It’s a leap year and it’s going to be LEAP’s year!

Rob Hamblen
4 min readFeb 29, 2020


So 2020 is a year of firsts for me with Leap, only 2 months in and it’s already a rollercoaster ride. More highs than lows but an awesome ride all the same. In the two months since I left AJ&Smart, I’ve turned down permanent job offers with ridiculously high incomes with the perkiest of perks for the path less trod, and certainly more perilous. I chose to take the Leap, going out on my own and starting from scratch. (Did you get it?!?) Interestingly for me, I wondered if these amazing opportunities were somehow presented to me to test my mind or sanity to see if I could stand behind my own words and Be The Leap myself!

Setting up Leap has been a relatively smooth process, to be honest, but that doesn’t mean I’ve not had sleepless nights pondering whether the financial security of a “proper job” would have been the wiser choice. I’ve been kept buoyant that carving my path is the right choice by so many old colleagues friends and clients. When things felt a little tough, and they have, serendipity would have an email land in my inbox with a request for a collaboration or sales deck in New York, Abu Dhabi or London or even someone just getting in touch to give their best wishes to Leap. In my first month, I’ve been fortunate enough to run a Design Sprint in for a bank in Mexico City! The first of Leap’s Sprints… that’s pretty impressive, even if I do say so myself. I’ve also got my first intern starting in a couple of weeks so it feels like I am ‘leaping’ ahead. More to come on this topic btw!

Custom workshop for Blinkist, Leap’s first client.
Custom workshops for Blinkist, Leap’s first client.

The hands-on work that Leap is also involved with is always exciting to me, which currently ranges from custom workshops for Blinkist (who were actually Leap’s first client), UX and Strategy workshops, designing future product releases on an already pretty complex Healthcare app to researching, recruiting, facilitating and prototyping the Sprint in Mexico (facilitating was the easy part by the way, which never felt like work!) But, the housekeeping, accounting, setting up accounts, countless visits to the tax office (Finanzamt) and now the bank (yes I had to use a real one… yeah yeah boring for all of who know my digital Fintec background!), finding new software (that’s compatible, etc) Oooophf… that’s drudgery and made even tougher that I’m here in Berlin and trying to do it in a different language, (one I’ve still not got to grips with!) it has made the progress a little bit harder but not impossible.

That said, my take away from my first two months is that the very few lows are well worth all the many highs I’ve had. I enjoyed my time at AJ&Smart but I retrospectively I was put in a position where I was coasting, plodding along in something that I could do with my eyes shut and as time went on taking the leap myself was the gentle shove I needed to go back to pushing myself again.

HMW with Leap’s first Sprint in Mexico City
HMW’s underway in Mexico City with a Leap Fintech Sprint.

I feel invigorated and motivated about each day at Leap. There’s something really rewarding about it being something I’m growing and with my vision of what I want a new company to be, (and not be!) but I’ve also enjoyed flexing some of my other muscles and utilizing some of my skills and experience I’ve amassed over the last… shit should I say … over 25 years in the design industry especially with all my Design Thinking experience which I’m also intertwining into Leap Sprints. The other plus side of creating my own company is that I can decide the trajectory, the culture, and the ethos but most importantly, I’m able to pick and choose, whom I engage with, how and whom I want to work with and also who my elite team of Leapers will ultimately be. I also find it highly motivating to help talented people reach their potential, or at least that Leap will somehow be a part of their journey in helping them achieve amazing things. It’s always a symbiotic relationship where we both come away learning something new whilst being on a journey together. I see it as a pay-it-forward to acknowledge the design company where I first started who saw my potential and gave me a chance. Thank you Triad Creative.

I’ve also been fortunate in my first 2 months to be involved in design seminars and workshops with university design students from Edinburgh and Rotterdam which is a fantastic way to also spot up and coming talent. This will continue to be something where Leap is wanting to invest more time.

I feel so lucky that life just unfolds the way it does and I’m looking forward to 2020 to see where the leap year is going to take Leap and the experience our journey as it unfolds!

Follow our journey at LEAP. @betheleap on Instagram and Linkedin.

Published By

Rob Hamblen

Originally published at



Rob Hamblen

Founder of LEAP. ‘be the leap’ — ex Creative Director of UX for IBM Studios. ex Senior Design Manager Qualcomm Inc. ex Product Design Director for AJ&Smart.