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Me too! Designers Working in Xcode

My talk from Seattle Xcoders in April is up. As always, thank you for having me speak!

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Assembling Your Personal Board of Directors

It is quite common for a company to have a board of directors who act as representatives to stock holders.

I have written a lot about the importance of mentorship and these type of relationships to help you grow as a practitioner in your career, and there is no reason you should limit yourself to just one. As in other forms of relationships, you will find that you gravitate around certain people for specific things.

Assembling your own Board of Directors (BoD) for you as a person can be beneficial in getting the hard questions answered. Though family members and friends have good intentions when giving you advice, they can often be too affirming and support you in what you want to hear, and not necessarily what you need to hear. With your personal Board of Directors, these are (or should be) constructed with people who will give you a dose of reality in each of their respective practices.

An example of some people who sit in my personal BoD:

  • Adam: One of my best friends since I was 10 years old and former co-founder. He knows my habits personally and professionally and has a channel of communication with me that’s the realest.
  • Alan: The ex-Apple engineer and inventor who teaches me about shipping, ideas, discipline and getting things done.
  • Dylan: The UX Designer who used to teach web design/development. He encourages my writing and generously edits it.
  • Jaimee: A seasoned UX Director who expands beyond that. The person who really encourages me to speak at conferences and publicly share ideas.
  • Joris: My Dutch friend, a software engineer who chats with me about every month or so about our side projects.
  • Kimber: My new manager with industry knowledge of building and running product teams in the bay area. Not only do we have 1:1s professionally in my role but she gives amazing insights personally in my growth as well.
  • Marie: The first mentor who taught me the skills of design and has seen my progression from the very beginning. I go to Marie for everything but she has the most knowledge of my career historically.
  • Natalie: The proven executive and company builder who has really mentored The Rock Tumbler Collective and advices particularly on my innovation projects.
  • Laura: A former VP of Strategy who helps me focus on…surprise…the strategy of my career; where I am now, where I want to be, and how I position myself to get there.
  • Lesli: The Canadian Creative Director who I met sitting next to each other one day. A peer mentor who is going through similar growth challenges as I am now in a leadership role.
  • Rich: A former colleague and VP of Engineering. He loves to tinker, code, and has encouraged/helped me throughout my quest to write better Swift code.

(This is not everyone but a sampling of the range of conversations)

After reading that you may think, “Wow, that’s a litany of mentors.” It definitely is, and each person voluntarily shares so much value with me.

hangout_2
A Google Hangout with Lesli.

How to Assemble Your BoD

This is simpler than you may think. Design the structure around your BoD and it will take form. You can formally ask each person for their time, but I’ve often found these relationships form naturally. If they cannot commit to it, they will tell you or it will be very apparent. The cadence in which I meet each person varies on who they are, what they do, and what their schedule can be like.

Put it on the calendar: Treat your Personal BoD like a real board and make time for it other on the calendar. Otherwise it is at risk of getting pushed back or becomes secondary. The BoD provides value for you and your future so you must carve time to do it.

A conventional BoD typically meet synchronously, but it is not necessary in this instance. In fact, I do not think anyone in my Personal BoD has ever met one-another. Just know what information you want to tell them.

How you should meet with your BoD:

  • Set time to meet with them on a cadence. It can be quarterly, weekly, or even annually
  • Give a clear update of what you have been doing. This isn’t a time to impress anyone. Let them know what is going well and what is going bad
  • Ask for specific advice and insights about what you’re going through, and what your goals are
  • Take notes and write down your follow up plan. I like to write on physical paper and then add it in OmniFocus as an actionable item.
  • Most importantly, don’t waste their time. These people clearly are invested in you and care about you. Make sure you follow up and update them with what happens after you meet.

If you have a BoD, make sure they get a return on their investment. In this case, it is not financial (though it possibly could be), but the return is on you as a person. There is no gratification a seasoned vet in the industry gets more than seeing someone they coach and mentor grow exponentially.

Set the expectation for yourself, not that you’re afraid of letting them down, but strive to make them proud.

Who is on your Board of Directors? Is it time for you to reach out to people who you trust that will push you to get the best ROI on yourself?


It's Never Too Late

“Yeah, I'm losing my edge. I'm losing my edge. The kids are coming up from behind. I'm losing my edge.”

—“Losing My Edge” by LCD Soundsystem

In the closing talk of Webstock this year, Natasha Lampard, creator of this glorious experience, told a story about Paolo Nespoli, an Italian astronaut from Milan. As a child, Paolo dreamed of being an astronaut. Those dreams were put to rest when he joined the military. It wasn't until 1987 that he left the military and pursued his dreams of becoming an astronaut. Decades later, Paolo became an astronaut and finally went to space at the ripe young age of 50.

paolo

Dreams never die, but they often are buried—waiting for us to find them again, if ever. As we grow in our life they often get put under layers of obligation, new important things vying for our attention, and yes, sometimes toxic excuses as nails in the coffin of dreams. It’s never too late to start those dreams you had, learn something new, or changing your career.

“I’m too old", "I'm too busy", or "It's too late to get started." These words are echoed around us...sometimes by us.

Age is simply a number—a ring around the tree stump, telling how many times the earth has revolved around the sun in the duration of your existence.

Yet, it is often the comparative measuring stick comparison we use with ourselves in relation to those around us. As humans, we can’t help but think about age. It’s the stick in the ground that shows us how many years we have lived, and having us speculate how many we have left.

Not only is it intimidating enough to feel like we can't start something new because we are aging, but the next generation of young and talented humans apply even more pressure. I started at a young age in both my college education and design career. Then something happened. Suddenly, I was no longer the youngest. Now, I find myself introducing myself to designers and artists younger than me, with fresh experience.

“But I'm losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent. And they're actually really, really nice.”

It’s overwhelming and intimidating to see people younger than you achieve success in what you want at such a fast pace. It makes us scared of starting, because we feel younger people have so much time ahead of us.

The 30 under 30. 20 Under 20. Hey, the 10 Under 10? These people should be celebrated and commemorated, but often reading about early success discourages those who are feeling like they are losing their edge. Let us also remember to recognize those who spent their later years learning or starting something new.

In my 20s I had goals and aspirations to be 30 under 30, but it’s too late (and it is okay). The older I get, the more I seek longevity as a form of inspiration instead of early success.

Here are some examples of notable people who ended up finding success later on. (Note: if you are older than this, don't take it the wrong way. There are a few examples I was able to extract)

  • Amy Poehler didn’t start on SNL until she was 31
  • Vera Wang was a figure skater and fashion editor before becoming a designer at the age of 40
  • Harland (Colonel) Sanders founded Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 65
  • Paul Cezanne did not discover his painting style until he was 56 years old.
  • Stan Lee created The Fantastic Four at the age of 39
  • Henry Ford was 45 when he created the revolutionary Model T car.

I believe these people simply found success not because of when they started, but how: through focus, passion, discipline and the dedication to try to make it happen. As my boss says, don't create a sense of urgency but foster a sense of purpose, as she articulated so well in her post.

And for me, you may ask? What am I going to learn or start?

  1. I am going to learn how to make music on my computer
  2. I am going to learn how to prototype in Swift
  3. This year I started a new project called The Rock Tumbler Collective
  4. Going to spend more time photographing again

How about yourself? What are some things you've been wanting to do and start but have felt discouraged?

It's never too late.

--

Notes:

  • A big thank you to Michael Lopp for encouraging us to write in his talk "Fear is a Liar". I used the pen he gave me to write this post on the flight back from New Zealand.
  • Late Bloomers - Later in Life Success
  • Thank you, Natasha Lampard for another inspirational closing talk. I tell people that your talk alone is worth going to Webstock.

CocoaConf 2016 Cyber Monday Special

CocoaConf has announced a 20% discount on their blog for Cyber Monday for all 2016 events. I had the opportunity to speak last year and will be speaking again this year in Seattle. I've met some of my best friends at CocoaConf. You'll learn a lot, meet some great people and have a wonderful  time.

2016 Schedule:

Chicago, IL: March 25 – 26
Austin, TX: April 15 – 16
Seattle, WA: May 6 – 7
Washington, DC: September 9 – 10
San Jose, CA: November 4 – 5

Details on the promo code here: http://cocoaconf.com/blog/2016-us-tour


Profile Protoype Exploration

I love Principle for Mac. It has quickly become one of my favorite prototyping tools. I often use it really early on when exploring design concepts. This is an example of a profile study I put together to explore different interactions. You can try (and then buy!) Principle here: http://principleformac.com/

principle


tvOS Parallax

With the release of tvOS, a primary focus (pun intended) is on layered images. Apple provides a really nice parallax preview tool for your app's assets. The model in this prototype is Emily Ratajkowski, which I jokingly call this Ratallax.

Resources: