Liang Shi embraces fun.
Fun might be the last value you’d expect from a designer who founded a company in a weekend and grew a site from 2 to 14 million unique visitors in one year. Liang’s story proves that fun might actually be the key ingredient to success.
Refreshingly candid about her experiences, Liang opens up to us about life as a Creative Director at Soma, the idea behind her companies FUN FUN FIELD TRIPS! and FUN FUN DINNERS! and her belief that vulnerability can lead to strong connections.
Tell us about yourself.
I am the Creative Director at Soma by day, creator of FUN FUN FIELD TRIPS! and FUN FUN DINNERS! by night, and secretly known for unsolicited expert advice on how to unclog your toilet without a plunger.
For the past 3 years, I was a freelance designer and worked with clients ranging from Condé Nast and GE to startups like MindBodyGreen, Levo League, docwise and Gate Guru.
What have been the most exciting projects you’ve worked on?
Soma has definitely been the most exciting and challenging project I’ve worked on. As an 8 person team, I am literally responsible for all branding, design, photography, social media and oversee engineering. If I wasn’t wearing so many hats, I probably wouldn’t be half as crazy, nor would I love it so much. I’ve seen us grow from the Kickstarter days to now being in Target stores nationwide, and on Amazon. And we’re just 8 freakin’ people!
Other exciting things I’ve done in the past include redesigning MindBodyGreen.com and helping them grow from 2 million unique visitors a month to 14 million in under a year. And docwise, the very first app I designed, now has over 100,000 users.
I actually stalled on the idea for FUN FUN FIELD TRIPS! for a whole year. I’m one of those people who loves to dream up and plan things to a fantastical degree, which keeps me from executing because it ends up feeling ridiculously daunting.
I had to get honest and ask myself: why am I doing this? When I pushed aside my ego, my desire to look good (and to avoid looking bad) and my fears of failure, I realized I just wanted to have fun, and I wanted others to have fun with me. And when it was distilled down to just that simple desire, everything else became easy.
I scouted a spot for the first field trip, went there, mapped out the itinerary, and built a website in 48 hours. It was very much “done is better than perfect.” I didn’t even create a logo until after the website launched, which is like, breaking some sort of designer code. I chose the most fun path for me to pursue this, and that made things easy.
I also think once you build momentum, the snowball effect continues. FUN FUN DINNERS! was born during the same weekend, while I was procrastinating on working on field trips. I had 30 minutes before a birthday party when the idea struck. I thought hey, why not – and threw up a landing page for the first dinner and blast it to my social networks. My goal was to get 8 people to come the following week. In 3 days, I had 60 people on the waiting list.
Sometimes, your procrastination can be a good thing.
Tell us about the Radical Honesty photos on your Instagram?
It was bizarre to me that the default answer anytime someone asked me how I was doing, no matter how I felt, was always “good.” It seems polite, non-confrontational, and doesn’t burden others with your problems.
But, really, it’s inauthentic and a lie, and the other person can probably tell. And we end up in a loop where we all pretend we’re okay. But really, are we? What if being vulnerable and open is actually being strong? What if sharing what you’re going through, however weak it makes you seem, actually gives others the strength to share and connect with you?
I found that when I just shared honestly with people the struggles and things I was going through in life, it didn’t burden them. It actually gave us something meaningful to connect over and share. Thus, radical honesty was born. Now cab drivers and waiters probably regret asking me this question.
Why do you use about.me and what’s your favorite feature?
I use about.me as a cover page and hub for all the things I’m up to. I’ve been using the site since college as the one place I send everyone to to get the full story on what I do. Since I have a diverse experience, no other platform really allows me to tell that story. I really like the new Backstory feature because I can go into even more detail about all that I’m up to.
Anna Lizaur is a Marketing Manager with about.me. She graduated from the University of Virginia. Anna is fluent in Spanish and can count to 100 in Chinese.