The Design Better podcast delivers insights from the world’s most renowned creative leaders, empowering teams to transform their practice and build remarkable products. This series is hosted by Aarron Walter and Eli Woolery and brought to you by InVision, the digital product design platform used to make the world’s best customer experiences. Discover more best practices, research, and resources at www.designbetter.com.
Tina Seelig: Constraints drive creativity
What is the difference between creativity and innovation? What does it take to find your superpowers? How can you become open to embracing failure to learn and grow?
Tina Seelig, Executive Director of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program at Stanford, has spent a large part of her career answering questions like these, while studying and teaching creativity, leadership, and entrepreneurship.
Tina has a PhD in neuroscience, and we speak with her about how her background influences the way that she approaches these topics. We also discuss how to approach creativity in a corporate environment, and why being a good listener is an underrated superpower that many of us can cultivate.
Dr. Tina Seelig is Executive Director of Knight-Hennessy Scholars and Emeritus Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program at Stanford School of Engineering. She teaches courses on leadership, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school) at Stanford.
In 2014, Dr. Seelig was honored with the SVForum Visionary Award, and in 2009 she received the Gordon Prize from the National Academy of Engineering, recognizing her as a national leader in engineering education. She also received the 2014 MS&E Award for Graduate Teaching, the 2008 National Olympus Innovation Award, and the 2005 and 2019 Stanford Tau Beta Pi Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.
Dr. Seelig earned her Ph.D. from Stanford University Medical School in 1985 where she studied Neuroscience. She has worked as a management consultant for Booz, Allen, and Hamilton, as a multimedia producer at Compaq Computer Corporation, and was the founder of a multimedia company called BookBrowser.
She has written 17 popular science books and educational games. Her books include The Epicurean Laboratory and Incredible Edible Science, published by Scientific American; and a series of twelve games called Games for Your Brain, published by Chronicle Books. Her three newest books, published by HarperCollins are What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, inGenius, and Creativity Rules.
Meredith Black: A new era of DesignOps
Design Operations, or “Design Ops,” is entering a new era. No longer the new kid on the block, it’s becoming a required discipline in many design organizations. We wanted to catch up to see where design ops is now, so who better to chat with than Meredith Black, a guest from our second season back in 2018.
After leaving Pinterest, where she was head of Design Operations, Meredith co-founded the DesignOps Assembly, which focuses on fostering community, offering educational opportunities, sharing resources, and generating best practices within the DesignOps Industry.
We chat with Meredith about what’s changed with design ops in the past four years, the skills that a person needs to be successful in a design ops role, and what she’s hoping to accomplish with the DesignOps Assembly.
Meredith Black is the co-founder of DesignOps Assembly and now a consultant working with companies worldwide to implement DesignOps within their organizations.
Prior, Meredith spent five years at Pinterest, where she started and grew the DesignOps team into an internationally renowned team while also being instrumental in growing and building the Pinterest Product Design Team.
You can listen to her discuss DesignOps on an earlier episode of the Design Better Podcast, or check out “The DesignOps Handbook.” Meredith is also the co-host of the Reconsidering Podcast, along with our very own Aarron Walter.
Greg Hoffman: Creativity is a team sport
There is probably no better training ground than Nike to learn about creativity as a team sport, and Greg Hoffman, former Chief Marketing Officer of Nike, shares this lesson—along with many other valuable insights—in his new book, Emotion by Design.
In this episode, we chat with Greg about how his childhood shaped the way he thinks about creativity and collaboration, how working in inspiring spaces can influence your work (and how you might accomplish that in a remote environment), and about curiosity as a catalyst for creativity.
Greg Hoffman is a global brand leader, former NIKE Chief Marketing Officer, and founder and principal of the brand advisory group Modern Arena.
For over 27 years, Greg held marketing, design, and innovation leadership roles at NIKE, including time as the brand’s CMO. In his most recent role as NIKE’s Vice President of Global Brand Innovation, he led teams tasked with envisioning the future of storytelling and consumer experiences for the brand.
Greg oversaw NIKE’s brand communications and experiences as NIKE was solidifying its position as one of the preeminent brand storytellers of the modern era and the leading innovator in digital and physical brand experiences. His role in the rise of marketing and design through that period was recognized in 2015 when Fast Company named him one of the Most Creative People in Business. He’s also been recognized for his transformative leadership in the industry through the Business Insider’s 50 Most Innovative CMO’s and AdAge’s Power Players annual lists.
For over two decades, he was a major strategic and creative influence for Nike at every major global sporting event, for the launches of NIKE’s signature products and innovations, and for the building of the brands of its athletes.
Through his leadership, Nike drove themes of equality, sustainability, and empowerment through sport in some of its most significant brand communications. That work was, in part, driven by his role on the Advisory Board of the NIKE Black Employee Network and as a member of the NIKE Foundation Board of Directors.
Today as founder and principal of Modern Arena, Greg advises Fortune 1000 brands, startups, and nonprofits in creating brand strength, business growth, and social impact. He sits on the advisory boards of the brands Shred Adventures and AO-Air and is a board member for Summit Impact, the philanthropic arm of Summit Series.
In addition, he is the Branding instructor at the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business and the Innovation Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In 2022, Greg brings all of his brand experience to the world through his new book Emotion by Design: Creative Leadership Lessons From a Life at Nike.
Felecia Hatcher: Moments of enchantment
Often it’s the little things, and not the flashy technology or slick user interface that make a product or experience memorable. The handwritten note from customer service, or the humorous quote that pops up as you’re waiting for a screen to load. Our guest today, Felecia Hatcher, calls these “moments of enchantment,” and she advocates for more opportunities for a human touch, as artificial intelligence and machine learning push us in the opposite direction.
Felecia is the CEO of Black Ambition, an organization founded by Pharrell Williams that works towards closing the opportunity and wealth gap through entrepreneurship. Prior to her current role, she was Chief Popsicle and co-owner of Feverish Ice Cream, and was Co-Founder & Executive Director of the Center for Black Innovation.
In our conversation, we talk about the perpetual growth and achievement across her career, what she learned bootstrapping her ice cream business from her parent’s backyard to Fortune 500 clients, and how her entrepreneurial experiences shape the way she advises and mentors students and entrepreneurs.
Felecia Hatcher is on a mission to rid communities of innovation deserts by working with community leaders and government officials to create inclusive and diverse tech/startup ecosystems as the Co-Founder of Code Fever, Black Tech Week and Tribe Cowork and Urban Innovation Lab.
Hatcher has raised over 3 million dollars to support Code Fever's work which sits at the intersection of economic development and inclusive innovation. As an Author, Social Entrepreneur and the former Chief Popsicle of Feverish Ice Cream, Hatcher was named one of the Empact 100 Top 100 Entrepreneurs under the age of 30 by the White House and Kauffman Foundation in 2011, a 2014 White House Champion of Change for STEM Access and Diversity, Ruth Shack Honoree, 2017 Comcast/Nationswell Tech Impact Allstar, a Black Enterprise 2017 TechConnext Game Changer and 2016 Innovator of the Week, Essence Magazine Tech Master, and featured on the NBC Today Show, MSNBC, FORBES, INC, The Cooking Channel, & Grio’s 100 African American’s Making History.
Rewind: Seth Godin: Learning to take risks, be generous, and make a ruckus
If you don’t know who Seth Godin is, just type “Seth” into Google or DuckDuckGo. The first entry will lead you to his blog, where he writes—every day—about marketing, design, writing, how being a better human will make you better at your job.
Once you’ve started to read his blog, you’ll probably be hungry for more of his wisdom. He’s written over eighteen bestselling books on business and marketing, including Linchpin, Purple Cow, and The Dip.
We’ve been following Seth for a long time, and his writing and speaking have influenced how we think about creating and marketing products. So it was a huge honor to have him on our show, where we spoke about subjects ranging from how to take risks in your career, to why being creative is an act of generosity, to the idea of “creative destruction.”
We hope you enjoy our conversation with Seth as much as we did, and after you finish, we encourage you to go make a ruckus.
Why the counterintuitive idea of “surplus” means that, despite everything going on in the world, we all have access to more resources than the last King of France did. Why writing is often the best starting point for almost any type of creative work. Why a company is more like an organism than an organization
Seth is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker and teacher. In addition to launching one of the most popular blogs in the world, he has written 19 best-selling books, including The Dip, Linchpin, Purple Cow, Tribes, and What To Do When It's Your Turn (And It's Always Your Turn). His most recent book, This is Marketing, was an instant bestseller in countries around the world.
Though renowned for his writing and speaking, Seth also founded two companies, Squidoo and Yoyodyne (acquired by Yahoo!).
By focusing on everything from effective marketing and leadership, to the spread of ideas and changing everything, Seth has been able to motivate and inspire countless people around the world.
In 2013, Seth was one of just three professionals inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame. In an astonishing turn of events, in May 2018, he was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame as well. He might be the only person in both.
Seth created the altMBA and Marketing Seminar to transform online education and help people connect with their audience.
Dr. Sian Proctor: Building common languages
If you’re looking for an inspiring human being, it would be hard to beat Dr. Sian Proctor. Dr. Proctor is a geoscientist, and also an artist and poet who uses her afro-futurist space art to encourage conversations about women of color in the space industry.
For 21 years, she taught geology, sustainability, and planetary science. She also happens to be an astronaut(!), and was the mission pilot for the Inspiration4 all-civilian orbital mission to space. Her call sign “Leo” was eaned from her crewmates, who consider her a modern-day Rennaisance woman in the mold of Leonardo DaVinci.
This special episode of the Design Better Podcast was recorded at an internal event for InVision, where we brought Dr.Proctor in to speak to our team. After her inspiring presentation, we had the chance to interview her, and we spoke about topics ranging from imposter syndrome, to learning to speak the language of your collaborators, to the natural synthesis between art and science.
Dr. Proctor is a geoscientist, explorer, space artist, and astronaut. She is the mission pilot for the Inspiration4 all-civilian orbital mission to space. She is also one of The Explorer’s Club 50: Fifty People Changing the World. Her motto is called Space2inspire where she encourages people to use their unique, one-of-a-kind strengths, and passion to inspire those within their reach and beyond. She believes that we need to actively strive for a J.E.D.I. space: a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive space as we advance human spaceflight.
Dr. Proctor spent 21 years as a professor teaching geology, sustainability, and planetary science at South Mountain Community College, Phoenix, Arizona. She is currently the Open Educations Resource Coordinator for the Maricopa Community College District. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science, an M.S. in Geology, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction: Science Education. She recently finished a sabbatical at Arizona State University’s Center for Education Through Exploration creating virtual field trips. She did her 2012-13 sabbatical at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute developing their science of disasters curriculum. She has appeared in multiple international science shows and is currently on A World Without NASA and Strange Evidence. You can follow her on social media @DrSianProctor.