The IDEO learning experience moves people and shapes beliefs

Oana Filip
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I’m Oana from Pix­el­grade, and I just fin­ished the Sto­ry­telling for Influ­ence course. I doc­u­ment­ed the jour­ney along the way, and now it feels like good tim­ing to share the actu­al sto­ry I wrote. Big thanks to the love­ly com­mu­ni­ty of IDEO­ers — teach­ing assis­tants, fel­lows, hus­tlers of any kinds.


We’re all in this together

Team­work breaks all boundaries.

This sto­ry is a self­ish one. It drains me out in so many ways. I feel exposed, shy, excit­ed, anx­ious, curi­ous, and every­thing in between. I don’t remem­ber liv­ing all these intense emo­tions in the front of the blank paper. ‘‘Why’s that?’’ I kept ask­ing myself. It’s because my team­mates will read it and they’re part of it, even though not into the spot­light? It’s because every­one nowa­days wants to look stronger and con­fi­dent and I will show the full oppo­site? It’s because I have so many mixed feel­ings about this sto­ry? I guess there’s a bit of all of these strug­gles and much more than that.


Pixelgrade is all about belonging.

Com­mon val­ues last in the long run.

I’m Oana, and I’ve been part of this crew for a year now. I’m liv­ing on a roller coast­er in so many regards. We’re a bunch of cre­ative peo­ple with dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties, com­pli­cat­ed his­to­ries, and back­grounds, con­trast­ing ways of under­stand­ing and see­ing the world. These off­beats are both the fuel of our cre­ativ­i­ty and the rea­son for elec­tric debates.

Even so, I’m grate­ful to have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be in the mid­dle of things. I always learned and evolved best from embrac­ing chal­lenges, not watch­ing them as a bystander. I guess that explains why some of my role-mod­els are sports pros.

They don’t quit. They don’t skip the train­ing. They brave­ly risk. They take it from zero. They ask for help. They don’t set­tle. They aim for more and for bet­ter. In some regards, I believe I got tiny pieces from their DNA.

They’re, by default, peo­ple with high adren­a­line and a tremen­dous per­se­ver­ance to draw a pos­i­tive impact. Some­thing I’m look­ing for­ward to every­thing I’m doing. It’s my bold goal and my biggest fear as well. It’s my self­ish bal­ance and my dri­ve to keep the momentum.

I’m proud and grate­ful to be a piece of the Pix­el­grade puz­zle. I mean it. There’s no mar­ket­ing pitch around here. Nor a deep desire to impress some­one. It is for the first time in 28 years since I gen­uine­ly live this excit­ing feel­ing of belong­ing so fiercely.

And I did quite a lot of things until today. I used to lead strik­ing cre­ative tribes. I con­nect­ed the dots to build wit­ty liaisons for entre­pre­neurs. I was an ambi­tious com­mu­ni­ty glue.

The only dif­fer­ence is that now I’m pro­found­ly attached to the mis­sion more than any­thing else. I don’t res­onate with every­one and every­thing around here, but I’ve learned to accept it and focus my ener­gy on the big­ger pic­ture. What tru­ly mat­ters is that I am on the same page with my inner-why.


‘Too much Pixelgrade in your life.’’

The SMS that seemed to be off-track.

I don’t make many dif­fer­ences between work and home because there’s no such thing. There’s doing what I love and liv­ing a lifestyle that blends with my pas­sion. There’s me doing my best to push things and peo­ple further.

I was sur­prised when my old­er sis­ter wrote me an SMS with one sin­gle line of text: ‘‘Too much Pix­el­grade in your life.’’ I was amused, then intrigued, then a bit sur­prised, then wor­ried, but now I made peace with myself. I under­stood that she’s right con­cern­ing how many hours and men­tal space I fill with what’s hap­pen­ing at the office. I have no excuse to neglect myself, the fam­i­ly & friends or the pas­sions I have. It was good tim­ing to break and rethink, even to reshape the journey.

She was also some­how wrong because there’s not too much Pix­el­grade in my life, there are too lit­tle rea­sons to do some­thing else. Why should I switch the path if I found my tem­po? Are these zig-zag move­ments a bet­ter way to explore my cre­ative poten­tial? I guess not. Or not yet.

On top of that, I don’t real­ly feel that I’m work­ing per se. That’s why I don’t like at all the Roman­ian word that describes the act of work­ing — muncesc. It lacks emo­tion. It’s like some­thing that you do just for the sake of it, with­out invest­ing too much joy and temper.

I’m just doing what I know best, next to a hand­ful of peo­ple from whom I can learn, and in a sce­nario full of priv­i­leges. Maybe that’s why I talk so appre­cia­tive about what we do, how we do it, what makes us tick and what keeps our wheels spin­ning over and over again. And if I would be forced to use just a sin­gle word I would go with belong­ing with­out hesitations.


Cherish the cracks

Accep­tance is a virtue.

When I feel I’m part of some­thing in a pur­pose­ful way, I auto­mat­i­cal­ly drop all the bound­aries. That’s the moment when I know I’m free. When I can dri­ve pos­i­tive impact. When I give my best. When I reach my full cre­ative poten­tial. When I preach zeal­ous­ly. When I have full speed and ener­gy. When I feel I mat­ter. Because being appre­ci­at­ed is not a whim. It is an inner need that we all expe­ri­ence. At least this is the most recent piece of the puz­zle I’m explor­ing with excite­ment and joy.

I have the grit to accept this real­i­ty and live with it in peace and har­mo­ny, and I’m able to see the real beau­ty in every­thing I do and act accord­ing­ly. So, if you do one sin­gle thing after read­ing this sto­ry, do this: learn to live authen­ti­cal­ly and embrace the path.

Because we’re all in this together.

Oana Filip
Oana Filip

Digital storyteller @Pixelgrade and community builder for creative industries. A true believer in the power of making the world a better place.