September 9, 2019

Panini

Panini

Acorns made an appearance in the music video for Panini.

August 7, 2019

Imposter Syndrome

I see a lot of advice that people shed imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern of thinking where people doubt the worth of their experience and accomplishments. The fear of being exposed as a phony controls the thinking and takes the wheel of the person’s confidence and drives the person to take actions to prevent exposure.

Imposter syndrome can be a major negative force in people’s lives. However, we sometimes confuse imposter syndrome with the nagging reality of inexperience.

It’s important for us to embrace our inexperience and honest with ourselves when we have things to learn. Growth is positive and new experiences require a void of experience to fill. We should embrace the void and shouldn’t confuse its presence with Imposter Syndrome.

Don’t get it twisted; you should be proud of your experience and own the person you are in this moment. Just don’t let your aversion to the feeling of inexperience trick you into thinking you know more than you really know. Focus on growth and be kind to yourself.

August 5, 2019

Clooney

Clooney

George Clooney’s 1995 airport fit is a big look. Stolen from this amazing GQ gallery.

July 23, 2019

Future Fit

Future Fit

I’ve been using Future (a fitness app, not the rapper) for over six months and I’ve really enjoyed the experience. The easiest way to summarize the concept is that it’s a personal trainer who trains you via an app and sends you text and audio messages to track progress and keep you motivated. The app pairs with an Apple Watch to get your fitness metrics and track your progress.

Fitness has been a hobby for me for a long time. I’ve never been much of a sports person, but lifting weights and running has been a way for me to get healthy and push myself. My problem has never been the habit of going to the gym. (In fact, the first thing I learned with Future was that I was going too much.) My issue has always been hitting plateaus. Future changed this.

My trainer, Parker, started me off with a weekly plan of four days in the gym and we’ve been tweaking things for over half a year. Every time I hit a plateau, he switches things up on me. When I travel, he contacts the hotel I’m staying at and tweaks my workouts to accommodate the limitations with the facility and equipment.

Every workout starts with a little audio message from Parker with daily goals. At the end of each session, I send him a summary of how I felt during the workout and he uses that information to plan the next week’s workouts. It’s a solid routine, and it has been awesome to get to know Parker.

The biggest hurdle for most people would probably be the price. $150 / month is no small fee. However, fitness is my main hobby and I can honestly say that it has been the most impactful change in my personal fitness that I have ever made. Plus, if you trained with a personal trainer as much as I use Future you would spend 10x this cost.

From a tech perspective, the team keeps iterating and adding features that make the experience better. I already love the product, but the tweaks they make add a lot of value to already solid experience. Specifically, the Apple Watch UX improvements. It’s the best fitness experience I’ve had on the Apple Watch, which is saying a lot because I’m a huge Strava fan. (Shout out, Strava.)

If you’re looking to step your fitness game up to the next level try Future. The extra motivation and personal guidance go a long way and the personal connection to another human makes the product super unique in the space.

July 21, 2019

Curiosity and the Beginner Mindset

I saw this tweet by James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, and it made me think about the things that keep us from growing. The more we think we know, the less we think we have to learn. The issue with this is that learning is presented as something that can be finished.

This probably stems from our mental model of learning that was established through elementary school. Learning was presented to us in stages that could be measured on a linear timeline. As we grow older we set knowledge as something to be obtained through time. (Time is often represented by years of experience.)

I wonder what would happen if experts hit the reset button and adopted a beginner mindset. Perhaps redefining learning as something that is infinite would unlock our unlimited potential to learn and grow.

July 20, 2019

Being a Generalist

When I went to school for graphic design, I started my journey with the simple goal of becoming a designer. The designers I looked up to at the time had a wide range of projects in their portfolios. Some were more print heavy than others, and some might have had a focus on software design, but overall I didn’t notice a clear need to specialize out of the gate.

My first job was at an agency that did a little of everything. There were no specialized roles and no rules around who could work on what. They often threw me into projects without a clear understanding of how I would make something work. I relied on the anxiety of imposter syndrome and the curiosity to learn new things to push me through each opportunity.

Fast forward to today, and a lot has changed. The teams I’ve worked on have slowly gone from being more general design” teams and have become more siloed by specialty. The two most common design roles being brand design” and product design.” Brand design often supports the marketing functions of an organization, and the product design team supports the product functions of an organization.

I don’t consider myself a brand designer or a product designer. I consider myself a designer. You might call me a generalist designer if you felt I needed a qualifying term. This label has been a source of anxiety for me in the past couple of years. The feeling that designers need to specialize has never been greater, and as I grow in my career (especially as a manager) the pressure to choose a side feels even stronger.

The unfortunate part about this is that I don’t see being a generalist as a weakness. In fact, I feel like it has equipped me with some unique strengths. When I think of the great generalists I’ve worked with, I’ve found them common strengths amongst this type of designer:

Generalists are adaptable

Generalists need to build a framework for problem-solving that allows them to solve any problem we challenge them with. Depending on the problem space and work they are working in, they might need to leverage existing frameworks for problem-solving alongside their own. For example, a generalist might need to work within a jobs to be done” framework to do product design, or work within a more brief-oriented framework to work with a team on an out-of-home marketing campaign. In either case, being confident in your past experience as a problem solver can push you into any process with confidence.

Generalists are objective

Generalists are good researchers. They can often gain specific knowledge at a fast pace. The need to understand new problems to solve them requires designers to cite evidence instead of having first-hand experience. This evidence-based approach removes bias that often comes with citing experience and allows the design process to remain objective.

Generalists are systems thinkers

Having worked on a wide range of projects, generalists can recognize patterns and approach problems at a systems level. Not every project benefits from systems thinking, but this skill is a huge asset when working within a wicked learning environment. I find this is the biggest benefit of gaining expertise as a generalist.

The great thing about these strengths is that they get better with each opportunity. The ability to learn new frameworks, dig deeper into evidence-based research methods, and approach problems at a systems level are skills that get better when we expose ourselves to new challenges.

If you’re interested in exploring this more, I would suggest reading the book Range by David Epstein or checking out this post by Airbnb Design if you’re interested in seeing how this applies to work in a more specified role.