HCDE UX Speaker Series: Alexis Hope, startups and designing for self-compassion, play, & creativity

HCDE UX Speaker Series: Alexis Hope, startups and designing for self-compassion, play, & creativity

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BETH KOLKO: Quick introduction. So it's my extreme pleasure to welcome Alexis Hope as our 521 speaker. Where's the camera? Oh okay great. To welcome Alexis Hope as our 521 speaker this week. Alexis is an alum of the department, she got her bachelor's degree in 2010 Master's in 2012, and then left us to go pursue a PhD at MIT, where she worked on a variety of projects including a pretty groundbreaking hackathon around maternal health, which she I think is going to talk about a little bit. She's also a musician in a band, and we can download her albums. She is an

incredibly versatile designer who has worked both with large companies and now has launched a startup. The last couple of weeks we've heard from some people talking about product design in large companies with product management, and now we're going to hear from Alexis today a little bit about what it's like to build product in a smaller company startup environment. So, Alexis thank you so much. [applause]. As usual, feel free to post questions in the chat during the talk. Alexis is happy to answer

questions as the hour goes by and for those of you room feel free to raise your hands. There are people in the room, so those of you online, attend in person, if you can, it's very fun! Alright, thanks Alexis! ALEXIS HOPE: Nice to see you all here and online folks, yeah it's quite special to be back a decade later, and I really loved my time here. I'm a little bit scattered this morning, my sister had a baby last night and I'm very excited. So I'm both overjoyed and also a little bit chaotic so I'll see how it goes. So the talk, I'm gonna talk today around the piece of designing for self-compassion and play and creativity. I think these are concepts that I've only just come to build ownership of. Because I tell people it's bringing these ideas into design is less serious than other things you could do, especially when you are trying to reduce your impact. But the longer I've been

in the field the more I realize that not only are these things critical to making social change happen, but also this is my unique voice and I'm very happy finally be able to do that. I wanted to start by just referencing some of the work that I did back when I was in the department actually with Beth Kolko over here. We had a project where we were redesigning affordable ultrasound machines for midwives and low resource regions and that was in collaboration with a radiologist here from UW medicine and Dr Robert Nathan. It involved a lot of fieldwork, we did interviews with mothers about their experiences receiving ultrasound because sortof the idea here was that ultrasound can be used as a really great screening technology for detecting high-risk pregnancy complications like twins or breach, which my sister had actually just yesterday, and so ultrasound can be a way to give people some more information to make make a decision to give birth at a health care center versus at home and where to get information. So yeah we did a lot of field work and a lot of interface design work, both here in Seattle and Kenya and Uganda. That project went on a couple years and was funded by The Gates Foundation. And I learned a ton from

that project. It's really kind of what got me to stick around in the field because I actually was going to drop out of college before I found HCDE. I forgot to mention that, but I saw a poster for HCDE on the back of a bathroom a bathroom stall - it was right when you all were changing the name from technical communication to HCDE - and I was like oh human-centered design and Engineering. That's what I've been looking for all along, so really grateful to the department and this project for kind of getting me my start. So then after I left with the Master's, I went to the media lab at MIT which is kind of like an interdisciplinary research center. They describe themselves as like inventing the future at this intersection of art science design and engineering. So my colleagues worked on everything from

prosthetic limbs to learning technologies for children, to genetic engineering. All kinds of things, so it was an environment where I learned a lot from people all the time about stuff I didn't know. So it was really great and I spent about a decade there and just finished my PhD and a postdoc last year. So I wanted to just give like a brief tour of some of the stuff I've been up to in the time since I've been away from here, and then I'll talk a little bit about the startup and what I'm building now. And hopefully you'll see it's a lot of eclectic stuff but hopefully you'll see that kind of thread of creativity and play and self-compassion throughout all of these topics. The first, this was kind of the core of my dissertation work at the media lab, it was called make the breast pump not suck hackathon. This is the the team over here that I worked on it

with. Me and you may recognize Rebecca Michaelson down on the bottom left, so there's a lot of HCDE connections to this project, including Beth, who was at two out of the four that we held. My sister came to this one too, who's also a PhD student, so lots of connections there.

And that project kind of came out of the recognition that, like I said the media lab is a place where it kind of prides itself on inventing the future, and so I think a colleague and I who had had just had her third baby getting, and was a little frustrated about why there's like certain types of technologies and tools that get neglected when other things are priorities for innovation. So enter the breast pump. People hate it - people who use it hate it - and so we had like an internal kind of we thought that a group of us of new parents and other allies would redesign the breast pump ourselves. But what we ended up doing instead, because we kind of put a blog post out there with some of our ideas and got lots of feedback from mom communities online and people who were like oh my god, MIT is finally doing something that matters. So we really heard that and we decided to host the hackathon around - a series of hackathons over six years. So it was both a series of hackathons and also a co-design project where we work with a lot of community organizations who work not just on improving breast pumps but also breastfeeding support in general which, in this country there's huge kind of disparities socioeconomic along socioeconomic and racial lines around who gets to access breastfeeding because it takes time and it's not super easy and there's no paid leave for the majority 85 percent of people in this country. So there's a lot of barriers to it, so we wanted to talk not just about the technology but use that kind of as a trojan horse into the larger space of issues. And you know this is kind

of what a lot of hackathons look like I just found this picture from some wired article about hackathons, but we really wanted ours to look and feel quite different given the topic and also just given our passion for kind of rethinking what Innovation spaces look like who participates them and what are they concerned with. So our hackathons had stuff like this: mom soldering with babies on their back, which I think is just the best thing to see, people sitting on the floor sewing things. Because also at a hackathon you see like the high-tech prioritized over lower tech solutions, so these folks were working on new kinds of garments to make breastfeeding easier, which is totally an innovation.

Another HCDE cameo over there - Christina Cross in the on the right - she lived in Boston at the time and she's a master's alum who was working on this project with these folks. So that was pretty cool. We also wanted to have kids and a culture of families making things together at the hackathon so that was like a big part of what we put together, trying to make it a welcoming space. And then last detail I'll mention is we really rethought what happens at the end of a hackathon, because you know there's always like the "go up on stage picture" idea. In entrepreneurial kind of sense instead we had more of a science fair approach which we thought was appropriate for this type of event where it really was about knowledge sharing and two-way conversations. It felt great and we had some prizes and things like that. Things that we

borrowed from hackathon structure but we thought of, that I don't have time to get into today, but this project was amazing. And yeah lasted like six years, so it's the core of my dissertation work. Then just to give you an idea of some of the one of the things that came out of the event, that I think really showcases why it matters who you have in the room. You know it wasn't just a lot of you know young tech folks, we had people with deep community organizing an advocacy experience, we had parents, lots of things. So this year was a group from New Orleans the New Orleans breastfeeding Center and they put together this infant-ready emergency feeding kit for breastfeeding in natural disasters. Which of course is something that they have a lot of experience and context

around. So if if those folks had not been in the room this type of innovation wouldn't have happened. So I think it's like a perfect example of who's in the room really matters for what ideas you come up with. And another kind of piece of this was we are always kind of thinking about systems thinking in this respect. So yeah it's not just the technology, like I said, it's context of use around the breast pump. Which is the fact that a lot of people are going straight back to work

and so they kind of have to use a breast pump. and in fact using a breast pump is actually a luxury in itself because they're very expensive. So there's a whole lot of other issues. So while the hackathon was happening in one room we also had a make family leave not suck policy summit in the other room, where we had people who were thinking about you know what would it look like if this country did have equitable paid leave across you know different types of jobs. For shift workers, not just tech workers, who are getting those benefits a bit more

now. And to really think about what's the strategy especially in our current political climate that would be required to push that forward. So yeah there's a lot of people really working on these issues I think Washington State's pushed some stuff forward. Rebecca Michelson from the Department is pretty well informed about these types of changes lately, so you should talk to her if you want to know a bit more. And then the last thing

on this project is there's also a significant research component to it since we're all pretty much housed you know inside of academia. So we wrote traditional papers for CHI and CSCW and some others but we also worked really hard to make the results of the parts of the research like more accessible to designers, medical professionals, and so forth. So this is a book we put together called speaking our truths, and we interviewed parents across the United States from different contexts, different socioeconomic backgrounds, with a special focus on LGBTQ+ parents and people with experiences outside the mainstream. And then we had like Q&A thing and - you can't quite read it here - but at the bottom it says what could have made it better? So we were always trying to distill some of these learnings into findings that may actually be actionable for designers or policy makers. As well as with the storytelling component. so to shift gears on that for a sec to a completely different project, this was my Master's thesis project at the media lab and it was called Fold. And this was a publishing platform for people to tell stories with additional

context, because this was like sort of in an era where - it's I think it's even worse now - but when were like ,you would read a news article and have no idea things were getting so complicated. The war in Crimea was actually what birthed this project. My colleague and I were like okay there's a lot of things we don't understand about this story. So what it is, is it's a way to to write stories by linking them to different kinds of media context. So it's a little bit like a visual Wikipedia. Here you can see someone's writing a story on the left, and then on the right you could search YouTube through a video to link to a specific piece of text. Or Google Maps you could bring in an interactive map there. And it ends up creating stories kind of like this where you can like click on these

links and the media cards will Zoom right over. So it's an interactive reading experience - reading and writing experience. And it ended up getting taken up quite a lot. It was originally designed for - we thought about like a news context - but it got taken up a lot by high school students, college students, people who were more familiar or interested in writing with multimedia in a creative expressive way. So students wrote like tutorials, music

playlists, recipes, science, art like articles, all kinds of things. It was - it's like always a surprise and it's still up actually. So you can check it out I think it's at readfold.com. I think the most fun part about this project was one like putting something out there into the world with one idea of what it might be used for like the news context and then getting back all this totally - stuff you couldn't have imagined. Which I really

do love. And then the other part that was pretty fun was just the chance to really radically rethink UI. And I really loved that this project gave me permission to do that, because we basically just like invented a new way of reading and writing. Instead like okay, and this is the thing now. And so it got like recognized by some UI people who are interested in UI

design. It didn't like take off as a form but I loved, really appreciated the chance to actually experiment with different expressive formats in that way. And again like give people a space to play in. So that was really important to me. Another project I worked on there for a while was with this group called The Ocean Discovery league and um kind of similar to the the behind what was behind the hackathon project around like who gets to innovate who's who's in the room when we're designing technologies, this project had a similar thread. So we're talking about who gets to explore the ocean. So the the kind of thought is like like the traditional folks who when we think of of like ocean explorers it's like Jacques Cousteau and all these sort of similar looking men who get permission to explore the world.

But what about you know like these women here who live, young women who live in Trinidad and they have ocean right around their borders, in their backyards, and their oceans are being you know exploited by oil and gas companies who are very interested in leasing blocks of ocean around there to mine for resources. But wouldn't it be great if the young women who lived there were actually able to explore and understand their oceans. So yeah we're working to build some camera systems and other training materials and lower cost equipment so that folks could actually explore their own backyard. And then the last MIT project. I spent a lot of time with the lifelong kindergarten group at the media lab which they're all about play and creative learning, mostly applied to the experiences of children. I kind of came to them late with I sort of think about that but more applied

towards adults but it was you know great to be in context with them you might be familiar with them from if you've heard of scratch the programming language for kids. Like a block based programming language where kids can make games, animations, and like really all kinds of things. It's amazing to see what they do. And then most recently we're working on like a mobile phone version of scratch because it's - it's different it's not scratch - it's inspired by it. But that really takes advantage of like the form factor of the phone and all the things you can do with the phone out in the world. So like you can record found sound, you can use images you take, you can you know collage things from out in your world. So it's really reimagining like the context of use of programming for kids and what they can make, which is really exciting. I think this will probably

launch in October I'm still working with them a little bit on it. And then the very last thing just a fun thing I did that I think kind of shows some of the thread of my interest is an event called trash club. This is like a social event where people come together and bring recycled materials, and we just make stuff together. It's either like at my house, or this is one where we did it in a class - we're teaching an industrial design class in Shanghai. And so we just had students kind of see like okay what can you make with just stuff that's around you. And so we have a great time we you know kind of we try to elevate the experience of trash a little bit. So we have like a gallery walk

where students will you know appreciate the the objects that they've all created as if they were in a museum. And we usually set up like a photo studio so people can take fancy product shots um and their stuff. Just some examples of fun stuff people make. I like I love this one over here - this was from a student in Shanghai, and just see like some cups from the takeout place and some chopsticks to make this just like absolutely beautiful little cart. So I

love to see what people make. Homemade paint brushes, and then yeah we have a little. I haven't kept this up to date well enough really but it's time to bring trash Club back to Seattle. I will. But so yeah we have ways where people can share all the cool stuff that they make with each other and again it ranges from like the purely artistic to sometimes like industrial design concepts. And I don't think there are enough places for

adults to play in this world so that's definitely something that matters to me. Okay now are there any questions or anything before I go? BETH KOLKO: No just some people emphasizing how terrible breast pumps are. ALEXIS HOPE: yes seriously. Okay so now I'm gonna shift a little bit into what I'm up to now because all of that was sort of done in the container of academic work at the media lab, where there's not really a lot of pressure to think about, um the sustainability of what you're making or anything like that. Or if you do,

if you are trying to think about that, you're often beholden to like getting grants to support your work. Which can be challenging as we learned from the ultrasound project. So yeah I was kind of eager to maybe experiment with building something that could be financially sustainable from a business perspective. So that's that's sort of what's on my mind now, and I'm co-teaching with Cheryl Cababa building a human centered venture, or it's designing a human-centered venture class that Beth developed. And that's been a great space to for me also to reflect on the startup journey I'm on now. So Focused - I've been working with as a co-founder for about a year now, but it was started by Nadira Casanova who's also UW Alum from CSE, who I met when I was her barista actually. Not here you know, but so you never know where you're going to meet your co-founder. I'll tell you a little a little bit about what

what we're doing, and connect it a little bit to some of the other interests I shared. So yeah before I start I just want us all to think about like a moment when you were able to do your best work. Like actually sit down and get some work done. I'm trying to remember the last time - okay two, maybe two days ago, for me really was I was able to actually sit down and focus. And yeah when you think about like what did that feel like to actually get something done? And what made it possible for you to actually like get motivated to do it? First of all get into a deep flow, and then feel the sense of accomplishment around it And just from our work on this project these are some of the the things that we hypothesize. Make it a little easier, so a calm and focused environment. Having confidence clarity about what you're even working on. Actually enjoying it. Feeling accountable to other people. Avoiding

the busy work trap. And then like the feeling that your work actually matters. I think that's a big one. These are, they sound simple. It was really simple to put them all on the slide, but I think these are really very hard things to tap into in our current work culture. So yeah I think it feels really good when you're able to actually do that. I love coming

out of like being in the flow of something, and really feeling like I did something real. That mattered and I didn't check my phone every three minutes for an hour you know. It feels really good. But I think it's really hard to get focused, and this is sort of the core problem that we're trying to help people work through. In one of our hypotheses here is like the way we work is broken. And this is if you're kind of

a grim ecological buff this is an ant death spiral where the ants are like following the pheromones of each other and they just kind of like basically exhaust themselves by going around in a circle. I thought this was like a grim but apt metaphor for a lot of the situations we find ourselves in where we don't necessarily have intentionality if we're at you know a company where we have like a million meetings that were pulled into, there's no clear strategy, we can't carve away time for ourselves to do things. And we can't pull back and think about what our long-term goals are, because we're so stuck in the day-to-day.

So we're just spiraling. So I think like we're pretty distracted, as we know, with all of our attention spans and the technologies trying to claim our time. A lot of people are burnt out, especially after the pandemic. I think that was really highlighted. People

are struggling with getting stuff done. But not only that, like mental health, work-life balance, feelings of isolation. There's a lot of things. We're not robots or automatons we can't just turn on work when we want, so there's a lot of like emotional and and psychological context behind our ability to work. And then the last thing I kind of allude to, we're

working a lot but maybe not accomplishing the things that actually matter to us. So we're email black holes, back-to-back meetings, like to-do lists that never end. All of that. So we want to help people get out of that trap, and we want to help ourselves get out of that trap. And it's actually required for us to build this thing that we learn how to get out of this trap ourselves. So what we're all about is trying to help people make

progress on the things that actually matter to them, whether that's personal, professional, or creative goals. All that stuff's on the table with daily structure accountability and community. So what that actually means we have kind of three core aspects to our our online service. We have these things called wake up calls. They're like 15-minute calls where it's a planning call for the day and you start your day by setting goals and breaking down your day a little bit. And then meditation. And it's with a friendly community and hosted by a professional facilitator. So that's sort of like your your daily routine and anchor for your day. And we also have what's called community sessions and those are like

get into the flow session. So they're like 90 minutes sessions that have, again, with a trained facilitator that encourages you to take breaks at certain points where you kind of sprint towards like specific goals that require deep work and focus. Focus, and this is based on a principle that's actually really getting more traction in the ADHD Community, called body doubling, where just like being in the presence of other people doing the same thing as you makes you more likely to do it. And that's a lot of people are like wow that felt like magic but it's just being with other people who are doing the same thing. You want other supportive people. And then the the last of the pieces is kind of like a bit of one-on-one support as well, so we have our host so you can share your goals with and they'll check in on you help you bust through any blockers you're having.

There's often like a light uh we're not like licensed therapists but there's a light therapeutic aspect to their work I'd say like people often come to us when they're very much struggling overwhelmed they have burnout they may be caregivers other things getting in the way and so some of that stuff our hosts help people work through before they can even get to the work part of it. And here's like a little comic that one of our members made just the other day actually which I thought was really cute. So yeah she she broke she breaks it down the wake-up calls um she's a free she just uh turned from working full-time for an institution into being a freelancer so we find that you know people who are their own bosses sometimes struggle with knowing like what to work on um so she's saying that pick goals for the day break them down meditate that's kind of how she starts every day um she's been at it for a month which is super awesome and then I'm gonna get into a little bit of like the where we're at design wise what's on my mind just to give you the behind the scenes there everything we do now is with Google meets so we're just kind of using off the shelf parts to basically prototype the experience that we want um and so this is just an example of like one of the the um Community sessions but with the Google meets thing but um we are working on building our own kind of specific technology platform to support everything we want to do for our members because there's so many ways in which this is just not enough for the vision that we really have to support people um so yeah my work right now looks like a lot like like a lot of design design work messy sketches on colored paper trying to figure it out um and we're right now um in the middle uh we're about to launch our mobile phone companion app that goes along with the call so that's like our kind of First Step um and then so this is where people will sort of set their goals and then do some of the the break break it down work that I mentioned we do in the calls and then they sort of have like a record of everything that they can keep track of um and then we also are are this is a very early Gap but working on our our web video platform that's going to integrate all the features we want to make it like a more supportive community and do much more than than these kind of out of the box of video Solutions can do so that's like where we're at now with the the technology side of it um and then just to tell you a little bit about who we're working with to make this happen um our hosting team oh we're a fully remote company by the way so that has that's also an interesting design challenge that we can talk about in Q a um but our hosts have experience in organizational psychology teaching and facilitation entrepreneurship coaching Addiction Counseling and habit formation and then meditation and mindfulness and we really found that actually teachers make fantastic posts because it's their their fantastic at um breaking things down easily for people creating safe and comfortable spaces so yeah we've had really good great luck with um with teachers and yeah so this is like our core All-Star team at the moment um and then yeah just to mention to mention like who's coming to these sessions it's a lot of different people but these are what we've noticed are kind of core to most of them a lot of them work either hybrid or remote so they may be like isolated from Office culture at times or if they're in office culture they're stacked with meetings and it's hard for them to carve out the time for themselves so we're helpful for both of those they have side hustles so got entrepreneurs and Freelancers and and so forth they're in leadership roles so they're very overwhelmed and stressed and they need like a place to actually every morning to be like okay what's my top priority today there's a million fires I need to fight but what would a success look like today um a lot of them are working towards long-term goals whether that's finishing a master's degree or um or trying to get a new job and I should mention yeah a lot the you know the layoffs have affected our members as well so that's something we're responding to how do we help our members get geared up for everything they need to do to prepare to find new jobs struggling with burnout um like I said people often come to us in a bit of a state of Crisis to start with and then many of them may have an ADHD diagnosis and that's kind of a surprising thing to us I mean it makes sense now that I think about it because many of us on the team have ADHD and also but then it just we started to hear from our members that that was like a more common experience so um we actually went to a ADHD conference recently to learn more about this population and this is actually a fun fun startup story so it's like a it was at like the international ADHD conference um and like in the room are like big Pharma companies selling their medicines or like big school like big fish that have like really fancy booths and stuff but we're like we want to be there and we want to talk to people like being from hcde and that like which tizen what we learn in htd I feel ties in so well with what you need to to do a startup or be entrepreneurial because you have to listen you have to iterate and that's all that's like so much of what we're trying to do so we had to be there so um you can see our booth is a little I wish I had pictures of the other ones with like the big but it's a little unusual but we um on Craigslist we like found a local artist who would help like bring some furniture and help us design it to make a cozy space and you know it's one of those things like you do what you got to do and we like created a cozy little happy space for people and it was extremely different from all the other Vibes at the booth and that brought a lot of people into our space that we were able to talk to so yeah it was a lot of fun and oh yeah there's there's nazira here and our third co-founder it's uh Justin tropeck who's a recent uh Twitter Alum I guess you could call it um okay and then just one thing that we really learned from I think especially that we all care about but we learned especially from this context was around how important self-compassion is because especially in the ADHD Community there's so much kind of feeling that people are a failure and that there's like something they're always doing something wrong there's something wrong with them for not being able to keep up with the expectations of the modern workplace and all these distractions that I mentioned I mean so um that I'm going to show you like a couple of the ads that we've been making to find our members because I think they highlight like some of what our values are and what we're trying to put out there um but like there's this one just like there's nothing wrong with you like that's something we really believe about there's nothing wrong with you like everybody struggles to get things done really um and so yeah we try and bring self-compassion into every everything we do to make people feel like this is a space for them um and for other people like them which I think is like all most of us um and then like we try to bring a sense of humor into things as well like this is when we're announcing the new time 7 A.M for the East Coast most of our you know people like they want to have a morning routine and they want to get started but um it's hard I don't want to get out of bed in the morning either so we try and lean into like like reality and I think there's so much like hustle culture toxic productivity all this stuff out there that I just don't think works for the majority of people so we try and take a more realistic and sometimes humorous um bent on it um which I think feels authentic to all of our voices as a team and seems to resonate with like the type of community that we want to build so I think we'll probably keep with that approach um yeah I just wanted to mention in case in case it comes up in the Q a just some of the things that I'm currently thinking about as a co-founder and leading product here one is like what is healthy Community among strangers look like because I think one of the things we've found is that like this thing about accountability we've heard feedback from our members that like okay like it's great to go on a call and see other people but if I don't know those other people or have any reason they don't have any reason to care about me I don't have any reason to care about them then like I don't really feel accountable to them so I'm like thinking you know we want to build a healthy supportive community and we have like awesome moments of that I can share but on the whole I'm thinking like how do we build that there's so many bad examples of that out there and then how do we build like Community that's both supporting but not super distracting this is also don't want this to turn into like social media where people are not doing their work that they want to do because they're talking to each other so that's a tough challenge um how can we help people create and commit to new habits and routines that's a challenge and you know something in the department we've talked uh a lot probably around like persuasive Technologies and other things which have their own ethical challenges that will certainly ourselves like Wade through but that's um it's hard for people to start something new especially like I said if they're in a moment to challenge your crisis so that's something you have to think about um scaling personal attention I mean we're in this age of of uh like artificial everything yeah so we're kind of like making a big bet that actually like personal attention and matters more than ever now so we're trying to figure out like and it's it's like the relationships between our hosts and our members and the members with each other that really makes this whole thing work so we're trying to think about how do we help our hosts like better support more clients um at a time and actually be able to track their stories and really help them over time so that's a core design challenge how do we change productivity culture to Center Joy play and self-compassion like I said those are core values of ours and we think they just make life better and I don't want to build a product that that turns people into the ants in the spiral so I'm trying to get out of that with these things um and then the last one which is like interesting to me as a designer who's mostly worked on like Project based things how do we build like a kind supportive and playful company culture like that's also a design Challenge and that's newer to me I've never been in this type of leadership role so I'm like you know that's top of my mind all the time and as we grow that is becomes even more more important um yeah so if you have any ideas on that I would love to hear it but yeah those are that's definitely top of my mind um and then sort of the last thing I wanted to share before I open it up is like start up any Endeavor is like super hard but the thing that's keeping me going is like all the things we hear from our members about how it's actually helping them and you know you could call that like a human-centered lens or if you're Amazon I think they say like customer obsessed or whatever but for me it's just like there's nothing better in terms of work than working on something that actually is helping people like reclaim some of their agency time uh Joy all those things back like it's just been so rewarding and I'm hoping that will get me through the inevitable hard stuff ahead um and then okay the all clothes with um if you all wanted to try it and I would love all your feedback as hcde people um who have many many thoughts about probably all the design challenges that I mentioned uh we have a code here for a free um a free month so you're free to try out for the whole month unlimited everything wake-up calls Community sessions and this uh text on here is from an unnamed other hcde Alum who's been using it I won't reveal them but I thought it was really fun um and yeah this actually I found this screenshot in my phone this morning and I thought this kind of summed up part of what I hoped for our community is that um maybe the way you are is excellent and you have many hidden tricks that you take for granted but that others would greatly benefit from knowing probably stole it from someone's tweet I'm sorry for the lack of uh attribution but this is what I hope from our community that that like you know we all have ways of working that we can share with each other and like our community at its best I see people sharing their techniques with each other and sharing their struggles as well and I think that's really beautiful like that kind of on you know so I'll close there and have you take any questions I know that you you worked at a large tech company that I will not make um is there anything so you showed us some of the sketches and some of the ways that you're working on the product itself yeah are there certain processes or tools that you've been able to use in Focus that never would have worked say in a large organization where you have multiple layers of accountability yeah I think it's like well I mean the speed that we're able to work I don't know if that's a process or a lack of process but will we have some light processes around it that I'll explain but I think yeah just being able to like iterate from week to week and like really listen to our members about like okay this week what are we hearing and so like actually every Thursday we have a a meeting us co-founders called feedback feast and it's like because we're getting feedback all the time and we started to get overwhelmed and we're like okay where do we so we have like one Google doc that we just like put it all in and then we have a designated time to review it together so then we can like read it and figure out what our action items and next steps for each of those things and that's been like helpful in keeping us accountable to what people are saying but also like bucketing it bucketing it so that we can make progress on like because I think it's challenging to think both long term and then but also now that we have mem you know we have members several hundred members that were supporting so we also have to be attentive to our members now so that can be a challenge um and then otherwise um discord's been really great for us at this size and having kind of like a sort of a chatty culture um and oh yeah we yeah I guess yeah speed and then just like some ways of bucketing time so we don't get distracted all the time by everything [Music] everything uh someone asked can you talk a little bit a more uh that body doubling what is it what are the benefits yeah um so yeah body doubling like I mentioned it's it's become sort of like a popularized um term and concept in the ADHD Community primarily but it's really about being in the same space as others doing the same thing you are makes you more likely to do it I think you know you may have experienced it yourself in person if you like go to a coffee shop and everyone's like quietly working on their laptop and you're like okay I guess I'll do that too um and I think you know around the science behind it I've seen it linked to like mirror neurons and just the sort of Base Associates social what's the word sociality sociality so sociality of humans like that we just kind of like want to to fit into what we're around um I think it's also like soothing for people it seems like to just like you know you may be packed inside but you'll look up on your screen and you see all these people quietly working and you're listening to like a Lo-Fi YouTube playlist that we give in you're like okay everything's okay like this room's not on fire these people are on fire um and yes I think definitely like like in person versus online question is interesting because Focus actually started as an invert Nadira started it as an in-person um kind of like co-working space in Oakland and then over the pandemic shifted to an online model so yeah I think that worked well but um I think it really it also works well in the online space with when you have really strong facilitators who are good at kind of like making it feel more social recognizing people by name and talking to them and again I think the stronger the bonds are between the people in the room the more it works too and so that's why we're all we're so Keen to support this to to think more about how to build community amongst our members yeah so oh are there questions in the room no there's another question um so this is start picking up on what you were just talking about do you uh or anyone in your company consult with professional people to find solutions to the to the challenge here um like to speak with licensed psychologists or therapists to host group sessions the reason whether it's addiction et cetera to learn more about the challenges to change yeah so that was one of our big purposes for going to that ADHD conference was to make a lot of contact with licensed therapists and clinicians so that we can develop Partnerships and think about also some of our members are like maybe higher needs than what we can support them with especially yeah if they have like specific challenges related to ADHD or even specific life challenges that are that if they're you know a trained therapist would so yeah working to develop like referral programs and and ways to get people the support that they need and then in terms of our own internal practice our hosts uh you know they have like masters degrees and organization organizational psychology and all these things so our hosting team also has that knowledge and we have a monthly practice called host knowledge share which is basically like our monthly chance to nerd out with each other or one of the hosts will like give a presentation on a topic let they know well like um a habit formation as it relates to addiction that was one topic we did and the person will share and we'll all kind of like co-learn together so that's another big part of our company culture that we're trying to build is just like always learning so uh so at htte it's all about listening right a lot of use of research if you think about these experts as one category yeah then you also have your customers just another categories have there been any sort of contradictory messages [Music] I think that may be to come because we right now you know we're doing all the especially I should mention we also have like curriculum as well that we develop through like each week There's a different theme so in the wake-up call like we'll teach we'll teach about different topics related to attention or productivity or whatnot but our team is all kind of writing that content now but when we fundraise we certainly aspire to bring on like a curriculum developer or somebody who has like a higher level of expertise than us and I could imagine that because I think um it's interesting to me because at least my personal one philosophy I hold that might come in tension with this is like I really think people need to learn what works for them in many of these situations like I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all answer to so many things in life especially not like how to get stuff done when we're all so different and the way we think is so different what we're experiencing so different so I hope we find someone who shares that similar value but I could imagine being challenged online [Music] what you said works at Scales with that yeah that's and that's that's kind of like our Core Design challenge right now um we had we did have these like one-on-one sessions that were actually like video live with a person for 90 minutes um but that doesn't scale very well especially if you want to pay our hosts well which we do um so we've shifted more to like a email exchange model that's where most of the one-on-one happens but that is extremely cumbersome for certainly our hosts and not ideal for our members who don't want to clutter their inboxes with even more things to do so um I think we're shifting towards like I mentioned that app to have more of a chat based model um that our host can and then that helps them keep better track of everyone like then you know emails are they send them an email every day it's not threaded so they it's very hard for them to keep track they have to like rely only on their own memory and notes to keep track of people and that's very challenging so we want to make it easier for our hosts to like remember everybody and keep track of things and I think that we can do through through technology a little bit I know but also the most important part yes we're doubling down on that yes thank you yeah give it a try let us know poke holes in it love feedback criticism all that thank you so much thank you foreign [Music]

2023-02-15 18:37

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