Making UX Work with Joe Natoli

Episode 06, Jason Bowden :: Faith, Hope and UX

April 09, 2018 Season 1 Episode 6
Making UX Work with Joe Natoli
Episode 06, Jason Bowden :: Faith, Hope and UX
Chapters
Making UX Work with Joe Natoli
Episode 06, Jason Bowden :: Faith, Hope and UX
Apr 09, 2018 Season 1 Episode 6
Joe Natoli / Jason Bowden
UX designer Jason Bowden believes in making the world a better place through design, and in building and coaching the next generation of user-centered, business-savvy, ethical designers.
Show Notes Transcript

My guest for this month's episode is Jason Bowden.

Jason’s core disciplines lie in 3 focused areas: UX design strategy, creative direction, and mentorship. He’s been a designer his entire life, but professionally since 2001 or so.

Jason believes in making the world a better place through design, and in building and coaching the next generation of user-centered, business-savvy, ethical designers.

And that last part is important — because as I’m sure you’ll pick up on, Jason truly believes in hope. He believes in the good in people and is steadfastly committed to his family, which drives both his work ethic and his worldview.

Here’s where you can find and follow Jason:

Website: jasonbowden.com

Twitter: @jason_bowden

LinkedIn: jasonbowden

Speaker 1:
0:08
Hello and welcome to making you work to give you X podcast. I'm your host Giuntoli and our focus here is on folks like you doing real often unglamorous work in the real world. You'll hear about their struggles their successes and their journey to and through the trenches of product design development and of course user experience. My guest today is Jason bood and Jason's core disciplines are in three focused areas.
Speaker 2:
0:38
You design strategy creative direction and mentorship. He's been a designer his entire life but professionally since 2001. Jason believes firmly in making the world a better place through design and in building and coaching the next generation of user centered business savvy ethical designers. And that last part is important because as I'm sure you'll pick up on Jason truly believes in him he believes in the good in people and he is steadfastly committed to his family which drives both his work ethic and his worldview. Here's my conversation with Jason Bowden on making ex work.
Speaker 3:
1:16
So Jason how are you. I'm great. I'm terrific actually terrific. Please do tell. Well it's it's been a good sort of crazy week but in a very sort of uplifting exciting way. You know just a whole lot of stuff going on. I really like being busy and I like making progress on a lot of fronts. That stuff is really fun and I was also at the UIC conference. So I came back a little inspired little motivated. So that's also good.
Speaker 4:
1:45
Yeah it's always good to go to conferences like that. For me at least made it so much for the other speakers in the presentations but just the energy that happens yeah it happens like that I think it's really really positive to charging in a way.
Speaker 3:
1:57
Well hundreds of like minded people are hanging out together as always.
Speaker 4:
2:00
Yeah yeah. So what are you working on right now.
Speaker 3:
2:03
I'm doing some sort of see I would call them updates to existing things going on. So I don't know if you're familiar with the Konno model but you know it's this is this way to sort of judge customer delight. Joan spel talks about all the time know we were doing a bunch of basic expectation upgrading which is great. You know fixing things like search results or enhancing search results I should say you know looking at the ways that users log into our site that kind of thing. So it's stuff that I really enjoy. It's sort of this ongoing maintenance but it's always making things better.
Speaker 4:
2:45
Yeah I mean kind of. I'm interested actually in how you're approaching that and implementing it because kind of a seems to be one of those things in terms of you know what I've run across where it's implemented either to great success.
Speaker 5:
2:59
Or great frustration.
Speaker 4:
3:03
So I'm curious about how it's working and your organization and how it's received and how or whatever it's getting.
Speaker 3:
3:10
Yes. It's it's a couple of levels right. So in theory it's great and everybody. It's easy to visualize and it's easy to see. And it makes for a lot of sense when I'm selling it to somebody. But in the implementation part of it it's always a little bit. I wouldn't I don't think it's fair to call it frustrating but it's definitely. Much more difficult in practice than it is in theory. Put it that way. You know we are constantly evangelizing constantly selling constantly testing and using analytics to to make sure that we're focusing on the right things and a lot of times those happen to be basic expectations. So. It sort of works out in the Konno framework if you will but I wouldn't say that it's an overall adopted mindset everywhere but it's something that we talk about all the time in the context of fixing things and we should also probably and this is my bet for anybody who's listening that doesn't know what kind of lives maybe we should take a minute to to describe how it works or at least how you're approaching it and yours.
Speaker 4:
4:15
Yeah sure.
Speaker 3:
4:16
So again using a GERITZ poor model I'm talking about the basic things that people expect from your from your service or from your website. His example is in a hotel. You always expect hot water even if you're on the 30th floor. Must be right. Yeah yeah exactly. Exactly. But the infrastructure involved in actually you know pumping hot water to the 30th floor and keeping it circulating all the time is a lot and it takes a lot of work and it's expensive. And that's the that's the line that we're always having to sell on. Which makes sense. Yeah. On top of that you know you have your standard sort of progression of features that you're always releasing new features release and always improving your product. And then on top of that you have these things called the riders which are little maybe bits of copy or animations or ways to give the user a feeling of meaning that really add to your product. But the the thing about those is you cannot implement dividers before you do the basic expectations. That's the bottom line I guess.
Speaker 4:
5:24
Yeah. Which which makes total sense the progression of that where it get a bottom line deal breakers or deal makers as it were that absolutely have to be implemented and if we don't at least hit that bar everything else is not that which is something that I think a lot of people who do what we do experience especially when they're working with clients or working inside organizations.
Speaker 3:
5:46
Yeah exactly. A product manager put it to me very well he said you know we're always chasing the shiny new toy. So any time we have a new feature coming out all the teams get diverted to that and we work on them release that. Meanwhile you know people can't misspell a word on your website because you haven't addressed the search results algorithm.
Speaker 4:
6:07
How much of a struggle is that for you to move people's attention away from the easily exciting stuff. And back to the real problems which if you don't solve. You don't get where you're going.
Speaker 3:
6:22
Sure it's it's getting easier. You know I think it's it's human nature to always want to do the new thing and build the new experience and I am definitely guilty of it too. But we you know we we talk about these things all the time and we have visibility into the backlog and we can we can sort of try and prioritize these things if we know somebody is in a certain codebase and they're looking at something we can say oh can we fix this as well. So we look for opportunities you know to put those in there where we think it might be easy for the dev team easy quote unquote.
Speaker 4:
6:58
What's the what's the makeup of your team like your immediate team and then your interaction with the developers product managers et cetera et cetera. Yep.
Speaker 3:
7:07
So my immediate team there are four of us three designers and then our manager and then we work hand in hand with marketing you X team as well. And so we we sort of combine and that makes maybe eight or nine of us that are working on a project at the same time in various capacities. That's from the design team standpoint on the dev side. There are six Scrum Teams that we support. So at any time we may be you know working with the team in Ireland or a team that we sit near. And our cold. My coworker might be working with the same team doing something similar. Or. Something completely different it doesn't matter but we have to be in constant communication that way. So there's a lot of moving parts. You know we rely heavily on our project managers and our product managers to let us know that we're going the right direction.
Speaker 6:
8:05
And you know I guess that the answer is we support six Scrum Teams from a development standpoint and it gets messy sometimes I guess. Yeah but it's fun. You know we're very agile. You know obviously and where we try and work lean so we don't have a lot of really heavy process. And so obviously communication is really big for us.
Speaker 4:
8:27
I would think so with that much going on 6 I mean 16 is all with sounds like with active projects. Yep yep that's that's a lot of working on different parts of the app. Yeah how do you think when asked this question. Aside from obviously your PMs how do you manage that interaction and communication with with these teams between between you X efforts design efforts and those teams especially when you're disconnected right by geography.
Speaker 3:
8:55
Yeah great question. It's really hard. It's actually something that I struggle with. I have this designer brain that is sort of you know always moving in and trying to solve problems and sometimes getting down in the weeds of project management is really tough especially when there's so much going on at the same time. So once again it's communication it's always communication. You know the when it breaks down the first thing you look at is where did the meeting not happen or where did the information get transferred. That made it so we shipped something that we really shouldn't the ship.
Speaker 4:
9:32
Can you give me an example of a time when that happened.
Speaker 6:
9:36
Yeah let me. Let me think for a second if we can talk about it. Yeah. I'm trying to figure out a way to word it. I'll be really general about it which I try and avoid. Sure as far as communication goes but I'll design something and then we'll talk about it with the scrum team and then later on when they're. Doing their planning game and assigning points to it they'll realize that they can't get it all in so even though sort of pare back the scope a little and they don't know that possibly what they've cut out is integral to the experience that we designed them and then we'll ship something and you know look at it during a review. And I my guys you know we've got to do this part. This is key to it. And then you know we're either scrambling because you know we're just trying to get it into the next release or you know and to move it on her. And that's sort of frequent you know and you know people talk about tradeoffs all the time and that's one of those things but if we don't talk about them stuff gets lost really quickly.
Speaker 4:
10:37
Yeah. And I think also you're not alone there because one piece that's that's often missing in larger organizations especially with distributed teams of any kind is the sort of the ranking part when it comes to features functionality or requirements. Back to the Kunle model for a second. Right. These are our must be. These are the things that absolutely must be in this next sprint in this next release whatever and when you're moving really fast and you're juggling multiple parts. That sometimes gets communicated but not to the degree that it should exist where these kinds of things happens. Right. The dev team does what they think needs to be done because they're staring down a date rape.
Speaker 3:
11:20
Exactly that's exactly right. And it's also a little more nuanced in that they may deliver the functionality that you were looking for but the animation that alerts the user that that functionality is happening. They didn't ship right. And suddenly it's broken. It just it doesn't work for the user because they have no idea what's going on.
Speaker 4:
11:38
Do you think that's a scent of just volume. OK. The volume of stuff that you have to keep on top of that things slip through the cracks like that.
Speaker 6:
11:46
Yeah I think that's that's one of them. I think it's just moving so fast. I think that it is like you said earlier we are always trying to ahead of time. So in this triangle of time quality or money the money and the time are often immovable. So we have to make tradeoffs and that's where they get made. Sometimes we if I'm not in the room or if one of my counterparts isn't in the room you know and don't get me wrong are our development teams are amazing and they're really fast and they're great at thinking about the user. They obviously don't have the insight that somebody from the team has where they can say look this feedback here is so important. Otherwise we might as well not build this. Yeah. And you know those those conversations are are sort of few and far between I think.
Speaker 4:
12:35
Yeah and I honestly think that a lot of developers in particular I get get a great degree of unfair blame because everybody sort of points to them and says well you guys you know made these decisions and made these tradeoffs without us. But I think it's more a matter of their doing the absolute best that they can with what they have to work with and the knowledge that they have the time that they have the experience that they have. And they're making their best judgment because they often have to or there isn't anybody to ask. There isn't time to say Can we talk to so-and-so about this. We're forced to just blast that out yet. Right. Is that correct. One of the things I see to story is that I think it's more than a little bit unfair the way these things get presented in public. Yeah I I see a lot of that and it bothers me.
Speaker 6:
13:27
So yeah I'm in the exact same boat Joe. I think a lot of times if something breaks I would I would quit the blame on myself or or the design team versus the devs because they're they're just going you know and they're they're paid to crank out code and they do a great job of it. And so I think anytime a design element falls like you said that the fall is to say what the developers didn't code but it's maybe we designed too big a scope or there wasn't enough communication up front. So yeah I think you're right about that. Yeah I like to like is probably a strong word but I feel like the design team should shoulder a lot of that blame and it comes down to communication.
Speaker 4:
14:09
Yeah I think we're in violent agreement there. So the way I mean it was it was just it was good to hear you say look these guys are really you know doing an amazing job. And with the workload. And this is without me knowing anything concrete about what you're doing and the true volume of what you're doing just by description alone. I think that you and the six teams are shouldering an incredible workload and obviously you.
Speaker 6:
14:35
You don't work for a small organization and it's a big very you know we are we're agile but it is it's really difficult to pivot really quickly in that way.
Speaker 4:
14:45
I would think so. And I also think in the insurance industry because I've had insurance clients as well. You're serving multiple masters in terms of you know who the business serves directly versus the journey all the way to the end consumer only in our end consumers could be different depending on different parts of the business.
Speaker 6:
15:04
And we have different goals obviously.
Speaker 4:
15:07
So yeah it's it's definitely tough on any given week or on any given initiative. The person on the receiving end and where the value has to go in and what that loop looks like probably changes to a great degree I would imagine.
Speaker 6:
15:21
Totally. And then you know we have we're highly regulated. Of course you know we're a financial company so we're extremely regulated and sometimes you know those types of problems that need to be solved whether it's compliance or regulation needs to. That trumps everything. And so you know sometimes we'll spend part of the Sprint fixing a disclosure or making sure that we're doing the right thing for our customers in this way. And even that results in more trade offs. But you know so in that way I guess you have to pivot pretty quickly. But. Yeah there's all those outside forces. It's a lot to deal with. It's fun. I love it but it's a lot.
Speaker 4:
16:04
Yeah. So do you see those constraints as a challenge in a good way as as beneficial to the work that you're doing or can they sometimes be an obstacle.
Speaker 6:
16:16
Yeah. So I believe in constraints wholeheartedly. This goes to the there's a there's a mindset that you know you are going to go corporate and it's going to be stuffy and you're going to be relegated to a great cubicle or you're going to go to a startup and it's going to be a lot of fun and you're going to drink beer and play pool. The constraints in a corporate setting I find to be so much more uplifting and they spawn so much creativity. I really think I thrive in an area where you can innovate and sort of prescribes solutions if you will so being able to change things even though there's a you know there's a lot of corporate process and there's a lot of. Regulation and there's a lot of other people that are impacted. I find that. I just I really enjoy that. So you know I've done sort of both sides of that spectrum and I really really prefer corporate which might be sort of weird to hear but I think it's I think it's a lot more fun.
Speaker 4:
17:19
No it is weird to hear because I'm very much cut from the same cloth and I enjoy it for the same reasons I mean I've worked in enterprise you know for most of my career. And that's those problems to me are much more interesting. Number one it has everything to do with the constraint because when I go back to his creative professionals of any kind right. If you talk to a writer you talk to a designer a U.S. person even developers I think to some degree. One of the hardest most intimidating things that we ever encounter is a blank page absolute blank slate. Right okay there's nothing you know that is buffing to go on. There's no clear place to start. Is no clear identified obstacles or challenges. So to me like you're saying I think all those constraints lend themselves to what we do. Yeah absolutely.
Speaker 3:
18:15
Makes for really interesting problems. Absolutely. We did years ago we were working on a video sort of opening slate for videos we doing and it was basically just animating a logo. That was our only constraint. And we took it to this amazing agency and we said do whatever you want. Go wild. And they really struggled with it for that reason. Yeah last week we gave them yeah and they I mean the stuff they're bringing back we were just you know again great agency but we were not impressed and so we started giving them some some guardrails. And yeah the thing that in the end was awesome but it took a while to get there.
Speaker 4:
18:56
Yeah. And I see that over and over and over and over again that's why I always say constraints are your friend. Absolutely. Yeah absolutely. They really really really are. And I always wonder. I think there's this idea that maybe design schools are guilty of this I don't know but I see a lot in young designers. What I see is that at the beginning of their careers they're very much into that idea of you know like don't time my hands. Yep. And after they get out there and start doing the work they start to feel the opposite which is the center that you just described once school to.
Speaker 6:
19:30
You know there's no budgets. There's there's a loose timeline that's pretty long generally. And you know the assignment is go make a magazine cover. Right. You know you choose your favorite music genre and go make amazing Courbet and you know you can name it. You can choose the images you can choose the topography and it's it's fun and you want to transfer that when you get out of school but you can't go to a enterprize job and make a magazine cover like that it doesn't work.
Speaker 4:
19:55
No no it doesn't. So you went to the artists to correct. I did. And that was California I think was San Diego. What was that experience like and how did it. In what ways do you feel like it prepared you for what you're doing now or what didn't either.
Speaker 3:
20:12
In either case it was it was amazing for a couple of reasons namely I guess I should say in a way you were talking about earlier is going to conventions for the energy and meeting people and talking and maybe not necessarily for the speakers. That was what art school was for me it was you know I met some lifelong friends there. And we did some great work. And I definitely got some great fundamentals there. But it wasn't. I put it this way after I got out and got a job. I learned so much more in the first four weeks of that job than I ever did at school. And so you know when you get when you're actually working and you're thrown into some and suddenly of clients waiting for you and you've got an art director saying you've got to do it this way and you've got a publisher saying we got to go to print in seven days. It's something totally different than than the school experience. So I don't know how to recreate that school.
Speaker 6:
21:07
Maybe Jared spooled might be getting close to it with high school but I think that that is the biggest disconnect between school and the real world. And it's it's something that I haven't seen recreated ever.
Speaker 4:
21:20
Me either and I've been teaching part time at various colleges since 1995. Yeah and I have yet and there's been some good programs and some very good people so I don't want to sound like I'm disparaging anybody I'm not. Yeah of course. But these environments by and large are still extremely isolated and what I've experienced in the courses I've taught because I try to do it in a way that's a little more realistic and sort of you know give the students realistic problems to deal with in realistic situations to deal with. Yep. Is that it shocks them. Yeah. Now all of that leads me to wonder and I'm curious you know based on your experience and see what you think while college programs are lacking the real world element or context that we're talking about here I often also wonder whether there is a balance to be struck OK resort and need the freeform stuff at that stage in your life just to learn how to absorb all this stuff. Yep you know right to sort of get your true real first and then OK here's how you actually drive on the road. Yeah. I wonder if that's a balancing act and how much of each is really necessary.
Speaker 6:
22:35
Yeah I think it's got to be right. I think you have to learn the sort of your creative process. You have to learn how you come up with ideas and when you like to work and what those conditions are like and then you can transfer that out to the real world. And I think you will be much more successful when you are thrown into the fire so to speak. So self discovery has to come first. It has to I think yeah I have to understand what you like what you don't. You know the world is so big especially now the design world is so big and there's so much information that I think you really have to figure out who you are first and then once you get there I think it's easy to sort of transfer that out. But it's still hard to prepare yourself for that. I don't know maybe it's as simple as you know advisers telling you Look it's going to be way different when you get out of here.
Speaker 4:
23:25
And this is how that could be in terms of your own career trajectory since you got out of school. How has that changed for you in terms of what you started out doing what you're doing now what you've done over over time and how has that evolved. Has it has it morphed has it has it grown.
Speaker 6:
23:41
Yeah I've been really lucky in that I have I've gotten to do a ton of different things because I started in the visual design area and you know first jobs were working in magazines and you know doing image retouching and making advertisements and things like that. And that transferred into you know more sort of national advertising and bigger bigger things and packaging like 3D design. And then that sort of transferred into interactive design where you started getting into websites like the late 90s early 2000s I guess. And really getting into this idea of digital design. And so I've had jobs or I've gotten to do all of that and run those processes which has been really amazing. The one sort of factor that remain constant through all of that was that I really love the psychology behind it. I loved being able to take somebodies eye through some messaging or being able to lead them through. An app so that they can achieve the task that they're doing. And so that led me to to really understand and this might be actually contrary to what I was just talking about it's called really understand that you asked was that the place that I was meant to be. Yeah in that I'm really understanding users and solving problems and using you know elements of psychology and design and human architecture to be able to solve problems which is that which is where I am right now.
Speaker 4:
25:17
And like I said I've been really lucky and I think that's often what happens is that the more you experience your sort of sense of what you really love about this changes to some degree turn right for you the way you've described it. And I'm very much the same way I was I started out as a designer write a print designer. But the part that always was the most intriguing part was this sort of general cognitive dance that happens between what you produce and how people receive it and are affected by it.
Speaker 6:
25:53
Yep yep absolutely. And I like the. I like this. I've always like the thought that your messaging has to work on every medium. So somebody has to be able to see it on their phone. It needs to work on TV and has to work on a billboard. It needs to work everywhere and be consistent. And I and I really enjoy thinking about all those angles and all those levers. And so I got to do a lot of that as an art director. But it's it's different now I'm on a small design team and I get to do end to end. So now I get to use all of the experience that I've had to go to to start in research and and really dig into how users are using things and do a lot of contextual and query and contextual interviews and talking to people and move that all the way through the design process you know through the through the discovery and the wireframe and into final design which is why I say I've been lucky because I can do that intent. And it's it's so fun to me to see one thing from beginning to end is a blast Yeah.
Speaker 4:
26:52
And I think that's where the challenges for a lot of us I think there are parts of that entire process that I think to outside people would be outside the realm of what a US professional or designer or something like that actually does. It's all these little pieces that don't fit neatly into the job description. I think that really get us excited about what we do.
Speaker 6:
27:15
Absolutely. And I think the model that I'm talking about this maybe generalist model is it may not be scalable to a degree. If we were for people bragging I'm I'm 25 percent of the team if we were 300 people then we might have to be more specialized and it might make more sense to have a visual team and a research team where people can really use their skills to to dig in and do what they're good at versus generalists you know I don't like this Jack of All Trades. Because I think we can go deep in all of these disciplines. But like I said I don't know if it's scalable.
Speaker 4:
27:54
Now I don't think it is. And I think there's a line there somewhere. Right. Right. Between promoting yourself or attempting to be jack of all trades right. Excellent at everything. I don't think that's possible number one. Sure but at the same time a sort of deep curiosity and respect and acknowledgment of how those parts work together I think is a critical part of the job. For example I've had many meetings over my career with database architects. OK. They live in a world that is absolutely foreign to me Toto. These are some of the sharpest people I've ever met in my entire life. I mean the brainpower there is just astounding to me. Yup yup. And although I don't get it. And although I would never want to die wholeheartedly into it I have thoroughly enjoyed those collaborations because the connections between what they do and what I do are very very important and I think if you don't go there at least and be willing to try to immerse yourself and learn something I think you're missing an opportunity to be better at your part. No man that's such a great point.
Speaker 6:
29:03
Absolutely. I wish I could expand on it because it's such a great point but there's nothing more to say.
Speaker 5:
29:09
That's why I'm rarely that good. That's it we're done here.
Speaker 4:
29:18
The over overcooked. Here's a question related to all this that somebody threw out Chris Alvan who I follow on Twitter said this last weekend. Man what a great question. I'm going to ask this in my next interview. So here it is related everything that we're talking about. First question is this what do people think that your role is.
Speaker 6:
29:42
Amazing question. They. So it sort of depends on the context of the situation. There were there were the relationships that I'm building are at different levels. So some people I may have helped them with some visual stuff some well I may have you know taken them through a design sprint and gotten some great insights using a quick prototype and some contextual interviews. So maybe a researcher to some people and maybe. A graphic designer to some people. You know sometimes I'm just somebody they can bounce an idea office and I can get into it. So that's sort of.
Speaker 4:
30:24
A nonanswer. No it's not. And here's sort of an addition to that. Does that interpretation change based on that person's role how they see based on that person's role. In other words project managers see you as one thing. Developers see you as something else. You know your film immediate team members see you as something else.
Speaker 6:
30:46
I don't think it's that specific. I don't think it's rural. I think it's maybe part of the business that they're in and the engagement that we've had. So I work with a lot of architects who can build something in a flash what they need from me is a lot of our direction. I work with other groups that you know are really interested in trying to figure out which problem they're solving and so I work with them to do a lot of facilitation. And. You know a lot of research. So I think it's more around the group and not necessarily the individual. And you know it's always their problem. Now I will say I'm trying to to get them all to to see me as sort of a strategist and somebody that can help in tandem and they can bring me in really early and I can talk about. The problem that we're solving and I can validate that it's a problem. You know and we can move on through the design process from there. You know and I'm not. There was some some of the businesses and some of them are very much there.
Speaker 4:
31:51
So now we just got to the second question that he asked which is what is your role really. Yeah. So it sounds like you're trying to do. Yeah. Just rewind this about 20 seconds let's say I'm I'm.
Speaker 6:
32:08
It's tough. I am I see myself as a strategist. But I'm not that to to everyone so my role really is whatever people need at the time really. And again I've been lucky in that I can do a lot of that. You know I would say that research is my weakest area in that I'm not familiar enough with you know calculating confidence intervals and things like that but I can I can definitely get in and validate a problem and I can moderate usability tests or whatever it needs to be so it's it's that I'm trying to be everything to everyone. And maybe that's to my detriment actually. But you know it's about relationships.
Speaker 4:
32:50
It is par for the course inside an organization and part of a collaborative team of any kind. Even if you're working as an outside consultant I think that's par for the course.
Speaker 6:
32:59
Yeah and success for me there is if they will consider me as a design expert well and they will anytime they think they need something design related to contact me that is that's it really that that makes me happy so I see that as success. And I can them that says right.
Speaker 4:
33:17
And it sounds value valuable is the word I was going for there hopefully. I think it's valuable. Have you ever been asked to do something that is far outside of your comfort zone or your expertise that you were uncomfortable with.
Speaker 6:
33:33
Oh yeah yeah all the time. It depends on what we're talking about so I've been asked to fly to Poland and give a presentation on or online advertising. That was that was years ago but that was terrifying not defined to Poland. I love travel but you know getting up in front of people and speaking has always been scary for a lot of people including myself. But it's also one of the most fun I've ever had. That stuff like that is amazing. So I really like it when when I was asked that you know. There are some times when I know that maybe I can add a lot of value. So I will connect them with somebody in order to get them where they need to be. If it's if it's too much but we're talking about being uncomfortable I actually really like that.
Speaker 4:
34:24
So the speaking thing when they asked you to do this did it surprise you that you enjoyed it.
Speaker 6:
34:30
Once you sort of do yeah maybe a little. Yeah it was I was focused on the act of standing there and talking and it's so much more than that. It's you know not to be too cliche but it's it's telling a story and it's engaging with an audience and it's trying to build this sort of almost dramatic arc of storyline so that you can deliver something impactful and interesting to them. So it's more than just it's more than just it's it's trying to deliver something by viable that people that are sitting in trainings for you know a week eight hours a day. I find that part of it really interesting so. I didn't know that I like that until I did it but you know I've I've done a ton of speaking since then and I really like it. I like the preparation. I even like practicing the speeches and stuff cool invariably. Yeah invariably I never really say what I plan to say. But.
Speaker 5:
35:29
There. It's critical. That's why I don't rehearse.
Speaker 4:
35:34
I just I get years ago I gave up. Yeah it is. They said you know it. This is just dumb. I'm going to go up there and I've got to say what I'm going to say. So whatever. Yeah.
Speaker 6:
35:46
But you know there are a couple approaches. I mean I'm sort of in the middle. I may need to choose a side but I can't just get up there and wing it. I need to know my concepts by then of course I don't I don't feel very confident if I don't run over. At least seven to ten times.
Speaker 4:
36:04
Do you think there are some parallels in doing that storytelling and making sure you communicate with people. Are there some parallels there to what you do on a daily and weekly basis. Sure absolutely.
Speaker 6:
36:18
And that's one of the things that the team talks about all the time. You know. I've said it like three times now communication is so important. And you know this I just heard a great quote about misinformation being the biggest killer of your business. And I think yeah I think it's true though I think anytime you're up there and you're talking about something and you're sort of bay it really dilutes your story. It doesn't help anybody and everybody leaves that meeting having a slightly different interpretation of what you're talking about. And you are sunk at that point. So yeah I work on.
Speaker 4:
36:56
ROCK Yeah and I think I'm of the belief that it takes a certain amount of courage quite frankly to speak plainly and clearly and to do so in a way where it's humble and you're not presenting yourself as a you know the ultimate authority and what I mean by that is and this came up yesterday I was interviewed for a podcast that came up yesterday about language OK. And clients in acronyms and jargon and terminology. Yes all of those things get thrown out. And this is just Joe's opinion. OK. I think that a big part of the reason people on all sides of every fence talk like that right like that present like that is because there's two reasons. Number one they've sort of been trained and told in a of the belief that that's how you sound when you are a quote unquote expert. Yep and the second part is a healthy degree of fear and insecurity which we all have. Yes. Because you worry that you sound like you know what you're talking about.
Speaker 6:
38:02
Yep exactly right now. It's a big fear.
Speaker 4:
38:05
And I think in both cases I think in both cases it doesn't help anybody.
Speaker 6:
38:12
Yeah. And that's the bigger point yeah. You know the fear of not looking like you know what you're talking about is huge. Yeah. And I noticed that myself sometimes yeah I really really really try to avoid jargon. My wife is a teacher and she hates it all she hurts herself rolling her eyes.
Speaker 5:
38:33
So I try to it but it hurts her so explain that point go you know.
Speaker 6:
38:39
You know you just it doesn't help anything. I think that now is what we're saying. So I agree with you.
Speaker 4:
38:45
It just it's just it's reduces the chances of understanding I am of the frame of mind where you should always assume that nobody in the room knows what you're talking about.
Speaker 6:
38:55
Yeah. Yeah sure. And even if you use some sort of you know office talk that seems to make sense to everyone. It still leaves room for interpretation. And I think that is where you are not trying to be vague but you're being vague and suddenly you are undermining yourself.
Speaker 4:
39:16
Yeah and it comes across in public spaces as well. It comes across as arrogance to me. There are a lot of organizations who I respect. OK. Now that's still default to this they'll post something read on Facebook or Twitter or on LinkedIn. And it's this sort of pithy quick statement that is that is designed in a way that if you're in the know how you'll know what it means you know and that bothers the hell out of me. OK. Like there are people out there who need to hear what you have to say. You have a valuable point of view. You have something of importance to express why in the hell would you want to do it in a way where people actually get the message that Romney does not sir. That's a great point. I care about too many things. You know I keep thinking that as I get older all of chill out about some of the stuff it hasn't happened yet. Now that's good. That's what makes you you know I guess. Good man I guess I guess it looks to me when I look at your history you're linked in profile for example. It looks to me like you have been there aside from the jobs you've had you've been freelancing for a very long time is that something you're still doing in addition to the job.
Speaker 6:
40:31
Not lately. So since I joined the large financial institution that I work at yeah I haven't done it. But it's something that I've done over the years. So first of all I never set out to be a straight up freelancer. It's not me chasing down work and trying to get sales is just not me. So I think what I've always had people that needed help you know a small business is trying to get off the ground. It's like that I really enjoy helping those out. And I've gotten a chance to do it for money in the past but it's not something that I do now for a couple reasons.
Speaker 7:
41:09
The biggest probably being that I don't want to compete with the job I'm in right now. But.
Speaker 6:
41:15
Also I have no time I have a 6 year old and a 3 year old so I don't know if any any minute any second that I have is spent helping them or hanging out with them or taking them to the park.
Speaker 4:
41:27
So yeah sure. So out of curiosity and this is going to sound like a request of a mascot anyway. Good. How has if it has. How is having kids change your perspective. Me either on what you do for a living or how you do it or just maybe maybe just your worldview in general.
Speaker 6:
41:47
Great question. So there's a few ways.
Speaker 7:
41:51
First of all what's important has changed for me quite a bit. You know I used to I used to think you know I can do. I can take any job and you know. I live in Providence but I could commute to Washington D.C. If I had to for the right job. I felt like the job was really important and I still think it is. You spend a very large percentage of your life at work. And so I think enjoying what you do is is really key. But you know there are some things that I can give up in order to be able to see my kids. You know you're one of the one of the reasons for my last job change was I was leaving the house before the kids were awake and I was coming home after their sleep. They started not to recognize me and it was sort of a going epiphany moment where you know I'm standing in a store and my son is making a noise that I didn't understand or that I that I had never heard him and so I called my wife and I was like you know listen to this what does he do.
Speaker 7:
42:47
Is he OK and she's like he's whining. Does this all the time. And I was like Man that was was sort of it. Like I realized that I was focusing on the wrong thing and it sort of changed. That changed my view of what's important. The world view is I've always had this world view that I want everything to be as good as possible and what I mean by that is you know people are always doing the right thing and people are always well-intentioned. And and things like that.
Speaker 6:
43:18
And I think one of the things I would love to leave for them is that the thought process that people are ways mean the best people are inherently good. Now you know that that runs the risk of being naive obviously. So there's a there's a line that but I want them to have that type of outlook. And so I try and bolster that in them all the time.
Speaker 4:
43:42
Which is which is good. And that's that's one of the hardest parts of being a parent is because you have to reconcile the fact that a lot about life is less than perfect. And in some cases it's downright ugly. Difficult. Yes. Absolutely. The goal to understand and to explain and at the same time you want to make sure I agree with you that your kids grow up with hope. You know with positivity with believing. That yeah you know sometimes things do work right. People are for the most part good. And I think that's a tall order for anybody. Yeah. It keeps me up at night but that's it. You just said the word is hope. It's one of the reasons and I'd be curious to see what your opinion is on this without diving too deeply into this topic. There are a lot of instances where we now have social media we all platform people who listen to what we have to say on small and large scales.
Speaker 4:
44:47
Things are happening in the world in our country in particular with our government. It is difficult line for me personally to walk to say OK I really feel like I'm shirking my responsibility to people who pay attention to what I say. If I don't speak up about this at the same time. You're also worried at that that you know now you're going to become just another political commentator and I don't want to beat here. I don't right. I just I wonder if you ever feel pulled that way and what your thoughts are about you know folks in high profile positions who at times instead of speaking about design. You know pipe up about what's going on in their world.
Speaker 6:
45:41
Very interesting question. So I have a lot of strong thoughts about it. And I talk to my kids about it a lot. My 6 year old especially yeah she's sort of interested in. So what I do is in a lot of cases I just won't say anything right. I'll just stop because I know that I am passionate about a lot of these things and I can I can talk about it a whole lot or I can argue about it if you will a whole lot. So I I try and generally stay away from it. But I think what you're talking about is a slightly different and I do I think it's important to get the truth out in the right message you know and the there's so much going on right now that is glossed over or spun a certain way. And you know it may be coming from advertising.
Speaker 7:
46:34
I have a sort of a reaction to it but I think words are really powerful and I think that people can be swayed in a direction that even undermines their possibly their own self-interest because they hear certain words put together in a certain way. And in Syria I think. I think people with a platform have a right to say the truth. There's a there's a line there though you know obviously you can get up and use your platform to say things and then suddenly it's it's useless. So but I think you have to counteract that with the message of hope that we were talking about earlier.
Speaker 4:
47:08
And that's that's been the hard part. Sure. You know it's been the hard part. It's hard to counteract that impulse. To say my God I can't believe this is happening I can't believe that people are saying and doing these things out loud. Yeah I'm sure and it's heightened when like you said when you have kids you become a lot more sensitive to it at least I most certainly did and certainly am right now. Toner. My own biggest fear. OK I have two daughters and watching a lot of what's going on right now you know you feel like it's dangerous to remain silent. Yeah. Oh my god yes. Because silence because silence can equal agreement. And I'm you. Know I am really afraid of that. But it's tough. It's tough. And I hope I guess all we can hope for is you try to err on the side of you cost of that when you see it.
Speaker 4:
48:00
But you also try to make sure you're being supportive and positive in some way. I don't always win that battle but I sure as hell try. Yeah it's hard and I'm sure. You know I don't have the problem that you have so I'm sure that a lot of struggle and sometimes you know people say shut up and talk about you X and design. Right. You know I know I really get it sir. But you know so it's a it's a constant struggle. Yeah that's what people want to hear from me and that's where my value is and I should be doing that. At the same time it's really hard for me to say OK I'm never going to talk when there's loads of Ray. You know. It's there. You know there were of course whether you want to deal or not. Oh god it's definitely there. All right we're about a little less than 10 minutes out so I would like to ask you some quick sort of hotseat questions which hopefully won't answer. Not not yet. Well sir easy. All right. Favorite movie of all time. Wow. It's an easy you can choose a book as well.
Speaker 6:
49:12
Well I do a lot of reading so it's it's usually the the book that I'm reading at the time I'm reading principles by radio right now and it's it's really interesting it's it's amazing that he can live his life and run his business in the way that he does. It's really good. I would say the movie would be a toss up. There's one called Hall junkies. That is amazing. And then of course Star Wars came out on my birthday and I grew up with Star Wars to go except for the pretty cool ones. I would have to go with Star Wars. Why. If you're able to explain why Star Wars. Yeah. You know it was in my life. I went to see it when I was I think it was three. It's just been in my life ever since and I just like the storyline. I like the characters. I just it's one of those things that is just always been there and it's got a great deal depth.
Speaker 4:
50:05
It does. I mean it really has an amazing degree of depth when you really look at it. Yeah definitely. See that was easy. All right. So tell me something a hidden talent for example that you have that either nobody knows about or not too many people know about a hidden talent well or something you do that nobody knows about.
Speaker 6:
50:27
So it's something that I do all the time that I find a bunch of value in is I digitize everything and it's all in the name of you know these they're almost like notes. So any time I'll draw flow on a board I will put it in sketch. I have a library built where I can just grab symbols and put them on there and I can illustrate flows really quickly and that and then I can leave them on my sketch file. And I always have this sort of frame of reference for what I'm doing to help guide the interaction. They're throwaways you know and I spend I spent some time on them not too much but they're they're sort of something that nobody ever sees. But I take great pride in them and I really like I enjoy making up interest.
Speaker 4:
51:14
So you're more of a scanning than you're actually recreating them in sketch.
Speaker 6:
51:18
I do. And it gives me a chance to rethink. The interactions that I've drawn on a whiteboard and it gives me a chance to go over them again. And then I have it as a frame of reference right there in my sketch right.
Speaker 4:
51:30
I think that's incredibly valuable. And you the first person I've ever talked to has told me that they've done something like that really that's cool.
Speaker 6:
51:38
I thought it wouldn't be that much of a hidden thing but I love it.
Speaker 4:
51:43
I really know what I'm sitting here going what a great idea. Because for multiple reasons. It's the old thing about from a psychological perspective a cognitive perspective is the processing right. Yep you're involved you're really involved in your thinking about it in the act of taking it and recreating it automatically he invites you to rethink through everything. I think that's incredibly valuable.
Speaker 6:
52:08
Yeah that and it helps you understand that you know we're looking at a trading system is incredibly complex and there's a lot of different scenarios and you can you can go through and really understand which one works here and which one doesn't work here and which you know what this fellow needs. And yeah I find it hugely beneficial.
Speaker 4:
52:27
Wow that's powerful write that one down. Folks it's good. I'm seriously thinking about OK how can I start doing the same thing. You taught me something. It's all about sketch libraries. I can send you want if you want. Awesome. Next question. What word or phrase do you say. Far too often far too often.
Speaker 6:
52:48
Well I say too much I'm sure. Definitely I say man.
Speaker 4:
52:53
I overuse my hand. In what way.
Speaker 6:
52:59
I've been known to start and end sentences with the word man. Yeah sometimes it's I think maybe it's an effort to be casual. But you know I think I'd definitely use it in the wrong places sometimes. And then there's two great words and they are sought in leadership. But I hate it when they're strung together in a sentence. And so I use those sometimes because that's one of those things where everybody knows in my specific context everybody knows what I'm talking about.
Speaker 4:
53:28
But it just I take a shower and it feels right. All right so you're on the heels of that. Give me another phrase that that evokes the same clinginess in you know.
Speaker 6:
53:47
Well I think it would be too obvious to pick you know the jargony ones like circle back. And you know. I know what I do. I use the word just sometimes in an e-mail. And so in an effort to set a tone. You know just checking in here are something and that feel like it makes me almost like I'm apologizing beforehand and I try not to do that. But I definitely I hate it when you know I'll send an e-mail and then somebody will respond back and reread what I sent and I'm like OK.
Speaker 4:
54:22
So I do that sometimes that urge never goes away. I'm here to tell you I have it for your book that it is never going away because I'm guilty of it as well. Yeah. Hey just just checking in to become part of you and I'll be honest with you it bothers the hell out of me when people just go silent. Oh sure. OK. On the conversation that drives me absolutely insane Sheriff is that there's no excuse OK to take three seconds shoot e-mail back and say hey slammed right now. Sorry I haven't got back to you. I promise I will write as soon as possible. I don't even care when the date is. All right it's just an acknowledgment of I've left you hanging. Yeah. All right I think that's important so people will do that. I'm always on the fence about how to respond because I want to say when I want to say but see I don't want to. Pick a fight for no reason you don't have to go home in a person's life. OK. Could your god forbid it could be something serious right. Well I tend to do the same thing. They had just pissed me over here.
Speaker 3:
55:28
Like you it's this probably about as well in tone is tough to convey over e-mail so sometimes it works to set a good tone.
Speaker 4:
55:37
But no. All right final hotseat question. And Ryan it's a big one as well. You're going to hate me but that's OK. You have the proverbial one wish and it can't be Temeraire wishes. What is it. Wow. I don't have one wish. Just one. Choose wisely.
Speaker 6:
56:01
Yeah I need like a day or so to think about you know my brain is going two ways and they both sound really selfish and trite but obviously they act the one way should be that my my kids and my family have great lives and they grow up healthy and have a fulfilling happy lives. The other one would be and this one's really trite but I don't want to be world peace. And I don't mean that in the Miss America Pageant way. But I mean it in that everybody sees the good in everybody else and that everybody is inherently well-intentioned without being naive. So that would be a tough wish to get across. But.
Speaker 4:
56:46
I don't think that's shredded at all. And after talking to you you know for an hour I think it's a pretty accurate summary of who you are referring. Well thank you very much. It has been my absolute pleasure talking to you. I wish you continued success and all good things keep us abreast of what's going on with you. And we will talk again soon.
Speaker 1:
57:09
That wraps up this edition of making us work. Thanks for listening and I hope hearing these stories provide some useful perspective and encouragement along with the reminder that you're not alone out there. Before I go I want you to know that you can find shows and links to the things mentioned during our conversation by visiting give good you X.com slash podcast. You'll also find links to more US resources on the web and social media along with ways to contact me if you're interested in sharing your own story here.
Speaker 2:
57:38
Until next time this is Joe Anatoliy reminding you that it's people like you who make us work.
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