Design your very own Life. In this episode of Inspired Evolution, it feels almost as though we’re in the movie inception. We’re inspired by User Experience (UX) Designer and Co-Founder of Harness Projects: Chris Ventura to harness the power of design to not just learn better but to actually design a life of our highest potential.
Chris is an entrepreneur who is passionate about education and the role it has in forming the society around us. In 2017, he co-founded a project-based learning company called Harness Projects, to address the gaps he saw in traditional education. As well as a mechanism to leverage the power of the learning market to make social change. During the early part of his career, Chris describes himself as “your typical corporate wage slave”. Working long hours and expending enormous amounts of energy on projects with little meaningful impact. Around 2010, Chris’ natural curiosity moved into the self-development field. Trying to integrate an emerging perspective of spirituality and mindfulness in an office environment devoid of much feeling. By 2015, he left that world and begin to integrate his corporate skills in product management, digital & user experience design with his well-being practices. Chris is a world-bridger, constantly moving between a world of commercialization, finances and corporate governance to a world of mindfulness, empathy, and impact. He believes there are 2 types of social activists. Those that work outside the system to raise awareness of the problems in the world and those that work within it to invent creative solutions and businesses so they evolve and take us forward in a positive way.
Setting up this innovative design company with his partner, Chris has also, on a meta-level, effectively designed his life as an entrepreneur. But Chris keeps it very real with us in this podcast, he reminds us that living life on your own terms isn’t always glitz and glam, there’s a lot that comes with that package that is not for the faint-hearted.
Chris considers Education as a fundamental pillar of society. It plays a vital role in shaping human behavior on an individual scale and ultimately on a macro, society-wide scale. It’s important that people find the courage to invest in themselves to develop a foundation of strength & ability, so they can become of service to the society around them. Without this cycle of growth and sharing, our society is at risk of becoming increasingly isolationist and polarised. And so, we explore what UX design is all about and why Chris is so passionate about functional design and the mission/philosophy of Harness Projects.
Harness Projects partners with companies looking to make a positive social impact. Harness projects the recruits students passionate to learn through hands-on experience, through the art of doing, whilst being guided and mentored by some of Australia’s best designers on real-world projects with real-world outcomes and successes!
Chris lets us in on his personal life sharing the moments when his life really started changing for the better: when he consciously started socializing with people that brought out the best in him, encouraged him to be more creative and live with greater authenticity. He also reflects on the fact that when he started this journey, he did not have “a single entrepreneurial bone in his body”. Which is inspiring considering his success with Harness Projects today! We explore Chris’ personal value of compassion and how that’s infused in the way of working as a designer that is creating outcomes for real-world people.
Chris reflects on the development of his “inner-world” through practices such as mindfulness and meditation and how that transformed his relationship with the “outer-world” which, when he was working for corporations was spent engaging his energy on stuff that excited or mattered to him directly.
The was a gap that Chris identified with his partner between education and the workplace. Chris also took into account his own learning experience from university and realized that there was a real need for him to develop Harness Projects. The leap of faith that Chris took to leave his corporate roles and invest in his own start-up not knowing the outcomes and often not even knowing what’s next, he shares, is a muscle. The more he consciously exercises this “Trust” the easier it gets. Chris knew he wanted to leave his amazing corporate role and team because it was challenging or exciting him any more, even then it took him 8 months to “pull-the-plug”. And he did this without the security blanket of having anything a job to transition to. True courage to face the unknown.
He shares that when he leaped into the unknown the “universe caught him”. And even though he continually has to make similarly challenging decisions – he reflects that he can continue to cultivate that faith in being “caught” and supported. Chris believes there’s a time to plan and then there’s time to surrender your plans and trust what will come.
“The Universe Rewards Courage”
We passionately discuss purpose as a fundamental variable of health. Chris is super passionate about health and we explore how this triggered his journey into self-transformation which ultimately resulted in him living life on his own terms. As a by-product of which: Social circles changed, Living situations changed, Creative outlets changed, and more.
On the point of Health, Chris is an advocate of Balance.
“You’re a product of your environment”
So get conscious of who you’re spending your time with, where you’re spending that time and what you’re doing in your downtime…
“UX Your Life”
Enter the depth of the conversation that is uniquely available when sitting down to chat with Chris Ventura, a personal development buff who is passionate about lifestyle design and our user experience of life and poetically has co-founded Harness Projects a company which focuses on positive social change through upskilling people into UX skills.
Chris highlights the importance of Mentors. Mentors not just in his career, but also in the well-being space. We also discuss the importance of relationships and how vital connections are to supporting his journey.
“Education is and will be the most powerful tool for individual and social change, and we must do all that it takes to facilitate it.” – Shiv Nadar.
UX Design and Project Based Learning inspires Chris because not only does it open up: Great technical skills but even more importantly incredible human behavior skills which makes us great human beings to work with through things such as collaboration, communication, compassion, resilience, empathy, mindfulness, etc. These skills make work a truly enjoyable experience for all.
Chris reminds us that no experience or opportunity is wasted.
We have a deep conversation about Chris’ relationship with his Business Partner, a relationship that he reflects is entirely complimentary as they both bring a unique set of attributes to the synergy. We discover how they found each other (they were working together in separate capacities) in the corporate workplace.
Chris generously shares the insights he learned from setting up his initial businesses that weren’t as relatively successful as Harness Projects and how they were formative and supportive to his current success.
Surfing and the Ocean (Being in Nature) is a massive passion of Chris’s and he loves the resilience, motivation, inspiration that it helps to keep him connected to. He does reflect that being his own boss and an entrepreneur does have its perks, as he can work from where he loves to surf. But also reminds us that it’s not as romantic as you would like to think: you don’t really get to switch off as your project is always firing for you. Hence the importance of investing yourself entirely into your passion.
Chris loves watching people grow and Harness Projects really fulfills him.
Chris’ story is a reminder to all of us that there is more than the mundane. Chris that with Information Technologies where they’re at today, living your very own lifestyle is now available to everyone and the only person standing in the way of that is “yourself”. Inviting us to trust, Chris calls on us to get empowered, take leaps of faith and grow and grow and grow. It’s a call to be Inspired… to Evolve !
Finally, This is a conversation for the entrepreneurial fire within you. Chris affirms the rewarding and challenging nature of the beast that is taming your life. On this journey he calls on us to work both inwardly and outwardly to design the lifestyle we’re more excited by, where we’re challenged and excited. Chris champions balance between your inner and out developments and trust in the process of life. He also illuminates the values that make human interaction such a pleasurable experience – experiences which can be most conducive to learn in. Chris’s story invites us to believe in our potentials and what is possible. In this conversation, we explore Chris Ventura’s habits, hacks, philosophies, and tools that have formed the threads of his success, happiness, health, and wealth. This is a story that reminds us that we are all here to live our potential. Chris inspires a life of alignment, passion, learning and growth. Life is a unique opportunity, a gift, for us to make the most of. So let’s get creative and design the very life we would love to live.
Get Inspired !
Book for – Transitioning from Corporate to Living Your Own Dreams:
Re-Inventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux