November 25, 2020

Prefontaine

Prefontaine To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

October 24, 2020

Seeing Ourselves

I’ve wondered why people are eager to back into the world. I understand needing to work. I understand needing to be with friends and family. But I wonder why there is a large group of people who have these needs fulfilled and don’t find their daily lives to be enough.”

We are aware that we have established a culture where we see ourselves through the eyes of others. We go out to post about it and get affirmation from people who weren’t there with us. There is criticism of this type of culture and feedback. When challenged with the opportunity to break away from it, we’ve actively asked to have it back.

It makes me think how a pandemic would have gone pre-internet. I wonder if we would have noticed it as much?

September 28, 2020

Joining Facebook

In some personal news, I have recently joined the team at Facebook to focus on Social Impact. I am joining the team as a product designer and I’m really excited to be working alongside the rest of the Social Impact team to build products that support the Facebook community.

September 9, 2020

Peace in Equifinality

I can’t remember how, but I recently stumbled on the concept that has altered the way I think about being right.” I created a document in iA Writer called notes.txt with one word: equifinality.

Equifinality is both a term and concept adopted across various disciplines including archaeology, biology, business, and psychology. Proponents of the concept commonly believe that various means and/or developmental paths lead to similar end states or outcomes. (Springer)

Applied to everyday life, there is a sense of peace that comes from knowing that one can achieve a single outcome multiple ways. I personal get relief knowing that my way isn’t the only way to achieve my desire outcomes, and it puts into perspective the fact that others might require different journeys to my desired outcome.

In short, methods and outcomes aren’t inherently bound to each other. If there are situations in life that require a different method to support others in achieving a desired outcome, that doesn’t discredit the other methods. Equifinality suggests that all methods are valid and potentially infinite in number.

August 3, 2020

Scaling PUSH

Over the past six months I have been running a small personal training business called PUSH. With a small amount of clients, and remote training software (I use Truecoach, and really enjoy it) it was easy for me to get started.

Personal training is a very part-time hobby for me, and to provide quality training for my clients I have to spend a dedicated amount of time personalizing their plans and reacting to their progress. It’s been an amazing experience, but there is definitely a ceiling for me as the only person creating programming.

I will always provide one-on-one training, but the natural next step for me is to provide advice and programming in a more generalized way to a larger audience. To expand the reach of PUSH and to help more fitness enthusiasts, I’m launching PUSH on Substack.

I decided to use Substack vs. something like Mailchimp because I needed to remove the need to customize and personalize the designs. Design is a huge part of everything I do, but as a designer it can be a barrier of entry for me when making movement on a personal project. Substack was the easiest way for me to get something out in the world as fast as possible without having to worry about perfecting the positioning.

If you’re interested in following along, sign-up for the newsletter here: https://push.substack.com/

July 9, 2020

Hiring Your First Designer

Most of my career has been spent at early-stage start-ups. Due to the nature of small design teams, I have had to get familiar with design practices across the full spectrum of design within a company. Most companies separate design into two functions: product design and brand design. As companies scale, they might separate these functions further by creating new teams like UX Design, UX Research, Growth Design, or IxD.

I often talk to founders who are looking for guidance on making their first design hire. This might be the founding design hire, or it might be the first internal hire who is taking over for a combination of external agencies and design contractors. The design community is filled with a ton of talented creatives, so searching for the right person can feel like a daunting task. What are the skills required to support a new business finding its footing in the market? Here are a couple of learnings from my past experiences. I hope it helps answer some common questions.

Should I hire a generalist or a specialist?

This is somewhat dependent on the type of business you are building, but in my experience, I have found that there is generally (no pun intended) a good fit for most situations.

If your product is a digital product, you might look for a designer who can spike in more strategic thinking, user research, and building an MVP to find product-market fit. In your search, you might feel confident with a specialist in Product Design. On the contrary, if your business is more aligned with traditional DTC companies and can leverage out of the box digital solutions like Shopify, you might feel good hiring someone more specialized in marketing and branding. In both cases, you will be able to tackle immediate needs.

The common mistake I see when hiring specialists is a lack of understanding of how the holistic picture of design affects the big picture view of the business. Hiring someone who specializes in a certain type of design without a generalist’s understanding of design’s impact on every facet of the business can put you in a situation where you will need to hire more designers to fill that gap in understanding. (Something I wouldn’t recommend doing early on.) For example, a great product designer still needs an understanding of marketing design to help support your acquisition strategy, and a marketing designer needs to understand how product design works or else you will be sending high-quality traffic to a poorly functioning digital experience.

My advice is to hire someone who has more of a generalist approach, with a deep understanding of building a business. This type of hire is extremely important when building a design team, and can be equally important when finding someone to manage your design team as a whole.

Should I hire a senior design hire or a junior design hire?

This is mostly a question about optimizing your budget, which is understandable. Ultimately, you should be optimizing for strategic thinking, experience, and understanding. If you have strategic team members who can help drive design strategy, you might be able to get away with hiring more junior talent on the team. This is a great way to give a talented designer exposure to an experience that allows them to take on responsibility and learn through exposure to complex problems.

If you feel like you need someone to fill your gap in understanding of design practices, definitely hire senior design talent. I would suggest this for most companies if there isn’t a founder who has a background in design.

A common mistake I see here is that founders who have a passion for design (but no experience working in design and building design functions within organizations) feel that their sensibility for aesthetics will be enough to carry a junior designer to success. I would advise against this strategy. Design at this level is a function of process and thinking and not simply defined by the output. Good design can’t be defined by your objective view of what good design is, and you are much better off hiring someone who you can delegate defining that term to.

Should I work with a contractor instead of hiring?

This is a tough question. It is highly dependent on your needs as a business. A good way to determine if this is a good route is to draft your job description for your first design hire. If you need someone proficient in: motion design, 3D, product design, illustration, marketing design, leadership, prototyping, and everything in between…you are probably overreaching. If you can find this person, pay them a ton of money and hold onto them as long as you can.

Define what your core needs are and hire someone who can help you build a strategic plan to outsource things like photography and motion design. If you are passing on a great designer because they aren’t a photographer, you aren’t ready to hire a designer. Fill the gaps with contractors until you’re prepared to build design as a function within your organization.

There are a lot of other questions I get asked, but these were the top questions I felt would set folks on the right path. If you have more questions or would like to suggest additions to this list feel free to reach out!