Phnam Bagley – Partner & Creative Director at Nonfiction

Phnam Bagley’s childhood dream of being an astrophysicist evolved into designing for the future and she loves it!

What’s your story?

I grew up in the projects outside Paris and drreamed of becoming an astrophysicist and an artist.

I stumbled upon a design school and learned to design space habitats.

Now I get to design the future of everything.

What excites you most about your industry?

I work in hardware and systems design. I love the power of connecting disciplines together. I work at the intersection of science, tech, business, and design.

After consulting in this industry for years, I found the work and leadership to be quite boring, so I created a path for my company that is unapologetically focused on the future.

Phnam in Iran

What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?

I don’t like “good enough”. Never have.

If something doesn’t bring me joy, influence, and intellectual stimulation, I feel the need to radically transform it.

I surround myself with people who are comfortable practicing their wild imagination and following through all the way. Everything else is noise.

What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey? 

Always seeing beyond what people expect in time, space, and culture.

Being a leader AND doing the job along with my team. I like to get my hands dirty. It gives me perspective and builds empathy towards others.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

“Brie goes well with bananas.” – my dad

In order to believe this statement, you have to:

1. get over the preconceived idea that it sounds disgusting
2. try it and see for yourself
3. realize there is something in the marriage of flavors and textures that is borderline magical
4. influence people to take the same risks

Who inspires you?

Diana Vreeland, aka The Empress of Fashion. Ex-Editor at Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, MET, etc. She was more interested in pushing people to do the extraordinary than following outdated academic guidelines. She did it with style, personality, and a whole lot of dare.

What have you learnt recently that blew you away?

Research looks to the past. Search looks to the future.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

The path I have taken is weird, convoluted, and risky. Although some of it really sucked, I wouldn’t change a thing.

How do you unwind?

  • I turn off work in the evenings and on weekends.
  • I see my friends regularly and cook for them.
  • I travel to extremely remote places in the world.
  • I practice yoga, snowboard and go on hikes.

What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?

Don’t waste your time on people who don’t respect what you do.

For a long time, I tried to convince the most closed-minded people about the value of my company’s work. The ROI is terrible and the energy put into it is exhausting. It sounds evident now, but I was so adamant about shaking up the status quo that it hurt my business.

Everyone in business should read this book:

I really enjoy Noah Yuval Harari’s books (Sapiens, Homo Deus) as well as Alain de Botton’s (The Course of Love). Both authors helped me see humans from the inside out and vice-versa, a great skill to have in business.

Nonfiction Stack logo

Shameless plug for your business:

At Nonfiction, we design the future of everything. We turn science fiction into reality for a better future.

We design and engineer healthcare devices, educational systems, smart cities, space habitats for the benefit of humans and the ecosystem.

How can people connect with you?

Social Media Links?

This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.

About The EnterpriseZone Writing Team

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