Cloudflare TV

Cloudflare's Creative Corner

Presented by Jess Rosenberg, Dylan Welter, John Maeda
Originally aired on 

The Creative Corner explores the experiences of creative professionals working within the tech industry. From challenges faced to lessons learned, we will join them on their journey as they share their wisdom as creatives in tech.

Creatives in Tech

Transcript (Beta)

Hello and welcome to the Creative Corner. My name is Jess Rosenberg and I'm Dylan Welter.

We're super excited to have you here today.

If you'd love to give a quick intro on yourself, that would be awesome.

I have one prepared, but it might sound weird after.

Oh, I am Chief Experience Officer at Publicis Sapient and I am a Cloudflare fan.

Very cool.

Again, thanks so much for joining us today. As many of you watching know, John has had a very exciting career across a number of fields such as tech, design, art and media.

And like you just said, you're currently the Chief Experience Officer at Publicis Sapient.

Welcome to Cloudflare TV. This will be a fun hour.

Thank you. Yeah, welcome. So John, you've had quite the career with focus areas in tech, design, business and leadership.

In your experience, what have some successes been emerging those areas throughout your career?

Oh, well, I think the reason why I have moved across a lot of things is that I find success to be dangerous or feeling you succeed to be dangerous.

I love that phrase by the director Iñárritu.

He did Birdman. And I said, his father said to him, when you taste success, it's poison.

So spit it out. So every time I thought I've got I kind of gotten good at something.

I'm like, whoa, that's not good. And then I the universe opens a some kind of pathway and I go to start over again.

Awesome. And maybe tell us a little bit about your current role at Publicis Sapient.

What types of challenges are you hoping to solve?

Who's your primary audience that you are looking to solve the problems for?

Yeah, well, I get to work with a really cool team.

And the team that I have around me includes people like Wendy Johansson. She was a co-founder of WiseLine.

Karen Giefer, ex-McKinsey frog. A few other folks like that are really close to my core team.

And then we lead globally the entire experience organization.

It's hundreds of creative people, creative technology people, content creative people all around the world.

And what we're doing right now is trying to address that sort of old, old, old problem of how do you categorize the kind of creative labor that gets done?

Is it UX or is it marketing creative?

I know you're totally a brand like who owns what, where, when and who's a design thinker and who isn't and who gets to do whatever and kind of sorting through like a big hardware store and just trying to like, you know, sort out the bins, make them easier to find, you know, better identity.

That's a hammer. Hammer's here.

You know, ovens over here, you know, pancakes over here, just kind of like get it organized because if it's not organized, then you can't access the entire tool chest well.

And so I find that in the wide range of client work that we do, it's important that the tool set is roughly sorted, but not limited to like you're a hammer.

You can be a hammer and a nail or a hammer and a nail and an oven. So it's about how do we define ourselves is so important in the services industry.

And that's a lot of fun.

Very cool.

I love the metaphors. I love how you kind of mentioned the organization aspect.

Would you say, you know, throughout your career, you found commonalities that your clients all seem to struggle with any similarities that need to be addressed?

Well, you know, I signed your tele creative operations.

It's not not an easy thing. It's like, how do you operate in a world that's supposed to be not operable?

Because creativity is by nature divergent.

It operations means to be convergent. And I got, I had the pleasure of working with Alison Rand, a design ops professional superstar.

It was like, I was working with her.

It was like, wow, so your job was to linearize the chaos.

And she says, yeah, how do you do that? And she said, I don't know. And so this I don't know part means that I think it requires people like yourselves, a special skills who are like a symphony conductors, because you know what a violin sounds like, you know, what a drum sounds like, you know, what a trumpet sounds like.

You may not play it every day, but you're like, I think it's missing this, missing this.

And so you're trying to mix the whole thing together, which is an art, really, in some science that doesn't work at scale.

It works great in the club. It works great in three clubs.

But if you're doing it across the world for like major organizations, doesn't work.

So what we've done, our team has constructed a super simple compact system to be able to be careful.

Put your skills in boxes, which is no creative person.

You know, it's like Gandalf, you know, the staff and like, those shall not poof, like poof, you know, and, you know, but I've been like looking at this for quite a long time.

And so I have slightly inoffensive boxes that I have pushed out into the system.

And, you know, there's not a lot of organ rejection.

So I think it's a, I think it'd be kind of useful to other organizations. It's, it's, it's called 4P2.

It was named by Wendy Johansson, this amazing person I get to work with.

And it's basically four core types of skills, plus two. That's why it's 4P2.

And it seems to cover every kind of hammer, hammer, nail, hammer, oven, oven, pancake.

You know what I mean? It's like these dating sites, you know, they reduce you down to like a machine learnable fingerprint.

Super simple system, but it's kind of working.

So excited about it. It sounds, it sounds, you know, very, very interesting.

Are you able to share any more details on the specific aspects of that 4P2?

Well, it's, you know, I, I, I'm concerned about people thinking that it's the only way.

You may know that if you Google my name, I have been associated with condemning all of design because of great clickbait title.

Fast company.

So I'm kind of cautious of like, you know, naming things like this, you know, but because you're, I think your entire career might depend upon it.

Sure. It's, it's super simple.

It's, um, So let's think about things like UX, product design, visual design, interface designer, branding, creative, you know, content, UX writer.

Am I, am I, I can see these words like flying through your head. You know them by heart.

You know, they're like, some of them are tattoos that are smeared used to be called this now it's called this.

What is it called now. It's not what it was called before.

And then, um, so it actually boils down to something I learned at RISD.

When I had the privilege of being president CEO of RISD I I noticed that the quality of the education was unusually high, not just because of the art making, you know, But a lot about the requirement to study liberal arts.

You know, MIT, MIT is not just a purely technical school.

There's a requirement. It's like you got to eat your whatever not everyone likes potatoes.

You got to eat your carrots or whatever.

I love it. I don't know why people want carrots, either. But you got to get liberal arts at MIT.

You got to get liberal arts at RISD. It's like a requirement.

And I think the great thing about requirements is that it like makes you a different kind of maker.

It is that you're just really great at depicting something But you're great also knowing why depiction is necessary.

What are the cautionary tales looking at history.

Is there a philosophy strand coming from somewhere.

Is it a non-inclusive philosophy. Is it a binary gendered philosophy, therefore flawed.

So like when you're bringing in liberal arts, it gets so much more rich, right.

So when we say visual designer or UX designer or product designer or whatever, it loses all that taste.

So When you think about like, you know, our taste system with umami, you know, like, so try to, so try to categorize the umami of someone who can do this non engineering Divergent, convergent world.

So the, the first, the first marker is super easy. It's semiotics, which I will categorize as symbol making.

Basically, it's your ability to Sign it make make things that signify something visually or audibly or emotion that are that are recognizable that create some kind of emotional response, you know, doesn't have to mean anything But you can you can you can know and recognize it.

It's like the great designer Suggie have evil talk about how you know a logo is not For like, you know, to represent your company.

It's how to identify your company.

And so identification requires knowledge of symbols and how we respond, etc.

The zeitgeist and so semiotics marker one The second marker going to my liberal arts thing is semantics, which I broadly define from the idea of words and cultures and the meaning and I actually kind of pull in like, well, it could mean like, you know, where this word come from the etymology.

And so it's kind of like it's my liberal arts piece.

Of the writing world and the art and design piece of the sign making world.

So just with those two, you can make a graphic designer Or you can make a copywriter or if you put two together.

You're like, wow, I don't need two of them.

You know, you can Actually, you're not Laura make something everyone to death.

Yeah, or like you're not making like the the cringe worthy visual thing out of like the copy you wrote, you know, so that keeps you feeling it.

You feel the two lovers here.

Okay. All right. Okay, it's like Pardon me. Ideal for the startup tech company.

We're going. See, we're seeing how this is working. Yeah, it's like gas break gas break.

Right. Okay, that's two. So the four P two. That's two of the four.

The third is the third is a systems orientation. It's like, you know, I'm really I could, you know, I can do this, but I can only do it once.

And it's not scalable.

So maybe I need cloud for a flare TV to kind of feel like an entire schedule.

Maybe I need to find a system to kind of invite different people. Maybe I need to sort of make sure people know that is cloud.

Maybe I have to create the system that underlies it You know, am I a design system freak or am I a branding guide freak or am I like identity guide.

I just love scaling things, you know, I like making type To be used by everyone that type is like a variable type or it's like, you know, the whole set or like a matching set.

So it's a it's a system minus a scale.

Which is different than someone who's like super semiotic super semantic. It's this other ad right so now now we look at design system person who is going to be like visual actually a brand system person be like semiotic a little bit of the This is me semantic a little bit the semiotic, you know, but throwing a lot of system.

Feeling me. Okay, feeling this are we cooking together. Oh, yes. It's the component ization of I know it's terrible, isn't it.

So, It's horrible. You want you want you want to stop.

I can tell you kind of hook now. Let's go. Okay. All right. Again, it took a long time to figure out, meaning that it could be terribly wrong and anything I say I accept that it could be wrong.

And that's why, you know, that's what we think out loud.

Fourth factor. Is science. It's like, hey, you know, like, what does the data say or like what kind of data have we gathered like what do we really know what do we not know like is there a null hypothesis to it, you know, what's the P value to have a talk to actual customers who use it, you know, Like, what is the, you know, what, what does social science tell us about, you know, how to do this or how people are responding, you know, you know, if you push it hard.

You're like a full data science, you push it a little hard. You're like a user researcher.

But do you see what I'm saying. You feeling it. Okay, feeling the four pedals of the airplane.

I can tell you it's right. So like now already you can tell that you understand this most of understand this to someone who is a plain business person delivering whatever they're like, I don't understand this.

But if you had a simple way to say like, what are the different percentages of that person.

What could I make on that person, then it becomes a more open system where it isn't about the title or like the the role you thought was like who you are.

It's more like, who can I date You know, with this like four dimensional marker.

So that's the four part of the four P two and the two are other two are kind of boring, whether the secret sauce.

But is that enough that That's, that's absolutely wonderful.

I love the idea of just kind of this this road this rolling mix this blend based on specific needs to Yeah, I know.

It's horrible. It's like everyone's worst nightmare, but it's kind of useful because I think the majority of art and design education lives in semiotic little bit of system very little science and then, you know, sometimes if you're lucky, you get that semantics part to kind of like broaden your perspective.

Yeah, that is a great segue into how would you convince a non designer creative type person.

So maybe it's a co founder of a startup or CEO, who's a non creative.

How would you convince them to invest in those resources.

I don't think you can convince someone That they have to care about consumers, you know, Someone like thinks like now people want the cheapest thing, you know, now people want the fastest thing.

Now people want the biggest thing, then you're not going to convince them that some other dimensions going to like make a difference.

But if they're like a digital native Who's like swiping left or like swooping like this or doing this or whatever, like they're living in like the super advanced world.

That involves a lot of factors. Besides, you know, it being fast or it being big or whatever.

It's much more qualitative world. It's a world that you want to consume versus have to consume.

And so if you're building a consumer facing product, you need to have the design piece integrated Otherwise, as you know, you spray it on at the end and it doesn't work that well.

And why is it important.

Why is it difficult to to sort of find those situations. If you're a pure engineer, like I grew up as an engineer, you're not, you're not taught for that to care.

It's called human factors. The human as a factor. As the whole factor. Enterprise software also, as you know, has to change.

People say, why, you know, it's like it isn't like Kim Kardashian's using enterprise software.

But the reality is that people use software that they're accustomed to.

It feels good. So when they use enterprise software that's bad.

They're like, wow, this is like low quality.

I mean, that's the use case for that get made slack appear to nowhere. It's like it person said no way.

Everyone's like, I can't use this thing you've given me I'm going to sneak slack in the door.

Oh no, it's spread all over the place like wildfire bad analogy right now.

It's spread all over like Moss or actually there's no no good analogy anymore.

It's basically everywhere. I can't get rid of it.

Okay, we'll sign the contract. So it almost sounds like that that level of like emotional engagement design brings is kind of at the heart of I don't know.

I mean, it all depends how you how you lean. I think the I think the emotional dimension is something I used to Push harder on which gets some people upset at me.

Don't you care about the emotional dimension. I think it's, I think it's definitely important yet the functional part can be done extremely well too.

And when you combine the two together. It's a rush. And so, you know, an amazing micro animation or whatever is great or like the bespoke typeface is fantastic.

But if the system isn't like usable. Then no one's going to like be able to put that one plus one together and make it 100 so I lean on.

It's this combination of forces.

And lastly, I lean on how it has to work as a business. Otherwise, it cannot fund the kind of holistic approach to making Yeah, that makes sense.

It kind of reminds me of whenever we get feedback to make something more delightful.

I always found that funny. Because it's like delight when it comes to design, whether you're designing a product or brand.

It's really about making the thing work well for the user.

That's the real delightful experience.

Like you said, it's usable and Yeah, that's why I like Suggie Habib's thing about Is it more identifiable Because it's kind of like it's like a baby like a random maybe making you happy versus your baby making you happy.

It's like a baby to be happy.

I know whose baby. It was right Oh, my baby made me happy.

Therefore, I will let it let it be with me longer That's my take.

Essentially, we're calling for companies to be more like their babies and not like just random babies on the street.

Yeah, it's like, oh my gosh, yeah, I just saw this cute baby.

Which baby was it. I have no idea. But it was so delightful. And it's like someone says, yes, I made someone smile, but that's not your job.

A lot of video games.

Cute baby. Yeah. Go ahead. Oh, no, sorry. This is something that I was talking to Wendy Johansson again about.

She's the one, the Vice President at Phobos Sapien and and she was, we're talking about the Creative Agency world in which is fueled by the whole art and design kind of track which, as you both know, has nothing to do with becoming a UX or product designer.

It's like so disconnected.

And the beauty of this other track the creative agency track is you get to get like gold stars.

It's like, oh my gosh, I got a gold star. I got this award.

I got that award. I got this award, you know, but the people who get excited about that I say But how much comp.

Did you miss out on instead of getting the star.

If you could have made like an extra hundred K instead of getting the star.

What would you choose. Oh, well, I would rather have the hundred K. Exactly.

But why do you want the star, you know, Again, that's the capitalists in me talking And the reason why is because Paul Rand, the famous graphic designer.

When he was 81 years old, he passed away at 82 He's the one that told me, you know, I was at his house and like I tell the story too often.

So sorry if I bore you, but like I was really admired.

I really admired Paul Rand. I was a MIT electrical engineering computer science person.

I found this book in the library when I was like second year student and I was like, wow, what is this thing called design.

I don't know what it is, but I want to be a part of it.

So like 10 years later, like I did my stuff stuff we did.

Okay. And then I was able to visit Paul Rand's house in Connecticut. And so I was like, whoa.

So like I get out there again the train. Catch a taxi because, you know, no Uber like there was nothing like this right and say catch a taxi.

I had an eight to 830 am meeting with him.

So I was super stoked, you know, you know, got up six o'clock the train got there train, you know, taxi goes to like way far on the boonies and And like it's this beautiful house.

It's a one story house and this giant forest like you probably, you know, I was like, how big is this forest.

How far does it go.

He said forever. So it's like this big thing. He has a tree growing out of the roof, you know, super like, you know, magic like like CG like like what is this, you know, like Monument Valley and You know, but like I knocked on his door and then he opens it up and it was like starts yelling at me and says, like, you know, my assistant didn't arrive today.

You know, he's sick. So you'll have to work for me for free.

And I was like, Okay, so I I kind of sat down at his Mac and he was finishing his last book from last go to Brooklyn and he needed to get get the final Mechanicals to the printer because back then everything had to go on to actually printed out like you know glued etc so because I trained that way.

So, you know, it was 8am 839 10 I'm like doing the work for him and And he said, like, you know, not going to pay you anything at all.

But if you want, you can type your name into the acknowledgements.

Oh, that's kind of cool. Type my name, the acknowledgements.

Anyway, so it's like, it's like 1pm You know, afternoon you're visiting a stranger's house.

This is in the 90s where snack bars haven't been invented.

There's no Uber or like Lyft or whatever and get hungry. And so I'm like, I'm at someone's house, you know, what do I do, I really got to eat.

So it's like, you know, and then it comes out with a sandwich.

Like brings me a sandwich. This is like like a bologna sandwich like a regular white bread bologna sandwich.

So I'm celebrating so delicious.

Gives it to me. And then he sort of sits down and look right across from me.

It's like looking at me while I'm eating and I'm like awkward, but I'll eat.

And he said to me gets really quiet and says, young man, I have something very important to tell you.

And I'm like, wow, this is the moment the wisdom.

I've been looking for found him in a book 10 years ago and I'm in his book. And this is amazing.

What's going to tell me to make lots of money. And I was like, Whoa, downer my Yoda doesn't Yoda doesn't say these things.

And I look kind of like a and he said, I can see your face.

I think you're getting this all wrong. He said that, you know, he was self made, you know, his father left at a young age and his You know, he had to take care of his mom a lot.

And then, you know, he was someone who came from nothing and was able to become this thing.

And he said the thing he learned over time is that we think there's this kind of work where that you love to do and work that makes a lot of money.

And we think that they will overlap somewhere in life.

And he says, just give that up. He said, make money to pay for what you'd like to do love to do It's the most pragmatic because he said you found me in this book.

Right. Yeah, it was like Paul ran the designers arts, the beautiful books and five colors, which at the time was a big deal.

And he said it was five colors.

Right. Yeah, I know it's five colors. And he said, I paid for all those colors.

Out of pocket because the publisher was only going to pay for like a single color.

So I was like, this is my book. I'm gonna do it my way. And so he said that that kind of freedom came from the ability to control your own capital.

So the reason why I'm telling you the story about the gold star versus like, you know, having more comp is that If you had more calm, you can do what you want versus be versus being kind of dragged along by some artificial prize system.

That can be kind of confusing to you because you're not sure what you really need and what you need is creative freedom and you can't buy that at work often.

So you have to find that thing that can pay to be able to do what you'd love to do I think it's a super easy advice, unless you have a trust fund if you have a trust fund, you can do whatever you want to do, not me just I love that note about, you know, trying to find ways to get creative freedom and, you know, specifically when it comes to internal design teams.

You know, you often hear about teams that work for companies that may be, you know, a bit more engineering led or a bit more design driven In your experience, you know, across your career.

What are some recommendations you might have on getting a company to get into that more design driven mindset.

You know, they may be a startup or just not typically used to design thinking Well, you have to budget for it.

I mean, and if your existing company, you have to be profitable.

Because the only way to differentiate yourself with design is it's going to cost you money.

It isn't something that you You can't like buy an app and it all gets better yet right GPT-3 amazing, but you can't, you can't just buy it and everything gets better.

All of a sudden, so I think it's about I think one of your questions.

I noticed like how does design have a seat at the table or this kind of phrase.

The reality is that there's a lot of seats at that table.

And so even if you had one, what would it, what could happen is all a matter of if the company is profitable.

Can you pay for design that can make the company even more profitable.

That's the opportunity. And unless that happens in a founder's life or a CEO's life.

It's all speculative. But we've never been in a better time in the world to I wouldn't say advocate or whatever for design, just like do better design in the context of technologies that are transforming at an exponential pace and then wow, this was a great service, a great product.

I'm going to pay for it. You then build the unfair advantage. By, by having close design engineering product collaborations and everybody wins together.

And then it's like, oh, let's get more of that we need more people like you.

That's my, my hope that it's tied to like, oh, there's these good people. And when they collaborate together.

It's amazing. You know, it's like I have dogs running over my head like whenever that's like, you know, one runs the other one has to run with them for no good reason.

So I think when we make products and services designers can run alone.

Nothing will happen. Everyone at the table has to run together.

That's my belief. Do you think that holds true with companies that are engineering led that have, you know, gotten by for many years on being engineering led with very little resources.

Yeah, it's hard because You know, I remember like when the Internet.

Like rose against me about the clickbait title.

It was great user research time Because I was like, wow, this is why you hate me.

Well, if I read that and thought this boy, of course, or like this is what you think that I do.

Interesting. I don't do anything like that. So it was incredible to see the whole range.

But the one thing that caught my attention was there was a young man who thought that the what I said, which is a clickbait title.

Mind you, you're taking out of context, I mean, Diminished his work at his company where people don't see the value of design and they lack privilege and because I have such privilege, you know, how dare I say that.

Which I read it like, well, that makes sense.

You know, if that's how you see it. That's how you see me, then you have a right to be offended at me and express it and however you think is important.

Right. But when you step way back. The reality is that the problem is often power.

And who has power, you know, if you're working on a TV spot with the lions of creative, they're going to like make fun of the engineer walking by, you know, If you're the engineers writing the code and like, you know, do a thing like I make fun of the designer right walking by.

You're like, you know, private equity or like doing the deal.

They're going to like engineer designer, you know, so I think it's a power problem.

And the power tends to lean towards in many of these professionalized communities, a kind of over male perspective.

A specifically a non collaborative male perspective that doesn't create the opportunity of teaming together.

And so every role. I'm in every situation. I'm in I believe it's important to just say like I put my engineer head on.

Yeah, I can write and Swift and I can, you know, I understand ES6 I can I can deploy like Flutter, Dart apps, whatever.

Or I can switch to design and like, yeah, you know, you know, I love AG, you know, best typeface ever.

I think you should be like .01 points to the left. Like I can go there or I could go to the business world.

I'm like, oh, this is my two by two. You know, what's the net present value like, you know, CAC versus LTV so I can go there too.

So I go across these worlds to kind of say, hey, if we work together. What could we do That's what's interesting to me in general, but it's hard because many organizations don't have someone who can do that.

And so you stay in your silo and Especially with male egos that might dominate it gets kind of like, oh, I guess we'll choose to not work together.

Of course, that's saying that all men don't and all women, whatever.

But it's just, it's interesting problem. That I keep seeing over and over.

That's why I believe that anyone with privilege has the opportunity to do the work of an ally.

You know, not be an ally. I would love this thing where I read it.

We're like, you're never an ally because that work of allyship is never done.

That is important in my mind. Yeah, I completely agree. I think that goes well as the next question of how do you see design and tech addressing some of the major issues that we're facing today, you know, around fostering inclusion and diversity.

Well, there was that Recent post on medium by the COO of Pinterest.

And You know, just reading an article in Time about the student at Stanford that terrible incident guy got off.

Okay. And like she was anonymous for like three years and then went public with herself to like say this happened to me.

I'm not anonymous name. And it just made me cry because it was just like this sort of powerful thing of You know, the people say there's empathy, sympathy, etc.

All these like words can define like how you can get a little closer more approximate to how someone feels But it was when she described when she wrote how you know this.

There's a belief that the victim can prosper by through an anonymity.

But you carry this thing with you when you have to carry that experience and the unfairness of that the unjustness of that.

And because I've had the absolute privilege of working with so many incredible women and also introverted men just want to add that into Who cannot sort of compete in an overly kind of alpha ish, you know, push the other one down world and the micro aggressions that accrue You don't have to feel like a victim or be a victim, but it's you're hanging on to it.

In this anonymous world that never gets resolved.

Maybe you fill it out in some kind of form or whatever someone sees it, but carrying it.

This doesn't seem fair. It doesn't seem actually Not, not just not not equitable.

It's not productive for 21st century organizations to keep that going.

So I frame anything involving inclusion or diversity or anything involving kind of otherness and intersectionality as this is a good way to do business.

You know, it's like a good way to do business increases employee retention reduces the speed of acquisition of employees that, you know, creates an unfair advantage around your culture.

It enables you to create Services products that may be able to avoid biases around a very similar minded group.

They're a single way of thinking to miss this whole other category to grow the time the total addressable market.

So from a business perspective, it's just 21st century thinking That's my position from a business perspective.

So I think everyone joining together on that message could be useful.

And the meantime, also there's a social justice message. Which is, which is more important in so many dimensions, but I've chosen to spend most of my time on the business side.

From a design involvement perspective, do you think there's something that can be done, you know, specifically from design to just help wait and improve that.

Whoa, I don't know how to say that without getting in trouble online.

I think the neat thing about design is You know when I described in the first design and tech report three kinds of design.

There's classical design. There's design thinking and there's computational design.

This is kind of like my new four boxes. It's like, what, there's no boxes to anything.

Everything is like free. Everything is free.

You know, there was like an Article in Bloomberg Business Week, you know, he's terrible.

He's whatever you know whatever boxes, but I, I, I like the idea that when you can communicate to non designers what design is you now and grow the market size to access design.

I think when design is precious and attempts to kind of like, you know what I mean.

Right. I see what you're wearing.

You're wearing a You're wearing a black shirt that could be any shirt in the world, but it's a Prada shirt, isn't it.

This whole like and your mustache. It must have that kind of mustache wax or whatever.

It's, it's kind of this sort of epicurean paradise of like in the know, which I love.

Mind you, because it's interesting.

That's it. It's not, it's not accessible. It's inaccessible. It's exclusionary.

So I think for all designers to ask themselves, you know, like The characteristics of this exclusionary ability, which is the unfair advantage, you know, when working with other people that unlike yourself.

How do you now turn that off and how do you open the communication system instead Is I think it would be lovely for more of that to occur, but that's not for everyone.

I know. And I like all kinds of people.

I just watching people told me to watch this the last dance.

It's Michael Jordan thing. I do not know anything about basketball, but I'm ripping I'm like, whoa, because I'm a fan of coaching.

So I knew about Phil Jackson about there's this this scene.

I just just watched where He talks about in the Native American people.

There is something called a H E. Y. O. K. A. A. Hey, yoga, someone who walks backwards.

And how it's a story of how Dennis Rodman was like, you know, accepted for being who he was, you know, it's beautiful.

So I think that the design community is all a lot of hey yokas and just noticing that everyone isn't like that, you know, when you're talking to a non backward Walker, you gotta like adapt.


On the coaching front. So at least at Cloudflare and our team, we have a handful of talented designers that are beginning their career in management and creative leadership.

Excellent. Yeah. What kind of advice can you give to them in transitioning from being an individual contributor Right.

How much more minutes. Do we have About 17 or 18 more minutes.

Okay. All right. Just want to check. So scale it properly. Because I have a lot of thoughts about this, you know, it was a decade ago I had like a splurge purchase and I actually is no to I bought creative Because I was so passionate about this mixture of being creative and being a leader and how it's kind of an oxymoron.

Because as a creative you're diverging things.

But as a leader, you got to converge people. So I remember like I did that my other passion purchase instead of buying a fancy car was buying it's this domain thing.

It's like a bad idea. But anyways, creative leadership. I have an old blog up there actually converted it to middleman.

So it's a static thing.

So I can't change it as easily as it could in the past, but I have an old blog there that kind of walks through my Discovery of how awkward.

It is to be someone who is divergent trying to enable more convergence.

I wrote a subsequent book to with Becky Vermont was an IDEO now called redesigning leadership.

But how I came to learn a leading at scale.

And the funny thing is, people say, are you at a leadership book.

I said yes, but it isn't about leading. Well, It's people like, oh my gosh, I can't, I can't, I can't even read this is like this is this.

Oh, but it's just kind of an honest recount of what it's like to kind of make that step into leading And the problem is that people don't tell you this, but You know, when you're in the kind of like education system like no one teaches you how to lead to teach you how to like make You know, maybe if you did like a extracurricular thing or maybe if you're a team sports person you learn this skill, but the education system doesn't teach you how to lead.

And especially if you're like an individually good at something person.

You're like, you're like, oh, nice job. Nice job.

You know, so you're rewarded for who you are because you're an individual But then when you try to get when you when you get older, more mature, you can either go down the path of like just being a good person at their craft or you may be asked to lead a team.

And when you lead a team. No one gives you like any manual for it. And there's so many different manuals of it, but no one tells you that you're going to fail all the time.

So, you know, I mean, so like my book is all about like fail or fail, not like fail fast.

It's like failing or hurts, failing or hurts, failing or hurts, failing or hurts.

And so the tip I give to people who are down a leadership path is it may not be for you.

Like if this doesn't like get you excited. If you need to have all the credit, then you're gonna be the worst leader ever So just stop, you know, don't do what most people do, which is become a leader because they have to to make more salary and then just be terrible to people.

And, you know, just please don't do that.

But if you want to be a leader and you kind of enjoy it.

You know, the, the three things I tell them is that, number one, it's really fun because everything you do is long term.

You know, when you design a book.

So what is it, what is the beauty of designing a book, the book like last forever.

So when you're working with a team. It's like designing books, you know, you're designing people And they're like last forever.

And if you were, you know, a crummy boss, they'll hate you forever happens to me all the time.

If you're average boss, you'll be forgotten.

If you're a good boss, you know, you made an impact.

They're going to do much better than you did. And you're like, wow, I played a role in making that book.

And it's kind of cool. You know, that's first thing The second thing is that when you're leading, you have to remember that every action you take is always going to be likely to fail.

Because it's different than putting something to a page or to a screen, because if you need to set that to like 32 points, it's going to happen.

If you're going to change the hex value of this to this or the CMYK, it's, it's going to happen, you know, if you need to sort of move this tier to here, here, I mean the crumple the page a little bit that right crumple And take a photograph.

It's going to happen. But if you're leading more than like one person.

You don't know if it's going to happen. You know, there's like, yeah, got a boss and like, whoa, I think I got to get a Milky Way.

Like, hey, wait a second.

I forgot that. Oh, whatever kind of thing, you know, this happened is someone just drop this in And then you as boss like sent an email by accident that asked me something else.

And then they're like, did you do it. I know I didn't do it.

Now, and so like it's not going to happen. If you multiply that by 10 or 100 or 1000 or 10,000 or 1000 you just like messing up all the time.

So you have to acknowledge that everything you do will create Chaos of some form that you cannot control.

And that's, that's the job. The third thing is that when you lead creative people you always get sniffed by them.

You know what I mean. It's like, well, you know, Jessica, I you you're you lead people, but you don't really design anything anymore.

Right. I mean, you don't really make anything anymore. Right. And you have to kind of be like, well, you know, I like design this and I work with people, which is kind of like designing and whatever, whatever, whatever.

You'll talk for like two minutes, at least I used to Make up a story, but how it's all very similar, you know, and the first one say like, oh yeah, I totally get it and walk away.

Now that interaction is all about. Can I trust you. Because if I can't trust you.

I'm not going to follow you because I only trust other makers like me. So that's why my answer when someone asked the question, of course, yes.

That's why I'm always like, you know, this thing here isn't just email.

I'm like designing stuff.

I'm like editing things I I make like paper things I like software I push apps.

I make stuff so no one can say like, are you just a leader that can't do anything.

I think, yeah, I can do stuff. Let's talk So my three tips. Awesome. That's super helpful.

Thank you. Are those are any of these familiar scenarios to you just wanted to research.

We're talking. I'm just like, yes, yes, yes. I feel all the time.


Yeah. So do you make anything anymore. Do you make anything Um, I don't make as much as I'd like Testing you.

Yes. Yes, I do.

Yes. Yeah. Yes, you may. Yes. And you do it with the same spirit, you would, you know, you know, kerning a headline or like setting some kind of multi page grid.

It's and also like I do traditional tasks all the time. But what you do to we forget as leaders who are created.

We can't help but fix everything that that's horrible.

So we spend. I mean, I, you know, I wish I was just a business person.

I'm always jealous of them because they can't do anything but business. Are you following me like Why are they bossing us around.

Oh, that's the only thing they can do.

If you're like an engineer. Okay, let me, let me write the code for designer like I can fix that, you know, like they don't have that problem at all.

Right. So I'm always so jealous.

I'm like, wow, that feels so good. But yeah. Good superpower, though, is being that multi matrix talented individual that can do all the things like your initial four buckets.

Yeah, I mean, the great thing is you can help connect people with different opinions and especially in this new age of algorithmic incited like violence around us and real violence.

It's this kind of era where we all have to be listening to signals beyond the ones that are delivered to us.

Because the ones that delivered to us either by algorithms or by our inner circle are always going to be filled with so much bias.

That if we know if we're a good science person in the four P system, you have to as Rochelle King wrote this great book on designing with data with a colleague on O'Reilly You have to triangulate Always have to triangulate and how do you triangulate you have multiple data points.

And if you don't broaden that like have you seen the Wall Street Journal.

It's an old piece of the Wall Street Journal red state blue state Facebook feed.

Genius piece from like three or four years ago, or if you're in a red state and you look at a Facebook feed looks like this.

If you're in a blue state looks like this.

It's two different worlds of reality. So that's why I'm always like what's happening over there in Fox News.

What's happening over here ultra conservative what's happening over here ultra liberal, you know, what are the electronics and trying to triangulate to see better Yeah, that's super important to do in business as well, especially at any size company or imagine Yeah, people come to you all the time like this happened to me.

And like, well, that's terrible.

It probably happened, but I like to understand more of what's around it.

Then you triangulate make mistakes you try to correct Do your best.

Well, on that kind of topic of, you know, insight, you know, foresight as well for the last I think we have eight minutes left here.

I'd like to take a look kind of into the future in your mind, you know, with how rapidly things are changing and evolving nowadays.

What are some of the predictions for the future of Internet and design that you think you might see coming here in the next Years.

Wow. You know, I think about this a lot.

And you can like find the latest like BuzzFeed listicle like whatever the future and the trend, whatever.

It didn't seem like in 2010 I was asked by Forbes to predict 2020 And I find it kind of fun to look back at that, you know, like, what did I say in 2010 And in 2010 I said that we would come back to craft making things with our hands, you know, trying to find authenticity.

The fact that the algos would catch up and transform how we are.

So therefore, the only value we have is our human humanity and human decency to add to the equation.

So I think an abstract is still feel that way.

Especially right now. I think that we've moved from this glitzy in tech this marketing tech stack.

We've gone a little deeper into the product stack.

And now we're entering the safety stack, which is at the core of like a Maslow's hierarchy of needs of the enterprise of society in general.

And the more aware we are of what level we're operating on The less harm we can do.

And the more we can do address by again partnering with the right kind of people who are maybe not aren't people in design.

Maybe there are people in pure business, you know, and, you know, for instance, I just pushed out in public so sapient I pushed out these little kind of like What do you call them like nano refreshers of ideas and people often say, like, I don't have an MBA, like, I can't take an MBA and like, oh, I have an MBA.

Let me tell you what you need to have an MBA.

So I like to put together a little memo of like you know that that The 20 things you need to know if you had an MBA.

It's just like terminology, you know, it's like Art History, but for a different sort of species and a bunch of people have gone through and they're like, I feel kind of confident, you know, kind of money confident which Let's them talk with more kinds of people and vice versa of engineers, looking at, you know, what is design and how it works well specifically UX design.

In the context of their work, you know, automated scripts that produce better designs which you know cloud player.

You're all our experts at that. More of those bridge bridges to be built.


We have a few minutes left and I am super curious to hear about how you construct your design and tech report.

So I'm sure that must take a lot of time. And I know that the team read it and love it.

And I'm curious how much time and process goes into it and where you find Yeah, well, I started it out five years ago, six years ago now.

Now it's called a CX report. And I don't know, just like weekends.

It's like It's been like 10 10 weekends will do it and all year round I collect things and just put them together like a messy puzzle.

And people ask, what is it for and it's mainly for me actually as an artist to understand like what happened in that year and and sometimes it's useful and also useless to people and it's okay right Internet share make what you want to make of it.

Almost like a time capsule.

Yeah, definitely. Cool. No one.

Any last questions. Trying to think of anything, you know, off the cuff to maybe just keep you on your toes for the last few minutes.

I guess to wrap us out, you know, what are some of the things that you would say have, you know, 2020 has been kind of a rough year.

What are some of the things you know from a designer business or tech perspective.

Have you just found, you know, delightful or inspiring.

Oh, I think from a societal perspective. It's been wonderful to watch all the people who have risked their lives to get involved with Black Lives Matter.

That's been inspirational.

The healthcare workers has been also super inspirational. And so I think we're just seeing people step in and in ways that put themselves alongside others who have always been in harm's way in a very, very human meaningful way.

I think that's been That's been a silver lining to a lot of darkness. The other thing is, I guess I'm I'm really interested in the business ecosystem and how the global supply chain was fractured and how it's sort of like It's like a bad file that that got corrupted.

And now we're trying to like put the put the thing together, but we can't because there it's an isolation and we have to wear masks literally so That puzzle is super interesting from a business perspective and there are winners like the channels are winners like you're a winner because you're a digital channel.

If you're a transportation channel. Who would have thought like that's a winning game.

Whereas those who are on the job of storing and selling Are less good off less well off because the quanta is a home versus a centralized location for that business shift is Super interesting, but I keep telling people to look at China because China went to this with SARS.

So it's not like a new pattern.

It's just new to To to to non China and we react differently than Chinese and the government super different too.

So that's interesting from a business perspective.

Yeah, very, very interesting. It's something that, you know, looking at I have to tell myself, you know, only 15 minutes a day because sometimes I can just go down a rabbit hole of things.

John, thank you so much again for joining the creative corner today.

It was such a pleasure having you on the show.

Thank you. Yeah, it was absolutely fantastic getting a chance to meet and speak with you.

Thank you again for coming on. Jessica Dylan, you made my hour.

Appreciate it. Thank you. Bye. Bye.