aaron.steinman@ac4d.com

Student

Aaron Steinman

I’ve lived in Austin, Texas my whole life and have loved watching this city grow. One of the things I love most about Austin is that it is an eclectic mix of people who do eclectic things. I resonate with that because I’m an economist, a musician, a financier, a researcher, and a designer. I’m passionate about creativity and problem solving, no matter what the medium might be.

After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in Economics, I decided to pursue my passion for music and started a production company. It gave me the unique opportunity to create songs for commercials and indie films. I also received a Masters degree in Finance from UT, which led me to pursue a career in finance on the investment team of an Austin-based investment firm. It was exciting, but activities that made me most happy in my day-to-day were opportunities to work on projects that allowed me to exercise creativity. It was clear that I needed music, art, creativity, and problem solving in my daily life. And so, here we are. I’m excited to be a part of the AC4D program to kick start a career that sits at the intersection of strategy, creativity, art, and problem solving.

I’m your typical, native Austinite. My hobbies are almost as eclectic as the city I call home. When free time permits I love to swim, bike, go on walks, host game nights, meet new people, eat tacos, drink beer, write music, and spend time with my family. Most of all, I love to learn. I currently live in North Austin with my soon-to-be wife Candice and two kittens, Captain Crunch and Buzz Aldrin.

Recent blog posts

Insights – APA!

An insight is built by asking “why?” – and answering with incomplete data. Insights should be able to stand on their own and elicit provocation. This was our focus over the last couple weeks – turning themes into insights and delivering the information to Austin Pets Alive!. Christina and I are nervous about presenting this…

Service Slices – APA!

At this stage of our project with Austin Pets Alive!, Christina and I have created visual representations of our design research from the APA! kitten nursery. One of the major takeaways is that selecting valuable sections of the transcripts is key to creating an interesting narrative and identifying points of opportunity within our client’s organization. We went line-by-line through our…

Emergent Themes – APA!

What does it take to get from this – to this? It takes perseverance, cooperation, dedication, patience, long hours, and lots of caffeine. Today Christina and I presented our emergent themes to our client, Austin Pets Alive!. We arrived at these themes through a process called affinity diagramming. Affinity diagramming is a process by which you take…

Poverty, Social Business, and Lasting Impact

Last week I spent a lot of time synthesizing the arguments of Micael Hobbes, Victor Margolin, Emily Pilloton, CK Prahalad, Dean Spears, Roger Martin & Sally Osberg, and Muhammad Yunus as they pertain to poverty. I learned a lot in the process, but more about social- vs. profit-oriented enterprising than poverty itself. I think my…

Design Research with APA!

Over the past month, our group has been engaged with Austin Pets Alive! (APA) in order to use design research (specifically, contextual inquiry) to learn in real-time how employees and volunteers log their activity and communicate to achieve consistent care for the thousands of animals that pass through their programs. APA is a no-kill shelter,…

The Role of Design Research

What role does research play in the design process? Over the last week and a half, we’ve been digesting the writings of 8 authors that have contributed to the discussions surrounding design research, innovation, context, and value. While reading these texts, I’ve been forming an opinion about where these authors would fall on a spectrum between…

Week 3 in Review

Last week was spent largely conducting interviews. I shadowed many incredible people at Austin Pets Alive and can say I’m thoroughly impressed by everyone I’ve met. From volunteers to the nursery manager, it’s baffling how they do so much with so little. On the personal front, I finally got everything moved into our new house. Feels good to…

Ethics, Responsibility, Experience, Technology

Over the last week and a half, we have been digesting the writings of 5 different authors that offer their perspective on ethics, responsibility, experience, and technology: Edward Bernays, Maurizio Vitta, Victor Papanek, Neil Postman, and John Dewey. Whether in a direct or indirect manner, all of these authors’ writings have implications for the field…

Week 1 in Review

One down, so much more to go. With week one in the books, I can honestly say that the pace here is intense. I was warned, but I don’t think any amount of words could have prepared me for this experience. However, being thrown into the fire is a great way to learn. Most bilingual friends…

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

We crossed the finish line. Not necessarily like a runner triumphantly breaking the tape, but more like a cannonball. As I said in the last post, I would share the results of our assumption testing. It was actually higher than expected, around 95%, but I believe that to be a failure of the test we…

You da real MVP

We are making something, satisfying the first rule of AC4D. We spent a lot of time in our group figuring out what our Minimally Viable Product is. This, of course, spurred some interesting debate amongst our group as to what is the smallest thing we could build to deliver value to both the customer and producer. The…

Danger, Will Robinson

Jon said something that, while possibly obvious, hadn’t crossed my mind. “Design is dangerous.” With so much subjectivity and personal influence/attachment, actionable insights need to be carefully thought out. Provocation can cut both ways and doesn’t necessarily need to elicit positive responses. I think what hit me hardest about this lesson is how dichotomous our…

Cold Calling In Person, Not So Cold

Today was an interesting day. As an extrovert, I generally relish opportunities to meet new people and have interesting conversations with strangers. However, as someone who really enjoys his personal space, I am reticent to interrupt people going through their daily motions. For color, we broke into smaller groups and went around town asking commuters about Austin’s public…

A1 Day One

What a day. New beginnings; new space; new friends. Today was the first day of a new chapter for myself and a handful of bright and talented people. First-day-of-school experiences have been hit or miss for me. Generally, one can expect to sit in a room of complete strangers as everyone goes around the room to give a brief synopsis of…

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