Connecting Empathy and Pain in Your Storytelling: Guest Post by Victoria Bardega

Victoria is a freelance editor, photographer and writer. Check out her work here:

As I skim through news headlines and observe the current cultural tensions, I realize empathy has become a foreign characteristic to our social norms. Vulnerability is being avoided rather than embraced; while people are being chained to stereotypes.

In a world of 7.125 billion people, we still feel forgotten, misunderstood or overlooked. One of my favorite literary critics, CS Lewis, said it best: “We read to know we are not alone.” I love this because it highlights a universal problem--people feel alone...all the time. However, the art of storytelling has the power to unify people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. We all have a journey to share; some carry miracles while others carry adversity.

In listening to one another, we invite empathy to impact the way we establish connection. Empathy is a shaping tool within community that breaks barriers, stirs up compassion and signifies a sense of mutual understanding with one another.

In addition to empathy, pain is an uncomfortable emotion to unpack; but it requires to be felt. What should we do when we’re faced with the demand to embrace our feelings as creatives? Let it out. Cry. Laugh. Craft something tangible for your soul to release the story into. Creativity stems out of a place of freedom.

It’s so easy to throw our feelings into a box and shove them away into the attic of our minds.

But once we bring our walls down and let people in, we are able to impact more and produce more good for the community. There is power in identifying with one another. By sharing the remnants of our past or current struggles, others, who may be experiencing a similar journey, are encouraged and empowered to move forward. It needs to take place in order for community-building and innovation to coexist. If you simply say yes to empathy and to pain, there is an audience waiting to hear the words that only you can speak.

Build your practice.

Lawyers have a practice.

Doctors have a practice.


Perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to acquire, improve or maintain proficiency in it.

Actively pursue or be engaged in (a particular profession or occupation)

(Oxford Dictionary)

Entrepreneurs have a business?

I have a business, and I am doing everything I can to make it better every day. But regardless of the state of the business, I am “practicing” my skill and profession of entrepreneurship.

I want entrepreneur to be a long term identity piece for me. I love it, but I know I can be much better at it.

That’s why I practice.

Want to get good at art? PRACTICE

Want to get good at golf? PRACTICE

Want to get good at friendship? PRACTICE

Want to get good at marriage? PRACTICE

Want to get good at speaking? PRACTICE


Want to get good at entrepreneurship?



I don’t just have a business, I have a practice and I’m determined to grow every single day through the “failures” and “success.”

Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make better.


We see you Gainesville! How Lakeland's northern neighbors are remaking the city with design thinking.

Gainesville is proving that government work doesn't have to suck. They brought in IDEO to challenge them to be more human-centered and have since embraced design thinking to their core.

"Proverbial red tape shrouds local government. It is an archaic, clunky, and confusing system that takes career politicians and legal experts to navigate. Improving that system isn’t just about making sure the trash gets collected and the bus runs on time; it also involves making city services–for example, obtaining permits–more accessible for everyday people, not just career bureaucrats. Lyons sees human-centered design thinking as a move toward more open access to civic operations."

Recently the LEDC brought in IDEO (bravo Steve Scruggs and team!) and their work for our city has been invaluable. Just one example is that Catapult was one of the initiatives that was spurred out of the consultation.

But let's do more. Let's keep expanding what is possible and let's try to challenge (in a friendly way) our northern neighbors that WE actually want to, "Make LAKELAND the most citizen-centered city in the United States." On second thought, Gainesville might already have a TM on it so we can come up with a new slogan. (An even MORE human centered one! lol)

I know a good local agency that could help.  :)

Here is the article below and check out the PDF I have included called "The Gainesville Question." Which is brilliant and aesthetically beautiful. Kudos to Gainesville!



I like to collect words. Sometimes they are English, but more often or not, a concept or word from another culture speaks to me like a lightning bolt, hitting on something I haven’t really had the ability to understand in English.

I will be writing about a few of these in upcoming posts, but the first one that I came across i wanted to share with you is as beautiful and simple as its definition.


It’s a word I came through by the route of a design magazine called Wallpaper (article here). I have had an increased interest and appreciation for Japanese culture and design recently and this word captured one aspect of it’s beauty and depth.

In the 'wabi room' at Vervoordt's castle, 'Yuboku II', by Kazuo Shiraga, 1989. Photography: Frederik Vercruysse

In the 'wabi room' at Vervoordt's castle, 'Yuboku II', by Kazuo Shiraga, 1989. Photography: Frederik Vercruysse

Now that I know Wabi-Sabi, I see it everywhere.

Wabi: rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness, and can be applied to both natural and human-made objects, or understated elegance. It can also refer to quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance to the object.

Sabi: beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs. (source)

Leonard Koren puts it this way:

"Wabi-Sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the antithesis of our classical Western notion of beauty as something perfect, enduring, and monumental."   - Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers

How incredibly beautiful. This is not just an aesthetic I love, but a worldview that speaks to my life and work deeply.

This concept speaks directly to what I think most people are longing for and longing to bring to the table.


The imperfections, the quirks, the wear and tear on your life is kind of what makes it beautiful. Be careful not to iron out all your wrinkles and oddities, lest you lose your wabi-sabi.

We ask this all the time with our clients. What makes you, you? What makes your idea, business, or life one that is unique? It’s why we named the company “We Are Curio.” A curio is a something odd, one-of-a-kind, interesting, or rare. We help pull that out of you, help you leave your individual mark in your work.

So here’s to our imperfections, our wabi-sabi, our “curio-ness.”

It’s what makes you, you.

P.S.: We just built a our content cottage with Wabi in mind. And it is becoming our little sanctuary for ideas. Check it out!



Garbage in, garbage out. We have probably all heard this sentiment and there is a powerful truth that lies in it.

Eat crappy food, feel crappy.

Get no sleep, get no energy.

Use Comic Sans, look like an clown.

G.I.G.O puts its focus on negative inputs. But the opposite is just as true. I like to call it G.I.G.O (clever right?)— Good INPUTS, Good OUTPUTS.

Change your inputs and you will change your outputs. Willing yourself to change is not typically very effective. I am going to give you 1 powerful tip that you can do in the next 20 mins that will help you change your life…just by changing your inputs.

So what are inputs? Inputs are your friends, influences, people you follow, rhythms and rituals you have created, books, movies, media, disciplines, food, etc that affect your wellbeing.

Most of us are on social media way to much. Me included. This is a post for another day. But one thing you can do to make social media a more enriching experience is THE FOLLOW AND UNFOLLOW BUTTON.

I actually like my Facebook news feed. It isn’t filled with conspiracy theories, alternative facts, or jerks. I actually get a diverse group of opinions and thoughts from my Facebook feed. This is actually possible. The reason it is possible is the little unfollow button in the right corner. You don’t even need to unfriend them, just never see them again!

The same for Twitter, the same for Instagram, the same for every other social media you use.

So here is your challenge:

Do a Social Media Input Audit:

Take 15 minutes to unfollow at least 50 people, and add at least 10 new, healthy challenging voices to your feeds. And keep doing this! Keep curating down your inputs to ones that are life giving, thoughtful, challenging, and diverse.

Pay attention to what you are paying attention to, these inputs will shape you.

12 of my Suggested inputs:

Seth Godin

Nicholas Kristof

Diedra Riggs


The Economist


Brene Brown


Hank Fortner

Tyler Huckabee


Fast Company Design

A Rare Interview With Graphic Design Legend Massimo Vignelli

Great article on Massimo's philosophy for graphic design and type. One of the greats (and Italian!). -Jason

"The life of a designer is a life of fight, to fight against the ugliness. Just like a doctor fights against disease. For us, visual disease is what we have all around, and what we try to do is to cure it somehow with design, by eliminating, as much as possible, the people who make it. Not physically, but at least limiting their possibility of polluting the world. It’s a mission. Is it arrogant? Perhaps. Is it pretension? Perhaps. But so is every other field. You find the same attitude in music; you find the same attitude in literature; you find it in any kind of art, and in architecture. There’s a continuous fight against ugliness, a continuous fight against noise instead of music. It doesn’t surprise me that a great tool like the computer can allow this explosion of visual pollution. But in good hands, it’s the best thing that ever came about."

Massimo Vignelli

Do You Make Decisions Off Of Consequences Or Appropriateness?

I only have a few more chapters left of “Originals” by Adam Grant and wanted to keep sharing some nuggets of gold that have been shaping my thinking. These two paragraphs below have given me new language and ways of thinking about risk.

Check it out:

According to eminent Stanford professor James March, when many of us make decision, we follow a logic of consequence: Which course of action will produce the best result? If you’re like Jackie Robinson and you consistently challenge the status quo, you operate differently, using instead a logic of appropriateness: What does a person like me do in a situation like this? Rather than looking outward in an attempt to predict the outcome, you turn inward to your identity. You base the decision on who you are or who you want to be.

When we use the logic of consequence, we can always find reasons not to take risks. The logic of appropriateness frees us up. We think less about what will guarantee the outcome we want, and act more on a visceral sense of what some like us ought to do.
— "Originals" by Adam Grant

The consequences always give you reasons not to take risks. What if this is the wrong mode of thinking? What if we first looked to our identity to guide our decisions instead of trying to figure all the details of how the thing you are dreaming to do could fail?

I have a question for you that has been nagging me. Think of a risk or a big decision in your life and for one moment, set aside the consequences. Ask yourself, “What does a person like me, do in a situation like this?”

It takes you having some sort of deep sense of your identity to operate like this but I think it could give us the courage we need at times to move forward in the face of risk.

I’m trying to shift my mindset from consequences to appropriateness. Maybe you should too.


An Excerpt on Originality From Adam Grant's Book "Originals"

“The hallmark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option exists. I've spent more than a decade studying this and it turns out to be far less difficult than I expected.

The starting point is curiosity: pondering why the default exists in the first place. We’re driven to question defaults when we experience vuja de, the opposite of déjà vu. Déjà vu occurs when we encounter something new, but it feels as if we’ve seen it before. Vuja de is the reverse-- we face something familiar, but we see it with a fresh perspective that enables us to gain new insights into old problems. Without a vuja de event, Warby Parker wouldn't have existed. When the founders were sitting in the computer lab on the night the conjured up the company, they had spent a combined 60 years wearing glasses.  The product had always been unreasonably expensive. But until that moment, they had taken the status quo for granted, never questioning the default price.

"The thought never crossed my mind,” cofounder Dave Gilboa said. “I have always considered them a medical purchase. I naturally assumed that if the doctor was selling it to me there was some justification for the price.”

Having recently waited in line at the Apple Store to buy an iPhone, he found himself comparing the two products. Glasses had been a staple of human life for nearly a thousand years, and they’d hardly changed since his grandfather wore them. For the first time, Dave wondered why glasses had such a hefty price tag. Why did such a fundamentally simple product cost more than a complex smartphone.

Anyone could've asked those questions and arrived same answer that the Warby Parker squad did. Once they became curious about why the price was so steep, they begin doing some research on the eyewear industry. That's when they learned that it was dominated by Luxottica, a European company that had raked in over 7 billion in the previous year. “Understanding that the same company owned LensCrafters and Pro Vision, Ray-Ban and Oakley, and the licenses for Chanel and Prada prescription frames and sunglasses, all of a sudden it made sense to me why glasses were so expensive,” Dave says. “Nothing in the cost of goods justified the price.” Taking advantage of its monopoly status, Luxottica was charging 20 times the cost.The default wasn't inherently legitimate; it was a choice made of a group of people at a given company. And this meant that another group of people could make an alternate choice. “We could do things differently,” Dave suddenly understood. “It was a realization that we could control our own destiny, that we could control our own prices.

When we become curious about the dissatisfying defaults in our world, we begin to recognize that most of them have social origins: Rules and systems were created by people. And that awareness gives us the courage to contemplate how we can change them. Before women gained the right to vote in America, many “Had never before considered their degraded status as anything but natural,” historian Jean Baker observes. As the suffrage movement gained momentum, “ a growing number of women were beginning to see that custom, religious, precept, and law were in fact man- made and therefore reversible.”


Just got this from the newsletter of one of my favorite companies SID LEE. Apparently teaming up with Apple News for some content collaboration. Looking forward to it!


Source: SID LEE

When launching Apple News, Apple gave themselves an ambitious mission: make news truly matter again.

To focus on the quality of content found on Apple News, Sid Lee worked with big publications like Vanity Fair, CNN, Wired, and Vogue. This nation-wide print and out-of-home campaign is a contextual window into the world of these large publishers, putting the focus back onto the stories they tell.

“Pictures, videos, and striking layouts cause a visceral reaction in all of us. They make us feel something, and that’s what Apple News is all about: We want to create an experience that makes news that matters to the people who read it”, said Lukas Derksen, Managing Partner at Sid Lee New York.