Try Before You Buy:

The Power in Prototypes

by Bethany Joy



As Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, once said, prototypes allow designers to think in a tangible way and fail quickly and cheaply, saving us time and resources. Let’s explore four essential guidelines for effective prototyping and learn how we can apply them to turn our dreams into reality. This is a part of the series I have been podcasting on design thinking! We started with empathy, defined problems, ideated solutions, and now it’s time to prototype! This isn’t just for designers we all can learn how to use this method to get our ideas from our brains to the real world.


Like Nike Says: Just Do It

Are you someone who tends to get caught up in planning and hesitates to take action? Trust me, I’ve been there too. Many of us spend hours fantasizing about our ideas without actually testing them. However, an idea is just a fantasy until it has been tested. So, take that leap of faith and create a prototype of what you want to achieve.

For example, if you’re considering moving to a new city, don’t just daydream about it. Visit the city, live there for a couple of weeks, and experience the daily life. Explore the neighborhoods where you would potentially live. This hands-on approach will give you a more realistic understanding of whether the idea aligns with your expectations.



Just Keep Swimming

Be like Dori in Finding Nemo and just keep swimming!  Prototyping is all about speed and avoiding emotional attachment to ideas that might not work. We often fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy, feeling that all the time, energy, and resources we’ve invested will go to waste if we abandon an idea. However, continuing down an unfruitful path will only waste more of your precious time and resources.

Let go of ideas that don’t resonate and embrace failure as an opportunity for learning. I’ve had my fair share of hobbies and ventures that didn’t work out. From collecting random exercise equipment to fantasizing about becoming a marathon runner, I realized that my true passion lay elsewhere and I am ok with enjoying walks lol. It’s okay to let go and focus on what genuinely works for you instead of forcing a process to fit your goal. Processes can change keep the goal the same.


Keep the Main Thing The Main Thing

When creating prototypes, it’s essential to have a central testing issue in mind. While you remain focused on your ultimate goal, don’t lose sight of other valuable lessons that might emerge along the way.

For instance, when trying out a new exercise routine for the umpteenth time, it’s easy to get caught up in finding the perfect shoes, leggings, or gym membership. However, remember your primary goal and the problem you’re solving. Stay focused on the essential aspects and avoid distractions that might take you off course.



Prototyping is a powerful tool that allows us to turn our ideas into reality. By following these guidelines, you can harness the potential of prototyping to iterate and refine your concepts. Remember that failure is not the end but an opportunity for growth and learning. Embrace the journey, and don’t be afraid to test, refine, and test again. Your dreams are within reach!

Thank you for reading. To stay connected, visit or email Join Seen & Celebrated, our weekly newsletter, to support local creative women and businesses in Maryland and access the newsletter archive. If you need portraits, design work, or business support, I’m here for you. Reach out to me, Bethany Joy, for your unique needs.





Free Illustrations




Resources: – Chu, Melissa. “Announcing Your Goals Makes You Less Likely to Achieve Them.” [Link](
– “Sunk Cost Fallacy.” [Link](


The Medici Effect: Embracing Collaboration

by Bethany Joy



Hey there! In a world that values fresh ideas and innovative solutions, collaboration and diversity of thought have become essential ingredients for success. Have you ever heard of “The Medici Effect”? It’s a fascinating concept introduced by Johannes Frans Johansson in his book, and it highlights the power of collaboration among diverse individuals or fields to spark creativity and drive innovation. Since we are talking about how to create ideas in our series on Design Thinking, let’s dive into Johansson’s six rules of innovation and explore how we can apply them in our everyday lives, from our homes to our workplaces. We have empathized, defined our problems, and now we are in the ideation stage!



The Value in Diversity


The Medici Effect, beautifully described by Johannes Frans Johansson in his book, highlights the remarkable results that arise when people from different backgrounds and disciplines come together. Take, for example, the collaboration that led to the creation of solar panels inspired by the incredible efficiency of leaves in nature. It’s a perfect illustration of how diverse perspectives can spark game-changing innovations. So, let’s see how we can apply the six rules of innovation to foster collaboration and unleash our collective creative genius. These six rules were initially from this article on



All New Ideas Are Combinations of Existing Ideas


We’ve all experienced conflicts and disagreements, especially when living with someone who has a different approach to tasks like cleaning. But here’s an opportunity for growth! By combining our ideas and values, we can find unique solutions that bridge the gap between our perspectives. Try engaging in a value quiz or an open conversation to understand each other’s preferences. Perhaps you can compromise, finding a way to keep the kitchen clean while still allowing for a spontaneous approach. Remember, collaboration is all about exploring new ways to solve problems and creating a harmonious living environment.



Not All Idea Combinations Are Created Equal


Differences shouldn’t be viewed as obstacles; they should be embraced as opportunities. The real magic happens when we mix loosely linked ideas, like observing how children solve problems without being bound by conventional rules. By welcoming diverse perspectives and learning from people of different ages and backgrounds, we open ourselves up to fresh insights and unconventional solutions. Let’s break free from the confines of our comfort zones and discover innovative approaches inspired by the unexpected.



More Ideas Lead to Better Ideas


Innovation thrives in an environment where ideas flow freely. As leaders or individuals, we can create spaces that encourage idea generation and circulation. One effective way to do this is through informal interviews. Take the time to sit down with others, ask thought-provoking questions, and genuinely listen to their experiences and thought processes. By fostering collaboration, we create a culture of continuous improvement and innovation, where every idea has the potential to contribute to something extraordinary.



Plan for Mistakes and Failures


Failure is not the end; it’s an essential part of the innovation journey. Just as children stumble and fall while learning to eat, we need to embrace the lessons that come with making mistakes. By acknowledging and learning from failures, we cultivate resilience, understanding, and the ability to adapt. So, let’s create spaces where mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth and where innovative ideas can thrive. Let’s extend patience when our friends, family, and children experiment and it doesn’t go as planned. We all make mistakes- it’s part of the process.



Stick to Your Passions


It’s the Best Chance for Success: Passion fuels innovation. It’s what drives us to explore new ways of combining our interests and finding solutions to complex problems. Whether it’s photography, fine art, mental health, or technology, our passions bring excitement and dedication to our endeavors. By staying true to our passions, we maintain the motivation to persevere through failures and embrace collaboration with others who share our enthusiasm. Together, we can accomplish remarkable things.


By embracing the Medici Effect and applying Johansson’s six rules for innovation, we can unlock our collective potential for collaboration and ideation- This isn’t just for professional settings it’s for our most important relationships, our toughest conversations and bridging the gap to growth when we are struggling to see things from others perspective.


References used:


Your Creativity is Powerful

by Bethany Joy



In our podcast journey exploring Design Thinking, we have delved into various aspects of problem-solving, but one recurring theme remains the significance of a growth mindset. In a rapidly changing world, the ability to think flexibly becomes crucial for survival. However, as responsibilities increase, the process of dreaming and ideating can become more challenging. It’s natural to seek comfort and avoid disappointment, frustration, and pain. Yet, it’s essential to recognize that pushing through discomfort and embracing challenges builds resilience and makes us stronger individuals. In this series, we have already covered self-compassion and defining problems while overcoming procrastination. Now, it’s time to reignite our dreams and creative potential.


Creativity as a Learned Skill

Recently, I stumbled upon an article that resonated deeply with me. It highlighted an important fact applicable to all creative individuals, especially those in the design field: waiting for inspiration to strike is not always feasible. Contrary to popular belief, creativity is not solely reliant on inspiration or raw talent. The core message of our podcast is that creativity is a skill that can be learned and cultivated over time.


So, how can we nurture our own ideas and enhance our ideation skills? Let’s explore two valuable practices:


Make Room for Imagination

Imagination is a powerful tool that allows us to envision new possibilities. While it’s crucial to identify potential problems, we mustn’t solely focus on them. It’s equally important to make space for positive and playful imagination. In today’s interconnected world, we often overlook our unique perspectives. Although group brainstorming sessions are well-intentioned, they can be influenced by biases that limit the effectiveness of idea generation. Remember, you have the ability to bring fresh, unique solutions to your life. Allow yourself to think unconventionally, embrace limitless possibilities, and tap into the power of your imagination.



Stop Judging Start Writing

Judgment is a part of our daily lives, but when it comes to generating ideas, we must grant ourselves the freedom to withhold judgment from our initial thoughts. The next time you encounter a problem, take a moment to start writing and let your ideas flow onto paper. Don’t worry about perfection or whether the ideas seem real or strange. Sometimes, the journey to truly brilliant ideas begins with expressing the not-so-great ones. Remember, there’s no race to have perfect ideas—give yourself permission to explore and experiment without judgment.


Unleash Your Creativity

Design thinking and the ideation process hold incredible potential for problem-solving and unleashing our creative potential. By cultivating our imagination and embracing a non-judgmental mindset, we can foster innovation and develop unique solutions. Let’s dream big and work towards making the world a more creative and problem-solving place.


I hope this gives you some ideas on how to gather the strength to keep moving this year. Remember that when you feel like everything is going wrong you can still choose to be kind. You can choose to be hopeful and fight for the better. Happy Mid-year! Let’s continue doing what we dream of. If you want some cute encouragement to check out the affirmations below!




Free Illustrations






Beat the Mid-Year Blues

by Bethany Joy



How are those new year’s resolutions going for you?

It’s June and let’s be honest with ourselves. We set BIG new year’s goals back in January and before we knew it we were halfway through the year. It can be frustrating to set out to have the “Best Year EVER!” and then look at the unused gym membership, unchecked list of to-dos, and unexpected craziness life has thrown our way and get discouraged. Here are some ways to rethink the 2nd half of your year to inspire you to keep going! Life is tough but so are you.


Redefine What Success Looks Like

Setting ambitious goals is great. Pushing yourself to be the best is not a bad thing. However, in the design world, you have to do more than set a goal. You need to test it and evaluate if it’s working. This is a great time to re-evaluate your goals. If you want the vision in your head to become reality you need to be realistic about your ability to achieve it. For example, if you plan on traveling more this year but so far you have only traveled to the store take a step back and ask why? Are you spending your time on what you believe is important? Are you in a temporarily tough situation? Do you need to adjust the timeline? Spend some time reviewing what you have actually accomplished versus what you want. It may be time to re-prioritize your energy to what matters.



Own Your Environment

We all have responsibilities to take care of. It could be our families, jobs, or our home. Bills have to be paid and we don’t always get to choose what that looks like. What we can choose is to set our environment up for success. In a busy season, it’s normal to have things out of place including routines, our homes, and our schedules. Halfway through the year is a great time to stop and reset your environment to emphasize your values! Values in this case simply mean how you approach life. If you value adventure approach your day looking for it. Can you make cooking breakfast an adventure? Can you explore new ways to get your work done? If you value rest, how can you approach your day in a restful manner? Can you build in extra breaks even if they are only mental? Can you prioritize a 5-minute walk? The way you present yourself and craft your environment is up to you. Shout out to my therapist for this advice!



Cut Your Losses

Ego will cost you more than you ever wanted. Sometimes our goals are grounded in ego, grounded in proving others wrong, proving we don’t need help, or proving we are perfect. Take note: Are your goals for this year rooted in pleasing others, proving others or pride to avoid shame? When we spend energy on ideas or goals that don’t work because we can’t let go of our plans or admit that we got it wrong we lose more time. Sometimes the most effective thing you can do is realize what you are doing is not working and pivot. Sometimes I tell myself “plot twist” or ” The plot thickens” because it can be hard to let go of effort, time, or energy invested into a plan that has failed. Failure isn’t the end, it’s the beginning of learning.


Small Steps Equal Big Changes

Okay. This may seem cliche, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. If you have fallen off of your new year’s resolutions now is the time to check and see if you have fallen prey to chasing “States of Being” I talk about this in my podcast from the book The Personal M.B.A. A state of being is when a goal is to “Be Happy” “Be Successful” or “Be at Peace” which will not help you actually reach your goal. Instead, define what each means and put them into actionable steps. If “Be Happy” means working less and having the income to go on vacation, spend your energy examining what it would take to make that a reality. Get it on paper and get it with dates. Get that desire into action and start creating a path toward it. Imagine there are no barriers and dream up how you can achieve your goals. It may not be exactly what you imagine but don’t underestimate the encouraging power of small steps.


Encouragement is Like Dynamite

Encouragement comes in small packages. When everything seems to be falling apart, it can feel like you need a miracle for circumstances to turn around. In my life when I make one small positive change, I feel incredibly better. It may not take as much as you think to be able to see things are getting better. Give yourself encouragement by recognizing what is going well. When you have a bad morning believe that your day can turn around tomorrow. If you went off the line on your New Year’s Resolutions there are still 6 months to make it happen. Don’t throw away the baby with the bath water. One thing going wrong doesn’t ensure EVERYTHING is ruined! (This is for me to be honest).



I hope this gives you some ideas on how to gather the strength to keep moving this year. Remember that when you feel like everything is going wrong you can still choose to be kind. You can choose to be hopeful and fight for the better. Happy Mid-year! Let’s continue doing what we dream of. If you want some cute encouragement to check out the affirmations below!




Get Your Download




Want more? Check out my latest podcast!



Fix the Foundation First

Has anybody seen are we done yet lately? It is a movie that came out in 2007 and I thought it was hilarious. I’m not sure why, but this movie is stuck in my brain. If you haven’t, picture this. The People’s family, city people, move out to the suburbs for their growing family to have more space. They recently found out that they are having twins so they need to buy a home immediately. The main character Nick doesn’t get the house inspected before buying to beat out another interested couple (btw never do that!) So they move in and start to find all these problems that need complete renovations! So it starts with mold, electrical work, and plumbing. Every day they find something new. One day they find the floor had termites so they gut it. Nick is about to lose his mind and asks why all of the renovations are necessary. I can’t remember the exact quote but the contractor says that ” it’s gotta get ugly before it gets beautiful.”

So today we are going to talk about getting to the root of your problems and getting through the ugly so you can find the beautiful!

Why is it important that we define our problems before coming up with solutions? In the design world, we define problems to make sure we stay focused on the goal. Here is a quote from career foundry that sums it up well. Without a well-defined problem statement, it’s hard to know what you’re aiming for. Your work will lack focus, and the final design will suffer. Not only that: in the absence of a clear problem statement, it’s extremely difficult to explain to stakeholders and team members exactly what you are trying to achieve.

Let’s reflect that on ourselves in the absence of a clear problem it’s difficult to ask for the right help, and find the right solutions and you will spend time worrying about the paint chips in your house instead of the termites rotting the foundation. That’s what I talk about in Episode 7 of The Creativity Cure! Listen below.




How You Motivate Yourself Matters

by Bethany Joy



Experience teaches our brains to avoid pain. Habits and patterns can be hard to break because we think “new” means pain. Listen to episode 5 of The Creativity Cure Podcast to hear how if you’ve spent your life criticizing and bullying yourself, you may think you won’t succeed if you don’t do that. The more you think about past mistakes, the more you demand perfection, and the more you feel like a problem, the more you want to stay safe. If you’re always looking for the next mistake or failure, you’ll become a self-fulfilling prophecy through your own frequency bias.  It’s important to be safe if you’re going to be creative. To be safe you need the grace to make mistakes and grow so you can have a growth mindset. The way you motivate yourself matters. How you speak to yourself becomes how you speak to others and for little ones around you, it becomes how they may motivate themselves in the future. There’s hope for change. Embrace self-compassion and here are practical ways to do that!



Have Patience

Changing habits takes time. According to one blog, self-compassion brings up old hurts. I found it hard to break my habit of excessive self-criticism because I was so used to it. If you have used self-criticism as a motivator for years, changing it will feel like a failure. Expect some feelings and be patient. Don’t let your emotions define you. Move through them. If you’re like me, you ignore, dismiss, or pretend emotions don’t exist. Moving through an emotion requires acknowledgment. Write, talk, or think about it. Give yourself a moment to acknowledge your feelings. There’s no need to produce an action like getting over a situation. If you acknowledge your feelings, your brain will move forward rather than slowly lose control of them as you avoid them. Initially, it can feel vulnerable because if you feel embarrassed about something someone pointed out to you, you’re admitting it affected you. No matter how you acknowledge a feeling, it goes somewhere. Suppress it and it may come back as anger or anxiety. You might lie to yourself about it, but your brain knows, so you might find yourself exhausted by pretending. By dismissing emotions, you won’t get rid of them, they’ll come out. It usually hurts people you don’t want. Do you ever get upset over small things? It could be something stupid like someone parking in your space. It’s usually dismissed emotions that cause that blow-up. That feeling didn’t go away! Put your feelings in writing and read them. It’s what I do when my body reacts to anxiety. It was so easy for me to feel anxious that I lost touch with my body and my emotions, so I stopped noticing how I felt. That’s why I pay attention when my shoulders scrunch up, my breathing gets fast, or my stomach hurts. Writing helps me see my thoughts in context, and then they’re not in my head anymore. Writing things down makes them less scary. It’s a great habit to get into. We all feel different emotions. Some of us feel a lot, others don’t. Healthier people are in control of their actions, no matter what. You’ll notice I didn’t say emotions. Feelings are like a map, telling us about ourselves, but we can’t always control them. What matters is what we do with them.



Practice Joy

Another habit I learned from The Joy Switch is to practice joy. Bring back memories of fun times. Take a look at the pictures and reminisce about the day. Take a minute to think about what you’re grateful for. Set a timer for ten minutes and think about 10 things you’re grateful for. Don’t ruminate on upsetting failures or mistakes. Ruminating is when you can’t stop thinking about how you failed, embarrassed yourself, or got angry. You can ruminate to control a problem you think you can’t solve or think you’ll be able to solve it if you think long enough. It can also be triggered by trauma. When you externalize it, however, consider what it means. Imagine if your friend failed to show up for your birthday after promising to do so. There was a genuine error and they apologized profusely. You keep bringing it up every chance you get, replaying it over and over out loud and telling everyone you know what a big mistake they made bringing it up. Is that person someone you’d want as a friend? It’s what happens when you do that to yourself. You’re human, so you’re going to make mistakes or make bad choices. It’s impossible to be perfect. As soon as you set a standard to never experience a situation with uncontrollable elements, you set yourself up to fail. If you can’t always control your thoughts, this technique says to make them a person and say hey, I’ll listen to you later but right now I’m enjoying breakfast, so set it aside. Trying to do simple tasks with the constant reminder of how you messed up in the background is exhausting. It’s okay to set that aside for 30 seconds. It’s not necessary to punish yourself constantly. Let your mind wander to things you enjoy. It may take some practice but change is possible. Think about that adventure with your friend. Think about a dream vacation or a good meal. When your brain isn’t trying to avoid pain, it can embrace the future. Being compassionate allows you to believe you can accomplish those goals, no matter how imperfect you are. Making mistakes is okay and you’ll do it. As a result, you don’t begin to rely on your body’s self-defense mechanisms (fight, flight, freeze). 


Set Boundaries

 Let’s talk about boundaries next. Being compassionate towards yourself means understanding you’re in control. You’re not responsible for anyone’s feelings or actions. In reality, you can’t force anyone to do anything. Boundaries simply mean recognizing where you end and someone else begins. Having boundaries keeps us safe and lets us enjoy our families. There’s a good chance you already have boundaries, but don’t know what they are. Knowing when someone crosses them is a sure sign you have them. No matter what it is, whether it is unsolicited advice, rude comments, or oversharing when you don’t want to, setting and recognizing boundaries is compassion.


Finally, Listen

Take care of yourself.

In addition to taking care of your mind, your body should be taken care of as well. There is a lot of strain and stress on our bodies. Both the good and the bad. It is crucial to take time to care for your body. If you have been ignoring your body, it may take time to get back into it. Pay attention to hunger, thirst, tiredness, and tension. Take care of yourself, whether it’s for a few minutes a day or for an hour each week. Give it a try! It’s becoming clear to me that my body yells in other ways when I ignore it. The physical or emotional stress forces me to rest. Getting help is never too late, even if you’ve never exercised or struggled to stay active. Consider taking one small step toward improving your diet or sleep if you’re not getting enough. We need you. Your friends and family need you. It is your responsibility to take care of yourself because no one else can understand what you need. You should seek help if you have consistently struggled in any area. Search for free groups online or see what your insurance covers. Some of us say we’ll figure it out later, but if it’s been 5 years, it’s time to admit you’re not an expert. Pain shows us what we need to pay attention to before it’s too late. So please pay attention and show compassion for your body.


Last but not least, soul care. For me, it’s prayer, church community, and Bible study. Peace for me comes from knowing God is in control and knows me. Casting my cares on Jesus is what I do when I don’t have compassion for myself or anyone else. Helping others keeps me grounded and reminds me that I’m not alone, by caring, I’m not just focusing on my problems. It’s good to get perspective when you feel like what you’re going through is all encompassing.

It’s time to change the way we motivate ourselves. Think about what care you need and if you don’t know, start by believing you can be kind to yourself. When you do that, your brain starts looking for solutions instead of your next mistake!



Thank you for checking out my blog! You can listen to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts. Watch me on YouTube as well by searching for The Creativity Cure. Let’s continue the conversation by joining Seen & Celebrated my weekly Newsletter where I share stories of women doing great things in Maryland. Subscribe for free below and access all of the stories.


I hope these tips are helpful, but I am only one person, so let me know what has worked for you! I can be reached here or via email at Interested in collaborating on something creative? Commission a portrait! The booking period for 2023 is now open.