Expert Insights: Design Thinking With Marc O’Brien

One of the awesome aspects of building popexpert is the interaction our team has with experts on the site. We feel lucky to have the opportunity to work closely with so many talented and wonderful people who are teaching/coaching on popexpert and want to share some of the stuff we’ve learned about them. So we’re going to post weekly interviews with some seriously inspiring and interesting experts – check out our first one with Marc O’Brien below!

Name: Marc O’Brien

Expertise: Creative facilitation, thinking wrong, design strategy, and building confidence within hell-bent individuals.

Marc Obrien Expert Insights

What inspires you to teach/coach people? I believe that everyone is creative if they dig deep within themselves and find that spark, that energy that allows them to see the world in a wider context, with more of a “growth mindset,” and to use this to express themselves.

I get excited when I see people’s eyes light up when they step back and see something they created themselves, in very little time and with very few resources. They realize that they do in fact have that creative spark in them, they just need a little push.

Who was one of your most influential mentors and what’s one of the most important lessons you learned from them? I’ve known and worked closely with John Bielenberg, founder of Project M, for the last 5 years. He’s a huge proponent of “thinking wrong” in the creative process, encouraging people to break out of their biases and orthadoxes to generate a lot of unique solutions to a problem.

He taught me that the world around us was invented and, because of this, that we can invent new things—to not accept the status-quo, or how things have been from the past. He taught me to challenge existing systems, or better yet, invent new systems that will make the old system obsolete and will create a more positive future.

Working with and learning from him has opened my eyes on how I see and accept the world around me. Thinking wrong has not only changed my professional/creative life, but my personal life as well.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out in your field? Just start. Don’t worry about the end goal. It’s ok if you don’t have all the details figured out. Have a vision and take those small steps towards that end goal… knowing that most likely, your path getting there will not be a straight one—and that’s ok. Stay focused, pay attention to what you learn while on that path, and consider how everything connects.

If you could pick one person to spend an hour learning from (they could be anywhere in the world) who would you pick? Elon Musk. Not because I want to learn how to make millions (I don’t care about that.) I would love to chat with him about how he views the world around him, the types of questions he asks himself, and learn ways I can incorporate his creative problem solving to my own.

What are the benefits of meeting clients over live video? Your reach is beyond your physical boundaries. You have the ability to talk to, interact, and collaborate with more people outside of your city limits.

Plus, you can show up in your underwear at your desk and the people on the other end of that video feed won’t even know 😉

Experts: My First Session With popexpert

Nancy Pina on

They always say to “eat your own dog food.”  At popexpert, we have been doing this for quite a while by having team members join us through our own video technology when they are out of the office.  We’ve found it to be a great way to test and refine the software and better understand how we can make the experience as smooth as possible.

It wasn’t until today though that I had the opportunity to do my first live session with one of our experts.  I choose Nancy Pina because of her experience working as a relationship coach for over 20 years and the unique perspective I thought she might be able to offer on effective techniques for developing lasting, loving relationships.  In Nancy, I found a talented, intuitive coach who is able to quickly get to the heart of what makes people tick.  She offered valuable tips for how to build trust and vulnerability at the right time and shared an important reminder that many of us who go after building great careers tend to under recognize:

“A lot of times we put effort into learning how to be best prepared for our education, our work, and we think relationships will just happen.  The more you’re prepared for building strong relationships like you prepare in every other area of life, the more you’ll attract and be able to see that person when you meet them.” — Nancy Pina

When I first set out to create popexpert, I wanted to make it as easy as booking a meeting in your calendar to learn something new from a talented expert.  I believed that the experience I had learning and growing while on sabbatical was something that should be accessible to all of us, even with a hardworking and busy lifestyle.  I had no idea though just how powerful this concept would be.

The experience of finding a great expert in a topic I wanted to explore, booking time with them and then just meeting for a live video session over the course of an hour was incredible.  It made me feel like I have an ally by my side for whatever I want to learn in life and that the opportunity to constantly learn and grow is endless.

Most importantly, it made me even more excited for what we are building with popexpert.  I can’t wait for all of you to have your first session and experience the same ah-ha moment.  And, when you do, please tell your friends!

~ Ingrid Sanders cofounder & ceo, popexpert