Julian Haddad helps designers overcome burnout with the CATCH method

Julian Haddad is a designer and coach who helps other people in creative fields through tough conditions at work and redesigns their lives by mastering their stories. This is very useful for people who work in design alone (i.e. the design person at a company rather than being part of an agency).

He has developed the CATCH Method to do this, which involves people working out what their story is to set goals for self-improvement. It also helps people to reconnect with their reasons for going into their career and rediscover why they love being in their creative field.

Julian, what made you decide to become a coach for designers and other leaders?

The simple answer is that I have been a designer my entire life, and have always gravitated towards developing my leadership skills. Still, the decision to coach really hit me at my last job. Prior to working at Magic Leap as a Product Designer, I was jumping from job to job, convincing myself that I hadn’t found the right team yet. I always found myself in positions that required me to be “the only designer” at a company, building the brand from scratch and advocating for the importance of design as a critical role in how a company operates. It was a constant uphill battle, and one that caused severe burnout, which compromised my physical and mental health.

I’m very fortunate to have found success in design, having worked for successful tech companies in both managerial roles and production roles. However, once I reached what I thought was the holy grail of design in the technology field, I still found myself unhappy. It was a huge turning point for me, because I realised that my definition of success wasn’t a higher salary and a fancy title. It was deeper than that. I realised I had lost my ‘why’. Then I started asking the right questions, and found that other designers and leaders were struggling with the same thing. Over time, I developed a plan, and empowered my colleagues to overcome their traumas, own their stories, and align with their core values so they can set more meaningful goals.

What is the CATCH method?

CATCH stands for ‘Creative Awareness Training Can Heal.’ It’s a program that involves 1-on-1 coaching over a specific period of time, focusing on empowering designers to redesign their lives by mastering their stories. We work on unravelling every aspect of their lives, identifying the story that connects the pieces together, and owning it. With that newfound self awareness, we then work on setting goals that matter to their unique journey. There’s a lot of accountability and reflection, which sets the tone for developing positive habits that can completely transform their lives.



How did you develop this strategy?

I’m drawing inspiration from a combination of all of the different design processes I’ve practised in my career, particularly those established in the tech industry. Rather than the product being an app or a website, the end product is the client! A lot of the process shares a lot of similarities with the product development life-cycle: generating requirements (unravelling), establishing personas (owning your story), writing user stories (prioritising), sprint planning (goal setting), and retrospectives (reflecting on what can improve). By using this as a groundwork, and implementing what I have studied through meditation and behavioural psychology, the end result becomes a self-aware person that is constantly improving and iterating on their approach to life.

What are some of the most common problems that your clients have?

The most common issue that clients have is definitely losing sight of their ‘why’, or their reason for doing what they’re doing. That’s been verbalised to me more than any other struggle. What happens is that as creatives, we subject ourselves to joining corporate cultures that are often built with hierarchies and systems that are fear-based. We suffer through this routine, and become complacent in favour of a paycheck. This leads to burnout because you get out of alignment with your creative process in favour of seeking validation from your company, and this can severely affect your physical and mental health. Almost every designer I have spoken to has expressed their concern about ‘not being heard’, or ‘feeling like their creativity doesn’t matter.’ Designers have unfortunately chosen to stay quiet because they have prioritised the money and status, but the reality is that if it’s out of alignment with your purpose, it’ll cause resentment and manifest itself in another way.

How successful is your coaching in resolving internal issues for people?

At its purest form, I’ve seen how powerful it can be to hold space for an individual to share their experiences. Bearing witness to someone’s story is a spiritual act. It’s what erases division and connects us all as people. That realisation is so powerful for a lot of my clients. Leaders for example, start to practice vulnerability in the workplace, and understand that the people they are managing require trust, more than anything, to succeed. Designers start getting creative about how they can bring their core values into their team dynamics. If a designer want to work on their leadership qualities: find a creative way to lead a brainstorming session with your team. If a leader confronts conflict: learn to listen with compassion, and establish meaningful connections during 1-on-1’s that are based on trust. By finding resolutions to your internal struggles, and being mindful of your values, you will project a completely different kind of energy to those around you, and in turn, attract exactly what you need to lead a successful, happy life.

Do you find that most of the designers you speak to have similar stories?

My clients share a lot of similarities with my own story, which ultimately makes sense. I’m speaking from my life experiences, and want to work with designers who are going through a similar journey. Like me, the designers I speak to have struggled with taking risks, and lose trust in their intuition. Most of the designers I speak to also struggle with fear of judgement and rejection, just like I did. I learned some of my hardest lessons from failing as a leader, over and over again. Leaders that approach me fear that they are doing the same. The connection I have with every designer & leader that I speak to is very special. There’s a lot of mutual support and respect.

Do you have any plans to expand/amend your coaching?

Absolutely! I eventually want to expand my coaching to group coaching, which will happen soon. I also want to host various workshops that allow designers to use their stories to make an impact on their communities. My dream is for every designer to liberate their creativity so they can figure out ways to have a meaningful impact on society. Anything I can do to bring positivity and change to the world is a step forward in whatever my coaching platform ends up becoming.

Thank you Julian for your time!
If you want to get in touch with Julian Haddad about the CATCH method or to find out how he can help you then you can follow up with him at https://thecatchmethod.com

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
Executive Editor at Best in Australia. Mike has spent over a decade covering news related to business leaders and entrepreneurs around Australia and across the world. You can contact Mike here.
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