068: People May be the Most Important Thing You Build as a Designer with Braden Kowitz

Braden Kowitz reveals how human-centered design has everything to do with the humans we design and build with every day. He advocates for a genuinely supportive environment where it’s okay to be who you are, and where you’re encouraged to speak up, and openly share how you’re truly feeling. He reminds us to acknowledge that life isn’t perfect, and neither are we…and that’s also okay. He articulates the origin story and evolution of design patterns and explains why ‘ugly’ may sometimes appear to win. He also challenges us to consider how the metrics we typically depend on, may not be telling us the complete story.

Braden is a Product Designer and Co-Founder at Range Labs, where he makes software that helps teams work better together. Prior to starting Range, Braden was a design partner at Google Ventures, where he founded the first design team at a venture capital fund and co-developed the Design Sprint process. Braden was also an early designer at Google and led the design of several products including Gmail, GSuite, Google Spreadsheets, and Google Trends. He’s really into bicycle advocacy lately.

  • Free Time (7:49)
  • Grounding Techniques (8:36)
  • Mindful Techniques (9:26)
  • Origin Story (16:25)
  • Form, Function, and Balance (19:38)
  • Managing Design Ambiguity (26:50)
  • Establishing Design Patterns (37:57)
  • What Have You Been Up To? (47:05)
  • From Designer to Co-Founder (49:09)
  • Dealing with Tradeoffs (52:02)
  • Creative Side Hustles (52:41)
  • Who Is This Product For? (53:47)
  • Design Superpower (57:00)
  • Design Kryptonite (58:15)
  • UX Superhero Name (59:45)
  • Habit of Success (1:01:03)
  • Recommended Book (1:02:59)
  • Best Advice (1:04:13)
  • Tips on Culture (1:05:11)

Continue reading 068: People May be the Most Important Thing You Build as a Designer with Braden Kowitz

058: Finding the Right Cultural Fit with Justin Dauer

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058: Finding the Right Cultural Fit with Justin Dauer
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Justin Dauer implores us never settle in our important quest to find the right cultural fit. He reminds us that being human-centered doesn’t just affect our users, but especially the humans we interact with. He encourages us to think hard about where we choose to hang our hat, & understand what the ramifications of the wrong decision may be. He also reveals the maze of signals to watch out for in our search for the culture that will foster our creativity, & empower our passion to produce what could be our greatest work…yet.

Justin Dauer is a passionate user advocate, designer, writer, and denim elitist from Chicago. Through bloodshot tunnel vision, he’s drawn from career experiences across agency side, client side, design studio, and pure tech to foster healthy, dynamic, supportive, creative cultures. Crafting as the Vice President of UX & Development for bswift by day, his personal creative outlet by night (and day) is pseudoroom which also happens to be his Twitter handle. He eats a bowl of cereal every night before bed. Every. Night.

  • Cultivating-A-Creative-Culture-by-Justin-Dauer-Book
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  • What Does It Mean to Say “The Right Cultural Fit”? (5:07)
  • Why It’s Vital to Find That Fit (7:28)
  • What Are the Reasons You Made This Your Life Mission? (8:55)
  • Is It a Good Plan to Apply for Jobs Everywhere? (17:13)
  • The Best Ways to Vet a Company’s Culture (22:47)
  • Is It Worth Jumping into an Undesirable Culture to Gain Experience? (31:57)
  • Before Heading into an Interview (34:25)
  • Thoughts on Interview Questions (40:32)
  • Advice for Listeners Who Feel Stuck (44:35)

Continue reading 058: Finding the Right Cultural Fit with Justin Dauer

046: Good Design Favors the Curious with Joe Johnston

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

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

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

Continue reading 046: Good Design Favors the Curious with Joe Johnston

Cultivating a Creative Culture with Justin Dauer

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Cultivating a Creative Culture with Justin Dauer
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Cultivating a Creative Culture with Justin Dauer

  • Cultivating-A-Creative-Culture-by-Justin-Dauer-Book
  • Buy the Book

    Buy Justin’s great book through my Amazon affiliate link, and help User Defenders at no additional cost to you. Win/win!

    Buy the Book

“We create human-centered interactions and experiences in our field. Empathetic purpose drives our every decision. Mobile First? In reality, it’s humans first. This same mentality, turned inward, forms the cornerstone of something amazing: a creative culture.

Whether in a leadership role or as a member of the team, it’s a fact: a happy and well-supported employee is a fueled, charged, inspired creator.” – Excerpt from Cultivating a Creative Culture

Justin and I dive deep into the problems with creative cultures today. He answers important questions like:

  • What problems are you seeing in creative workplace cultures today?
  • What are the best questions you’ve found to ask to get a strong feel of the culture in an interview?
  • What are some clear indicators that it’s time to leave?
  • Can a creative not in senior leadership working in an awful culture actually affect change in their workplace?
  • Much more…

Where we hang our hat every day is one of the most important decisions in life. Unless we’re remote, we’ll spend more time at work than at home with our loved ones. If we find ourselves in a place that doesn’t trust, or value us or our contributions, and in fact may even be abusive in dealings with us–the stress could actually eventually kill us.

I’m very proud of this episode. If it helps even one of you Defenders avoid the pain of an unhealthy culture, and pushes you to as Justin says, “never settle” in your quest to find the culture that helps you thrive as a creative person–then whatever level of discomfort it may bring listening, was all worth it.

As Justin says in his essential book, “The passion for doing your best work is too precious to be extinguished by an unhealthy culture.”


LINKS
Justin’s Website
Justin’s Twitter
[ARTICLE] Resetting Agency Culture
[ARTICLE] Don’t Be Culture-Clubbed

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ABOUT JUSTIN
Justin Dauer is a passionate user advocate, designer, writer, and denim elitist from Chicago. Through bloodshot tunnel vision, he’s drawn from career experiences across agency side, client side, design studio, and pure tech to foster healthy, dynamic, supportive creative cultures. Crafting as the Vice President of UX & Development for bswift by day, his personal creative outlet by night (and day) is pseudoroom which also happens to be his Twitter handle. He eats a bowl of cereal every night before bed. Every. Night.


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Editing by Chris Combs