The Dave Chan Hypothesis: We Are All Designers

Dave Chan is a senior product designer at Adobe, previously leading teams at Tesla and Shutterstock.

In this episode of the Product Science Podcast, we talk about why the best teams integrate design from the start.

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Resources

Questions We Explore in This Episode

The Dave Chan Hypothesis: We Are All DesignersHow did Dave go from working in a print shop to working in tech? What did he learn working in adtech? Why did he look to his parents’ work in physical manufacturing for inspiration? What’s the story behind Dave’s first company, in apparel? How did he end up working as a designer at Calvin Klein and DKNY? What are similarities between design for the fashion industry and design for digital?

What was Dave’s first team like at Shutterstock? What cross-functional team practices did he learn from his earlier work in conventional design? What are the dangers of keeping designers segregated from the rest of the organization? Why is it important to realize that design decisions are often made outside of the design team? Why is a designer’s most important role often to teach others how to speak the language of design?

What are the traits of product managers who collaborate successfully with designers? What has been less helpful? What information and insights do designers need in order to do their job well? Why do designers in so many organizations end up spending so much energy trying to make sure that they’re heard?

What was it like working at Tesla during the “Model 3 production hell”? What differences did Dave see in how communication at Tesla worked compared to other companies he had been with? What work did he do while he was with the company? What values did Tesla make clear to Dave every day he worked there? Why did they have so few team meetings? How did they achieve that? What standing rule does Tesla have to make meetings waste less time?

What did Dave learn moving to Adobe, and why is it important to understand that different organizations have different processes in place that help them succeed? How do you know when you’re spending energy simply trying to get your voice heard? How do you mitigate that by spending time with other teams? Why is it important for designers to present multiple options for how to proceed? How is Dave working to cut down on the amount of meetings teams need to have with SHUGO? How do you help with Zoom fatigue?

Quotes From This Episode

For me, there's no sense of design-led or design being its own thing. Design is everywhere, we're all designers, and I believe that. Click To Tweet Keep a beginner mindset and always be learning because that'll set you up for opportunities that will come your way eventually. Click To Tweet If there is no insight shared about why a project is critical to the business the designer is just designing in a vacuum for the perfect experience, without actually materially affecting the business. Click To Tweet

Transcription

Holly Hester-Reilly: Hi, and welcome to the Product Science Podcast, where we’re helping startup founders and product leaders build high-growth products, teams, and companies through real conversations with people who’ve tried it and aren’t afraid to share lessons learned from their failures along the way. I’m your host, Holly Hester-Reilly, founder and CEO of H2R Product Science.
This week on the Product Science Podcast, I’m excited to share a conversation with David Chan. David is a senior product designer at Adobe, and he was previously leading teams at Tesla and Shutterstock, which is where I met him. David, welcome.
Dave Chan: Hey Holly.
Holly Hester-Reilly: How are you doing?
Dave Chan: I’m doing amazing. Just dealing with COVID, dealing with the forest fires out here in the Bay area. Overall, not bad. Not bad.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. Keeping it together as best you can?
Dave Chan: Yeah.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Awesome. So David is, I think, one of we’ve just had a few designers instead of product managers on the podcast, so I’m excited to have you here as one of them. Why don’t we start by diving into how you got into tech and how you got into design?
Dave Chan: Oh yeah. I actually noticed on your podcast list of guests, that there are not many designers, so I’m very honored to be one of the few, I think. It’s funny, my journey, it’s not a straight line, to put it. I received training as a visual designer in college and it was mostly graphic, non-digital stuff. So when I got out of college, my first job was working at a print shop.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Wow.
Dave Chan: Straight up, in the back of the print shop, working with the printer, fumes, gas fumes, all over the place, and just seeing the messy side of design actually. The underbelly of design, you might say. And after that, my next job, I got an opportunity to get into ad tech, so I worked at a company called agency.com, which is one of the early pioneers of ad tech. And I worked for clients like eBay, Miller Lite, Kashi. eBay was actually our biggest client and the majority of the work was working with eBay. So I got my design chops started in digital, doing banner ads.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Wow.
Dave Chan: Yeah. So a lot of interactive banner ads. We were doing some crazy stuff in the early flash days. We had very interactive things going on. We won some awards and whatnot. At the same time, I think during my time in ad tech, I was a little disappointed to say, because I didn’t feel like I was building anything material that the end user would feel. I felt like I was just doing something that was getting people to click on things, to buy things, and the interaction just ended there. We couldn’t measure anything after the banner, we didn’t know how satisfied they were and whatnot.
So at the same time, I grew up in a family that was in manufacturing. So my parents were in apparel manufacturing, and I always saw how she was able to make products out of physical materials and see end users use them. She would point to me on the street and say, “Your mom helped make that basketball Jersey. That Michael Jordan basketball jersey that kid is wearing down the block, we helped make that.”
Holly Hester-Reilly: Wow.
Dave Chan: I was like, “Wow, that’s so cool. How can I do that?”
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah.
Dave Chan: So, while I was in ad tech, I actually started my first company. I was around 25 and I founded this small apparel company, and I was printing my own clothes, little T-shirts with my own design. I had my own company. I learned a lot about branding and all that. We didn’t have websites back then. We didn’t have e-com. It wasn’t as strong. I basically just walked around with a sales sheet, selling my T-shirts, one by one. One by one. I had a suitcase, I was just walking around San Francisco, selling them. I actually got into maybe five stores in San Francisco, and it was my first taste of wow, I actually did the whole end-to-end. I printed my own T-shirts, I sourced my own T-shirts, I made my own website, I made the flyers, I did sales and I sold. And I think that was my first taste, and I was so into it. So I thought, I’m doing okay in tech. I love it, ad tech, but I want to do this new thing. So I moved to New York. That was the point I decided to move to New York.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yay.
Dave Chan: Yay, right? And I actually sold my business to a friend.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Wow.
Dave Chan: Yeah, so it was my first exit, I guess. I sold that to 25, but for a small amount. When I was in New York, just based on what I did with that business, I got my first job in fashion, working at Calvin Klein.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Oh, wow.
Dave Chan: Yeah. I was a designer at custom client for a short while. And it’s funny, as a designer in physical products, you work so closely with the various partners that make the product happen, that the notion of designers being in a room by themselves and everyone else being in other rooms by themselves, just doesn’t happen, I think in other product categories. So it’s interesting how for digital, it seemed very siloed and just silos happened naturally.
But anyways, after Calvin, I did some more time in fashion at DKNY. And I think around that time, I thought I wanted to get back into digital because I saw a lot of exciting things happening, but it wasn’t easy to pivot back into digital.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah, I bet.
Dave Chan: Because by that point, everyone had pigeonholed me as someone that didn’t know anything about digital like, “What do you know about building websites?” Even though I had the background in it, everyone just saw me as this apparel manufacturing designer. But I tried to persuade them that in digital product making, you’re applying a lot of the same principles that physical products have been doing for years. We do user testing, they do that. They call it garment fitting. Basically, you bring a model in, you put the garment on and you, and you ask them, “How do you feel?” And you do product testing, there’s product development. There’s a lot of research going on. So I tried to explain that point to a lot of the recruiters and they just didn’t get it, I guess. So I had to basically do a lot of A/B testing. I had to do a lot of personal projects to get back into digital. And I also started my own Kickstarter project at the same time.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Oh, what was that?
Dave Chan: So I did a little Kickstarter project called Salvedge Denim. The concept was eco-friendly accessories, because I had spent time in fashion and I noticed how much waste there was. A lot of fabric manufacturing waste. And I thought what if we could make use of that fabric, turned them into accessories and then sell them. So I had this whole system built out, but it didn’t work out. I think I wasn’t just smart about how to run fundraising on Kickstarter.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. It’s its own skill to start fundraising. At this point in time, it’s gotten to be so robust that the people who do it well have a whole process.
Dave Chan: Yeah. They have these advisors doing how to fund your Kickstarter projects now. And I think my biggest learning was I think I think I made the fundraising goal a little too high. I should have just made it lower, so that once you hit that goal, then it just skyrockets. So that didn’t work out, but I did learn a lot. I sourced my own fabric. I went through the whole process again, tested them. I had iterations of the various product types. Tried to do branding, marketing and launching, and I think that’s where I knew my weakness was. Fundraising is not my thing, I think. And for some reason, digital marketing, I just couldn’t really pick it up fast enough. But it did help me find my next job. So I got back into digital, finally.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yay.
Dave Chan: After so long. And I started to work in email marketing. And that was great because I wanted to get better at A/B testing. I wanted to get back into all the new tools that the digital economy has now. So a lot of A/B testing, email marketing, just starting at the root level again. And I learned a lot and then my next opportunity brought me to a startup, and then after that I went to Shutterstock, and that’s when we met.
Holly Hester-Reilly: That’s right.
Dave Chan: That’s when we met.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yes. So for our listeners, why don’t you just share what kind of projects you worked on at Shutterstock?
Dave Chan: So at Shutterstock, I worked on a project called Editor. I basically joined at the foundational level of when the product was getting built up. I think I might’ve joined maybe after beta, I think. It was so much fun building such an incredible tool. And I think my fondest memories were just that team that we put together for the Editor product, and just the design leaders at Shutterstock, they were amazing. I learned so much from them.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Tell us more about the team. I know that you have a passion for cross-functional teams, and so do I, so tell me more about that. What did that look like to you?
Dave Chan: So it was your typical product development team. We had a product manager. I was working alongside Maggie at the time. So two designers on the team, and then we had a front end, back end. Well, they were full stack actually. And then we had also had our QE engineers as well. I think it was just hiring the folks who were design minded that already had bought into design and knew the importance of design, that helped a lot. And people that weren’t afraid to ask questions, people that wanted to grow and learn together. And a product manager who really was able to put a fast-moving product into perspective that everyone can understand and requirements and jobs that everyone can effectively work on, and just leverage everyone’s skill set.
I never felt like anyone on that team thought they were better than the other, and people were super communicative. And I think that’s the thing that I carry along throughout all the roles after that. I think it definitely came from that experience working in non-digital design. Just the fact that we’re co-creators. For me, there’s no sense of design-led or design being its own thing. Design is everywhere, we’re all designers, and I believe that.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. So that makes me think what is the antithesis of that to you? What are some of the things you see that don’t feel like that? And what are the impacts of that?
Dave Chan: I’ve definitely been in places where design tends to be in a room by themselves, or there’s a lot of process to try to communicate with design, to get feedback from them, and then that communication trickles back down to the other teams. And I find that it slows the creativity down a bit, it slows development time. It just creates barriers for communication. And I see a lot of additional energies wasted on trying to get this buy in for some reason.
It’s almost like, like it or not, decisions are being made for design, outside of design. And it’s not to say that it’s bad. Actually, I think it’s great because then everyone is able to speak the same language, speak the language of design. And I think you, as a designer, is someone that knows this language best and you are there to help others see that, understand that. And for those who are not bought into design, at least for me, I’m not there to hammer them into educate them like, “Hey, this is design.” Design is really important, but it’s more to show the value that design can bring to users and how you can make a contribution to a better experience if you knew more about design.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. I love the way you described that. I think my favorite designers that I’ve worked with really see themselves as a vehicle for communication and championing of design, but not the only one who can make the design decisions, because so many decisions have design elements to them, that it’s impossible to filter them all through a particular member of the team. Sometimes things just come up and you try your best to be collaborative about all of it. But when you’re able to actually affect the mindsets that everybody’s thinking about the customer, everybody’s thinking about the product’s design and value, you come up with much better results.
Dave Chan: Yeah. And for me, I feel like I’ve done my job if a non-designer complains about the color or complaints about the font, or it just doesn’t look and feel right, the experience is bad and they call me out. Because I can’t catch everything, and I’m not supposed to. As a designer, just like you said, there’s just so much in the user journey that could go wrong. So it’s great when a non-designer calls that out. I feel pretty successful.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah, that’s awesome. So because we do focus a lot on product people, I’m curious to hear more about your perspective of working with product people. So with that case in particular, what made that product person… What do you think were the factors that led to them being successful in their role?
Dave Chan: I think the best way for me to answer that is I’ve worked with product managers who haven’t been as successful with designers. And that usually has happened when the designer doesn’t have room to do their thing, where they’re just told, “I need a pretty screen, make one.” And all that information is like, just kept away from them, where they don’t have an idea of the business. Why is this critical to the business? Why do we need to design it in a certain way? Without that insight, the designer is just designing in a vacuum for the perfect experience, without actually materially affecting the business.
They may know the consumer insight, like running user tests and getting the consumer lens, but it’s equally important and understand what is the underlying metrics that’s driving this thing, and that it would help you prioritize better and it lowers the friction. So it brings us back to the designer being a part of the process and not outside of it. It’s giving the designer freedom to create, but then also bringing them in along the journey and letting them know all the data that you have, business, metrics, KPIs, et cetera.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. Makes sense. So it’s a lot about partnering with them, treating them as a partner that needs to know and be a part of a lot of the same things, right?
Dave Chan: Yeah. And I’ve been in situations where that’s happened maybe more than I wanted. I’m hypothesizing, but I think that might lead to the reason why the industry sometimes does have this, designer needs to take a stand because we need to protect ourselves or we need to make our voices heard. And that’s really sad actually, that we have to do that because we shouldn’t have to, because if we were designing as a team together, co-designing, then we wouldn’t have to waste that energy, trying to make sure we’re heard, and we could actually build things users want.
Holly Hester-Reilly: And that’s, at the end of the day, what we all want to do, right?
Dave Chan: Yeah.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. So what did you do after Shutterstock?
Dave Chan: After Shutterstock, I went to Tesla, and moved out West to be closer to family. At that time we had just had our newborn, we had our first kid, and we moved out West to be closer to family. I was at Tesla at around at the time of, they call it the, “Model 3 production hell.”
Holly Hester-Reilly: Oh, really?
Dave Chan: Yeah. So they were trying to get Model 3 production numbers to ramp up. I think that’s when everyone was just freaking out. They were in a lot of debt. Yeah. I went in in the eye of the storm.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Wow. What was that like?
Dave Chan: It was scary, crazy and amazing. It was just hard to put it in one word. So it was probably one of those experiences where I’ll remember for the rest of my life. The way Tesla operates, it’s so different than anything that I had experienced. The speed at which they ship, the focus on engineering, the clarity of communication. It’s just Elon to you. There are layers, but overall, it’s a pretty flat organization. And just that mission, they’re just so mission driven. And it’s so simple that it’s easy to remember. I think that’s the magic of working at Tesla, is they really focus on the mission, they tell you that every day. And it’s a mission that it’s easy to get behind. Saving the world, making things that are sustainable, cars that don’t pollute the world and making the world a better place for your kids. It’s really gratifying to say that you were part of that.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah, absolutely. Tell me more about the day-to-day. What was your role there? The things you work on.
Dave Chan: Yeah. I was a designer on the internal apps team, so nothing that anyone ever saw in the car, but more, people that were putting the car together on the assembly line, they would use the apps that I helped make. So if you bought a Tesla that was made around the time of 2018 and and later, I probably had a hand in building that car. So that was pretty amazing. Every time I see a Tesla go by, I’m like, “Oh, I think I helped build that.”
Holly Hester-Reilly: Nice.
Dave Chan: So we were focused on making sure employees were receiving the right training to build a car in the assembly line. So quite different from anything I had ever worked on. You were making sure that ergonomics were met, you were making sure people were rotated to make sure they’re healthy and not working at the same shift for longer than X number of hours, meeting certain rules at the state level for labor laws, I guess.
Yeah. Every day, I’d go into work and minimal amount of meetings, which is a great thing for anyone that’s a contributor. I think the most shocking thing for me with every day, I would go into work, my calendar, empty. Every time. For weeks and weeks and weeks, empty. So you could just focus on doing the work. That’s not just for me as a designer, engineers. I think until you hit a certain level, then the meetings start getting a little crazy. I knew someone that was just three days in a row, in meetings. And I never saw them for three days. But everyone else just was heads down, working and communicating with the person next to them, their team. And for me, I had just a really quick standup in the morning and then it was just heads down every day.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Wow. That sounds amazing. How did they achieve that?
Dave Chan: I think the flat org helped, the clear communication helped. Because of how simple things are there, I think this communication just gets as complicated as the thing you’re building, I think. So for them, it’s just Model S, 3, X, Y, four products, they then do some solar energy, making it related to products. I think just that alone makes the communication maybe a little simpler, I think.
And then everything else was, just because of the flatness of the org, you had a manager who facilitated the communication. But they always told you everything though, that there was nothing ever that was kind of like, “I’m going to shield some information away from you,” or, “Elon said he hated the thing you made.” He’s just going to tell you, “Elon hated it. Elon pounded his fist on the desk and said, ‘I didn’t want to see this again.'” They would just give you the info. And it could be scary, but at the same time, it empowers you to say, “Oh. Well, this is the feedback that I wanted to get better. How can I make it better?” And I think the flatness of the org helped, and just being clear and concise in communication helped.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Okay. What were the communication channels that they used for the clear communication?
Dave Chan: How can I say? I think they still hadn’t meetings, but in the meetings, I think the leaders had already thought out what they were going to say. So when they came into the meeting, “Here are the items,” and if you wanted to discuss these items outside of the meeting, I think they were using Microsoft Teams to capture the communication. But I think the key thing was the managers and the communicators who had the information always came to the meeting prepared and knew what they were going to say.
And also, there is a rule at Tesla where if you are in that meeting and you feel like you’re not going to add and contribute to that meeting, you can just walk out. Everyone does that. So in other places, people might stick around, they might feel like they look bad, feel like they’re just wasting time in there, they’re not materially adding to the conversation. So, at Tesla you just go and leave. And so that also helped cut down a lot of extra extraneous time.
Holly Hester-Reilly: That’s really fascinating. I’d never heard that. Yeah, that’s really cool. So how long did you stay at Tesla?
Dave Chan: I stayed there for about a year. Ultimately, I left because there was a greater opportunity at Adobe. I’d always wanted to work in the creative tool space. That’s my first love, and I think that was from that Editor experience. So we parted ways mutually in good terms from Tesla, and then I joined Adobe. I joined the Adobe Stock team, and so far it’s been amazing.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. And what do you do on the Adobe Stock team?
Dave Chan: From the Adobe Stock team, I moved around a couple of places, but now I’m focused on e-commerce. So I’m helping build and refine the checkout flows, pricing pages. And it’s an area that I had never really previously focused on, and that’s specifically why I wanted to do it. I wanted to just try something new and see what I can learn.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. That’s such a good mentality, right?
Dave Chan: Yeah.
Holly Hester-Reilly: So have you had similar experiences with the cross-functional teams at Tesla and Adobe?
Dave Chan: It’s actually quite starkly different between Tesla and Adobe. Adobe is such a much bigger company, very well established, just a lot of processes in place that helped them become the company they are today, that has worked for them. So when I first joined, I was just coming from a year of no meetings, the calendar was completely empty. And then you come back and suddenly, there a few more of them. It took some time to adjust, but then the longer you work there, the more you realize that every company has its own culture and DNA and their reasons why they work for them. And at Adobe, they’re very careful about these processes and they have meetings, but it’s still on across so many different product verticals, so the communication has to be a lot more succinct as well, just to make sure you’re still able to work.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. It’s definitely really different when you’re in a larger enterprise or an older enterprise, right?
Dave Chan: Yeah.
Holly Hester-Reilly: They have a lot of different inertia in different ways. And how old was the team when you got there? Because Adobe Stock is just a handful of years old, right?
Dave Chan: Yeah. I don’t exactly know how many years, maybe five, I want to say. I could be wrong, but the team that I was joining at the time, it was going through a transition. So a new manager had just joined, I had just joined in, and couple others as well. So the team was going through this phase of transitioning from the startup designers to another group. So there’s a lot of knowledge transfer going on. Just a lot of asking questions like, “Hey, why did we do it this way?” Not a design debt, just a lot of questions being asked, which is healthy.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah, absolutely. From any of your experiences, are there any pet peeves that you have where you’re like, “Gosh, I really get frustrated when product or engineering does things this way,” or other designers?
Dave Chan: Yeah. I think one thing was just when a design just focuses too much on trying to find its voice or trying to make sure they’re heard. I think it depends on where you are, but I think at some companies, there’s a very nuanced way to get your voice heard and it’s a lot of hard work. You literally have to go to different teams and not make a case, but communicate, build a relationship. As a designer, how do I build a relationship with the engineering team? Maybe if I knew a little bit about coding, maybe if I knew a little bit about what kind of work they do, pushing code, and the process of getting that design to the user, I think that’s how you build mutual understanding to me, and that takes time, it takes work.
So I would say maybe patience is one of those key things where just wait and spend time with other teams so that they know what you’re doing, you know what they’re doing, and that relationship building will help. And then the other is just regularly sharing design and what you’re doing, you’re designing. I think it happens, so a lot of times, design likes to make things beautiful. And it’s a very unique skill, to make someone think that’s user friendly and eye catching.
But I think it’s also healthy to show things that are work in progress. There’s a tendency for some design teams to just hold onto them until everything is buttoned up, everything’s perfect, and then the big show, you show it at the end. I think it’s healthy to show things that are not perfect, that you’re still working out the kinks and where you might need product input and you might need engineering input because they’re going to give you that perspective that you may be missing.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah, absolutely. I love hearing you say that because that’s one of my favorite things is to see people share, even before they feel like it’s something that they’ve perfected or that they’re super proud of it being ready, just to be like, “This is the direction I’m going in.” That’s one of the most valuable things I’ve seen.
Dave Chan: Yeah. I think the other is probably showing options. I think I’ve been in places where like design shows a few options, versus places where design just shows, “This is the one that I am going to pitch. This is the one that I stand most firmly behind.” Sort of like if you were in an ad agency versus like, if you’re maybe a freelancer… Even as a freelancer, I’ve shown options.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah.
Dave Chan: Ad agencies definitely show options, but they’re very smart about it. The one that I like the most, and then two, one that option B, I might be half as into, but C, I don’t like. But I’m going to present it in an order that strategically that you’re going to probably pick A or B.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah.
Dave Chan: That’s something that I feel like it’s useful because it shows that you’ve put some thinking as a designer into options and why you think option A is the best. And it gives everyone just a lens into how you think, and it gives you more credit as a designer, that you’ve put in some rigorous thought into that design.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah.
Dave Chan: It’s just like, “Here’s one option that I like, and I’m not going to give you an opportunity to ask why I didn’t pick B or C, or why I didn’t show you other options.”
Holly Hester-Reilly: I love hearing you say that too. That’s definitely one of the things for me that it’s a red flag if somebody comes and they’re like, “This is what I picked. I tried some other things, but I’m not even going to show them to you,” because it feels like we don’t get insight into how they got there and what’s going on.
Dave Chan: I think as a junior designer, that happened a lot to me because you’re going to be vulnerable. When you open up yourself to options B and C and why they might not work, as a junior designer, it’s terrifying. Most of the teams I’ve joined, engineers are more senior, product managers could be more senior, and you’re afraid of getting your designs ripped apart. But I think a growth mindset would really help there, where you know that they’re not there to tear you down, they’re actually there to bring you up and help you get better. But I think having a strong design team, where there are leadership there to support you, good mentors to let you know that that’s okay, to help you sort through that kind of stuff, that can really help a designer grow.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah, absolutely. Switching gears a bit, I know you said you have a personal project that you wanted to talk a little bit about. Can you tell us about that?
Dave Chan: Yeah. So I’m currently working on a side project that is very near and dear to me. I feel like that probably came from my time at Tesla and seeing how much you could get from not spending time in too many meetings. So I’m currently working on a project where the aim is to hopefully cut down the number of meetings that people have. And especially in this strange time of COVID, everyone is just having to reassess where they’re spending their time and whether all these meetings are necessary, and how do we become effective at managing our own time? And I’m hoping this project that I’m working on can help with that. Me, working at home right now, we have a 22-month-old. It’s hard juggling the schedules. This whole notion of eight-hour chunks, and then go home, I feel like it might not return anytime soon, and so we need better tools to help with that.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. So how does your project help with that? What’s the direction?
Dave Chan: Yeah. Directionally, it helps people have more structured thinking, setting agendas, helping them get the information that they need to the team, so that if you have a question about the product you’re working on, you shouldn’t have to Flex someone a message when they might not be at their desk, or they might be doing something else. And that attention stealing is a problem, I think. And I think a lot of Stock users know that.
Similarly, there’s Zoom fatigue. Like, “Do you want to hop on a quick chat? Let’s get on Zoom.” And I think it’s great. While it’s great in the early days, everyone’s just happy to go on Zoom and we’ve got all these virtual backgrounds and whatnot, it’s tiring. Especially if you have a lot of meetings, you’re just back-to-back Zooming. I noticed two things. If you ever hop on a Zoom call, a video call and someone has this glassy look when they join your meeting, they probably have Zoom burnout. [Crosstalk] in a bunch of Zoom meetings before you. The other tell that I’ve noticed is that if they come into you and they try very hard to stay off topic and they want to joke around, they want to converse with you and chat with you and stay off of the agenda, they probably just came from a lot of different meetings. And now they’re looking to wind down in your Zoom meeting.
So with this tool, I’m hoping to foster more asynchronous communication, helping people set agendas more easily. We’re working in still stealth mode, alpha right now. So in the very early days, looking for product users and testers to get more feedback. So that’s it.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Cool. And where can people find it, or find out more if they want to follow along for when it’s ready?
Dave Chan: Yeah. So we’re on Twitter, we’re @shugoHQ S-H-U-G-O, HQ and we have a little form signup area that leads you to MailChimp, where you can get caught up with the latest updates. And if you’re interested in being an alpha tester, a beta tester afterwards, just want to hear from you.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Awesome. And where can people find you if they just want to follow you?
Dave Chan: Yeah. So I’m on Twitter, I’m @_Dave_Chan, and you can find me on LinkedIn as well, but I’m pretty active on Twitter, so that’s probably the best way to find me.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Wonderful. And then my last question is just, do you have any advice for earlier career designers or product managers, that if you could just tell them one thing, what would it be?
Dave Chan: I would say keep a beginner mindset and always be learning because that’ll set you up for opportunities that will come your way eventually. And in a way, you just create your own luck. If you’re willing to be open to criticism, if you’re open to just being a little vulnerable and if you’re in a place where you can lift others up and mentor them and help them along the way, I think that’s the one advice I’d give to early designers and product leaders.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much for your time today. It’s been really great.
Dave Chan: Thank you so much, Holly.
Holly Hester-Reilly: Have a wonderful day.
Dave Chan: You too. Nice chatting with you.
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