Fearless and Forward, with Angela Guzman

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Angela Guzman is a designer and entrepreneur based out of Silicon Valley. She co-designed the original set of Apple’s emoji back in 2008. Over the last decade, Angela has worked for Google, Airbnb, and Apple in user experience, interaction, and visual design. She studied Industrial and Graphic Design from 2002–2009 at the Rhode Island School of Design. Angela is currently the founder and CEO of her new startup Tijiko.


ES: This is 5 Minute Mentor, a podcast where you’ll get advice from prominent engineers, authors, artists, and more in 5 minutes or less.

AG: Hi, my name is Angela Guzman I’m a designer and entrepreneur based out of Silicon Valley. I’m currently working on my startup called Tijiko, which it’s been an exciting journey so far and quite different than what I was working on over the last decade.

AG: One of the things I want to share with you guys, is sort of, my approach to the world of tech and Silicon Valley, and this concept of being fearlessly forward. And what I mean by that is, two things: you have to sort of understand how to be fearless, and how to be forward in your thinking, in your approach. One of the things that I want to highlight is, by being fearless it doesn’t mean that it’s being or hiding your fear. No, on the contrary, it’s not even feeling any moments of fear or nervousness. And the way I think I’ve been successful, and achieving that, is based heavily on the way I was raised. But that also doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve it if you haven’t lived through those situations. I think it’s something that you can be more mindful of and practice.

AG: One of the things that has allowed me to be very fearless has been this concept of just believing in the role that I played. For example, when I was very little I grew up with a female household. And, my dad unfortunately passed away many years ago, so that sort of forced my mom, and my sisters and I, to really assume that we had all these responsibilities but that we can do anything we set our mind on to. And that meant, you know, if you wanted to go off to college, you can. If you wanted to start a career in design, you can. And all of these other things along my lifetime, that I’ve accomplished, without ever thinking twice whether or not I could do it because I was a girl. And so when I got into tech, it wasn’t about being the woman in the room, it was about being the designer in the room. And to me that’s been extremely valuable, because I have never once gotten scared being in a room full of men for example in some cases, because to me I was being judged for my delivery as a designer, what I bring to the table as a designer. And I think that also sets the expectations for everybody else in the room about who I am and what I can offer. So I would suggest to all of you think about the role that you are hired to deliver on, as opposed to the fears that maybe you yourself created in your own mind.

AG: And then the second part is about being forward thinking, and what I mean by that is, really being clear in your mind about what are those, what I call, north stars that you want to set, and achieve, and be able to follow through. So for example, for me, very early in my career, was about, finishing college and getting a job and I wanted a job in design, so how do I get there? And sort of planning that path. And as I got into the tech industry, it’s been about, understanding how to really design products in the best possible way, and how do I do that in my company, can I do that and learning that craft. And from there it’s about, how do I learn to become a manager, you know, that was one of my goals, it was, how do I grow my career in that regard? So finding the opportunities that would allow me to achieve those qualities and experiences. And right now, the next north star for me is, how do I start a company and really see it from start to finish. And so that’s my new north star, and again, by being fearlessly forward, in my opinion is how I’m able to move into this new space, and just pave it forward.

AG: So, in a nutshell, that’s my advice for anyone interested in the world of tech and design and really, ultimately, everyone should try their best, and never ever be afraid of, you know, entering this space.

Angela Guzman, CEO of Tijiko

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