UX Cambridge - Human-Centered Design Leadership

Thank you for coming to my workshop on Human-Centered Design Leadership! I've included slides to the talk for those who asked and appreciate any feedback you may have on it!


Going across the pond twice for conferences

I'm going to be heading across the pond twice in the next few weeks for two conferences I'm really excited about. Next week, I'm thrilled to be back at UX Cambridge for the third year and will be doing a workshop on an introduction to design leadership. This is similar to the one I did in UX Scotland and targeting towards new managers or people considering design leadership.

In October I'll be at UXDX in Dublin and speaking on prototyping towards the product vision and how Integrated UX can help you get there.

Hope to see some of you there!

The Twitter Solution

It's been about four months since I deleted my Facebook account. The driving-force was really my desire to spend more time creating content vs. consuming it, and so far it's helped tremendously.

As I seek other places where I can optimize, Twitter is the next one I am considering. This one is a bit harder for me than Facebook, which is a platform I'm not too keen about. Twitter in a lot of ways changed my life. I've been on it for ten years and made so many great friends, professional connections, and yes, even met significant others from it. In fact, all of my best friends in Lower Pacific Heights in San Francisco are friends I met on Twitter. I owe the platform a lot for that.

However, times have changed. Twitter is no longer the spinoff of a side project at Odeo that had heaps of third party apps. It's a publicly traded company that is continuing to push generating revenue. Most importantly, there are a lot of issues with online harassment. I know that there are a lot of smart people working really hard to make Twitter better every day, and I love them for that. However, I've come to this conclusion.

I need a break from Twitter.

I'm not ready to completely delete it as I need more time to reflect, but have logged out of all accounts. For now, I'm going to focus more on indie blogging. For the service I'm using to aggregate content from my WordPress blog. If you haven't used it, give it a try. Manton Reece is a wonderful human being and taking on an ambitious initiative.

I use my micro blog similar to how I used to use Tumblr (which I've now deleted since the Oath acquisition); publishing raw thoughts, photos, and other randomness.

Please join me on my indie blog as I'd love to continue the conversation over there for now.

Aes Dana - Memory Shell

When it comes to music that helps me work, I really like any electronic with limited (or no) lyrics to focus and have a high-tempo rhythm. I really recommend Aes Dana's album "Memory Shell". I think "Opalin" is my favorite track on it.

An Introduction to Technology Experience Prototyping - UX Scotland

Thank you to those who attended our workshop at UX Scotland! Slides are available here on my GitHub.

If you have any questions or simply want to stay in touch, you can reach us at:



Human-Centered Design Leadership - UX Scotland

Yesterday I had the opportunity to do a work shop at UX Scotland about Human-Centered Design Leadership. I am truly honored to spend the whole afternoon with a group of experienced and new design leaders talking about some of the challenges and rewards of it.

You can get the slides here

The lesson of patience and relinquishing control in watercolor painting

This weekend I was in Los Angeles visiting someone. They are a fellow art school grad and we reminisced about those days since we have mutual friends. Those who know me later in life might not know that I studied Studio Art in college with a focus in Drawing and Painting. I declared my major before I even step foot on campus and knew that's what I would pursue.

The studio was my social space and educational space. I spent countless hours there. Our curriculum required us to take a foundation class of every focus area, but oil painting was my favorite. What I love about oil paint is that you could paint alla prima (wet on wet). This means you can just manipulate the paint to essentially do whatever you want. I loved it because it provided full control.

Watercolor, on the other hand, felt like the opposite. I took one watercolor class in college and struggled with it. I have not been known for my patience, and having to build up layers of washes to create form was really frustrating for me. It was the only watercolor class I took during my four years there (though my professor is awesome).

After graduating with a BFA, I took a year to really focus on my artwork. My intent was to get into graduate school to pursue my MFA. I ended up getting into the California College of the Arts (CCA), but deferred. During that time a certain device came out that pivoted my career to focus on design. It was called the iPhone.

Years later I find myself occasionally getting a spark of inspiration to make art again. Living in San Francisco, I have a much more condensed space so I don't have a studio where I can have my giant oil paintings anymore. I ended up at the Blick Art Supply store one day after a great dinner at the House of Prime Rib. I thought to myself, "why not? and picked up some water colors and walnut ink (a medium I adore). My life is now constrained where I compose pieces that are walnut ink and watercolor on paper.

Heads down in work with the same type of iPod classic that I used to listen to in college.

To my surprise, I really enjoyed watercolors now. What changed after more than a decade to make me like watercolors? My life.

The things that used to frustrate me about watercolors now became something I took advantage of. Instead of complaining about the slow dry times and inability to control, I let the watercolors control me and let it guide me. It helped me uncover a lot of directions I wouldn't have approached, such as layering watercolor over the dry walnut ink.

My role in design is a lot different than when the iPhone came out. I am now a leader of designers and don't do much actual design work myself, but rather get the opportunity to see my team do great work and grow. The change from an individual contributor designer to leader was very much like my oil to watercolor process. In order to be successful with my team, I have to be patient, trust where the process is going, respond to it, and make brush strokes with deliberate intention.

Here is a work in progress (WIP) piece I'm doing. Be deliberate, trust the process, and be patient.

If you want to follow the progress I'll be posting it on my Microblog.

Goodbye to Facebook

It seems like just a few years ago when I was in college and my housemates were convincing me to sign up for Facebook. Of course then you had to go to to and see if your college had Facebook available. Like many, I have various opinions about Facebook itself as a social network and company. Last week, while my friend Brady was in town, I decided to delete Facebook; not deactivate, but delete.

There was no reason in particular, but everything in general. When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced Congress on his booster seat, I'm certain many people felt compelled to delete their accounts in the name of privacy and security. For me, it wasn't a single event, but a decision over time. I reflected for a long time about what my "reason" was for leaving.


I simply need more clarity, and removing Facebook was just one of many things I could have done. I will admit, when I posted on Facebook that I intend on terminating my account, a few people who I rarely heard from posted comments about how they'll miss following my updates. I was a bit shocked that so many people were paying attention. Some people simply want to passively be kept in the loop with updates, and that's okay. If I had to be completely honest I re-considered deleting my account, but when my friend Brady came in town to stay with me, that re-affirmed my decision.

Brady is a friend I've known since 6th grade. It's very rare to find friends who've known you for so long and see you change as a human. We spent a lot of moments on the weekend having deep conversations about love, our future plans, and our passion for making/creating. I never would have engaged with him like this on Facebook.

It's not possible to have that deep of conversation with everyone you know, but there was something about the quality of the conversation that I really appreciated.

This isn't a Medium post about why you should delete your Facebook account, but simply sharing my reason and to assure my friends it wasn't something they did. I'm really looking forward to the clarity I'm seeking. For example, I probably never would have taken the time to write this and would have been scrolling through Facebook. I hope my friends continue to follow my adventures and engage in conversation, but I'm just doing it a bit more old school with blogging and RSS. It truly will bring a smile to my face to see comments here.

It just won't be on Facebook.