Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | Audio

S3E5: John Maeda

John Maeda is global head of computational design and inclusion at Automattic and the author of the annual Design in Tech Report.

Maeda was a professor at the MIT Media Lab, a designer fluent in both art and technology. His first experience with management, however, 
It was very painful, because, you know, when you're a maker, you can make things. You can take a piece of paper, or you can fold it, you can crumple it, you can draw a line. You have such agency. When you're a leader, you have very little agency.
He decided to get an MBA after
a CFO type person at MIT said to me, “Well, John, you're a creative person, so don't worry about the money.”
And this was the third person that told me that in my life. And after someone tells you, “don't worry about something,” you start worrying about it, right.
At Automattic, Maeda travels to places like Appalachia or Detroit, where small businesses need help crossing the digital divide.

People say to me, “Well John it's so good you're helping those people.” And I say, “No, I'm not helping them. I'm getting some of my ignorance addressed because I've lost track of why you need these things.…Can I ensure that the service is designed so they will actually get that benefit they think they're going to get?

Subscribe to The Design of Business | The Business of Design on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, or your favorite podcast app.

The Design of Business | The Business of Design is recorded at the Yale School of Management.

A big thanks to our sponsor, Google Design.

Posted in: Design of Business | Business of Design

Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Eye and Communications Arts magazine, she is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Jessica received both her BA and MFA from Yale University where she has taught since 1994. In 2013, she won the AIGA medal.

Jobs | July 21