Thoughts and articles about design, digital era and more…
The middle stretch of a journey is when the exciting moment of idea conception gives way to the long, slow, trying slog to the finish line. The promise of a fresh start is behind you, and the end far, far away. Volatility feels like the only constant. Each high—Yes! Champagne! $$$!—seems to be met by a heart-breaking low—Ouch! Rough! What happened?!
It’s this part of the journey where investor, entrepreneur, and co-founder of 99U and Behance, Scott Belsky, has directed his new book, The Messy Middle. Belsky’s insights are meant for people embarking on a creative project, whether they are founders, entrepreneurs, designers, or artists. The Messy Middle is a guidebook for navigating the time when you start to lose hope and become overwhelmed with self doubt.
Belsky, now Adobe’s Chief Product Officer, sat down with 99U to discuss what we misjudge about the middle part of a journey, the two most important characteristics for building something, and to share his lessons from The Messy Mid..
I was five the first time I went to vote, excited for a field trip with my dad that conflicted with bed time. The polling place was a school gym. The room echoed with the clunk of machine levers as each vote was cast, and I munched on brownies from the bake sale set up in the lobby. That visit, which was repeated each election throughout my childhood, made it statistically far more likely that I would become a regular voter myself. Many people aren’t exposed to the voting process at a young age, and millions never make it to the polls.
Whitney Quesenbery and Dana Chisnell, co-founders of The Center for Civic Design, are focused on those people: where they fall off the voter journey, and how to get them back on. So they’ve set out to bring UX strategies to the myriad systems of local, state, and federal election offices, using human centered design thinking to shepherd citizens through the registration process to the moment they mark their choice on the ballot.
Chisnell and Quesenber..
Getting started in your creative career is tough. You’ve got boatloads of ambition and energy, but you lack experience, the kind of knowledge that feels like you can see into the future because you’ve been there before. So we’ve introduced a new column that will allow you to get the benefit of hindsight before you’ve actually gone through the experience. Welcome to “The First Five Years” where Mitch Goldstein, a professor of design at Rochester Institute of Technology, answers reader questions related to the unchartered waters of beginning a career. This month, Mitch answers a question about how to determine, and maximize, your first salary.
Q. Should I try to negotiate the salary of my first job? Knowing what your first job should pay is challenging: this number will vary wildly depending on geography, industry, studio size, studio clientele, and so on. Make sure to do some online research first (a good start is searching for “junior designer salary” in the city you are looking at)...
The idea of trading stocks, for many people, triggers a porcupine-like reaction. It’s too complicated, too expensive, and the platforms that allow you do it feel straight out of the early 2000s.
That’s why Robinhood has had such success. Since launching in 2015, the millennial-friendly investing app has accumulated more users than E-Trade and is valued at nearly $6 billion. Where its competitors charge trading fees, Robinhood charges nothing for trades and a key part of its success lies in its clean, easy-to-use interface, which has been recognized in its own right; in 2015, Robinhood became the first financial services company to win an Apple Design Award.
Alex Bond, 29, is the senior product designer at the Silicon Valley-based startup. After studying fine arts and graphic design at Colorado State University, she went on to hold several design jobs before spending two years at Pinterest. From there, venture capital firm Sequoia Capital brought her on as the firm’s 2016 Design Fello..
In the process of building a business—and in life, generally—you should manage expenses carefully. But sometimes frugality backfires.
For example, given that you spend 30 percent of your life in bed and that sleep has such a great impact on how you feel awake, you should not skimp on your bed. Same goes with your office chair: In this modern age, we often even spend more time sitting at our desks than lying in our beds! So go buy the best damn chair you can find. Beyond your chair, the overall work space matters. While I am certainly not a proponent of expensive offices, the thought you put into the tools and environment you use to build things influences the quality of what you make.
Most companies classify their spaces the same way they do office supplies: negligible. Facilities planners tend to focus on the cost per square foot and logistical efficiencies rather than how space impacts the psychology of its inhabitants. But how you locate and design your space is as important as yo..
IDEO Fellow Ingrid Fetell Lee is a purveyor of joy. Not just with her buoyant personality and quickdraw collection of delightful stories. Her blog, The Aesthetics of Joy, collects the sights, sounds, sunflowers, and playground slides that can brighten a room, buoy a mood, and reinvigorate a community.
Now, Fetell Lee has curated that project into a book, Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. In each chapter, Fetell Lee explores delight-inducing characteristics like abundance, harmony, and surprise and the creatives who have prioritized the benefits of joyful aesthetics in their homes, work, and communities.
99U sat down with Fetell Lee to talk about the origins of Joyful, how aesthetics impact our work performance, and how you’ve been thinking about your favorite color all wrong.
The Aesthetics of Joy started while you were a grad student at Pratt. What was the origin of the project?
I went into Pratt with very serious intentions. I..
Beth Comstock wrote Imagine It Forward for one pressing reason. “We need more people in our organizations who are leading with imagination,” she says.
It’s a call to action any creative can agree with. As the machine mind squeezes imagination out of our organizations, we’ve all got to partake in a creative revolution. “The future depends on it,” says Comstock.
Imagine It Forward is about more than navigating organizational change. Comstock shares her personal career story, as she rises from leading NBC’s corporate communications department to becoming GE’s Chief Marketing Officer, then, ultimately, GE’s Vice Chair. One theme throughout is Comstock’s “job crafting”—taking on new responsibilities in current roles that paved the way for her to take on the next role. “I’ve done it in almost every job I’ve had because I am curious,” she says. “My best example is when I went into marketing at GE.”
At GE then, marketing was seen as what you do at the end of a product cycle. “A group of us ..
“You need to sit still up there.”
I panicked. It was years ago, and for 30 straight minutes, I’d been listening to a veteran public speaker tear apart a video of my latest performance on stage. As a newer speaker on the circuit, I’d asked him what best practices he could share with me. His biggest and most poignant yet was the idea of “blocking,” or intentional movement.
“Try to establish one side of the stage as the place where bad stuff happens in your stories, and the other side where good stuff happens. Then walk there, stop, and make your point. You need to sit still more.”
Uh oh. Understand: I’m Italian-American. I’m also kinda, let’s just say, “enthusiastic.” (That’s how you’d describe a squirrel after six espressos, right?) “Standing still” ain’t exactly my thing. It may not even be physically possible. I speak so much with my hands that if they stopped moving, I think I’d just stop talking. But I thought, okay, that’s the best practice, and so that’s what I need to do to ..
From Airbnb to Pinterest, more and more designers are launching and leading companies, and many are doing it without traditional business experience or backgrounds. Instead, they’re learning how to build a business while building their businesses. Two such entrepreneurs are Design Army co-founder Pum Lefebure and Jesse Genet, the CEO of product packaging company Lumi, who will share their experiences during an October 15 Adobe MAX session hosted by 99U.
Ahead of the panel, we’re reflecting on the lessons Lefebure and Genet have shared with us about becoming savvier entrepreneurs.
Don’t quit your day job too soon. Lefebure started Design Army with her husband Jake at their kitchen table with Lefebure also working her full-time job, so they could maintain their health insurance. Both regularly stayed up until 3 a.m. to get Design Army off the ground. They anticipated it would be two years before Design Army took off enough for Lefebure to leave her day job. It took four months. The tak..