The Design Observer Twenty





11.29.22
Kaleena Sales + Omari Souza | Audio

S10E7.5: Minisode


In this month’s minisode Kaleena and Omari take a listen to past episodes featuring Richard Ting and Marcia Lausen.

Commenting on Richard’s and Marcia’s journeys through design, Kaleena reflected her own challenges:
For me, I had to find my voice, and have to continue to find my voice, whether that's through writing or speaking, or whatever it is. And so, overcoming shyness or the concept of being a leader, I feel like it's bigger than me. It's really a belief in emancipation and an understanding that language is really at the center of that. 
Omari similarly shared his own experiences in the design world:
So the onus typically, if you're like me, it falls on you to then say, okay, if I'm not going to get the support and I feel like this is the right way to go then I have to find a way to prove the validity of this argument that I'm making, whether I'm getting the support or not. And then if you do it often enough and it becomes a proven commodity, then it becomes harder for other people to then tell you no.

This episode of The Design of Business | The Business of Design is brought to you by Morningstar: investment research, data, and strategies to empower long-term investor success.

Follow The Design of Business | The Business of Design on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast app.
 
Sign up for our newsletter to keep up with everything going on at Design Observer.

TRANSCRIPT

Omari Souza
Welcome to The Design of Business,

Kaleena Sales
The Business of Design, minisodes. I'm Kaleena Sales.

Omari Souza
And I'm Omari Souza.

Kaleena Sales
Hey, Omari. What's been going on?

Omari Souza
Ah man, nothing much. Just enjoying the seasonal transition from summer into fall. How about yourself?

Kaleena Sales
Yeah, me too. I am loving the cooler temperatures. And then also just I like holiday season, so I'm kind of excited about Thanksgiving and Christmas and all of that. And it's always fun when, you know, when you have kids and getting the toys and all of those things. So family time. Yeah.

Omari Souza
Have you set up your Christmas tree yet?

Kaleena Sales
You know, my husband has a hard and fast rule that we wait till December 1st, which I think is a little a little close. Like if it were me, I would probably go like next week, but yeah.

Omari Souza
I can hear that. I understand that I'm actually going to be going tree shopping in the next week or two.

Kaleena Sales
Yeah. All right. So let's move in to the podcast. This month, Kevin and Dana spoke with Richard Ting, vice president of Design for Revenue at Twitter, and Marcia Lausen, director of the UIC School of Design and founder of the Chicago Office of Studio/lab.

Omari Souza
Both Richard and Marcia provided insights into how their roles changed as their careers developed. Richard spoke about his transition from the big design agency R/GA to Twitter.

Richard Ting
You know, for me, moving from agency side to in-house, you know, it was always something that I thought about. Plenty of people that I've worked with over the years that R/GA had made the move in-house. And there are quite a few that have been very successful working in-house, leading product teams. So me going into Twitter, I heard all the stories of the adjustments that I would have to make. And, you know, for me, I wanted to go to Twitter to to work inside of a tech company deeper within the product. One of the things about working on product on the agency side is that sometimes you're working on strategy, you're working on visioning, you're providing concepts — and that 30,000 foot view is is fantastic. And sometimes you get to bring the work down and you get to maybe work at the 15,000 foot level, in some cases, you might be able to, like, actually implement and execute.

Kaleena Sales
And Marcia spoke about her journey to leadership through academia.

Marcia Lausen
I'm very humbled by everything that's happened to me in my career. And I was not someone who was outspoken or saw myself as the leader of anything. But what happened is I became good at something and gained a lot of experience and skill. And it's that ability that made me brave enough to be in front of people. And if you want to be an educator and if you really want to be deeply involved in education, you have no choice. The requirements for achievement in that world require you to be out in in your profession making a difference. And so it was maybe that plus in practice, I think it was easier for me to push forth the work of my colleagues and, you know, brag about that and push for it and sell it in ways that it wasn't as easy for me to do for myself.

Omari Souza
I love the points that Marcia made about leadership as well as insights into academe, because in a lot of ways it's so true. It's like it's very hard to be an academic, come into the field, keep your head down, gain tenure, and then make the rest of your career being an educator. You are expected to come out and speak at conferences, which is a peer reviewed process, submit to journals, which is a peer review process, and then annually you're being assessed in terms of your contribution to your institution, which requires you to kind of a understand what people are looking for to deliver on these things and then just place yourself out there so much. In a lot of ways it feels very much so like a bad episode of Survivor in terms of the amount of people that vote on you and like have to approve of what you're doing in order for you to like make it to the next year. And eventually you do become good at it and you do find your niche, the space in which you've faced the least amount of rejection, of the space in which you have the most innovative ideas, your most innovative ideas — I don't want to say the most innovative ideas, and people find the most value in you, which can also be rewarding. But man, is it is it is it rough. It's an extremely rough process. And I don't think a lot of people take into consideration. How do you how do you feel about that?

Kaleena Sales
Yeah, I when I was listening to Marcia speak about that, that really resonated with me because I've someone very similar to what she said, I'm not someone who's ever been, you know, very outspoken. And so the journey of being a design educator has been an interesting one for that reason. And so even lately, like I'm I think I've mentioned before, I'm working on my doctorate degree at NC State,

Omari Souza
Soft flex.

Kaleena Sales
Just had to throw that in there, no. But now you get questioned a lot about like, you know, why are you even pursuing this. What do you care about? What do you what is your research interest and why and that sort of thing? And so in those conversations, you start to think about, yeah, your reason why. And so for me, I am really inspired by, you know, Paulo, is it, Freire, I think that's how he pronounces his last name, author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed and his concept surrounding education as an act of love and education and really an emancipatory kind of way. And so much of his work is is sort of centering the idea that in order to be like a critical theorist or, you know, involved in emancipatory work, you have to engage with language. And language is sort of the thing that's going to be the thing that, you know, serves as like, you know, liberation. And so for me, I had- that meant that I, you know, I had to find my voice and have to continue to find my voice, whether that's through writing or speaking or, you know, or whatever it is. And so, you know, overcoming shyness or overcoming, you know, the concept of being a leader in any way is really bigger than, you know, at least I feel like it's bigger than me. It's really a belief in emancipation and an understanding that language is really at the center of that, so, so yeah. So I really resonated with what Marcia said in terms of just, you know, working at something and getting good at it and really sort of focusing on the work itself and letting that be the thing that helps you sort of get out of get out of your shell.

Omari Souza
I agree. I think the thing that I found really interesting is her piece about making a difference. And I think for a lot of people, finding their purpose in academia and where they want to see difference is a very difficult thing for them to be able to identify. And I know both in graduate students that I've taught in the past, as well as colleagues that I've talked to about choosing a research trajectory or finding areas of social engagement that they may find interesting or industry that they might find interesting. I often reflected on my childhood, so my mother has to aunts that I would sometimes stay with, and they were extremely religious. So whenever I stayed with them, I went with them to church. Didn't matter what day of the week it was their church was open like seven days a week so I had to go. And there was a one sermon that I remember the pastor was talking about the good- the story of the Good Samaritan and how he was there for his neighbor. And, posed the question that for a lot of people in the audience, it may be difficult for them to identify who their neighbor is. And then he charged everybody by then saying, you know, it's whoever's tears impact you the most. And I found that in my own work, whenever I think about like: Oh, what difference do I want to make or that would have, I feel like there's a purpose to my work. I often think about that, like whose tears gives me the most feels, and how can I leverage my skill sets in order to advocate for those people and to the system? And I think for me, that's that's been where I found a lot of my own personal success because those people ended up being that group ended up being the area where I was most passionate about. So my research was already there. My casual reading was already there. If, if my ears perked up when I heard insights about this particular group, it would make transitioning into a leadership role around this section a lot easier than me, starting from scratch, not having any idea as to where to go.

Kaleena Sales
Yeah, I love that. And I guess to continue on the theme of things we've learned in church. Richard Ting's clip regarding the different viewpoints that we have, viewing things at 30,000 feet or 15,000 and that sort of thing. It actually reminded me of, you know, Jakes, Bishop T.D. Jakes? He's a preacher in Houston. Is it isn't he in Houston based in Houston or?

Omari Souza
He's in Dallas.

Kaleena Sales
He's in Dallas. Okay, yeah.

Omari Souza
Not too far from me, yeah.

Kaleena Sales
Yeah. Huge audience. And he's a TV pastor, but also, you know, has a real church and all that. But anyway, he tells this story every now and then, thats about a turtle and a giraffe. And I'm not sure if he originated it or not, but I've heard him tell it. So I'm going to give him the credit here. But in Richard Ting's section that we just played the clip, he talks about how you can view things in and see things differently based on your vantage point. Right. And so in T.D. Jakes's example, he says that, you know, the giraffe and the turtle might occupy the same state of their surroundings in the same space, but they're not they don't have the same worldview. They don't see things the same because they're looking at it from completely different vantage points. And so I think the point that Bishop Jakes was making was that you you shouldn't expect if you're the giraffe, you shouldn't expect that the turtle will understand your point of view because he can't relate to it. And I think that, you know, I thought about that and how that sort of relates to even the positions that we have either in industry or in our, you know, in our positions, like there's some higher ups that see things and they might be looking at it from top down and they're seeing patterns and trends and sort of big picture things, macro level things. And then there are people that are sort of in the trenches, I guess, you know, and they're seeing things differently. And so I think a lot of times too often I think we dismiss other people's points of view because it doesn't align with what we are seeing, right? It doesn't align with our experiences. But we have to, you know, remember that our positionality reveals different realities and that, you know, if we can embrace that, then I think that builds, you know, stronger teams, stronger outcomes and better ways to solve problems.

Omari Souza
Yeah, I think I agree with that completely. I feel like we're going to be passing on the collection plate.

Kaleena Sales
Right.

Omari Souza
I think one thing I thought was really interesting about both speakers is the fact that they mentioned idea of competence and slightly imposter syndrome when working in particular spaces. I know in academia I've always dealt with a certain amount of imposter syndrome, but also this need to prove myself to my colleagues. I've always been the unicorn in the room, the only black professor at institutions up until my recent employment at University of North Texas, where my colleague Cassini is the other black UX design research professor employed. But in addition to that, I've also been the youngest and for many of the professors they've been teaching much longer than I've been living. So when you are working with colleagues that have been doing things the same way since the seventies when they started their teaching career, it's really hard to then make these recommendations for how the industry is changing and all of these other things. I, I remember in my first teaching gig at La Roche University, I had a colleague tell me she thought design research was a fad and that, you know, sooner or later would be right back to, you know, traditional design before we know it. And now they're designers getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars and design research roles. So yeah, I think I think for myself, the thing that helped me is also a part of the profession that I'm in. As a design researcher, I often tell my students that everything is assumption until it's verified. And as you know, a solution is presented, that solution might be perfect for the time period that you're presenting it, but problems evolve, so the solution has to evolve as well. So as you're presenting something to your colleagues and as your presenting something to your team, you may feel like it's a perfect idea, but it's really an assumption until it's validated and it's proven. So the onus typically, if you're like me, it falls on you to then say, okay, if I'm not going to get the support and I feel like this is the right way to go then I have to find a way to prove the validity of this argument that I'm making, whether I'm getting the support or not. And then if you do it often enough and it becomes a proven commodity, then it becomes harder for other people to then tell, you no. So I guess in many ways, you know, the thing that I would recommend to those that are attempting to find confidence is take measured risks. Not to quote Jay-Z, but Jay-Z had a had a quote in one of his songs where he talked about people still taking advances for their-for their on the record deals and how that puts them at a disadvantage in terms of making a profit and how you do have to be the person to take a risk on yourself. And then once you've taken that risk and proven that commodity, you typically will have more onus and ownership over the thing that you want to put together. So in many ways, I would recommend that if there's something that you want to do or something that you want to try that you haven't done so yet, take the risk. Take the risk and dive headfirst into the pool.

Kaleena Sales
Yeah, I think I could speak for a while about confidence. Yeah. So that imposter syndrome thing is really true. And but I think a lot of it in addition, I think we're always going to have or run into or possibly run into issues of confidence when we are, you know, pursuing new heights or sort of like going after things that, you know, we've never done before and that honestly, people around us may not have done either. Like I'm— I say all the time, I tell my students, you know, I remind them I'm a first generation college student, too. I, you know, a lot of rooms I've been in, you know, are new to me. And I didn't have anyone talking to me about how to operate in those spaces. And it's not just professional spaces, it's social spaces. It's how you engage with people at dinner parties. It's it's all sorts of things that come up when you don't have that modeled for you. And I'll tell one quick kind of example of that. I remember being in grad school and the director of the— it was when I went to VCU, their advertising program, and the director of the program back then did this really, really generous thing where he did a dinner party for all of the graduate students and he would invite us out like three students at a time. And so my week came where, you know, I was invited out to his house, he and his wife and a couple of other students and I show up. And the other two students had like gifts, like flowers and wine. And I had nothing because I had never been to a dinner party before. I was like, I had no idea how to even operate in that space, you know? And I felt so uncomfortable. And it was such a, it was a lovely, you know, event and the-and the, you know, environment was great. And, you know, it wasn't that the other people were creating an uncomfortable situation. It's just that I was uncomfortable in that space because I had never been in that sort of situation before. And so I bring that up to say that that happens in professional spaces as well. You know, whenever we find ourselves, you know, sort of advancing in our careers or or in in zoom rooms with people who have, you know, twice as much kind of experience as we do, even doing, you know, writing projects or this podcast or, you know, whatever. You have to sort of quiet that voice that says that you have to be perfect or quiet that voice that says that you have to already know what you're doing, you know, and just accept that if you're, you know, not the smartest person in the room, you're in a good room. So.

Omari Souza
No, that's true.

Kaleena Sales
It's time for the benediction Omari.

Omari Souza
The Design of Business | The Business of Design as a podcast from Design Observer. Our website is DBBD dot Design Observer dot com. There you can find the complete archive from past guests and hosts. To listen go to DBBD dot Design Observer dot com.

Kaleena Sales
If you like what you heard today, please subscribe to this podcast. You can find The Design of Business | The Business of Design on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or however you listen to podcast.

Omari Souza
And if you are already a subscriber to the podcast, tell your friends about the show or go to Apple Podcasts and rate us, which is a great way to let people know about the show.

Kaleena Sales
And between episodes, you can keep up with Design Observer on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And thanks to Morningstar for making this conversation possible.

Omari Souza
Our producer is Adina Karp. Judybelle Camangyan edits the show. Design Observer's executive producer is Betsy Vardell. Our theme music is by Mike Errico. Thanks as always to Design Observer founder Jessica Helfand.

Kaleena Sales
And of course, to our counterparts Kevin Bethune and Dana Arnett.

Omari Souza
See you guys next time.

Kaleena Sales
See you next time.

Posted in: Design of Business | Business of Design



Comments [0]



Jobs | February 05