Originally published in UX Collective here.
You’ll read this once and only once. This isn’t a plea or a treatise. It’s not my way of conjuring you into inviting me to come by your office and chat with the team. Though that may be wonderful! This is a outline of my thoughts after a friend and colleague asked me, “who do you want to work for?” . . .
You’ll have to have a smallish team. You actively recruit folks who want to build great things, be creative, have fun, take pride in what they are building as well as their culture. You expect people to make a difference and be compassionate. Emphasizing team work more than the ability to follow processes or navigate a bureaucracy.
You want to work with people who see their career as an opportunity. Growing up sitting on a porch watching thunderstorms in Oklahoma taught me not to let things pass by. As Dorothy experiences in the Wizard of OZ— everything that passes by is soon to be an opportunity. You want to create opportunity. You’re interested in creating leaders and engaging with anyone in an ongoing career as a chapter or the entire novel.
We’ll need to get along, as I have strong design opinions. Not unlike most people with a unusually high percentage of creativity flowing through their bloodstream, I can be determined! I have been humbled before and I expect I’ll continue to be. I can push limits and question boundaries, but always with the intention of improving them. In many cases I’ll ask for things that might disrupt a process or a particular groups routine. It’s my honest opinion that this is a key part of doing good interaction design. And often leads to greater, more actionable needs and insights. My experience has been that it helps teams I’ve worked with solve some of the more interesting problems instead of getting distracted by the nonstop rush of low hanging fruit.
You don’t mind if I wear Vans. I dig Vans. I don’t own one pair — I own like twenty. I buy the traditional canvas black ones about 3–4 times a year. It’s part of my thing, and I’ll probably wear them to meet you and your team. If you’d like for me to come in, that is. Like I said, that would be wonderful.
You’re eager to make things and grow. And you want your people to grow with you. Unlike many of my colleagues, I spent most of my twenties in one job. It was a small design firm employing two people. I worked there for about seven years and helped grow it from a garage to a downtown office— from a few years out of my undergrad until I took off for graduate school. The number one thing I learned from operating a small business is to never stop making stuff. For me making stuff will always be how I grow. Whether it’s learning something new or convincing a friend to let me build his photography website *again. You have to put your head down and keep coding, writing, creating, asking— making things is synonymous with growing.
We’ll want to share some values. Not all values. I worry that’s just as bad, actually. I don’t want us to look alike or act alike — even have similar hair cuts or favorite pants. I understand it happens though. The values I want us to share are a predisposition toward openness and the unfamiliar. Also a fierceness when sticking up for those that you’ll invite in to your cove. Genuinely having fun and being people focused. Asking that people actively try to live meaningful lives with activities and stability in family and relationships.
You’ll offer mentorship. I recently read about the CEO of a major bank receiving coaching from a lower ranking employee in their thirties. When approached about it the CEO said his “junior coach” shares a fresh viewpoint with him, and that it’s his most helpful mentor relationship. I’m a big believer in creative ways to ask for support. And mentorship has been the biggest contributor to my development. So much so, I recently wrote a bit about it.
You’ll share your opinion and sometimes we’ll disagree. Sharing is one of the most important things to having a great relationship. It’s dear to me. I think it’s the core ingredient to a good team and good problem solving. When ideas oppose one another there’s usually good reason, in design we call that an affordance, experimenting with that affordance is the crux of building a solution. And as someone who dedicated a year to civic tech, working with a Mayor in Albuquerque, I can tell you first hand that there is nothing more powerful than discourse and negotiation.
You’ll be stylish. Being fresh and hip is all about having your own groove, and I could care less what you drive or bike or wear. I’m simply talking about your own dance steps. You know the way you walk, talk, and show yourself as a business, product, or service. As you’re probably already aware, aesthetics weigh heavy on anyone of us poor slacks drawn to the field of design. And since I’ve been creating things in print and digital media for a quite a while, I definitely have a interest in compelling design details. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t not come by to meet the wonderful team because of bad design, I just might bring it up.
You’re not the completely silent type. I’m a share-er and I’m usually talkative. I’m all about being around, catching up, and helping people out. Some refer to this as extroversion… The way I see it, I’ve been listening and telling stories as part of my work for what seams like forever. As an aspiring filmmaker when I was in high school, to helping clients define their brands, to creating digital products at NFL Media. It’s where you’ll find my charm, and runs in the family of barbers I hail from.
You’re all about paying it forward. You will encourage me to teach what I have learned. To plant the seeds and sow them for another generation of designers and creatives. You’ll hold high the privilege of continuously sharing your industry insights and competitive knowledge through speaking and teaching. Worry not about protecting but instead connecting ideas. This ideology keeps me thirsty. Teaching is a constant reminder of what I don’t understand yet and the ways I have yet to grow.
You’ll say hi! I can best be contacted like this in the normal hours of pacific standard time as I live in Oakland, California. If you’re interested in learning more about my work you can visit my portfolio. If you think I’d be a good fit in a role you are or might be considering hiring a awesome designer like me for— I’d love talk to you and your wonderful team about it! You could be my next boss. Thanks for glancing at my ramblings!