We had the good fortune of connecting with John Mayes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John, the decisions we make often shape our story in profound ways. What was one of the most difficult decisions you’ve had to make?
The most difficult decision that I’ve ever had to make I have actually made several times, and that is the decision to abandon what I am doing and start over. Every time it is agonizingly painful and, honestly, I resist making it. But in every case it has resulted in a positive move forward. After investing 4 years of undergraduate work in studying to be an architect and 5 years in the profession, I made the decision to abandon that path and pursue another. After subsequently pursuing youth ministry for several years in graduate school and 3 years in the profession, I again made the decision to abandon that path and pursue another. After investing myself for 13 years into the community in Charlotte, North Carolina, I made the decision to abandon that place and move to another. Starting over always seems like you are rejecting your past, wasting all the time and effort you put into getting to where you are, only to go in a completely different direction. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, being able to make such radical change is empowering. Furthermore, I have found that contrary to the feelings at the time, I have not abandoned all that I have learned and done before for a new path, but instead find fresh new purpose and meaning in all that I have learned to date, only applied in a new way.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Career. That’s such a loaded term. It implies intent and a plan had since high school or college. But I would say like so many that my career path has not been straight or clear. Early on I had a vision of being an architect and soon after that I found purpose in being a mentor as a youth director. The reality is that both of these diverse paths along with the many experiences they offered only planted the seeds for yet another career in a totally different field … the field of user experience design in a technology company. I’ve never been trained formally to be a user experience designer. Unless of course if you count the 4 years training to think like an architect. After all an architect is just a user experience designer for the built environment. Of course you would have to also consider the education training I received in graduate school in preparation for my youth work. After all a key aspect to user experience design is guiding and educating your audience through the interfaces that you design, so education theory and techniques come in handy. To be honest, I was not entirely clear what I was looking for when I stumbled into my current “career.” I had already made the dramatic move without a job from the east coast to Long Beach, California. That purposeful jolt to my life I hoped would awaken the ability to see creative options for myself. So when I did stumble into the offices at JLOOP, I knew I had found something that excited me, challenged me, and that embraced the diverse experience that I had. The seemed to know right away that I brought to their team a set of skills that they were missing. And I saw a team that had a creative vision for using technology to make positively contributions to people’s lives. I was immediately all in! For almost 10 years I have worked on creative technology projects at JLOOP. Every project has been different. Every project has been an opportunity to learn and understand another business or aspect of human culture. But the challenge itself has been inspiring and that alone has lightened the burden and made it feel easy and natural for me. Through out my “career,” in architecture, ministry, and in technology design, what I have learned is that you should never be afraid to abandon your path and start over because even in starting over you bring with you all that you learned to the entirely new task. I have also learned that its far more successful to be on your path with others. Working with a team that understands how to work together is incredibly fulfilling.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
For many Sundays during the 10 years I have lived in the LA area now, I will jump in the car with my best friend (who by the way also migrated from the east coast after me), and we will venture out to discover something in the area that we have not seen yet. Sometimes we return to some of our favorites on those Sundays too. So basically for 10 years my best friend and I have been seeking out best times all over LA. That said, when family and friends come to visit I love to take that as an opportunity to get out and explore the city and show off its many unique sites. My favorites include …
1. Griffith Park Observatory – Seeing the view of the city at night or in the day as well as going through the observatory itself
2. Clifton’s Cafeteria – How weirdly wonderful it is to eat there and see its strange architecture
3. Point Dume – A great opportunity to travel up the coast of Malibu, get an amazing view of the pacific and be close to the shooting locations of some iconic movies.
4. Joshua Tree National Park – One of my favorite location. The natural beauty and stark landscape is incredible.
5. LA City Hall – Iconic marker for Los Angeles and backdrop to many movies about the area.
6. Bon Aventure Hotel – Great place for a drink while taking in the uniquely 70’s architecture.
7. Venice Canals – Great place to walk around and see some unique homes.
8. Lunch in the art district – Great eateries and artsy places to drop in and explore
9. Santee Alley – Go barter for clothes and buy some street tacos
10. Watt’s Towers – Feel like your on an alien planet when viewing these truly unique sculptures
11. Hollywood Bowl – If a good concert is in town this is a great place to spend the evening after having a picnic out front.
12. Echo Park Lake – Paddle boating on a swan, going for a walk, and picnicking in the park
13. Queen Mary – Take a tour of the past or have breakfast on the Queen
14. Catalina Island – Spend a day out on the island with a jeep tour, zip line tour or just having drinks on the beach.
15. Palm Springs Tramway – Such a spectacular view as you ascent the mountain and breath taking views of the valley below.
16. Drive around Palos Verdes Estates – Take in the view off the coast. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would dedicate my shoutout first to my parents who have supported me in all my endeavors throughout my life. Without them I would not be where I am. I would also like to dedicate my shoutout to the company I work for at JLOOP. Working with them has been a model for how fulfilling and meaningful my work life can be.
Other: I am not on any social media.
All images are by me.