- Artwork by Eli Jorgensen
Jessica Gaddis motivates us to realize that we belong here. Not only in the field of design, but in this often painful and perplexing world we call home. Why? Because somewhere, sometime, somehow…someone needs us. She inspires us to find our community because they’re already out there, searching for us and waiting for us to connect with them and even lead them. She reveals how she was able to on a very limited budget go all in and learn UX and go on to get her foot in the door as a Product Designer. From 0 to Netflix, and now Twitter. She touches on the unwelcome voice in many of our heads known as imposter syndrome, and reveals how she’s been able to successfully combat it. She also shares with us how advocating for black women in design by opening up her calendar as a mentor has been one of the most rewarding and impactful design decisions she’s ever made.
Jessica Gaddis is a Midwest transplant living in the Bay Area. Her mission is to create more thoughtful user experiences and to bridge the gap between usability and accessibility. She has a background in journalism and PR and her love for storytelling is at the heart of every experience she makes. She’s passionate about designing products that solve problems and creating moments that excite. Fun Fact: When she was a freshman in college she got an internship at a TV station back home in Detroit. Towards the end of her internship she had the opportunity to do an on-air spot about a museum exhibit. She was terrified and not very good but it was a great experience that taught her how much she did not want to be a reporter!
- Origin Story (5:05)
- Growing Up In a Techie Home (8:48)
- Journalism + UX? (11:42)
- The UX of Learning UX (18:21)
- Teaching Should Be Every Company’s Core Value (32:15)
- Have You Overcome Imposter Syndrome? (44:14)
- How Do We Find Community? (50:00)
- The Deep Value of Mentoring (57:59)
- What Do You Want On Your Headstone? (70:13)
- UX Superpower? (74:09)
- UX Kryptonite? (75:37)
- UX Superhero Name (77:38)
- Habit of Success? (78:02)
- UX Resource or Tool (81:04)
- Recommended Book (83:11)
- Best Advice (84:56)
- Connect & Keep Up with Jessica Gaddis (87:21)
Bay Area Black Designers
Derek Sivers on Starting a Movement [VIDEO]
Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
Imposter Syndrome: Why We Have it, and How to Kick it in the Privates! [PODCAST]
Looking for Community? Find it at User Defenders: Community (Try it FREE for 7 days)
Jason Ogle: I have Jessica Gaddis with me today, Defenders, I actually asked Jessica Gaddis a couple of years ago, to do this. And she was so slammed with so many things, a new job, she was moving, so this is two years in the making sort of, so I am super excited that we got to have this time today and I’m just gonna touch on a couple of points about Jessica and, I’ll let you fill in the blanks, Jessica, of anything I missed. I love your mission. I love your passion. I really do. That’s what drew me to you. I was like, this is a passionate human being and designer, and I love having anybody of that caliber on the show.
So I am so excited. I know this is going to be super inspiring and super valuable to the Defenders. Her mission. I really love this a lot is to create more thoughtful user experiences and to bridge the gap between usability and accessibility. Jessica Gaddis has a background in journalism and PR.
So that’s fascinating. I’m interested to learn more. In fact, one of my questions is related to that. she loves storytelling. It’s at the heart of every experience she makes , I really love this too. She’s passionate about designing products that solve problems and create moments that excite.
I like that. Here’s a fun fact. I always like to open up with these, when she was a freshman in college, she got an internship at a TV station back home in Detroit. And towards the end of her internship, she had the opportunity to do an on-air spot about a museum exhibit. And she was terrified and not very good, but it was a great experience that taught her how much she did not want to be a reporter.
So I love your vulnerability. I love your genuine spirit. So I want to talk more about that, but first welcome officially Jessica to User Defenders: Podcast, I’m super excited to have you on the show today.
Jessica Gaddis: Thank you so much. This is a long time coming, as you mentioned so glad that we were able to find this time. Thank you so much. So much has changed in two years. So I’m excited to talk about that as well, but thank you so so much for having me.
Jason Ogle: Absolutely. I’m curious. I like to start the show, especially with folks that may not know who you are. The Defenders may not know. I like to just get a snapshot. Every superhero has an origin story. Right. And I even say they, a lot of them have secret identities. And I look at that as like, what do you like to do when you’re not working?
So I’d love to just hear your origin story of, how you got here, why UX, right?
Jessica Gaddis: Yeah. so I started, my, I guess, college career thinking that I was going to be a reporter, like you mentioned, I thought I wanted it to be on TV, broadcast journalists, on the news or whatever have you. and after that internship, I quickly realized that was not for me. I hated being on camera. so I switched my major to be more public relations focused. so when I graduated from college, I was working in public relations in Chicago. but I knew that I wanted to work with technology companies. I just didn’t know how so I moved to San Francisco, started working at a PR agency out there that specifically worked with technology clients. And the thing about public relations is, the product is already finished. They are bringing it to you, the PR agency to help them get media placement, to help them give buzz. and. I will say honestly, that some of the products that I was trying to pitch were not the most exciting. some of them, I didn’t think were, very well-made there were a couple of apps where I was like, ah, this is interesting. and as a user of technology is like, I probably wouldn’t use this. at the time, I didn’t know what user experience was. I had no idea about design. It wasn’t anything where, Oh, I’m going to go fix this problem. It was just. I paid attention, I guess, to the clients and the different products that I was, responsible for pitching. and then later on maybe a year or so after starting in public relations with technology companies, stumbled upon user experience design and. Yeah, it just stuck. Like, I didn’t think I was going to switch my career. I was not planning to like, be a user experience designer. but I was curious about it and I just could not get out of my head.
It was like late nights and early mornings, with having a full-time job. and after a couple of months I was like, Oh, maybe I can do this. Like maybe I can just, do this for real. So. That’s what started it. It was really, genuine curiosity, being someone who’s grown up with technology, asking questions about why people did certain things, within these experiences, not having the language to talk about it and not knowing, the buzzwords or the keywords or anything like that.
But genuinely just being curious. I literally did a Google search, like what makes an app good? What makes an app bad? And those are the things that led me to terms like user experience design. and that’s what started, I guess my story was just asking the questions, like, why are people not using this app and, reading a bunch of stuff on the internet.
So, the internet taught me everything. I know. I love to say that because it’s so true. but yeah, that’s, I guess that’s my origin story.
Jason Ogle: I love that. Yeah. It’s your, I really like how you are searching. You’re looking through Google. Like you didn’t know exactly what user experience was, but you had enough of a handle on like the it’s the why? Like, why doesn’t this work? Good. Why? How can I make it better? It’s that curiosity. And I love that you, I, went to Dr. Google consulted, Dr. Google, and you’re able to, you’re able to find, all the answers. I mean, what did we do before Google? Right?
Jessica Gaddis: I know, I really
Jason Ogle: what did we
Jessica Gaddis: I used to have encyclopedias that’s for sure. What they definitely were not as they were not as quick as Google for sure.
Jason Ogle: Yeah. I remember going to the library as a kid and using those light lighted kind of scrollable things where you look for newspapers and stuff, and it’s like, it was so laborious and tedious. and to just to get that little bit of research, right. but it’s just, man, we’ve come a long way. So I love that.
and you mentioned about your curiosity and just your exposure to technology. and I read something about you about how I think it was in the Adobe article. You did. And it’s something about how your parents were techies. Like, I think your mom was a coder and your dad like built computers.
So, and he also had some code background and I think that’s awesome. Can you tell us more about how that influenced you and how that inspired
For my job, it was just like, I’m around this all the time. I’m curious about it, but like, I’m going to be a reporter. I’m going to be a journalist. and it’s funny how eventually it came back to me. even though I had grown up in a house, we had like, Three or four desktop computers, like the really big ones, like IBM. we had a computer room. I don’t know if people, still have computer rooms, but like when I was younger, there was a room where the computers were like, there was no take it to your room. It was like, there was a room for computers.
Jason Ogle: So dang big! [Laughter]
Jessica Gaddis: They were so huge and like loud and not really that cute.
They were just, it was crazy. so we used to have a computer room and I mean, I had always been around technology in some form. it didn’t. Stick in my head that was something that I could do for a career necessarily. Cause again, I didn’t even know my mom was a programmer until I was like out of college.
So I think being around it and being exposed to it, it kept the curiosity there. It kept me interested. I was always trying to learn. something about whatever the systems were that were around me. but it wasn’t until much later in life, on my own journey that I’m like, Oh, this can actually be, a path for my career, which was cool.
So my parents don’t necessarily know exactly what I do for a living, which I think is just normal for people that are in tech, even though they are also in tech. but yeah, it’s, yeah, it’s definitely a part of my story that I didn’t realize until much later in life.
Jason Ogle: That’s so cool. Does your dad still build computers and stuff? Is he still in tech too?
Jessica Gaddis: He’s still in tech. He works at a college in Detroit and he’s like tech support, I guess. the college obviously had to go virtual, like everyone else. And he was a big part of trying to transition all of the teachers and the professors to use these different tools and systems.
So he’s still in tech, it’s more tech education. and like I said, my mom is a data analyst now. So both still in the tech sphere, but in different ways now.
Jason Ogle: That’s so cool. I’m curious about your study of journalism, how has that helped your UX design career?
Jessica Gaddis: Well, I will say like the women that I coach for, like trying to get into design, I always tell them like, whatever your background is, find the parallels between what you already know how to do and find that. In design It might be called something different. It might be a little bit different in the way that you do it, but there are parallels between whether you’re in finance or you’re an attorney.
Like there are things that are similar enough that you can start with those things when you’re learning and then, build up your confidence. So for me, with journalism, it was really around interviewing and talking to people and, asking the questions, trying to get to the root.
Quote, unquote of the story or the root of the problem. and really just like being able to make people feel comfortable enough to talk to me and be honest about whatever we were talking about. And then also with just soft skills and communication, being able to what I call control room, but like presenting, communicating with people, collaborating with people. A lot of that I learned from, journalism and just, having to talk to so many different types of people in journalism school. You’re like out on the streets of Chicago, trying to do a story and you have to convince somebody to talk to you.
So, a lot of that was really, the overlap that I found, within design and it helped me get my confidence before I had to go to the more, crazy topics like prototyping and motion design and all the other things that you do as a designer.
Jason Ogle: There’s a lot in there I’m thinking about right now. Just about the parallels that you said, like, I love that advice, like find the parallels that exist from your maybe former occupation or your former study and see how you can bring that into UX because that’s one of the cool things.
There’s many cool things about you, but that’s one of the cool things in the trends that I see often is that UX is it’s comprised of so many different disciplines. There are so many, there’s so many folks that come from. Fields and studies that you wouldn’t think maybe offhand would actually be, instrumental in UX, but they really are.
In UX it’s like we’re serving businesses that are a variety of business models, a variety of fields. And whatever we bring with us is only going to help us and especially getting out of the comfort zone and talking to people like you did in your reporting you had to get out of your comfort zone, you had to force yourself out to be able to get the story.
And that makes so much sense to me in UX, because so much of this work is research. So much of this work is making sure what we build, what we design is the right fit for the right people.
Jessica Gaddis: Yep. Absolutely. It’s one of those things where I think. design as it stands, UX is a buzzword. I , we have all these terms and these keywords, but like we’re problem solvers. we’re trying to find, the problem, the right problem name, the problem, see how big the problem is, figure out the strategy to solve the problem.
Solve it and then, measure the success of it that happens in every single field. So it’s not like design. I mean, granted our deliverables may be different. The tangible things that are part of our output may be different. But so much of the process, like you said, is trying to figure out, the problem and who we’re solving it for.
And how to actually help them solve the goals they’re trying to solve. Like that happens in every single profession. So I don’t consider design or UX to be this like super-special different thing that no one can do. Like everybody can do this if they want to. but for me, like the finding the parallels is really about. Building your confidence and trying to have those small wins early on, especially if you’re teaching yourself just because there’s so much out there about UX, it can be so overwhelming to try to figure out where do I start? How do I slice it? how much of this do I have to know before I can like, apply for a job?
So. My advice is always just find the ways that you can have the small wins. And a lot of that comes from what do I already know how to do and how do I have to change my mind a little bit about how I approach it for UX? The language, for example, might be different. but ultimately, All of it is still the same.
And that helps to build your confidence like, Oh, I can do this. I do understand this, Oh, this does make sense to me because you’ve already been doing it in something else. that to me is a good place for people to start. Usually you can also jump in the deep end. if you’d like, and, just go straight to the most crazy complex software and that works too. but if you’re just getting started, I feel like that’s been a good place, for people. So yeah.
Jason Ogle: I hadn’t thought about it that way, but you’re right. every other industry is really trying to do the same thing with different mediums, perhaps with different processes. you’re right. It is a similar concept. So that’s really a fascinating insight to me.
And I guess that. It was really to come full circle here. That’s why, like you said, anybody can do this and especially bring what you have with you, right? I mean, and that’s diversity and inclusion that’s what makes great products. When we bring a lot of different folks into a team, into an environment to work towards the same goals and bring their perspectives, bring their user experience into this.
Jessica Gaddis: My favorite people to work with. My favorite designers to work with are people that did something else before. not that you couldn’t have been a designer your whole life That is great too. But people that have done something else because they look at problems different.
They have different lenses that they look at the world with. And the same thing about, diversity and inclusion. everyone’s. Perspective is just a little bit different. if you used to be a bus driver, you had to figure out your route, you had to figure out how to get there efficiently.
All of those things still are, important and you can bring all of that with you. Now, you may not want to be a designer and that’s fine too, but I personally believe that anyone can do it now. Sure. A high fidelity prototype. it might take you a little while to get there, but, there are parts of design that I think are accessible and should be accessible to everyone.
Everyone should be able to do this work if they want to. so yeah, that’s my story. And I’m sticking to it.
Jason Ogle: I think of IDEO. I love many things that they do, but one of stories and you just triggered this thought in a story in relating to bringing different perspectives in. They hire senior citizens. And now that’s sort of like in, especially in like the fast paced Silicon Valley sort of culture, that seems unheard of to me. I can’t imagine Facebook going and looking for senior citizens to come and be a part of their software team. That might be a giant assumption, but might not be, what I love about IDEO is, they’re all about empathy. They’re all about making sure it’s user-centered. And so they actually hire senior citizens to work particularly on products that affect senior citizens. Doesn’t that make sense?
Jessica Gaddis: Yup. That makes sense to me. Makes perfect sense to me, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t so yeah, I agree.
Jason Ogle: Empathy. Who better can empathize for a product built and designed for seniors than a senior citizen?
Jessica Gaddis: Yep. Absolutely.
Jason Ogle: I want to talk about the UX of you learning UX, because you have a really fascinating story about how you got yourself here, you got yourself where you are and you were hungry and passionate enough You didn’t go and lay down. Thousands and thousands of dollars on a course or in the design education area, you just like went for this.
I don’t want to put any more words out there. I want you to tell, I want you to tell this story, tell us, cause it’s inspiring to me.
Jessica Gaddis: it’s one of those things. When I think back on it, like in the moment, it didn’t seem that crazy. It was like, well, I’m just going to do it. Like already had student loans. I’m not taking out any more. I don’t have $15,000 to give anybody. I don’t want to owe anybody $15,000. but yeah, this was what, five years ago.
So design education at that time, I think was still, I won’t say it was in its infancy. but it was still pretty early on there. Weren’t. So many options, but there were enough to be like, okay, this is a thing, but like, everyone’s really charging a lot for this, like this thing. Cause it felt mysterious.
Like, can you do it? Like we’ll, we’re the only ones that can help you do this. that was the messaging that I got a lot of the times that I’m looking at, ways to learn design. so I at the time was working at a PR agency in an operations role and they had this. Corporate smartphone app that they had licensed from some agency who’s like had these templatized apps that they were selling to people, or selling the companies that were supposed to help, your employees interact with each other and be more social and things like that. And because I was in an operations role, I had all the odd projects.
So, No one was using the app at our company. we had an office in San Francisco and an office in New York and we had this app that was introduced. It was like this big hoopla about this app. And literally no one used it. so they gave it to me as a project, like, Hey, can you come up with some marketing or advert? basically like come up with a raffle or something that would make people use this app. So. I had the app on my phone, obviously. So I started playing around with it. And again, this is like the same curiosity around okay, well, why isn’t this product good? Like that same thing I had in my head. this is when I was starting Googling around like, okay, well, why won’t people use my app? I literally Google, why won’t people use my app? Like, what’s wrong with my app? Why is my app bad? Like all these different things, just very direct. Straight to the point. I don’t know any of the language.
I’m just going to ask these questions. and that’s how I came across the term UX. I had never seen those two letters together. I didn’t know what it meant initially. so I started doing more research about user experience and basically whatever I was learning. I was applying it to this project at work. now they want it like some, campaign and I was like, trying to figure out, okay, how do I fix this app? And not because it was something that I was told to do. I was excited about it. I was curious about it. There was this app that was pretty bad. And it was like, Oh, this is a cool thing to figure out. So it was one of those things where I just kept learning and kept applying. I had something to apply my learning to immediately. I didn’t necessarily have this linear path. It was just whatever term I saw in this article. If it sparked my curiosity, I just went and searched about that. I just went and learned about that thing next. so for like three months, this was like my haphazard way of learning. I had no intention of being a designer. I had no intention of changing my career. it was just like, I have this thing, it’s keeping me up at night. I’m curious about it. I’m just gonna keep going. So that project ended after three months. I realized later a couple of weeks later, like I liked doing that a lot more than what I was doing in my day job. So I was like, huh, okay. How do I do more of that? Like, that was cool. I really liked that a lot. so at that point it was like, okay, well maybe I can do this on the side.
Maybe I’ll learn more about this on the side. So that’s when I started learning about the bootcamps and the different things that were out there, I am a researcher at heart. I research Everything. I am always looking, I’m looking for podcasts and YouTube videos and articles. I’m a multimedia, like I just need to see it in so many different ways.
So. I started looking for, meetups. I started looking for events in the area, obviously I’m in San Francisco at the time. So there was design events happening, like every single week, like multiple times a week. I had no idea that this world was around me until I started really peeking behind the curtain and be like, Oh, everyone’s talking about design.
That’s cool. So for me, when I realized that I wanted to do this, it was like, okay, I have a full-time job. I’m not quitting my job. I don’t have $15,000 to pay to go to a class. So how do I do this? So I started signing up for all the free email newsletters, all the YouTube videos. I found the people on YouTube that really spoke in my language.
I’m like, okay, I can follow what you’re talking about. You can teach me about this. Literally the internet taught me everything. but yeah. A big part of that was also just finding a community. So, there was a community in the Bay area called Bay area. Black designers started by Kat bellows, whom I love. and I don’t even remember when exactly she started this group, but when I was looking for it it was there and I was so thankful for it. I did informational interviews with her as well as another guy named Rafe, who both worked at Pandora at the time. So I was. Basically doing a bunch of stuff at the same time.
I didn’t necessarily, at this point have any specific direction. I just knew that I was curious, I had questions. I knew that I wanted to do this. but I didn’t necessarily know where I was going. one thing that I did do though, I all the different bootcamps I asked. Them or I signed up for whatever their emails and got a syllabus to see, okay, how are they teaching people UX?
Like in what order are they teaching things? So eventually I needed to be a little bit more strategic and not just be jumping all over the place. so I use those syllabus to outline, okay, they’re learning this and they’re learning that. And like, how do I actually use this to teach myself so.
For me, it was really, community finding a place where people were doing the same thing as me who were also learning or teaching themselves or in a bootcamp, where we could talk to each other about, the struggles of what we were doing. We could share resources. we could just talk very openly about design. it was also following my own curiosity early on. So not really hunkering myself down to be so rigid and just letting myself fly freely to see what parts of the experience I liked the most. and then it was also having that project early on to apply what I was learning immediately because learning and theory and learning and practice are two different things.
And I’m a person I need a hands-on thing. So I can’t read. a textbook and then be like, all right, I got it. Like I have to read it and then do something with it immediately. So. The whole process took probably around eight months from the start of that project at work, even though I didn’t know at that time that I wanted to do this until having my portfolio done and being ready to interview. I did have a small budget that I used to buy books. I did a course on design lab, which was like $300. I did another course of the couple of hundred dollars. So I did give myself some money to be like, okay, once I’ve Proven to myself that I’m gonna do this. Then I’ll start spending money. let’s do all the free stuff first and then let’s start investing some money. Okay, cool. Let’s a little bit more money. Okay. A little bit more time. I went to so many free events about topics. I think the first. Design event that I went to was around, game design. So I’m not even a gamer.
I don’t know anything about video games, but it was happening in my neighborhood. And I was like, Oh, okay, cool. But they were talking about the user interface of video games and that, to me, made sense because I’m like, Oh, I have seen a video game. I played a video game. Oh, that’s why that’s there.
That’s why you have this perspective. That’s why, all these things for me, finding those real world examples. Immediately helped to put my brain in the perspective of thinking like a designer. I did a whole bunch of stuff. not always super, methodical or anything, but for me it was like I already had a job. I didn’t have the urgency of Oh, I quit my job and I have to pay back all of this money. I was able to take my time. I didn’t really believe that I was going to do it until maybe like. The portfolio was started because it was still hypothetical for a while, but it was fun.
And for me, that was what really, led me to continue that I was having fun and it was keeping me up, which means if it’s keeping me up, I want it. So yeah. Long answer, but there you go.
Jason Ogle: That’s an inspiring story. I think about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work the study of Flow. This work and this learning and this growth the hours just flew by, that means you were in flow. That means you were doing exactly what you were supposed to be doing and what you’re meant to be doing. there’s really no greater feeling than that especially in our career, than when we actually love what we’re doing so much it’s a sense of timelessness. And then the fact that we get paid to do this, I would do this. I say that I would do this anyway. Getting paid is icing on the top. I really love that story that you told, and I love how you reverse engineered your UX education.
Like you, you got ahold of the syllabus and you’re like, I just want the syllabus, how you teach it and you’re like reverse engineer it. Right? Like, I just think of a beautiful mind. You remember how he was looking at the chalkboard and all the codes like blue dah. I just think of like, that’s what you were doing. Like the beautiful mind stuff.
Jessica Gaddis: Yep.
Jason Ogle: And then, and how you said, just reading a book is not enough. I’ve got dozens of books and I feel good having them, but I haven’t read hardly any of them. I’m embarrassed to admit that, but I like to buy books. I just don’t read them as much as I’d like to.
So I think that’s another takeaway Defenders that Jessica shared with us reading is not enough. You have to apply what you learned knowledge isn’t power applied knowledge is power.
Jessica Gaddis: Yeah. think the other thing I will say is like, knowing how you like to learn is so important because if you don’t like to learn in a classroom, going to a bootcamp is probably not going to be. The best for you. But if you know that you like to just do it yourself and go all different directions.
Like I do, like you have to know how you like to learn. If you’re a highlighters note cards, girl, like go get your highlighters and your note cards and do the thing. If you are, a multimedia learner and you need a podcast, a YouTube video and an article to explain the same concept. Like that’s how I am.
Like, you can tell me what card sorting is, but I need to see a video. I need to hear a pod. I need to do all those things to really retain it. And then I need to go do it myself. So knowing how you learn, it’s really important because people will tell you this is the best way, or this is the best way.
And sometimes it may be a helpful way, but if you already know, like I can not read a book and then know what’s going on, don’t think that you got to buy a whole bunch of books. Cause it’s not going to work for you. Like, you know yourself better than anybody else. So a part of that like really applied knowledge.
Absolutely. And then also in the pursuit of knowledge, know how you like to learn, know how you think, how does your brain work? a lot of that, comes from trying to learn a bunch of different things. being in school obviously helps cause you have a teacher who’s teaching one way and you’re like, I don’t learn this way. there’s so much a part of it. But even before you’re getting to the actual content, how are you approaching the content? How are you setting yourself up for success? If you know that you need, hands-on instruction, great. A bootcamp could work for you. Okay. If you know that you need, audio and visuals, there’s a place for you there.
You can find your own lane in design as a career, but also when you’re learning, you can find your own lane there too. email newsletters may not work for you. That’s cool. Find something else so yeah, knowing how you learn is really important. I would say, are you going to waste a lot of money because someone’s going to tell you, this is the way you should learn and it’s not going to work for you.
Jason Ogle: Defenders, that is such a great takeaway. know your style of learning and go all in on that. and the good news is thanks to Dr. Google whatever we’re looking for, I promise you somebody has created it in the format that you learn best at.
So that’s really great. That’s encouraging to all of us.
Design education. We touched on it a little bit. Not everyone has $15,000 or 30 or a hundred thousand dollars. There are some schools that are even exceed that. I’m sure. What do you think of the current state of design education?
Jessica Gaddis: I will say, I was talking to a friend about this yesterday, and I have so much appreciation for content creators. user generated content, the YouTubers, Instagrammers, Twitch, anyone who creates content. I have so much respect for those people because I’m a person who consumes so much content. I’m a researcher, I am looking on every single platform I’m looking for so much, like people who just give knowledge. the thing about content creation is that. It costs time. So it costs money. So I understand why certain, types of education can be expensive. However, I do think that should not be the only way it should not be. This is the end all be all. You’re going to get it in 12. Like we’ve seen people who’ve gone to bootcamps and spend all this money and who haven’t been able to find jobs for months and months. So to me, if I’m investing $15,000, I’m expecting to get something pretty quickly after, because I’ve just, I want a return on my investment
Jason Ogle: You’ve got skin in the game.
Jessica Gaddis: I have skin in the game and yes, I have to give, a lot of myself. Yes. I have to, really be invested. I have to really do the work I have to really spend the time. Like I agree with all of that. But to me, if the initial investment is that high. The return needs to be a lot more guaranteed and that’s just not the case. I’m not an economist, I don’t know, supply demand, whatever. but for me, like that is a problem where people feel like either this is the only way for me to get in. And then when they figure out, they pull scraps together, they hustle or whatever to get to this point. my expectation would also be, I just gave you $15,000. you need to help me find a job, especially if it’s only 12 weeks. It’s not even like, it’s a four-year education. It’s not even, maybe it’s a semester, whatever. I have to quit my job to be here. It’s nine to five. I have to use my nights and weekends to do the home.
Like there is so much investment that comes with, and I’m just saying $15,000. That’s like, one of the programs that it can be, like you said, as much as 30 or a hundred or whatever, I think the other thing to consider with design education at least five years ago, a lot of the people that were getting into UX design, at least from my perspective, were people that had already gone to college.
So you’ve already paid however much money, to be in the education system. And it’d be socialized in that way. And you’ve got your four year and your two year and whatever your vocational, this is like, School on top of school. So, yeah, I don’t know if I have 15,000 extra dollars because I just spent a hundred thousand dollars on this other education because that’s the world that we live in, where you have to go to college, you have to go to university.
So I think the thing that troubles me about design education now is that the message is still. you need to do all of these things to get in. And for me, one thing that I’ve realized my first year, as a designer, I learned more in that first year of actually being on the job than I did teaching myself for eight months, which okay.
Teaching myself, I’m not a teacher. Cool. My curriculum was a little crap hazard, but you learn so much more in the job, but people are not. Teaching on the job. And I think that’s my problem with design education is that the bootcamp’s they’re not the problem in and of themselves. the companies are not the problem in and of themselves, but the bootcamps know that the companies are not teaching people when they get there.
So like, I can charge you whatever, because I know that you need some form of this to even get the job. And when you get to the job, they want you to already know a whole bunch of stuff. Cause they’re not going to teach you themselves. So it’s cyclical in a lot of ways, but. For me, I wish that more companies had apprenticeship programs.
I wish that more companies let people come in without I’m going to say it without a portfolio. even the portfolio, the barriers to entry, just keep compounding and compounding. If we all agree that design is problem solving, there should be easier or better, or, less overwhelming ways for people to show their proficiency or their curiosity. And it should not be such. an investment from a company’s perspective to hire somebody who may not work out, because even if you hire the person with the best portfolio, they also may not work out. so I don’t know if that’s a, it’s a roundabout way to say. I think it’s not just, it’s not just the bootcamps, it’s not just the companies. just in general, the process to get into UX to me is too difficult. UX is not special enough that it needs to be this super difficult thing. If somebody wants to come and try it for a couple of weeks. Okay. Like, I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t care like that doesn’t bother me at all.
But I think that there is definitely an air of gatekeeping in some ways that I think, UX has to be this super like, cause it’s, it’s the.
Jason Ogle: Elitism.
Jessica Gaddis: it’s the design is the opportunity that, everyone doesn’t get to have, and you gotta be whatever.
And sure, that’s fine. But you know, in a couple of years it’ll be the next thing. So it’s not that it’s going to be this thing. That’s always this way. There’s always some occupation. That’s like, Oh my gosh, how do I do that? But for me, I’m a person like open the floodgates let people try it. They may not be great.
If more people were learning some version of design, maybe they don’t know the whole design process. Maybe they only know how to do this. One thing like that is still helpful. So all that to say, I have so much respect for people who are trying to get into design. That’s why I, open my calendar, to black women who are like, trying to get in, and even saying, trying to get in like, that sucks.
Like you shouldn’t have to try to get it like that. That’s terrible. That’s not that I don’t like that. and I get it. I mean, there’s an opposite, perspective. People may disagree with what that perspective, but for me, I don’t see any problem with letting people. Try stuff out or letting people in without every single box checked.
Like I just, I don’t see a problem with that. And if it doesn’t work out great, if it does even better. but I think there needs to be, I don’t know, an easier way for people to test out design before they’re like, Oh yeah, I want to get 15,000. Like, I don’t know if I want to do this forever. Like, let me just try it out for a couple of months. I don’t know. So.
Jason Ogle: There’s a lot of good nuggets in there, Jessica and things I haven’t really thought about quite in the way that you explained it. what about internships? Should more companies make it a standard we have internships. It’s not do we it’s, we do, and this is when we have them. And maybe more companies needed to just open up the floodgates a little more to allow people to try it out because they could hire somebody with the best portfolio and the most experience and it’s expensive to hire somebody, which is why, I guess I can understand from the HR perspective, why it’s maybe hard to hire everybody because it is expensive. And if it doesn’t work out, then that’s a loss. So I can understand I guess, empathizing a little bit with the HR perspective, but however, you can hire somebody that looks really great on paper, maybe has a bitchin portfolio, and then you bring them in and then they have like the hugest ego in the world and they didn’t show that in the interview, but they’re difficult to work with. Nobody wants to work with them and guess what? They’re probably on their way out the door. And they just spent a lot of money to make that official. Right. So I there’s gotta be a balance.
There’s gotta be a better balance here. I’m thinking out loud here, but maybe it should be more of a standard in many organizations, especially design-driven organizations to have more internship intervals. Right?
Jessica Gaddis: I agree. don’t wanna, be on the super crazy side of the spectrum. I agree. Like H I hiring is a lot, especially when it’s a popular, occupation right now. Like everyone wants to do some form of it. I get that. Like, I’m not disagreeing with that. I guess what I’m saying.
And I agree is that. If organizations had teaching as a part of their values, I think it would change the way that we talk about design. I think it would change the way that we teach design. I think it would change the way that design is even viewed to be something that is more accessible to people right now.
It’s like every job description every person that I talk to is like, how do I get three years of experience when I just got here? Like how is that possible? And the fact that people are using that for a junior role. And entry-level like, I don’t even know if we have entry level, like junior isn’t even. Synonymous with entry-level at this point, because entry-level assumes that you I’m coming in with some of the tools that maybe not all of them, but you’re going to give me the rest of them, especially in software design. Like I said, the most that I learned was when I got to the job, the stuff that was in my portfolio, yeah, it was great.
And I had done that work, but I learned most of the stuff that I use now from that first year in the job. So this expectation that people are showing up with. What they already need. it’s probably not, even if you’ve gone through a bootcamp, like you, literally, when you get there, it’s like, Oh shoot, this is what it means to work.
Cross-functionally this is what it means to collaborate. This is product strategy. This is, business acumen. These are the things that I need to use, not the 17 different methods. They told me in my bootcamp, I have never card sorted in my life, but it’s in every single curriculum because, and it makes you think that you have to know how to do this thing when really the way that the education is presented is like, Hey, here is the way to do it. This is the process. Like this is the double diamond, triple D does whatever the school of thought is at the moment. This is how you do the math. Yeah. That’s I mean, from my perspective, that’s not true. every single time I have a project, my process changesthe project, determines my strategy. It changes every time. This is a great foundation. It’s great to give me a little bit of something so that I can talk the talk, but like when it’s time for me to do the work, it’s different. the education is just, you have a tool bag. of different UX methods. And as your career grows, you’re adding more tools and you’re adding more tools.
The way that I approach a problem, is going to be different than the way that you approach a problem, because I’m going to use the tools that are in my tool bag. And you’re going to use the tools that are in yours, yours isn’t better than mine. Mine isn’t better than yours, but. What you have in your tool bag at the moment is what you have to use.
It doesn’t mean you have to know how to do every single method and every single this, and every single that it just means as you grow, your tool bag is going to get a little bit heavier and that’s great. Your problem solving skills are going to get a little bit better, but on day one, if you’ve got one tool, great, bring it.
We still got to solve the problem. Like that’s okay. But the way that I think design education is like, Here’s the thing that you need to know, you may never the same way we were in school. I’ve never used trigonometry in my life, but I spent a year in that class because they told me I had to know it. it’s one of those things where like, you really don’t know until, but when you let other people tell you, this is the thing, it feels like, Oh my goodness. If I don’t know how to do this, I can’t be a designer. And that’s, it’s just not true. don’t believe that. that might be an unpopular opinion, but that’s the way I see it. I don’t know.
Jason Ogle: I love how you just laid that out there. Problems are unique. To solve a unique problem, you need to bring a unique method. You need to bring a unique skillset. You need to be adaptable. it’s not going to be exactly by the book, like you said, and that’s why having in-house experience, and of course that means virtual a lot now. Unfortunately, or fortunately, you need to be given the opportunity you’re right. The most growth you’ll experience is going to be on the job. I can vouch for that. It’s great to build a foundation for yourself, like you did.
I did the same thing. I just latched onto this and I was hungry and I just learned everything. I read everything, watched everything, and that was building a good foundation for myself, but it wasn’t until I got my foot in the door and I started working with real clients on real projects with money involved. The stakes are higher then doing redesign of your uncle’s website or something just pro bono to learn. Like, those are good things to do too. Be scrappy, especially if you really are trying to build a portfolio, be scrappy and take on projects, to grow.
But. really honestly, getting your foot in the door. And this is going back to our internship. We need to give more opportunities for people to get in the door and to be able to learn. And I love what you said about making teaching a part of the core values. Every organization, especially designed driven organization.
If not every organization should have teaching as one of their pillars of their culture, it should be like, this is the template. This one stays the same. You can change those other five points, but this one stays the same. Teaching is important. Part of our culture pouring into those who are a little behind us, if not much farther behind us. Pouring into those. So I’m inspired by what you shared that is really valuable.
Jessica Gaddis: Thanks.
Jason Ogle: So you said something else too, your responses. It really tickled me. I about, card sorting. and this is one of the things been doing this for 25 years. I’ve never card sorted either.
You got a funny bone with me because, and this is going to lead into my next question for you, because I think that so often, and I suffer from imposter syndrome. I still do. I still wonder if I’m good enough. I still wonder, are they going to find me out?
When are they going to find me out? like, why is it taking? And this is me being vulnerable. Why is it taking me six hours to make a slide-down menu in XD? Oh, no, they’re going to, my manager’s going to find out I got it. After this call, I’m going to tell him that I was only able to, do the layout, not the animation, after this call.
So I have it, I have struggled with this. I just wonder, like with card sorting and some of the stuff that we learned, if some of this is to just maybe puff us up a little bit to where we feel like we’re confident enough, maybe an artificial confident enough whenever the manager asks, Hey, have you ever done card sorting before?
You have to feel like you have to sound smart. Like I’ve done it before. And I would say, I haven’t done it. I haven’t done it. but I’ve done a lot of other things that have been successful, So I think that’s a good springboard into this imposter syndrome dialogue.
I had framed this question initially, how did you overcome imposter syndrome? But I need to ask you, did you, have you overcome imposter syndrome?
Jessica Gaddis: Definitely not no way. Oh my goodness. imposter syndrome is one of those things where it will creep up on you in the weirdest ways. it’s a process, just like self love as a process. Just like, learning is like, you’re always in pursuit of something. Imposter syndrome to me is just like, okay.
Reminding me like, okay, I still have, I’m still working. I’m still in progress. I’m never going to arrive at my peak. I’m always going to be in pursuit of getting better. The imposter syndrome, I would say for me, and this is a moment of vulnerability. Like I struggle with anxiety and depression. So imposter syndrome on top of that, I mean, Or imposter syndrome is a type of anxiety and depression.
I don’t know. but it’s like, okay, there’s this little, devil on my shoulder. And then there’s like another devil on my shoulder. Like, all right. Like how do I get past this? for me, imposter syndrome, I have found the best way, one finding community. So finding the people who are. Going to resonate with you or who are going to empathize with you, who understand what you’re going through? we can say the meanest things to ourselves. when we are the only voice we can say the nastiest things to ourselves, and it doesn’t even have to be like, you’re stupid.
It’s just like, what are you doing? why is this taking you so long? it can be so many different types of things that you say to yourself, usually not great with imposter syndrome. So the best way that I have found to counteract that is to add more voices.
So find a peer who is in your same shoes, who’s doing the same thing, experiencing the same thing, who was like, Oh yeah, I went through that last week. It also took me like six hours, no big deal. And you’re like, Oh, I’m not the only one. Oh, I’m not crazy. Oh, I’m not stupid. Oh, I’m not slow. someone else is doing the same thing. when it’s just my voice, it’s like, Oh, okay. Oh my goodness. They’re going to find me out. had the, how did I get in here? Like, Oh my goodness, they’re going to kick me out. They’re going to fire me, whatever. I talked to my coworker. She’s like, Oh, I went through that last week.
Here’s how I solved it. It’s was like, Oh, okay. Now I can get back to work now I Oh, okay. that’s poof be gone. Great. So for me, it was really because I process internally because I think very hard about things because I struggle with anxiety and depression, finding other voices to add to the mix was the best way for me to counteract, my sometimes very negative voice talking to myself and saying, you’re not good enough.
So. Finding community, peer mentorships. something I talk about all the time, finding a peer who is in your same shoes, who you can vent to or who you trust, who’s experiencing the same things. so that you’re not thinking that you’re having this super unique experience and Oh my goodness. Why are you doing it this way?
Oh my goodness. Why are you so terrible? Like when you’ve got another person or other people around you who are like, Oh no worries. I went through that last year. Oh, no worries. I’m going through it now. Like you. Can focus on the work because it’s like, Oh, okay. my suspicions about myself are not true.
Like I’m actually, I’m good. I’m okay. so yeah, I still struggle with it all the time. I found that it gets. The more senior I get in my career. The less that’s about like the design deliverables. I’m doing all these other things. I’m reading documents, I’m writing documents. Like there’s so many new things that I’m doing now that are not just tied to the design deliverables.
And when you enter that new territory of like, Oh, I’m in this meeting with a whole bunch of, leads like, Oh, do I belong in this meeting? Oh, I don’t have a good question. Oh, I just asked a dumb question. Imposter syndrome continues, even if it’s not about, your wireframes and your prototypes it’s about this new thing.
So I don’t know that I’ll ever be over it. but I have found ways to counteract it. and some days, I’m just having a bad day and some days I’m just like, you know what? I suck and. It’s not the nicest thing to say, but you know, you sit in and then you get over it. But I don’t know that you ever really get over imposter syndrome and anyone, who does not have imposter syndrome.
I, yeah, you’re the best. I don’t know. I don’t know what to say about that,
Jason Ogle: They’re auditioning for American Idol.
Jessica Gaddis: Yes, they are. No, I am the best of the bag by all means. Great. That’s awesome. I am still in pursuit. and I think that most of us are, and then think that’s what makes any profession so special is that. if you are at a profession where you have gotten to the end and that’s it find a new one start from the beginning. it’s that pursuit that is so exciting and it keeps you hungry and wanting more and it makes happy and excited and a little bit scared sometimes.
Like that’s the thing that I love about being in design and if I ever get to the end of design and it’s like, all right, well what’s next great. But right now I’m yeah, I have so much imposter syndrome. It’s crazy.
Jason Ogle: You touched on this in your response and I, and I hadn’t heard it framed this way, but I really like it about community can help us, I don’t think any of us ever overcomes imposter syndrome. However, I believe it’s possible that we can drown that voice out. We can quiet that voice, and that voice is always going to try to rear its ugly head and tell us we’re not good enough.
We’re imposters we don’t belong here. We’re playing way above our skillset or whatever, but the reality is is that. We can drown the voice out. We can quiet the voice down, and one way to do that is by finding community and finding others that identify with you and your struggles that identify with your craft and maybe your background and being able to share those struggles.
That’s a really great tip. I always thought, we have to overcome this on our own, but no, like when you open up, when you’re vulnerable this is a little metacognitive, right. Thinking about thinking, knowing about knowing we’re talking about overcoming imposter syndrome or even like, not overcoming, but coping with it, but a lot of that has to do with talking about it. And that’s one of the things I really love , especially in the UX community is that so many of us have started talking a lot more about this and it brings that sense of community to go, Oh, I am not alone.
And those are three words that are so comforting. You’re not alone. You’re not alone. I suffer from this. I struggle with this. I’ve suffered myself personally. I appreciate you being vulnerable anxiety and depression. Me too. I’ve suffered and struggled with it, especially a lot more in the past, but I still, it still tries to get at me.
And now community, this is a great segue, I knew how important community is to you and you just shared one of the major reasons why, how do we find our community? What are the benefits you just gave one really big one, but are there other benefits to finding a community? I’d love to hear your response on that.
Jessica Gaddis: Yeah. finding community. I don’t know if you find it or if it finds you, I have no idea. one of the things I will say that you have to do, maybe you don’t have to, but one thing that I recommend is Speaking up raising your hand, being visible in a way that allows people to see you, cause sometimes communities create themselves out of just, a couple of people being like, Hey, me too.
Oh yeah. And then now you’ve got a community like community doesn’t have to be this, like sign your name on the dotted line and here are the rules You and one person that’s community. I will say that one thing that I do tell people, as you’re getting into design, is don’t wait until you feel established to start being visible.
So if you’re learning for example, and you’re on LinkedIn, on LinkedIn, you’re connecting with people, this person has UX in their bio and this person and that person, you also, call yourself a designer from day one. I don’t care if you’re, if you say that I’m a designer, you’re a designer.
I’m not going to tell you any different, but. Starting to be visible. So as you’re learning design, for example, posting an article that was helpful for you, having, commentary commenting on something that’s happening, whether it’s on LinkedIn or Twitter, you start being visible. Your name starts being associated With these topics that you’re talking about. And that is a way that you can start showing yourself as someone who is, inviting or accepting people who are also doing the same thing. So if I’m learning and you’re learning great, we’re learning together, I’m posting this thing. you retweet what now we are, communing with each other, even if we don’t necessarily, talk about it, explicitly those things are happening.
So like the design community on Twitter, the design community on LinkedIn, I think a big part of it is, being visible. And if you are learning, like for me, if I’m learning something, if I have a question, I go ask Twitter and it’s like, Hey, do you have you guys ever heard of this thing? Or have you ever, and some of that comes with being vulnerable, but some of that also is, being visible and being okay with speaking up, even if there’s only one or two people who are speaking back to you, because that is how it starts and it just continues. so I would say, You have to be in pursuit. You have to be willing to show yourself as someone who is a part of that community. So if you are learning, don’t feel like you can’t talk about learning. Like you don’t have to be an expert already. Like you just come as you are. Like, if you are learning, if you are struggling with this thing, if you are trying to figure out how to do this other thing, you have to say that in some way, you just have to be honest about it. You have to be authentic about it. and that’s how people will find you. That’s how your community will find you. I follow a bunch of people on Instagram and Twitter who are, in their career and been in their career for five years. Some people are just starting out, but they’re all talking about design and there is no right or wrong answer.
So if you have a perspective that’s different than mine, you being new to design does not discredit your experience or your opinion. So. For me community is, when you see a need, fill the need. If you’re like, Hey, I am a video game chef who is learning design and if I need to find other people who are like this, great, go do it, create it yourself.
Don’t wait for somebody else to do it. just being visible, being vulnerable. And then just Putting out the word, that’s a part of it’s you can’t wait for someone else to be like, Oh, I’m going to create a community for this group of people. No, you’re that group of people like you create it, you find those people.
So all that to say, I mean, community, you can find it in the craziest places. virtual communities are huge right now, obviously. So It’s necessary, but it does require someone to take the step to say, I am going to, put my name on this. I’m going to say this as a space.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be a Facebook group. It doesn’t have to be moderated. It doesn’t have to be anything special. It doesn’t have to be this overwhelming thing. if you see a need. And if you also need that thing, create it. And the people who also need it will find you as long as you are, visible and vulnerable.
So, yeah, that’s how I would recommend people. If you are a video game chef, who’s trying to learn design. I mean, talk about it on Twitter, post about it on LinkedIn and the people who need to find you will find you. but yeah, you can’t wait for other people to do it for you. if you want that community, then start it.
And if it’s just you and three other people. Perfect. But there, it’s not about numbers. It’s not about how many followers and how many that, if there’s just four of y’all, that’s great. that is a community and it will be as helpful as you allow it to be as much as you pour in, you will get out. yeah, community is great.
Jason Ogle: So good. Derek Sivers posted a video, several years ago. I’ll try to find it and put it in the show notes Defenders, but just to piggyback off of what you just shared. It’s about, starting a movement. If you can’t find your community, then make it, like you said, I really love that takeaway.
If you can’t find your community, then you create it. You can create it. There’s somebody who’s looking for you to join with you to follow you. Even there are people who need you. Right. and not to get off on a tangent. I know that, you know, there are so many people suffering right now with, depression and mental illness and especially this year with suicide and everything.
And it’s so heartbreaking. and I can only imagine the pain these people are feeling to get to that place. It, my daughter just lost a friend, right at the height of COVID. She was seven, 16 years old. And, And so there’s that aspect that it’s especially taking a toll this year.
We’ve all been just, sheltering and isolated and everything. and so, not to not to put a damper on this, but I just feel like that’s the reality that we need to think about. Like your life is worth living. Somebody needs, you, many people need you here. You might be that person that starts that community that saves other people’s lives. Think about that. I just want to encourage you. And I, and again, I’m not trying to say I understand your problems. I know it’s a real issue and I can’t begin to understand the pain that somebody feels. I actually, I can begin to understand a little bit because I was at one point in my life. I nearly drove off a freeway overpass.
In my early days. I nearly did in living. I was living in Southern California. I just felt like I had nothing left to live for. I can understand the pain to that extent. And I think God, my life is radically different. No, it’s changed a complete one 80, thankfully, but I guess I’m just saying like, we need you here.
We need you here. Your community needs, you stay here. It can get better. I believe it. so I didn’t mean that I get that deep, like that fast on that, but I just, I felt like that needed to be said, somebody needed to hear that.
Jessica Gaddis: Yeah, I’ve started. I mean, I feel like, maybe I’ve always struggled with anxiety and depression, but I just recently this year really started being like, Oh shoot, this is a thing. Like I’ve been in therapy for a couple of years. I recommend it to everyone that I meet. I started talking about it on Twitter, which is interesting cause I work for Twitter. So my coworkers also follow me on Twitter It’s one of those things where it’s like, you know what, I’m gonna say it. And if people it’s great, if you see it great, if you don’t great. but like you said, people need to hear and know that they are not the only person that may be going through something.
And sometimes that’s all you need is just confirmation that. It’s not just me. Like, I am not the only person then, man, that’s all, you may never speak to that person. You may never interact with them in any kind of way, but just confirmation that the you’re not the only one can sometimes be so helpful. So I encourage people to be their most authentic and honest selves as much as they feel comfortable doing.
So, I’m a person who’s just, like I said, I’m an open book. I’m you can ask me anything and I will give you my honest opinion about it. so. Yeah. I mean, it’s one of those this year is definitely the year to take a really hard look at how we treat ourselves, where we put our energy and how we can help ourselves.
And a part of that for me, has been finding people, That helped me feel my best self and in my job and outside of my job. So I recommend it to everybody. Also, I recommend therapy. So if you don’t have a therapist find a therapist.
Jason Ogle: As begin to wrap up this first section, I still got to ask you my super seven, but I think we’ll probably be able to breeze through those, I really want to just give you the floor here to share about your mentoring you’ve been doing and what that’s done for you in your life and for the folks that you’ve been able to mentor, can you talk about that a little bit?
Jessica Gaddis: Yeah. I started doing some form of mentoring maybe a year ago. I held like a virtual session, a Q and a thing with just like black women who are interested in design and it wasn’t this like, Big thing. I just posted about it on Twitter. I was like, Hey, if anyone wants to talk about this, let me know.
I think I had maybe 14 or 15 black women who were on the line. that was it. it was done. And then this year, I don’t know what I was doing at the time. I had started working with, some black businesses in Dallas talking about UX and, brand and all these things. I don’t remember what sparked it, but I started thinking about, okay, maybe I could do like some office hours, to, open up my time. If people have questions, we were already in the pandemic. So I was obviously at home, like everybody else. and I remember, posting about it on Twitter and I posted about it on LinkedIn.
I created like a Calendly link or what have you, and just opened up my calendar. specifically for black women who are interested in design or who are in design and trying to level up things like that. I tried to be as specific as possible about it and yeah, over the past, I will say four months, I think I’ve done, 70 or 80 one-on-one sessions, really just opening up my calendar to, I had like, an intro session.
So like, Hey, I want to get to know you let’s talk one-on-one I had like a working session if you’re doing your portfolio or preparing for an interview. I did some big virtual sessions with the group. So we had like 20 or 30 people on the line. We talked about whatever topic we were talking about. but for me, the mentorship, part of it was really being available, I would say, and making the investment myself with my time to just be available. And it’s not that. I am any different than anyone else who’s done office hours before, but for me it was like, okay, I want to be specific. I want to be helpful.
I want to be available for black women because I find that whenever there is a conversation around diversity, everyone’s in the room, but black women, from my perspective, don’t always get, The floor. So like, I’m going to be specific. I am going to niche this down all the way and I’m going to start there. we have a Google group right now where I send emails every once in a while with resources or whatever events we’re having. There’s like 130, black women who were trying to be in design and trying to be designers. And I don’t know something about just being available The one-on-one time definitely is it’s a big time investment. I’ve heard from so many of these women, like I’ve never talked to someone one-on-one and been able to just talk about what I’m doing. I find that a lot of advice can be very general. the article, the 10 things you need to do to get in the, whatever the portfolio. It’s also general sometimes, which is great because again, the content needs to scale, but this is like the opposite of that. This is like, who are you? What kind of designer are you? What are you struggling with? what are you trying to accomplish in the next six months? Where do you want to be? Like, those are the conversations that I have, with these women it’s all helpful the 10 things you need to be a designer is still helpful. but this is like, Literally, who are you? Like, what is your background?
What are you bringing with you? Oh, you used to be in marketing. Let’s talk about that. What are the parallels between marketing and design? Like it’s literally that kind of coaching. it’s a lot of investments. It’s a lot of time. But it’s been so rewarding. I’ve had some women who like cried on the line cause we’re just like, having a good time.
It’s like, I’m talking to my cousin. the virtual sessions are great because it allows me to have more people in the room than just the one-on-one. So I try to do those, as well, I’ve done some live portfolio workshops where I’ve had a couple of women who will come on and present their portfolio to the group.
And we’ll give feedback literally very specific about your portfolio. So all that to say, I think. I’m going to continue doing it. I want to be available, to black women who want to be in design. I like this format. It’s definitely a lot of time investment, but for me, it’s been so rewarding because even if I only talk to you one time, you may just need this one conversation to not leave design. You may just need to ask that question. one woman. She was interviewing at the time. And we did like three different sessions where we like went over her portfolio. We did it a couple of times. We did her case studies and like, she ended up getting her internship, but just being available and having my calendar open, because I don’t know if she would have had someone else to go to at that time.
So just being a resource, if someone asks me a question, like someone, one of the women was like, Hey, I’m interested in design systems, but I’ve never seen a design systems portfolio. can you help me? I just went to Twitter and like, Hey guys, can you send me some portfolios? And I got like 20 responses. being an advocate, I would say is the biggest part of this for me is like, I don’t ever want to be the only voice anyone hears about design because, my opinion can be a little crazy. So find other people to talk, to take my advice with a grain of salt. but I want to be an advocate. So however I can help you resource, if you need to find something, if you need to find a person, if you want to work at this company, and I know someone there, like I want to step in and help you with that, because I do have a little bit of visibility. So it’s like, I’m going to use that for These other women, that’s been the biggest takeaway for me is like, how can I find ways to push other people? Like, I don’t need to be, super unicorn designer. Like I can be exactly where I am for the rest of whatever and be just fine. But I know that I want to bring more people in. Like I know that I want more black women in design, so how can I do that? So, yeah, I mean, I started doing a lot less like speaking engagements and things like that, and really just focusing more on this because I’m already in design. I have, a good foundation. I have a good start. These other people they’re just trying to get a chance.
They’re just trying to get in the door and whether they do it or don’t, it’s completely up to them. this one 45 minute call may not change anything, but maybe all you needed to hear was like, you belong here. Like you should do it. Continue, like ask whatever question you want.
I will help you. I’ve had some pretty deep conversations. that wasn’t my intention. I did not think it was going to be, like that, but I’ve also had some very tactical conversations where we talk about the craft and we talk about design and we talk about, okay, The next time you do a project like this, you should approach it this way.
Think about this. Your design process is not just step one, step two. It’s like how, what is the headline? What is the narrative from this project so that your portfolio, will shine through? So I’ve had so many different types of conversations. but I think for me, it’s really, mentoring is not a one size fits all.
Everyone does it a little bit differently. This is the way that I’ve found to be most valuable. And I like it. So yeah, I mean, it’s been a crazy summer. That’s what I did all summer was these one-on-one sessions, this fall, opening up my calendar again. So yeah, it’s, it’s a lot, but it’s great. I love it. it’s been awesome.
Jason Ogle: You’re an inspiration, Jessica. How do you spell love? T I M E
Jessica Gaddis: Yes. Absolutely. Yes. Yes.
Jason Ogle: You were making yourself available. Like I know that’s hard to do, especially as a professional, You’re busy enough on your nine to five. And I’m sure that exceeds I’m sure that maybe begins and ends later than nine to five especially working with Twitter.
And you guys are innovating doing a lot of stuff all the time. But the fact that you still make yourself available, speaks volumes about the kind of person that you are and the generous soul that you are, and giving back, I’m inspired. I’m convicted to be honest with you, I’m convicted and inspired at the same time.
I try to do, some of that. I mean, we have a community too User Defenders: Community, and, I try to invest time there in this way. It’s the best I can do some times with six kids and everything. but I mean, I feel like even just the opportunities that I get to do that, and I do have a couple of folks that I mentor as well, but there’s so much value to that.
I love that you really make that a big part of your life and your commitment and giving back in that way, especially, niching down I wanna reach black women that want to design. I love that. You’re so specific too. That’s awesome. So, and you mentioned about the articles and stuff.
Like there are 10 ways to do this. There’s like, there’s so many click baity things, but. The reality is, and there’s value to those things, right. And somebody did spend their time to create value in that way. And I’m not knocking that at all, but here’s the difference here, that’s a one-way conversation for the most part.
That’s a one-way, that’s a, that’s an, Oh, that’s an output. there might be a couple of comments there. I rarely see any prolific writers, respond to comments because they probably can’t get to all of them. Okay. So that’s a one-way conversation, what you’re doing here and what you’re inspiring us all to do is to have a two-way conversation where we not just speak, but we especially listen.
And that’s the only way you can really build a relationship. I was thinking about my relationship with my wife, we’ve been married 21 years. You could say our marriage is officially legal drinking age now. Um,
Jessica Gaddis: I love that so much.
Jason Ogle: But the reality is, is if I only talk to my wife, but never listened to her, I promise this marriage wouldn’t last a year.
Jessica Gaddis: Yup. Yup. I will say I do more listening. It’s like a therapy session sometimes. Like I can say that, honestly, I’ve heard that from. The women that I talk to and I will say like my investment. It’s not any better or worse than anyone like your one hour of time is literally just as valuable as whatever amount of time I give it’s about you, the person saying like, I want to do this, whatever works for you.
And if it doesn’t, that’s fine too. If you tweet about, design education, or if you tweet about, research that. All of it is helpful. It’s just, this was my way of doing it. And I found this works for me. Whatever works for you. That’s great. My only ask is that if you are in design, if you’re wanting, like I have women who are one year in, I’m like, Hey, do you want to do a session?
Do you want to talk about this topic to these other people? Because you have something to give. Like, even if you’re just starting, you still have something to give. And I just implore people to think about.
How can I give a little bit, like, just a little, like 1%, it doesn’t have to be a lot, just 1%, if it’s a 15 minute, whatever, if it’s a post, if it’s whatever it is, because there is someone who needs to hear what you have to say, but, you know, if you don’t take the time to say it, they can’t.
So. However you feel comfortable if you are in the right mental state to do those types of things, I recommend people just, find a way to give back to someone, whoever it is. It doesn’t have to look like mine. Doesn’t have to look like yours. It could look like, however you decide to design it.
But, it’s a part of what keeps the design community so exciting is because everyone wants to share. And I love that about our community and what I share may not resonate with you, but it may resonate with someone else. And that’s why all of us sharing is a part of it because it’s going to reach who it needs to reach.
The way that I talk may not, help some people and that’s okay, but it’ll help the other people. And that’s great. So. I don’t know, just find your lane for design. Find your lane for teaching yourself design, find your lane for sharing design with other people. Like you can slice it, however you need to slice it. but just do it, like just help somebody.
Jason Ogle: Yes. Yes. Yeah.
Jessica Gaddis: Let’s do it.
Jason Ogle: I’m pumped. I’m pumped up. That usually doesn’t happen until toward the end, but after like minute five or something I’ve been pumped up. So, Bruce Mau had an incomplete manifesto for growth. He’s one of those, Madman or whatever.
He did, an Incomplete Manifesto for Growth and there’s like 30 or 40 points. And they’re all really inspiring, but one of his points, I think maybe the shortest one was, “Begin anywhere”, and don’t, think that you have to do more than you can do. It could just be five every morning.
When I wake up, I’m going to get my coffee or whatever, I’m going to journal for five minutes. I’m going to draw for 10 minutes. And then you do that. You share your thoughts and then you get into the habit of that. Seth Godin is a big inspiration of mine as well.
He’s been writing a daily blog for probably nearly 30 years, maybe. He’s been writing and he’s never missed a day. I don’t know how he does it, but it’s habit it’s I know. and, but talk about building a community, right? Quite a community that’s been built because he’s done that. He said he’s just a little bit at a time, just trickle it out. Just give back and just share what you know, and don’t let the imposter voice get to you. I wanted to mention this when we were talking about imposter syndrome, one of my heroes, Denise Jacobs she was on the show. I love what she says about this. She says only skilled and competent people have it.
So don’t worry. Don’t worry about it. If you have it, you’re good.
Jessica Gaddis: You’re great. You’re in great company.
Jason Ogle: You’re in great company.
Jessica Gaddis: Yes, we were all imposters.
Jason Ogle: Exactly. And we’re all making it up as we go along, and that’s okay.
Jessica Gaddis: Truly, that’s one thing I tell everyone, like, if you don’t know the answer, you just Google it, like, and that’s okay. Like, you don’t have to know your ability to find the answer, learn it and then apply it. Like that is the skill. Like it’s not about already having it in your brain. Like. you don’t have to know everything. you just figure it out and then you just apply it and then you figure out the next thing. And that’s just how life works design or not design. Like that’s how it is.
Jason Ogle: That’s exactly right. So my last question in this section, and this is something, and this is this one’s deep. I haven’t asked this, I think I’ve only asked this question one other time. So this one’s a little deep, but I know you’re the person to ask this question to, and I’ll preface this question with just a personal experience, the story I lost my father in August of this year and he was 83.
Thank you. It was sudden we knew he had heart issues and he couldn’t see his doctor with COVID and everything. There’s so many complications with all that, but, he had an appointment on Monday. He died on Saturday and so. All that to say, like, I’m actually literally in the midst with my family, my mother, my poor mother, they’d just celebrated their 49th year of the day before he died.
And he wanted so badly to get to 50 he’s like, I just want to get that’s my last milestone. The first one was 50 years of Apollo moon landing, which he was a part of he’s a literal rocket scientist. He was in the firing room for all the missions. So he’s like, I just want to get to the 50 years.
And he did that and he was a celebrity in Florida on the Space Coast, local celebrity for awhile. But, his other milestone was, I want to get to 50 years with your mama. And, unfortunately he wasn’t able to do to make it, but right now I’m literally. Working with my mother and my brother and my sister on what to put on his tombstone.
Right. And that’s one of those things you’re like, you never want to think about, doing that, especially for a loved one or a friend or anybody, that this dear to you is you never want to think about that. But the reality is we’re all going to have a tombstone one day and it’s going to say something on there, And so we’re trying to figure that out for him, but I want to ask you, what do you want on yours? how do you want to be remembered?
Jessica Gaddis: That is a good question. I want to be remembered as someone who was always brought, good energy to the people around her, someone who is trying to, make everyone feel welcome. I would say, I always want to do that. at my apartment, I, before the pandemic, I would throw, small gatherings.
I cook for people. We’d have a great time. I want everyone to feel welcome. I want to be an advocate or I want to be remembered as an advocate for people, people who aren’t given the same opportunity to speak up. I want to not speak for them, but I want to pass the mic for them and use my platform and whatever I have to give someone else that opportunity because I don’t mean to speak for anyone, and I want, I think I want to be known as someone who was just always looking for ways to help somebody, just what can I do? Like, what do you need? What can I do?
Even if I’m not at my best and most strong mental state or whatever, what can I do to help someone else? Just because I would want someone to do that for me. And because people have like my entire career, there have been people who have been reaching back like, Hey, are you good? Like, Hey, do you need help? Hey, do you want to talk about whatever? Like, people have always found a way, whether I was strong enough to ask for it or not always a found a way to help. So I think giving back, because that’s the experience that I’ve had in design and out of design. But, yeah, I want to be remembered in those ways.
I’m gonna start the party. I’m gonna, get everybody going. Everyone’s going to be happy and excited, and then I’m going to make sure everybody has a great time, but also, however I can is, really stepping aside and handing the mic and making sure that people are listening so that everyone, is, in that moment.
So. Yeah, I think that’s, I think that’s it. I’ve never thought about that, but I think that’s what I would want.
Jason Ogle: Oh, it’s so good.
Jessica Gaddis: That’s a great question. I’ve never thought about that.
Jason Ogle: Maybe I should ask that more often.
Jessica Gaddis: I think you should that’s a really good q. I like that. I like that a lot.
Jason Ogle: Thank you. Well, I loved your answer like that is so great. And everything that you’ve shared at this point, it reinforces what you just shared with us. So that really awesome. And I keep making promises about how I’m going to wrap up and I still have the super seven to ask you. And do you have time?
Okay, here we go. Let’s do this. Yes. What’s your UX superpower?
Jessica Gaddis: O U X superpower. I would say. Systems, like, I like to know how things work under the hood. So when I’m designing something, I like to work very closely with my engineering team to like, okay, the API and this and that. So, yeah. I don’t know how to say that in like a very cute phrase, but like, I like to know how the things work, so I will go very deep into the back end stuff and the front end and the whatever. and then putting that together with the actual visual design. so yeah, I don’t know if that’s a, that’s not a quick answer, but that’s what I would say. Like I, like, I liked the system step. I like the messy stuff. those are my favorite problems to solve.
Jason Ogle: You’re like every engineer’s best friend.
Jessica Gaddis: I try, I try to be a good teammate. And then part of that is like speaking the same language that they’re speaking and showing interest in what they’re and what they’re working on. So I try to ask those questions. Yeah.
Jason Ogle: Look out Twitter SpaceX is going to be, engineers are going to be calling Jessica pretty soon because they want to work with somebody who understands systems and loves systems.
Jessica Gaddis: I just, I don’t, I won’t say that I can teach anybody else how to do it, but I at least have interest enough to want to learn it. So that’s the start.
Jason Ogle: That is really important. that’s a great skill to have and everybody can learn it with curiosity, right? Curiosity, passion, and hunger. you can learn this stuff and you can be a great advocate. There’s the advocate. Again, you’re an advocate for your engineers.
You’re an advocate for your front end developers. So that’s really good. That’s important.
What’s your UX Kryptonite, conversely?
Jessica Gaddis: okay. So I is, I’m going to be honest. I have always struggled with visual design. I am better at it now because it’s taken me time to learn it. But over the fact, like when I started who visual design is not. My thing, I don’t have a graphic design background. I cannot draw. Like, I’m not, that is probably always going to be my that’s where I get the most imposter syndrome.
Like my I’ve gotten so much better. I practice so much. It’s definitely taken me time to get comfortable but that will probably always be the thing where it’s like, okay, just check it again, like check it again and like make sure the margins and all of it. Like that is the thing where I’m like, okay. yeah. That’s why like visual design has always been my kryptonite. So I think it always will be.
Jason Ogle: Yeah, I appreciate your, your honesty there. It’s a kryptonite for many of us, I came through the visual side of this, but I still struggle with it. And I think one of the biggest challenges with visual design is it’s subjective nature, there is subjectivity to it.
So you know that you may think something looks really great and then somebody else may be like, eh, can you change the color or whatever? Like, and then, but then on the other hand, you may think something’s not that great. And then the people around you’re like, that’s awesome.
Jessica Gaddis: Absolutely. And I, the gray area is like, I’m a person. I like things black and white most of the time. So for me, it’s like, okay, well just tell me how to do it. Like, okay, how do I do that thing? So like, I use Refactoring UI. I don’t know if you’re familiar. He’s I think his name is Steve. He has a YouTube channel. He has a Twitter page where he gives like concrete here are ways to make your visual design better. And then also Eric Kennedy from LearnUI.Design. He has like a newsletter where he talks like, okay, here is. Why this design doesn’t look that great. Here’s how to, like, I need those types of things.
Like how do I improve it? Like, it’s like, okay, this looks great, but like, how did you get there? So, I’ve had to find some ways to improve, but it’s definitely, always been my Kryptonite.
Jason Ogle: Yeah. Well, I appreciate that. And that, those sound like good resources too. I dunno if that answers your resource question, but I’ll still ask you anyway.
Jessica Gaddis: Yeah.
Jason Ogle: Before that, what would your UX superhero name be?
Jessica Gaddis: Ooh, superhero name. I should have had one of these. I would say The Advocate I would take that I would be okay with The Advocate. I think that I’ve said that word enough, that it just has to be that.
Jason Ogle: You know,
I was thinking like, maybe it would be the, in my mind, I wonder if it’s the advocate. Yes.
Jessica Gaddis: That’s the one.
Jason Ogle: I love that. That is so perfect. That is perfect. What’s one habit you believe contributes to your success?
Jessica Gaddis: Ooh. Learning something I know nothing about like starting from zero with something regularly. Not necessarily just in design, but I took a woodworking class one time, cause that was like, Oh, woodworking, sure. I’ll do that. Like it’s just one of like, try it. Try everything once, I guess. I’m a recovering perfectionist.
And I used to not do things that I wasn’t already good at because I was like, I don’t want to be bad at it. And now I’m starting to learn that like, the fun of it is in not knowing what the hell you’re doing. So for me, it’s like finding every once in a while I’ll being like, Oh, sure. I’ll do that. Like, why not? I’ll, paint this, whatever, like, yeah. I think that’s something that keeps me. Because you still have to problem solve and whatever the thing is. So it’s like, yeah, I’m going to stretch my brain in this way. I’m going to try this new thing. I’m probably never going to do like I’ve I have not wood-worked since that class, but like that class was still great.
So yeah, just letting myself not be good at something and just trying something where I’m probably going to suck and being okay with that.
Jason Ogle: Yeah, that’s inspiring because this work is messy. And I think that we have to get over our perfectionism, like you said, recovering perfectionist, I raised my hand with you. Try to enjoy the journey, right? Try to enjoy the journey a little more, even if it sucks, even if it’s messy and looks like crap, sometimes try to enjoy it…I think of the Potter. The Potter, when they first start, and now, great, I got the scene from ghost in my head where like he’s behind her and like, but anyway, like just imagine it’s just a lump of clay. There’s nothing there, but eventually it will be a work of art and it will be something nice that will be used well and admired, so…
Jessica Gaddis: I think, social media can be great and it can be bad. I think, people want to show that they’re good at all of these things. And I mean, that’s great, like absolutely do that. I suck at most things. So like I’m okay talking about it, I’m okay posting about it.
I like with cooking something and I burnt the bottom of my pan. I like posted about it cause it’s like, so what, like, so what it’s okay. Just keep going,
Jason Ogle: You’re a real person,
Jessica Gaddis: I’m a real person. And then sometimes, it just doesn’t go well. So
Jason Ogle: Even though you’re a superhero. You’re a human too.
Jessica Gaddis: Absolutely. Like, my Clark Kent can’t cook, whatever that was cooking. So it is what it is.
Jason Ogle: That’s why I like the superhero metaphor so much, because when you look in the superhero stories and I know that you’re a superhero fan, I learned that about you when I was researching you.
Jessica Gaddis: Oh my goodness.
Jason Ogle: Love that about you. That you’re your X-Men is your favorite movie. Is that still the case?
Jessica Gaddis: Favorite movie. My absolute favorite!
Jason Ogle: It’s so good. What I love about the superhero metaphor is when you look into the lives of these superheroes, yes, they have superpowers. Yes, they can do extraordinary things, but you know what? They still fail. They’re still failures in many ways. And I think that’s what I love about their vulnerable.
There’s every superhero has a vulnerability, like Superman has a kryptonite, and even though he has power yet, like every superhero. So I really liked that metaphor a lot. And I definitely get that from you, Jessica Gaddis. So I appreciate that.
What’s your most invincible UX resource or tool you could recommend to our listeners?
Jessica Gaddis: Okay. My favorite tool that I don’t actually use that often, but I love it. It’s not really a tool, it’s a resource, The Baymard Institute, B A Y M A R D. It’s a research Institute, I guess they do a lot of research on eCommerce sites and they have an email newsletter that’s free. They have a ton of premium resources as well but, it’s one of those sites where like, because we all shop online, we, are on, Best Buy and Target they actually do the research about the e-commerce sites for like why your checkout flow needs to have X, Y, and Z. You know why you need to show the filters in this way, on your shopping pages. And it’s not that I use it in my day to day work, but having those perspectives and seeing, the science behind. Why some things are designed the way that they are really does change your perspective about how, like, I can’t look at a, an app the same since I became a designer. Like I’m always looking at it through that lens.
So if you’re a person who’s like trying to get into design, one of the things you have to do is change your perspective from being just like, Oh, this is just a website to like, what problem were they trying to solve? Like, you have that new lens when you become a designer. So The Baymard Institute is great if you’re like, I want to like dip my toe, but like really, what language do people use to describe these things?
How do they break down a site? it’s a great kind of way to just read from an, from experts. how to look at bestbuy.com and why their checkout flow is the way that it is. And that way, As you mature, you’ve got this language, you’ve got this examples, but it’s, again, that real-world example that allows you to apply what you’re learning.
So if you go and learn about, checkout flows, now you’ve got an, another resource that talks about this very specifically. I love it. it’s great. And I, I recommend it to everyone now because you’re designing for e-commerce. But because just being able to read their reports, you’re like, Oh shoot. I never thought of it like that. Like I do, like when my filters, show at the top of the screen so I can easily, remove them or whatever the thing is, but it’s a great resource. So I recommend it to everyone.
Jason Ogle: I hadn’t heard of that. So I appreciate that myself.
Jessica Gaddis: Yeah, of course.
Jason Ogle: We’ll be sure to link to that in the show notes.
Two more: if you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why?
Jessica Gaddis: Oh, one book…I I would say big magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s not really a design book, but it’s a creativity kind of book. I’ve just liked the way that she talks about, the process of creating things and just the mindset that you have, and it’s like, you don’t have to be good at everything. Everyone is a creator. I appreciate that perspective. Everyone has a little bit of magic in them, I guess. It’s a very cliche thing to say, but, it’s one of those books that kind of just it’s like, Oh, you’re right. Like I am. creative I am a this I am a that. You don’t have to be perfect or like all the way in your career to feel like you have arrived.
So, yeah, I would say that one is really good.
Jason Ogle: Oh, that’s great. No kids look at themselves like I’m a creative, they just are.
Jessica Gaddis: Yeah, you just are.
Jason Ogle: Something breaks in us, society or culture or teachers or whatever, says one thing to us and it kills our confidence. It kills our pursuit, at least at some point.
And we have to work hard to regain that. I think all of us, but just to reinforce what you just said, like and what the message of the book seems to be, we’re all creative. We all can make something that impacts somebody’s life in a positive way. And you remember how I said how I have all these books and I never read that’s one of the books I have that I’ve never read.
Jessica Gaddis: What are the chances? What are the chances? It’s a very quick read. I will say that it’s a fairly quick, it’s not your normal self-help book. It’s a very quick read. It’s not super-actionable and like, go do this thing, but it’s just like a, it’s a nice breath of fresh air, I would say. So. Yeah.
Jason Ogle: Wonderful. I’ll be sure to link to that in the show notes as well. Defenders. Last question Jessica Gaddis I promise. This has been, so you remember we talked about flow. This has been a total flow, so the time has just flown by. Okay, this is, I will let you go. Cause I know you have a job to do, what’s your best advice.
This is one of my favorite questions, actually. And now here you’ve given so much already, but what’s your best advice for aspiring UX superheroes?
Jessica Gaddis: My best advice would be just start, just do it. Just do something like just do something. It doesn’t even have to be, there is no step one. There is no, like, this is the place that you start and then everything else comes after. Like literally if we’ve set a phrase or a term on this call, even if it’s card sorting, I don’t care.
Start somewhere. Just pick a thing and just like, learn about that thing. it’s never going to be a perfect time. you’re never going to have all your ducks in a row. You’re never going to be 100% ready for it, just start just pick something and learn about it and then go for it. If you want to start with the hardest thing or the easiest thing it’s okay. If you also can’t draw like me and like visual design, like wherever you want to start, just start. and then in starting. Talk about, start, like, talk about it. Like, don’t start by yourself and then like six months down the line.
And you’re just like off in this little corner, like shaking, cause you’ve been staring at your computer, like talk about it. I didn’t do this. I started and I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be good at it. So I didn’t actually start talking about my journey until I was like, okay. I feel better.
Do the opposite of that. Just start. And then like, just talk about the fact that you’re learning design and then see what happens. Because if you wait, I mean, you can wait as long as you want. You can wait until you feel comfortable. That’s fine too. But, when you’re at a point where you’re excited about it and you’re curious about it.
And you’re like, I don’t really care what happens. I just want to do it. Like, that’s the point where you start and it doesn’t have to be clean. It doesn’t have to be linear. yeah, but just start it, just pick something, pick card, sorting, forget it. Just pick the cards. So start with everybody go and Google card sorting and figure out what the hell it is.
You may never do it in your career. Cause I have never done it, but just pick something and start there and then follow your curiosity. And if you find a phrase in one article, go learn about that thing and then just keep going and keep going. And eventually you’ll look up and all the time will have passed because you will have been in flow and you will feel better for it.
And even if you never become a designer, that’s fine too. but whatever you learn in design is going to help you wherever you are. So learning something is better than learning nothing. So just start.
Jason Ogle: Yes. So good. So I want to, before we close here, I want to ask you, can you tell our Defenders the best way to connect and to keep up with you? Because I know they’re going to want to.
Jessica Gaddis: Yes. I’m very active on Twitter, not just because I work at Twitter. My Twitter account name is Maria Gaddis. I don’t normally tweet about design things. I’m usually tweeting a hot take about. TV or food, but sometimes I do. but that’s the place where you can find me the most active.
So yeah, I will see y’all on the internet.
Jason Ogle: Awesome. Well, Jessica Gaddis, thanks for spending so much time with me today. I, this conversation has been so in flow and you’ve shared so many things that we can glean from, and that we can all be inspired by. You are an inspiration. You are a superhero and I just thank you so much. I thank you for being here with me today.
I thank you for everything you’re doing, for the field of design, but beyond that, just for humanity, just your willingness to invest your life, your time into helping others. That’s huge. Just keep going, and last but not least. I just want to say fight on my friend.
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