [00:33:24] it makes me think of, one's internal compass and a moral compass and sensibilities and Gut  and I think for so many  it's difficult to trust that  compass . The thing that's guiding you forward.   I always think of the hero's journey, and it's like, you set out on this  journey, you have a goal and you go through all these phases and people come along and help you through that journey.

And there's trials, tribulations, and you're tested. And then you reached the goal that's when the sort of rebirth happens, the creative process begins all over again. How do you see that journey taking place for emerging creatives?

 how can they trust their internal compass or how do they develop their own morals that keep them on the path and put the blinders up so that the negative criticism  or the things that maybe creep in the self doubt.

Donald: [00:34:17] It's great. It's actually, one of the reasons that I wrote superhuman by design.

Because inevitably we all will get an opportunity to be heroes at some point. Whether it's in the marketplace or whether it's personally right by achieving things that perhaps no one else around us that cares for us have been able to do before. I know that's been the case for me is being one of the first people in my generation and my family.

To go to grad school to be a college educated professional, it's a big deal. So all of us will, I think at some point, even as emerging creatives have the opportunity to be heroes, maybe even superheroes in the way of putting the team on our back, if you will, and really helping people to go forward. I think

in superhuman by design, what I really hope to do, and I've done my best to write it. This is help people understand how your hero journey can become your superhero journey by understanding that the powers that are in you. Cause we all have them. We all have super powers and there's ones we can gain too how all of those can be leveraged to be the very best reflection

of society's best values. So that's what I really go after, because, and that's at a high rate level, right? Like if we just come to an emerging creatives career path, for instance, in a studio, every studio has a culture and some of the things that, that studio or that internal design and creative team, what they exhibit, they have big aspirations in terms of their values,

like collaboration , they want to drive an innovative spirit,  like these are all values that are so meaningful. Now a hero might save the day by being a total amazing.


I to, I want to say a bad, you know, you know, I don't know if I could swear on your podcast or not yet, man, but you know, you could be an amazing, talented hero in that moment and saved the day with your work, right.

That you contribute to a project, but did you do it in a way that's reflective of the best values of the culture in the studio of everyone else? Did you sacrifice the people in the studio so that you could be. The amazing all-star in that moment ? Or did you exhibit the very best of the culture when you save the day?

So to speak, that's a superhero and that takes superhumans. It takes someone who not only can come out and kill it with their abilities and their talents and wow, everybody, but guess what, you're showing up and you're doing it in a way that has other people inspired. It's reflecting the best of what everyone wants to be, and you're humble about it.

And you have  as you said, it ethical code that is really guiding you to do it in a way that is in service of other people. That's a game changer. That's a big, big moment for anyone. And when you break through into that moment and you see how you're impacting the lives of other people, especially other creatives in the studio, Oh, my goodness.

You're a leader at a whole nother level internally within that culture within that

Ian: [00:37:45] it's huge culture is huge. I mean at  Butchershop actually just yesterday, we were awarded best places to work 2020

Donald: [00:37:53] that's cause you're there, here,

Ian: [00:37:55] it takes, it takes a village. It does. That goes back to Butchershop's

ethos of helping people. And that's, you know, that was one of the deciding the factors of creating world's greatest internship was being able to help people and expose them to the possibilities out there. Cause it's not just about  You know what you learn in school and what you're taught, but it's about real work getting in there.

Donald: [00:38:19] Right.

Ian: [00:38:20] And so, you know, it takes a special culture to attract certain types of people  when you say what's right, we're a group of high performing outsiders. And that gives us that perspective to l ook at things a little differently, culture is critical and it's all about fit   we talk about that all the time, finding a fit and it's not just in work, but in person relationships as well and places you go where you live, and I think these days where everybody's questioning. , where they fit in and where society fits and where, where work fits, you know, with remote work and remote culture, virtual culture   it's a difficult challenge, but it's a healthy one too. It's an exercise and  adaptability and flexibility. I think we're in a really interesting time and, you know, what's that saying pressure creates diamonds, right? And so under, under pressure and stress, you know, that's where resilience really starts to show.

And some of the best ideas come out of the most challenging situations .

Donald: [00:39:21] Yeah, so true. I'm hoping to see more innovation even with all the changes in the world right now.

 Ian: [00:39:28] Donald   I only have you for a short amount of time, so  I want to move into our lightning round. I'm just gonna fire off a couple of questions to you.

Donald: [00:39:37] Okay. Let's go.

Ian: [00:39:39] What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Donald: [00:39:42] The best piece of advice I've ever received is that trust is your credential. It's your currency. So leverage it wisely.

Ian: [00:39:51] Amazing. What is the best piece of advice that you can give to others?

Donald: [00:39:58] Worry more about adding value over anything else. If you add value at the end of the day, people will appreciate what you're bringing to the table, regardless of whether or not you seem to be the right fit for whatever environment you're in.

Ian: [00:40:16] I love that.  When and where do you come up with your best ideas?

Donald: [00:40:22] Actually I come up with my best ideas when I do a hike outside, you know, credit to days when,


you introduced me to the amazing experience of hiking near the ocean. I I've done that many times gone for hikes with a sketchbook. Some of my best concepts come to me when I do that.

Ian: [00:40:41] All right. How do you deal with creative blocks?

Donald: [00:40:44] I use a technique that is  something that, athletes use. It's a superpower. Anybody can learn this. I use this technique. I use two of them. I use one is called teleportation.

And in order to project myself in the future, sometimes I will use triggers, visual triggers that I keep around me. Anything from. Pictures. I put on my pinup board to actual physical objects. And so occasionally when I'm writing or working on my laptop or whatever it is, even sketching. If I have those things around me, they serve as my visual cues,

so if I look at it for a moment, it allows my brain to sort of reset if you will, and I can project myself forward. So it's a reboot, super power and a teleportation super power. Combined. And that's how I get through those creative blocks.

Ian: [00:41:33] Fascinating. what are you streaming and reading these days? What's the last thing you watched or read?

Donald: [00:41:39] I'm reading a book right now called think fast and slow, incredible book. It talks a lot about our cognitive abilities and the way we see the world perceive the world. I'm really into behavioral science especially because so much of what's happening with humanity has to do with things that we have internally that sometimes we can't even recognize we may not even acknowledge them.

I'm really into understanding how people influence people and how people think. And then ultimately, how does that drive creativity? How does that drive what we design for the world?

Ian: [00:42:15] Daniel Khanaman right?

Donald: [00:42:17] That's right.

Ian: [00:42:17] He talks about systems one and systems two thinking, .

Donald: [00:42:21] That's right.

Ian: [00:42:22] What's  fascinating. Is  after the end of his career somebody asked him. Have you improved your ability to deal with bias, personally? His answer was no, but it doesn't, it doesn't, it doesn't mean you don't try

Donald: [00:42:37] that's right.

It doesn't mean you can't learn about it cause it's fascinating,

Ian: [00:42:40] right? Yeah. It's a fantastic book.  And what do you, what are you watching when you listen to?

Donald: [00:42:46] I've been really getting into,


a lot of these shows that are, I don't, I love travel. So a lot of these shows that are,  looking at people, going to different remote places in the world and exploring. So I, you know, watched,


what's this movie about the guy who is the rock climber.

Ian: [00:43:05] really incredible Alex Alexander Hahnel that's right? Yeah. but I was just watching that soloing free socially. Yeah. So really intense movies that are super, you know, these are super humans, like people who are just like mindblowing. So I've been really into biopics, I guess, and stories that are showing people and remote parts of the world doing pretty incredible things.

Donald: [00:43:27] So that was, I just watched that the other night.

Ian: [00:43:30] What do you, what do you focus on in the next six to 12 months?

Donald: [00:43:35] The book is going to be big. Superhuman by design is a huge milestone. Once I put that out in the world because writing a book and is definitely been one of the hardest things I've ever done, it is really challenging to put something out there to the world that is yours, that you're really proud about. And I would hope that the next six months I can dedicate a lot of time to. Getting this book into as many hands as possible. All the studios, all the people I know in industry and beyond. So my hope over the next six months coming into 2021 is the one survive 2020.

Cause it's crazy. And then two, I really want to have an Amazon bestseller and I think Superhuman by Design is going to be just that.

Ian: [00:44:23] Congratulations on all the effort, put into it  

Donald: [00:44:26] thank you.

Ian: [00:44:26] Where can people find you online?  

Donald: [00:44:28] Just so on the ground for now, mr. Burlock, mr. Y last name Burleigh is there. And from there you can find everything else or just LinkedIn. Just my name on LinkedIn. I'm the, I'm a junior jr.

My dad's on there. Killing it too, but you find both of us. You'll see me got the same smile and add me on LinkedIn. And we can go from there. That's the best place to reach me.  

Ian: [00:44:53] Donald. Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure having you on here forward to our next time.  

Donald: been amazing, man. Thank you so much. Congratulations on the podcast and thank you for having me as one of your first guests and really honored.

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