13. Before we were designers

An episode of Opacity

By Tom Cunningham, Craig Phillips
A podcast about working in design.
More places to listen

More places to listen

14: Kim Lenox, Zendesk
Kim Lenox currently heads up the product design organization at Zendesk, a global company that builds software for the best customer experiences. She is responsible for driving strategic priorities and scaling the impact of an international team of product designers, researchers, content strategists, and front-end developers as the company moves upmarket. Prior to Zendesk, Kim led the design of product experiences for 24 years at technology companies like LinkedIn, Samsung, and Palm/HP.  In this episode we were lucky enough to speak with Kim about her career path, how she got to where she is, and the fundamental elements that made her the design leader she is today. It's chock full of sage advice—relevant for designers at any stage in their career.  To connect with Kim, and learn more about what her team is up to at Zendesk, here are some places to check out: Kim on Twitter Zendesk Zendesk Creative _ If you enjoy listening to Opacity, and think others might too, share this episode! Subscribe anywhere you get your podcasts.
July 2, 2019
13. Before we were designers
The jobs that we've had in the past shape the professionals we become. No matter how mundane, low paid, or seemingly inconsequential.  A recent twitter dot com trend had people from far and wide sharing 5 past jobs they had. In the process, we saw people we know (and many we don't) showing how they started out. The result was a lot of random, windy paths. Humble beginnings that showed many of us begin our work like in similar ways. So much of work in these times is impacted by social media, and the FOMO we experience seeing everyone advance and get promoted around us. Some of us think about career switches, but put it on the back burner because it seems too late.  In lucky episode 13, Craig and Tom talk about a few of their early jobs. From Tom's week-long stint as a lounge boy, to Craig's cold winter nights spent pitching for charities door to door—they're tales of hardship and struggle. But also of learning, growth, and the process of maturing into professional designers.  We hope you enjoy the episode. Share your past jobs with us when you share the episode on Twitter or elsewhere. And if you're listening on the Anchor mobile app, send us a audio clip—if we get some submissions maybe we'll start a new segment in future episodes! 🥳 Thanks for listening—share and subscribe! 
June 18, 2019
12: Don't be an Asshole, says Paul Woods
Has your mother ever told you to not be an asshole? In case not, this episode should do the trick.  Paul Woods is Chief Creative Officer at the renowned design firm Edenspiekermann. He has accomplished much in his career as a designer,  working with companies like Red Bull, Google, The City of Santa Monica, Morgan Stanley, and Time Inc.  Now he's written a book to share wisdom on a very important and relevant topic. It's called How to Do Great Work Without Being an Asshole. It's both informative and entertaining, about how we all can be a little bit better people at work. Or at least less bad. But definitely more good. In this episode we talk about the theme of assholes, and learn more about why it's important for designers to think and talk about.  Not sure this point needs mention, but the term asshole is used semi-frequently in the episode. Listener discretion is advised. 😅 If you enjoy the episode please share with everyone you know. And subscribe to Opacity anywhere (and everywhere).
May 14, 2019
11: Banking on Research, with Lar Veale
If you know Lar Veale, and his current role at the bank AIB, then you know the title of this week's episode is a pun.  If you don't know Lar, this is a great chance to hear from someone who has a lot of experience bringing research into the design practice at a big financial institution. And coming from years in an agency setting, he's seen the work from many vantage points. He gets to the heart of why he finds research so critical to make design successful. Tom and Lar go way back, and Craig is clearly a third wheel in the conversation. But Lar brought donuts to the recording session, so we all won in the end.  Enjoy the episode, and share the joy of Opacity with everyone you care about. 
May 1, 2019
10: Learn by Doing
'Twas a dark and stormy night in Dublin... Tune into this week's episode to hear Tom tell a riveting tale of a disaster corrected by the power of DIY.  Experience makes life bigger. It expands our worldview. People decide more and more to pay for experiences than buy stuff. The same goes for learning to be a better designer. Going through the experience, learning by doing, trial and error—it all make us better at what we do. And enjoy the journey a bit more along the way. Here are some highlights from the episode What makes good advice, and when should you take it Learning tools with tutorials and not Milestones in life: houses and kids The case for thrusting yourself into experiences Outsourcing life And some fun facts This is episode 10! I think we're real podcasters now We  planned to record a whole different topic, but changed at the last second after Tom told his car bumper story. We like how it turned out. Hope you enjoy the episode—please share, subscribe, and review Opacity!
April 16, 2019
9: Colman Walsh, UX Design Institute
Colman Walsh's head has been in UX design education for the past decade. Who better to continue our design education topic from episode 4? In 2013 he founded UXTraining.com, and ran it successfully as in-person training for individuals to corporate groups. Then came the opportunity to scale this work, and reach a global audience through online education. In 2017 Colman founded the UX Design Institute, fully online courses for certifications in UX. Interestingly, it offers accreditation through Glasgow Caladonian University. In the episode Colman describes this as a type of disruption through traditional education. Here are some of the other highlights from the chat: Importance of student feedback, then and now The decision to go for accreditation  Importance of uncommon common sense for a UX career Gaps in design education Check out the UX Design Institute to learn more.  Subscribe to Opacity everywhere audio is available 🔈
April 2, 2019
8: Imposter Syndrome, with Aoife O'Dwyer
Raise your hand if you've ever felt like an imposter. 🤚 Imposter Syndrome is something we're all familiar with. Maybe a bit too familiar. It shows its face across industries, but for creative professionals it's especially palpable.  In this episode Tom and Craig talk about their personal experiences with imposter syndrome. Both on the struggles, but also things that have helped them work through it. But even better, they're joined by a special guest. Aoife O'Dwyer—visual designer and gif specialist—joins the chat and shares heaping handfuls of insights and wisdom on the topic.  A few highlights include: The art of taking compliments Ireland and the concept of Notions Intro-Extro-Omni-vertedness Gender and Imposter Syndrome And many many more good things Follow Aoife on Twitter and check her out on Dribbble.  And of course, review + share + subscribe to Opacity on the internets.
March 19, 2019
7: Pete Bowker, CEO of Glug
This is exciting. Did I say how excited I am? We've hit episode 7, and are bringing on a new format with special guests.   In this episode I had the privilege of chatting with Pete Bowker, CEO of Glug. We talked about everything from his childhood eating bee larva in Papua New Guinea, through his career path building creative businesses, and how he's now embarked on a new journey to expand Glug's community around the world. I pick his brain a little on what creatives need, what value we give back, and where we're headed.  Check out the links below to learn more about Glug. Glug is a global creative community connecting, inspiring & educating creatives. Find an event near you, or start a local chapter in your city.  Glug Events https://www.glugevents.com/ Twitter https://twitter.com/glug Instagram https://www.instagram.com/glugevents Subscribe to Opacity wherever you get your podcasts. 
March 5, 2019
6: What's in a Process?
What's in a process? That which we call design, by any other name would still smell as sweet. What's design process, and what's the value in following one? Having a process is a good thing, but does that mean not following one is a bad thing? Tom and Craig get into it, exploring when they're dogmatic, and when agnostic, about design process. Here are some highlights that you'll have to listen to understand 😅 Accordions  Process is a marketing tool It depends Willy nilly Process iteration Process is a people thing Please give us a review with all the stars on iTunes, or wherever you listen. If you liked the episode, please share with your fellow designers, and subscriiiiiibe 😘
February 26, 2019
5: Expectations of the Modern Designer
We started this episode with a simple question. "What's expected of the modern designer?" Turns out it's the perfect topic to uncover rabbit holes.  Tom and Craig have a convo that starts here, and ends somewhere else altogether. From specialists/generalists, to management career tracks, to the worlds of doing design on in-house and agency teams. Listen, enjoy, rate, and share! Subscribe to Opacity wherever you listen to podcasts.
February 19, 2019
4: The Design of Design Interviews
Interviewing is a gentle dance. A staged performance where the interviewer and interviewee meet on the battlefield of employability. In other words, it's hard on both sides of the table. Design challenges are a common component of interviewing for a new gig. But not everyone's a fan. Tom read a tweet last year and just couldn't get the thread out of his mind. In this episode Craig and Tom chat up the spicy twitter exchange, and share their thoughts about design interviews. Here are some of the topics they get into: -About Design Challenges/Exercises -Signs of a Good Interview -Against Design Challenges -Interviews are Theater -Interviews are a Guess -In Support of Design Challenges -Context of the personality, the role, & the company Here's a link to the tweet they mentioned: https://twitter.com/jmspool/status/978299209039441921 Theme music by Tom Cunningham
February 12, 2019
3: What's the Future of Design Education?
Should designers learn? Yes, yes they should. But the real question is how. How should designers learn their craft? What prepares a designer and gives them the skills they need to be successful for todays jobs? How about those of the future? There's no shortage of options out there. College degrees, bootcamps, online certificate programs and, of course, the self-taught route. All distinct paths to try and create a successful career. Tom and Craig get into it from their two distinct backgrounds.  Here are some highlights from the discussion— Education highways & scenic routes Bootcamp scepticism New education business models Self-reliance when self-taught Mentors, and why people are important Investment in the soft skills Emoji miscommunication (👍🏼😅) The future of design education Here are some links from the schools we talked about. Note that none of these schools were involved in this episode. General Assembly Lambda UX Design Institute Interaction Design Foundation Theme music by Tom Cunningham
February 5, 2019
2: Hot/Mild Takes on the Year to Come
What does the future hold? We all have opinions on where the coming year will take us. Tom and Craig are no exception. In this episode the guys discuss a few bits and bobs floating in the empty cavern where their articulate minds used to be. The best thing about the future is no one can say you're wrong. Yet, at the same time, it's so easy to disagree about it. Best not to take any of it too seriously. Here are some highlights from the episode. Existential identity crises of today's designer Design ethics and its unclear trajectory The call to remote work abounds Tool fatigue feels The tight hype curve of design trends Ageing designers (present company excluded) And more! Check out the article referenced here at https://uxdesign.cc/8-undoubtably-true-predictions-for-ux-in-2019-89cc368103cd Theme music by Tom Cunningham
January 29, 2019
1: Experience Design—High Horses & Reality Checks
Welcome to the first ever episode of Opacity! Tom and Craig go down a variety of rabbit holes as they think out loud about experience design. Craig tries to instigate, but Tom remains stoic as ever. Everything is on the table, from the designing bathroom experiences to artificial intelligence. In the end, experience design wins, but not without a few scratches. Here are a few highlights from the episode. - Poking at UX Design - The Best Experience is No Experience - Humility & Ego in Computational & Classical Design - The Commodification and Bubblefication of UX - Artificial Intelligence, Creativity Theme music by Tom Cunningham
January 22, 2019
Welcome to Opacity, a podcast about working in design. What does it mean to be a designer? As a craft, design lives and grows. But with growth comes complexity.  Designers today are often navigating their career paths on their own. Forging new ways to do new types of design. It isn't easy, and the rate of change in the industry makes it even harder. Opacity is a podcast about working in design, hosted by Tom Cunningham and Craig Phillips. Designers that live at the intersection of design, product, and strategy. But with distinct paths and perspectives.  Join us by subscribing to Opacity.  Recorded and produced in Dublin, Ireland.
January 5, 2019
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