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063: Mindset & Learning How to Learn with Jessica Ivins

User Defenders podcast
Personal Growth
063: Mindset & Learning How to Learn with Jessica Ivins

Jessica Ivins schools us on the critical value of a growth mindset in UX Design. She teaches us how to learn how to learn. She enlightens us as to why it’s always better to generalize before specializing. She reminds us introverts that we can only truly succeed by extroverting. She also reveals how the best tool recommendations can only come when it’s clear what one is trying to learn.

Jessica Ivins is a user experience (UX) designer and faculty member at Center Centre, the UX design school in Chattanooga, TN, where she prepares students to be industry-ready UX designers.

Jessica dedicates much of her time to the UX community. She founded the Chattanooga UX Design Meetup, the first community organization for UX design in Chattanooga. She speaks internationally at conferences such as SXSW, Midwest UX, IA Summit, and UX Cambridge (UK). She publishes UX articles on her blog and on Medium. She’s also a voracious reader of design books, business books, and novels.

Before joining Center Centre, Jessica worked in the Philadelphia area as a senior experience designer at Happy Cog and the lead UX designer at AWeber. While in Philadelphia, she spoke at dozens of meetups and local events. She taught classes for Girl Develop It, led UX Book Club, and served on the board of Philadelphia’s UX community, PhillyCHI.

Fun fact: She’s loved unicorns since she was a small child, long before they were hipster cool. 🙂

  • Personal Passions (5:18)
  • Origin Story (6:28)
  • Biggest Failure (12:52)
  • Introvert or Extrovert (17:10)
  • Awkward Testing Story (18:30)
  • Design Superpower (24:46)
  • Design Kryptonite (31:14)
  • Secret Identity (33:09)
  • Fights for Users (34:41)
  • Habit of Success (35:27)
  • Best Tips (37:15)
  • Invincible Resource (42:10)
  • Generalize Vs Specialize (44:18)
  • Recommended Book (47:36)
  • Your Why (51:57)
  • Best Advice (53:13)

Jessica Ivins’ Twitter
Jessica Ivins’ LinkedIn
Jessica Ivins’ Medium Articles
Jessica Ivins’ Website
Center Centre
A11y Weekly
Applying to Jobs Makes You a Better Designer [ARTICLE]

Designing Together


Show transcript

Jason Ogle: Alright! Well, today I have with me Jessica Ivins. I am super-honored to have her here. She is a User Experience Designer and faculty member at Center Centre. Which is a UX Design school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And there, she, along with Jared Spool and Leslie Jenman. How do I say her name?

Jessica Ivins: Leslie Jensen Inman.

Jason Ogle: Thank you. Thank you. Where they and others are preparing students to be industry ready UX designers. And that’s such a great mission. That’s what I try to do here on the show as well. So, I love that Jessica is here. And so, Jessica, she speaks internationally. That’s awesome. And she’s been at some pretty big design conferences as well. She also publishes a lot. She’s a prolific writer and I got to read a few of her articles before our time today and I just really appreciate her heart. She really has a heart for serving the up and coming generation of UX designers. That’s you listening. I know.

And, or if you’re established, I mean, here’s the thing, we’re always learning. We always have a beginner’s mindset. So, I really like that. Those are just a couple of the highlights. There’s much more, you can read her full bio on the show notes, but I want to also get to her fun fact because I think it’s really fun. It’s really cool. She has loved unicorns since she was a small child long before they were hipster cool. I love that. I have daughters, so I get that. And yes, unicorns are very hipster cool now. But you were there first. Like you liked Nirvana before Kurt Cobain committed suicide?

Jessica Ivins: Yes. That’s with Unicorns for sure. What everyone else thought it was silly and dumb and a waste of time. I was way ahead of the curve. [Laughs]

Jason Ogle: I love that. I love that. That’s cool. So, as you know, we take a fun superhero approach and I like to start the show really getting to know you, Jessica, on a more personal level, I think it’s a great way to kind of break the ice and really intro you to the Defenders listening. So, let’s talk about your origin story. Tell us about your personal life. Like this question is kind of – I’ve had people go, like, “What do you mean by that?” And just basically, what do you like to do when you’re not working?

Jessica Ivins: Sure. So, when I’m not working as I mentioned to you earlier, I’m expecting my first baby. So, that’s got me really busy these days. Thank you. Yes. With a lot of new stuff outside of work. But other than that, when I’m not working, I really enjoy reading. I lead a book club and it has really has nothing to do with UX design. We mostly read novels and I love reading and I love sharing my love of reading with other people. I love preparing my own foods. I prepare most of my own food from scratch because I’m very into nourishing and healthy food. And time with friends and stuff. So, I’m not the most thrilling and exciting person on the planet, but I definitely have my interests that bring me fulfillment.

Jason Ogle: Well, I think you’re too humble and I think you’re definitely very interesting, especially knowing how many books you’ve read. I mean, like I really am a big believer. I love reading. I’m a big reader too. And so, I have a feeling we’re going to geek out a little bit on that in our time today. I do have some questions for you about that. But I appreciate you sharing that and tell us your origin story, Jessica. Like what inspired you to pursue a career in this exciting, challenging, and ever evolving field?

Jessica Ivins: Sure. So, back when I was younger I knew I wanted to do something related to the arts and related to helping people. I just didn’t know what that was. And when you’re really young, you don’t have a very good knowledge base of all the career opportunities out there. So, when I was in college I decided, well, I’m good at drawing, I liked the arts and I want to help people. So, I’ll go to school to become an art teacher, like a K through 12 elementary or high school art teacher. And I went through student teaching and that did not work out. It was just not for me. I just realized that it was not my bag and it was time to move on to something else.

So, in the meantime, when I was thinking about what else to do, I had taken a course in college. It was an intro to computer programming for non-programmers. So, people who were not computer science majors. And I did not want to take the course. I just had to take the course to fulfill a certain requirement. It was the only course that fit into my schedule to meet this particular requirement. And I had a lot of anxiety leading up to the course because at the time I knew very little about computers. Now I used computers all the time. Back then it was email and Microsoft word and AOL instant messenger, if you remember those days. And I was constantly on the computer, but I didn’t really know much about how computers worked or anything and I was not interested at all.

So, I went into this class very grumpy, and knowing that I would have to put in a lot of work to get a good grade because I always tried to get, you know, straight A’s in college. I was very serious about my studies and everything. So, I was taking the class and it was preparing for the first exam and I studied really hard at it, all the exercises in the book, I spent hours and hours preparing for it. Took the exam. And this was back in the days where you actually coded on paper. So, you got a piece of paper and a pencil and you had to hand write out the code and that code, the professor would review it later and had to compile. And if it didn’t compile for various reasons, you’d get dinged. Yes. So, this is a very old school way of learning programming. So that’s what I did. And then the next class I took the exam and then the next class we came back and the professor wrote the average score on the board and it was 68 or something. And that was with the curve and the whole class just kind of groaned.

And Man, I’m sitting there thinking like, “Oh no.” Like I probably failed this exam and I’m going to have to work really hard to get my grade up for the rest of the semester. So, low and behold the professor hands back all the exams and it turns out that I was the one who set the curve and I got a 94, so I set the six-point curve and the guy next to me was grousing and grumbling. And he said, “You know, if you had gotten an 89 I actually would’ve passed, you know, as you set the curve.” And the other guy next to me was like, “I knew it was you.” Because the other guy next to me. We had been paired up a lot in labs. And I was just like, I was so relieved and it was this huge Aha moment. And that’s when I realized, number one, “This is how computers work. This is amazing.” And number two is like, “Wow. Well maybe I can actually be good at this.” Because I didn’t think I’d be good at it. I was dreading this class and here I am setting the curve.

So that was a huge moment for me. I’ve actually written that professor within the past few years and thanked him and told him that that’s really what ended up pushing me into UX design. Because what happened was, at the end of that course, at the end of the semester, I said to him, “You know, I really enjoy this and I’d like to pursue it more, but I can’t switch my major to computer science because I’m a senior. It’s too late.” And he said, “Well, you know, since you’re an art major, you may want to take classes in Html and CSS and learned to design for the web. So, that’s what I did. And I really, really fell in love with front end development and that led me to beginning my career as a Front-End Developer. So, that’s actually how I started in the field. And then I gradually worked my way into UX design. Once I realized what UX design was, I had no idea what it was when I started in the field. I knew what coding was obviously, but UX wasn’t the big thing that it is now.

And when I was working as a Front-End Developer, my company hired an outside firm to do usability testing on our products. And that was the first time I got to see – this was an old school in some, you know, places still use this. It was an old school usability lab with the mirror where when you’re in the observation room you can see the other room but the participant can’t see you.

Jason Ogle: Yes.

Jessica Ivins: It’s called like a one way or two-way mirror or something. But I was in there and I was observing all these people using the product that I had helped design and they were just failing miserably. They couldn’t understand it, they couldn’t get through it. And that was the big eye-opening moment for me where I was like, “Wow, you know, I really need to understand my users.” And number two I was like, “This is what I want to do.” As much as I love being a Front-End Developer, I want to get into UX design, I want to do usability testing and all this kind of stuff. And that’s what led me into transitioning into UX.

Jason Ogle: Awesome. You know it’s interesting when you were talking about your code tests, like
writing it on paper, that’s really fascinating. And to me it seems like it could be a really good way to
really memorize the syntax when you write it down because there is a psychological connection
between us actually physically writing something down on paper versus just typing something into a
computer. So, I think that’s really fascinating to me. I feel like I’ve been trying to learn JavaScript for 20
years. Maybe I just need to start writing out the syntax on paper.


Jessica Ivins: Maybe. I have no idea like whether or not it’s effective. I don’t even know if schools still do it anymore, but – and this was probably 2002, 2003 somewhere around there if I had to guess. So, it wasn’t long ago. All things considered. But who knows?

Jason Ogle: Yes. That’s cool though. That was interesting to me to hear that. And also, I was thinking about the fellow student who was like kind of like telling you, “Hey, you should have gotten a lower score so I could have passed.


Jason Ogle: And it totally made me think of, there’s a psychological principle called the Lobster Effect. And basically, it’s like when you have a bunch of lobsters in a bucket, anytime one of them tries to get out, the other one’s like pull him down. The other one, you know…


Jessica Ivins: That’s funny.

Jason Ogle: Like that’s totally what’s happening here. And it’s like you can really apply that to you know, the human lesson of, “There’s always going to be people around us. If we let them into our lives who are just kind of trying to pull us down.” And you know, we’re trying to get out of the bucket. We’re trying to break out, we’re trying to go further and farther.

I want to shift gears a little bit. This is something that, you know, when we start talking about failure, it’s sort of like, it’s always seen, at least initially in a negative light. Failures are not bad. And as UX designers especially, we learned so much and we just want to make sure we try to fail fast of course and learn most importantly. But can you tell us a story about maybe one that’s been possibly your biggest one in your career or one that’s really impacted your work?

Jessica Ivins: Yes. I would say, I was thinking about this earlier and a huge learning moment in my career actually happened probably about 10 years ago or so. You know, my natural tendency is to do things on my own and you know, go off at my desk with my headphones on and work on this thing and make it perfect and then show it to the team. And that was the way that I worked for a long time, early in my career. And I’ve had to learn through making mistakes that that’s not an effective way to work. And I’m glad that I learned this and I learned this pretty early on about 10 years ago. So, about 10 years ago, I was working at an agency and there were two different offices. There was an office in Philadelphia and an office in New York. And the New York folks and I were working on a project together and they had called me and they said, “Hey, are you available to jump on a call within the next day or two to work on a brainstorming session for this, you know, project that we’re working on.” And I said, “Oh, well, I’ve already started on wire frames and I already have ideas for this product, so I don’t think we need to go through a brainstorm.” And they said, “Oh, okay.”

So, I was just completely resistant to the idea of a brainstorm. Like, “No, I got this. I’m going to do this on my own. I don’t need to do this brainstorm.” And they didn’t really push it. But what I found out later, because my boss came to me and said, “So, so and so from the New York office called me and asked if we could get a different UX designer on the project because they were looking to do a brainstorming session and you didn’t want to do it.” And that just hit me like a ton of bricks and my boss was actually very kind and professional about it, but he was just letting me know that “Hey, this happened.” And and I, that’s when I realized, “Oh my goodness.” Like “I can’t work this way anymore. It is going to come back and hurt me.” Right? “If people are going to my boss and explaining what happened and asked me to work with another UX designer on my team, like this is an issue. Like this is something I have to change.”

So, that was a huge learning moment for me. And I’m glad that my boss came to me and told me about that because had I not known, I probably would’ve kept going on my way and just assuming that things were working when they weren’t. Since then, I’ve done a complete 180. I went from – and again that’s my natural tendency, but I’ve had to work really hard on becoming a good collaborator and I’ve become very effective at it now. So, I think step one was realizing, “Okay, I need to make this big change. I can’t just sit at my desk with headphones on and do work and throw it over the wall.” Because that’s not the way that we – that actually used to be the way that a lot of UX designers worked. And it was never the very effective. That was the first big learning moment.

And the second piece of that was like, “Okay, now that I’m open to collaboration, how do I do it?” So, I had no idea really had to collaborate. I mean it’s a skill that a lot of people don’t have that they have to build later on as adults. You’d think through all the group work that we do in school, k through 12 and college, you get better at collaboration and that probably helps somewhat. But I never really felt prepared by the time I got to the working world. Thankfully I’ve had good mentors and I’ve consultant good resources and I’ve gotten much better at it through those mentors and resources and through project work. As a result, I’m a much stronger designer now, much, much stronger than I was 10 years ago. That moment when I learned that the team was asking to work with a different UX designer.

Jason Ogle: I appreciate you sharing that, Jessica, as your vulnerability in that. And that’s a great lesson for all of us. I mean, we can – that’s the other thing about perceived failures or you know, shortcomings. Like we can learn from others as well. And I think that’s a really, really important one, especially for newer designers, which is both of our target audiences, right? Like when we start out, we tend to want to overcompensate, especially once we get you know, our foot in the door. We don’t want to come off, like we don’t know anything. And sometimes the ego gets involved and sometimes it can be like, you know, well, no, it’s easier to blame other people. Like I’m just saying, and this is me speaking personally. Like, this is a testimony for me. That’s how it was for me. And so, I just appreciate that. Like, are you an introvert? Would you consider yourself an introvert?

Jessica Ivins: Yes. I think so. More on the introverted end of the spectrum for sure.

Jason Ogle: Same here. There’s a lot of people who are lean toward the introvert spectrum, whose occupations are like completely, you would never guess. Like, they’re in front of people all the time. They’re teaching like you right? And you know, I just had dinner with my cousin last night in Boulder who was visiting out here. And she, she works with NASA and she’s a PR person. Like she’s constantly entertaining and like, right? She has to be that way. But you know, here’s the difference. It’s just that, it’s not that we don’t like people, we love people. It’s just sometimes our energy gets drained a little bit more just in those environments. So, we have to kind of, to recharge, we have to sort of withdraw a little bit to kind of get that energy back. So, that’s kind of one of the things I was thinking and I can identify with that as well.

And I love how you said “Sitting at the desk with the headphones on.” Like that’s just not how we build great products.

Jessica Ivins: Right.

Jason Ogle: I don’t think we were ever able to do it that way, but it’s kind of how we did it for awhile. And I totally remember very well the only benefit of that is like the maybe thousands of songs you could download free from Napster.


Jessica Ivins: Yes, yes, yes. I guess silver linings, right? [Laughs]

Jason Ogle: Back then. Yes, exactly. And I totally appreciate that. That’s a great, great lesson for all of us. Let’s switch gears again a little bit here. Let’s talk about user testing. Do you happen to have a story of something really crazy or super awkward that happened during a user testing session by chance?

Jessica Ivins: Sure. So, years ago I was actually working at a different agency at this point and we were doing usability testing study for a project. And we had a participant come in. We did the session; the session went really well. And at the end of the session we talked about the honorarium, which is the compensation. And we told her it would be a $40 Amazon gift card. And she goes, “Well, I thought I was getting cash.” And we said, “No ma’am, it’s a $40 Amazon gift card.” And then she got very angry and said, “Well, I thought I was getting cash. So that’s why I came in. I wouldn’t have come in if I known it was a gift card.”

And my colleague and I we – you know, going back I would handle it differently. But here’s what we did. And we looked, we reviewed all the email communications with her and we said, you know, we were clear that it was an Amazon gift card and we don’t give out cash. And then she was not happy. And she started asking to talk to our manager. And my manager and the president of the agency at the time, they were out of the office because they were out of the office on a business trip. Nobody else was there other than me and my people at my level. And my colleague and I just put our foot down and we were like, “No, you’re getting an Amazon gift card.” I mean, we were nicer than that, but it was, we were kind of locking horns with this woman. And so, we emailed her the Amazon gift card and she was so angry that she walked out without saying anything and just slammed the door behind her.

And at the time, my colleague and I, you know, it was kind of like, we were so wrapped up in like, you know, we’re the ones who are right about this. And I remember saying to my colleague, “Can’t you find something to spend a $40 Amazon gift card on? Like, can’t you find something on Amazon?” Nowadays, I think I’d handle that a lot differently for a few reasons. Number One, I’ve become more comfortable with owning things. It’s almost like a customer service role. Like if you’ve ever worked in customer service, it’s your job to own the problem even if the problem is not your fault. And looking back on it, based on what she told us about herself in the beginning of the session, she was probably part of a low-income community. And now I know that a lot of people in low income communities are unbanked. Like they don’t even have bank accounts. So, if you don’t have a bank account, you probably don’t have a credit card. If you don’t have a credit card, you’re probably not shopping online. So, even though it was an Amazon gift card, it probably wasn’t very useful to her. And I also know that low income communities, it can be very hard to receive packages because it’s a higher crime rates, they tend to get stolen from your home. So, now that I know all these things, looking back on it, she probably thought she was getting $40 in cash. Maybe she misread the communications or whatever, but I would have owned that.

So, at the time I probably would have done – excuse me, if I were to go back, what it would probably do is say, “Okay, let me talk to my colleagues and see what I can do for you.” And go talk to my colleagues and maybe say, “Okay, we can give you the cash. We just need a few minutes to write up a form or we’re just going to write up a form and have you sign it and it’ll serve as a receipt for you and for us.” And then I just would have taken $40 out of my wallet and talked to my boss when he got back and figured out how to reimburse me $40. You know, this was not $1,000 here, this is $40. We probably could have worked it out as a small business.

Or, I would’ve said, “Okay, we’ll hold onto the gift card for now. We’ll see if we can give you cash. We have your contact information. So as soon as my manager gets back into the office, I’ll talk to him and I’ll give you a call and we’ll see if we can arrange a way to get you cash.” So, that’s probably what I would do now looking back on it. It’s just having more of a customer service role. I mean, really having empathy, you know, to use a word that is very common in our culture. That’s probably how I would handle it now. Like I said, just more of a customer service role, more of an empathetic role. Because I was so put off and I didn’t understand the situation that this woman was in. And again, I’m making assumptions. I don’t know her exact economic situation, but my guess is based on what she had told us about her herself during the session. That was probably the case.

Jason Ogle: I love that. I love that you shared that. And I think you’re right, you’re right. Empathy is everything. And I never get tired of hearing that word, you know? I know some people will kind of say, “Oh, it’s the biggest buzz word in our field. And maybe it kind of like, you know, cast a shadow on it a little bit. But no, it’s still to me and I think many others who are really wanting to make a change, make a difference. I think it’s everything. I think it has to start there. And I really, even when you were explaining that story, when you’re telling that story, I was thinking about accessibility. And often we think of accessibility. I know that that’s an area you are definitely versed in. You’ve done a lot of research there, which I appreciate as well. But when we think of accessibility, we’re primarily thinking of like screen readers and things that are super important for people who have like a physical disability. But I think this is almost an accessibility issue too, right? Or like this person may not have had a computer. They may not have had an Amazon log in. Right?

Jessica Ivins: Right.

Jason Ogle: And it’s one of those things where it’s like, “What a great lesson.”

Jessica Ivins: Yes. It was huge. So, going forward in a situation like that, I would at least try to meet the participant where they’re at, or I would at least say to the participant. “So, let me look into this for you. I have an answer for you right now, but let me get your contact information and I’ll see what I can do.” I mean that in itself is a great customer service technique. When, if you can’t help them right now, you say, “Here’s what I can do for you, which is I can get back to you.”

Jason Ogle: Yes. That’s great. Excellent lesson. Jessica, what’s your design superpower?

Jessica Ivins: I would say probably accumulating a growth mindset. So, you talked a bit about learning, about failure and learning a little while ago and I’ve shared some examples of, you know, mistakes that I’ve made or things that I’ve done in the past that I would do differently now. And I attribute that to growing into a growth mindset. So, I don’t know if you’re familiar, you or your listeners, you may be familiar with the book called Mindset by Carol Dweck. Where she talks about growth mindset versus fixed mind.

Jason Ogle: I’m one of the biggest cheerleaders.

Jessica Ivins: Yes. So, if your listeners aren’t familiar with it, she talks about how most people either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. And in a fixed mindset, you either beat yourself up and tell yourself you’re a failure or you deflect and blame other people for things that go wrong. So, the person in the fixed mindset will be like, you know, “I’m not good at this. I can’t do this. I give up. You know, I tried it once, I can’t do it, I give up.” Or they might say, “Well, you know, this didn’t work out and it’s that person’s fault.” Right? So, it’s, it’s very much like, you know, like basically throwing up your hands, blaming yourself or blaming somebody else and not moving forward.

Versus the growth mindset is the mindset of, “Okay, I tried this, it didn’t work out. Let me try something else.” You know, what else can I do to get to the goal that I’m trying to get to and not beating yourself up? Right? And I used to have a fixed mindset. A lot of people do. Back to that story that I told where, you know, I didn’t want to collaborate and I didn’t want to go to the brainstorming session. I just wanted to sit at my desk. Like that was my fixed mindset. Like, “No, this is the way I want to do it. I’m not comfortable with collaborating. This is what I want to do. I’m going to keep doing it my way.” Versus nowadays I have a growth mindset and I would strive to respond and say, “Okay, so yes, let’s have a brainstorming session.” Or if I didn’t feel like it were appropriate. “Okay, well let, let’s talk about this. So, let’s chat about this brainstorming session. What are you looking to accomplish? How can I help you get where you’re needing to go?” Right? And if I’m not ready or I don’t know how to do this particular brainstorming session, approaching it with an open mind so at least I can learn.

And I would say accumulating the growth mindset, I’ve probably gotten to it over the past 10 years or so. It’s been huge and it’s so freeing, you know? Because instead of beating yourself up or blaming other people, you’re taking ownership of something and also being kind to yourself and you’re giving yourself permission to learn and grow and move forward.

Jason Ogle: Oh, I love that. I love that. And I love that you mentioned Dr. Carol Dweck Mindset book. That is actually one of my favorite books of all time in the pop psychology genre especially. I just love it. For the most part, I’ve had a growth mindset because I’ve always loved learning. But, there was a time in my life where I just felt like – you know, and a lot of it had to do with my own, like negative personal choices where I just felt like I can’t get any better than this. You know, there was a time. And so, like that book just really explained everything to me. Like it shed light on exactly why I was feeling the way I was and now why I feel like I can learn anything I truly desire.

And that’s for all of us. All of us, we have the capability if we truly just break out of that fixed mindset and, and realize that it’s just a matter of hard work, discipline, focus and you can do it, you really can. And so. I really am a strong believer, so I love that you mentioned that. And I think a couple of examples came to mind of like fixed versus growth. I think of like John McEnroe versus like Elon Musk. Like those were just the two that came to my mind right away. Like John McEnroe is like in the 80s he was a tennis player. He was really good. He was a great tennis. But I mean I think he got to Wimbledon. I mean I think he got really far in his career. But the problem with John McEnroe is any time something went wrong or didn’t go in his favor, he like would just get so angry and he would throw his tennis racket down and break his racket. He’ll get in the the ref’s face, point his finger at the ref and it was always somebody else’s fault. It wasn’t his because he’s a great tennis player, right? Well, no, the reality is you’ve got to constantly be improving because there’s going to be somebody better than you. If you’re competing in like a sports environment, you’ve got to constantly be training improving. I think at the NBA players. A lot of these NBA players and they are constantly training. Once the championships over, what are they doing? Then maybe they take a week or two off, but they’re immediately back training like nine to five if not longer. Right? It’s shooting the same shots.

And so, I just feel like there’s something there. Like we have to really earn, you know, where we want to go. We have to really work hard if we truly want to, you know, break out of that box that we were talking about that lobster bucket you know? So, I really liked that.

Jessica Ivins: Yes. That’s an interesting example that you shared about the tennis player because you know, and I used to act like that. I’m not an athlete, but I acted like that in other areas of my life. And it came from a place of self defense and self preservation. And I see now that I was actually holding myself back. Like it felt like I was preserving myself and protecting myself, but I was holding myself back from growing and being better.

Jason Ogle: Oh, my goodness. So well said.

Jessica Ivins: And it’s a huge life lesson to learn. And any of your listeners who are interested in this topic, you can feel free to read the book or I’m sure there are plenty of articles and even videos about it that you can watch. You probably don’t even have to read the book. Because her work, Carol Dweck’s Mindset work has been cited so many places. I’ve actually read about it. I learned about it originally, I think through one of Dan Brown’s books. So, he’s a UX professional in the field. He wrote a book on collaboration and I think that was the first time actually heard about the mindset philosophy was through reading his book.

Jason Ogle: Oh yes, yes. Dan was on the show. It was a great interview. We talked about his book. And yes, and I highly recommend that as well.

So, conversely, what’s your design Kryptonite?

Jessica Ivins: I would say, you know, so not being as strong in some areas as I would like to be. So namely like visual design. When I started my career as a Front-End Developer, I did do some visual design and I was an art major in school, but I was, you know, drawing and painting and making sculptures out of wood and clay and stuff, so. But I did know enough of the principles of art to kind of hack my way through visual design and make things look decent. So, I don’t have a formal visual design background and you know, and I’ve pushed myself to grow in a lot of ways and learned a lot of UX skills and visual design is something I’m still working on. So, I don’t know that it’s my Kryptonite. I might like flip it around and say that, you know, I do have a growth mindset about it and I do tell myself that I can get better.

And I have gotten much, much better with visual design since working here at Center Centre. So, I’ve contributed to curriculum for all the courses. We have one visual design course, we’re actually working on putting together a second one for the next cohort. And just working with the students our first class and through working on curriculum and having the – because we’re obviously a learning culture here because we’re a school having the opportunity to learn more. I’ve already learned a lot more and that’s very refreshing because it’s like, all right, well, I went from not knowing a lot of the basics to learning a lot of the basics and now I feel better. And if I can learn the basics, I can learn even more. So, I have a really long list of things to do and areas to grow and getting better at visual design is one of those areas, but I’m very optimistic about it and looking forward to it.

Jason Ogle: That’s awesome. I love that. And I love that you mentioned, you know, the mindset there at Center Centre. It’s like, can you imagine an educator without a growth mindset? Like, that doesn’t seem to go hand in hand there. So, I appreciate that you and the rest of the staff have that, that growth mindset. Always like, how can we continue improving? How can we continue making this program better?” And this is a fun one. What would your UX Superhero name be?

Jessica Ivins: My Superhero name. Hmm. I would say probably “Facilitator of Learning.”

Jason Ogle: Nice.

Jessica Ivins: I don’t know if it has the best ring to it. So, my title here is facilitator and you know, we talk about facilitating learning a lot here at Center Centre, but it would have boils down to is that I really enjoy helping people learn UX. Even before I worked here when I was in the industry. And my last job here at Center Centre, I was at a company called AWeber and I was the first dedicated UX designer and I loved really elevating the UX design maturity of the organization up and working with people and helping them learn UX design. And I just love that. And obviously here, now I’m part of Center Centre and where are a UX design school. So, I get to help people learn UX all the time.

So, I would say a facilitator of learning because I love UX design. I feel like it’s what I was put on this earth to do and I just love helping other people learn the craft. And that’s very fulfilling to me. And it goes back to what I was saying earlier, how when I was younger, I knew I wanted to do something in the arts and I knew I wanted to help people. I just didn’t know how to realize it. And now I’ve realized it and I’ve really found my niche.

Jason Ogle: Nice. That’s cool. I like that. Because I was thinking like “The Tutor?” And I was like, “Oh that sounds so weird.”


Jason Ogle: The tutor [Raspberry sound]


Jason Ogle: One of my favorite lines from Tron was when he said, “I fight for the users.” How do you fight for your users? And even from like a facilitator point of view. And what does that mean to be a facilitator?

Jessica Ivins: I would say just equipping my students to be industry ready designers. I feel as a way of, you know, serving the users. Right? So, we graduated our first class just recently this fall. I feel really good about the work I do because they all graduated feeling prepared for their jobs and they’re all off doing great work and they’re all making design better. You know, one step at a time throughout the world. And so, that is something that I really enjoy. That’s what keeps me going. And I’m very, very grateful and lucky to be where I am.

Jason Ogle: That’s awesome. So, I want to wrap up the show with the imparting of superpowers. What’s one habit that you believe contributes to your success?

Jessica Ivins: So, I mentioned growth mindset and I guess I would say also learning. So, building the skill of learning. Something that I’ve been meaning to write about that I’ve learned – I’ve actually learned about learning here at Center Centre to get meadow on you.

Jason Ogle: Yes.

Jessica Ivins: Yes. I just, you know, being open to learning and also treating, learning as a skill that you can grow. So, you know, if you want to be a better runner, you can practice running to get better at running. If you want to be better at playing the trumpet, you can practice playing the trumpet to get better. And learning is a skill that you can practice and get better at as well. And I think it served me incredibly well, becoming a much better self-driven learner since I’ve worked here, because we strive to push our students to become that. And in order for me to help my students become that, I need to learn it and do it myself. So, really working on the skill of learning I think is huge. And it’s something that has served me well and that I would highly recommend to your audience too.

So, just treating learning is, you know, like having a growth mindset about learning, knowing that you can get better at learning and you can get better at teaching yourself things. And the more you do it and the more you get used to it, the better you’ll get. And then the next time your boss comes up to you and says, “Hey, we got this really tight deadline and we have to use a brand-new prototyping tool to get it done. I need you to learn this tool.” You’ll be like, “Okay, let me dive in and do it.” And you’ll have the knowledge and the know how to go in and learn it really quickly otherwise you might really struggle if you didn’t have that growth mindset and that push for growing your learning skills. So, that’s been tremendous for me. And it’s something I highly recommend to your listeners.

Jason Ogle: Yes. And I love that. And when we were talking before the interview where you could discuss learning how to learn. And I think that’s an interesting, it is very meta. But I am just curious. Like what are your best tips to help us learn how to learn. What has worked really well for you?

Jessica Ivins: Yes. Something I’ve learned here at Center Centre that we do as a staff and also with students as reflecting on what you learn. So, after you’ve learned something, sitting back and reflecting, “Okay, like how did this learning go?” So, if you had to learn a new prototyping tool, for example, I just dove into it today and I spent the bulk of my day learning how did this go? If I had to learn this again, if I had to start over from zero and learn this again, what would I do the same and what would I do differently? And just being very mindful. And again, having that growth mindset, not beating yourself up. Like, “Oh, my goal was to go through 10 tutorials today and I only got through seven.” Right? So, it’s not that. It’s more like, “What did I learn today? How well did I learn it? What’s learning skills would I apply next time and what might I do differently?” And that’s been huge because research shows that stopping and reflecting on your work, whether it’s learning or the actual work itself helps you become much stronger at whatever you’re doing.

Jason Ogle: Yes. I love that. That’s so true. And I would even say, and I think I even read this in one of your articles, “Synthesize it expose it, write about it, right? Blog about it, teach somebody else about it, mentor somebody else about it.” And those things just help that sink in even more for you. Right? And it just makes us all better.

Jessica Ivins: Yes. And my hope is that more organizations will go toward a learning culture. You know, I’ve worked in organizations before. Maybe you have, maybe your listeners have where learning wasn’t a thing. Like you were just expected to know things and it wasn’t really safe to say, “I don’t know the answer to that. I need to go figure it out.” Or it wasn’t safe to say, “You know, I don’t know how to do this yet. Let me go learn it.” And I think that’s really unfortunate. Because I’ve worked in situations like that where I didn’t feel safe to say that where I was just expected to know things. And hopefully, organizations will be shifting away from that and moving more toward a learning culture then, I don’t know, a fixed culture? Whatever the opposite of that would be.

Because the reality is, none of us knows everything. I’ve been doing this for 15 years. I have a lot of experience. I’ve read over 100 design books, I’ve spoken at conferences, Yada, yada, yada. There’s still plenty of design stuff for me to learn. And for me to be in a situation where I might have to say, “Hey, I’m not sure how to do this. Let me go figure it out. Let me get back to you.” And not feel safe. I can’t imagine what it would be like for somebody earlier in their career. So, again, my hope is that more organizations will shift toward a compassionate learning culture rather than the opposite.

Jason Ogle: Oh, I love that you said that Jessica. I couldn’t agree more. And it’s neat to see that happening. I think it’s a trickle effect. I don’t think it’s happening all at once. But the good news is, is that a lot of companies that are winning in what they’re doing, especially in tech and design, I think that they have realized that or they are realizing it. And I think it’s sort of trickling out across the industry. And I could not agree with you more. That is such a strong point of this interview with you.

And folks listening that do have an organization, that you do have a business and you’re really embracing UX design and hiring UX designers and trying to really take that to the outer limits. Please, please adopt that mindset. Please do that. It’s only going to make your organization better. It’s only going to make your people better and it’s only going to make your output better. Your growth and your revenue. So, it just seems like you can only win when you do that. So, I really, really appreciate that takeaway, Jessica.

Jessica Ivins: Yes. I agree with you. I think that’s a great point. Because if people don’t feel safe saying, “I don’t know, or I need to go figure this out or give me a few minutes so I can look into this because I don’t have the answer off the top of my head.” If they don’t feel safe to do things like that, how are they going to produce good work? So, if they do feel safe, you’re right. It’s a great way to treat people and it’s also great for business because you’re going to get better results from your people.

Jason Ogle: Absolutely. And there’s data that backs that up. There’s like a lot of data, you know, people like Simon Sinek, really great author about leadership and culture. And a lot of homework has been done on this to prove that. And I think it’s probably just a Google, a few keystrokes away. What’s your most invincible UX resource or tool you can recommend to our listeners?

Jessica Ivins: So, when people asked me like, what’s a good UX tool, what’s a good UX book? My favorite response is, “So what are you trying to learn?” Right? And like I said, I’ve read a lot of books and I’ve reviewed a lot of resources. So, if they’re, if they say, “Well, you know, I have to do usability testing and I’ve never done it before and I really don’t know where to start.” Okay. Well that gives me something I can work with. And then I can recommend maybe one Steve Krug’s books, Rocket Surgery Made Easy, or you know, this video or that resource or this article. So, then I can meet you where you’re at. So, I mean, there’s a ton of good resources out there and I think it really depends on what you’re trying to learn. But I would say something that I found really beneficial lately is the Accessibility weekly email newsletter actually.

Jason Ogle: Yes.

Jessica Ivins: And that’s something that I signed up for a few months ago that’s been absolutely, tremendously helpful. So, there’s – I can’t remember the name of the gentleman who runs it, David something. David Kennedy, I want to say. I don’t know how he finds the time to do this, but he basically scours the web every week for great resources on accessible design and inclusivity. And then he gathered them all together and puts them out in this weekly newsletter. And it’s just a fantastic newsletter. There’s so much good content that he collects and puts out Accessibility Weekly. It’s A11Y weekly. And A11Y, if you’re not familiar, is an abbreviation for Accessibility. So, if you’re, if you’re interested in that, please feel free to check that out and sign up it. I found it incredibly useful because accessible design is a big part of usable design. So, that would be the top recommendation right now. But again, depending on what you’re trying to learn, I could recommend a lot of things.

Jason Ogle: Yes. Absolutely.

Jessica Ivins: That’s the one that comes to mind.

Jason Ogle: Yes. I’m just glad you didn’t say it depends.


Jessica Ivins: Yes. Yes. That’s funny. Yes, [laughs]

Jason Ogle: I like that. What are you trying to learn? Like, let’s talk. Let’s figure out where you’re trying to learn. And I just love that that’s what you all are doing at Center Centre. You’re like, “What do you want to learn?” One of the things I appreciate too is there’s the whole specialize or generalize and that’s sort of become the new, “Should designers…” thing maybe, you know, and I…


Jessica Ivins: Yes. Yes.

Jason Ogle: And I really like the philosophy there. It’s like first generalize and then specialize, because it just makes you more – do you want to speak to that really quick because I think that’s important.

Jessica Ivins: Sure. And again, this is controversial. I mean this…

Jason Ogle: Sure.

Jessica Ivins: You know, people have lots of strong opinions about this, but I believe in gaining a wide array of UX design skills because it gives you a strong foundation as a designer and then later on in your career if you want to specialize, you’ll have a really strong solid base and then you can move on and hyper focus and specialize if you’d like. One of the challenges I’ve seen with people who come into the field and they jumped right into a specialty, so let’s say they jumped right into User Research is if they don’t have that well-rounded base. So, they have this very narrow experience of what UX design is and they might get really good at research, but they don’t have the contextual experience or knowledge. So, they won’t necessarily know the interaction design that goes into the tool that they are running a usability test on. They might not understand the information architecture that has informed the tool that they’re running a usability test on and so on and so forth.

So, I’ve found that it can actually be detrimental to somebody to go right in and specialize. So, what I tell early career designers is that if you can try and get a position that’s a generalist position where you’re doing all sorts of different things. And not only to build your skills but also to learn what you’re interested in. Because like, when you’re transitioning in to UX, you might think, well I want to be a researcher, right? But when you get into UX and you start doing different things, you might find, “Well you know, I’m actually really good at content strategy and I might want to specialize in this later.” But you probably wouldn’t have figured that out if you jumped right into research. So, I think the benefits are two-fold is that it helps you become a more well-rounded designer. And it also helps you experience different lenses of design so that you can – if you want to specialize later, you’ll have a better idea of what to specialize in.

Jason Ogle: I think that is such great advice is so important. Defenders just soak that in and really contemplate that. That I think it just makes so much sense. Because how many people do you know…? I can name probably three or four that, you know, went to college for four years, paid an astronomical amount of money to get a degree, which, you know, God bless them, way to go to get that. I’m not discounting that accomplishment at all.

Jessica Ivins: Yes.

Jason Ogle: But how many people do you know that have worked that hard and paid that much money to get a degree in something that they don’t do anything with? It happens a lot. And you know, again, not discounting the accomplishment and you, that is an amazing achievement and accomplishment. And that’s not going to say it’s going to hold you back from the job you want. But I just feel like, if you can just kind of get a well-rounded view, especially, and I’m speaking of UX or as UX designers, get a well rounded 30,000-foot view of even of all these different disciplines and then you can find the one you’re drawn to and then go all in. You know, like at least you kind of know what you want. And then you can’t go all in on something you’re not sure about. That’s the reality. I love it.

Jessica Ivins: Yes. Yes, for sure.

Jason Ogle: If you could recommend? This is going to be a hard one for Jessica. I know this because she’s a reader. So, if you could recommend one book to our listeners and Jessica, you can recommend more than one. What would it be and why?

Jessica Ivins: Yes. So, again, it’s hard to pick one because there are so many good ones. But I would say, I’ve been thinking recently maybe about writing a blog post about, I’m trying to think of what to call the blog posts. Like are there underrated UX books or lesser known UX books, like a list of really good books that just aren’t talked about a lot and aren’t discussed and aren’t on a lot of the other lists. And straight from the word underrated because that it might imply that the book’s not very good, but basically like a book that doesn’t get a lot of attention that I found to be very valuable. And there are few of those…

Jason Ogle: Overlooked.

Jessica Ivins: Overlooked. I like that. Actually. I might steal that. I’m going to right that down…

Jason Ogle: Okay. As long as you let me publish it.


Jessica Ivins: Nice.


Jessica Ivins: But some of those books are – there’s a great book on developing content for the web. It’s called Letting Go of the Words by Jenny Reddish. It’s probably about 10 years old, but it’s very evergreen. And she just talks about how to write in plain language, how to write effectively. Because a big part of our jobs as UX designers is writing content and the content is what people come to your design for because they’re looking for information or they’re trying to accomplish something and they need to be able to review your content in order to accomplish that thing. So, she goes into a lot of detail about how to create effective content for the web or just for, you know, comparable digital spaces like an app or whatever. So, that’s a great one. It’s called Letting Go of the Words.

Another really good one is Simple and Usable by Giles Colborn. Which is just this fantastic book where he talks about, you know, the difference between a simplicity and usability because something. And it’s really great because a lot of people think that “You know, we have to make this as simple as possible. We have to pare it down to, you know, the minimum number links and the fewest clicks and all this.” And he actually talks about the principle of how too oversimplifying something can make it less usable. I used to joke with my students when we talked about this, that, “You know, if you have a set of stairs that’s 10 steps, well you can make it simpler and just make it three giant steps. Why not make it three giant steps instead of 10 steps?” And my students used to laugh, but it’s true because if you have a staircase that goes up to the next floor that’s three steps long instead of 10 or 12, it’s simpler, but it’s not going to be very usable where you will be climbing a big step

Jason Ogle: Great point.

Jessica Ivins: So, that’s my example. The example that Giles uses in the book, Simple and Usable is how a unicycle is simpler than a bicycle. But it’s much harder to ride and it’s much more cumbersome to use, right? Because its only got one wheel. And so, it’s just a great book. It’s not just conceptual in that way he uses real world examples. And the book’s been out for awhile, so the examples may be a little dated, but again, the concepts are evergreen and you can take what you learned from those examples and apply them to your work. So, those are just two of the overlooked UX books that I think are absolutely fantastic that I highly recommend.

Jason Ogle: Wow. Well you’ve sold me. I’m like, I go on to Amazon right now. No, I’ll do it after, but I’ll be sure to link to these books in the show notes Defenders. Wow, the great suggestions, definitely some overlooked gems there that seemed very helpful to us. So, that’s awesome. Thank you for that, Jessica. So, this is my last question for you. I lied. I may have one more in fact. [Laughs] so, Jessica, I have a couple more questions for you. One of them is my best advice question that I ask a lot of my guests. But the other one I just kind of was thinking about this, you know, Simon Sinek, I mentioned him earlier, he famously said, “You know, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” And I just want to know, you know – and this is kind of a thing where I think we’ve kind of gotten a pretty good deep dive into what your why is. But I just want to let you, you know explain. What’s your why Jessica?

Jessica Ivins: My why? I would say, going back to what I said earlier, I really enjoy UX design. I find it to be very fulfilling and challenging in all the right ways. And I really enjoy helping other people. So, I get to help other people when I’m designing products. Right? And making them better and even more meaningful to me is helping other people learn to do things that they want to do. And that’s the work that I’ve done through either it’s mentoring before I was at Center Centre, when I was on the job working in house or here at Center Centre. Whether it’s working with my students or even helping my colleagues get up to speed because we all help each other all the time because we all have different skill sets. So, I would say that that’s my why, is really enjoying the craft of UX, of what do and enjoying helping people. And in the position I’m in now, I’m getting to help people in different ways. It’s very fulfilling and very meaningful.

Jason Ogle: I love it. So that’s cool. And I kind of surprised you on that one and I appreciate your candid answer. I really like your heart for helping and serving our community. And it definitely stood out when I was reading your articles and of course during our time here, so I really, really appreciate that. And I want to ask you one more. I did tell you that I got this, this last question for you. It’s the best advice. What is your best advice for aspiring UX superheroes? And I kind of want to change the wording of this to be more – what about all the designers that are trying so hard to get their foot in the door. And I am on Twitter. I follow a lot of the listeners that really are enjoying the show. I will typically follow them on Twitter and a lot of them are newer designers. And I just saw a tweet today from somebody who’s like, “Well, there’s another no, you know, there’s another no of on my job search.” Like what do you say to these folks? Like what’s your best advice for these folks that are just really wanting to get in and wanting to make a difference?

Jessica Ivins: Yes. That’s a great question. I would say. I know a future career shifter who really had to put in their time and they had to face a lot of “No’s” before they got the first “Yes.” And those shifters that I know are now in the field, they’d been working in the field for a few years and they’re very happy with the choice that they made and they’re very grateful for the work that they put in. I’m thinking about a woman actually I know in Philadelphia who – when I was still living in Philadelphia, I’m from that area. I was very prominent in the UX community. A lot of people knew who I was. I was teaching workshops and speaking at events and stuff. So, you know, career shifters would see me and gravitate to me. And this one particular woman asked to go out to coffee and she was asking me how could she become a UX designer. And so, you know, I gave her some guidance and she and I kept in touch and even after I moved to Tennessee, she was still trying to shift her career and she had been a year and a half into it, I believe. And she was very, very frustrated. She was telling me how, you know, “I just want to give up. I mean I’m so frustrated and I really want to do this. No one will hire me because I don’t have experience.”

It’s that classic chicken and egg thing, right? But she kept at it and I encouraged her to do things. Like I actually encouraged her to become a board member of one of the UX communities there. And she was very hesitant to do that. She said, “Well I’m not working in the field yet.” And I said, “Well, you know, people know who you are. You’ve been very visible; these events and I would at least apply. And when people see you in that leadership position, they’ll take you more seriously.” I said, “Look, you decide what you want to do, but if I were you, I would just go for it.” So, she thought about it and she applied for it and she got it and she became an organizer and became even more visible and got to know more people and that really helped her land her first job. And it probably took her about two years total to shift. So, it’s a long game, right? It can be a very long game if you’re lucky. It won’t take you that long. But unfortunately, it’s just the reality of, you know, the, the field and getting into the field. But she’s very happy with where she’s at now. She’s been in the field for probably three years now. If I had to guess, maybe a little bit longer. And I think she’s actually left the first organization that she was at and went to the next job. And she was telling me when she was looking for this last job that she said, “You know, I feel like I can actually be a little more selective now.” Because in the beginning, she had to take what she could get when she was shifting. And now she has a few years of experience under her belt, so she can actually be a little, not too choosy, but a little choosy. So, she’s doing all right. And she’s told me that she’s glad that she persevered and she’s thanked me for my guidance and everything.

But just looking back at how frustrated she was and how much time it took her, like I think it’s important to be prepared for that, but also know that people have gotten through it and they’re in a good place based on all the work they’ve put in. It’s just takes a lot of patients and a lot of perseverance and a lot of job rejections and your resume rejections and all that. But you know, the cliché of like “Every no you get, it will just lead you to the next step that gets you to yes.”

Jason Ogle: Yes.

Jessica Ivins: So, that kind of mindset.

Jason Ogle: Yes. No, I appreciate you sharing that story with us. That’s inspiring and that’s encouraging and you know, play the long game. Defenders really do that. Play the long game and you know, hopefully it doesn’t take a long, long time. But just be scrappy too. Like I think that’s one of the things I love so much about so many designers I’ve met, like they’re just scrappy and you know, they’re just, if they can’t find a project, you know, they make a project, make, make it up, you know? We use enough apps and enough tools and websites to know where the problems are, especially as a user. Like just re-design something and just throw that in your portfolio until you can get some real-world work or ask a local business if they need help. Like, just be scrappy, build some thick skin, you’re going to need it, but also be okay with the “No.” Go for no because just like Jessica said, “There’s a yes around the corner.”

And you know the other thing too is that the girl I was mentioning that this is just saying, well there’s another no. I just saw that tweet before our interview here and I tried to encourage her and just, you know, keep going, keep fighting. And you know, she said, you know, she’s thankful for the rejections because you know, you can also learn a lot about the company that’s rejecting you. And you know, maybe you didn’t want to be there after all right? Like if we got everything we asked for, if we got a yes to everything, we may not be in a good place. Like, because there’s a lot of negative cultures. There’s a lot of companies, unfortunately still they aren’t valuing what a designer can bring to the table and how a designer can actually sit at the table now. I appreciate your answer, Jessica and that encouragement there.

For Defenders listening, if this is something you really want to do, there’s no question you’re going to be able to do it. It’s just a matter of you know that growth mindset and just playing the long game. Keep going.

Jessica Ivins: Yes. Yes. And something you said in there reminded me of an article I read by Os Chen as spelling was Rivas OZ and he wrote the article a year or two ago. I think he’s a coach for people who are shifting their careers to UX design. And he said that, “You know, for every job interview where you get a rejection or every resume where you get a rejection, yes, it can be very devastating and it’s an opportunity to, to learn and practice. And it’s making you a stronger designer. Okay, you didn’t get that job, but you had the opportunity to interview and you got the opportunity to practice a live interview.” So, again, going back to reflecting, what can you learn from that? What went well on that interview? What might you change for the next interview to get even stronger? So, everything that you’re doing along that journey is making you a stronger designer and as frustrating as it can be, it’s preparing you for your career.

Jason Ogle: Oh, that is so good. And yes, don’t be afraid to follow up. If you get the rejection. Don’t be afraid to follow up and just say, “I’d love to learn why.” You know, do it in a tactful and kind of a loving spirit. But it’s okay to like follow up with the recruiter and just say, “Okay, great. Thanks for letting me know. First of all, thanks for actually letting me know.” Because I’ve been in a lot of situations where it just drops off, it just dies. It’s like, that’s not cool. If you’re an organization and you do that, like stop it. At least have the courtesy, at least have the decency to actually let the person who has applied and maybe been through a couple of interviews, at least had the decency to let them know that they didn’t make it.

And you know, and just a simple email, it takes about 30 seconds. But you know, when you get that email Defenders, it’s okay to say, “Okay, thank you for letting me know. I’m just curious, is there a particular reason why they pass and something that I can learn from this?” Like that’s okay to ask that question and it could be a good learning for you. So, I guess, I just want to encourage that. I’ve done it and it’s a good thing to do.

Jessica Ivins: Yes. I think it’s always okay to ask and also be prepared that they probably won’t give you feedback. Because, we’ve talked about this a lot at Center Centre, they’re either too busy or they don’t want to hurt your feelings or they’re afraid of liability. They’re afraid of giving you feedback that could come across offensively and getting sued. Right?

Jason Ogle: Interesting.

Jessica Ivins: Yes. So, that actually keeps a lot of hiring managers from giving candidates feedback. If they’re disqualified. At the same time, it can’t hurt to ask. They might be willing to give you feedback. It’s very unlikely that they won’t because again, they’re probably really busy. They don’t want to hurt your feelings and they’re afraid of liability. But you can always, it can always ask.

Jason Ogle: Yes. Well that’s great. I appreciate that. Especially from your experience, you know, being inside of this industry from that perspective as well. Jessica, as we close here, I want to ask you, can you tell our audience the best way to connect and to keep up with you?

Jessica Ivins: Yes. So, I’m very active on Twitter, so feel free to follow me there. My handle is Jessica Ivins, my first and last name. I also, I’ve written a lot on Medium. I haven’t written as much lately. Now that I’m preparing for the baby. I’m hoping to write a few more articles before the baby arrives, but I’ve written a ton of stuff for career shifters on Medium, so please feel free to check out my articles there. It’s all stuff that I’ve learned through Center Centre that my students learn that I want to share with the world. So, that’s there. And then, you know, I’m around other places too. You’re welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn. Just please send me a little note with your connection request, letting me know that you heard me on this podcast. And that way, I know I have some context as to where you came from. You’re not just random person from the inter-webs. You can still be random person from the inter-web. So, at at least I’ll have an idea of how you found me.

Jason Ogle: Yes. Not trying to like sell you a coaching program or something, you know once you’re connected.

Jessica Ivins: [laughs] yes, yes.

Jason Ogle: Oh yes, I’ve had many of those. Yes, that’s cool. I liked that a lot. The caveat. And I was thinking about this. I interviewed Laura Klein and one of the last things she said to me was, “You know, keep making new designers.” It’s good, you know? And I know that that’s your heart and you know Jerrod’s heart and everybody over at Center Centre is to keep making new designers. And to get kind of meta here. Jessica, you are designing a new designer right now as we speak. I think about it.

Jessica Ivins: Oh yes. Yes.

Jason Ogle: You’re making a new designer. I would be surprised if your child is does not follow in your footsteps. So, I think it’s just really, really cool.

Jessica Ivins: It’s so funny you say that because I have all these ideas of how like I can apply UX to the way that I raised my child in the way that like making a Kanban board for all the things we need to do tonight before we get ready for bed. You know, like wash the dishes and like…


Jessica Ivins: So, there’s the ‘To do column’ and then there’s ‘The done column.’ [Laughs]

Jason Ogle: I want to say your maternity journey map. Like user or a customer journey map. Okay.

Jessica Ivins: That’s great. That’s great. Yes, I’ll get started on that. But you know, I do stuff like that for myself. I have a Kanban board at home that I use some times and you know, I apply prioritization techniques to my personal life just like I do at my work life. And I’m thinking like, “Well, you know, how can I use this with my daughter, I’m having a girl.

Jason Ogle: Awesome.

Jessica Ivins: We’ll see how that goes.

Jason Ogle: Yes.

Jessica Ivins: She’ll be six months old. And you know, already like…

Jason Ogle: You are teaching her how to wire frame right? At like six months old.

Jessica Ivins: Yes. [Laughs]

Jason Ogle: So, I can’t wait to see. I have a feeling you’ll document that experience for us. Yes.

Jessica Ivins: Yes. Yes. Actually, well, that’s a good idea actually. You’re giving me lots of good ideas today.

Jason Ogle: Good. Yes.


Jason Ogle: Awesome. Well, Jessica, this has been amazing as expected. I had high expectations and it’s even better than I expected, so I’m just so grateful that you took the time to do this today and to share so much value with our Defenders. And I’ve learned a lot. I know that our Defenders listening have as well. Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep that passion and that heart for newer designers up and coming designers, and even helping others transition later in life. Like, you’re making a difference, you’re making an impact, and you’re making, as cliché as this sound. You’re making the world a better place. So, please keep doing that. And last but not least, I just want to say “Fight on my friend.”

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