Design Thinking Coaching

Design Thinking Coaching

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Design Thinking Coaching


Favorite Part: Bringing in real users to test prototypes. There’s nothing like watching someone’s face light up when they are presented with prototype designed specifically for them.

Biggest Lesson Learned: Take away all the chairs. People will fall into phone-comas if you let them sit down.

Best Advice: Give everyone in the group a marker. Everyone must write down their own ideas.

As a Design Thinking coach, I worked with Cornell’s Executive Education team to organize and facilitate workshops for business leaders on-site. Design Thinking aims to streamline and simplify the creative creation process so that any group, however diverse, can generate novel solutions to big picture questions, simply by leading with empathy and setting aside constraints.

As a coach, I worked with executives, engineers, doctors, graduate students, and entrepreneurs in groups as intimate as a meeting of peers to multi-day workshops with companies like Google and AARP.

The Process

My team used the Design Thinking methodology developed at the Stanford during our workshops. First, workshop participants begin by intentionally setting aside their traditional problem solving methods. Engineers like to engineer solutions, executives like to pursue a positive bottom line, … Read More »

Posted on January 26th, by Rachel in Build, Home, Portfolio, Share.



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Biggest Lesson Learned: Guard solutions diligently. Oftentimes, solvers must reach that I-have-no-idea tipping point before the pieces slide into place. Be patient.

Favorite Moment: Hosting a hands on event at a local games shop. Seeing kids’ eyes go wide at the puzzles, and their parents’ eyes go wider when I showed them the riddles and hidden meaning in the puzzle.

Hardest Part: Iterating hundreds of different puzzle cuts to figure out what worked with both the laser and the material, for both durability, aesthetic appeal, and mental challenge.

I have always loved jigsaw puzzles, but once you’ve done a handful you know exactly what each new puzzle box has in store. The puzzle pieces are similarly shaped and there is no goal beyond replicating the image on the outside of the box. After graduating from Cornell, I decided to start a jigsaw puzzle company to make the puzzles that dedicated puzzlers deserved.

Baffledazzle puzzles are a discovery in a box. Each one is made up of quarter-inch thick, laser-cut solid wood puzzle pieces. As the puzzle is assembled, … Read More »

Posted on January 26th, by Rachel in Build, Discover, Home, Portfolio, Share.

The Charlie Baker Sneaker

The Charlie Baker Sneaker






The Charlie Baker Sneaker by semifold


Journey: Guangzhou, China — Port of Los Angeles — Salt Lake City, UT — Chicago, IL — Customer!

Favorite Customer Story: Purchased by a father for his son, who must wear orthopedic ankle braces at all times. The Charlie Baker, whose backwards design is compatible with the braces, is the first stylish shoe he has owned.

Favorite Quote From a Manufacturer: “It is maybe, not so beautiful, but very creative. Innovative!”

The Charlie Baker Sneaker was the flagship product of semifold, my movement-inspired apparel company. Its design embodies the mission of the company: to introduce new experiences, both visual and physical. The target of the Charlie Baker was simply to create a backward shoe. Many product samples flew between Guangzhou, China and Salt Lake City, Utah as we refined the design to balance conceptual purity with practicality. Throughout the design process, we found opportunities for subtle details, like the eyelets’ placement on the outside of the shoe body instead of the inside, that rewarded curiosity and encouraged a closer look. The shoe’s playful design is understandable by almost everyone, but the details, like the name’s play on the classic “Chuck … Read More »

Posted on December 28th, by Rachel in Build, Discover, Home, Portfolio, Share.



SYP – Main

SYP – Teamworks – Unstuck



Favorite Part: Everything was visualized, from simple sketches in meetings, to mock-ups for client summits, on ubiquitous slips of paper or white boards.

Biggest Lesson Learned: Tailor your visual style to your audience the same way you tailor your written style; less produced documents signal that it’s a work in process and welcome feedback.

Unexpected Adventure: Learned a great deal about typography and graphic design and hand kerned a few headlines along the way.

Spending a summer with SYPartners showed me what comprehensive branding, transformational thinking, and culture change look like through a designer’s lens. SYPartners’ mission, which is engraved on the glass at the front of their NY office, reads, “In a world that too often settles for less, we believe it is worthy work to envision, believe in, and fight for greatness. That’s the work we do alongside our clients, every day.”

As a Strategy Intern, I was quickly immersed in SYP’s interdisciplinary approach to creating thought-provoking, masterfully designed activities, experiences, and environments for clients. These deliverables were not dry consulting decks but mutual explorations that treated change as the complex transformation that it is, not the first step in a suspiciously … Read More »

Posted on January 24th, by Rachel in Build, Discover, Portfolio, Share.

The Connected Sweater

The Connected Sweater





The Connected Sweater by semifold


Biggest Obstacle: Figuring out how to taper the sleeve tube in the middle so it would fit properly when cut apart.

Favorite Customer Story: Purchased and tailored to look like a normal sweater. Reason for buying? Regular sweaters never have long enough sleeves.

Favorite Quote From a Manufacturer: “We do not know how this will be worn, but we can make it to your specification.”

The Connected Sweater arrives completely enclosed. The sleeves are knitted together in one continuous piece and the top and bottom of the body are sealed as well. To wear the garment, the user must interact with the sweater’s form and make decisions about how the sweater will fit. With a few snips, the sweater is fully functional and leaves little trace of its original form. The Connected Sweater, like The Charlie Baker shoe, demands consideration and invites creativity from the wearer to turn their “sweater canvas” into wearable art.

The Process

Creating The Connected Sweater was unexpectedly difficult. As we had for previous garments, we sent out a crude drawing of the concept to a handful of clothing manufacturers and waited for price quotes. Response after response said … Read More »

Posted on December 28th, by Rachel in Build, Portfolio, Share.

Machine Embroidery

Machine Embroidery











Machine Embroidery


Favorite Part: Having complete control over every stitch and reaping the rewards of getting a design exactly right.

Biggest Lesson Learned: Pick your fabric carefully and buy plenty of it. Even straightforward designs need to be stitched out at least four times.

Preferred Subject Matter: Animals. Fur, scales, and skin at once lend themselves to and defy the limits of thread and fabric.

Machine embroidery is symbolic of many things in my life: a marriage of creativity and practicality. I enjoy both the limitless possibilities of drawing with thread and the immediate, precise execution of my sewing machine. I get to explore until something feels right, then capture that design and replicate it again and again.

Imagining each design comes easily, but translating the idea into programmed stitches is an ongoing challenge. Learning to program machine embroidery designs is a great lesson in following through on creative vision, even within strict technical constraints. For each stitch the designer must not only decide where a stitch begins and ends but how the machine stitches it, with what thread tension, and … Read More »

Posted on March 4th, by Rachel in Build, Discover, Portfolio.

Johnson Board Fellows

Johnson Board Fellows

Community Foundation


2013 State of Philanthropy Highlights – 1

2013 State of Philanthropy Highlights – 2

2013 State of Philanthropy Highlights – 3

2013 State of Philanthropy Highlights – 4

2013 State of Philanthropy Highlights – 5

2013 State of Philanthropy Highlights – 6

2013 State of Philanthropy Highlights – 7

2013 State of Philanthropy Highlights – 8

2013 State of Philanthropy Highlights – 9

2013 State of Philanthropy Highlights – 10

2013 State of Philanthropy Highlights – 11

2013 State of Philanthropy Highlights – 12

2013 State of Philanthropy Highlights – 13

Johnson Board Fellows


Favorite Part: Collecting stories of grantee’s success and the impact the Community Foundation’s resources have had on their organization.

Biggest Lesson Learned: A simple $1,000 grant can have a huge impact on a community. You lose sight of how far a dollar can go when you’re used to the language of business school, where every balance sheet is assumed to be in millions.

The Johnson Board Fellows program allows MBAs to serve as non-voting members of local, non-profit Boards of Directors. As a Fellow, I discussed strategic issues at board meetings, … Read More »

Posted on January 24th, by Rachel in Build, Discover, Portfolio, Share.

The Art of Innovation

The Art of Innovation

This is the excerpt.

Posted on March 4th, by Rachel in Build, Discover, Portfolio.

The Ring Entrance

The Ring Entrance

This is the excerpt.

Posted on April 19th, by Rachel in Build, Discover, Portfolio.

BR Consulting

BR Consulting





BR Consulting

Director of Business Development: 2012–2013
Consultant: 2011–2012

Favorite Part: Meeting many local business owners and having candid conversations about the decisions and hurdles they face.

Biggest Lesson Learned: When I first considered the Business Development Role, I was concerned I might be a poor fit for sales. I was pleased to realize that I am excellent at conversations, from which the best sales pitches are indistinguishable.

Hardest Part: Trying to maintain and improve upon on our predecessor Directors’ systems while learning how to run the firm and work as a team. It felt like taking over someone else’s start-up with no idea what the business produced and no employees.

BR Consulting is a student-run management consulting firm that helps local small to mid-sized businesses profile strategic options, explore investments, and organize to implement solutions. At the same time, BRC provides valuable consulting experience to Johnson students interested in improving their problem solving skills.

As the Director of Business Development, I began conversations with over 30 potential clients, from which I ultimately developed 11 engagements. I evaluated each client’s fit with our educational objectives, scoped out right-sized projects, and transitioned the engagement to the client’s new team. One of my objectives as … Read More »

Posted on December 28th, by Rachel in Build, Discover, Portfolio.