Episode 22

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Published on:

8th Nov 2022

S1 E22: There's something really vulnerable about design (Lauren / @LaurenChilcote)

Lauren Chilcote joins the show to talk about her origin story: from going to school for fashion design to learning design and front-end development to becoming passionate about design culture.

We discuss the challenges of moving across the country during a pandemic, the benefits and challenges of design culture and being in a profession in which everyone has thoughts and ideas on your work, especially in today's often fully remote environment. As well as listening to audiobook while supporting local bookstores with Libro.fm!

Discussed Links

Transcript
eddie:

episode 22 of the Web Joy Podcast, I'm your host, Eddie.

eddie:

In this podcast, we interview guests about their origin story and what

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makes them excited and joyful to be part of the tech community.

eddie:

I hope you enjoy today's episode.

eddie:

There's something really vulnerable about design with Lauren Chill coat.

eddie:

Thank you for joining us for another episode of Web Joy.

eddie:

I'm excited today to have Lauren with us.

eddie:

Lauren, say

Lauren:

hi to all of our friends.

Lauren:

Yes.

Lauren:

Hi, everyone.

Lauren:

Excited to be here.

Lauren:

Thanks for having me.

eddie:

So to start out, I always like to just talk about, Hey, who are

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you, what do you do, where you work?

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You know, just a, a brief introduction about yourself or as we have

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started to say your origin story.

Lauren:

Oh yeah.

Lauren:

So my name's Lauren Choco.

Lauren:

Um, I live in the Bay Area.

Lauren:

I just moved here a little less than a year ago.

Lauren:

I live in Alameda and I work for Web Flow as a product designer.

Lauren:

Uh, also new to Web Flow.

Lauren:

Just joined about a month ago, but very

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excited about.

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About that.

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Awesome.

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Yeah, we've got got someone who freshly moved.

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That's always exciting when you hear about people's transitions.

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. Lauren: Yeah.

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I lived in Brooklyn, New York for like 13 years and then spent a

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little time in Southern California and now I'm up in the, the Bay Area.

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So yeah, East coast to west coast.

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But it's been good.

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Uh, lots of sunshine, perfect weather, and there's just fruit growing everywhere.

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Like all of the neighbor, there's just.

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Plums dripping from the sky, like passion fruit.

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I'm just like, What?

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What is this?

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Glorious bounty.

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did not have that in New York, so I'm still like dazzled by

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it.

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Nice.

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So you, you were just in New York before, like when you moved to California, That

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was for your current job, so you're also freshly landed in California?

eddie:

Yeah,

Lauren:

it was for my partner's job.

Lauren:

So I've been working remotely since early 2019 and we were.

Lauren:

Felt like we were ready to try something new, but I was like, I can go

Lauren:

anywhere, so this, this is all on you.

Lauren:

Um, and so he found a job that brought us to Southern California.

Lauren:

It was sort of at the, the early sort of pandemic days and so we weren't

Lauren:

able to like fly out and visit.

Lauren:

We were just kind of like, I guess yeah, leap of faith.

Lauren:

We we're doing it.

Lauren:

Uh, so drove across the country and that was at a time when like everything

Lauren:

was closed, like rest stops were closed, national parks were closed.

Lauren:

And so I had always imagined like, Oh, this epic.

Lauren:

Cross country road trip, seeing friends, stopping to see like, you know, the

Lauren:

world's largest mailbox or all those weird things and everything was closed.

Lauren:

It was just like from point A to point B as fast as we could get there.

Lauren:

But, um, happy to be here now.

Lauren:

So it worked

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out.

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It definitely is, is weird to be moving cross country and making

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those plans during the time with everything shut down and like you

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can't fly out there to see things and

Lauren:

stuff.

Lauren:

Yeah, yeah.

Lauren:

I've now signed two leases, both with just like, you know, Bad FaceTime connection

Lauren:

walkthroughs, and it's like, well, I mean it, I think it checks enough of the boxes.

Lauren:

But then now having had two experiences, like driving up to a

Lauren:

place I've never been before and being like, Well, I live here now.

Lauren:

So , cool.

Lauren:

. So it's been an adventure for sure.

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So ultimately, Did the places meet your expectations, right?

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Or were you like sorely surprised when you moved in?

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You're like, This is not what I signed up for.

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. Lauren: Um, well, yeah,

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I think the year that I spent in Ventura, California, which is in

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southern California, just north of la that was sort of like in the real

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thick of the pandemic, and I think it's, it's really hard to judge a.

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In the middle of a pandemic, but yeah, um, I did, I had a hot tub, had an

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avocado tree, lemon tree, peach tree.

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Again, the bounty , I, it blew my mind.

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So, you know, it was a weird time there.

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I don't know anyone there still, cause it's hard to meet people during

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a pandemic, but I had a freaking avocado tree, so , you can't complain.

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Yeah, yeah, it was, I lucked out for sure.

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Yeah.

eddie:

well.

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The kind of journey been like for you?

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Where did you start out in tech?

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You know, what were kind of some of the highlights along your journey on

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your way to now being at Web Flow?

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Yeah.

Lauren:

I have a bit of a winding story, which I think is pretty common, but I

Lauren:

actually went to school for fashion design and while I was in school, I kind of knew

Lauren:

that it wasn't what I really wanted to.

Lauren:

But I didn't know what else to do instead, and my family would not

Lauren:

have been okay with me, just like taking time off to figure it out.

Lauren:

. So I graduated and I was just like, I knew I was moving to New York for some reason.

Lauren:

I was like, New York, is it?

Lauren:

That's where I'm going.

Lauren:

And I was like, I'm just gonna get a job and, and figure it out.

Lauren:

So I got a job and uh, was basically working in production at an

Lauren:

apparel company and I was working close by to a graphic design.

Lauren:

And I started becoming more interested in what they were doing.

Lauren:

So I started teaching myself graphic design, practicing,

Lauren:

you know, using Illustrator.

Lauren:

Eventually they needed a new graphic designer and I pitched myself and I

Lauren:

was like, Here's what I've been doing.

Lauren:

Here's what I know, here's what I don't know, but like,

Lauren:

I'm really hungry for this.

Lauren:

I would love to join you.

Lauren:

And they picked me.

Lauren:

So I did that for a while.

Lauren:

I was actually designing underwear mostly, so lots of like graphics and prints

Lauren:

for like teenage girls, underwear, , or like sleep shirts and sleep pants.

Lauren:

So it was a lot of like glitter and smiley faces and you know, rainbows and stuff.

Lauren:

But, so it was really fun.

Lauren:

But I kind of grew tired of just really long feedback loops.

Lauren:

I was designing a year ahead of time, you know, designing artwork,

Lauren:

creating tech specs, sending them to the factories, getting samples back.

Lauren:

Like it was just this really long cycle and I would sort of never

Lauren:

hear any real feedback about like how something performed.

Lauren:

And so it was always just a stab in the dark basically every time.

Lauren:

And I started becoming more interested in product and tech and

Lauren:

I started teaching myself to code.

Lauren:

And like building websites was, to me, it was like, this feels like a living thing.

Lauren:

Like I can just push this code and it's up, you know?

Lauren:

And like I can tinker all day.

Lauren:

Whereas the apparel that I was working on, it was like a year lead time.

Lauren:

So I ended up taking some classes because I just found myself in so many dead ends.

Lauren:

I'm like, Stack overflow, just trying to figure out, And I was like, I just need

Lauren:

people to ask questions too, because I'm just like, I just, sometimes you

Lauren:

just don't know the right question to ask, and I just needed to like explain

Lauren:

what I was trying to do to someone.

Lauren:

So anyways, I took some classes and then at this point started trying to get

Lauren:

my foot in the door in the tech world.

Lauren:

And there were lots of ups and downs with that, but eventually,

Lauren:

I convinced someone to hire me.

Lauren:

I had done a bit of freelance work and when I was interviewing

Lauren:

with them, you know, we did the sort of, Show me your work.

Lauren:

You know, tell me about this, tell me why this is good.

Lauren:

And I actually took the opposite approach and I said, well, Actually,

Lauren:

I don't think this is great anymore.

Lauren:

Here's what I would do differently now.

Lauren:

I basically critiqued my own work and it was a really small startup.

Lauren:

I think it was like the 10th or 11th person in the office, and they just wanted

Lauren:

someone who could kind of do everything.

Lauren:

So I was like, I do front end, I do design.

Lauren:

I'm hungry for everything.

Lauren:

And that's what got my foot in the door.

Lauren:

And then eventually decided to focus on design is what

Lauren:

felt like a better fit for me.

Lauren:

And so I don't really do much coding.

Lauren:

These days, but I think having, having a bit of background there,

Lauren:

understanding about how Code works has definitely been helpful in my career.

Lauren:

So yeah, now I'm at Web Flow.

Lauren:

Helps more people create for the web because though the experience

Lauren:

I had learning how to, how to build for the web was super valuable.

Lauren:

It was a lot of time and effort and money and I think it's exciting to sort

Lauren:

of give more people the opportunity to do that with maybe, yeah, having

Lauren:

to use less, less resources maybe to.

Lauren:

To experiment and to contribute

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to the web.

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No, I love that.

eddie:

Right.

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It kind of feels like the web in some ways.

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People can like, Oh, they can create.

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Facebook pages or groups or whatever, or like they have to outsource to someone

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else to control their online presence.

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And instead things like web flow actually allow them to say, Hey,

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I'm gonna take ownership of how I present myself on the internet.

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And like those things are really helpful in breaking down those barriers.

Lauren:

Yeah, and it's super exciting, I think to, you know, build a set of tools

Lauren:

and then see all the ways that people use that to, to build something in an

Lauren:

unexpected way and just all their creative ways people will use the tools at hand.

Lauren:

So it feels like exponential, you know, creativity, sort of like, there's a set

Lauren:

of things you can do with this tool, but the, the ways that people will combine

Lauren:

those things is sort of like infinite.

Lauren:

And then it's exciting to see.

Lauren:

Yeah.

Lauren:

So I'm really excited about it.

eddie:

Well, so you've had quite a journey, right?

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Doing design work.

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What kind of keeps you excited and interested in

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working as a product designer?

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I know you've talked a lot about culture and different things like that.

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What kind of stirs you up?

Lauren:

Yeah.

Lauren:

I think for me the, the puzzle of product design is what keeps me excited.

Lauren:

There's just so many different pieces that go into it, but I think what's

Lauren:

really energizing me now is connecting to and working with other designers.

Lauren:

I really like seeing the way that people think about things

Lauren:

and tease apart problems.

Lauren:

It's just fascinating to me to see how other people's minds work.

Lauren:

And so whether that's just observing how other people are, are doing their work

Lauren:

or getting feedback on my own work, I'm really excited, especially at Web Flow

Lauren:

right now, there's, this is the largest design team I've ever been on, so the

Lauren:

opportunities to collaborate and learn from other people are really great.

Lauren:

And yeah, but I think another thing that I'm really excited about is,

Lauren:

Intentionally building safe spaces for designers to collaborate.

Lauren:

Cause I think there's something really vulnerable about design.

Lauren:

So, Not everyone can look at a piece of code and say like,

Lauren:

That's good or that's not good.

Lauren:

But everyone can look at design and have an opinion on it,

Lauren:

and that's not a bad thing.

Lauren:

Feedback is great, but it means that we're open to a lot of feedback.

Lauren:

And oftentimes like the lifeblood of a design team is a design critique.

Lauren:

And so like even just the name like.

Lauren:

You know, language is powerful.

Lauren:

Language shapes our experience, and so like, who wants to sign up for being

Lauren:

critiqued, , You know, like getting feedback is great, but like, wow, you

Lauren:

know, it's, it can be really intimidating.

Lauren:

So I've enjoyed at a couple different companies now sort of thinking about

Lauren:

like, how do we as designers collaborate and how can we make these spaces like

Lauren:

really inviting safe spaces for people to contribute and ask questions and

Lauren:

to learn from each other as well as like, Just thinking about different

Lauren:

personalities, like some people are really extroverted and really chatty

Lauren:

and are super comfortable, you know, thinking out loud or thinking on the spot.

Lauren:

And then there are other people like myself who I kind of need

Lauren:

a couple minutes to digest.

Lauren:

And think about it and you know, how do you make room for both types of

Lauren:

people or, or anyone on that spectrum.

Lauren:

And so thinking about ways that we can make sure that the comfortable,

Lauren:

extroverted people aren't sucking all of the air out of the room

Lauren:

and the quieter people can have a chance to contribute as well.

Lauren:

And I think in a remote context, it's just really interesting to

Lauren:

think about how we can can do that.

Lauren:

So that's something that I've been.

Lauren:

Enjoying sort of exploring and also just seeing how other

Lauren:

people are approaching that too.

Lauren:

That's

eddie:

awesome because I think one of the challenges with so

eddie:

many things going remote is that a lot of companies and people have

eddie:

just tried to do the same thing.

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On a Zoom call that they would do in person, in a single room,

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rather than say, Okay, if we had never done this before, right?

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How would we start today knowing that we are not in the same room?

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And I feel like not many people kind of.

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Pause and, and think about that, right?

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Much less implement any of it.

Lauren:

So two jobs ago I was at a company called Buffer.

Lauren:

And Buffer has been remote from the beginning, so I think it, the

Lauren:

company's like 11 years old now.

Lauren:

And I definitely feel very lucky that I had that experience because,

Lauren:

you know, once the pandemic hit, I wasn't pushed into remote.

Lauren:

That was just standard and there was a real culture of experimentation.

Lauren:

So everyone was free to raise their hand, ask questions.

Lauren:

Maybe let's experiment with doing this a slightly different way,

Lauren:

You know, and everyone culturally is just very open to that.

Lauren:

And so that was sort of the first place that I, I was able to kind of say, Hey,

Lauren:

like we were doing these critiques, we were doing them synchronously over Zoom,

Lauren:

and then we also had a completely async sort of paper document that we used.

Lauren:

But something we started experimenting with was sort of

Lauren:

like a, a hybrid of that, where.

Lauren:

Someone would present design work, but then we would all kind of go quiet.

Lauren:

We would set a timer for 10 minutes and in Figma, uh, or fig jam, once fig

Lauren:

jam is available, just kind of take 10 minutes to gather our thoughts, you

Lauren:

know, be thoughtful about our feedback, and just leave stickies or screenshots

Lauren:

or stickers or whatever, whatever was helpful to communicate our thoughts.

Lauren:

And then after the timer was up, come back on and discuss and that that helped.

Lauren:

Space for the people like me who need a minute to just think a little

Lauren:

bit to, to have the time to do that, or people who are less comfortable

Lauren:

speaking up on a call, you know, they're still contributing, They

Lauren:

can still leave their thoughts.

Lauren:

But yeah, that, uh, that sort of hybrid format was interesting, uh, giving us.

Lauren:

Sort of synchronous and sort of like asynchronous or just heads down

Lauren:

time for giving feedback on each other's work, which is really fun.

eddie:

I really love that because I like, you need time to gather my thoughts.

eddie:

Sometimes, you know, if I'm in a meeting.

eddie:

Say 30 minutes long and you know, are trying to give feedback.

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I will suddenly realize all the feedback I should give at 39.5 minutes into the

eddie:

meeting, which is, you know, like four and a half minutes after it's done.

eddie:

, Lauren: right?

eddie:

Yeah.

eddie:

I definitely struggle with that myself.

eddie:

It's like either I just kind of force myself to, to say something in the moment

eddie:

so that I'm a part of the conversation and then spend the rest of the day

eddie:

thinking like, Why did I say that?

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I should have said it this other way, . You know?

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Or I just don't say anything at all.

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And then I'm like, Well, I'm not contributing to

eddie:

the conversation, you know?

eddie:

So like, how do I do that?

eddie:

So I think it's, you know, it's something we're all kind of still figuring out,

eddie:

but I definitely appreciate being in an environment where there's an awareness of

eddie:

that and an openness to kind of experiment with the ways that we work together.

eddie:

That just because a meeting is on the calendar on this day and done

eddie:

a certain way doesn't mean that it needs to be done that way forever.

eddie:

We should be making sure we should be challenging ourselves and making

eddie:

sure that our processes are serving.

eddie:

So, yeah, I'm, I'm finding that at web flow, which is, which is nice.

eddie:

It feels like there's a, a lot of thought and intentionality behind how the design

eddie:

team works together, which is great.

eddie:

That's great.

eddie:

That's always refreshing.

eddie:

Well, yeah, I mean, one thing we, we always like to talk about

eddie:

during this podcast is something that brings us joy, right?

eddie:

Different tools, software frameworks.

eddie:

So is there any particular things that you've found recently that

eddie:

you've really enjoyed using?

Lauren:

Yeah, so I recently discovered, I don't think it's new,

Lauren:

but it's new to me, this app called libro.fm, and it's an audiobook app.

Lauren:

So I love reading, but over the past couple years, I've definitely just

Lauren:

spent more time doom scrolling on my phone than I would like to admit.

Lauren:

And I've been trying to like, kind of ta, you know, get away from

Lauren:

that, get, get back to reading.

Lauren:

I also love podcasts, but uh, and I subscribe to a ton, but sometimes

Lauren:

there's just nothing that's catching.

Lauren:

Catching my attention, and I've looked at Audible a handful of times,

Lauren:

but every time I've looked at it, I've just found it very confusing.

Lauren:

And I also don't really wanna give Amazon more money.

Lauren:

I read about this app, libro.fm, and I think what makes it so cool

Lauren:

is that they partner with local bookstores and split the profits.

Lauren:

So while you are onboarding on the app, you select your bookstore.

Lauren:

So there's a bookstore three blocks away from me, and when I buy books,

Lauren:

audio books through libro.fm.

Lauren:

They get half of the profit.

Lauren:

And I love that because even when I'm not good at reading, I still, I still love

Lauren:

going into bookstores and looking around.

Lauren:

So I love the idea of supporting the, the local small businesses too.

Lauren:

So that's definitely been bringing me joy.

Lauren:

I started listening to, Dave Girl's autobiography the Storyteller,

Lauren:

and he's the one narrating it.

Lauren:

So it's, it's really cool hearing from the author and of course him being musician.

Lauren:

There's music in there too, which really makes it a rich experience.

Lauren:

So very bullish on Libro FM right

eddie:

now.

eddie:

No, I, I love that because I feel like.

eddie:

In my heart, I want to support local bookstores, local stores, but I find

eddie:

myself at conflict because of the ease of like the internet, right?

eddie:

And it's like sometimes you want something digitally or it's easier to

eddie:

order online, and it's like you're at constant conflict because oftentimes the

eddie:

local stores don't have as much ease.

eddie:

So I love that Libro.

eddie:

Bridging the gap.

eddie:

They're like, Hey, we're gonna make it really easy for you to buy and

eddie:

listen to an audiobook, but you also get to support those local stores.

eddie:

So that's, that's a nice, like, you know, finding a, a middle ground

eddie:

there for, for those of us who like ease of use, which I am one,

eddie:

. Lauren: Yeah, I mean, we're all human.

eddie:

. Yes,

eddie:

definitely.

eddie:

Well, cool.

eddie:

We always like to kind of wrap up the episodes with kind of

eddie:

hearing about anything that people are involved in or sharing

eddie:

something that they're involved in.

eddie:

So is there anything that you'd like to share

Lauren:

with the community?

Lauren:

Yeah, so earlier this year I joined on Deck's design fellowship and sort of

Lauren:

to my earlier point about connecting with and learning from other designers,

Lauren:

I've really enjoyed it for that reason.

Lauren:

Um, been meeting lots of other design folks, either like in one

Lauren:

on ones or in like group sessions.

Lauren:

But it's been really cool to kind of see all the different

Lauren:

paths other people have taken.

Lauren:

Like we get, you know, we have this one career and you know, there's.

Lauren:

So many times you think, Well, what if I did this, or, what if I did

Lauren:

that, or Should I do this or do that?

Lauren:

And getting to, to meet with people who have been on totally different

Lauren:

journeys or made different choices and just like learning from their

Lauren:

experiences has been really cool.

Lauren:

So I recommend, I recommend the fellowship.

Lauren:

It's been really good.

Lauren:

So I think for me, I've traditionally always worked on

Lauren:

smaller design teams where I'm like one of two or one of just a few.

Lauren:

And so for me, having, uh, a larger community of designers to kind of

Lauren:

tap into has been really valuable.

Lauren:

So whether that's talking about processes or interviewing

Lauren:

salary, All kinds of things.

Lauren:

Like I now feel like I have a group of people that I can turn to for

Lauren:

those things that I kind of didn't have before because I've always

Lauren:

been in like smaller companies, so my network has just been smaller by

eddie:

default.

eddie:

That makes sense.

eddie:

Well, and it's interesting because I feel like design is an industry that has

eddie:

that problem even more than other things.

eddie:

even more medium to larger size companies feel like, Oh, we can get

eddie:

away with just one or two designers.

eddie:

Like I feel like, mm-hmm.

eddie:

Design is an area where you're kind of the last ones to get more people once

eddie:

you have one or two in there, . Yeah.

Lauren:

I mean, even at companies where I've been one of like five

Lauren:

designers or something, each designer has been on one product area, so.

Lauren:

This is my first time in my job of like having other designers

Lauren:

kind of on my same team.

Lauren:

We're working on different things, but yeah, traditionally I've, I've

Lauren:

kind of been on my own, on my team for design and then of course, you know,

Lauren:

having those design critiques and design jams and things to connect on.

Lauren:

But I think ha, just having more opportunity to connect with people from so

Lauren:

many different backgrounds and experiences has just been, yeah, it's been.

eddie:

Yeah, I think that sounds really refreshing.

eddie:

Well, I will include links to all these things that we've talked about in this

eddie:

episode in the show notes, so feel free to check out the show notes if any

eddie:

of this stuff popped out to you all.

eddie:

And Lauren, thank you so much for joining me to chat today.

eddie:

It's been so

Lauren:

fun.

Lauren:

Yeah, it's been really fun.

Lauren:

Thanks for reaching out.

eddie:

Thank you for joining us for episode 22.

eddie:

There's something really vulnerable about design with Lauren Chill Coat.

eddie:

You can find out more about Lauren on her Twitter at Lauren Chill coat or

eddie:

her website, lauren chill coat.com.

eddie:

You can find links to everything we talked about in this episode, as well

eddie:

as a link to Lauren's Twitter and.

eddie:

Over in the show notes.

eddie:

If you enjoyed this episode, help others discover it as well.

eddie:

We always love it if you give us a shout on Twitter and your friend

eddie:

or coworker will love it if you tag them if you think they'd enjoy it.

eddie:

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date at Web Joy fm.

eddie:

Thank you for listening and we hope you have a great day.

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About the Podcast

WebJoy
Find your happy place
The WebJoy podcast is an inclusive community centered on celebrating the diverse origins, skills, and experiences that make up the tech industry.

Talking with guests about their origin stories, what they love about working in their roles, and what they find joy in keeps this an upbeat and rather lighthearted podcast.

We approach the world with optimism and hope, while recognizing the flaws and challenges within our own industry and the world at large. We believe that if we work together, we can all find our happy place.

About your host

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Eddie Hinkle

Eddie's mission is to bring joy and empathy to the tech industry. He does this through engineering leadership, mentoring and podcasting. Eddie currently works as an Engineering Manager at Glassdoor, Mentors on ADPList and hosts the WebJoy podcast.