Design Better Podcast
About Design Better Podcast
The Design Better podcast delivers insights from the world’s most renowned creative leaders, empowering teams to transform their practice and build remarkable products. This series is hosted by Aarron Walter and Eli Woolery. Discover more best practices, research, and resources at www.designbetter.com.
It’s a challenging time in tech right now. Chances are, if you haven’t been directly affected by the layoffs, you know someone—or many people—who have. In today’s episode, we’re welcoming back Judy Wert, along with her son and colleague Daniel. At their executive search firm Wert & Co, they’ve guided many leaders through navigating career changes. We discuss the layoffs, and strategies for dealing with changes in your own career when the environment is as difficult as it is right now. We’ll also discuss what skills you need to cultivate as an individual contributor if you want to advance your career, and the ins-and-outs of transparency when it comes to salary policies. Thanks for joining us, and we hope it’s helpful wherever you are in your career. Bios Judy Wert Judy has been working with the leadership of innovative companies for over 25 years. She has earned an international reputation as a pivotal force in executive search. A trusted authority in the world of design and business, Judy is also known for bringing an added dimension to her work—a humanistic approach—fostering deep relationships through empathy, intuition, and curiosity. Daniel Wert With an intimate understanding of venture-backed start-ups, Daniel has developed expertise in recruiting at scale, executive search, and in the people operations that hold businesses together. He has spent the last decade in-house, building companies, managing cross-functional teams, and coaching executive leaders to better understand the value of both people and design.
What is the difference between creativity and innovation? What does it take to find your superpowers? How can you become open to embracing failure to learn and grow? Tina Seelig, Executive Director of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program at Stanford, has spent a large part of her career answering questions like these, while studying and teaching creativity, leadership, and entrepreneurship. Tina has a PhD in neuroscience, and we speak with her about how her background influences the way that she approaches these topics. We also discuss how to approach creativity in a corporate environment, and why being a good listener is an underrated superpower that many of us can cultivate. Bio Dr. Tina Seelig is Executive Director of Knight-Hennessy Scholars and Emeritus Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program at Stanford School of Engineering. She teaches courses on leadership, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school) at Stanford. In 2014, Dr. Seelig was honored with the SVForum Visionary Award, and in 2009 she received the Gordon Prize from the National Academy of Engineering, recognizing her as a national leader in engineering education. She also received the 2014 MS&E Award for Graduate Teaching, the 2008 National Olympus Innovation Award, and the 2005 and 2019 Stanford Tau Beta Pi Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Dr. Seelig earned her Ph.D. from Stanford University Medical School in 1985 where she studied Neuroscience. She has worked as a management consultant for Booz, Allen, and Hamilton, as a multimedia producer at Compaq Computer Corporation, and was the founder of a multimedia company called BookBrowser. She has written 17 popular science books and educational games. Her books include The Epicurean Laboratory and Incredible Edible Science, published by Scientific American; and a series of twelve games called Games for Your Brain, published by Chronicle Books. Her three newest books, published by HarperCollins are What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, inGenius, and Creativity Rules.
Design Operations, or “Design Ops,” is entering a new era. No longer the new kid on the block, it’s becoming a required discipline in many design organizations. We wanted to catch up to see where design ops is now, so who better to chat with than Meredith Black, a guest from our second season back in 2018. After leaving Pinterest, where she was head of Design Operations, Meredith co-founded the DesignOps Assembly, which focuses on fostering community, offering educational opportunities, sharing resources, and generating best practices within the DesignOps Industry. We chat with Meredith about what’s changed with design ops in the past four years, the skills that a person needs to be successful in a design ops role, and what she’s hoping to accomplish with the DesignOps Assembly. Bio Meredith Black is the co-founder of DesignOps Assembly and now a consultant working with companies worldwide to implement DesignOps within their organizations. Prior, Meredith spent five years at Pinterest, where she started and grew the DesignOps team into an internationally renowned team while also being instrumental in growing and building the Pinterest Product Design Team. You can listen to her discuss DesignOps on an earlier episode of the Design Better Podcast, or check out “The DesignOps Handbook.” Meredith is also the co-host of the Reconsidering Podcast, along with our very own Aarron Walter.
There is probably no better training ground than Nike to learn about creativity as a team sport, and Greg Hoffman, former Chief Marketing Officer of Nike, shares this lesson—along with many other valuable insights—in his new book, Emotion by Design. In this episode, we chat with Greg about how his childhood shaped the way he thinks about creativity and collaboration, how working in inspiring spaces can influence your work (and how you might accomplish that in a remote environment), and about curiosity as a catalyst for creativity. Bio Greg Hoffman is a global brand leader, former NIKE Chief Marketing Officer, and founder and principal of the brand advisory group Modern Arena. For over 27 years, Greg held marketing, design, and innovation leadership roles at NIKE, including time as the brand’s CMO. In his most recent role as NIKE’s Vice President of Global Brand Innovation, he led teams tasked with envisioning the future of storytelling and consumer experiences for the brand. Greg oversaw NIKE’s brand communications and experiences as NIKE was solidifying its position as one of the preeminent brand storytellers of the modern era and the leading innovator in digital and physical brand experiences. His role in the rise of marketing and design through that period was recognized in 2015 when Fast Company named him one of the Most Creative People in Business. He’s also been recognized for his transformative leadership in the industry through the Business Insider’s 50 Most Innovative CMO’s and AdAge’s Power Players annual lists. For over two decades, he was a major strategic and creative influence for Nike at every major global sporting event, for the launches of NIKE’s signature products and innovations, and for the building of the brands of its athletes. Through his leadership, Nike drove themes of equality, sustainability, and empowerment through sport in some of its most significant brand communications. That work was, in part, driven by his role on the Advisory Board of the NIKE Black Employee Network and as a member of the NIKE Foundation Board of Directors. Today as founder and principal of Modern Arena, Greg advises Fortune 1000 brands, startups, and nonprofits in creating brand strength, business growth, and social impact. He sits on the advisory boards of the brands Shred Adventures and AO-Air and is a board member for Summit Impact, the philanthropic arm of Summit Series. In addition, he is the Branding instructor at the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business and the Innovation Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In 2022, Greg brings all of his brand experience to the world through his new book Emotion by Design: Creative Leadership Lessons From a Life at Nike.
Often it’s the little things, and not the flashy technology or slick user interface that make a product or experience memorable. The handwritten note from customer service, or the humorous quote that pops up as you’re waiting for a screen to load. Our guest today, Felecia Hatcher, calls these “moments of enchantment,” and she advocates for more opportunities for a human touch, as artificial intelligence and machine learning push us in the opposite direction. Felecia is the CEO of Black Ambition, an organization founded by Pharrell Williams that works towards closing the opportunity and wealth gap through entrepreneurship. Prior to her current role, she was Chief Popsicle and co-owner of Feverish Ice Cream, and was Co-Founder & Executive Director of the Center for Black Innovation. In our conversation, we talk about the perpetual growth and achievement across her career, what she learned bootstrapping her ice cream business from her parent’s backyard to Fortune 500 clients, and how her entrepreneurial experiences shape the way she advises and mentors students and entrepreneurs. Bio Felecia Hatcher is on a mission to rid communities of innovation deserts by working with community leaders and government officials to create inclusive and diverse tech/startup ecosystems as the Co-Founder of Code Fever, Black Tech Week and Tribe Cowork and Urban Innovation Lab. Hatcher has raised over 3 million dollars to support Code Fever's work which sits at the intersection of economic development and inclusive innovation. As an Author, Social Entrepreneur and the former Chief Popsicle of Feverish Ice Cream, Hatcher was named one of the Empact 100 Top 100 Entrepreneurs under the age of 30 by the White House and Kauffman Foundation in 2011, a 2014 White House Champion of Change for STEM Access and Diversity, Ruth Shack Honoree, 2017 Comcast/Nationswell Tech Impact Allstar, a Black Enterprise 2017 TechConnext Game Changer and 2016 Innovator of the Week, Essence Magazine Tech Master, and featured on the NBC Today Show, MSNBC, FORBES, INC, The Cooking Channel, & Grio’s 100 African American’s Making History.
If you don’t know who Seth Godin is, just type “Seth” into Google or DuckDuckGo. The first entry will lead you to his blog, where he writes—every day—about marketing, design, writing, how being a better human will make you better at your job. Once you’ve started to read his blog, you’ll probably be hungry for more of his wisdom. He’s written over eighteen bestselling books on business and marketing, including Linchpin, Purple Cow, and The Dip. We’ve been following Seth for a long time, and his writing and speaking have influenced how we think about creating and marketing products. So it was a huge honor to have him on our show, where we spoke about subjects ranging from how to take risks in your career, to why being creative is an act of generosity, to the idea of “creative destruction.” We hope you enjoy our conversation with Seth as much as we did, and after you finish, we encourage you to go make a ruckus. Takeaways: Why the counterintuitive idea of “surplus” means that, despite everything going on in the world, we all have access to more resources than the last King of France did. Why writing is often the best starting point for almost any type of creative work. Why a company is more like an organism than an organization Bio Seth is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker and teacher. In addition to launching one of the most popular blogs in the world, he has written 19 best-selling books, including The Dip, Linchpin, Purple Cow, Tribes, and What To Do When It's Your Turn (And It's Always Your Turn). His most recent book, This is Marketing, was an instant bestseller in countries around the world. Though renowned for his writing and speaking, Seth also founded two companies, Squidoo and Yoyodyne (acquired by Yahoo!). By focusing on everything from effective marketing and leadership, to the spread of ideas and changing everything, Seth has been able to motivate and inspire countless people around the world. In 2013, Seth was one of just three professionals inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame. In an astonishing turn of events, in May 2018, he was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame as well. He might be the only person in both. Seth created the altMBA and Marketing Seminar to transform online education and help people connect with their audience.
If you’re looking for an inspiring human being, it would be hard to beat Dr. Sian Proctor. Dr. Proctor is a geoscientist, and also an artist and poet who uses her afro-futurist space art to encourage conversations about women of color in the space industry. For 21 years, she taught geology, sustainability, and planetary science. She also happens to be an astronaut(!), and was the mission pilot for the Inspiration4 all-civilian orbital mission to space. Her call sign “Leo” was eaned from her crewmates, who consider her a modern-day Rennaisance woman in the mold of Leonardo DaVinci. This special episode of the Design Better Podcast was recorded at an internal event for InVision, where we brought Dr.Proctor in to speak to our team. After her inspiring presentation, we had the chance to interview her, and we spoke about topics ranging from imposter syndrome, to learning to speak the language of your collaborators, to the natural synthesis between art and science. Bio Dr. Proctor is a geoscientist, explorer, space artist, and astronaut. She is the mission pilot for the Inspiration4 all-civilian orbital mission to space. She is also one of The Explorer’s Club 50: Fifty People Changing the World. Her motto is called Space2inspire where she encourages people to use their unique, one-of-a-kind strengths, and passion to inspire those within their reach and beyond. She believes that we need to actively strive for a J.E.D.I. space: a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive space as we advance human spaceflight. Dr. Proctor spent 21 years as a professor teaching geology, sustainability, and planetary science at South Mountain Community College, Phoenix, Arizona. She is currently the Open Educations Resource Coordinator for the Maricopa Community College District. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science, an M.S. in Geology, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction: Science Education. She recently finished a sabbatical at Arizona State University’s Center for Education Through Exploration creating virtual field trips. She did her 2012-13 sabbatical at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute developing their science of disasters curriculum. She has appeared in multiple international science shows and is currently on A World Without NASA and Strange Evidence. You can follow her on social media @DrSianProctor.
If you lead a team of over 700 people, what skills would you need to bring to the table to help them collaborate effectively? In today’s episode, we chat with Katrina Alcorn, General Manager of Design at IBM, about how she develops partnerships across her organization to resolve conflicts and get aligned. We also talk to Katrina about the challenges that large teams face in remote and hybrid environments, how her training in journalism influences her work as a leader, and what she learned about living a balanced life from writing her book Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink. Bio Katrina Alcorn spent the first decade+ of her career as a consultant, leading strategic design and research initiatives for startups, non-profits, and Fortune 500s in a variety of industries including financial services, medical devices, energy, e-commerce, the arts, and education. In 2015 she went “in-house” and learned what it means to be a change-maker from the inside. Katrina built two successful design practices, the first at Hot Studio (bought by Facebook in 2013) and the second at Autodesk, centralizing all digital design and research functions, leading to major improvements in e-commerce sales and customer satisfaction.
You’re sitting at your desk, trying to do some deep work—finishing up a presentation, writing some code, sketching out a new interface—and you hear a noise. It’s the familiar knock of Slack, or the chime of your e-mail inbox. All of a sudden, you’re taken away from a state of flow and into an attempt to multi-task, which is the enemy of getting things done. By some estimates, distractions cost the US economy more than $650 billion dollars a year in lost productivity. And Nir Eyal, bestselling author of the book Hooked, may have been the inspiration behind some of the most habit-forming products out there. But he also has another book, Indistractable, which can give you the tools to avoid distractions both at work and at home. In this episode, we chat with Nir about what got him interested in the intersection of technology and psychology, how we as consumers can have a better relationship with habit-forming products, and how he—as a parent— thinks about kids and technology. Bio Nir Eyal writes, consults, and teaches about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business. Nir previously taught as a Lecturer in Marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford. Nir co-founded and sold two tech companies since 2003 and was dubbed by The M.I.T. Technology Review as, “The Prophet of Habit-Forming Technology.” Bloomberg Businessweek wrote, “Nir Eyal is the habits guy. Want to understand how to get app users to come back again and again? Then Eyal is your man.” He is the author of two bestselling books, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. Indistractable received critical acclaim, winning the Outstanding Works of Literature Award as well as being named one of the Best Business and Leadership Books of the Year by Amazon and one of the Best Personal Development Books of the Year by Audible. The Globe and Mail called Indistractable, “the best business book of 2019.” In addition to blogging at NirAndFar.com, Nir’s writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Harvard Business Review, Time Magazine, and Psychology Today. Nir invests in habit-forming products that improve users’ lives. Some of his past investments include Eventbrite (NYSE:EB), Anchor.fm (acquired by Spotify), Kahoot! (KAHOOT-ME.OL), Canva, Homelight, Product Hunt, Marco Polo, Byte Foods, FocusMate, Dynamicare, Wise App, and Cutback Coach. Nir attended The Stanford Graduate School of Business and Emory University.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last year, Detria Williamson, former Chief Marketing Officer of IDEO, said that “diversity can be engineered and inclusion cannot.” In this episode, we dive deeper into that statement, and also ask Detria what roadblocks she encountered over the course of her career—from working as a head of marketing in Dubai, to her most recent role at IDEO. We also ask her about what it means when design becomes commoditized, and how remote and hybrid work impact inclusivity. Bio Detria Williamson is an internationally recognized digital marketer, who for over 20 years has helped category-leading companies become experience-led and content-driven. Informed by her experiences living and working from the U.S., London, Singapore, and the Middle East, she created the ICX (inclusive customer experience) approach, enabling visionary leaders to embrace inclusivity as an end-to-end element of their business ecosystem.
Guy Kawasaki has certainly had a remarkable career. From gaining popularity as the Chief Evangelist at Apple for the Macintosh computer in the 1980’s, to authoring fifteen books, to hosting the Remarkable People podcast, Guy has made a habit of trying new things During our conversation with Guy, we talk about why it’s important to be able to make a sale, no matter what your role is. We discuss the start of his career at Apple, and how he got developers to write software for a relatively unknown platform. And we ask his advice for people just getting started in their own careers, whether that’s in tech, writing, or entrepreneurship.
The Ministry of Silly Walks. The Cheese Shop. French Taunting. If you haven’t seen any of these Monty Python sketches before, do us a favor and go watch one or two of them. You’ll discover—or re-discover—why our guest for this episode is a creative comic legend. John Cleese starred in and co-wrote the award-winning series Fawlty Towers, was nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplay of A Fish Called Wanda, and even has a species of lemur named after him (Cleese’s wooly lemur, Avahi cleesei). He’s also an expert on the creative process, and so if you’re looking for a new framework to level-up your own workflow, his book Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide is a great resource. We talk with John about his new book, and also about creative collaboration in the midst of friction, how to be comfortable with ambiguity, and creating boundaries of space and time to get in a creative mode. We also get to ask him a question that’s been bugging us ever since we first watched Monty Python and The Holy Grail. After everything that happened in 2020, we can all use a little more laughter in our lives. We hope our interview with John sparks some joy, and leaves you with some new creative tools. Thanks for listening. Takeaways: How John’s childhood influences the way he approaches creativity Why John uses writing to explore ideas What “closed mode” and “open mode” are (and how they relate to convergent and divergent modes of thinking). Bio John Cleese is an English actor, comedian, writer, and film producer. He achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report. In the late 1960s, he co-founded Monty Python, the comedy troupe responsible for the sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus and the four Monty Python films, And Now for Something Completely Different, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and The Meaning of Life. In the mid-1970s, Cleese and his first wife, Connie Booth, co-wrote and starred in the British sitcom Fawlty Towers. Later, he co-starred with Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, and former Python colleague Michael Palin in A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures. He also starred in Clockwise, and has appeared in many other films, including two James Bond films, two Harry Potter films, and the last three Shrek films. He is also the author of Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide.
In his book The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda says that “simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.” Our final guest this season, Eileen Fisher, is a master at making the simple, meaningful. Eileen is the founder of her eponymous and iconic fashion brand Eileen Fisher, Inc., which is known for its ethical & sustainable practices, and elegant yet simple clothing. She started the company in 1984, and grew it from her first sale of $3000, to annual revenue of over $300 million. We speak with Eileen about her design principles, how she thinks about form, function, and sustainability, and how systems thinking has helped her develop a brand that stands the test of time. We’re so glad you joined us for the sixth season of our show, and hope you were inspired along the way. Stay tuned for the next season, and in the meantime, we’ll be sharing some of our best episodes from past seasons, in case you missed them. Thanks for listening. Bio Eileen Fisher founded her women's fashion brand in 1984, with $350 of startup money. It's since grown into a company with over 1200 employees and hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenue. The company focuses on producing simple, timeless clothing, with sustainability initiatives including selling used pieces in excellent condition, resold through their Renew take-back program, as well as a Waste No More program which transforms damaged clothes into a new felted fabric, used to create wall hangings, pillows, and other accessories.
If you’re a fan of architecture and design, you’re probably familiar with the mid-century modern movement. It brought a simple, clean aesthetic inspired by the Bauhaus and International movements to the US. Heath Ceramics, founded by Edith Heath in 1948 and influenced by mid-century modern principles, is still making beautiful hand-crafted tableware and architectural tile in Sausalito, California. We wanted to chat with Heath’s current owner, Robin Petravic, to find out how they approach designing within the legacy of the Heath brand, as well as the story of how he and his partner and co-owner Catherine Bailey came to be owners of the company. We also talk with Robin about how the pandemic affected their business, and some of the collaborative challenges and opportunities they faced in transitioning to a hybrid-remote scenario. Bio Robin Petravic runs the day-to-day business of Heath Ceramics with a focus on operations, manufacturing, and retail. As co-owner, he also sets the long-term vision and goals for the company which is led by design and a passion for creative opportunity, with the responsibility to ensure they are met while maintaining financial viability and the ability to continue to invest for the long term. In business since 1948, the company has 130+ employees and is headquartered in Sausalito, CA, where all design, marketing, and administrative functions are based, and has two factories in Sausalito and San Francisco which produce all of is ceramic dinnerware and tile. Prior to Heath Ceramics, Robin studied product design in the MFA program at Stanford University, and worked as a product designer and mechanical engineer at several companies.
Vicki Tan has worked at companies that change the way we travel, think about our mental health, and access music from around the globe. To each of these roles she has brought her background in psychology, to better understand the needs of the people using these products. We chat with Vicki about some of the things she has learned over the course of her career, from Lyft to Headspace to Spotify, the ways that the pandemic has changed her work and her creative process, and how her team does research. Vicki also talks about why she regularly takes a sabbatical from her work, and why “finding umami” is important to figuring out the core mission of a company. Bio Vicki Tan is an Associate Principal Product Designer at Spotify Earlier in her career, she was a senior product designer at Headspace, worked on communication and UX design at Google, and product design at Lyft. According to Frank Yoo, design director at Lyft, Vicki “is positive and thoughtful and puts as much care into people and teams as she does creating the artifacts themselves.”
The way that we work has been disrupted by the global pandemic, and for those of us who are fortunate enough to have kept our jobs, it’s also caused many of us to question why we do what we do, and wonder if there are ways we could have a more positive influence on the world. We thought it would be great to speak with Judy Wert, co-founder of the executive search agency Wert & Co, who has guided many leaders through navigating career changes, and who shares her perspective on knowing when it’s time for something new, and when it might be better to stick it out. We also chat with Judy about pay transparency, the kinds of skills that individual contributors should cultivate to advance in their career, and tips on negotiating your salary. Bio Judy has been working with the leadership of innovative companies for over 25 years. She has earned an international reputation as a pivotal force in executive search. A trusted authority in the world of design and business, Judy is also known for bringing an added dimension to her work—a humanistic approach—fostering deep relationships through empathy, intuition, and curiosity.
Benjamin Evans, Inclusive Design Lead for Airbnb, is part of a new kind of problem solvers tackling issues like racism, sexism, and bias in digital product design. In this episode of the Design Better Podcast, Eli and Aarron chat with Benjamin about using techniques like design thinking, research, and storytelling to ensure a more inclusive experience for all your users.
Do you have a colleague who just doesn’t get what design is all about? Or maybe you’ve tried explaining it to your parents, but they just respond by asking you to fix their printer. If that’s the case, then Scott Berkun has written a book for you, to give to them. It’s called How Design Makes the World, and it’s a great beginner’s guide to how design shapes just about everything we interact with in modern society, for better or for worse. It is also a good refresher for those of us who are more well-versed in design. Scott—who has written other bestselling books like The Myths of Innovation and Making Things Happen—does a great job of distilling design concepts down into everyday examples that are accessible and engaging. In our conversation, we chat with Scott about the differences in thinking between designers and engineers, what UX design has to do with deep-sea anglerfish, and how good design is often shaped by understanding the constraints on a product. Bio Scott Berkun is a bestselling author and popular speaker on creativity, leading projects, public speaking, design and many other subjects. He’s the author of eight books, including How Design Makes The World, The Myths of Innovation, Confessions of a Public Speaker, and The Year Without Pants. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Guardian, Wired magazine, USA Today, Fast Company, National Public Radio, CNN, NPR, MSNBC and other media. His popular blog is at scottberkun.com and he tweets at @berkun.
The most innovative electric car announced in 2021 was not a Tesla, but a Ford. The new Ford F-150 Lightning, a fully electric version of the best-selling vehicle in America for the past 30 years, is the culmination of thorough user research and fresh thinking on a familiar product. We were curious to learn how design and innovation are playing a role in Ford’s transformation, so we’re excited to bring Sandy Fershee, lab director at D-Ford Detroit, on to the show. Sandy talks about her role at D-Ford, and we also discuss the challenges of doing research & development in a large organization, how her team shares their design and innovation tools with the whole company, and how they approach design at the intersection of hardware and software. Bio Sandy Fershee leads a human-centered design team at At D-Ford Detroit, pushing the edge of Ford’s future strategies. They design new products, services, and ventures that customers love and drive business profitability. Prior to this role, Sandy was the global leader of Experience Design at Ford, transforming Ford’s ways of working through human-centered design and creating new possibilities for future customer and business value. Sandy was also Managing Director at the agency Punchcut, and Design Manager at Motorola.
Over 50 years after humans first landed on the moon, it’s still extremely difficult—and expensive—to get anything into orbit. But imagine if there were a more affordable way to give scientists and entrepreneurs access to space. We could develop more efficient agriculture to feed people more affordably and sustainably, or more closely monitor the evolution of dangerous storm patterns to save lives. The company Astra is on a mission to do just that, by creating a lower-cost platform that offers smaller, more frequent launches to get satellites into space. We sat down with Astra co-founder and CEO Chris Kemp to learn more about how his teams collaborate on the immense technical challenges involved, and how design is playing an increasingly important role as traditional control room roles become automated. Chris has an impressive background, from founding 3 companies to being the CTO of NASA, and we dive into the arc of his career, the lessons he has learned in leading people, and how he communicates mission and vision to his teams. Bio Chris is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Astra. Previously, Chris founded several tech start-ups and served as the Chief Technology Officer of NASA, where he introduced new technologies into America’s space program and founded OpenStack, the largest and fastest-growing open-source project in history. While at NASA, Chris worked at the White House to develop the cloud strategy for the United States. Chris has been recognized in the Silicon Valley Business Journal "40 under 40," the CNBC Disruptor 50 list, and received the prestigious "Federal 100" award for his service at NASA.
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