Stories
March 2, 2022

🍨 Inside Scoop — Rohan Mishra

🍨 Inside Scoop — Rohan Mishra

We all must have watched at least one of those “random act of kindness videos” on the internet. It is always heart-warming to see someone make extra efforts to help others, isn’t it?. Today, we’re pleased to share one such story with our community about one of our mentors from India, Rohan Mishra.
Before we jump in, let’s learn a little bit about Rohan as a design professional.

Rohan started his career back in 2015 and currently, he is primarily working with the founders of a couple of startups in Southeast Asia as a product design consultant, where he helps them hire new designers, set up their teams, and lay a solid design foundation for their products. And he also runs a well-known design community in India called Design Sundays.

Rohan, can you tell us how did you get into design? And what was it like in your early days?👨🏻‍💻

To be honest, my story is not very different from a lot of other designers in the industry. I was an engineering student who transitioned to design, to solve problems. I realized early on that I did not enjoy engineering as much as I had expected so I began exploring other areas in tech where I could add enough value to create some positive impact. I started meeting and talking to a lot of people about this, one conversation led to another and that’s how I slowly got into design.

During my early days, I did 14 internships at different startups and companies. Few of them are now at least $500 million in valuation and a few of them shut down as well. So I think, I have had the chance to not only observe my growth but also of the companies I worked for, very closely and I have learned something from each one of them.

And I now share my learnings, the mistakes that I made, and my experiences with new and aspiring designers that I come across through my own design community here in India called Design Sundays, as a mentor and design speaker to help people become a better designer, a working professional or at least a human being and that’s what motivates me.

Everything and anything I know about the design and building of products is something that I’ve learned from real experiences and mistakes. I did not study design in school or college, never enrolled in any boot camps or certification courses as such. It is not that I don’t find them of value, that’s just not my style of learning. I remember my first internship was with a FinTech company based out of Bangalore back in 2015 and my monthly stipend was₹4,000 ($50 USD approx), which if you think about it was nothing, especially in a major city like Bangalore but that first-hand learning experience was more valuable for me. When I look back now, I can say this journey has been fruitful for me and I really enjoyed the process. And I feel one of the major reasons I could grow in my personal and professional life is that I understood the significance of giving back to the community and sharing my learnings and mistakes with others.

Rohan and Amen during this conversation

And now a few questions to get to know him as a person in general.

What’s your comfort food or drink, Rohan?🍱🥤

Chicken Biryani! Chicken Biryani is my comfort food. Love it. Can’t have enough of it. And my comfort drink would probably sound a bit cliche, but it’s Coffee ☕️. There was a time in my life when I used to drink an absurd amount of coffee to keep up with my schedule as I was working with multiple clients in different time zones. But now I’ve cut back on it a little and I try to limit it to only a couple of cups a day.

Is there any hobby that you picked up during the pandemic?

Yeah. Well… it is more of a habit than a hobby. And I find it to be really helpful for me. So during the pandemic, I started tothink deeplyandplan efficiently. Let me tell you what I mean by that. As I’ve always been involved in multiple things at the same time, it so happened that I ended up spending a lot more time on things that probably did not require or deserve that much attention from me. So I decided to spend at least an hour every day thinking deeply about my goals, my current involvements, and my future aspirations and then make sure that I plan my schedule accordingly. I sit down aside every Sunday and set up my calendar for the upcoming week. I plan 70–80% of my week in advance. I keep all my important meetings and tasks and schedules pre-defined and leave 20–30% of my calendar empty for flexibility. This habit has allowed me to work more efficiently and become more productive.

What kind of music do you listen to? 🎧

Lately, I’ve been leaning more towards Metal bands. I don’t actually have any favorites at the moment as I am actively exploring different music genres and artists. And Metal is growing on me. 🤘🏽 🎸⚡️

You started a really interesting initiative during the pandemic, called ‘Breathing Design Conference’, can you tell us what that is and how did this idea come together?

Absolutely! Thank you so much for this question. We all know how tough these past couple of years have been for the world. Especially here in India, when the second wave of Covid hit us, it was awfully terrifying, to say the least. Since India was already the second worst-hit country in the world, when the second wave arrived at its full force, the amount of pressure that was put on the medical infrastructure of our country was unprecedented. I’d like to not dwell too much into specific stats right now but I am sure we all remember the massive shortage of oxygen supplies that occurred during that time. I thank god that I recovered when I got Covid in the earlier days but sadly not everyone was fortunate enough, God bless their souls 🙏🏻.

That’s when I decided that I should do something in order to help people in need and extend support to our community to the best of my ability. I called up some of my friends and we put together a group. We decided to host a 2 days long design conference with some of the top design mentors that we have in our network. We kept the ticket price quite affordable and the idea was to donate all the money we raise through our ticket sales to charities that are actively supplying oxygen to the people in need. More than 250 people signed up for the conference. We received quite a few anonymous donations as well. The conference itself was quite engaging, attendees had the opportunity to chat with the mentors and speakers directly. More than 50 people just hung around for a couple of extra hours after the conference because they were having such a great time interacting with everyone else. It was a great experience. We were able to raise a little over INR 300,000 ($4,200 USD approx), which helped us to fund 5 Oxygen Concentrator machines for the charities we picked. These oxygen concentrator machines reportedly helped treat 4000+ patients in critical condition, who needed oxygen support.

A group selfie from Breathing Design Conference 2021

This year we’ll be supporting Zomato Feeding India, Ketto, Give India to help provide food for the homeless. We feel truly grateful for all the support and encouragement we receive, none of this would’ve been possible without the people who support and trust us.

What’s your mindset like when making any big decisions be it in your career or life in general? Are there times when there’s some sort of self-doubt involved and if so, how do you overcome it?

Oh absolutely! I’ll tell you, there have been many such instances. But there’s one thing that I’ve learned from experience and I tell this to everyone I can.

“Most of the decisions we make are reversible!”

Think about it. What I mean by that is even if things go wrong, that’s not the end of the world. That just becomes a thing we tried, which didn’t work out, that’s all that is. We’re allowed to go back and try something else until we get it right. There are of course some decisions that are irreversible for whatever reason but such decisions are very rare. And even with those, we get to learn something from that experience, which we can probably use later to guide someone else and save them from making that same mistake. We got to find positivity, man! That’s the key. If something doesn’t work out, don’t beat yourself up about it. Indecisiveness would probably cost you more than any of your mistakes. Think it through, make a decision and find out. If it works out, great! If not, try something else. That’s how I think about this.

What kind of mentorship do you aim to provide?

I can sum this up in one word, “Life-changing”.

To give more context on this I’d say, I appreciate the mentors who are not giving you the answers but a way to think. I really don’t want to give fish to my mentees, I’d rather teach them how to fish. I believe in my mentees and most of them just need a little bit of nudge in the right direction or maybe a few words of encouragement, acknowledgment, and appreciation. We can do wonders when we feel supported and I am happy to be their supporter.

So having mentored literally hundreds if not thousands of people in your career so far, What are the most common questions that you receive?

Yeah, as you’d expect, How do I get my first internship or job?’ is the first one which of course comes from the folks who are just starting their careers.

Mid to senior-level designers usually ask, “How do I get a better position” in terms of the new role that is always there. “Questions related to salary negotiations” are also quite common. “Startups are more interested in learning about their product-market fit”, which I believe is a solid starting point for them.

You also have a book-club as well, where you guys read and share book recommendations with each other. What is the one book that you recommend to anyone and everyone who comes to you as a mentee?

Yeah, there are a couple of them actually. The first one I’d say, it’s a personal favorite of mine. I not only recommend this to my mentees but to every single person that we onboard on our team as well. I’ve personally gifted this book to around 40–50 people so far. It’s not a design book but it teaches you how to behave, how to build empathy, how to have better conversations… I think all these skills are very important to learn early on, not only as a designer but as a person as well. That book is called “How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie”. I think it’s a great book and everyone should read it.

The second one is “Talking to Humans by Frank Rimalovski and Giff Constable”. It’s a must-read, especially if you’re interested in UX research.

Is there a piece of advice that you’d like to share with our readers here?

Sure. There’s this quote I read a while back that really resonated with me.

“To find ideas, find problems. To find problems, talk to people”.- Julie Zhuo, Former VP of Design at Facebook

So yeah, I’d say, be an active listener and just talk to people. You’d be surprised how much you’d be able to learn and find out about them and their problems.

You can book a one-on-one session with Rohan on ADPList.org using this link.

Thank you for reading this article! We hope we could help you know your mentor a little better. Make sure you follow us on Medium at ADPList, to get the latest from us. And book a one-on-one session with mentors from top companies from around the world at ADPList.com, it is free!