Tian Zhao Is Deeply Passionate About Design-Thinking And Exponential-Thinking Worlds | Hacker Noon


The Tech Industry’s Greenest Awards. Public Nominations Are Open. Voting Starts Aug 13.

“In these unprecedented times…” People build unprecedented products, and contribute to the internet in unprecedented ways. Go on, make a fellow human’s day and nominate the best YOUR best of 2020’s tech industry for a 2020 #Noonie, the tech industry’s most independent
and community-driven awards: NOONIES.TECH. One such impressive human is Tian Zhao from Canada: 2020 Noonie nominee in Future Heroes and Technology categories.

Scroll on through for their take on what’s trending in tech today…

1. Which 2020 Noonie have you been nominated for?

Product Design

2. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a multidisciplinary digital product designer, deeply & widely passionate about the worlds of design-thinking, exponential-thinking, and systems-thinking – in particular, Human-Centered Design, Fintech & Distributed Computing, and Circular Economics & Open Systems respectively.

I got into product design at about the same time I got into the world of blockchain, mid-2015 when I first met Vitalik Buterin in Waterloo when he had dropped out and received the Thiel Fellowship; inspired, I subsequently got accepted into the Thiel Foundation community by applying and being accepted into their Thiel Summits and thereafter the 1517 Foundation community.

Over the years, I’ve spent my time designing various digital products within this Distributed Computing space and otherwise, with the most notable being:

3. Tell us about the things you make / write / manage / build.

I’m currently working as a digital product designer at Flinks (an open banking fintech startup – http://flinks.io/) and contributing part-time to a blockchain-based digital agency called Weavik (in partnership with Keyko – https://www.keyko.io/).

4. What are you most excited about right now?

I’m most excited about my work at Flinks as the company just announced their Series A investment and is on the up-and-up in terms of business in spite these challenging times. Additionally it’s a company with an awesome work culture, with an amazing staff of highly competent and compassionate individuals, as well as a fantastic product with a lot of great customers & clients.

5. What are you worried about right now?

I’m most worried about my physical health, something I’ve neglected for much of my youth and into my young adult years. I did this at the sacrifice of more nerdy activities because I always perceived nerdy activities as a glorious thing and never wanted to be associated with the “jock” crowd.

However, I realize now the folly of my ways early in my life, so I’m trying to catch up by embedding daily exercise routines at home of course. I’m lucky though that I had and still have a great metabolism and do eat healthily, which is why I have an average build.

6. What’s the most useful advice you’ve ever given somebody?

If you have to travel, please travel with a purpose! I write all about it here: https://medium.com/innovation-thinking/how-to-travel-like-a-boss-pt-i-75035c82644e

7. How has the pandemic changed your life and/or career?

The only thing is WFH really. But mentally/emotionally I think I’m not as negatively affected by it because of the grit, perseverance, and resilience I’ve gained over the last 5 years of my hustling. I think the struggles I’ve endured over those years have allowed me to not be so phased by this. I can honestly say that despite the fact that I’m a Millennial – I’ve always had the mentality of being grateful for where I grew up, that which being a Developed Nation (not Western society mind you).

I’ve always had the mentality that things could be far worse and I could be experiencing the detrimental effects exasperated by this pandemic if I grew up in a Developing Nation such as my Motherland of China.

I’ve experienced a brief period of homelessness in Canada before and going through deep/long periods of loneliness, isolation, and depression/anxiety while I was in university even. So when this pandemic hit, I didn’t necessarily shrug it off but I immediately adopted the following mentality: “I’ve been through far worse, I’ll get through this too, just have to keep moving forward, just have to keep fighting, and just have to keep pressing on as I’ve always done so prior to all of this.

This is nothing new to me, so as long as I do my part to not worsen the situation via physical distancing, washing my hands properly, and keeping healthy along with continual hustling towards that peaceful/progressive lifestyle that I’ve yearned for ever since 2015, then that’s all that matters.

“The long and short of it is – this pandemic only reinforced my drive that I’ve had ever since 2015. However, if anything – the pandemic of racism has affected me more. I may not be Black, Brown, LatinX, a womxn, or LGTQ+, but I’ve had time to reflect and even write about my experiences with subtle racism/discrimination/prejudice as an East-Asian living/working in North America. This article is still a Work-in-Progress thus far but I’m in the midst of finishing it up within a week or two (tops). I’d love to share this article at a later time when it’s all published, hopefully in that aforementioned podcast, “ah-wink”.

8. If we gave you $10 million to invest in one thing right now, where would you put it?

In no particular order: $3M for my entire family, both my parents who are living in Winnipeg, Canada, and my extended family in China. $2M for self-sustaining 0-carbon homes for my entire family both myself, my parents, and all of my family members (cousins, aunties, uncles, nephews, etc in China), still unsure how/what (whether it’ll be one of those modular houses like a converted shipping container or one of those new-fangled condo units that exist within a vertical-farming condo building or a retrofitted house of some sort), but regardless I’d invest it in an innovative living situation that won’t negatively impact the environment which could fit a family of myself + my partner + 2 children tops as I intend to have 1 or 2 children only.

$0.5M for investments into public companies with high ESG ratings and simply put – that satisfy the Triple-Bottom Line of People, Profit, and Planet $0.5M for investments into private companies, i.e. tech startups, so yes I’d do some angel investing $0.5M for investments into cryptoassets $0.5M for charities that I believe in fighting for causes that tackle issues of-or-related to entertainment (proper representation/representAsian issues), economics (greater equity for folks who need it most), and environment(al sustainability/resilience).

$1M – for personal goods & services that increase my capacity to contribute to positive scalable, sustainable, and systemic change in this world such as perhaps my own tech startup amongst other things such as investing heavily into goods & services that cut my carbon-emissions down to 0 and can even enable me to have a net-positive instead of just net-neutral impact on the environment.

$2M for the Body of Christ, the Church of God, and the Holy Spirit’s Kingdom on Earth. What this will look like will be donations and contributions to the growth & development of the Christian faith here on this mortal plane of existence.

9. What’s an opinion you have that most people don’t agree with?

Everything that I talk about here in the Renaissance Personhood Manifesto – https://medium.com/innovation-thinking/innovation-thinking-3f6ca57cfd6b

10. Which apps can’t you live without?

Wechat in order to stay in touch with my family in China, Youtube for entertainment’s sake, Linkedin for work purposes, my Email app (the native Google one) for obvious reasons, and the Dwell app to be audibly connected to the Word of God

11. What are you currently learning?

I’m learning how to apply this “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43982455-the-ruthless-elimination-of-hurry – in my life whilst I still hustle to obtain a life of peacefulness & progressiveness through the stabilization of my current work situation as well as obtaining balance more of a balanced life between my professional and personal (wherein the latter is less than the former).

For much the same reasons Hacker Noon decided not to put good ideas behind pop-ups or paywalls — nor abuse your personal data to target you with creepy ads — we also decided that you don’t have to be a #thinkfluencer or have 50k followers on Twitter to earn the recognition that comes with a 2020 Noonie Nomination.

Make somebody’s day and nominate them to be recognized in the internet’s most independent and community-driven awards: NOONIES.TECH.


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