• Your unique you

    I have a unique way of designing. I’ve rarely seen it used by others, and early on my in career I thought it meant I was broken; that I just wasn’t getting it and doing things the professional way.

    Now I’m so glad for my slightly different process, and I’m incredibly comfortable in it. It’s flexible, it allows me to think the way I need to think, and it helps teams get results. 

    If you find yourself looking around and wondering if you’re broken, if everyone else is right and you must be wrong—frankly that just might be the case and you need to change, I’ve changed my mind lots of times—but sometimes it means you have something special you should hold to and allow it to grow and blossom. 

  • Procrastinate, do it now

    You really do have too much to do. Prioritization might be best in theory, but plain, gut-feel procrastination might be the right way to go. 

    I love this way of thinking. I struggle with this immensely. I’m incredibly productive at times, and also let things drop for months on end. The trick to procrastination is to also not feel guilty about the things you’re letting go. If you figure that out please let me know. 

    An important meeting turns out to be unimportant. The email you didn’t answer resolved itself.

    If you can set aside the little things and focus on a thing or two that matters then you’ll come alive and find meaning in the few essential things you say yes to. 

    Even something critical like accounting can be put off. Late fees, lost receipts, penalties from the IRS: financial burdens more than compensated by additional revenue gained by signing up one more customer.

    Not offering any tax or financial advice here, but I love this take. Focusing on more, on the critical thing you can do, instead of all the draining things that sap your focus? That sounds thrilling. 

    Companies succeed because they got just a few things really right, not because they had no problems, no bugs, no design flaws, and perfect books.


    (Via A Smart Bear)

  • Zoomed in and out

    “We are still majority-remote, but I think a lot of people forget our many products and solutions that are only designed for in-office work.”

    What products are they talking about? Have you met anyone who knows a Zoom tool for in-office use?

    So Saxon and his C-level peers told workers that if they live within 50 miles of a Zoom office, they must come in two days a week, structured according to team.

    I’ve worked with team members who were required to go into the office because of their promiximity to the company’s commercial real esate. The result? They sat in Zoom meetings, alone, and talked to me on Zoom in my home office hundreds of miles away.

    The colleagues they worked with were not in the same office, same floor, or even in the same state.

    Gone are the days of every team member sitting in a war room, wrestling things together.

    Sure, this can be done, it has been done, and I was part of it in the past. But you immediately run into a limitation when you require a 50 mile radius for your team. People leave, move on, find better work, their partners or children need to relocate; life happens.

    Locking a team member to a locality forces a harsh decision on their part. Eventually something comes up and they may need to relocate.

    One company I worked with could not find anyone in their locality, and had to open up for remote to a specific type of role. The result? They found what they needed by opening up the range.

    So, how do you solve the issue of wanting people to be together in person? Invest in your team, fly them all to one location a few times a year. It’s amazing how a few days can bring so much benefit to cohesion and connection. You don’t need to be locked in a room together for years to get the benefit of in-person time.

    Then there’s Saxon himself, who works fully remotely from Austin. “I think I can manage people at Zoom effectively while working fully remotely,”

    Does this person hear themself? The absolute hyporcisy of this statement.

    Those two in-office days for local workers are filled with meaningful in-person work, like training and all-hands meetings, with a simple after-work drink added in. “But I don’t think people need that all the time,” Saxon noted. “A sprinkle of in-person work every so often can really help, but again, we found people coming into the office to do their individual contributor work. In that case, there’s no real difference if you’re sitting on a Zoom call.”

    This isn’t about cohesion and connection. This is about control. Let people meet up when smaller teams need it; not at the top-down behest of a disconnected executive; that’s not how great work gets done.

    “When we had a more laissez-faire approach to coming in on certain days, it was sub-optimized, and we heard that from employees. So we said, ‘Okay, well, let’s try this different model.’ I think it’s been a good success.”

    Success from what metric? This is absolutely ridiculous. Either people are doing a great job or they’re not. Their in-person time, mandated by someone who wants to see butts in seat, has little to do with performance.

    It feels like Zoom is trying to have it both ways.

    I know I’ve just spoken to the positives of remote; there are also positives to in-person. Depending on your stage of career, life, or personality, being in the same room with others may be the perfect thing that you need. But it doesn’t work for everyone, and by mandating who goes where when you’re guaranteeing that you’ll limit who you keep around.

    (Via Fortune | Apple News)

  • Intuit layoffs

    Today we will be communicating to approximately 1,800 employees, which is 10% of our workforce, that they will be leaving Intuit.

    Intuit letting 1,800 people go.

    we will hire approximately 1,800 new people primarily in engineering, product, and customer facing roles such as sales, customer success, and marketing.

    Intuit firing 1,800 people. 

    We’ve significantly raised the bar on our expectations of employee performance, resulting in approximately 1,050 employees leaving the company who are not meeting expectations

    I’m incredibly torn on this news. On the one hand, mass layoffs suck for all those involved, and cause so much chaos within the organization. Also, the metrics used for letting that many people go are (in my experience) are iffy at best. The way information and ability of individuals gets communicated at such a large organization is challenging and so much gets missed. 

    This reminds me of the time Steve Jobs returned to Apple and realized they had incredible talent in various areas of the company, but the folks were limited in their ability to do anything because of poor leadership.

    How does a company know that hundreds of people are a poor fit? The ability for politics and posturing to get in the way is far too easy. 

    On the other hand Intuit is offering (for US Employees at least) 16 weeks of paid leave and 6 months of health insurance. That’s better than I would have expected. 

    I’ll be really curious to see where Intuit takes things, where they grow, and what they build as a result of this change. 

    (Via Intuit)

  • The Joy of Reading Books You Don’t Entirely Understand

    In recent years, I feel like it has been less common to find books to challenge me, and by me I mean their readers, and by “books” what I really mean is “publishing,” which can feel very focused on the sure thing, the brand name, the splashy debut that somehow speaks to millions and millions of people.

    In the last few years I’ve taken to re-reading books I love. I first saw a friend doing this and couldn’t understand why he’d go back to a book if he already knew the ending. Now I realize why. 

    Re-reading a book is like re-discovering a lost friend. You know you enjoyed spending time together, and are excited to catch up. When I go back over the pages of a novel, or even one of my favorite books to re-read, I know it will end up in a place I’m happy with, but I’ve forgotten just enough details for it to be interesting again. 

    But I still want to advocate for sometimes, at least sometimes, going out on a limb, out on a genre vacation, or just out into the wilds of a tale you don’t feel like you entirely understand. 

    Diving into the unknown with books that are uncertain is daunting; and I’m hesitant to go away from what I know. Still, as someone who has written a few weird, but hopefully delightful, books, I love the idea of giving other authors a chance and going on journeys of discovery with them. 

    (From Molly Templeton at Reactor)

  • Writing stacks

    Butter for drafting, Linear for managing projects and to-dos, and Readwise for wrangling research material. The glue that holds them together is the universal “command-K” shortcut.

    I love learning about the other process of writers, how they work through things, and ultimately the tools they use for their craft. 

    Joan’s process is much more methodical than my approach, but I could see changing things up if I keep writing at the pace I’ve been doing lately. 

    Note: I’ve also never seen a writer using Linear. I associate it closely with a tool for work at my day job, but it may be worth trying for personal things. 

    (Via Westenberg)

  • Sharing without spoiling

    It’s fun to get and receive recommendations from friends, and the highest praise is when someone lets you know they appreciated the thing you recommended. 

    Inveitably you come across a great movie, show, or book. You want to share with a friend just enough to get them excited, but don’t want to give away the plot. 

    To get around this I’ve leaned on sharing my emotions in consuming a particular piece of media, giving examples of other types of things its similar to, or spoiling the first 10% or so. 

  • Debt jubilee

    Debt, not barter, is the true origin of money.

    Admittedly my understanding of money is limited. But I’d love to learn more. Much of my initial journey into money and its uses came from listening to Dave Ramsey, reading his books and helping facilitate his courses, twice. 

    I then ignored everything from him for a decade and recently popped back in to see what he’s been up to. I realize that there’s been a divergence in how I think about money now, but I don’t feel anywhere near qualified enough to understand what the divergence is. 

    I imagine the core nugget comes from the idea that debt can be useful, an idea that was enathema to everything I learned from Dave’s stuff. 

    I’ve been curious to read a book on the topic, so found this article on debt jubilee fascinating. 

    For the corporate person, shedding debts through bankruptcy is an honorable practice. Far from being a source of shame, the well-timed, well-structured bankruptcy is just evidence of financial acumen.

    I love the contrast this article paints between how corporate entities can work with debt and money, but it’s quite different for smaller individuals. 

    if we accept the jubilee view – that debt is the result of accumulated misfortunes, often including the misfortune of birth into poor station – then bankruptcy represents a second chance with an opportunity to dodge misfortune.

    I’ve been lucky (or blessed?) to avoid massive misfortune up to this point in my life. But some of my beloved friends and family have not, and I really appreciate this take that it’s not a moral failure. It’s that life is messy and sometimes doesn’t work. 

    After people are given the benefits of bankruptcy, they are less likely to rely on public benefits. They get better jobs. Their families live better lives. Their creditors get some of their money back (which is all they can realistically expect, since “debts that can’t be paid, won’t be paid”).

    If this data is correct that’s a beautiful story of the jubilee working for some people. 

    (Via Pluralistic)

  • Journaling to avoid oversharing

    Journaling helps me resist the dopamine-driven cycle of social media sharing. When I post on social media, I get an immediate hit of validation in the form of likes, comments, and shares. It’s the craving for dopamine and attention that keeps me coming back to social media, constantly checking for updates and looking for my next hit of validation.

    What a beautiful take on this idea. I, along with most people I know at this point, struggle with the balance of how much versus how little to share. 

    Not every idea is a winner; most aren’t. But I want to capture and create and find a way to capture my ideas. 

    I’ve struggled with journaling every since I was able to write. Mainly in that I didn’t know what to do with it; always quitting after a few days or weeks of trying. 

    The most delightful time ever, though, was when I wrote every day for three years (6 days a week); rain or shine, most of it in the form of novels, but some just spitting out ideas. It was a lot of fun and I wish I was still doing it. 

    Also, when will Apple release Journal for Mac? 

    (Via Joan Westenberg)

  • Anything can be something

    I’m amazed every day by great writers. They take an idea, sometimes rather obscure or plain, and give it an angle or lens that makes me rethink the whole idea. 

    I’m trying to get better at that myself. Too many times I’ve passed on an article idea because it seemed uninteresting. Now I’m testing, learning, and attempting to have interesting takes on things. 

    I’d encourage you to do the same. Not everything is a winner, trying is worth it. 

  • When you’ve lost your list

    Years ago I kept a list of my todos in a Field Notes notebook. I carried it around in my back pocket and loved having my list available to review and edit. 

    At the time my oldest was a toddler, and as curious as toddlers are he was fascinated in my notebook. In an instant he grabbed it and dropped it into the filled-with-water bathroom sink. 

    In a second I saw weeks worth of tasks disappearing before my eyes. I panicked, realizing that my carefully thought out plans for that day, as well as upcoming tasks for the days and weeks ahead, could be lost instantly. 

    Thankfully, I was able to dry out the notebook; and despite some pen smudging, recover all the data. 

    That, though, cemented in my mind the importance of trusting my systems and knowing that when I recorded something I’d have a means of knowing my task was properly sorted. 

    This is why I’ve switched todo and note systems over the years. At one point I was an avid user of Evernote; but due to some issues with syncing I couldn’t trust that my notes were safe. I had the same with Apple Notes at one point and moved exclusively to Bear Notes for years because of this. 

    For the last few months I’ve kept a list of every article idea I wanted to write, and dutifully crossed off items once I’ve written (or decided not to) write on a specific topic. 

    Last week I made a mistake on the Apple Note that holds the main list of article todos. I didn’t realize the mistake until I’d gone too far to undo. As a result I now have a list of hundreds of article ideas, a certain percentage of which are things I’ve already written on. 

    I’ve attempted to search up each item and cross reference against my past list of articles. However, it’s not as easy as I would expect, and I’d rather spend time writing new content than verifying against old content. 

    So, if over the next few months you see a repeat of an idea I’ve written on before, please forgive it and hopefully my new take is better than my first! I’m going to move on and let go a little, trusting that even though my system broke down a little, on the whole it has more value than not. 

  • False bottoms and false promises

    Next time you buy a single serving of yogurt reach under and feel the false bottom dipping upward into the plastic cup. 

    That? It reveals a lie, a breaking of promises, a tiny crack in the dam of food inflation that’s pouring out around us. 

    Once you see it it’s impossible to unsee. Nearly everything you buy in the store, especially if it’s a plastic container, has a false bottom; lying to us about the size of what we’re about to buy. 

    I get that revenue would likely drop if products showed their true size, but now that I’ve seen it I can’t unsee it, and the moment I find a product that’s true to size I will happily buy it instead. 

  • Everyone Into The Grinder

    Rich kids should go to public schools. The mayor should ride the subway to work. When wealthy people get sick, they should be sent to public hospitals. Business executives should have to stand in the same airport security lines as everyone else. The very fact that people want to buy their way out of all of these experiences points to the reason why they shouldn’t be able to.

    I’m sort of burying the fantastic lede of this article, but a point that stood out to me is how this applies to designers who are responsible for building apps. 

    If we’re not actually using the app in the normal course of our lives, we don’t feel the pain of people who are trying to navigate our designs as a very real part of what they are trying to do each day. 

    For instance, I’ve helped design and build apps that were quite far from anything I’d have used were I not working on the app. 

    The best way I’ve found to understand the pain and challenges of real people is to ask them, talk to them, watch them use the app, and use those learnings to improve, circle back around, and ask them again. 

    (Via How Things Work)

  • AI and Design

    AI doesn’t need to be as good as the best designer. There are plenty of people in the bottom 50th percentile to snack on.

    Someone shouldn’t have to be exceptional in their field to have stability; but sadly, I expect the job pool for early-career designers, production designers, and others to continue getting tighter.

    A grim, but realistic outlook on the whole AI and design situation we’re facing. 

    Over the last year we’ve seen AI take over technology and media by storm. It’s the number one topic that startups are discussing. Any discussions of crypto have long been shuttered. 

    I’ve been wrestling with the news from Config last month, and trying to find peace with it all. As Myke Hurley and Federico opined on Connected, I think people who are more advanced in their careers; or have a built-in audience, will be ok with the rapid transition of AI eating the world. 

    But that doesn’t help the rest of us, the new entrants, the career transitioners looking to get into creative fields like design. 

    What happens if the bottom 50% of designers; the juniors, have nothing available for them to get started? My first few years of design were not great, but I had fantastic taste and continued to chase it until my abilities started to catch up. 

    If you’re a tech optimist, you see the march of technology as a good thing. Sure, jobs are lost, but new things are created and new opportunities are unearthed; ready to be siezed by anyone open. 

    But, so many get lost along the way. Is that worth it? 

    The blank canvas is intimidating for sure; but it’s also an opportunity to consider what you are about to make, where you should start, and what belongs on the canvas at all. To skip ahead to decisions in reaction to an AI’s output is to sacrifice all of the possible insights, ideas, and small decisions the process of “getting started” engenders.

    The struggle of designing is, for many, the joy of designing. I love to sketch through ideas, to wrestle with a blank page, to look at dozens of great designs from others and conjur my own into being through lines on a page. I don’t want to give this up to AI, I want to keep doing this on my own. I have to wonder if that will become a relic. 

    (Via Jovo)

  • Finding a voice

    I absolutely love a voice that has a take, an opinion, standing for something. I’m not specifically talking about political takes, although those do matter. What I’m talking about is the individual tastes and opinions that make up a person and come out in their writing, speaking, and creativity. 

    It’s hard to get this from larger forms of media. Often that voice gets sanitzed and ground down. The goal at a larger organization, of course, is to have everyone in the org speak with one voice; but the reality is a dullness that is often uninteresting. 

    This is why I love forms of media such as individual blogs or small podcasters. That person has developed a way of thinking and sharing; often through years of feedback and pushback, and has used that to continue sharing with their own opinions and biases built in. 

    This is delightful, and the reason why I’ve stuck with some authors and podcasters for years (and in some case approaching decades). 

    For several years I made myself write 1,000 words each day (with Saturdays being my exception). Most days my thoughts turned to drivel. It wasn’t worth much. But in the constant practice, and in reading and watching others to learn how to improve, something changed. I started to develop a take on things, a voice, a way of thinking.

    Now; I feel an absolute novice if I compare to others. But that isn’t the point. We can each contribute something beautiful that will benefit at least one person. Our job, then, is to learn how to do that the best way we know how, improve with feedback, and find joy in the sharing. 

  • Logging our creativity

    And funnily enough, I only really recognize where the balance stands after the fact. In the moment, it all just feels very natural, like I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to do. So I’m going to keep doing it – and, of course, tracking it. If any other interesting insights come up from my creativity log, I’ll be sure to share them.

    I love this idea from Devon. He’s taking notes of what he does throughout the day and writing that down. I’ve tried similar things over the years, including a colored chart for three months where I captured my emotions. 

    In my experience, the benefit of this seems to come from the mere fact of doing it. I haven’t really found a great way to  use the data after the fact, but it gave me a positive mental boost along the way. 

    (Via Devon Dundee)

  • Apple Watch, a smart delight

    I’ve been wearing an Apple watch for a year and a half now. Before that I’d tried other watches but none stuck. 

    Nearliy every other wrist band Item I’ve tried before hasn’t worked. 

    Fitbits were a great idea, and I tried several. But they were never useful enough relative to the annoyance of carrying them and changing out the batteries. 

    I’ve had some nice and cheap digital watches in the past, but found the faces to be ugly, and my wrist was always between two notches in the band size. I have the same problem with belts. 

    Ben’s journey into exploring dumb watches had me thinking about the pros of an Apple Watch. 

    First, Apple absolutely nailed the band. If a band has notches it just won’t work for me. Perhaps I’m too fastidious, but I can’t relax without the band being at the perfect fit. 

    I will only wear a band that has infinite adjustment. 

    Second, I can’t use an analog watch face. I’ve tried. My brain just doesn’t grok the time in an instant. I find myself panicking to understand the time if I’m in a presure to make a decision. It can take me a full 3-10 seconds to figure out what time an analog clock is saying.

    A digital dumb watch doesn’t have tha tproblem, but all the ones I’ve seen are ugly. 

    I also keep my Apple Watch as dumb as I can. I turn off all notifications, make heavy use of smart stacks (greatly improved in iOS 18), and love the complications. 

  • Laptop tape

    If you’ve ever had the problem of a laptop (especially a slick aluminum MacBook) not staying on your lap, do yourself a favor and buy a roll of CatTongue Grips

    It’s the first thing I put on a new laptop (well other than critical software

    I know, I know. Ergonomically we shouldn’t work with a laptop longterm. It’s bad for the shoulders and neck. That’s why I alternate between a laptop stand at a desk and kicking it back on a reclining chair. 

    This tape is fantastic. On the one side it’s rubbery (but doesn’t leave any residude on your clothes), and it stays pretty well stuck to the metal of the laptop. A side benefit is it’s easier to hold onto the slab of metal when you’re slinging it into a bag. 

  • Choose kindness

    It’s more important now than ever, being in a mostly remote world, to practice kindness and empathy, as you never really know what someone is going through.

    This week, more than ever, we can be kind. 

    (Via JEDDACP)

  • Space and freedom

    Some of us have been holding on so tightly for so long that we don’t even remember how it feels to let go.

    In my calmer moments I’m able to see the need for breathing, opening up, allowing my senses to flood my brain, and finding space for something greater then myself. This is a good reminder. 

    (Via Nathan Peterson)