Author’s Note (for Grown-Ups)

Hi, I’m Steven.

I’ve built a career in human-centered design, mostly in the digital space. But I find labels like “digital marketer” to be far too constraining. In my opinion, there only three skills that matter: problem-solving, the ability to communicate and empathy. If you are pretty good at those three things, you can do just about any job effectively.

The Left Shoe is my unconventional way of demonstrating all three. I believe very strongly in the discipline of human-centered design as my systematic approach to problem-solving. And while most of my corporate experience has been navigating environments where self-important people try to make simple things sound complicated to preserve their self-perceived sphere of influence, I have always aspired to be like those who can communicate complicated things simply.

Perhaps surprisingly, The Left Shoe came out of a design thinking exercise where I was exploring how we can solve the growing discourse problem we have in society, particularly in my native country. I grew up in the U.S. and have spent the majority of my life there, but I’ve also been fortunate to live and work in four other countries, each in a different pocket of the world (I’m currently based in Tokyo, Japan after stops in Dubai, Amsterdam and São Paulo). The more different cultures I’ve been intimately exposed to, I have come to believe that our inability (or unwillingness) to communicate across ideological lines is perhaps the biggest existential threat we face and a root cause of countless other issues.

In chewing on this problem for years and considering how I might be able to impact it, the best answer I could come up with within my sphere of influence was through storytelling. My favorite books are mostly children’s books, and the best ones are timeless, impactful and communicate profound lessons in a simple, playful manner. That is what I aspired for when I started conceiving The Left Shoe: address the most pressing societal issues we have to the most impressionable among us, in a way that will hopefully stick with them forever.

I envision this to be a new kind of children’s book, equally enjoyable by adults and children. While addressing complex topics, I’m hopeful that young kids can stay engaged with the characters and rhyme schemes, while parents and teachers can use this as a tool to actively teach the deeper meanings attached.

Please feel free to click around this site for different looks into the creative process, and thank you for your visit!

Design Thinking Sketch of The Left Shoe