The Informed Life With Donna Lichaw

Episode 7 of The Informed Life podcast features an interview with story coach Donna Lichaw. You may be wondering what I mean by “story coach.” Well, Donna helps folks figure out what their story is so they can be more effective at work and in life in general:

when you know your own story and when you own your own story, and it’s one that fills your heart with joy and energy and it’s one that you feel confident in and it’s one that fuels you and moves you forward, people see that in you, and you’re more likely to make the impact that you want to make.

I was fascinated to hear how Donna goes about helping people do this — especially in the way she helps clients visualize their story while they’re describing it to her, even if they’re meeting remotely.

Hope you enjoy the show! And by the way, if you’re enjoying The Informed Life, please take a minute to rate it in Apple’s podcast directory. This helps other folks find the show. Thanks!

The Informed Life Episode 7: Donna Lichaw

The Informed Life With Beck Tench

Episode 6 of The Informed Life podcast features an interview with Beck Tench, a Ph.D student at the University of Washington. This role requires that she deal with a lot of information, and in this show,​ we discuss how she makes sense of it all. This includes an overview of one of my favorite information management tools, Tinderbox.

Our conversation kicks off with the subject of Beck’s Ph.D. itself, which is both fascinating and highly relevant to leading an informed life:

I’m interested in how we can design spaces and technologies that facilitate contemplative practices or just contemplative experiences. And by contemplative, I mean essentially being present to life in that moment. Spaces that will help us be present, slow down and notice the world. But there’s also this flavor of being lovingly present as part of it. It’s not just hyper-focus and attention-driven. It is also considering compassion, basically.

I was thrilled to hear about Beck’s area of focus. We need more of this in the world.

The Informed Life Episode 6: Beck Tench

The Informed Life With Kevin M. Hoffman

Episode 5 of the The Informed Life podcast features an interview with my friend Kevin M. Hoffman, author of the book Meeting Design: For Managers, Makers, and Everyone. After a long career as a designer, entrepreneur, and manager, Kevin is now focused on helping people in organizations hold better meetings.

In this episode, we talked about meetings and how Kevin organizes his information environments to manage lead conversion for his business. His description of the process sparked an image from our childhoods:

the metaphor that comes to mind is this… There was also this cartoon thing called School House Rock and the one that I remember — and I imagine a lot of people who know what Schoolhouse Rock is remember — is one about a bill. “I’m Just a Bill sitting here on Capitol Hill,” and how that bill goes on a journey to become a law.

Kevin goes on to describe the journey through which his leads become customers. This journey has information moving from a physical environment to a digital environment to another physical environment and finally to another digital environment. In all, it was a fun and fascinating conversation.

The Informed Life Episode 5: Kevin M. Hoffman

The Informed Life With Andrea Kates

Episode 4 of The Informed Life podcast features an interview with innovation consultant, author, and speaker Andrea Kates. Andrea has worked with a broad range of large organizations around the world to help them discover new lines of business by seeing things differently:

I perceive anomalies. Whereas within the four walls of a company, they don’t see these different pieces of information as anomalies, they just listen to information and put it all into the same sets of categories. Whereas a lot of times it’s the outsider or the guide of a growth process… I see anomalies. And it allows them to have a fresh set of eyes, quite frankly, and move in new directions.

Andrea trained as a choreographer, and brings to her consulting practice a kinesthetic/visual approach to information management that breaks norms — to the benefit of her clients.

I had a blast talking with Andrea; I hope you enjoy our conversation too!

The Informed Life Episode 4: Andrea Kates

The Informed Life With Fabricio Teixeira

Episode 3 of The Informed Life podcast features a conversation with designer Fabricio Teixeira. Alongside his partner Caio Braga, Fabricio publishes UX Collective, one of the most popular online publications about UX design. They’ve created an amazing system that makes it possible for just two people to manage a large publication. In this show, Fabricio describes the setup that makes UX Collective happen.

I was impressed by Fabricio’s drive to control what information comes to his attention and when:

Fabricio: Sometimes it’s not about too much information, but it’s about information​ trying to get to you too many times throughout the da​y, if that makes sense. I think five years ago I redesigned my phone experience to turn off all notifications except for one or two apps, removed the number of icons that I have on my home screen so there’s not a lot of visual clutter and information every time I unlock my phone. Removing all those red badges from the app icon, so there’s no anxiety or tapping them and opening them. So in a way, it’s almost like I designed my technology experience so that it doesn’t get in the way of the actual information I want to get access to, if that makes any sense.

Jorge: It sounds like you’re configuring your environment so that you can be more in control of your attention, right?

Fabricio: That’s right. Yeah, and that’s not only around technology. Of course, technology plays an important role there, but being mindful of my surroundings… I always try to keep the books from authors that I admire next to my desk. So I’m always surrounded by that feeling of… It’s hard to describe, but even my apartment walls are a hundred percent white; there’s no paintings or anything. My desk has as few objects as possible. As a designer, I’m making sure that I’m designing the space around me to avoid too much cognitive load throughout the day.

Jorge: The degree to which our environments and the busyness of the environment impinges upon your ability to be effective. Right?

Fabricio: It’s really hard to measure. It’s not a quantity, right? It’s hard to measure the return over investment over those things because ultimately it’s really qualitative. It’s really about feeling lighter at the end of the day. I guess that’s my KPI, ultimately.

I left this conversation inspired to simplify and automate as much of my information ecosystem as possible. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

The Informed Life Episode 3: Fabricio Teixeira

The Informed Life With Gretchen Anderson

Episode 2 of The Informed Life podcast features my friend Gretchen Anderson. Our conversation focused on how Gretchen wrote her new book, Mastering Collaboration: Make Working Together Less Painful and More Productive.

One of the interesting aspects of Gretchen’s workflow is how she moves between digital and analog information environments:

I am a real analog person. Even writing, I find that that motion of the hand is what gets my brain engaged. And so even the first time I make an outline, I’m often doing that by hand. And I love whiteboards because — again, I like to be able to fit everything in one canvas that I can take in at one time. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. I’ve designed robotic surgery suites and I’ve done genetic analysis equipment. Like I’ve done really complicated things, but I think the goal is: you should be able to grok the system in one go.

I’m aiming to make incremental improvements to the show with each episode. The big new feature with this one is a full transcript, which should aid findability. Hope you enjoy it!

 The Informed Life Episode 2: Gretchen Anderson 

The Informed Life is Now in Apple’s Podcast Directory

I’m happy to announce that The Informed Life is now available in Apple’s podcast directory. This means two things:

  1. You should be able to find the show more easily using your favorite iOS podcasting client.
  2. You can rate and review the show.

The latter is especially important​ since reviews and ratings help other people discover the podcast. If you enjoyed the first episode, please consider rating the show and/or leaving a review. Thanks!

Step 2

How to Subscribe to a Podcast by URL

Yesterday I launched my new podcast, The Informed Life. I’m excited by the reception the show has had thus far; comments and views have far exceeded my expectations.

I announced the show in the middle of a three-day weekend (in the U.S.) thinking this would make it a soft launch. Why would I do this? Well, mostly because it’s my first foray at producing a podcast and there are sure to be kinks that need ironing out. But another reason is that there are parts of the process that are beyond my control. One of these is having the show appear in the main podcast directories.

I’ve submitted the show to Apple, and am in the process of doing so to other directories as well. I’m unsure how long it’ll take for Apple to approve it so it’ll show up in the Podcasts app. But that doesn’t mean you can’t listen to it yet! In fact, it’s quite easy to do so — even if it takes a few more steps. All you need to do is subscribe using the podcast’s RSS feed. I’ll show you the steps below.

(These instructions are specific to the Apple Podcasts app on iOS, but most mainstream podcast players allow you to subscribe to shows using RSS feeds. You may be able to do it with your app, though specifics will vary.)

Step 1

Copy the show’s RSS feed:

Select this entire line and copy it.

Step 2

Open and go to the Library tab. Tap on the Edit button in the upper right corner.

Step 2

Step 3

Tap on Add a Podcast by URL.

Step 3

Step 4

A dialog box will pop open. Paste the URL you copied in step 1 into the field in this dialog box. Press Subscribe and then Done.

step 4

Step 5

The podcast should now show up in your library. Listen away!

Step 5

I’ll post here (and on Twitter) when the show is listed in the main podcast directories. In the meantime, I hope this process helps you follow along.

UX Podcast Episode 202: “Digital Places”

I was interviewed by James Royal-Lawson and Lisa Welchman for the UX Podcast. Among other things, we talked about a fundamental tension I’m exploring for my upcoming WIAD keynote:

Our default – I’m not going to generalize here – but I think that for many of us our root impulses are to say we want to make this environment as personalizable as possible and we want to make it as accepting to folks from all sorts of different perspectives, all sorts of different backgrounds, all sorts of different abilities.

And I think that’s an incredibly noble and important direction to aspire towards. But I also think that we need to acknowledge that at the end of the day we have to establish some degree of common ground for the place to be able to be coherent and to be distinctive and to set itself apart from other parts of the world.

This conversation that we’re having would be challenging if the three of us were speaking in different languages, for example. We have come together to speak – and we’re speaking in English. That entails some degree of, I guess, giving up of parts of our identity. English is not my native language, and it’s something that I do willingly to be able to participate in this conversation and to have it be a fruitful and flowing conversation. And I think that this notion of accommodating different folks stands in tension with the notion of creating a degree of coherence; of developing some kind of group identity that allows us to identify as a certain bank’s customers or members of a professional community or what have you.

What’s the right balance between accommodating individual identity and fostering group identity? Sometimes these directions can be in alignment, but often they’re not. How do we choose? Information environments reify social structures, so those of use who design them must address these questions.

Listen to the episode or read the transcript.