Did you know that ancient Chinese philosophy is experiencing a renaissance as big business uses its principles in the digital space? Feng shui, the ancient Chinese philosophical system that deals in harmonising people with their surroundings, is experiencing something of a resurgence. Used for everything from architecture to urban planning in Asia for thousands of years, Feng Shui is now being applied to the realms of user experience. By leveraging technologies to provide a sustainable sense of harmony and delight, the world’s most recognizable brands are now being transformed to be truly human-centric. Meet the guy who gets that job done.
Bo Zou, also known as Boz, Founder of BOZ UX and currently Head of UX at HeathWallace Asia, a JWT-owned digital user experience company committed to creating more human-friendly experiences and sustainable solutions for leading brands.
Prior to establishing an experience design studio called BOZ UX, Bo Zou was working at Critical Mass as an associate planning director. Bo Zou has also led the User Experience team at Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Canada, overseeing the experience strategy and design through all digital channels. Some of the clients that he has worked with include: Citibank, Scotiabank, HSBC, Manulife, ANZ, AMEX, Nissan/Infiniti, Molson Coors, Ikea, Toshiba, Microsoft, Unilever, Best Buy and Pfizer.
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
The goal of User Experience Design is to bring a sense of harmony to the interactions of brands, technologies and people. I incorporate the ancient principals of Feng Shui to make design human and delightful for everyday living.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
HeathWallace at WPP offered me the chance to oversee the entire user experience proposition on a truly global scale, delivering positive business impact on prominent financial brands, from setting the strategic direction of UX solutions to the mentoring, management and resourcing of all UX design team members.
It was a big decision to leave Canada, but I see a huge opportunity in Asia right now. Anyone who desires to be a part of the global economy needs to be there. And since there is a strong connection between Asia and Canada, I plan to be back and forth a lot.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Influencing the world’s biggest brands, and showing them how important real users’ needs are, is definitely gratifying. By enlightening these CEOs, CMOs and CTOs, I feel I play a part in ensuring they don’t lose sight of the customer needs. It’s sort of like “Undercover Boss”… we are pushing these companies to rethink their business and reshape the brand experience.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I know I will still be in the business of transforming businesses. Perhaps known for revolutionizing the way brands talk to their customers, as well as enhancing and improving the human relationship to technology. I plan to fully live as a global citizen by that point.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Work/life balance is always a challenge as I become busier. Making time for family and loved ones is tough, but I feel that I am solving those issues by aligning my business and life goals. For example, I work towards bringing back that sense of connection, which many view technology has stripped away. My vision is to see technological advancements that support both business and personal relationships, strengthening local and global interactions.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
I am of the mind that wealth is important. Money is a currency for possibilities and real transformation, after all. The world around us moves at such a rapid pace. As a result, my measurement of success is based upon how many matches I can strike. How many areas can I light a fire, generate new ideas, and achieve change? Answering that question on a regular basis is my yardstick.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Absolutely starting my own business – BOZ UX – and getting those first clients.
Having a vision to build something innovative and forward-thinking, while maintaining my roots in ancient wisdom, was risky. It took a lot of courage to take the steps required. However, once the belief was there and the foundation was laid, possibilities just opened up. Because I know that taking ownership and making decisions fearlessly can be so rewarding, I pull those virtues into every task.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals? Particularly those who are looking to establish themselves online.
Personal brands are important. Similar to large businesses, people are producing content on a minute-by-minute basis, so the pressure is on. My advice would be to not produce something that feels forced. Positive and impactful social presence is all about clearly communicating what you stand for. Ask yourself: Is this what I am really passionate about? Is this aligned with my life goals?
Balance out who you are with what you do. And always remember there is nothing wrong with starting small.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Toronto – Khao San Road on Adelaide Street. I love this area of the city! The simplicity of the menu and urban atmosphere really appeal to me. Pizzeria Libretto on Ossington… their simple, honest and natural craft makes their mozzarella real artisan Neapolitan.
Hong Kong – I always find the most delicious things at local cafes. There is a palpable sense of craft infused into everything on offer. Visitors must try ice lemon tea, and there is also a Hong Kong-style milk tea that is amazingly silky in texture.
Singapore – One of my favourite cities. The many hawker centers – filled with all kinds of East and South East Asian food – are so exciting. Very affordable and mouth-watering. Gotta try the cereal-coated butter prawns at Newton Food centre.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Travel is my passion. When I can do it for non-business purposes, I don’t ever follow travel guides. There is something wonderfully grounding about letting my intuition guide me in a foreign place.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Japan. The grand contrasts make it unlike any other country. I love how ancient traditions are blended with ultra modernity.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
The Sonics – Have Love, Will Travel.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I’d be the one most likely to be a film director. To be able to spend time crafting those memorable moments that become an experience for people, while facilitating the temporary forgetting of modern stress and anxieties, is a fascination that I feel like I might pursue in the future.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
My focus in this arena is investing in the next generation. I contribute to education initiatives in China and Southeast Asia. Local art and culture is important, of course, so I do support institutions that further those causes.
What to you is notable?
Living life on your own terms while also being of service to others.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Android phone, MacBook Pro, and an iPad.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)