Canva’s co-founder shares what’s been keeping him busy during lockdown

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In the series “Staying inside with…,” we pick the brains of experts and interesting people in tech to find out their favorite books, courses, movies, and podcasts they’ve been enjoying during lockdown. Cameron Adams, the co-founder and CPO of Canva, is the latest to share what’s been keeping him busy whilst staying at home.

As we enter our second month of the coronavirus lockdown, most of us might have mastered some quarantine skills, from cooking to meditation to finally getting around to reading the books you’ve collected over the years. 

If you’ve run out of flour to bake yet another sourdough loaf and there’s nothing left to scroll on your Instagram feed, we’ve got you covered. 

Cameron Adams is the co-founder and CPO of Canva, a graphic design platform that allows users to easily create appealing visual content. In his role, Adams leads the design and product strategy for Canva, which as of 2019 was valued at $ 3.2 billion and boasts over 20 million users across 190 countries.

Before building Canva with his fellow co-founders Melanie Perkins, (also the CEO), and Cliff Obrecht (also the COO), Adams ran his own successful design agency and worked at Google as a designer from 2008 to 2011. 

He’s authored four books and dozens of articles on web design and regularly shares his expertise at renowned conferences around the globe. 

TNW caught up with him to find out what’s been keeping him busy during the coronavirus lockdown and how he’s keeping himself entertained.

Canva’s lockdown tools for remote-working

“We’ve really been pushing Canva to its limits with all the remote work that we’ve been doing,” Adams told TNW. “Designing your own Zoom video background is great in-between meetings and we’ve been collaborating on Canva Presentations a lot more: 50 people working on one slide deck at one time is a glorious thing to see.”

“Conference Call Bingo” is one of Canva’s virtual backgrounds for Zoom. Source: Canva

Canva has recently released a feature that offers a wide range of free and easily editable Zoom background templates. This new tool helps make video conferencing more entertaining with a touch of personalization, allowing people to either use designer-made backgrounds or their own designs.

Adams’ lockdown reading list

Although he’s been working hard on several new feature updates, Adams has also made the most of his time under lockdown and caught up with some reading. 

I’ve been largely using this free time as an opportunity to get away from the screen and enjoy myself with some fiction,” Adams said. “But I’ve also taken on the Simon Sinek doubleheader: Leaders Eat Last and The Infinite Game. On the fiction side, I’ve dipped into some of the classics that I haven’t read firsthand before: Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World and Stella Gibbons’ Cold Comfort Farm. A fantastic new novel I just finished was Blake Crouch’s Recursion — it’s a totally gripping and ingenious piece of science fiction.”

Adams mentioned how Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last and The Infinite game has given him a deeper insight into the secret behind a long-term and strong company culture and how leaders’ decisions and actions can affect those around them. “It is – of course – about leading by example, but also thinking outside of yourself, ensuring that you pass on the skills, knowledge, vision, and ethics to your successors so that they can improve upon your legacy and build a company that truly has a positive impact on the world,” Adams explained.

Adams’ main takeaway from Recursion was a short, bold, and straightforward piece of advice: “Don’t f**k with the space-time continuum.”

Adams’ tips to keep yourself busy during lockdown

Reading books, watching documentaries, and learning new skills are all good ways to encourage your personal growth and keep occupied during lockdown, but Adams strongly advises to stay connected with the people you love. 

“It’s really important to connect with the people that are important to me during this lockdown,” Adams said. “We’ve been spending a lot more quality time as a family, both in the garden and around the house. But it’s also been important to do video chats with all our friends and family, and maybe doing something a bit out of the ordinary with them: Last week we did a remote wine tasting with friends, and we’ve had hilarious times playing Quiplash too.”

Adams’ tips are the perfect example of how entertainment can be educational and help you innovate and grow in a work-related environment, as well as in your daily life. The soft skills you learn from the comfort of your sofa while reading a book can easily be applied to your professional life and keep your brain trained and entertained — even when there’s no stimulus coming from the outside world. However, some good old (virtual) wine tasting can surely help you get through lockdown a little more easily.

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