An excerpt from the massive and beautiful “goodbye book” from the Hulu Product Design Team.

My last day as VP, Product Design for Hulu was Monday, February 8th. I worked at that remarkable company for five years and one month. It’s a strange, exciting and liberating feeling to move on to new things. It’s scary and filled with unseen potential.

During my time at Hulu I was privileged to build up the product design team from an initial handful to over 60 brilliant designers and researchers. …

Winter solstice 2020 — photo by JC Caldwell

This is my last essay of 2020. A tumultuous and trying year, to say the least. We all know the issues. But the upside is that this year has allowed me to consider and reflect on what is truly important to me.

Yesterday, December 21st, was the winter solstice: the day with the longest night. Since prehistory, it has also been considered the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun. In addition, yesterday was the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.

Conjunctions that are this close are very unusual, according to the Royal Astronomical Society, and Jupiter and Saturn were…

Rotman BDX Zoom call with Angele Beausoleil, Clay Chandler and Bruce Mau

On November 20th, I participated in the inaugural Rotman Business Design Initiative event by the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. The theme was Decoding Design for Innovation. The session I was involved in was moderated by Clay Chandler, (Executive Editor, Asia Fortune Magazine), and the legendary designer Bruce Mau and the wonderful Angele Beausoleil (Profesor of Business Design and Innovation at the Rotman School of Management).

It was an early morning for me. I was up at 3 am and the actual conversation started just around 6 am Pacific Coast time, in order to accommodate the…

Ch-ch-ch-changes. Photo by JC Caldwell.

I’ve been remiss in my weekly essays recently as my schedule was overwhelmed with work and changes. It’s all good but it’s a reminder of the always, in-flux nature of reality.

I’ve been thinking about how I might comport myself during these times, navigating the changes in life, in work, and in our political system.

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change.”


As I’ve written about before, I subscribe to a creative philosophy that is a meshing of Zen and Stoicism. Taking from the former, I focus on trying to be in the “Now” as fully as…

Ozunu, Rice Terrace Villa in Nara, Japan — exemplification of mastery & improvisation in its landscape & architecture

I was walking around my backyard this morning, thinking about what this week’s essay should be about when my good friend Tim Kring texted me that I should check out Jack White’s performance on Saturday Night Live. He wrote:

“…He (Jack White) is working within an art form that he is completely fluent in, like Picasso. So he can play with it in ways that are incredibly playful and interesting. It’s stripped down to a three-piece band that just showcases his fluency with the idiom. …

Here’s to the misfits — photo by JC Caldwell

On September 29th I hosted an internal company webinar for Alain Sylvain, who gave an extraordinary speech entitled “The Currency of Otherness.” Alain heads up Sylvain Labs and I met him (virtually) at the 99U Conference at which we both were speaking a few months ago. I was impressed with his presentation and after we met, I realized he was a kindred spirit.

Alain spoke about the notion of “otherness” — the feeling of exclusion from the group that many of us feel throughout our lives, especially if you are from a marginalized group based on your gender, skin color…

Embracing discomfort

We are geared towards risk-aversion by nature. Our DNA was passed on to those who survived and these ancestors of ours stuck around conceivably because they didn’t take unnecessary risks. Most likely your great to the nth grandfather or grandmother wasn’t the first one to try eating an unknown mushroom or vegetable but they benefited from the lessons taken by the ones who were less risk-averse.

But there is a difference between risk and recklessness. Calculated risk can give birth to something extraordinary, whether its a startup or a new way of making music or dance. Anything truly original is…

“Daemon” — painting by John S. Couch, photo by JC Caldwell

I believe each of us is born innately creative, as I’ve written many times before. We are born with an inner genius that is within us and it is up to us to find it, honor it, and allow it to express itself. What we often do instead, is suppress that voice, and conform over time into a state of survival. During these times of seismic change, just getting through the day is hard enough but I would argue that it is exactly during these times that we are afforded the ability to “reset” our priorities and reconnect to our…

Leaves of Grass — photo by JC Caldwell

I had my monthly catch up with a new friend, who I’ve only ever connected with via Zoom. He’s a designer, he’s also half-Japanese like me, and we are both fascinated with the subject of creativity. The basic conundrum we both aligned on is that there is the seemingly at-odds state of needing to make a living and the need to create. Ideally, we would be making a living from what we love doing but that’s often the exception, not the rule.

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the foundation of the pyramid is physiological needs (food, water, warmth, rest) and…

JC Caldwell in a state of natural focus, creating art — photo by John S. Couch

Our lives are fragmented by distractions, ranging from social media to the news (often stressful) and just the day-to-day demands of life. It’s even harder if you happen to have ADD or ADHD. Focusing on the task at hand or even on the conversation we are having with another person can be challenging. I believe this distraction is because we are not fully present in the moment.

Like many people, my mind is often juggling multiple tasks at any moment. Because of this, I can feel overwhelmed and projects I have on the docket can feel completely overwhelming. …

John S. Couch

John S. Couch is Vice President, Product Design at Hulu.

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