my journey to playground

From flopping around aimlessly we learn to courageously crawl, then to stand, slowly to walk and finally to leap. In between these moments we fall tirelessly without much control, but it's okay, we're evolving. 

Evolution is great, it means we're breaking habits and treading unfamiliar territory. Evolution is also frightening, and to some it's life or death - the beginning or end to ones career depending on the path they choose. 

Last year Hoang and I took one of the the biggest leaps of our lives. We joined Playground. 

Hoang had just left Amazon to join Matter as Principle and I had just filled a leadership role at Astro. Things were beyond exceptional, we were blessed and real comfortable. We both had no intentions of resignation for at least a few years; the ink of our promotion letters had barely dried. But it happened, somehow, some way.  

It came in the form of an email: "do you guys want a unicorn-grade ID gig?" Who doesn't like unicorns? Who wouldn't read? So we did, and to be frank, it was a bigger deal than we had expected. Things were going exceptionally well with clients, so we didn't need another exotic pony. Our situation was as flawless as flawless could be. 

To our parents we were idiots. With an ocean to sail, who in their right mind would abandon a perfectly fine ship for a pair of swimming fins? Us, I guess. 

"A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner."

To be extremely honest, this imperative moment left me feeling more vulnerable than I had ever felt in my adult life. As a designer, I had seen a few places, but Astro remained my first and only love. These were the guys who rescued me from the assembly lines of Jamba Juice, put a pen in my hand and told me I was made to create. In the design world, things like this don't happen often, especially for a premature sophomore who'. The spark they saw in me was nurtured into a flame and that's why we became family.

Walking away from Astro  meant submitting comfort, security and our house keys if things fall apart. It also meant rebuilding habits and taking on roles that brought shakes to my knees and sweat to my palms. I was truly scared again, for the first time in a very long time.

Interestingly enough, chasing discomfort was the reason why I left. As painful as failures are, and as stubborn as I am, I enjoy being a student. A student of everything. Some see evolution as age, I see it as wisdom, snowballing. 

If questioned today about my decisions, my answer would be yes I made the right choice. Not everything I produce will be perfect, not every product I pitch will change lives, but I'm learning and I'm trying. Best of all, these last 6 months felt like I went straight from crawling to jumping! 


Yesterday, Playground was featured on WIRED. Read more about our journey here.