Thoughts, quotes, and notes from good reads.

October 31, 2017

Designing Your Remote “Office”

“So, where do your designers sit?” I was at a lunch table during a design leadership conference late last year, chatting with other leaders in the industry. This question left me…confused. I finally realized what we were talking about and laughed. I’ve spent the vast majority of my career working remotely. Figuring out where designers…

October 2, 2017

The Messy Middle

“No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.” ~Helmuth Graf von Moltke Ever been in this scenario?: A new project starts. Everyone’s excited to jump in and get started. Everything is possible. Only good outcomes await and everything in this moment seems right with the world. You can feel the energy driving the team…

August 31, 2017

Running Remote Design Sprints

I lead a team of designers who work on and other products. Last year, my team ran our first design sprint together in-person at a team meetup. It was a great way to kick off a new project and we became instant fans of the format. But Automattic is a remote company. Most of…

July 26, 2017

Travel, Design, & Beginner’s Mind

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” ~Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind I’m fortunate to get to travel internationally several times a year, both for work and personal trips. A few weeks ago, I hopped on a flight to Cuba. The country had been on my list for…

July 5, 2017

Kill Your Darlings

As designers, we spend most of our time solving problems for our users by building products. How can we save a user time on a task? How can we make an experience more delightful? What do we need to build to help a user accomplish their goal? However, sometimes we can create more value by…

May 4, 2017

“We’ll figure out the rest later…”

Yesterday, encouraged by a friend and a couple of late-night margaritas, I bought tickets for a random hiking trip. It was a bit of an impulse purchase, having only heard about it a couple hours earlier. “Just buy the ticket, we’ll figure out the rest later,” she said. I started nomading full-time about 7 years…

February 5, 2017

Competing Against Luck

“Do you understand the real reason why your customers choose your products or services? Or why they choose something else instead? How do your products or services help your customers to make progress in their lives? In which circumstances are they trying to make that progress? What are the functional, emotional, and social dimensions of…

September 6, 2016

I Am a Strange Loop

In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference. ~ Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop

August 6, 2016


What people remember is different from what they actually did. Both forms of insight are valid, one to understand the immediate experience, the other to understand the longer-term impact through what they retained in memory. ~ Service Design for Business

January 5, 2016

Book Notes: Work Rules

My notes on Work Rules by Laszlo Bock — a fascinating look into the people management at Google. 1) Give your work meaning. Whatever you’re doing, it matters to someone. And it should matter to you. As a manager, your job is to help your people find that meaning.

May 17, 2015

Picking Fights

To build strength and flexibility, we should open our minds to people and ideas we don’t like, and pick fights with those we do. ~Peter Morville, Intertwingled

February 20, 2015

The Goal

Making the process better, easier, and cheaper is an important aspiration, something we continually work on—but it is not the goal. Making something great is the goal. ~ Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.

November 9, 2014

Ones and Zeros

In any new situation, whether it involves an elevator or a rocket ship, you will almost certainly be viewed in one of three ways. As a minus one: actively harmful, someone who creates problems. Or as a zero: your impact is neutral and doesn’t tip the balance one way or the other. Or you’ll be…