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046: Good Design Favors the Curious with Joe Johnston

User Defenders podcast
046: Good Design Favors the Curious with Joe Johnston

Joe Johnston inspires us to embrace the superpowers of curiosity and empathy for our users and business owners. He motivates us to always stay curious, and ask why to get to the heart of the problem faster. He encourages us to make sure we use the shiny objects available to us to actually solve a problem.

Joe Johnston has over 18 years of digital experience with extensive knowledge creating digital and physical experiences. His skill set focuses on the user experience and the creation of these experiences to help clients quickly test & validate soultions. He’s adept at navigating the rapidly evolving and shifting technological landscape, making intuitive decisions amidst information-abundance, where sparse facts mingle loosely with data-drenched opinions. He’s completed a wide variety of projects, performing duties that include Experience Director/Advisor/Consultant, Digital Strategy, Experience Design,Service Design and front end development. He believes experience design is driven by moments of engagement, or touch points, between people, brands, ideas, emotions and memories that these moments create. My experience design philosophy is holistic in nature and takes into account all components required to create engaging and emotive experiences. Little known fact about Joe: He grew up on a farm, raising sheep during the day and hacking on a Commodore 64 at night.

  • “Merhl” Backstory (7:40)
  • Secret Identity (11:38)
  • Origin Story (13:46)
  • Empathy is Still Important (18:52)
  • Biggest Failure (24:46)
  • Design Leadership/Culture (28:41)
  • Awkward Testing Story (33:24)
  • Design Superpower (41:50)
  • Shiny Objects Syndrome (44:12)
  • UX of Ambient-Driven Experiences (50:46)
  • UX Superhero Name (56:14)
  • Habit of Success (57:11)
  • Invincible Resource (60:05)
  • Best Advice (61:00)
  • Contact Info (63:34)

Joe’s Twitter
Joe’s Medium
The UX of Ambient-Driven Experiences [ARTICLE]
The Life-Changing Impact of Empathy in Design [ARTICLE]
Changing Experiences through Empathy – The Adventure Series
The Coaching Habit [BOOK]
Start with Why [BOOK]

Sharpie marker and piece of paper to accompany your superpower of observation.

About Face


Show transcript

Jason: Welcome to User Defenders Joe. I’m super excited to have you on the show today.

Joe: Yeah thanks Jason I’m excited to be here. Should be a fun fun conversation for sure today.

Jason: I believe that wholeheartedly. And Commodore 64 my friend that is that is way back.

Joe: Yeah it was way back for sure it was definitely had some convincing to do to my parents. You know they had no idea what a computer was let alone grab in a Commodore 64 then down in the basement banging away at it late at night. So it was it was it was some fun times for sure.

Jason: Yeah I mean weren’t personal computers were like like $2,000 bucks back then or $3,000 bucks. They were it’s crazy right? It wasn’t very entry. It wasn’t very entry-friendly.

Joe: No it wasn’t. And like I said I did convince I did have to pay some of that out-of-pocket to my own. And that kind of helped out. You know the farm life was an ability to me to actually earn some living too. So as a young young kid so I was fortunate enough to be able to pay for half of it and then convince my parents to pay for the other half. So it was it was a challenge but it was fun. I think they they got some use out of it too every once in a while. But I think even today I’m still going back helping my parents with their computer like many other people do today.

Jason: I still wish I had my old Amiga.

Joe: Oh yeah.

Jason: I loved that thing. Now I learned a basic code on that. I thought I was so impressed with myself when I figured out how to make her talk.

Joe: Oh yes.

Jason: And make her make her say things and I was like man this is so neat. I think that’s where my love of technology really started was wow that whole cause and effect thing like I can type some some characters into this processor and I can hit enter or run and then all of a sudden I can make the computer do something like I was like this is incredible I feel so powerful.

Joe: Yeah exactly. That was the one thing that led me to doing a lot of you know tearing apart of radios and other things I just wanted to know how they worked for one. And then I wanted to see if I could put them together again and make them do something different which sometimes I was successful and most time I wasn’t so that was always a little bit of trial and error but you know pounding on that Commodore 64 with friends and doing some other things you felt like you were a little bit in control and you could actually create something and that’s what I really love to do is actually create some things get my hands dirty and you know be able to do that on a Commodore 64 back in the day doing some things but I also love to obviously being a kid play some games on there too the old classics.

Jason: Oh yes.

Joe: So it was really fun to dive into those two and understand even how those things got to work too which was fascinating than the whole floppy disk thing and all that fun stuff. Definitely reminisce for days on that stuff.

Jason: Oh I know I’m so nostalgic about that stuff. I think it’s just neat. I mean it’s neat to be able to just kind of reflect back and just see how far the field has come and to actually say you know I was there when this happened you know we’re kind of like hipsters.

Joe: Yes indeed. And the funny thing is as you have been a part of some fun projects with some organizations and sometimes they still use those nostalgic type of systems in place today which is always a challenging thing in the work world today so.But yeah definitely it’s been a fun fun ride to see it devolve from what we used to work on to seeing these huge supercomputers we carry around in our pockets every day.

Jason: Indeed. M.E.R.H.L. So I know there’s a story there and I’m going to go out on a limb here and I’m going to say that M.E.H.R.L. is a nickname you acquired on the farm.

Joe: I wish it was. I wish it was actually a real back story to that thing. No it was you know obviously being a part of the whole digital world and being a part of the internet when it was being created you know being in college and then you know living in the worlds of Napster and all that fun stuff. You know it was actually and again we go way back so a lot of weird backgrounds that I have. Like many of your other people that have been interviewers that have been on the show but. On the farm but also I grew up in Michigan so being from Michigan you know hockey is a part of your life. I actually played on a hockey team and helped grow a small organization to play different types of other teams in the area and they needed a website that they could actually put all the team’s schedules on so they all knew when they were going to play and get some advertising. And this was early in the college years that I had. So I was like hey I can build a website. I know how to do that. So I got a URL and they’re like well we want to call it this at the time it was a roller hockey league I played ice hockey right. But it was I think it was the Michigan Elite Roller Hockey League and that was the that was the name they wanted I was like well we can get a shorter name than that so I abbreviated it to M.E.R.H.L and so this was a long time ago. So I was like hey it’s a pretty short URL and then the hockey association disbanded and I was like well I’ll just keep it around and then I just used it for my own stuff. So that’s actually how it became to be it was just a short you know five letter acronym that I just kept and used it for the rest of my my days and now it’s stuck with me so.

Jason: Wow.

Joe: That’s the story behind it. Weirdly enough but it has it has taken on a life of its own for sure. Throughout the course of the years.

Jason: Yeah. No that totally takes me by surprise I actually I was I was like OK farm and then M.E.R.H.L. and you think about like the Walking Dead character named Merle.

Joe: Yeah.

Jason: Who wasn’t a pleasant guy of course but you know the name was fitting for that kind of thing but but interesting stuff. Now let me ask you this Joe. Did you have a mullet?

Joe: No I never did. I never was. I had a lot of friends that did though. I had a lot of friends I was I was always the smaller kid of the bunch. You know I did have some longer hair when I was younger but nothing mullet style it was always almost like one of those bold cut kind of things half the time and just kind of my parents got it cut when it got too long so it was one of those things. But nope never rocked the mullet. But I had some awesome friends that did. And they even have some you know wonderful hair today. If you saw my haircut I don’t have any now so I’d be just tremendously jealous of those that have mullets today so.

Jason: Well you know there’s like you know if you google you know names for mullets there’s like somebody’s done a lot of work to come up with really funny names and one of them is Hockey Hair.

Joe: Oh yeah definitely. So there’s a whole story to that too it’s definitely a cult and culture inside of the hockey community and I can go in-depth for hours on that.

Jason: Can you give us a quick overview?

Joe: Yes. Yes. So obviously you know the whole playoff system they grow their hair out and everybody loves to have hockey hair which is you know long hair mullet hair. You can go in the 70’s they’ve got some classics it’s awesome. Old school and when they didn’t have to wear helmets usually it was the best ones. But now today the kids always want to refer to things in different ways and has taken up a part of its own life. And there’s a term for it inside of the hockey community for the kids that play and they call it Flow. So when you actually are out skating around and kids comment on the flow they’re referring to the hair as they skate by and that flows in the air. So it’s actually still a widely used term. But they now have twisted it into the world we live in today. So it’s pretty funny got quite a bit of stories. I’m actually a hockey coach too I coach my son. He’s 10 years old so I got quite a bit of in-depth knowledge on that which we can even correlate to business today. So we’ll get into probably some of that later. But yeah hockey here is a life of its own. It’s a blast.

Jason: Interesting. It gives a whole new meaning to user flow too when you think about it that way.

Joe: Oh yes it does.It does.

Jason: So as you know Joe we take a fun superhero approach and every superhero has a secret identity and origin story and we got a little glimpse of yours right now and the hockey background and the farm life. But let’s talk about yours like about your life now. What do you like to do when you’re not working Joe?

Joe: Yeah I mean we kind of hit on a little bit but you know I now live in just north of Atlanta and you know having that farm background we obviously don’t live in the city with my wife and family and still play a lot of hockey. As I said I play myself as an adult. We call that the Beer Leagues which is perfect which is exactly what it is. A bunch of washed up old guys playing. But it’s the great thing I get to do is actually have a 10 year old son like I said that plays hockey he’s been playing since he’s been four and one of the best enjoyments I get out of working everyday is being able to see these nine and 10 year old kids learn about the sport but also learn about sportsmanship and actually how to work together as a team and I think that is one of the greatest things I get to do for practice when I when I go drive home and put together and actually go to games and see the kids excitement. It’s one of the best things I get to do and there’s funny things that you can correlate between that and obviously teamwork and other types of leadership activities. And actually the coaching you go through from USA Hockey actually breaks down how to how to maintain these nine and 10 year old kids on ice for an hour when they’re all over the place right which directly correlates to actually managing a room of executives when you think about it trying to maintain the attention span of those why you present something so it’s a really really funny cross over there. But that’s you know primarily what I love to do obviously my wife and my kids spend a lot of time with them when I’m not working and I’m a big Internet information junkie so as you’ve probably seen from my social activity I’ve put a lot of my thoughts and dive into a lot of things I’m always curious like I in my early career working with the Commodore 64 and diving into things I’m always very very curious how things work especially in this new fun Internet of things era. So it’s always fun to explore those types of interactions so that’s what really gets me going is you know obviously my family and you know this life we live in this industry which is ever evolving which is really fun.

Jason: That’s a great segue Joe. So tell us your origin story. Now you are already kind of touched on the Commodore 64 but what inspired you to pursue a career in this exciting, challenging, and ever evolving field?

Joe: Yeah you know like I mentioned I grew up on a farm. And to put it in perspective in the rural southeast part of Michigan my closest neighbors are my uncle and my grandfather so yeah so he puts into perspective kind of the life we lived in and my entire family live on farms and grandfather had a large cattle farm and we had sheep and all the other array of other things and went to the four age and showed sheep and was a grand champion showman and all this fun stuff so it was a really weird but interesting life more the analog style which which really I think bleeds well into what we do today and I think one of the big terms and one of the things we see in the industry is is empathy. And I think raising a bunch of animals understanding how to care for them and actually go through the process of going to a fair and showing them it does it does bleed into that putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and going through that empathy process so there’s a weird twist to all this that kind of relates to what we do today and I think that’s a big part of what shaped me and my parents and you know taking the responsibilities of having these animals and going through the process and and even selling those animals all that craziness. So it’s it’s definitely tied directly into getting into the world that we live in today and creating these experiences for customers. Putting ourselves in their shoes and creating things for other people to use. So that’s a weird twist on everything and probably a lot of people don’t even have kind of a background or understanding of that. But I think it has really shaped me and what I do today as the world tends to evolve and even new technologies and being able to adapt to those so it’s really weird. Funny stories in the farming life but I think it translates pretty well.

Jason: Now that is very fascinating Joe. I think that you made some really good points and it may seem kind of odd especially for folks who haven’t lived on a farm or who haven’t had to care for animals. But I mean it makes a lot of sense. I mean you have to really kind of make sure that they’re fed. Make sure they’re warm enough and it’s a funny story. I have chickens here at my house and last night I forgot to turn the heat light on. And it was like 15 degrees when I woke up this morning and I was like oh I kind of felt bad. Part of me was like I kind of want them to die because they’re old and they’re not they’re not laying eggs for us any more. But most to me was like oh shoot I kind of failed them. You know I failed to take care of my animals and I actually felt bad about it this morning so I think that there’s there’s a lot to be said for that. And of course having kids which I know you’re a father and you have three children and you know that is a big empathy builder too. And being a husband or being a wife you know being married to somebody that right there is like instant leadership lessons.

Joe: Most definitely.

Jason: And having a family right?

Right right. Most definitely. I think all of those pieces of that come together and I think there’s a lot of things to learn and I worked with a lot of different talented designers and user experience individuals and service design individuals and a wide variety of different pieces of our industry. And they all have this very unique background sometimes when you work with really really talented individuals and you get a chance to see how they go about doing their day and and really understand break it down and you’ll see that they all have that core respect and empathy and understanding. And a lot of different facets and it even breaks down even more too it’s really interesting because I’ve grown through my career and I have learned and had some challenges understanding it but it’s also not only empathy with the individuals that were creating the customer but it’s also the empathy you have with the business owners that you’re working across the table with understanding where their perspective is and what they have to do in their lives because they probably have families so they want to get bonuses they want to move the product forward. So there’s also that interesting business side that you have to have empathy as well and I think it takes a little bit of understanding to really get used to that once you start creating these types of large you know business experiences for a lot of people.

Jason: Yeah that is so true. And I hearken back to when I started this like man I just felt like and I just put a tweet out this morning too before our time and it’s just something that occurred to me is like if you have to say because I’m the designer you’ve already proven that you’re not.

Joe: Yeah.

Jason: Because design is about working with other people. It’s about taking the humble approach it’s being a professional of course. But you should be able to defend your work of course but you should also be willing to hear other people’s perspectives because that’s when the best work is created. I think whenever you’re you’re not just designing and you know in a tunnel or whatever you’re not just designing you know in a bubble you’re actually letting other people into the process and you’re designing for those people so I just and some of the biggest mistakes that I made man when I first started my career and I think when I put that out there I was speaking to myself too because there was there were projects where like I would get pushback like well you know that’s wrong that’s you know that’s not a good choice of color or that’s not that element’s in the wrong place and I’d be like hey I’m the designer. You know? Like I am the guy that does this job you just do your job of talking to customers you know and I’m ashamed and embarrassed to say that but that’s how it was for me when I first started. I needed a big dose of humility lesson and that comes with time it comes with experience it comes with growth. But I’ll have to say like empathy is the root and I don’t care how many people say it’s overused like that is still the root of this field and of designing good experiences for the customer and the business.

Joe: Yeah I know and it’s in our industry sometimes terminology can be used just as you know the word bingo style of things. But I think that word has been used quite a bit. I think hopefully it resonates well with everybody it doesn’t lose its power and impact when we started talking about empathy because we’re seeing it now more and more than we have ever before and I think you know understanding what that really means in the context of everybody will really start to open a lot of different things and the funny thing I was just at a workshop on Monday doing a user experience customer experience workshop for our organization. We showed a video and you probably have seen it. It was a TEDx video talking about the MRI scanner and they changed that experience based on the individuals the kids going into this scary experience and they redesigned them it was an interaction or an industrial designer talking about how they’ve created the whole experience and make them not feel scared going into an MRI scanner. And that really there’s a there’s a part in that video that actually if you don’t end up tearing up just a little bit there’s something emotionally wrong with you. So it was fascinating to understand the empathy side of that and then we had a crowd of about you know 25-30 people and half that crowd you know had to wipe away some tears. But that was the beginning of them understanding you know we’re getting into a customer experience user experience workshop that is that is what it’s all about it’s understanding the empathy across all the touch points that someone would have digital on the phone in person whatever that might be the understanding of that is very very key. So yeah I hope we always learn the impact of that on all facets of what we do.

Jason: I’m so glad you told that story Joe like that is that I love that story. And for me stories like that that’s why I love design so much. I love the implication of how lives can be changed. And I have a huge heart for children. I mean I’ve got six of them. I mean I’m I’m I’m an overachiever when it comes to that. You know what I mean? But I just love kids and I just my heart there’s nothing that breaks my heart more than seeing kids suffer you know or seeing kids just hurt or abused or things like that and I just love that that Doug Dietz was his name.

Joe: Yes.

Jason: And I know that because I made a note in my design inspiration ever know about it because I will always want to remember that story and he was the guy that kind of designed these machines and was observing he and that there’s a lot of user experience lessons in that story. He exercised the super power of observation by the way because he was in the room watching observing these kids just just terrified to get in this thing. And I have had MRI’s and I’ve I have had to hit the panic button.

Joe: Yeah.

Jason: Because I just hate I hate small spaces I’m claustrophobic and I did I didn’t want to do the drugs you know before the thing I thought I can do this you know I’m a man I could do you know I hit the panic button. So I just imagining these kids that are they have to do this all the time. You know they have cancer or whatever they have to keep going into this machine. I love the empathy that Doug Dietz expressed he’s like,”I got to do something about this.

Joe: Yeah.

Jason: I’ve got to make this more fun for kids.

Joe: Right and one of the main things that he did to be able to do that he realized he had the understanding that you know what I don’t have the perspective of a child in this scenario. How can I go get that? And I think he worked with the Children’s Museum and a team there and actually co-created with parents and younger kids to actually start creating and designing and putting together this workshop with kids and with others. So he actually knew and took a second and understood his conscious competence of actually understanding of like oh I don’t know everything. I may be an expert in designing this MRI but I’m not I know enough now that I don’t know enough where do I need to go get it? And he actually worked with a children’s museum. I believe it was in Milwaukee I think and started to really realize how kids think and how kids work and really started to build an experience around that. I think that’s really the light bulb that goes off once you start to realize oh we need to gain this perspective how do we get it? And that’s when we go into our processes of you know user research and understanding and testing and iterating and analyzing and and trying to figure out how what does their mental model how do they look at things in their perspective? And I think that’s really the key is one having the light bulb initiative to say you know what I don’t have this I have to go get it how do I go get it and build that? And then you start to become really knowledgeable about their inner workings and then you can start creating these experiences that are going to be very very powerful and that they’re affecting their life like designing an MRI scanner or designing an app that does something different to sell a product you still can do from that perspective and I think that’s the real real kicker in our industry is really understanding how that light bulb goes off in your brain and want to learn more about that perspective rather than jumping in and creating solutions right off the bat.

Jason: Oh,so good. Yeah and Doug Dietz the doctor who designed this thing you know he he’s looking at this device that he created and seeing these kids you know again scared out of their minds that they’re going in this thing and looking at this like it’s an actually it’s an effective design. The machine itself was doing what it was designed to do. But there is an added layer that he didn’t foresee Of the terror of going into this like scary dark hole of you know like beige colors and clinical you know?

Joe: Yeah.

Jason: And anyway so he did something about it that wasn’t a failure because he actually learned from it and he did something about it. And I always say like if it ain’t broke break it make it better. So I feel like you know this is kind of all leading into my next segment here and that’s about failure. Certainly when you were taken apart the radios and you know the gadgets around the house and in trying to put them back together if you even if you didn’t know how to put it back together right away I’m sure I bet you learned a ton. And I bet that you know eventually you know there are some things that you did that you were actually able to put together probably most of the things that you took apart. But those are all learning experiences they’re not it’s not failure if you learn if you’re learning. So my next question in my next section is about failure and life altering experiences and transformations because every superhero goes through that and that’s what makes them who they are and gives them that burden to help others to kind of live their life and do their work in service to others. So I want to ask you Joe can you tell us a story about maybe what’s been the biggest one in your career?

Joe: Yeah and like you said the failure process is challenging and emotional stranding sometimes but you have to look at it as a learning experience and even looking at it from a learning perspective and I think we even chatted a little bit about that before even hopping on and other types of certain circumstances. But I think one of the ones the biggest ones that impacted me was early on in my career and I think I mentioned this a little bit too. You know I worked at an organization and a pretty large consulting organization so it had pretty structured processes. And there were was early on in the you know digital design and user experience age. I was was pushing the boundaries of what the correct user experience should be looking for that you know at the time coming out of school and you know understanding oh everything needs to be perfectly designed and not really like I said earlier looking at the perspective of everybody and the situation that you’re in so I tended to push rather passionately let say that around the building the correct thing doing it the right way and then discounting what everybody else was doing as doing it wrong and not doing it right. So I had a lot of interesting conversations and to the point where I got to the point where people were saying hey I don’t want to work with Joe he’s too hard to work with or he’s not you know he isn’t he isn’t fun to work with or he isn’t willing to work together and certain things and I think my passion of trying to push those things has gotten gotten away a little bit. So I learned going through that to start to understand and build that empathy and apply it not only to the customers that we deliver something to but also the teams that you work with and the empathy of other individuals and understand the full scope of everything. So which has changed me quite drastically over the course of my career working with different organizations is really to quickly you know assess and understand everybody’s perspective before jumping in and deciding what we think is the right way to do some things and it’s always you can kind of see that in our industry today. Somebody will make comments around oh this thing doesn’t work this way or it doesn’t perform the way we think it should because we’re kind of experts in industry and we know kinda oh they should have done it this way. Well we don’t know all of the inner workings of why it was done that way and there was probably decisions because all of us I think would want to create the best experience possible. But it’s always a challenge to get to that point and it’s a journey and it’s understanding the different steps to get in there with the teams and other organizations and how they work and how they export and how they do different things so I think that was really a big thing for me to really take back and at some very very intimate conversations with some individuals around my particular attitude towards things and I think that’s what really flipped the switch in my brain and really I think at that point I think I really expanded as a designer way beyond I thought I could. And I really started to digest all of these pieces and parts which now really leads to you know working with these large organizations and how they work. And doing a lot of different things so I think that was a real big part of my career working with that organization understanding and it was early on so I was really kind of green coming out and I think that’s one notion to take with any you know designer that’s looking to get into our industry or just coming out of school is really take that perspective and you know have passion for what you do but make sure you have the empathy and understanding of really everything that’s going on so you can really apply that to the solutions you’re coming out with and really start to evolve a great experience. But that was one that I had I mean I’ve had plenty. But that was one I could really resonate with. That really changed my course of my career and thinking as I as I approach building teams working with organizations and doing those things that really really bode well. I can tell you that from from from working with a lot of companies.

Jason: I’m sensing a theme here Joe and I love it. Empathy is at the heart of great design always so. And I think about my first leadership role in design. Yeah I was like I thought well Steve Jobs was like the most visible kind of design leader and obviously has had some really great results and I thought well I need to be like him you know? I need to be like Steve Jobs. And you know what? That’s the wrong way to lead. OK? So yes the guy was a visionary. Yes. He created he created some incredible innovative products that have changed life as we know it of course. However he wasn’t the best leader and I think anybody who worked directly with him would attest to that. He just he was kind of in a hole.

Joe: Exactly.

Jason: I think yes he got stuff done. He created some awesome stuff but he’s sort of like a one in a million one in ten million. You know whatever you say there. But anyway I just I learned a lot because that style leadership that doesn’t work. You’re going to you don’t you don’t lead with fear. You know you know you lead with a servant’s attitude. And that was a big lesson for me in leadership and design leadership and and I had to learn the hard way because I just I was like why aren’t I getting results? Why aren’t my people respecting me? Oh because I’m I’m a jerk.

Joe: Right exactly. I mean that’s kind of the situation,

Jason: That’s why.

Joe: Yeah. The situation I was in was similar to that. And you know it’s it’s a challenge to work that way for sure. I mean obviously I think some people have mentioned. Steve Jobs made me a better designer because he pushed me in ways where you know broke through the wall and got something. And some people are going to resonate that way.

Jason: Sure,Sure.

Joe: But most people are going to take it a totally different way and not want to work in that way. And I think we’re even seeing that more in today’s world. Steve Jobs like individual contend to destroy a company more than than help it. And I think we’ve seen that. I’ve seen it personally in a lot of my experiences where you may have extremely talented individual but one bad apple can spoil the bunch really really quickly.

Jason: No pun intended.

Joe: Yeah exactly. And change the culture of an organization in a direction that you don’t want to change it. And even though you may want to have a certain strategy to something or a certain type of culture and you want to push upon that, man culture itself is its own beast and no matter what strategy you put in front of it the culture is going to destroy a strategy every day. So I think that is a big piece of what we do is not only build experiences for people we actually are great understanding individuals that learn how to build with teams once you get to that point of working with teams building teams with or with clients co-creating with them or building your own kind of product teams inside of organizations understanding the skill sets of individuals and how they can leverage each other and work together to make a better group together I think is really key and that’s another piece of seeing teams and growing teams. I know my skill sets now.I’m not sure if you are familiar with the four steps of the conscious competency model. You start to realize it’s almost like being an expert model where you figure out is like oh I know enough to know that I don’t know enough. And then you have to go realize what those are but really being a part of of understanding who you are and what you’re really good at then you’ll start to expand and grow beyond your wildest imagination. So you know I know my core skill sets and I know who I have to work with or maybe I have to go hire somebody or go get somebody to offset those skills that I don’t have and I think that’s what great leaders tend to do is understand how they can be. Maybe they’re a great innovator but they can’t manage for anything. So they need to go find that person to offset that or.

Jason: Yeah.

Joe: They’re a great creative mind that can create everything but they can’t run a business so they gotta go with the business side of things so for startups or for putting groups together when you start working on projects understanding and being really consciously competent about who you are and what you’re good at and what you’re not they’ll just you’ll just grow tenfold and growing in teams because you learn a lot but you also take advantage of everybody’s core skill sets and grow them as well.

Jason: I love that Joe and I think of Strength’s Finders. I’ve done Strength’s Finders before and there’s a lot to that. I kind of want to take it again because I feel like you know we we evolve and and hopefully we’re getting better. We’re either growing or dying. So I feel like I’d love to take that test again because I’ve grown a lot since I took it. But anyway I still believe in the principles behind it. We are really good at certain things. Each of us. But we’re not really good at other things but other people are. So I think that’s the whole concept of putting that together and being who you are and going all in on that. And I think that’s kind of like the whole Steve Jobs story. And I didn’t mean to like harp on him so bad but I mean there’s certainly lore around some of the leadership style, but here’s the difference…he was being himself. That’s who he was.

Joe: Yep.

Jason: And the difference with me is I was trying to be him. That was the problem.

Joe: Yeah. Yep.

Jason: OK. So anyway I love that Joe. That’s that’s awesome. So with user testing and I know that you’ve you’ve done your fair share of that through your career. Do you have any stories of anything crazy or super awkward that happened during any sessions?

Joe: Yeah I’ve been through quite a few. Formal informal a wide variety of different types of user research but I have to say the one that sticks in my head the most was was probably one that was the most beneficial I would have to say maybe not the craziest but one that was most beneficial in the project that we were doing. So the story goes I was I was out on site doing a little bit of you know observational research I was interviewing some individuals this was a broker dealer organization. So there were we were working with them to kind of build a better broker dealer experience for them internally but also for their customers so I was interviewing the internal employees at this organization trying to figure out what their day to day life was what kind of processes it was a very process oriented organization and it had to be you know follow all of the legal matters so it was very very strict had to go through these steps in the process so I was chatting with everybody and they were all in this kind of like fishbowl room together but I was going one by one kind of just seeing what they were doing obviously all the normal stuff sticky notes on the computer you know ask them questions around that you know other types of process oriented things and I got to the final gal she had the same thing you know the same sticky notes and she was kind of the one that was the leader of the group inside of this fishbowl running the kind of process. I mean this was a very financial institution you know not a whole lot of creativity going on. And there was this wooden ruler old school wooden ruler with the thin little metal that you see creative people use all the time every day I was like I got one on my desk right now and I love using it just to do wire-frame stuff or whatever we need to do. And I’m like that’s curious I wonder why she has it there I said to myself I’m gonna ask her at the end and you know I didn’t wanna dive in too deep cause she was explaining her processes on her computer and she was jotting some notes down and stuff. And then I was like well is there anything else? And I go yeah one last question I go what’s the ruler for? And then the entire room kind of started to laugh and I’m like OK this is gonna be good. So she goes yeah so the ruler. Here’s what I use the ruler for. She had her to-do list on her piece of paper and it was very like I said very process oriented. So everything that came in like an account or something like that she had to go through these specific steps and she wrote all the steps down for that particular person. So she would take the ruler and align it to make sure she was in the order she needed to do she didn’t skip any of her steps so the ruler she just used as a mechanism to a line to go through her process or to-do lists and she would move the ruler down every time she completed the step that way she wouldn’t forget it. I was like wow that’s that’s really interesting I never would have thought that. So we leveraged that knowledge and inside of the application we created this little scratch pad to-do list inside of the application. That was one documented because from a legal matter they had to document all the information they couldn’t they had all these sticky notes all over the place which from a financial institution that’s probably a little bit of a no-no so they had to document all that and it was recorded so inside of the system we recorded that but then we added this to-do list so that actually increased their efficiency tenfold because now everybody could see the process that happened and no one would skip any of the steps therefore making the process more efficient and more secure. So if I didn’t ask what that ruler was that we would have never probably came up with that solution inside the experience itself. So that just goes to show those observational research methods come in extremely beneficial and I know a lot lot today everybody is relying on the plethora of data insights we collect which gives you the the what. But it doesn’t give you the why. So I’m a big why person so definitely balancing those. But that would probably be the best kind of outcome of an interview I’ve had probably that one.

Jason: Defenders, curiosity is a superpower.

Joe: Yep.

Jason: It is. Use it. I love that Joe. Like just being aware and being curious so you’re observing and you’re also curious. And you had the boldness to ask a question that’s the other thing too.Be courageous. Be bold. There can be some stupid questions but most of the time they’re not,OK?

Joe: Right. Right.

Jason: So I just think there’s so many there’s so many takeaways in that and that you were able to use what was what you observed and what you saw to make a better product and to make their lives and their business easier better. The only thing missing would have been like a cool UI with that ruler on it right?

Joe: Oh yeah right. Definitely, yeah. Well that might be a next more physical product for them. Definitely.

Jason: Phase 2.

Joe: Yeah we can do some IOT stuff with a ruler and scan some stuff that will be fantastic so.

Jason: The elusive phase 2.

Joe: Yeah exactly. Exactly.

Yeah that’s the other part of what we do it’s it’s that sometimes you have a passion for a particular product and you know if you’re you’ve been in a product company that’s great you can evolve the product over time. But I’ve worked in agencies and consulting world for a long time and it’s great the variety is excellent and I think that’s where I think like you said the curiosity and my driving force I tend to gravitate towards those types of companies but you do lose a little bit as you work with these companies for a while and then you create something handed over to them or at least give them iteration of something so they can continue to grow it and then you step away and move on to the next thing so you don’t get a chance to actually see it evolve over time and that’s always been a bit of a challenge for I think anybody in the industry but I think hopefully we can start to change some of those things and give the tools to allow these individuals to kind of continue to do the next version. Like you said the elusive Phase 2. What happens with that. So that’s another part of what I’m doing quite a bit now too is working with organizations and the plethora of different types of processes that they have and helping organizations actually give the tools to kind of “teach the teacher ” kind of scenario and give them that empathy give them that user experience knowledge to start to at least ask those questions. And I think you brought it up. I love to ask why and I’ve mentored a lot of individuals and it’s almost to a fault of mine. Sometimes you will get frustrated but. Interesting story if you continue to ask why you really get to the crux of the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing because one or two things will happen. You’ll keep asking why and they’ll finally tell you the real reason or you’ll continue to ask why and then they’ll finally realize you know what I don’t really know why we’re doing this which is a whole other problem in itself. So that in itself I think is a great tool to do. No matter what kind of situation you’re in you’re gonna you’re gonna find out a lot about the individual but also about the project.

Jason: So good. It makes me think of a book that I read recently and I love books. And but there’s a book called “The Coaching Habit” and it’s by a guy named his name is really funny it’s Michael Bungay Stainer.

Joe: Wow.

Jason: It’s a tough gig but he’s a great

Joe: Great kid had to be harsh on him. Wow.

Jason: Yeah it’s a great book and one of the points that he made it’s a great leadership book defenders highly recommend reading it. One of the points that he makes in his book is if you’re in a leadership role and you want to kind of get first of all you want to get to the point when you call somebody in your office when you need to address something. Just get to the point right? I mean there’s always that kind of tension of you know beating around the bush and like small talk and you know it just makes it makes it more of a tense nervous conversation just get to the point in a loving way. But the other point that he makes and this is kind of what I was trying to touch on was is the awe question. And that’s A-W-E. And what else? And what else? Oh and what else? And you know you keep when you keep asking that question you get a lot more than you would if you hadn’t asked even one time you get a lot more out of it and everything becomes clearer for you and for your your team for your person on your team.

Joe: You have those open ended questions we’ll get you a lot of insight that you wouldn’t even realize. Yeah, definitely. Definitely.

Jason: Joe,what’s your design superpower? And I dare ask that because I feel like you’ve you’ve really expressed a lot of it so far but I dare ask that.

Joe: Yeah you know I think we hit it out a little bit is really starting to really dive deeper into that empathy side of things. Putting myself in the individual shoes like I said earlier could be a wide variety of different perspectives. And then you know also being able to cast that vision of kind of what it should be in their in their eyes. So always tended to try to gravitate towards understanding what their needs are and removing myself from the equation a bit to create that vision and I think it’s probably what kind of what a lot of these stories that I’ve talked about have led towards. And I think that’s another big piece of it too. As designers we get so passionately attached to our designs and executions and somewhat become a child of ours and sometimes we have to remove ourselves from that and say well we’re not building it for us we’re building it for the other individual that’s using it whoever that might be.

Jason: Yes.

Joe: And again I think that’s another core skill that takes a while to really fully mature and I still have I mean I think everybody has challenges with that no matter the years of experience that you have. But just remembering that you have that perspective will make a better product in the end. And a lot of different types of experiences.

Jason: Yes so true. And one of my super guest Matt Griffin a recent guest said if you want to be an artist go be an artist. But that’s not what a designer is.

Joe: Yep.

Jason: Right?

Joe: Exactly. Exactly. I think I’ve seen another one where it’s only art if you have to solve a problem. I think that’s what design is and art is necessarily just not defining or at least creating or solving a problem. So yeah I definitely would agree.

Jason: Joe, conversely what’s your design kryptonite?

Joe: Oh man probably a lot a lot of different things but I think the main thing is again always trying to have that empathy because it’s one to have it as a skill but it’s also really difficult to immediately discount it and go off and say this is the right thing to do. But also it’s also the shiny object syndrome as well. I think we have so many things in our world today that we tend to gravitate towards oh this new technology will solve this problem or this new gadget or this new digital thing will solve the problem when in reality it may add to the problem and it’s really identifying and maybe figuring out a different solution. But I always have that envy. And I think that curiosity is a little bit of part of it as well as I always want to figure out what that new shiny object is. Figure out how it works to see if it does apply to some sort of some sort of circumstance so but I think we all kind of have that shiny objects syndrome a little bit.

Jason: Oh yes we do. And we live in a world that is riddled with shiny objects.And it’s becoming more and more prevalent every day. And I think that’s why these minimalist guys who I really like their stuff. Their podcast’s The Minimalists. I think that’s why their message is soaring. It’s because there is so much there’s so much abundance and there’s keeping up with the Jones’ you know trying to impress people that don’t really care about us anyway. You know like things like that. I think that that’s one of the reasons that that message is really lifting off is because we are just inundated and it’s the information overload too and it’s screens everywhere. And you know like it’s Golden Krishna’s as you know like 10 steps to unlock your car door when all you need to do is just pull your keys out of your pocket and unlock your door. I just feel like we’re just overly fascinated with screens and you know UX is not just about it’s not just designing a pretty screen it’s it’s way beyond that and it’s cross-channel it goes beyond.

Joe: Yeah yeah that’s another that’s a whole other topic that we could probably spend hours talking about is how the industry has perceived UX as it’s grown up and matured I know we’ve seen several conversations across the social networks talking about who is a designer who isn’t a designer and everyone’s a designer and all those conversations but also the perception that we’ve created for ourselves is quite interesting from we start seeing the evolution of how business rolls into user experience. And I think you know early days everyone associated with building wire frames and they discounted the strategy or the business thinking that involved that. And I think now we’re trying to defend that perception a bit more and hey get us involved and beginning a little bit sooner so we can help you craft this experience in the right way versus just creating wire frames after the decision’s already been evolved so been a part of a lot of those conversations to try to change that perception inside of organizations when they start to build these user experience teams. They think oh they’re just a tactical execution of UX where it’s building you know wire frames and journey maps and doing these types of things in reality it’s a much bigger strategic design perspective around let’s craft that experience let’s ask the why let’s figure out and we’ll maybe create a solution that you never even thought of and I think it’s in the industry it’s a bit challenging to redefine user experience as we’ve kind of seen it in the past. And I think once we get to that point organizations are going to create experiences well beyond they are today. And I think you bring up an interesting topic of conversation that I’ve had with a lot of companies recently.

Jason: Yeah and it’s funny just when we start to think we understand what UX is it changes again. It evolves into something else like I just read an article yesterday about the kind of trends in 2018. What we can expect with UX and one of the points that was made was UX what UX means is now transitioning into these new technologies like AR and VR and MR and AI and so it’s like it seems like that’s where UX is shifting and it’s just an interesting I don’t know I can’t put my finger on it. You know I mean it is ever evolving that’s why I asked that question you know like what inspired you to get into this ever evolving field but but I don’t know what is you x. Joe what does it mean to you? How much time do we have?

Joe: You’re putting me on the spot there man, exactly. It’s a lot of things and I think that’s the problem right now is it has it means a lot of things to a lot different people depending on their maturity state in the world and it goes for businesses it goes for individuals. I worked a lot of organizations that are tremendously talented at design but their digital maturity or their user experience maturity was a bit lacking. So it’s also where the businesses along that scale but then you mention to all of the plethora of new technologies which again goes back to that shiny object syndrome of AR, MR, and all the different things the the AI’s and machine learning those are going to be a part and I think that that will never change and I think that us as user experience individuals and customer experience and service design individuals all those different titles that ultimately create a better experience. We’re always going to have those changing and evolving new technologies are going to change how people work. But really the core of the problem is we have to create an experience that solves or meets an unmet user need and I think no matter how you go about doing that they’re gonna have touch points that we know exist today and they’re gonna have touch points that we don’t know exist tomorrow. So we just have to make sure we build a system that allows them to do that efficiently and try to complete whatever they’re trying to complete in a meaningful way. There are going to be ways we can leverage technology that might make that more efficient but it shouldn’t be the core. We shouldn’t build an experience around that particular technology. If it’s not trying to solve a problem to begin with so I think I think it’s ever evolving and it will always be that way. And yeah it’s being a part of building an experience that I build experiences for the automotive industry. Before the iPhone came out plugging in an iPod into your car sifting through you know all your music and driving 75 miles an hour. That was a problem that we had to deal with and were dealing with. They called it Tooey, Vooey,and Gooey tactile, graphical, and voice. Now we’re dealing with those same things again with IOT devices like the Amazon Alexa and Google Home and other types of things. How do you interact with things that don’t have screens? How do you interact with things where you’re doing multiple things at once trying to execute those so I think again it goes back to solving the problem gonna be new technologies. It’s how we go about doing that utilizing our experiences and our craft to build those efficiently.

Jason: Yeah that’s a pretty deep answer and I feel like as much as I love Siri like I love how she helps me sometimes I actually probably hate her a lot more.

Joe: Yes.

Jason: Because and it’s funny how we kind of personify it’s just it’s just a machine it’s just a bunch of code but we kind of personify it and that’s by design. Right? I mean she’s your personal assistant or whatever you know. But I’ll be honest with you. Like probably 85 90 percent of the time when I asked Siri to do something she either makes a pretty big mistake or doesn’t do at all what I’m asking. So like I get frustrated with it. But then the other part of me is like OK well we have to get through these growing pains we have. I mean these are this is code. This is a lot of code. This is a lot of learning and the robot’s only as smart as the people programming it. And of course the world is full of information. So we have to keep innovating we have to keep making it smarter. But you wrote a really interesting article called “The UX of Ambient Driven Experiences” and I just read that the other night and I thought it was really fascinating Joe and it’s a lot of it is about kind of where we’re heading with these new technologies and machine learning and facial recognition and tying to you know your profile and kind of what you need and even predictive design like I was really intrigued by that I’ll be sure to link to it in the show notes Defenders so you can check it out. But I started thinking about my Lowe’s experience recently I like I went to go and try to get a tile job done and hire to hire a guy to do the tile in my bathroom and that has been a nightmare. It has been a nightmare experience and not just because I live in Colorado and it seems like everybody is high around here especially Lowe’s workers. Yeah it’s just it’s just been a real headache. I think they didn’t have they knew kind of what we wanted already but then turns out they didn’t have enough materials and stock when we needed to buy it. And so now we have to wait or try to find the materials in another store and then like just trying to book the contractor like that’s been a real headache trying to coordinate all this stuff and I just feel like man there’s so much room for disruption with things like what you mentioned in the article.

Joe: Yeah. And you mentioned a really core piece of the puzzle that I think we’re going to start to uncover and it’s been a core you know method and approach that user experience had. But we’ve been so focused I think again on the shiny object.

Oh we need to build this digital experience on the web on the app on the phone or.

Jason: We need an app for that.

Joe: Exactly. But we’ve designed that particular experience without it connecting to all the other touch points that you have. So just like you just described to us as consumers of a product we go along a journey we have tons of different touch points could be digital physical talk to a person. Do these different types of things companies and organizations have siloed that type of experience. So they’ve created great apps and great customer experience or customer service but they haven’t joined them all together again and that’s kind of my new role that I’m doing now is actually thinking more about that system level thinking from a service design perspective. And I think you’re going to see that evolution grow even more across businesses because they’ve created great experiences in silos. Now they’re trying to tie all of these touch points together. And I don’t know what to call that thing that holistic experience design and service design is a part of that it’s an old you know practice that’s coming back again and I think you’ll see more of it in the near future but that again I named it you know an ambient experience that you have because now you can pull large amounts of pieces of data where coming from sentiment analysis with cameras to the stuff on your phone to you know matching you know this individual wanted this type of tile but it’s passed along to the customer service person you’re talking to they know exactly what you need and it all ties together really seamlessly. And I think that’s what you know I think all organizations want but it’s really really difficult to build. And it’s really difficult to architect and you kind of have to re-retrofit some things that they may have put in place to do that but now they’re trying to think in that holistic end to end experience and even you know the workshop I was going to on Monday we’ve all heard the term product owners and I think they’re a part of the agile system. And you know all the processes in place well now we’re starting to see the evolution of what’s called an experience owner. So the experience owner will own the end to end experience that you would have. Making sure that customer perspective or the employee touch points are there. So I think you’re going to start to see this evolution of a bigger system level thinking experience versus just building an individual app to solve a problem so you’ll still see the apps being built but they’ll be you know aware of all the other surroundings around it and I think that’s where you’ll start to see this you know ambient experience type of thing to to evolve which again I’ve been really interested in. There was I can’t remember the name of the article but there was a term that they use called Centaur Design. So obviously we all know what the centaur is half horse half human but applying that to how humans interact with machines. So start thinking at a system level and how we as humans interact with certain types of experiences digitally and then we co-work together to solve a problem. So you’re starting to see that a little bit with how you know how people are calling AI that are maybe machine learning they’re having these humans and computers work together but the example they showed also was the navigation app “Waze”. So “Waze” gives you an algorithm using you know GPS and other types of traffic to say hey drive in this direction for your destination. But also it gives personal user input if hey traffic here fog here. Other types of things. So it’s combining both human experience and knowledge with A.I. knowledge or machine learning knowledge together to create a better experience. And I think that in itself is gonna be where a lot of these experiences are going to start to go. So it’s going to add another layer of what we do as user experience individuals to create those so it’s going to be really really fascinating as we start to see how all of these things tie together in one unified experience that we really want in the end.

Jason: Wow let that marinate a little bit Defenders.

Joe: Yeah I’m still marinating it so it’s it’s quite it’s quite interesting but complex too.

Jason: Interesting stuff we’re definitely living in an age like no other. This is a question I caveat always and it’s a fun one but I do caveat it because I know you didn’t get where you are on your own. And I know you’d be the first to admit that and you’ve worked with some incredible people like my boy Cisco and Inchauste episode 24 Defenders check it out. And R.J. also. Great great guy love R.J. So I want to ask you Joe what would your UX superhero name be?

Joe: You know I actually did a little research for this actually. Go figure. You know and I stumbled across a very unique name and it was called the Ultra-Synapse and it is kind of an interesting superhero name that actually so the definition would be being able to control other people’s emotions and insights and empathy to gain their visual and vision and perspective and allow them to basically control them but also understand that. So I think that’s probably where I landed as I dove a bit deeper into you know what would my superhero name be for this particular podcast. So it’s definitely very fitting I think once I came across it.

Jason: That awesome man. And I’m glad you explained that too because that really helped shed light on it. That’s really cool. Love it. Let’s wrap up the show Joe with imparting of superpowers. What’s one habit that you believe contributes to your success?

Joe: I think it goes back to the asking why and being curious I think you can never ask why enough. So I think that would be one of the main things that I would take away from anybody you know in the field that we’re doing either a new green individual or a mature experienced designer always asking why is going to get to the core of the problem.

Jason: Oh man. Start with why and there’s my segue to the next question. I’m a reader I love reading. I recommend “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. And of course “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stainer. And I want to ask you Joe what would be your one book if you could recommend to our listeners? What would it be and why?

Joe: You know this book has been one I’ve gone back to since the beginning of my career and I think I still go back to it today because it has such great you know core principles. It was it’s the Ellen Cooper book about face. And I think that one has it’s so deep and so dense you can use it as a reference you can read it end to end if you would like. But it’s also a reference I think it has a lot of processes and skills in there that allow that do resonate with today’s type of experiences and again back to that system level thinking side of things. But I think that would be one. I’m a big podcast person. So this is a little plug for the podcast people and you probably saw.

Jason: Yeah.

Joe: Right? So I actually have a good hour hour and 20 minute commute every day back and forth. Obviously the lovely Atlanta traffic that we have but I’ve actually had quite a routine so I’ve actually created a whole plethora of podcasts I listened to on a daily basis weekly basis and I actually wrote a blog entry on all of it so I can send we can put that in the notes to take a gander at it but like I said I’m a big information nerd when it comes to a wide variety of our industry. So anything technology related or industry related. I’m always adding new ones. I had a great feedback on the blog I wrote but there’s one that you know you get to have a little fun in your life every day. And there’s one podcast that I’ve been listening to that resonates with me and obviously I’m a dad. So there’s a lot of dad jokes but there’s also if you’re afraid of swearing or vulgarity don’t listen as podcasts but you can listen to it on your own by yourself. But it’s called the Grumpy Old Geeks so it resonates with me very well. And if you haven’t listened to it take a listen. They talk about all of our industry and they make some very very comical kind of commentary on it. So it’s it’s one I’ve listened to every day and look forward to listen to. So that would be one that isn’t a book but definitely one to pick up if you guys are interested I guess.

Jason: Definitely definitely. And by the way thanks for including User Defenders on that on your great article there.

Joe: Of course. You know there isn’t many out there that really from a user experience perspective. So from me and I think everybody would say thank you for putting together something like this because I think it has helped the industry grow individuals grow and I really appreciate all the work and effort you’ve put into put into this.

Jason: Well thanks Joe. Joe what’s your most invincible UX resource or tool you could recommend to our listeners?

Joe: I think it’s simply a sharpie marker and a piece of paper. I think those two tools generating you know as you ask why and you document I’m a big person to actually observe. So I’m a big person that goes to the mall who just watches people but I always observe what people are doing in any setting and if you ever see me out and about I usually will have a mole skin and a marker with me jotting down everything.I think I have quite the library I’m looking at them now in the office. There’s a stack of moleskins that I have that I tend to go through every once in a while. That you know be able to document some insights that I’ve gained from some sort of experience that I’ve had. So I think that I mean of any tool would probably be in my my most powerful one.

Jason: That’s awesome. Joe this is my last question for you and it’s one of my favorites. What’s your best advice for aspiring new superheroes?

Joe: Yeah I think we hit on it a little bit. And I think the whole theme of the podcast I think has been around that empathy side.

Jason: Yes.

Joe: As a growing and I’ve done a lot of kind of mentoring and coaching with some individuals and one of the things not only with the empathy side understanding what their perspective is of course asking why. But there’s also the whole idea of showing that telling. And I think understanding how you can start to show and kind of explain what a solution should be is going to bode well in your career instead of just telling someone that it should be a certain way and I think you made a comment on this too and it is a very hard thing to really kind of resonate with and kind of use in your career. But if you master that you will be one you’ll become a great storyteller which is another big key of what we do in our industry which you’ll be able to show you’ll be able to show the why of doing a certain experience to someone instead of telling them. So I think that would be another really key asset to learn and always grow and you can always grow on that one. The showing and not telling is is a key aspect of what I do every day. So it’s it’s a great one to have and I encourage everyone to use it more.

Jason: So good. Thankfully we have seen a huge surge of prototyping tools that are available to us now accessible to us. And I want to mention Envision studio that is just on the horizon. In fact Envision is sponsoring exclusively sponsoring this season so I’m so grateful to have them on board. But that tool is certainly shaking things up. And it’s not even launched yet but by the time we record this but should be by the time we released this episode. But yeah thanks to Envision for sponsoring this episode and the show and also creating Studio which looks incredible. I can’t wait to try it out.

Joe: Yeah me too.

Jason: But you know as far as you know the empathy and inspiration aspiring designers to kind of keep going to keep fighting on that’s really and as you touched on Joe that’s why I do this show. And you know what I kind of was I don’t reflect enough like I mean this show is all about it’s about you Joe. It’s about what you’re doing the work you’re doing and how you’re you know helping to to change lives with your design and things. But I don’t I don’t often reflect back on myself and I was like why do I do this show and then it occurred to me you know why I do this show it’s because the next Doug Dietz is listening.

Joe: That’s right. That’s right. Exactly.

Jason: Next Doug Dietz is listening and they are you Defender listening. You might be the one you might be the one that creates this revolution this revolutionary thing that just changes lives radically. That’s why I do this. So Joe as we close why don’t you tell our audience the best way to connect and keep up with you.

Joe: Yeah I think you mentioned earlier the little four digit or 4 or 5 letter word that I have is Merhl so you can pretty much follow me anywhere I’m more active on Twitter but feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn or any one of those so look forward to always love chatting with the community. So feel free to hit me up.

Jason: Awesome. Yes. And that’s M.E.R.H.L Defenders and I’ll be sure to link to those in the show notes as well. Joe this has been incredible and I’m so inspired I’m pumped up. I’m ready to go out and kind of take over the world with design with good design.

Joe: That’s awesome.

Jason: You know that’s the point right? Yeah man. And so I just want to thank you for being here. I know our Defenders listening are inspired too. Dude I just want to put a bow on this right now and we started off the show with you talking about hockey and how much of a part of your life that is and how many design lessons you’ve learned to actually being involved in hockey and with your kids and coaching them and things. There’s a great quote and you probably know what I’m about to say Joe it’s Wayne Gretzky gets the credit for it but I found out recently that it was actually Wayne’s father that said this to him when he was coaching him. He said,”Wayne don’t go where the puck is. Go where it’s going.”.

Joe: Yep exactly.

Jason: And you’re doing that my friend with all the innovative stuff you’re working on. I just want to encourage you finally to fight on my friend.

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