Personal Reflection: The Highs and Lows of AC4D Bootcamp

Our 3-day bootcamp just wrapped, and I’m invigorated, excited — and exhausted. We condensed big ideas we’ll use throughout the entire program into three days: user interviews, theme finding, insight development, ideation, sketching, and presenting. 

I’m not exhausted for obvious reasons: our days weren’t long, we didn’t have reading homework, and most of our tasks were fun. I’m tired because this week forced me to stay present, get uncomfortable, and challenge my “normal” thinking patterns.

Stress Graph - Week 1

My “anxiety graph” this week

Normal first-day jitters were high, but I quickly calmed down when Ruby reminded us why we are here: to make things, build empathy, and trust our intuition — the three pedagogical tenants of AC4D.

So what did I learn?

I need to think bigger. After working in corporate environments for the last six years, I’ve taught myself to value feasibility, profitability, and efficiency above all else. 

Our bootcamp was centered around exploring challenges specific to food trucks. We cold-intercepted users, transcribed interviews (something I thankfully have experience with!), created utterances, found themes, and then the hard part began: creating provocative insights. 

My first  “provocative statement” was “food truck owners should make prioritize making SoPs to avoid serious issues”. Not so provocative, right?

After some nudging from Jon and a lot of discussion, we landed on:

“Food truck owners resist delegating responsibilities in a highly transient workforce for fear of operational breakdown. Management should be non-hierarchical and compensate all workers equally.”

Is it feasible? Is it profitable? Is it efficient? We don’t know, but it definitely inspired us. 

Then came the hardest part of the week: ideating three hundred ideas from this one insight. 


We got our first flood of ideas out quickly. Then we had to challenge ourselves: is it a product, service, policy, environment, or system? How, where, what, who, when, or why? 

We recommended a lot of accidental big-brother, socialist, capitalist, ethically questionable, idealist, and random ideas. Then came sorting. 

To find our “best” ideas, we used three criteria:

  1. Impact: Does this impact the people we are trying to serve?
  2. Feasible: Could this exist – on earth?
  3. Mission: Does this reflect our “should” statement?

Through sorting, we stack-ranked 15 ideas, and then sketched out five. As someone with limited sketch experience, I struggled to not constantly critique myself. (How do people draw hands really?) Luckily, we were constantly reminded to not judge ourselves. 

Then we listened to our classmates’ concepts, shared our sketches, and from there — we could relax. The rest of the afternoon we spent learning Sketch, which has been a breeze (so far). I’m sure I’ll struggle more once I move beyond circles and rectangles.

Ultimately, I feel really excited for the months ahead. And I hope to fulfill AC4D’s promise of autonomy — and never feeling stuck again.