I had so much fun recording the conversation with Maria Giudice, that you are about to enjoy a kindred spirit.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Thanks for joining me in another episode of the UX Coach Podcast. I had so much fun recording the conversation with Maria Giudice, that you are about to enjoy a kindred spirit. Maria is so many things beyond an agent of change that disrupted the ways of working at organisations such as Autodesk. We talked for nowhere near long enough about her passion and our shared love of Prince. I’m still reeling at hearing that she got to go to Paisley Park to a party just before he died, but I digress. This is a very different episode. We talk about everything from how we get our minds into the right place for creativity, what is meant by change, making the topic of her recent book and what’s happened since she released the pivotal book, the rise of the d e o exactly, 10 years ago this September. So I’m gonna stop gushing now. If you haven’t got some soft lighting and a sweet tea. Hit pause and come back to this point. Strap in.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) How did you get here? How did, how, where are we today? What are you doing? What have you been doing today, this afternoon, this morning? This morning? Because It’s lunchtime, right?
Maria Giudice When you said, where did you get here? Immediately Talking Heads came into my mind. How did we get here? I was like, I started like singing that and, and
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) You may ask yourself, yes,
Maria Giudice Yes. That’s what I heard. That’s what I heard. You know,
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Straight out my favourite song of all time.
Maria Giudice Almost like a reflection of society. How did we all get here? You know,
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) This is not my beautiful house.
Maria Giudice Yes. So, I forgot the question, Andy. We’re off to a great start.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) What have you been up to this morning?
Maria Giudice Would’ve been up to this morning? Well, I live in Oakland, California, and so I have a morning ritual. So I kind of wait for the animals to wake me up. So I have a cat and a dog, and it’s the same time every morning. The cat jumps on the bed, the dog attacks the cat, and then I’m in the middle of it. So that’s how I usually wake up. And then I meditate for 20 minutes to get really, really grounded. And that’s like something that has been a part of my life for the last year and a half. And I feel like it’s kind of fundamentally changed me as a person. So I recommend everybody try it. I meditate. And that, just having that ability to kind of clear my mind, it allows me to, to really lean into the day much more grounded. And if we talk about my sorted past, it was the opposite of that. Like, I used to jump outta bed, stress out in the morning, get to work and do the things. So I’ve learned in my wise years to kind of relax, get grounded, and then figure out what you wanna do. So I have a ritual every morning, and that’s what I do.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Okay. I actually do want to ask you more about that because I think that before we start talking about that sorted past, understand a little bit about like, changes that you just mentioned there. I, it is interesting. Yeah. The whole meditation space is something that I still can’t get my head around. And I think that that’s from decades of misunderstanding or it being explained in a way that wasn’t clear for me. You assume from everything that you see that it’s about clearing your mind and clearing it from thoughts. But the way that my brain works is the complete opposite happens. And it’s like, no, no, this, this is my living nightmare because what you are doing is giving my brain permission to think about all the things and all at the same time. And someone said to me, no, actually that’s really what it’s about. It’s being able to just let it do that and, and see what it does. How, what’s, what’s your process? How do, how do you get clear or, or grounded as you, you put it?
Maria Giudice I think this is actually a really important thing to talk about, right? Because as designers, we are constantly living in our head. Designers have this sort of predisposition to be problem solvers. So I’m making a guess. But most people who are designing have very, very active brains. They might be naturally curious, they might be wildly empathetic towards people and animals and all living things, you know, all the skills and all the things that designers bring to the table. But man, oh man, we hold a lot in our heads constantly. And if it’s not problem solving, it’s working with people. You know, we’ve been really, and I have been really effective and really successful by being very, you know, head focused and problem solving and all that. But I’d like to think about what are the missed opportunities when you don’t clear your mind? And when I have, when I think about the times, and I am the most creative, the most creative and more, most open-minded is when, when I’m in flow is when I’m actually not thinking.
Maria Giudice When I’m sitting on a beach staring at the ocean, or I’m laying in a bathtub or I’m taking a shower, all of these like quiet moments are wildly creative. So that’s what meditation kind of gives you permission to do actually is to empty your mind. Almost like giving your mind an enema, you know, like washing away all the bits, right? And then you have all of this free space to bring in ideas that probably didn’t have space to be brought in before because you had your, you know, your mind can only hold so much information. People who know me well, I grew up in New York, I’m a New Yorker, I’m very urban. The idea that I meditate, people laugh, you know, they’re like, you, you are meditating. How could that be
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) In between with fighting with taxi drivers and
Maria Giudice Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Jaywalkers. Yeah.
Maria Giudice Yeah. But I have to say that it is really like grounding myself and giving myself permission to just sit up for 20 minutes and the animals meditate with me, they calm down and they sit with me. It’s amazing, really,
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Even the cat.
Maria Giudice Yes. Yeah. They, they, as soon as I sit up and start the cat and the dog, they, they, they chill out and they meditate with me. By giving myself that space, it has made me more creative as a human being. And I would argue more compassionately because I feel like I have washed away all the bullshit that we hold in our minds, you know? And you find this to be true when you’re meditating. When you are anybody who meditates, whether you’re new at it or old at it, you’ll sit there and go, okay, I’m entering emptying my mind, I’m emptying my mind. And then like some thought comes in that is total bullshit and small and insignificant. And then you, you notice it and then you let it go. And it’s, so it has allowed me to realise how much bullshit comes into our head that we hold day to day. That is not even important. It has taught me quite a bit. You know, I really encourage my clients that work with me to, you know, breathe and give yourself some space because at minimal, minimally, it’s gonna make you more creative and more grounded to work with people
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) You share in, in, in. And sort of describing it in that way gave me some things to reflect on. So up until a few years ago, I was running my own business, which I’d very specifically and purposefully called We are af k, which stood for away from the keyboard, from old internet land. The reason for that was that although working in the digital sector, I don’t believe that any good design work happens in front of a screen. And what I wanted to do really was to encourage people to step away from that. And so that was built more around learning and workshops a few years into that business. So I met up with a fantastic duo who were trying to encourage people to go for walks and we sort of joined the dots between the two and started to adopt this, the walk shop as they’re now known, getting teams to go for a walkout in the countryside or just up and down the beach or something, to have their meetings and to think about the things that they were doing. Got me sort of reflecting on that a little bit and, and wondering whether part of the, the challenge that I’ve had with like meditation practice myself is environment, doing it inside, knowing that I’m still surrounded by all those things. And I know that that’s part of the practice, isn’t it? Is to be able to try and forget that those things are there. But I’m not quite there yet. Well,
Maria Giudice I would argue walking, doing walking meetings is a form of meditation and being in, being outdoors, there’s a lot of scientific evidence around the importance of being outside in nature. Nature often calms our sympathetic nervous system or parasympathetic nervous system. I’m not sure if whoever the neuroscientists are, the researchers will know which one it is. But it calms our nervous system in a way that allows us to not be in a state of anxiety or, or being triggered or, because that closes us down creatively. Being in nature as you’re doing opens up sort of the chambers of creativity and mindfulness. So you are meditating when you’re out in nature and walking. It’s the same thing. You’re just more active. You’re just in a different environment.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So I, I rode motor circles and as well as riding motor circles myself, both my parents do, whenever I, I talk to my dad about things that are going on for him. I know he is fine when he says like, oh, I’ve just been out for a ride, cuz that means whatever was happening is now he’s gone and dealt with it. He’s, he’s let it go. That’s, that’s his way of, sort of processing that and maybe does the same kind of things I do, which is that there’s a certain point where you’ve almost checked out of what you’re doing and you’ve sort of come back into the awareness. It’s, it’s the fact that it’s something where on a bike you’ve got to be paying attention. You know, it’s not like in a car where you just, everyone, you, you are an autopilot most of the time.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Yeah, right. Yeah. We all just drive forward on a bike is like the whole thing. You physically have to move to make this thing move. You’ve gotta be on it, you’ve gotta be aware of things. And I think it’s that having that, that focal point for him is the thing that then allows those other things to kind of slot out. And it just reminded me of a very dear friend who contacted me who I admit I haven’t spoken to for a long time. We used to go surfing in the morning and I hated him for somehow managing to persuade me to get up at half past five to be going and sitting at the, at the bright tide at 6:00 AM freezing cold in the winter. Cuz yeah, I’m in England so the only time you can surf is in the winter. It used to really set my day. Like it, it was something which just really helped. Cuz again, it’s something where I’ve got a focal point, you know, you’re counting the sets, you’re trying to figure out how you’re gonna get up. Is it gonna happen today or you’re just bobbing around talking to each other about what’s coming.
Maria Giudice Do you notice, do you notice how you’re different from a day when you go surfing versus a day when you don’t? Do you notice the difference in how you show up?
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Yeah, massively. And I think that it’s, it’s another thing that I’ve adopted from my wife actually who did some training in the art of hosting and circles and creating safe space. You know, we have these, we have these work rituals and, and especially working in digital now, you have things like Agile all built around these, you know, perfunctory rituals of daily standups and all this shit. And so you don’t need any of it. This is micromanaging that’s totally unnecessary. Like if we have problems, we should be able to talk to each other. Something that I have adopted from her is at the start of a week, checking in with one another. How are you doing? Seeing if you’ve got any of that kind of, oh God, I’m back at work. And then purposefully and meaningfully doing the same thing at the end of the week. So this idea of a checkout and, and she used to do this with her team by, they’d all get together at 4:00 PM on a Friday and she would ho host a circle and just go around to everyone and say, what have you got going on right now at 4:00 PM with an hour and a half left on the clock before the buzzer rings, you know, that you are worried you might carry with you when you leave today and that it’s gonna be hanging over you for the weekend so that we can talk about it.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Yeah. It’ll be, you know, oh I didn’t finish doing that email campaign or you know, I’ve got this report that I need to put together, whatever. And it’s basically letting each other know that that’s okay and actually fuck it and just leave it, leave it at the door because whatever you don’t do today, you do it tomorrow. This is not saving lives. You know, we are, we are making stuff. I mean, for some people maybe it is, but for the majority of us it’s not. Whatever you don’t do today can get done tomorrow. Those kinds of practices I think have also meant that I know that I’m turning up and I can be truly present. I dunno if you had similar kinds of experiences like trying to keep on top of things in recent years with living indoors. It’s so cosy.
Maria Giudice Well, I mean what the theme that we keep bringing up is this idea of, of care and self-care. I have been in design, this is scary over 35 years, between 35 and 40 years, I have labelled myself a designer in some capacity. So much of that career, which I love, is to go, go, go, go, go climb, climb, climb, climb, hit that deadline, deliver that product by it, by all means necessary, make the client happy, make the product manager happy. All of that constant push of getting things done, depending on whether it was my own company where I had control or whether I worked in corporate America where I didn’t have, I had some control but not total control over my schedule. It comes at a cost. And part of doing this book about change making, which was really inspired because of my last work experience working at Autodesk in a role as a change maker and recognizing I did some great things really well, but there was some things that I did didn’t do well and I wanted to sort of memorialise lessons learned in this book, which that was why wanted to, to create this book was to actually tell people, here are the things that, not only that I learned in this role, but here’s 40 other people here are things that they paid attention to and things that they let go.
Maria Giudice And a big theme is around how you show up as a person, right? So much of our work, as you get out of just being responsible for shipping products to actually interacting with teams or leading teams or leading companies, you start really needing to recognize the importance of what you are bringing to the table and how you’re showing up. And if you show up, stressed out with too many things in your head, you’re gonna be distracted, you’re gonna miss details, you’re gonna be an asshole to people, right? You, your, yourself is going to show up and all of that energy is contagious. So it has an impact on the people around you. And the higher up you are, the more damage you can do with groups of people because it sets a tone in culture, right? And the thing that I have really, so that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned and the takeaways is taking care of yourself, making sure that you have time and space to be coherent and grounded and that you have the capacity in your brain to be creative and open. Which means that you have to have discipline around taking care of yourself and giving yourself space . By slowing down, it’s going to allow you and others to speed up because you don’t have to do all of this damage control because you showed up in a bad mood. And so there’s a reason to take care of yourself.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Acknowledging when you are in a position such as you were Autodesk and, and some of the other, and being the, the owner of the business, you know, can’t get much further than where you are, as we all know, shit rolls downhill. So yeah, if you are, if you’ve got someone who’s, you know, berating you, it’s probably because someone’s done it to them and someone’s done it to them and so on and so on and so on. Trying to understand a little bit more about how to break that cycle somewhere in that loop if you can, you know, if you can remove that attitude and, and the environment that you are in so that the people that you are working with do not have to experience that. That’s, that’s something that’s of value. I think it’s worth trying to do, right? We’ve, we’ve all experienced those leaders or or managers or senior people within our company that are just, there’s stuff that’s, that’s not going right for them, but you, you can’t really sort of dig into it, you know, the, the midnight emailer, you know, that kind of person where you just think this isn’t good.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Cuz this means that you are afraid.
Maria Giudice Yes.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) You know, you’re burnt and fizzled because you are, you are still on, you’re still switched on. You can’t, you can’t let it go.
Maria Giudice Yes. And you know, I’ve worked at companies where it was nonstop 24 * 7 emails seven days a week, always with managers sending stuff in the middle of the night. Whether or not they tell you not to look at your email, the fact that they’re sending it at midnight puts the pressure on you to be like them. I was at my unhealthiest and sort of my worst self when I worked in cultures like that. I didn’t thrive at all. And I did learn very early in my career cuz you know, I was, you know, I ran my, I started a company. I was pretty young when I started hot studio, but, you know, I didn’t realise that, you know, I kind of always used to say I’m approachable, you know, there’s nobody behind me. You could tell me why you’re, you know, what’s going on.
Maria Giudice Like them, a lot of leaders don’t realise how much power they have over people. Even if they come across saying, Hey, I’m just like you, I’m a regular person. It’s, and it’s, it’s same thing with parents, you know, you have to model good behaviour and I remember no matter what kind of bad mood I might have had when I was at home, I would never come to work with that mood and share that mood with people because again, it sets the energy, it sets the tone, you know, you might think, oh it’s my shit, it’s not yours. That when you’re a leader and you show up that way, it affects everybody and they’re gonna behave differently.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Surely you were carrying it then you, how, how do you deal with that? Because you, you are taking, you, you are gonna take it with you, right? You, you are walking in the door with whatever’s happening at home and then you are, you are trying to protect others from it,
Maria Giudice Right? And it’s not like being inauthentic, it’s just taking responsibility that your emotions, your reactions are your own. You have to own up. So if you’re in a bad mood or something bad happened, you gotta really figure out a way to calm yourself down. So go take a walk, go sit in the ocean or, or surf or meditate or, or just breathe before you step in the door and infect others with your bad attitude. Cuz it’s contagious, right? Sort of like putting a mask on, you know, like taking responsibility for the way you show up If you’re in a bad mood that does not give you permission to impart that on other people. It’s really critically important. Yeah. These things are so important for healthy environments for change, making change. I, one of my mantras is change starts with you.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Yeah. And so this is why we’ve, why we’ve started on this path in, in this discussion. So you have a book that, one of several books, but most recently change makers are going through. It’s something that I was thinking about. It’s very different to the stories that you will often see, if I think of a saying like the Seth Golden book, you know, it reminded me a little bit of linchpin that I, I greatly enjoyed at the time. This idea of understanding what part of the balancing act you are at work and that you should want to become the linchpin you want to be the the point, the balance point in the middle where if it goes then it topples and it was very aggressive. That’s why it reminded me of that because it was almost like, it’s like the anti-hero of that sort of attitude and mindset because it’s sort of like, it’s almost removing yourself from it in a lot of places. What would you say is your definition of a change maker? Hmm.
Maria Giudice You know, there’s, there’s always these aha moments. I was reading about this idea when I’m starting to think about the role of design leaders and sort of, I, I, I think of change making as the next step up as a design leader. And when I say design leader, I’m not saying you have to go to design school and you have to get a CX degree and all this stuff. I’m talking about thinking like a designer, like embracing design as a strategy. So business people are designers, like engineers are designers if they embrace design as a strategy and a mindset. So just to put the perspective of design in putting that in place and looking at the arc of my career and looking at how designers, you know, in 2013 I wrote Rise of the d o about with this crazy hypothesis that if CEOs and entrepreneurs adopted design qualities and characteristics, they can be incredible leaders.
Maria Giudice So, and then like 10 years later, literally it’s been 10 years since the rise of the d we are now seeing design leaders in every level of organisations. We’re seeing chief design officers and chief product officers and vice presidents of design that really didn’t exist 10 years ago. The idea that designers would even be that high up in companies. So rise of the do, here we are as rise of the D but now we have to possess a whole different set of skills because we’re no longer looking at designing the product. Well the, some are, but the levels are, you know, first you’re hired to design a product and service and then there’s, you can go to the next level up and then suddenly you’re managing people and teams and then you’re directing disciplines and organisations. And then you’re at this level where you, your peers, are not designers at all.
Maria Giudice They’re business people and they have different sets of goals and objectives. As we get higher and higher up the ladder or the hill or whatever, our skills have to change from really thinking about the details of the interface to how do we navigate people and processes at scale to change people’s hearts and minds and beliefs and behaviours and actions. It’s a whole set of different skill sets. And so I got really curious about this, like, oh, what does it mean to be a change maker as a designer, you treat everything like a design problem. That’s, that’s my whole life is one big design problem. And you always start with research. So I’m like, alright, here’s my experience. What are other people’s experiences like who’ve been in these situations, right? And I wanna hear those stories. I wanna hear what their definition of change makers are.
Maria Giudice I wanna hear what they tried and succeeded at? What were the incredible failures that you wanna share with others? And so this book’s intention is to really show the human side of what it means to be in this, this situation. Of course it’s got tools and all these, you know, things that you can do, but a big part of this is how you, the being part of being a changemaker, what I really appreciated with the people that who I interviewed, they were so honest and there was humility and, you know, they, they, they didn’t like hold back on massive failures. You know, many people who are in this position lose their job, right? If, if they’re successful, they’re, they might be pissing off people in such high power that they’re gonna find themselves out of a job, you know, within a few years, right?
Maria Giudice But you can be proud of the progress that you made while you were there. And that’s what I wanted. That was the intention around the book. Now, when you say what is the definition of a change maker? I came across in my research, this definition of a change maker by Bill Drayton, who was the founder of Ashoka, which was sort of a, a nonprofit social justice social entrepreneur company. And he coined the phrase changemaker in the 1980s and he defined changemakers this way. People who can see the patterns around them, identify the problems in any situation, figure out ways to solve the problem, organise fluid teams, lead collective action, and then continually adapt as situations change. And when I read this, it was one of those, you know, lightning bolt moments. I was like, oh my god, people could see the patterns around them. So people who look at patterns, people who identify problems in any situation, people who figure out ways to solve the problem, people who organise fluid teams, people who lead collective action and then continually adapt as situations change that my friend, is the quintel quintessential definition of what a designer does. And so, very true.
Maria Giudice So change equals design. Design equals change.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) And the influence aspect of it as well, right? When you are at that early point in your design career where it’s, it is about what you would call the tactical side of things and, and the making of things, then you start to really get into the, and and how do people engage and interact and perceive this form. And you are just continually expanding that workflow, I suppose that process of how you think about something of the different things. At a certain point you reach it where it’s like, oh, I have this corporation, how, you know, what are all the bits of this corporation? How do they interact with each other? How do the mechanics work of this to make the thing that comes out the other end? And then you ducker and then how do people engage with that? And how do these bits work?
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) It’s the same, same mindset. The final piece of it is you’ve got to think about, okay, so if I believe there’s an opportunity to change the way that this works, am I gonna have to influence or encourage people within that system, that ecosystem to act, be, behave, or interact with something different? What’s the difference between doing that where you have the power of agency, like you had an Autodesk where that was actually your primary function versus inserting another company name where that’s not your primary function as it might be perceived by Yeah. Others around you, but ultimately is actually what you’re there for.
Maria Giudice Great question. And there’s a saying in this book that nobody hires a design team to maintain the status quo, right? Again, like the quintessential definition of design equals change. You can be a changemaker at any level of the organisation, you just have to be clear about what, what are you empowered to do in the level that you’re in? The measure of success is not executing a thing. The measure of success when it comes to change is progress. Have you made progress? Have you moved the needle? Moving the needle is gonna be dependent on where you sit inside an organisation. Everybody’s got a stakeholder, you know, even when you’re at the top you have a stakeholder, right? So there’s always going to be, nobody has a hundred percent agency over here. So you know, there’s, you’re always going to have to deal with other people and influence them and change hearts and minds.
Maria Giudice And I think a lot of people make the mistake that if you lean into logic and competency, everybody’s gonna agree with it. As long as I could present facts of the case, then why would anybody disagree? Look at life, look at the world we live in now. You could put all the facts out in the world. If people don’t believe in your position, the facts aren’t gonna help you. We have to focus absolutely on the process and there’s competency in what we do for a living. But the other side is about people’s relationships. As designers, we have fought for the position that we’re in right now. We have really fought to get to where we are along the way. We have been relentless customer ambassadors. We are people-centred. We care about our customers, we empathise with them, we have compassion, we fight for them as we move up and work with other people. We forget that it’s equally important to have empathy and compassion with the people that we are working with, whether or not we agree with them. So we have to find ways in which we can get common ground in order to make progress.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) I was told once that you reach a point in time where you have to make a decision as to whether you want to become stuck in your ways or to mellow is perhaps one of those forking moments. And the difference between someone who doesn’t quite get that this whole benign argument, if design needs to have a seat at the table, is a failure to actually understand what design is and that it’s already got one. The mellow road is perhaps the person that knows that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And doesn’t matter where you are and what table you are sitting at, you’ve still got to talk to the people that have sat next to you and yes, have a nice conversation and enjoy dinner.
Maria Giudice Yeah. I think it’s pretty amazing that we have, you know, we are wired for compassion for our customers, but we somehow have incredible biases perhaps against the very people who are our peers or our superiors. Hmm. Right. We create stories about them sometimes that they don’t get what we do or they don’t get design and you know, maybe they don’t. And I often say, Hey, if they don’t get design, don’t use the word design because yeah. Design is what we do. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s the, it’s the juice that makes, it’s the engine that gets things going. It’s about, it’s, it’s a change engine and they might have an entirely different set of vocabulary that means exactly what we’re we, we mean, but we get so hung up sometimes in defending our territory that we don’t realise that we’re actually talking about the same exact thing but fighting over the actual words.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Yeah, that’s very true. And we’d have the same attitude back. If you were talking to an analyst and they were talking about statistical significance and you know, economies and estimates and well, you do the same thing, right? You, you switch off. It’s about finding that shared language and understanding what I’m getting from is being a change maker or a an agent of change doesn’t mean that you have to be a leader. No, sounds to me like they’re very different mindsets or skill sets. Where, where do we think that that sits?
Maria Giudice I I ho I totally agree and I, I also think the word like leader, I think everybody has leadership in them, they just have to figure out what that means for them. So that’s another one of those words where if you look at the world, the, your own group of people that you hang out with either at work or in your family or whatever, chances are you’re leading something right? You know, it could be as small as, like, I’m, I’m in charge of dinner. Right? You know, there are sets of leadership decisions that are made in your life. So you don’t have to be here in this position at this stage, in this company, at this size in order to be a changemaker. It’s looking at your environment and how you achieve a goal. Like where do you wanna go? Who do you wanna be with? What kind of world do you wanna live in? And what’s within your control to make progress towards achieving the thing that you hope to achieve. You could be very early in your career, you’re gonna have a whole different set of challenges than somebody who’s much later in their career, but equally hard for where you are in your life. Equally hard, equally challenging, equally rewarding.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) When we, when we were talking a couple of weeks ago, I seem to remember you saying something along the lines of, you’ve made so many mistakes in your life that one of the things that you want to do is try to be able to document them in a way that means that other people can’t make, you know, don’t have to make those mistakes. Yeah. Or won’t make those mistakes. Right? It’s taken residency in my head and I went for a walk and I was thinking about it loads, I’ve been there as well. I want to be able to show you how to do something that took me ages to overcome so that you haven’t got to do that and you can go and make new mistakes. Actually what I then started to reflect on was, but I think you do need to make those mistakes and I think they do need to make the same things and then wondering whether that was actually the problem of are we not being forgiving to people that haven’t yet made that same mistake so that we can go Oh yeah. Right. Yeah, I remember that. So that they’ve experienced it themselves and yeah, it’s, it has been driving me crazy ever, ever since we spoke. It’s,
Maria Giudice It’s a, well I’m glad you brought it up cuz I, you know, I don’t want this to be carried into the weekend. I don’t want you to, I it sounds like you’ve been holding this on for like two weeks
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) A little bit. So I’m doing some work at the moment where I started listening to someone that was talking about something where I, I sort of reflected it back and said, ah, so this, this is a very common challenge that most businesses and organisations have of, of corporate knowledge and this idea of that we have these great challenges where you lose the story of how something came to be as soon as the person that was responsible for it goes.
Maria Giudice Yeah.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) If you keep coming into these organisations as I do as a consultant and have done many times, you just see the same thing over and over again. Yeah, yeah. And everyone that you speak to there knows like, oh yeah, I, I know, I know we rebuilt this four years ago and, you know, yeah, we’ve done this before and everything. Yeah. And we see that as being, being a bad thing, isn’t it? Like the circle of life, isn’t it the cycle that we need to, to sort of actually get on board with and go Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like yeah, sure. Like learn from the, you know, failures of our, of our forefathers and everything, but also, do we?
Maria Giudice Yeah. Well first of all, all great points because I do believe we’re all on our own path and it actually brought up something, a memory for me. So cool. When I was in my thirties, maybe early thirties or or late twenties, I was dating a guy who was about 10 years older than me and he was like a really well known calligrapher, little fun fact about me. I studied calligraphy in college and I like it a little, I’m a master. I was a master calligrapher at one time and I was dating this guy who was super like, like one of the best calligraphers in the world. So he was constantly trying to critique my work or give me business advice or whatever. Like in the whole relationship, his years of wisdom, he was trying to be compassionate and say, Hey, here’s all the mistakes I make, don’t make the same mistakes. And I remember being so angry at him, it kind of broke us up because I’m like, I need to make those mistakes myself.
Maria Giudice I understand you’re trying to protect me. I need to make those mistakes myself. So I do agree rather than like, don’t make these mistakes. This is more like here’s what, here’s our life experience that we wanna share with you. You might make the same mistake or you might take a U-turn because everybody’s on their own path. So it’s no guarantee you’re gonna make your own, you’re gonna make that mistake again. You might likely make that mistake and, but then you might learn faster. Oh, I remember Maria said this. Oh, and here’s a different way to think about it, right? First of all, it sucks getting old. Okay. You know, like I’m 60, I’m 60 years old, I can’t fucking believe I’m 60 years old. I just wanna say it. I have to say fuck because I can’t believe that I’m 60 years old, right?
Maria Giudice Because it’s like, how can you’ve earned it? When I was 20 I thought I’m gonna be dead when I’m 60. Oh, 60 is so old, right? And now I’m 60 and, and when I was in my like mid fifties, I started really worrying that as a lot of people do in their fifties, I’m becoming less relevant in companies because there’s a bias toward against old people that in tech it’s all about young people in new technology and new ideas. And I started feeling this fear that, you know, I am no longer gonna be like, you know, people weren’t gonna look for look towards me to be the next VP cuz I’m so fucking old, right? And, everybody else is like 20 years old anywhere. So I was going through those stories in my head and it took me a lot of time to kind of get moved through that.
Maria Giudice But how I moved through it was, oh, maybe I am not, maybe that’s not the right place for me to be anymore. Maybe in my late fifties, it’s not the right place and time for me to be in this company when everybody’s much younger. You know, maybe, maybe they do need a, a, a different type of thinking than the thinking I’m bringing in. So that might be true, might not be true. But what is true is you can take away all of these years of experience and wisdom. And the thing that I’m so proud of is the path that I’ve been on and then I continue to be on. Just because I’m 60 doesn’t mean I’m dead. I’m interested in so many other things that I can step into that I’m more appropriate for my age and the things I’m interested in. But the wisdom that people are bringing to our discipline now is there, when I was coming of age as a design leader, there weren’t any models, there weren’t any role models, very few role models, you know, and the role models were typically like Steve Jobs and you know, Johnny Ive, who are great but not appropriate for everybody and there’s bad behaviour associated there.
Maria Giudice But now there are so many great mentors and role models who have gone through where we are as a people, as a community. And there’s so much wisdom that people are willing to share whether or not they’re gonna make the same mistake or not. That’s okay. But there’s at least information there and there are people who’ve been there who can have compassion and empathy and information. That’s what I’m leaning into in my life right now. I wanna be in service to this community by sharing what I know. Whether or not you’re gonna believe in it or agree or even ignore it, that’s okay. But it’s there if it’s there for the taking if you want it.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) So this is where I wanted to get to this idea of being a changemaker and acknowledging that that is not about, you know, making the iPod thinner. It’s about making the people that make the iPod feel that they are in an environment where they can actually do the best work that they can. There reaches a point, I think, just purely based on Moore’s law. We have just over 20 years between us, but maybe the forties are the new sixties and, you know, ever decreasing circles. I feel like I’m very much out to pasture already. But the thing that I can do is, share the last 23 years of my life and what I’ve learned. And maybe that is our role. What else can we be doing? Because I think we are now in a very strange period of time. Where there is a completely new attitude towards work, which I am 100% behind. I am all for it. This whole idea of like, I am gonna show up and do the job and go, don’t make money for somebody else. And anyone that I teach, I tell them to stop looking at internships at Google and start your own business instead. But I think that that’s just the punk at heart is, you know,
Maria Giudice Yeah.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Fuck the establishment. Build your own thing. Yes. What else can we be doing? Because they are ultimately still inheriting dare said, your generation’s Yeah. Mindset for, for, for business, which is, you know, we’ll grind your bones until they’re dust.
Maria Giudice That’s right. We really fucked things up. I have, I’m constantly apologising to my two children who are in their twenties, but you know what every generation has, has skeletons and you know, their, their artefacts of, of the era that they grew up in, right? And they did the best that they can based on the world that they saw. And hopefully they did it with good intention even if those intentions turned out badly. Right? So, you know, so yeah, there’s, there’s definitely a lot of, you know, a lot of things that are really wrong with this world. It’s the younger generation that gives me hope. It’s my kids who grew up in high school, not necessarily learning trigonometry, but out there protesting for Black Lives Matter every day or protesting because teachers aren’t being paid enough, right? It’s, you know, they’re, they’re growing up with a different set of problems that they have to grapple with and solve.
Maria Giudice But they are also a generation that doesn’t really see colour and it does, they don’t see gender. And there’s a whole bunch of really great things that are coming out of this generation. I think there’s a realism that they have work to do in some ways. We have to get out of their way, but we don’t necessarily run away from the problems. I think we wanna make sure that they have the space to exercise their creativity and beliefs and show their power in numbers. And I always tell my kids, you have so much power that you, you could bring and make change happen. If young people don’t come out to vote, they’re gonna wind up in the same pro place we’re in now, right? So they can complain all they want, but if you don’t vote, the bad guys win. We have to create the conditions for them to be successful.
Maria Giudice How do we do that? You know, how do we allow them to be creative and safe, and create environments that aren’t gonna work for their generation and be open to it. And that’s what gives me hope. Like, you know, I could really lean into all of the bad things that are happening here. Here in the US you know, bad shit happens everyday, but there’s a lot of young people who are entering state governments and making waves. And so you can definitely see the conflict between the younger generation and the older generation and maybe the older generation has more. They’re figuring out ways to stay in power, but guess what? We’re gonna die. So, maybe we should just die off so that, you know, new things could happen. So, I don’t know, that’s a long answer to the question, but that’s what I say. And like I said, I, I don’t tell my kids what to do, but I’m here to listen to them and I’m, I’m here to coach them to be the best that they can be and make sure that they, they use their power and unlock their power cuz they have it
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Such a powerful and invigorating message for us to, to finish up on being a teenager in the nineties, watching Kurt Cobain being interviewed at some European festival and the comments, broadly speaking, were along the lines of we are just here waiting for the dinosaurs to die out and, and they will always die out. And then seeing an interview with John Lennon where he was paraphrasing basically exactly the same thing. I think it’s the natural cycle of things, right? We, we all have that opinion of the, those that came before us fucked up and we definitely did. I’ve fucked up so many times that I can’t even count and I know that I will continue to do so. I think the difference is that I’ve reached the point now where I’m actually okay with it and I’m not gonna keep trying to write wrong. So I’m just gonna acknowledge them and think about what I’m learning from those experiences. And that seems to be the bit that’s missing in businesses. That there’s a lot of bullshit sayings and the whole like, you know, startup, startup sayings have like, you know, fail, fail fast and fail hard is gotta be one of the biggest lies ever. So, right. If, if all else, yes, maybe we can just be the people that actually say no, that that is exactly what we want you to do and to embrace it and encourage it.
Maria Giudice People have a lot more power than they think they have. Andy Parker (The UX Coach) If people would like to learn more, is there anywhere that they can go to do that?
Maria Giudice Yeah, I mean there’s, first of all, you can always Google my name if you spell my name right. You can find a lot of information, years of information online about me and my talks if you’re interested in coaching. Cuz that’s what I do now. I’m an executive coach. I coach people all over the world. You can read up about email@example.com or you can also contact me at LinkedIn, just mention where they are, where you heard about me and just try not to sell me a website or security systems or any, any of those things. And I’ll most likely answer back. So, you know, I’m around, I can be found. I’m not hard to find. Oh, and, please buy my book. I get, I forgot, I forgot. Please buy my book. That’s all I want you to do. That’s your only call to action buy my book Change Makers, how leaders can design change in an insanely complex world. Please buy it, you will enjoy it. It is well designed and it’s filled with pearls of wisdom.
Andy Parker (The UX Coach) Check out the show notes on https://theuxcoach.com for links to the book and links to all the references of the things that we have talked about in this episode.
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