Interviewed by Springboard PR

Back in September, NJ Connect invited me to give my talk, “Amazing Design Through Empathy.” I had a ton of fun speaking with the folks in attendance.

The conversation continued, and Benjamin Doda of Springboard PR (the organizers of NJ Connect) interviewed me on web design, empathy, and business. He asked me some really provocative, difficult, and fun questions.

Springboard Geek Whisperer Interview

A number of the questions he asked me about are going to feed the next iteration of my talk.

Here’s an excerpt

When you give an inch, some people take a mile. What are the consequences of designing with too much empathy?

Sympathy is feeling for a person. Empathy is feeling with a person.

It’s the difference between looking at the world’s tallest and fastest roller-coaster and saying “Wow… that looks really intense” (sympathy), versus getting into the roller-coaster and experiencing the ride for yourself (empathy).

Sympathy is useless, and drives a wedge between you and the person you’re dealing with.

To take this one step further, there’s a difference between having empathy, and being emotional.

If you’re feeling with a person, you have awareness, if you’re being emotional, you’re being strictly governed by emotions. In business, being emotional is going to ultimately make you spiral out of control.

Here’s what empathy is in a business context. I have a client who is agitated, passive-aggressive, and inconsistent. He’s incredibly difficult to deal with. Throughout the course of working with him I pieced together that he has a boss who micromanages him, changes his mind at the drop of a buzzword, and bullies my client around. When I look at my client, I understand what he’s feeling. I can identify those same emotions in myself, and I can even remember a time when I had a boss who did the exact same thing to me. What I am not doing is internalizing those emotions, and allowing myself to feel my client’s total panic. I’m identifying with his emotions, and using the knowledge that I have of how he must be feeling to help the situation.

Regardless of whether you feel with a client, or are numb to their emotions, a client can still push you around, and take more than they have paid for.

I have a small tolerance for extra work with my clients. When I start doing extra work, if it’s small, I let them know, “This is above and beyond, next time we’re going to have to talk about a change order and a budget.” If that extra work is a bit bigger, I may issue a no cost change order, and make everyone sign it knowing that the next change is going to cost money.

Some requested changes are just going to cost money. Sometimes you just need to tell the client early and often that future iterations and features are going to require a budget.

- See more at: http://springboardpr.com/2014/11/07/the-geek-whisperer-uncover-what-motivates-your-customers/#sthash.GePxYBYW.dpuf

Speaking at NJ Connect in Redbank

Once more with feeling… I will be delivering my  talk “Amazing Design Through Empathy” at NJ Connect in Redbank, NJ on Tuesday, September 23rd at 6PM.

This is the fourth time that I am delivering this presentation, and the first time that I am doing it locally. So far the reactions from it have been wonderful.

October 2012 at NJ Connect
October 2012 at NJ Connect

I spoke at NJ Connect about two years ago, and it was a very warm and fun group. I’m excited to do it again.

Here be the description

The difference between a good product and an amazing one boils down to one thing: Empathy. Developing an understanding of your users that is so deep that you can feel what they feel enables you to design products and experiences that will truly resonate with your users.

Through illustrative and entertaining examples, I will take you on a tour of the the highs that are achievable through empathic design, and some of the depths that designers sink to when they design without empathy. You’ll learn how to activate the empathy that is already within you, and how you can use that power to improve all aspects of your product design, from requirements gathering to user research, and everything in between.

PS: Good news! I will not be featuring any cliched examples. You will not hear me mention Apple or Jony Ive once during my presentation, because I have empathy for you.

Please sign up! I hope to see some friendly faces.

Speaking at DC’s Drupal Capital Camp & Gov’t Days

More good news [that I should have posted weeks ago]. I will be delivering my new talk “Amazing Design Through Empathy” at Washington, DC’s Drupal Capital Camp & Gov’t Days this Wednesday, July 30.

Drupal Capital Camp & Gov't Days 2014

This talk is in my employer Phase2 Technology’s backyard, and I have many brilliant coworkers who will be delivering all manner of nifty presentations. If you’re in the neighborhood you should come on down and check them out.

Here be the description:

The difference between a good product and an amazing one boils down to one thing: Empathy. Developing an understanding of your users that is so deep that you can feel what they feel enables you to design products and experiences that will truly resonate with your users.

Through illustrative and entertaining examples, I will take you on a tour of the the highs that are achievable through empathic design, and some of the depths that designers sink to when they design without empathy. You’ll learn how to activate the empathy that is already within you, and how you can use that power to improve all aspects of your product design, from requirements gathering to user research, and everything in between.

PS: Good news! I will not be featuring any cliched examples. You will not hear me mention Apple or Jony Ive once during my presentation, because I have empathy for you.

(Spira – Drupal Capital Camp & Gov’t Days)

Get your ticket, and let me know if you’ll be out there. We can imbibe a beverage.

If you’re in Boston on August 2nd, I will be delivering the same talk at Design4Drupal Boston.

Speaking at Design4Drupal Boston [2 August 2014]

Here’s some great news! My talk, “Amazing Design Through Empathy” has been accepted by the organizers of Design4Drupal Boston.

Design4Drupal Boston Logo

I will be delivering my talk as a representative of my employer Phase2 Technology (more on that in the future) on Saturday, August 2nd from 3:30 – 4:30.

Here be the description:

The difference between a good product and an amazing one boils down to one thing: Empathy. Developing an understanding of your users that is so deep that you can feel what they feel enables you to design products and experiences that will truly resonate with your users.

Through illustrative and entertaining examples, I will take you on a tour of the the highs that are achievable through empathic design, and some of the depths that designers sink to when they design without empathy. You’ll learn how to activate the empathy that is already within you, and how you can use that power to improve all aspects of your product design, from requirements gathering to user research, and everything in between.

PS: Good news! I will not be featuring any cliched examples. You will not hear me mention Apple or Jony Ive once during my presentation, because I have empathy for you.

(Spira – Design4Drupal Boston)

Get your ticket, and let me know if you’ll be out there. We can imbibe a beverage together.