In our June Firecat First Friday session, Firecat Tom Vaughn shared what he's learned applying a test-and-learn approach at Amazon, Microsoft, USAA and for our customers.
In our June Firecat First Friday session, Firecat Tom Vaughn shared what he's learned applying a test-and-learn approach at Amazon, Microsoft, USAA and for our customers.
Are you reaching the prospects, customers or users you want to reach? Are you creating win-win-win opportunities?
Here's Firecat CEO Susan Price offering a wealth of marketing and user-centered design thinking tips. Susan appeared as the featured guest on the Getting the Best Results podcast with author, facilitator and professional speaker Cheryl C. Jones of Simply the Best Results.
The podcast is worth a subscribe for the shortcuts and techniques it delivers to help you get the best results in life and business.
Susan describes why it's important to courageously target the customers you really want, and to empathize deeply with them to arrive at the messages that communicate your value and make them want to engage.
She also describes the importance of using empathy and seeking multiple perspectives when designing a marketing strategy or plan.
Listen through your favorite podcast platform, or just push play below.
Our Firecat First Friday session for May 1 was a good one. With the coronavirus response, most of us are experiencing and leading many more remote meetings - and there are several tripping points, including what we call "the three Ds":
My smart facilitator and workshop designer friends Abby Wilkymacky and Kate Hayward combined their talents with me (Susan Price) to create a workshop that demonstrates various ways to keep a remote audience engaged. So to combat those 3 D's, we offered a 3-part First Friday experience:
Here's the full recording, including the interaction and Q&A.
New Wordpress website for San Antonio's Charger Roofing
Firecat experts worked with Charger Roofing owner Jason Speights to provide comprehensive web strategy and a responsive, mobile-friendly, keyword-optimized WordPress website for this new San Antonio service company.
Jason appreciated our approach to create all digital assets in his name, under his control. We recommended WordPress to give Jason and his team a user-friendly, easy to maintain platform.
We were able to leverage the full branding package Jason had commissions for the site design. The Charger Roofing team made sure to take lots of photos of their activities and brand-new wrapped trucks.
Like many small, local businesses, the primary purpose of the website is visibility: generating qualified leads. Search engine optimization was top of mind After getting to know Jason and his team’s needs, we recommended they go with WordPress, so that they will be able to easily update the company website with new offerings and locations as they expand their services. The Firecat team worked with the Charger Roofing team to train them in how to manage their website’s content, ensuring success for years to come.
“We're very happy with the beautiful, full-featured website Firecat delivered in such a short span of time," Speights said. "Going with WordPress has allowed us to quickly add new services as we grow, and my video/SEO vendor was able to get in there and add content easily."
Check out the site at https://charger-roofing.com/. They do both commercial and residential roofing, siding, windows, gutters and more. Drop us a note to tell us what you think!
If you missed WordCamp San Antonio 2020 - you missed a great couple days of interaction, but you did not miss all that great content!
Firecat CEO Susan Price spoke in the Marketing track on Segmenting for Success. You can watch the entire WordCamp San Antonio 2020 by going through the WordCamp San Antonio 2020 website. You'll need to log in and agree to terms. Here's a screenshot for finding Susan's track - it's the third one down in the Marketing Segment.
Check out all the other content! Get better at marketing, at WordPress, at business.
Let's #BetheRecovery - it's a great time to "sharpen the saw" or improve our own business tactics and processes.
Thanks for joining us for Firecat First Friday last week - via Zoom.
Sign up for eNews updates to receive an email notification about upcoming sessions. Next Firecat First Friday will beMay 1 - and topic is Remote Facilitation Techniques. Another good one for our current COVID-19 response time. Let's get smarter, together. Firecat can help you pivot events to remote delivery - let us know how we can help or advise you.
And huge thanks to Caitie Skaggs for sharing tips on Staying Sane while Working Remotely. It's wonderful to have these ways of staying connected and productive while in the social distancing drill. Let's #BeTheRecovery !
If you missed the Zoom live, here are Caitie's slides.
Christopher Avery, founder of The Responsibility Company, has been my client on and off for 30 years. Last year, I signed up as a full-price participant in Responsibility Immersion so that I can, as closely as possible, experience his program as its participants do.
When first introduced to The Responsibility Process and concepts in the 1990s, I appreciated the method and framework, but assumed I *already knew and practiced* responsibility.
I later came to realize this was arrogance.
In my culture, we’re often directly taught through discipline and rewards/punishments that “taking responsibility” is
Christopher and his worldwide faculty teach, on the other hand, that Responsibility is the >ability to respond to any situation or upset from a clear, empowered mental state. His studies reveal that all human beings, when struggling with an upset or disappointment, move through one from one or more of these built-in, inherently disempowering coping states:
When I encountered Christopher and his material in the 1990s, I assessed The Responsibility Process and his book Teamwork is an Individual Skill as interesting, valuable, somewhat enlightening, but it didn’t really seem to apply to me. “I’m a successful entrepreneur and leader with a strong network and track record for success. But it’s great that this material exists for people who need it.” I assumed I had mastered these concepts already, and that I practiced responsibility better than most people.
Just before my corporate UX strategy team was eliminated last June, Christopher contacted me for consulting help to analyze, restructure and expand the worldwide Responsibility community to speed its growth. As part of that effort, I decided to enroll and pay full price for the training so I could have "skin in the game" and really experience its value. I joined the "Mastery Group" and studied the core modules to understand the process. I recommended we offer that course to focus people's attention and get a jump start.
That turned out to be a good decision. I helped create, then signed on for, the first cohort, and for this second time through, I decided to go "all in." That second round broke me open in so many important ways. I moved from theory to practice. On my real thoughts, feelings, behaviors, decisions.
The journey has been enlightening, and at times so excruciating that I don't think I could continue without a cohort around me doing the same thing. Seeing others on the journey enduring the pain but staying with the work makes all the difference for me.
I have long flattered myself that I don’t beat myself up with ugly self-talk. And that's true. But I realized I've been doing a crap job of being tender with myself, and tending to my own needs.
In my role as reluctant caregiver, I see that rather than loving and accepting myself and my husband, I operate by driving myself - operating out of a place of Obligation. I expect my life partner, son and colleagues to do the same. This caregiver situation is a perfect setup for self-flagellation (and shaming my partner).
I’m finally seeing that, far from being laudable (as our culture teaches), this martyrdom, this servitude is disempowering me, as well as my husband and son. It locks us in cycles of resentment.
Driving myself has been effective for achieving career movement, creating businesses, programs and nonprofits, keeping many balls in the air and plates spinning. But I’m ready to get off my self-designed hamster wheel. I want to be more purposeful about keeping myself at the top of my own priority list so I can continue to meet my self-selected commitments and agreements from a sustainable, fulfilling state. Pressures are easing for me, and my desired results, far from getting worse, are multiplying. It's a bit mind-blowing.
I’m so grateful to the worldwide Responsibility community for helping me get this far.
If you're interested in joining us in Responsibility Immersion, let me know; I have a discount code to share. I'd love to see you in the web conferences and share the journey.
Firecat Judy Cotter and I are seasoned Design Sprint facilitators, and we're planning a 3-hour workshop at World Usability Day San Antonio showing how to bring Design Sprints to your organization. It's sold out - so gratifying to see the demand for this type of information in San Antonio.
Judy and I have different experiences of Design Sprints, and we've structured the 3-hour session to ensure you benefit from all the learnings we have to offer. We'll do several activities and get to the prototype and test aspects. We'll also cover how to describe the value of Design and Strategy sprints to leaders, whom to invite, how to socialize and plan - lots of goodness on tap.
The event includes two such workshops - the first being Life and Work Hacks from the UX Playbook, delivered by my friends and colleagues Julie Jensen and David Scaliatine from Frost Bank.
Both workshops will be filled with doing — activities — that make learning so much better and more sticky.
Since we sold out so quickly, I'm taking that as a cue to organize more high-end User-Centered Design, Usability, and User Research workshops. We offer custom workshops within organizations as well as public workshops. Make sure to sign up for Firecat email notifications if you'd like a heads-up on future events.
Found a goldmine of a Twitter thread via Christina Wodtke with advice on how UX practitioners can add more value, be more aligned with the organizations they serve, and overall more effective. Christina distilled Lessons from a segment on the podcast What's Wrong With UX / Users Know by Kate Rutter and Laura Klein focused on Why You Should Care About the Business Model.
First of all, damn straight! We pride ourselves on user empathy. Clients, colleagues and partners are our users on projects. It is rude to not work to understand what our leaders or clients care most about. It's also stupid, immature, self-indulgent, narrow-minded, disempowering and ultimately ineffective.
For most of my career, the project team model in my head had a business sponsor or lead who represented the business goals and needs, me as a design strategist representing user goals and needs, and a developer partner viability (except when arguing over UI code, which was a blood sport).
Then came Design Thinking, where we are working to democratize UX and help business and tech partners understand and care about it. I believe that's a good thing, and it has helped
Don't make unprofitable features knowingly, in advance. And in order to understand what makes a feature unprofitable — work to understand the business model.
Filling the top of the funnel is great, but unless you have a solid plan for moving people into the paying aspects of an organization's office, resist the urge to get people there and "figure the rest out later."
Your design skills will do the most good if they're focused on solving problems critical to the company's success.
I don't worry so much about this with the type of user experience architect that I am — a left-brained, right-brained, cross-hemispheric thinker who seeks context and can make connections across seemingly disparate domains. Most information architects I know are like that. We're the "UX Designers" who aren't visual designers — we're logical context-setters and sequencers. We draw and sketch, but at a more abstract level.
I hadn't realized how much I missed working in several business domains. During my stint at USAA, there was lots of product variety, but an overall theme dictated by our placement in the financial services industry. Focusing on Firecat full time again, my day is often a mix of startups, mid-sized organizations in healthcare or government, and enterprise gigs. I love the variety, and my clients benefit from the crosspollination too.
This part cracked me up; I am an idea generator, and I've been slow to understand why clients don't reliably get as excited about them. Working to understand the right problems to solve by listening more than talking is the key for me on this.
In the past few years, I've been involved in forming enterprise strategy. And I've become aware that
People don't always have immediate ability to switch employers or sources of revenue; I get that. But there's a lot of demand for UX talent, and our on-ramp to self-employment is relatively easy too. We are responsible for the results of our clients' and employers' business dynamics, so let's make sure we align with missions, practices and people we can support in good conscience.
When you understand the business model in addition to user value, people will listen to you, invite you to the important meetings. And you won't be able to understand the motivations of your primary partners and customers, whether internal or external.
"If they don't understand the business model, y'all are f*cked." It's somewhat shocking how frequently this is the case, especially in large, hierarchical organizations where responsibility and accountability aren't aligned. Leaders frequently don't want the numbers to be direct and visible, especially when they don't have decision authority to match. But as the smart designer, you need to ask enough questions of enough people to align your design recommendations with the numbers that matter to whoever does have the authority to make product decisions.
"If everybody in your sales pipeline is selling buggy whips, and your competitors are selling cars, you might want to look at that." Context is so important. We conduct competitor research continually to gather ideas, strategize positioning, and avoid being surprised and disrupted. With more innovative offerings or product spaces, it can be like watching your rearview mirrors; with some clients, we pick an aspirational model competitor and work to become more like them, using shortcuts, making good tradeoff decisions, and focusing attention on the client's "special mojo" that is hard for others to replicate or emulate — their key differentiators.
I'm seeing the UX community embrace this business model interest and learning as a next step in our maturity model — the same maturity model that got UXers a "seat at the table" means that we're having THAT conversation. Let's make the most of it!
Ways I've been continuing my education on this:
What are yours? I'd love to hear about your experiences with this.
Getting clarity on the Firecat Studio business model is so, so much harder than helping a client get clear. It's just a matter of perspective — I'm too close to my own business model. Got lots of skin the in game. But my team and I are simply great at helping clients explore, co-create and document a business model, business vision. I have examples to show you if you're interested. It's such a powerful way to spend a few hours — totally worth it! Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like a demo.
This morning I invested some time studying Fred Rogers — yes, the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood Fred Rogers, a serendipitous web wandering where I pinged from a tweet to a YouTube, then another, then spent time in reflection.
A tweet led me to Fred Rogers’ commencement address to Dartmouth in 2002. Like all his appearances, his pace seemed to me glacial, his words so carefully chosen and deliberate it activated my impatience. I watched the mortarboarded heads in the crowd shift and squirm, imagining they’d rather have been addressed by Meryl Streep or Yo-yo Ma or Elaine Chow. Rogers was out of step with the pace of life in 2002. As a child, I found Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood stultifyingly slow and basic. If those Dartmouth grads had owned smartphones in 2002, they'd have been in hand and alight. I imagine Rogers' pace is even more out of step with today's frenetic, input-voracious culture.
I was tempted to fast forward, but I didn’t. Fred got to some points that had me soon thoughtful, and then in tears. He worked his mission was to love and validate others in every example, and brought it home to his audience. I feel that mission as well. And I realized that slowing down and focusing on that validate-and-love mission more is the surest way for me to succeed in this next phase of my business life.
Rogers ended that speech giving his audience the gift of a moment of silent reflection on the people who had helped them, believed in them, loved them. I thought of my mother, an early childhood teacher, whose mission was to love and validate. She wanted to be the first experience a child had of school, so she could establish a great tone — in Rogers' terms, set a solid bedrock for the school experience. Her funeral was gratifyingly well attended by hundreds of generous, loving people. Quite a reflection of the impact of her life's work.
By the end of Rogers' commencement speech, that crowd of impatient Dartmouth grads had quieted and adopted his pace. As a facilitator and salesperson, I know that I can control the pace of an interaction through modeling. Meet the other where they are, the tactic goes., match them in pace and emotional tone, then gradually adopt and model the desired pace and tone. Match, then move.
Rogers didn’t do that. As the speaker to an audience, he set the tone and stuck to it, and his audience gradually matched him.
After the first video, YouTube served up another — like it does — a Remembering Fred Rogers Charlie Rose interview. Lots of nuggets of wisdom, well worth watching.
After being primed to consider how out of sync Fred and his Dartmouth grads were, I observed the timing dynamic between Rogers and Rose. It’s a striking mismatch. Charlie Rose, wanting to cram in as much content as he could, starts out questioning Rogers rapid-fire. His recitation of Fred’s sweet song lyrics, “It’s You I Like” is ridiculously speedy. As the interview progresses, Rose adopts not just Rogers’ pace, but his reflective tone and is led to reflect on himself.
I operate mostly at a rapid, often frenetic, Charlie Rose pace. I feel driven to achieve, create, get things done, make progress. I’m impatient. But if I want to help people, I need to slow down. Like Mr. Rogers. Like my mother. A few months ago, I joined a community of Responsibility practitioners, with the goal of operating more out of intentional reflection and choice, and less out of reaction. It’s working, but it requires me to slow down. At the beginning, I was as out of sync with that community as Charlie Rose is with Fred Rogers at the beginning of that clip. I'm just starting to think before I respond.
But I am slowing down, and I can see quite a bit of value in the slower pace. I believe life is all about choices, and to make good choices, I need time to study, reflect, and respond instead of react. My work and my life will be better for it. My progress, though temporarily slowed, will be in a truer, more fruitful direction.
What's your pace? How do you slow down — if you do? And what comes of it?