New Layer Podcast - Live!
Jasmine Friedl & Tanner Christensen closed Leadership By Design: Home Edition with a live edition of their Podcast: New Layer. Enjoy!
The following transcript may contain typographical errors. Please forgive any mistakes!
You are listening to new layer, a design podcast with Tanner Christensen and Jasmine Friedl.
I can hear as I think we’re live, that sounded really cool.
That’s a… Almost like professional. It’s a good intro. Yeah, I don’t have a good voice. If you can hear us, give us some sign of life, we’ve never done this before, we’ve been doing the podcast for, I don’t even know, extended amount of time, and we’ve always wanted to do a live variance, but we just… We never got around to ease says, we can hear you. Lovely also, you’re in for a trade, so yeah, we’ve been doing this podcast for a really long time, it started because in my mind, there were a lot of design podcast out there, but they usually follow the same format where it’s like, Let’s go have a Q and A, with a well-known designer or design student or someone, and I feel like it often misses the very casual, just shooting the breeze kind to talk through something. Yeah, exactly. So that’s gonna start it. And we’ve always been pretty focused on designers getting into the field, we were looking at sort of educational gaps in the field of design, and found that there was a lot of appetite and a gap where information for inbound designers, whether they’re switching from in their design field, or coming into protester UX design, and so we’ve gotten really great feedback.
The way we run this is we sort of just talk about something, so when rest says the content is gonna be good, it might be… We’re gonna create it on the spot, so we shall see how this goes… That’s right. keep it casual. We’ll keep the cash.
So when we were planning to do this, I think there were a number of topics that we were kind of interested in covering, but one in particular that I know you’ve been thinking about for many centers now. Yeah, so what does this… Give me a high level.
I don’t know what it is.
And so that’s why it could be interesting, you could either be a failure, so this is obviously not covet or work from home related, but I had been tossing around this idea of… And I don’t know how it came down to these three things, actually don’t remember, but when you’re hiring or when you’re bringing people on to a team, or when you’re building a team and you’re the person you’re building around this idea of eagerness, experience and expertise.
And I wanted to really explore that, and I have through a draft of a blog post, but I haven’t come to any conclusion on it, but the idea was, what are the things that we look for when someone comes in, aside from the normal design skills that you have to have or soft skills like collaboration and communication, I don’t know if it’s a career stage or what, but how did those things factor into shaping a team or complimenting yourself or evaluating yourself and being self-aware about how you come in and how you present yourself yeah, I love this. I think it’s very relevant to everyone at any point in in their career, so the three things are again, eagerness experience and expertise, and I do kinda like that they all have eat… It would make a super catchy title if I was ever to finish that blog post, but sometimes not writing the Bob post is actually an active self-care, like sometimes not being a thought leader is an active self-care… So the way I was looking at, I was thinking of this idea of eagerness, you bring somebody into your team, or you start a new job and you come in and you’re like, You’re on fire, you’re ready to take on the world refreshed, you’re ready to take a new step, you’re ready to learn, you’re ready to have impact, and that’s very different. That can be very different if we look at these independently, to somebody who comes in with experience, and when I think of experience is that person who’s like, Oh, I’ve solved this type of interaction design problem before… I’ve done this a thousand times, I’ve built teams, I know how to do this.
And those two can often be in conflict where an eager new junior designer might come and be like, Oh, let’s try this, and the experience is an or goes, we’ve done that. We’ve done that before, and then this idea of expertise was starting to come in around subject matter expertise.
Then it being a different kind of experience, but I started to think about the pros and cons of each of those. You might get a researcher who has a PhD, sort of… That might be a practitioner expertise, but there also might be somebody who’s here been working in healthcare for a really, really long time, so I think there’s something in there, I don’t really know because I wasn’t actually able to turn it into something, but it keeps coming up in my head, as I do hiring, is I do team building, as I do coaching, as I do any sort of one wants is folks that are thinking about themselves as being self-aware and what they’re bringing to the table or what they need to work on.
What do you think? There’s so much on cover here, it’s hard to know where to start for me… I think my first question for you on this subject would be, this is a little bit a trick question, but on… I’ll ask it anyway. Okay, I’m ready.
Of these three things, which one do you think is most important for all designers to have?
I don’t know.
I said, If we said experience or expertise, or who’s had experience and no junior designer would get a job of her, and that’s offsetting this whole idea that we need to have more diversity in our leadership, and if we don’t start feeding that from the bottom, would… That would negate a whole portion of our industry, and I think it’s a really big problem.
Eagerness is something I think I personally lack, just because I feel like I’m older I get and the more jobs I’ve had, the more jaded I get, and so I think there’s something when I think of eagerness, that’s curiosity and growth mindset, that I wish every one of us had. But there’s also, if that comes without experience, that can bring on its own mistakes. What about you, what do you think?
I really like the way you just… About that for what it’s worth.
I think that in my mind, the number one trait out of these three that I think is most important, and it’s also something that you have a little bit more control over, or not control, but you can grow in pretty easily, is that eagerness, that kind of enthusiasm and you grow an eagerness… I think so, I think it is. It’s a mindset.
Yeah, so there’s a thought so I… One is very timely. Scott, Scott Bell-Sky is a name, the 99 us. He’s great.
He actually tweeted yesterday, I’m gonna a lot of this quote I always do, but he said something about enthusiasm is contagious, expertise is not… That’s fair.
I want… Throw it up there. Okay, it’s like optimism, you build a culture with enthusiasm, right, and so… Well, how do you become more enthusiastic or eager?
I think you just nailed it a second ago, it’s you focusing on the positives, on the potentials, on the opportunities, and less of the challenges and roadblocks, and it’s something that you just have to learn over time through experience and practice. This is something I’m absolutely getting better at, I think… I know you can tell me if you’ve observed this, but in my own life, I’ve been a very, somewhat negative pessimistic person throughout my entire life, it’s just think every now… We can go wrong is gonna go wrong. You know this, whenever we’re traveling together, I’m always thinking something bad is gonna happen, but now when it comes to work projects, for example, I find that my intuition is still there like, Oh, this is gonna be a failure, it’s gonna be disaster. wasting our time after journaling and meditating in the usual things I feel…
I’ve found that now I’m slowing down and I’m taking the time to say, Is that true? One of the indicators I have that that’s the case, and even if I feel that way, what good would it do for me to speak about that out loud, especially to my team who are putting their energy and efforts behind something, it’s not really that helpful to say, is, I’m glad you’re all excited about this project, guys, but I think it’s trashed, that’s not gonna help anybody, it’s just gonna discourage people or make them hate… Whereas the opposite of saying, you know, I see that there might be a potential problem here. Here are two or three ways that we might plan for that… Here’s the upside. Finding this interesting because I know that you present yourself sometimes less enthusiastic in your personal life, but what I’ve seen from you at work is you actually… You sort of flip it, and I think I do the opposite, where I’m like the optimist in my personal life, in our personal lives were married by the way, some people don’t know that and find that as a surprise, but that’s why we’re not social distancing because we live in the same house anyway, but so we also know about each other’s personal life pretty deeply…
I found myself the opposite though, where I do tend to bring the optimise, the energy to work, but when it comes to decision making, I tend to be maybe more conservative, and that tends to play off as perhaps not as enthusiastic, but I think that’s okay. Because the point is not to be someone who is identifying roadblocks or challenges or obstacles or even saying no to things or shutting things down, that’s not like even ness, I think eagerness is like, how do you present that to a team, how do you actually show up because from what I know about you, Justin, you’re not someone who’s gonna go into the room and say, You’re doing this all wrong, you were gonna think that internally, but instead you are it. In my head though. Yeah, exactly, and I think we all do, that’s being… Your eagerness comes across as like, Okay, internally, I’m saying This is the wrong direction, but the eagerness is going to the group and saying, What if we did this, or his an alternate. What do you think about this? It’s like how you present yourself and that energy other people can feed off of, and they also get excited now, instead of thinking about their own concerns or problems, they’re thinking about ways to beat that obstacle or come around or break through that wall.
That’s something, again, that of these three things you can get tomorrow, it just takes practice, and I think that’s actually the enablement part of leadership, when as leaders, we might go, Oh my gosh, they’re gonna make that mistake again. Or that’s the wrong process. And rather than saying, I do it my way because I know it, I’ve done it before. We need to get in there and say, Okay, why don’t you try and reach these goals, and you can take your own pathway to get there, but we’ll check in and at the end of the week and see where you’re at, and so that’s sort of giving… Not necessarily giving people the wrote to hang themselves, but giving them the space to achieve a goal, but be creative about how to do so, and in doing so, I hope you want them to get there and you wanna coach them on how to get there and help them avoid pitfalls, but sometimes… And I was thinking from…
I see what… The first chat, I turned onto it and I already forgot your name, but he was talking about how making mistakes was really, really important in careers, because you learned from them, and so allowing people to make mistakes is I think part of that enthusiasm. I don’t kill that enthusiasm by trying to make sure that everybody follows your experience more… I think that’s really important, yes. I wanna jump over to the other two as a second, but first I wanna double down on what you just said, ’cause you’re completely right.
How often do we see design thought leaders whose entire approach to leading is just telling other people what they’re doing wrong, right.
That’s not leading… You’re not leading anyone anywhere, you’re just discouraging people on your… Or the sort of, Do it my way, do it my white. This is this succeeded and there’s probably reasons why it’s succeeded, and besides the point or folks sometimes just feel like they need to socialize themselves, there’s this idea that there can be new ways… Our teams are evolving and growing, leadership is actually evolving going that… UX design is sometimes product design, and there’s different versions of it now that are quite more, I would say are more mature than previously because we’re applying it to so many other industries beyond just software. So I think there’s really getting into making some space to evolve, and that comes with potentially some risk… Let’s talk about experience. Yeah, I think it’s a great swath experience because I think we all do this, it’s hard not to where you do something in your life, you go to school, you grew up doing things, you have your career, and it’s hard not to see the world from that same lens of what you’ve experienced. Right, that’s how we learn. Everything has how we do a are it’s our self-centered and wrote.
And so, experience can really buy us how we think and feel in a… I think the… Well, there’s so much here again, I think really when we’re talking about leadership, whether it’s… You’re an individual contributor, just trying to help lead and guide a team, or you’re a people manager, you have to understand how to leverage that experience without letting it close you off to new opportunities or ways of thinking, like you said a second ago, what about… I think there’s… Maybe this is where we get into expertise and experience, we were looking at… So we design an intercom currently and we were looking at our job leveling, our rubric that we evaluate people against, and I think we’ve done a fantastic job of pulling together a world class rubric, but the exercise I asked our design leadership group to go through was to evaluate the rubric itself, and we did so by plotting people, by plotting our entire design or onto the rubric, and did a private evaluation, not of them, but to see where the pockets were, where there are places and levels that people couldn’t move forward. And one of the things that we found was, we were evaluating things like product knowledge, and product knowledge comes with tenure, you learn about your product in your company through great on wording like Marie was talking about, but also through time spent with the product and time spent not… And your just personal use of the product, but really getting into research and talking to customers, and talking to your customer support teams and really building up that knowledge base over time, and I think that’s different from…
I know that’s different from experience saying I’m an excellent interaction designer and that I’ve solved… I know all of my interaction design patterns, and this should happen when you do this, and then this should have one you do this, this is more of… Fine, this is more of a subject matter expertise, but I think they go hand in hand.
And the reason I am interested in this… Do you wanna err out… Reason I’m interested in this is, I’ve done a lot of hiring. I, for my past three roles, I’ve built teams often from scratch, and when you’re in an industry, when I was in education, we could say we want people who worked in education before because we think they’re gonna be able to catch on easier, more easily or bring something to the table. And now I’m in SAS software and do we need somebody who’s experience in software, and as I’m looking for my next opportunity too, I’m looking at people who have messaging roles, ’cause I worked on a business messenger are really interested in me, and I sort of have this inner debate, is it required of people to have subject matter expertise, or is the fact that I can apply the skills I’ve applied to education or SAS software or messaging?
Is that good enough? And I tend to think that could be good enough because it’s more inclusive, but there’s still different things when… Going back to that job rubric, we’re actually blocking people’s development of their careers based on time spent, I have a really hard time with that, but it’s also really helpful. That was a lot of words around one space.
Yeah, I’m thinking now, I think I agree with you to some degree, but I also somewhat disagree, I agree in the sense that the way I think about it is I’m looking for designer, I’m building on my team now, my design team, and I’d like to look at designers who have relevant experience in similar problem areas, so for example, I have identified right now that my team really needs systems thinkers who can think about problems, that’s like a platform. Those kind of things.
And when I look at their resumes, when a resume comes through a portfolio, we were talking to them, I found that many people on my team will look and be like, Oh, they didn’t work at so-and-so big company, they know they’re not gonna be able to come in and do the kind of things we need to do, but I look at it and say, from a first principles perspective of design, have they done this type of work, I don’t even care what industry, I don’t care what company… Maybe you can come from a start-up, you can come Soriano school, honestly, if you have the capacity and you demonstrated capacity to think about problems in a certain way to have a conversation, to communicate your work and your rationale, your intentions… Yeah, you probably do the work, and the reason I say I’m based basins conversation, talking about experience, I’m biased because I… When you look at my career, I’ve jumped all over the place like…
Yeah, we both have, yeah, and then like six jobs between us in the past three years… Yeah, so about some of the things we’ve worked on that… So you do payments, I’ve done the profile at Facebook, I’ve done ads manager, you’ve done online education in many different forms… I did autonomous vehicles.
Yeah, now I’m doing recruiting software, where’s the domain expertise in this… Well, yeah, we still be able to rise in our careers, but I think there’s also… I look at folks and companies I’ve worked at before and we’ve got… Someone is a six-year designer at a certain company, and they may be at Lena leveled higher than someone who has 10 years of experience, but it hasn’t quite learned the product, and so if we require that expertise, even though we know what’s gonna come with time, and that’s beneficial is the systems knowledge that the more tenured at the company person would have, there’s product knowledge, he’s company knowledge is competitive knowledge, is historical knowledge of why we… Why we’ve made decisions in the past… And I think that gets really tricky. Particularly when we’re talking about equity. If we have a six-year white male designer who’s at a senior level and has all of that, but a tenure, you know, black female designer who isn’t quite level, who would we promote when it came to… Who’s best suited for the next level? For the principal level, and there’s… I think there’s problems with expertise requirements, so maybe this isn’t even on my list, maybe it’s just about experience and eagerness and balancing those two, maybe I was writing the wrong thing, I mean… That’s why we’re talking about it now.
Yeah, going so I can still not write it… What about the balance between those two things, do you… Especially, you’ve just hired your first designer, which is amazing, and you’re introducing design and really educating an entire company around what design is, which is a really hard job, and I don’t know that I had to have the energy to do that, but how do you think about shaping your team in terms of these things.
I don’t know. Let’s change topics a I-
No, I mean, anything in particular or just these three, when you’re interviewing, how are you assessing or how are you balancing yourself… I think this is all around, or what do you think you have… Yeah, I like that question. Not that me, but the one before that one around how do you balance… Because that’s really what you want at any team, you want that diversity of perspective and experience and eagerness, you need a diversity of all these things to balance each other out, you don’t want someone who’s super eager to just jump in every single hole they see… You kinda need someone who can say, Well, that whole might kill you, and this other one is actually not very deep, so let’s try that one instead, you also need people who are very experienced because again, they have some exposure to the kind of problems that the team is gonna face the processes you’ll need to define together as a new team, and then you also… And people who don’t have those experiences so that they can try to hook pools in the old ways and exposes to new ways of thinking or doing things, and then expertise, I think expertise is really interesting.
Okay, when I think about expertise in hiring or in myself, I think about it in terms of the different types of things you can be an expert in, like…
I don’t think there’s such a thing… I’m gonna get probably blasted on Twitter for this, but I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a true design expert, I think there are experts in aspects or elements of the design process, and I… I, I’ll give you to an example, so right now my company is working with Josh, I am… Know Josh is a remarkable designer and oh my gosh, he shows me some stuff and he’s very clearly an expert in visual craft in Polish. Yeah.
He shows me things that I just never even famed how things come together, and so I think he’s an expert that… But would I hire him for my team? Yeah, I probably actually went.
And the reason for that is because I view myself as weak in that area, in fact that I can acknowledge it just by looking at his work and how he talks and say like, Oh, clearly he’s knows things… I don’t know, there’s a gap here, so that would be someone that I would love to bring into my team, whereas… Well, what are my strengths? I’ve taken time to realize I am a systems thinker, I have actually a problem and how I think about things systematically, always trying to think about things in terms of scaling and edge cases and all of those things.
So when I think about my team, again, going back to that question, I wanna balance these things out… Yeah, and that starts with self-awareness of myself, and then also something you’ve talked about before is evaluating the candidates on how self-aware they are, do they have some sense of what their strengths and weaknesses are, are they very cognizant of the fact that they might be not be super eager or are they super are… How do they present that… How they talk about that. Yeah, and I think because we’ve always pushing this for new designers, these are the kind of questions we get all the time, Do you need experience? Do you have to be an expert in this space? Is just reading this comment from a DT, also high to our favorite fan pepper. Hope you hope you’re watching peppers a dog.
ADT says requiring specific expertise in the subject matter when hiring, it reminds me of actors getting pigeon-holed into particular types of design, and this is literally a question that new designers ask, How should I decide on my first role besides the basics I… Should I go and make a lot of money? Should I work for a company that I don’t agree with their ethics, should I go into a specific type of industry, and they’re all great questions, and I spend a lot of time thinking about that too, when I was going into education, because I had worked on an education science with a science company for K-2 in an agency, and then I came back around to it at Facebook and then a Chan Saco ERG initiative, and then at Audacity, and I was ready to commit my life work… You had a personal mission state and a personal mission statement around helping students to have the best careers to lead really fulfilled lives, and it becomes so much more personal when you’re starting to give into the expert piece of yourself because it requires a dedication of study and the pigeon hole thing is really interesting because yeah, maybe… And we find this even in the breakdown sometimes between consumer products and business products in that consumer, consumer designers, royally have more of a front-end passion or skill set, and business designers might be better systems thinkers and… And that sort of is the perception that comes when you don’t get to know people, but starting to think about that too, I wanna… When you’re in education, you’re typically working on desktop products, you’re not working on a lot of mobile, and so that starts to limit the experience you’re getting, and so… And maybe there is a tie in…
I was still going in circles in my head, That’s how he’s always go, and then we listened back to them and we’re like, Oh, that was… That was pretty good. Yeah, we’re smart.
I like what you’re saying, and this is a great question, so thank you for bringing it up.
There is… We do other stereotypes, like you just said, I don’t know how many people are familiar with this, whether you’re new to design or not, but certainly, I’ll just reiterate exactly what you just said, designers who tend to do more consumer-facing things tend to be interested in a little bit more of the visuals, the front and interaction design, where as people who do business tools like myself who started in ADS design, focused a little bit more on the systems thinking, less devils, and there’s clear rationales for why that keeps happening, but if you’re a new designer or if your designer trying to evolve in your career, wondering what you should focus on or do next, or how do you develop and the areas you may have gaps, you can look at some of these things and say, Well, I’m not as good at visual design, as I want to be… Where should I look to level up there?
Probably consumer side of things, it’s a little bit ever on that, and my advice to students is always, if you’re not sure yet dabble your first couple of years as in your career, once if you go to design school, you… You always get a design school, I’ve been trough design school twice, so I’m totally projecting this from my own experience, but you go, Oh God, I just need a job, I need a day OB. And so you jump in there and you’re like, I need to be here forever.
Also, I’m a little bit older and that’s more of the Gen X sort anyway, and instead it’s like, Go go see the world, go see the design world, go see what you love, go see what you don’t love, go figure out what kind of companies you wanna work at… And maybe it’s the same where we will be able to bring our eagerness and our enthusiasm to the things that we end up finding out that we love, and so how do we start to find those? And the same thing with experience, we’ll be able to… If we’re eager about things, we may be able to gain experience in certain things, and then perhaps that expertise follows into that…
Yes, you… You know that every one…
I think we got a little bit on the… I’m just getting a 15. I think you really did. I love how that all came together, and I think you’re absolutely right, one thing that I think you wrote a little bit about this in your draft, we probably talk about this a few times, anyone who’s new to design and struggling to get their first job knows that I have this answer, whenever they ask me What should I do, it’s like, do anything, build your own experience, don’t wait for someone giving the opportunity, you need to be proactive and getting any kind of experience you can, it might lend itself to developing your career, and so how do you do that? Well, I think, again, you wrote about this, so maybe you have some thought here, but it’s like, Go find any work you can do, go talk to your neighbors, do they have a business that maybe you can design something for them or go walk around down town will not now, but would things have back up again from code, go walk around and to walk around at the mask and stay six feet away from people… Yeah, but go talk to these businesses and see what their needs are, I totally forgot about this experience I had when I first started designing, when I was very, very young in middle school, trying to really understand design and my career kind of going… I went to a local cafe that I really love to have the best varies, just amazing. And somehow I connected with the business owner and we were just talking, and he totally hired me on the spot to start designing collateral for their business, and he didn’t know me and I didn’t know him, but he paid me very poorly, but I… You have an Oneida, and more importantly, I got connected to the entire business culture there, I had design work to show in my portfolio and I resumed… I don’t know that was gonna happen when I was eating a Brito, so I think you had to go find those experiences and then again, like wise for myself, I’m a self to avalar.
I’ve learned a lot of what I’ve known about mobile app design through building my own projects, I don’t think you need to learn how to code to do that, but it doesn’t hurt to go explore those areas and say, Well, what problems do I have in my life that an app might solve, let me go design a project for them, and suddenly after a few weeks or months of work, you’ve got a great portfolio piece, if you’re lucky, it’s out in the world, you’re getting real feedback from real people, you’re learning things about how to pass the feedback, how to glean insights, how to expand the project. You can do these things, you don’t have to wait for someone to give you the job.
Yeah, so we teach… We teach an intro to Product Design Course for… We’re on our second section, we’re a second section, we’re opening another one in a week or two, and one of the things, and I’ve taught interaction design it at the Academy of our university too, but one of the things that I always find interesting is any time we come to the research portion, where I say, Okay, you have to go find strangers to talk to to either do generative research or do concept testing, they can’t be your friends and family, and there’s such fear that comes in and it’s always so surprising when one or two folks, it’s usually one or two out of 10 come back and they were like, That was awesome. Is there a career in this one… Surprise, indeed there is.
But it’s so fun, it’s so great when you’re able to do things that you haven’t thought of or considered and get a great experience out of that and find that connection with something, and I think you’re just a great example of doing that throughout your life, should we see, we’re half hour in Rus GAAS, permission to stay for 15 minutes longer. solos things. Also, it does. Do folks have question? We can talk forever, we might not get anywhere with our conversation, but we can talk… Yeah, if you have questions, we elitist dropping them in. I’m gonna do a quick scan. We’re talking about dogs and we’re talking about Kevin again. I think Kevin’s way too cool for us, Kevin is as PCO.
I was gonna say, who’s Kevin? There’s a lot of discussion, which I like, Let’s read some stuff and reflect on it, her us has got an awesome book out, but we need that… What’s it called? For those listening, it’s called Lift off.
Yeah, there’s a bunch of super cool people in that book, Amy says eagerness is what I by us for hiring. Every time, and I would agree with that, I’m even thinking of myself as I am starting to look for new roles and I… Is that something I’m kinda like, I kinda lack sometimes come to me, I’m pretty awesome. You should hire me.
It’s not how I come across, but it could be, but I don’t come in with that sort of like, yeah, what are the problems you’re solving? I have a pretty strong profile of what I want, and that’s a reminder to me that maybe I need to bump up my enthusiasm a little bit more… Yeah, it’s hard to do. And reflecting on this a little bit more, I think earlier in the conversation, I said that eagerness is probably the most important in my mind, and it’s the one that you can control, but after this conversation, I think that all of these are things that you have some control over. Okay, you’re smiling on… Well, ’cause it says this is his new favorite podcast, and I appreciate that.
That’s pretty cool. Thanks to This is all we do is a instant.
It’s pretty fun. A nice time in… Spit it out next.
Yeah, I think one of the things I’m thinking about eagerness, eagerness tends to be seen more in juniors, like I just remember when I was interviewing a Facebook a long time ago, I just did hundreds of interviews and that the new grads were always the most eager… They just always were ready to take on the world, and I think that that’s a huge responsibility when it comes to being able to translate that eagerness into experience.
There’s probably a whole conversation there about how to set people up… Well, and I go back to Maria’s talk, is how you actually… How do you give them the company and competitive knowledge and how do you give them the history and make sure that they can really soak that in? I think the natural point at any role is that you’ll actually go, Oh yeah, I get it as a minimum six months in… Yeah, I agree.
And so to be able to steep and these things, I think that’s a really important part of ramping things, wrapping, eager, more junior folks up, and another thing is like who are the people that they can soak in and fall and having mentorship and things like that.
Yeah, all of these things obviously have some kind of spectrum and they can be good or bad, eagerness can be bad. Experience can be bad.
Well, I… How can eagerness by bad… Talk to me about those things. I think you just explained it. Usually we see junior designers who are very eager… That’s good. Is being a junior designer bad?
I’m not done talking. Okay, sense problem that can arise is kinda said earlier, as you look at everything is like, Oh, we should go do this, we cut this, I’m gonna go spend my time on this, but it might not have any value at all for the business, it might be taking your team in the wrong direction. You might not learn anything from it. So it can be problematic.
This is, I think rest has a really great question, which is related, he says with eagerness can sometimes taking on too much and then can also potentially lead to burnout. Do you have suggestions on how to help guide folks away from that… That’s so good. I think it’s, especially for junior folks, when they want to take on the world, the patterns you set when you start working or patterns that you will carry on sometimes for the rest of your career, and it’s really hard… I see this all the time, even with my senior designers who haven’t sort of hit a real… Real burn out yet.
I’ve been doing this for five years, and I need to take a year off or a couple of months off.
Where they kinda get into this place where they’ve just naturally been taking on… They’ve been saying yes to everything, they were saying yes to their projects, to the side projects, and then they have their passion projects on the side, and all of a sudden I have one dear amazing imager who does that right now, and she’s been… When she started at our company, she was working 11-12 hours a day, and I had to tap on the shoulder and say, Okay, how can we work on this? So how do you… We’re just about out of time, but I… On 0 minutes, no.
He says, We are in a… Anyway, okay, I’m loving, as you’re saying this, because I see this in myself right now, honestly, I’d say yes to everything at work or not, ’cause I’m so excited about the ottonian on that… On all these things. Yeah, I haven’t gotten burnt out on it yet, but I think that… I mean, this happens to me too, I can’t even see what’s happening, R-S was not saying five minutes, he was saying Hello, oh, here is…
Well, I wanna answer your question, or trusts question, what do you do?
So I think, I think are…
I think this is interesting because I think that’s where I see not eager is when I put boundaries in place, so I’ll say no to things, and so that balances out as feeling… You don’t have that enthusiasm. And so I think actually stating the intent is really important, which is saying, I’m gonna say no to this, but it’s because I have a lot of my plate and I really wanna keep the focus… But that’s different. I can do that as I like to think, I’m a mature design later, and I’ve had a lot of experience with the overload and burn out situations, but to teach a new designer to do that, I think part of the things that I need to do is remind them that our careers are long, and there’s certain things we wanna learn and we’re gonna learn them all over time and really come to an alignment on what we’re gonna work on now, and then create opportunities that focus on that, and so really… For me, it tends to be some version of a performance plan where I’m saying, Hey, what are your priorities, what are your goals, okay, let’s work backwards for them, and then being able to do the evaluation with them… Okay. We set goals on intercom, we’re really great at setting weekly and six-week goals, and I’ll say, Is this in line with your long-term goals, if it’s not… Can we wipe that out? And then another preta we do is we… We always write down the things that we’re not doing, having that be a be sorta requirement or an offering to somebody is giving them permission to have a not-doing list and creating pride around that. What is that… Do you think about that in terms of a backlog, or is it just to, we’ll never do this.
Maybe I could see some people being like, Oh, I have, I do not do list. That it’s just me explicitly saying what I’ll never want to do versus… This is just not important right now.
Yeah, I think that’s the urgency and urgency and importance sort of conundrum where you have to say This is important and urgent, and we prioritize that way, and if things are never urgent and an important or things are unrest and non-important than maybe not… Yeah, I think you know that I cannot underline what you just said Enough, where it really comes down to aligning and agreeing openly and transparently on, Well, what are we trying to accomplish other together or as individuals, and does this accomplish that… Yeah, I think not only good leaders, but good team members, good peers can do this for you and you can do for them constantly saying, What did we agree on, how does this get us there, or if you haven’t agreed on something, can we get a line… Let’s take some time ’cause that one the most important things you can do… Yeah, I’ve gotten bunch of questions now, is this one right? Let’s go.
What about scrappy? Do eagerness… That was good, Helen. That’s in capitals and capital D, where the forward motion outweighs the doing of the homework, how do you help someone anchor on where they realistically are and what background they need to gain without discouraging the curiosity.
Do you have thoughts on this? I do.
Do you hate me to go… This is, I do a talk on self-awareness a while back, and I think this is it, it’s like to have self-awareness, you actually need to see yourself in the same way that other people see you, and so for me, it’s sort of understanding when I think of anchoring somebody, we have to have alignment on where they’re at and where they wanna grow, and so for me, that ends up meaning a dual evaluation, and so that person does a self-evaluation and then I do an independent evaluation, then we come together and have a discussion there and setting up that requires trust.
I think it goes back to that sort of then how do we create some sort of performance plan, and I don’t mean that in a scary way, but in a scaffold to help people grow in their careers, to be able to figure out what their areas are a focus, and I think it’s all about that alignment and that transparency, I live that. I’ll also add here another, I think one of the things I do really well in this podcast is I say things that people don’t agree with, in this case, in this example, what I would say is, let him crash and burn, like, let them go crazy. And either they’re gonna do really good things or they’re gonna learn very quickly that they’re doing the wrong things, and your job at that point as a leader is to say, It’s okay, I’m still here for you, let’s reflect on this and go to a limit, easy to do when you have a lot of resources, but it’s hard to do when that designer is carrying a crucial load of work. I’ve seen many times where having some crash on burden, having them not work out on my team or in the company is actually a good thing for not for me, but for them in that they’re not in the right spot to set up, whether it’s their eagerness, where that needs to be either not appreciated more, but fostered more and more of a support, a way that might be a bigger company that has more mentorship, or just finding a place like learning sometimes the hard way that over-eagerness without any… Without any momentum for… Impact might be important.
That’s good point.
There’s more to it. Orientation. Okay, so you gonna be them… Yeah, so from Anthony, I’ve noticed junior designers to send to tend to have an eagerness to jump into solution… Ising solution-ing a word?
I like it. It is. No, it is, yeah. without fully understanding the underlying problems that need to be solved… Yeah, so this depends a little bit in my mind on probably experience and where they learned how to do what they do, what usually works in my mind is just being there to help them reflect on what they’re doing, so asking questions… I don’t wanna say poking holes, but identifying things that they either need to think through and they haven’t yet that are a parent to you, or just helping them expand their thought process and the kind of forcing, forcing the homework on them through that through those means.
So for example, we’ll do critique or they’ll be showing some work to me one, and I would just say to these people like, Well, what about this use case? Or, Can we wear this? What do you think about this? And not saying You need to slow down or you’ve missed these stuff, but just working as a collaborator, as a leader in saying, there’s all these things that you are not considering that you probably need to consider. Let’s do that together. Let me start the process so you can follow up… Yeah, I think it’s so much of a design in an education lens, and it’s because of my experience in education, but I think funston Ising is the skill, and problem definition is not the skill, then we probably need to define that skill and so redirecting some of that eagerness towards a problem definition, and so I think of this in a way where it’s like, Hey, before you get started, let’s agree on your next steps, you’re gonna go out and evaluate the problem space, how are you gonna do that, and let somebody come back to me and say, Oh, I was just gonna jump to solutions and I said, Oh, we need to make sure we were fully steeped in this first. Do you know how to do that? Would you like me to give you some recommendations and sort of jump in and set those agreed upon steps, you can even do this as a peer, if you’re an it yourself and there’s a partner on your team who is maybe jumping the gun a little bit, and making sure that they have what they need. And it’s an asking permission thing where you say, Hey, I just wanna make sure you’re set up well, can I help? I have some un-offering for you if you’d like it.
What a two minutes. Let’s get one more. I get a really good one.
I don’t… I mean, these are all really good… Oh, I push back, I… We’re gonna do that from net pushback on expertise, I’m struggling to turn job interviews into offers, how do you translate eagerness as a way to compensate for my lack of experience? I’m young in my career, went for my Masters, then taught strategic design and management of persons, well, working on portfolio pieces for a little pay… Yeah, but not seen as a designer, lower case d, so lack the years qualifications.
So many people, I think are in similar situations or… The top of this answer is gonna be, it depends, like everything, it depends on what role you actually want to get in, how self-aware are you of what role you’re really qualified for at this point in your career, what kind of companies you’re talking to… Are they got large established companies versus small scrappy startups, in this case, based on just the limited information we have, I think that you’re probably better suited for a startup who will need someone who can just scrap… You throw things together and has that energy behind them to really quickly explore and learn, not to say it’s not impossible to go to join a larger company bases, one thing to keep in mind, I don’t know, but what advice do you have to… So I feel this because I feel right now, I’m on a job hunt… I’ve mentioned this a couple of times, it’s not that big of deal. It’ll be fine. When I think of lack of experience, some of the roles I’m looking for quite bigger than the experience that I have, and too that I’m really, really excited about, it’s evident that they want somebody who… Well, one of them, it’s evident that they want somebody who’s done this before, when I ask what they were looking before, they’re like, Oh, we want somebody who’s managed to a team of 30 and a scaled it to 70, and I’m like, I haven’t done that.
And worked on a multi-100 person team, but I wasn’t…
I wasn’t the leader of that group, and so one of the things that I’m struggling with it is the Self-Aware part of me says, Oh, you know, I haven’t done this… I can’t fake that I’ve done this. I have to say, Oh, I haven’t done this before.
And the question that I have to answer, and I think one of my solutions for this one situation is actually saying, I’m going to acknowledge my lack of experience in this, but what I can bring to the table is I have these other skills that I can bring that I know that I can figure anything out. And the question that you are going to have to answer, hiring manager is whether or not you wanna take a risk on that… On me. And if you think, if we can work through this interview process to figure out I have… If I have what it takes to sort of fill that gap, the other thing I noticed from the other company was that they came to me and said, We actually want somebody who doesn’t have that experience, and I thought that was fascinating, I felt really seen… Because the way they approached it was they said… We found that the more the senior VP, senior director type folks that they have hired have kind of made it to a certain place in their career where they wanna chill a little bit and like lay back, and they need somebody who’s not gonna be hands-on, that’s a big topic in the Design Leadership world, but they want somebody who’s really connected to the work, and they know that from my past experiences, I’ve been really connected to the work, and so they were actually really excited about my profile because they saw that I had something to offer that my peers in the sort of area would, but again, it’s another really big team, and I haven’t done that before, and so I think it goes on both sides, one is me saying, I’m acknowledging this, I can do it, and another is the hiring manager saying, And we’re acknowledging that you don’t have this, but we think you can do it, and I think there’s just that sort of persistence of finding that right fit, and this is the first time in my life that I’ve been rejected from interviews that have really hurt me I’ve been in a weird career path where I sort of just get stuff your acquisitions or moves or things like that, and I just have such empathy for anyone who’s interviewing, it’s hard when you’re not quite turning those interviews into offers, and now I’m experiencing it so intensely and I’ve had some moments, but I think this is an extreme version of one of those fit conversations where it’s not just about you fitting their role, but it’s also about them being able to fit and develop you.
Yeah, so we are at time. We’re gonna wrap up here, but I wanna say two things on this, the first thing is really exactly what you just ended with, hiring and finding a job is really a numbers game, and what I mean by that is you’re trying to find… It is not the right word. Let’s stop using it. But you’re trying to find the place. It’s like a relationship, you wanna make sure it’s a very healthy one where you can nurture each other and help each other grow and learn, you don’t wanna just go work for a job and build that relationship, and when it’s not gonna be healthy for you, and it’s not gonna work. So I… It just takes time, you gotta find the right quote people for you like our relationship. Yeah, the last thing I’ll say is, we are gonna do, I think, a future episode on finding a job because it’s such a huge thing that I think actually many people misunderstand, and now MEI think I’ve reviewed 500 resumes the last two months, it’s… Well, anyway, I think we’ll wrap up by saying, ultimately at the end of the day, I think these three things are three things that everyone should try to be aware of and think about and reflect on how they fit in each of those areas.
Yeah, so I got… Alright, okay, that’s it. Thanks for listening to… You were listening to new layer a design podcast with Tanner Christensen and Jasmine Friedl.