Weaving together lessons we’ve learned from our hobbies and passions to improve our work creates a special kind of talent. We become more authentic as we close the gap between who we are at work and who we are outside of work. A few members of our team wanted to share how their interests influence their day-to-day to give more color to who they are as people and professionals.
A lifelong creative, Jenna Bantjes grew up in western Massachusetts in the rural Berkshire Mountains. Growing up, technology was limited in her household (think dial up internet and one TV channel), so her youth was spent exploring art and music, roaming open fields, and wandering through the woods. Her family traveled often, taking road trips across the country several times a year. During these journeys, she witnessed a changing landscape nationwide, often witnessing open areas of farmland or forest being converted into shopping malls and housing complexes over time. As a lover of nature, seeing this conversion of raw land to industrial space sparked an interest in Jenna about how people and innovation affect the natural world.
Fast forward 20 years: Working in web development and experience design and fueled by curiosity (and coffee), Jenna embarked on an independent study researching topics related to psychology, human evolution, man made environmental impacts, and behavioral science in an effort to understand how people and technology affect each other, as well as the motivation behind innovative design, and the historical impact of human innovation on the natural world.
Along her path, Jenna dug deep into understanding human reasoning, motivation, and intentions, especially in relation to what we do and why. Understanding and uncovering the psychological motivations behind human behavior helps her make design decisions based on this understanding, creating intuitive and effective digital tools.
Enlightened by E.O. Wilson’s The Future of Life, Jenna believes the things we create have an impact on the world and we have to take responsibility for the outcomes, both good and bad. It is our duty to understand and foresee the psychological and environmental impacts of our work.
Not only do we affect the natural world around us, but, as Jenna discovered with her research, nature can inspire and deliver answers to us as well. For example, the Wright brothers studied vultures and copied their flight patterns through a process of trial and error to successfully create a device that enabled manned flight. Similarly, Daniel Nocera, a professor of energy science at Harvard, looked to plants to pioneer artificial photosynthesis to harness solar energy much in the same way as plants do. In what other ways might we allow the world to inspire us?
Ultimately, Jenna found that the more we know about each other, our world, and the way we all interact together, the better design decisions we will make and the more successful our products and inventions will be. The question that remains as the driving force behind her work is not how we create something, but why.