We had the good fortune of connecting with Karim Merchant and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Karim, what role has risk played in your life or career?
That’s a great question. At its core, I would say that most major wins I’ve experienced in life were due to taking a major risk. Now it’s important to note that I don’t advocate haphazard risk taking, but when an opportunity presents itself and you genuinely feel like you have the power to drive a desired outcome, then It’s a pretty good indicator that the given risk is worth taking. Risk itself is an incredible teacher, in my opinion. The old saying, “necessity is the mother of invention” certainly holds true when talking about it. Being forced to rise to the occasion and to adapt and overcome significantly accelerates the learning curve of many things and in turn teach new skills which bring new opportunities. By acquiring new knowledge and experience, you open new doors, even if you fail. I think, in order to be successful when taking risks, it’s important to be optimistic without delusion. Being able to both believe in yourself and the outcome while understanding the very real obstacles in your path allows for a certain level of clarity. It’s that clarity that lets you identify when a risk is paying off or when it is time to switch gears. I guess risk taking is a very multifaceted situation that is incredibly unique to the individual. In my life, risk has allowed me to change careers and pursue something that invigorates me and ignites my passion. It has given me the insight that only failure and persistence can. It taught me about my needs, not just my wants, and It’s helped me better understand my strengths as much as my weaknesses. Risk taking is an incredibly vast and in-depth topic that is better suited for a book or even a volume of books, but I’ll wrap up my thoughts with a few short takeaways on the subject regardless. 1) Risk teaches us lessons and those lessons often lead us down new intriguing paths. 2) Success is not found; it is earned through taking risks and facing adversity. 3) You don’t achieve your goals and dreams by playing it safe. No risk, no reward. Risk-taking is definitely something that comes more easily to those with time or money on their side, but a well hedged bet can pay off for anyone and the lessons learned in the process can be priceless.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My career is definitely still in it’s infancy, I’ve got mountains to climb and oceans to cross before I’m done. As of now , I’ve owned and operated my own freelance consultancy for about four years, where I take on industrial design projects as well as product visualization projects. I currently work full time at a major product visualization software company where I create learning content geared toward other Designers and Product Engineers. I’m also a part-time Advisory Board Member for UCR’s Design Thinking Executive Program. I’d say for being fairly new to the industry, I’ve already started creating a positive impact and I only plan on increasing the level of impact I create. Was it easy? no it was not and it doesn’t seem to get any easier. In order to stay relevant and stay hungry I have to continue challenging myself while at the same time coming to terms with the fact that positive impact and growth is a marathon and not a sprint. I think the “process” just helps me become more in-tune with what I need from the world and what I am best suited to impart on it. I’ve definitely learned more about patience, and persistence since beginning my career, and I’ve also learned to take advantage of as many opportunities to grow as possible now, so that I can be selective in the future. If there is anything I’d like the world to know about myself and my brand, It’s that I’m here and I’m coming to create lasting positive impact on this world no matter the obstacle.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Oh that’s a hard one, there is just so much to do in LA and the surrounding areas. I’d definitely recommend visiting Down Town LA, lots of great spots to eat at the Row DTLA as well as near Arts District. I’d have to recommend stopping by Angel City Brewery and taking a beer tour then having a couple before catching an Uber or wandering the area on foot, there is a lot of interesting places to pop into around there. Can’t forget about Grand Central Market for an interesting and varied lunch stop. If they’re into art and museums I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Getty, Norton Simon, LACMA and the Griffith Observatory. definitely must visit locations for the art and science lovers. I myself am a huge fan of the magic of movies and have always been partial to Universal studios and Disneyland, if you’re willing to make the drive. The beaches are also a great place to wander and catch a bite, Santa Monica is great. There is just such an incredible amount of things to do in the area. Depending on what time of the year you visit the Greater LA area. you could literally surf in the morning, golf in the afternoon and snowboard at night. not many places around where you can do that.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
An incredibly huge shoutout to my parents for all the sacrifice, support, perspective and life lessons. And, another shoutout to the JRE podcast and its many guests that have also helped shape my understanding and perspective of the world since I was a kid.