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Full-time? I feel a change coming
For readers of my newsletter, I hinted at some exciting news I wanted to share. Something that has come as a huge surprise to the people I've shared this news with and while the reactions have all been positive, everyone have been curious to know... why. I'm happy to share that I've decided to join Product Inc full-time as their Director of User Experience. As many (most) of you probably are not familiar with Product, let me share a back story first.
About a year ago, I started freelancing for Ueno. Historically, I was never a fan of freelancing for agencies. The agencies I had worked with previously all seemed to do 'gimmicky' products and spent a lot of time pursuing ideas that would get attention (but not actually solve actual problems) or design stuff that merely looked great (knowing deep inside that they're never going to launch). With Ueno, I finally experienced something different. The team was extremely skilled and I quickly realised it was a team I enjoyed working with. But as you might know, Ueno was acquired by Twitter in January. Our project wasn't quite wrapped up yet and since most of us on the team were freelancers, the project kept running under a new umbrella. Well, the person who initiated that umbrella was Aaron Shapiro (who once founded the agency HUGE). The project ultimately kept going and as Product, I realised I enjoyed working with the team even more as I was reunited with some old favorites like Nicole Hampton whom I had worked with on Herman Miller about a year ago. The new team also includes my visual counterpart, Creative Director Allen Orr as well as some of the people I really enjoyed working with from day 1 with Ueno, Louise Dreier, Amanda Chessa, Lee Simpson and many more. To top it all off, I've been reunited with my favorite producer Jessi Hall and the amazing designer Isabel Sousa.
I guess why I decided to try full-time is pretty obvious at this point - all because of the team I get to work with. We're spread out over the world (Sweden, Russia, Portugal and both east and west coast in the US) meaning a remote-first mindset in everything we do.
A couple of years ago I read an article that outlined what humans need from their work in order to feel fulfilled:
Passion, meaning you have to feel a passion and a connection to the work you do
Education and improvement, the work has to allow you to get better over time and grow within your field
Reward which can be financial, encouragement from co-workers, local appreciation, personal growth etc. Ideally your work covers multiple rewards
So looking at this list, I realised that with Product I'll have the opportunity to continue to work on something I'm passionate about, which is creating great user experiences. While this has already been my main focus for the past decade, as a freelancer I occasionally had to take on work that was related to this, but not quite right (build a design system or design a visual identity). At Product I get to focus on user experiences.
Secondly, working with a strong team is a game changer for anyone. I first experienced this working with SuperFriendly when I got to work with people that were true experts. Working with talented people doesn't just make it easier for me to grow, it forces me to stay focused more. There's the saying that if you're the smartest person in a room, you're in wrong room (or Zoom). Well, with my team mates here I don't have to worry about being in the wrong room. Working with people that challenge you and question your thinking is one of the most important aspects of a rewarding job.
I've really enjoyed the support system that I've felt working with these people. Having colleagues is a great feeling after having freelanced for nearly 12 years. I'm really curious about the future to see where this opportunity leads me, what people I will meet and how being employed again will affect my relationship with my work.