User Defenders – UX Design & Personal Growth podcast

072: Everyone's a UX Designer with Jared Spool

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Jared Spool has been doing and defining UX long before many of us existed and/or even knew what it was. He invites us in to hear his fascinating yet seldom discussed UX origin story. He reveals how and why we’re all UX designers. He demystifies the arduous and often frustrating process of landing a job in UX. He articulates what it means to learn how to learn. He addresses the important, but oft-forgotten business part of the design business. He also inspires us to be great design leaders by illustrating what one actually looks like.

  • Jared's Compelling UX Origin Story (5:56)
  • How Do You See the UX Job Landscape Evolving? (14:50)
  • UX'ers Have to Do What We Promised (17:31)
  • Is Everyone a UX Designer? (24:57)
  • If Design is a Team Sport, How Does the Team Win? (35:30)
  • What Makes a Great Design Leader? (38:40)
  • The Most Important Thing Designers Should be Learning (46:22)
  • Best Advice for Designers Trying to Break In and Getting Rejected? (52:10)
  • UX Superhero Name (1:09:23)

Check out the detailed show notes including mentioned links, transcript and Eli Jorgensen’s astonishing superhero artwork at userdefenders.com/072

This episode is brought to you by Webflow: The modern way to build for the web. Get a great, Defenders-exclusive offer of 10% off your annual subscription at userdefenders.com/webflow using code USERDEFENDERS. Hurry, offer expires on Halloween (10/31/20)!

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    What the Next Season is Looking Like...

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We were all innocent and we hadn't experienced COVID and, the racial injustice so clearly seen, this year. not that it's new, but it's just been very, very exposed this year. so. All that to say 20, is it safe to say 2020 has kind of sucked so far? I'm usually a really optimistic guy and I. I'm always excited about the new years. I'm always excited about the fresh starts and, and normally they, they shape up pretty good, but this one is really just bit the big one I'm telling you, all that to say, again, I'm still very hopeful. I'm very optimistic. I know things can get better and will get better. I hope, at least, I know that. We've learned a lot, right through the COVID stuff. We've learned a lot. How to, I hate to say wash our hands. I think we all knew how to do that. Maybe we're a little more diligent than we were before. And then these masks seem like they're going to become a mainstay for quite a while for the foreseeable future. all that to say, okay. I, I just wanted to come back on here and explain what's been going on with the show what's been going on with me. Why there hasn't been a new episode in really six months. And, there's a really good reason, not just. Everything. I just explained that's happened this year. That's that's probably, that could be reason enough, I suppose, but I've gone through some significant transitions, myself. this year and actually that it all began actually last year, right around when I did release the last episode with Shaheena in November, I did receive my, my job loss notice, after six and a half years of service, I was being laid off at the company I'd been at. And you know, of course it sucks to be. Laid off right before the holidays. That wasn't fun at all, but the, my company was very gracious. I will give them a lot of credit for giving me plenty of notice. I, my layoff date was January 3rd of 2020. So they gave me nearly two months notice. And, and so they were extremely gracious through, through that whole process. but you know, the, the, the job seeking. The defenders, those of you who are looking or have been looking, especially after COVID I know a lot of you have been affected by unemployment. The numbers don't lie. Right. And I've heard your voices on Twitter and. And, through email and through my DMS and everything and through the community, of course, as well. I know how hard this can be firsthand. I have. I felt your pain. I felt your, just what it's like before COVID I felt how hard it was to find a job harder than I thought it would be. I mean, it's been about 10 years, honestly, since I've had to pound the pavement, because my transition for the six and a half year job before that was fairly quick. So. I've learned a lot and I definitely want to be sharing. I will be sharing with you in the near future. I hope, about what I've learned about job seeking and, in UX. And so be on the lookout for that. my empathy abounds for you defenders, if you're in that situation, Let me just continue my story. I, I was able to find a job fairly, I guess, fairly quickly after my, after my actual release date of January 3rd, I was able to interview with a wonderful organization and I want to thank Doug Collins. Many of you probably have heard of him. I've seen him on Twitter. He's definitely one of our big influencers in UX and I got to know him a little bit through the show and through Twitter. And, he was really instrumental , and notifying me of this opportunity and, in Denver, and I was able to get on board this organization and just super, super challenged. I'm going to read an article in a minute, just really explaining a little more about that, but yeah. That I wrote recently, but I realized that not all of you have read my article, actually, probably very few of you have. So, I feel like it occurred to me. This is the way to communicate with you is through the podcast. Many of you, I should say, this is the primary way because many of you are simply subscribed to the podcast and wait for episodes to come out. And I am grateful for that. I'm grateful for your subscribing and keeping. Keeping alert. And I apologize again for the super long delay and, kind of updating you on what's been going on and why there , haven't been very many episodes, at all in don't while. So, rambling on here. I just wanted to, tell you that, I did land a job that is still, I, I may be transitioning again. I'm not quite sure yet. I did get, another. Notice date due to COVID we were impacted, we thought we were gonna make it, but we were impacted. So I do have a, a, a pending layoff date in mid July. If, if, the another contract doesn't open up for us, which we're trying to pivot to. But all of that to say, I'm going to share an article with you. If you're still with me. Thank you for sticking around. I wrote an article that. It really explains everything. That's, that's kind of taking place here. apart from the recent news, I just shared about, another possible, pounding of pavement for me. So here goes, when I started user defenders podcast in 2015, everything I was learning about being a new podcaster told me that I needed to add a minimum show up every week with new content. I was hearing things like, "If you're not consistent, you're non-existent", so being a naive new podcaster and content creator, I thought I could and must follow this protocol for my audience, you to notice and catch on to what I was trying to do with the show. So that's what I did for at least the first six months or so until I realized firsthand just how much work goes into releasing even one episode and y'all know my episodes. I've got a special artwork that I do for, I try to do for most of the guests and. There's transcripts now and there's show notes and timestamps. And, not to not to mention the editing process is very grueling cause I'm, I'm kind of a perfectionist. I really do take a lot of pride in the quality and in the output. I've done the editing for the last probably 10 episodes or so. And, it's hard, but it's, it's, it's my baby, you know, so , I've definitely, gone above and beyond there, and that takes a long time. So all that to say, I went off on a tangent there briefly. I'm going to get back to the article, but just to explain kind of how much work goes into even releasing one episode. I then changed the frequency of the show to biweekly with no breaks. And then as that became difficult to sustain, I added seasons with up to 12 episodes. And then I brought the number down to eight episodes per season, because like I said before, if it's, if eight is good enough for master of puppets, that's good enough for me. You see, it's not just about me anymore. In fact, it hasn't been since I stood before God and a group of witnesses at the alter in 1999 with my beloved. And I said, I do until the Lord, we do see. So 20 years later, I'm happy to report that I'm still joyfully married. Sometimes it's not, if I'm being real, all right, marriage is hard, but it's worth it when you find the right one. So. our family has quadrupled in size. we have six children in practically, every stage of child development from 18, all the way to three and everything in between. My wife has commented on several occasions that I always tend to start a new venture. Every time we have a new baby notably and she's right. I have. Notably. It was my MySpace famous band, Ralph Hinkley Syndrome in 2009, after our son, Ben was born he's 11 now. And it was User Defenders after our daughter, Emery was born. She's six now, needless to say every single one of my ventures has been a juggling act of family and faith as is to be expected. I'm proud to say that UD has been and still is a labor of love as I've dedicated countless thousands of hours and dollars to get it off the ground , and growing by releasing powerful and inspiring content on a consistent basis for nearly five years now. Up until recently has we know I've hit some recent bumps in life, transitions all eventually good things that have caused me to reflect on the driving force behind every venture I've undertaken until now. And it continues to be...it' s excellence. Just before the holidays, late last year, as I mentioned earlier, after six and a half years of service, my company gave me a layoff notice. Reality check. All of a sudden I'm remembering after not having to pound the pavement for nearly 10 years, how hard it can be to land a job in UX. And like I said before, my empathy now abounds fellow Defenders. After a few emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually draining months of trying to sell myself and convince companies of how awesome I am... I hate that. I was able to get back on my feet again at a wonderful organization that believes in the superpower of UX. So much so that they created a brand new team of specialists with a great leader who has some very lofty goals, especially in the next six months to get our UX practice off the ground. I already know this is going to be the most challenging and rewarding role of my entire career. In fact, I'm convinced. I'm going to grow more in my UX career this year than I have the previous six and a half. And because I believe Oprah, when she says you can have anything in life you want, you just can't have everything you want in order to stay married, focused, and effective at my new job, I'm going to slow down production and future episode releases of User Defenders. And you know that I have, I actually wrote this in March 22nd. Defenders, just for context there. And I know, again, like I said, has been painfully clear that that I have slowed down. and I apologize again, for not being at least a little more communicative about what's been going on. because I love and believe in this show. And especially you so much, I wouldn't do this unless I felt it absolutely necessary for proper balance order and sustainability. I also want to make sure that it's clear that User Defenders is not ceasing, just creating some much needed space and balance. I will still be releasing new episodes. And thankfully my manager has been pretty cool about me doing that on my breaks. I'm just on my own time. So it'll just be when I can, rather than because I can and must. And, in fact, I do have two awesome episodes coming out soon. One with Jared Spool and one with Jeff Gothelf those guys, neither of those guys probably need an introduction. Those are coming up in the near future. I'm actually, I am looking for sponsors for those. So if you or someone, you know, is looking to get their UX related product service or event in front of amazing, amazing listeners, please reach out to me. You can do that. That sponsorship [a t] userdefenders. [co m]. so if my superpower of empathy is still finally dialed in, and if you've made it this far, I can sense your disappointment and feel your pain. I also know that you were very self aware and empathic and believe you also have empathy for where I'm at in this season of life and career. In between episode releases, I'll still be active and user defenders community with the amazingly smart, inspiring, and empathic defenders there of which you are most certainly invited to be counted among us. If you go to community.userdefenders.com, you can get in there and check it out. I do have that episode coming out pretty soon. I've got to record at first, but about, sharing with you what I've learned while trying to land a job in UX. I know you'll find value in it now or in the future. If you ever get your layoff notice or throw cold water in your manager's face, but you'd never do that. Right? Right. So all that to say, I need to slow down for now. Things could certainly change again in the future, as we know, and as I did mention. They may be, come in mid July. We'll see. but I want to close this out by offering a sincere, heartfelt thanks for being on this journey with me. I always say this and I always mean this. You are why I do this. I feel really proud of the fact that after nearly five years of podcasting, which the introvert in me still can't believe I do, I've never paid for one ad to promote this show. All growth has been entirely organic. I'm a firm believer in the paraphrased words of my virtual mentor, Seth Godin. When he says, if you want to be remarkable, you don't have to spam and annoy folks simply make something worth remarking about. Excellence and high quality has always been the benchmark for everything I do on this show. And it always will be, you are also a huge part of the growth of this show by in fact remarking about it. Thank you sincerely for talking about it to your designer, friends sharing episodes on Twitter and other social channels and mentioning User Defenders. Even though the episode releases will slow down during this next season of life, I'll still be active on the User Defenders: Community, Twitter. @UserDefenders, and honestly, not as much on the email list, but I'm hoping to work on that. You know, I really am because I know how valuable that communication can be as well. And I appreciate those of you who have trusted me with your email address. and by the Hammer of Grabthar, I will never sell you out ever. I never have. I never will. So if you want to get on the email list, you can do that at userdefenders.com/join. Reach out to me anytime. I always love engaging with you and encouraging you on your important design journey. And last, but definitely not least fight on my friend, Jason, your host and friend. That's the article I wrote again in March, really when all of this poop was hitting the fan with COVID and everything. So I felt like I, I don't normally do that. I, I don't normally read my articles that I've written word for word. maybe I should, because again, I realized that there's only a small handful of you who actually do read the articles and even know that they're out there in the world. So I may do that more often as another way, even to just stay connected with you and to kind of keep you updated here on this channel. This is really the main channel. You know, I've been doing a lot of things offline. And when I say offline, I mean, away from the podcast feed, I've been doing a lot of live events at the User Defenders: Community, which have been wonderful and valuable. But I realize it's, you know, you really it's the 80/20 rule, right. it occurred to me and it kind of slapped me in the face. Like 20% of the effort should produce 80% of the result, in, in an ideal world. And what that really means is like, find what your core aspect is your core element of your business, your job, your whatever it is you're doing that you're really good at find that 20% that produces 80% of the results. And I realize it's really this feed that I have sadly and apologetically ignored for nearly six months now. And so, I am going to do a better job of trying to put stuff out there in the world, even if it's just, again, like, even if it's reading an article or even if it's just saying, Hey, what's up Defenders...see you later. Hey, Big Gulps. Alright, see you later. Anyway, so I'm going to do that and stay tuned. Please stay tuned. subscribe, even if, even though I know that there hasn't been new new episodes, please subscribe userdefenders.com/subscribe. And I will do my best to continue to trickle out content in the midst of everything that I just shared with you that's going on in my world. And, Again, got some cool episodes coming up with Jared spool and Jeff Gothelf and, I'll, I'll be continuing to do interviews very slowly though. I've been very selective about those because of everything going on. And then again, because of all the work that goes into releasing even one episode,but there will be more content, even that a monologue coming out on the job search, be on the lookout for that. I have learned a lot, I'm not an expert. I don't know if anybody is, and I don't know if anybody would want to be an expert in job seeking. it shows, it kind of says that you can't stay somewhere for very long. And that is a red flag for a lot of employers. So of course we don't want to be experts at it, but we do have to know how to approach this. So. Anyway, yeah. Again, if you know anybody that's you yourself, or if you know anyone that may be interested in sponsoring those episodes, I've got an exclusive sponsor package that I'm working on. That's a month long where I go all in for you and your organization or your event or whatever it is, your service product. And I've got some cool offerings that will go with that. So feel free to reach out [email protected] If that's you so just with all that, continue to fight on my friends continued to. Just go all in on making a difference. This is a really, really strange time to be alive in the world. I'd say even, especially in America, just with everything that's been going on, like all of the racial injustice against black people, and I just been appalled. At what I've seen. even just within the past two months, especially starting with of course George Floyd. And, I mean, and we've all been shocked. I mean, and Will Smith said it, racism hasn't gotten worse, it's just being filmed and it's gonna change and it has to change. Right. So keep fighting on, keep doing good. There's a lot of good in the world still. And I know those of you listening. You are the good that. That we need to see in the world. You are the good, you are the change. So keep fighting on in that. Keep, keep being there for one another. I hope you're well, I hope you're healthy. I hope that you're. Your family is doing well, your loved ones, your friends, again, feel free to reach out any time, if you need encouragement, or if you're, this is all mentally, very mentally taxing for all of us. It's, it's been, a big trial. So I know that all of us have been rocked by this and by this year. So, but we're going to get through this, like I always say, and it's so true. I believe it we're better together. So let's get better together. And, again, the User Defenders: Community is open where we have been able to encourage each other through this time. I'm here for you and it's, there's always a brighter day. that's the voice I heard in my head when I was going to drive off an overpass at my darkest darkest moment in my life. this was a long time ago, but I heard this voice and I know whose voice it was. I know that. That voice came from heaven. It was in my heart and my ears saying, Hey, if you do this, there's never, you can never make it right. There's always a brighter day. And I believe that I know that's true and I hope you do too. Again, I'm here for you. I love you. And I'm grateful for you and seriously, sincerely last but not least fight on my friends.

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