What is the book you’ve given most as a gift?
In a UX / business context, it’s Sarah Winter’s (formerly Richards) book Content Design. It’s newish. More than just about content, it’s a primer on user-centred design and how to think about it in organisations. It’s also very nicely typeset.
But in real life, it’s Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. I’ve bought and replaced this about a dozen times over the years.
What purchase of €100 or less has impacted mostly in your life?
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?
Failure hurts more than winning feels good. Sometimes in business, it’s not just failing; it’s the public-ness of failing. It’s like walking around with toilet paper on your shoe; everyone sees it. But you know what, everyone’s had toilet paper stuck to their shoe at some point.
So understanding that failure can hurt, but (in most cases) it’s temporary, is key to building resilience and the confidence to try things without worrying about it going wrong.
Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?
My friend’s dad used to say this to employees in his butcher shop: ”The first time you do something wrong, it’s not a mistake; it’s a lesson. The second time it’s a mistake.”
I have another one: “Don’t panic. Plan.” That’s mine.
What are the best investments you’ve ever made?
My camera and making an effort to go out and get shots.
What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
I play role-playing games (not dungeons and dragons, but something similar).
What new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?
I’m an optimist. This means I’m terrible at time management. I always think I’ll get things done quicker. So my big behaviour change is adopting a time management system where I plan out everything I think I can get done in a day. Then I half it. And that’s usually about right. It’s game-changing. I’m considering writing a book on it.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student?
Hard skills are important, and they’ll get you noticed. But soft skills build careers. Invest in them early.
What have you become better at saying no to in the last five years?
Projects that don’t fit our sweet spot. Turning down work is incredibly hard, but the more we do that, the stronger we get as a specialist UX studio.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
Clean my desk. Make a new to-do list. Nap.