Fast Company: What’s your best habit, and what’s your worst?
Natasha Jen: They are one and the same: the urge to solve problems, all problems. The great thing about solving problems is that it brings satisfaction when tasks are complete; on the other hand, I tend to take on too many problems at once.
What do you do when you’re creatively stuck?
Visit Bergdorf Goodman.
What are the buzzwords you never want to hear again?
“At a high level.” This phrase avoids the real problem, and the resulting outcome from the high-level talk is never high level or specific.
What’s the best mistake you ever made?
All my mistakes felt terrible, but you learn from them and move on.
How do you unplug?
Watch horror or sci-fi movies.
Is there a book you recommend to everyone?
The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, a biophysicist. Published in 1987, it’s a book of seemingly simple questions that only you can answer. For example: “Technology has become a part of us. Would you rather lose the use of all motorized vehicles, all telecommunication devices and computers, or one of your hands?”
Is there advice you’re glad you ignored?
I don’t remember any because I ignored all of it.
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
“Just say no.”
Did you have a career fork in the road?
Staying at a corporation that would sponsor my H1 visa but make me unhappy, or quitting the job (and risk being deported). I chose the latter and found a job at a design studio that I loved.
Do you have a work uniform?
Jeans, a designer top, and great shoes with 3-inch heels.
Who is your style icon?
André Leon Talley.
Do you have a favorite object in your office?
A Doraemon figure on my desk.
What is your biggest indulgence?
Buying designer clothes but never wearing them.
Do you have a favorite form of exercise?
I [took] a swimming class in 2019 and overcame my water phobia. The sense of freedom that
it brings is something that no equipment-based workout can offer.
Favorite New York Spots
What TV show are you mid-binge on?
The X-Files. I love that it’s not a series; each episode is a case. You dive in for 40 minutes, and you get out.
Do you have a mantra?
Play while we can.
What is your go-to food for fast fuel?
Is there a meal you still fantasize about?
Taiwanese oyster omelet. I haven’t found any in New York City.
Do you have a “get pumped” song?
“California Love” by Tupac and Dr. Dre.
Is there a meeting you never miss?
Any meeting with a client.