Ken Norton recently published a great piece about the importance of authenticity and psychological safety in order to help teams succeed. In his article, he cites research from Google that suggests psychological safety is the most predictive characteristic of successful teams. As a minority working in tech, this article brought to mind a pressing question: given the lack of diversity in tech, how can tech workers foster a psychologically safe environment for minorities, many of whom struggle just to be their true selves at work? For me, it starts with empathy. Read More →
Howdy designers! I’m sure it has been drilled into you, over and over again, that you need to watermark your images, add copyrights to your website, and guard your secrets like a national treasure. After all, who knows what would happen if neither you nor your client owned the rights to your creations? Other people might copy you and make potentially hundreds of dollars off of your hard work. Well, you know what? That’s entirely possible; and for certain clients, make sure you do just that.
However, I’m proposing an alternative route that just might change your life in the best ways if you decide to take the leap. Your clients will also benefit from a different way of thinking.
Open source as much as you can get away with.
Before I begin this article, let me set something straight. I am not saying robots aren’t awesome — they totally are. Robots are amazing. However, beyond comic book robots, there is this discourse between humans and robots. Robots are ‘near human’. We as humans have this fascination with robots. We play with them as toys, we make them in our own image. We have even developed robots with emotional states, that mimic, that care for us. Read More →
“Is your leadership team still black?”
I will never forget when a venture capitalist asked me this in a meeting. Much had changed since the last time my black co-founder, black CTO and I had connected with this insensitive investor, but certainly not that. I answered in the affirmative and quickly, awkwardly ended the meeting. The firm did not invest. Perhaps it was our business model they didn’t like.
This was one of the most overt, but certainly not the only time, my identity was at the center of an outsider’s analysis of the worth of my company. I started Partpic because I observed a significant pain point that I wanted to solve. While working at an industrial distribution company, I found our customers struggling to describe the parts they wanted to purchase from us. Agents on my team would try their best but often err in trying to help customers locate products. Based on customer feedback, it seemed taking a picture would be a better way to search for items that were not labeled with a part name or number. Partpic was created to solve this problem for everyone. We built a computer vision API that can recognize part images and match them to a specific SKU. Read More →
When I was at NPR years ago, I did a story on public education in California. I don’t remember the angle, but I remember looking up a stat to use in the script. I used that stat in a few places, and after fact-checking, I realized there was an updated number available. I went back and changed the references to the new number, relieved that I’d caught this mistake before handing over my script to the host. But I missed one. I heard it over the speakers when Michelle Martin, the host, read it out loud during the interview, and my heart stopped. I knew it was my duty to report it, so I went up to my editor and told her. She didn’t say anything, but I could feel her disappointment in me. I melted into a pool of shame. Read More →
I’ve always wanted to be a designer.
I grew up drawing and painting (traditional artist) and knew I wanted to be able to do that for the rest of my life. I was good. I still am, I think. When I was 9 years old my mother gave me an art school test booklet she saw on TV. It had a turtle or pirate character and a couple other exercises to test your ability.
Like so many other talented young black artists in my neighborhood, I mimicked the examples, found different pencils to replicate the shading and ended up with exact replications of the tests. Then, I drew a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (Leonardo for those who know the deal) in a perfect pose to top it off. Read More →
Growing up, I had one dream and one dream only—that was to play ball. While my friends were gearing up for summer breaks filled with swimming and barbecues, I competed in basketball tournaments across the country. I was a star in my region and flourished against guys that were nationally known. My commitment to basketball as a means of success is not a foreign concept in the inner city. Like most Black males, my only exposure to the achievements of men who looked like me was through watching sports. When I saw Allen Iverson or Tracy McGrady play, instinctively I saw myself. Therefore, basketball for as long as I could remember was all I knew. Read More →
Open Source challenges us to share our best work, and enables us to learn when someone improves upon that work.
Open Source frees information and ideas for community ideation, collaboration, and iteration. It’s a faster track to better results and a more united design and tech communities.