My name is Mike Stefanik and I’m an IRL Experience Designer. This site is where I write twice weekly about IRL experiences I’m designing and IRL Experience Design in general. I also post about fun and weird experiences other people have made and productivity techniques I’ve found useful.
IRLXD stands for In Real Life Experience Design. Why the “IRL”? Because “XD” on its own is usually associated with software Experience Designers. Some people refer to my type of work as “Experiential Design”, but that sounds confusingly the same. I design experiences for In Real Life only, so I call it IRLXD. (Bonus: “XD” is also the popular emoji for happiness and laughter).
I make fun weird sh*t that connects people. Including: The Stationary 5k, The Austin Messy Homes Tour (the homes tour everybody wanted but was afraid to ask for), Multiple Absurdist Dinner Theaters, the world’s largest playable Cornhole Game, a promotional event called I Got a Bag of Wigs – Let’s Wear Them, a multi-level program to prepare for technological rapture called Singularity Now (not a cult), Slackathlon, (a “decathlon for the rest of us”), a Las Vegas Adventure to fulfill a friend’s lifelong dream, an extremely complicated Seattle Puzzle Adventure, an unholy mashup of mindfulness and entertainment called Mindfultainment, lots of Eureka Room programs such as Turkey Volcano and many more.
I’ve had a lot of different jobs. I have an engineering background, worked at dot-coms, and have 16 years of entrepreneurial experience. (I started the company that publishes these best-selling Austin Events Wall Calendars, among others). My resume also includes working at an amusement park, slinging packages for UPS, shoveling manure, and many other jobs which make me very grateful to be doing what I do today.
Thanks to the range of projects I’ve worked on, I’ve developed skills in many areas. Here’s some: Creative: scripts, music, voice-overs, animation, photography, and video; Technical: TouchDesigner, Final Cut, Apple Motion, and music DAWs; People: building teams of engineers, artists, and many other disciplines and project management; Business: planning, logistics, staffing, sales, partnering, marketing, copywriting, accounting, product development, and merchandising.
I get it done. I’m a productivity nerd, optimist, and love to make things happen – quickly. My blog is currently at 150,000 words in just over a year. I completed novel writing month in 13 days. I’ve written and recorded 20 songs in less than 24 hours. I read an average of a book a week. I started a group called the Producer’s Club for like-minded people.
I am very curious. I love to learn about user experience, psychology, marketing, sales, story, design, event planning, all kinds of IRL experiences, and anything else that might inform or improve my work. (Here’s my favorite books on IRL XD).
I am mission-driven. Missions get a bad rap but if you create and use them well, they are gold. I have a mission. This blog has a mission. My calendar company has a mission. The Eureka Room has a mission. Everything I work on gets its own mission.
I have unsolicited advice for you! It’s all over the blog, but here’s a few of my favorites: Don’t fall in love with your tools (maker trap #1); Don’t confuse what’s enjoyable to create with what’s enjoyable to experience (maker trap #2); Design for feelings (because moments are more important than story); Play is a Trojan horse of change; Happiness is at the intersection of what you enjoy doing and what the world needs done (why hedonism doesn’t work); Without passion, your project will probably be dead within six months; The only hard thing in life, business, and all the universe is managing your emotions; The prime directive of humans is to protect reality; Reflection is a 10x multiplier (at minimum); Language matters; Being good at sales helps everything; Your cutting room floor should be covered in blood; Ideas are cheap (it’s results that matter); Do the Work.
If you would like to contact me, you can use this form.
Related Personal Interests
I like struggle travel. This is the term my friend Matt came up with to describe how I like to spend my time off. It usually involves taking a bad idea too far or putting myself in situations I need to get out of, or are awkward, or physically uncomfortable and are generally regarded as “terrible” by that majority of humanity who wouldn’t know fun if they broke down in front of it in the middle of nowhere in some country they’d never heard of. See my Struggle Travel Resource page here.
I’m always disappointed when I don’t see photos in someone’s “About” section. So…