#117: The Difference Between Pain & Discomfort with Shannon McGarity

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This is a podcast episode titled, #117: The Difference Between Pain & Discomfort with Shannon McGarity. The summary for this episode is: If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- Shannon is the Director of User Experience at Cooper. Her 20 years of product development experience cut across disciplines (visual design, UX, content, marketing) and environment (agency, startup, studio owner). But the reason she's on Seeking Wisdom is that she worked with DC back in the day and DC calls her "one of the best designers I’ve ever worked with." We talked about the power of storytelling, why you need to know the difference between pain & discomfort in your career -- and of course, lots of war stories about what it was like to work with DC back in the early days of the Internet :) -- Say hi to @dcancel and @davegerhardt. AND DONT FORGET -- HYPERGROWTH 2018 is coming. You can get your tickets at hypergrowth.drift.com with the promo code SEEKINGWISDOM for just $199. That is the lowest price on the Internet just for SW fans.

DC: Tell me when we're ready.

DG: Oh, we're ready.

DC: We are?

DG: Yeah, we're rolling. We're live.

DC: inaudible.

Shannon McGarity: You look great.

DG: You can tell me where we're going.

Shannon McGarity: You're amazing. You're awesome.

DG: Yeah, yeah.

DC: Yeah, inaudible. So awesome. All right. Are we ready?

DG: Yeah, we're hot off a lunch and learn.

DC: Yeah. At Drift we have these things called lunch and learns. We just had one had the team there. And we had a very special guest up from New York City. She showed some pictures that she shouldn't, but we'll crosstalk get to that.

DG: crosstalk I already love... The reason I love Shannon is because she had old DC on there. We'll talk about that in a little bit. I have notes crosstalk.

DC: crosstalk Okay, don't talk about...

Shannon McGarity: Really.

DG: I have no notes, don't worry.

DC: But I want to introduce Shannon McGarity. Shannon and I worked together many years ago, 22 to be exact. Yeah.

Shannon McGarity: That seems impossible.

DC: That was a pretty insane time of my life, of both of our lives. And I have these fond memories of Shannon being one of the best designers, if not the best that I've ever worked with. And so it's good, so retrospectively...

DG: Yeah.

DC: Okay.

DG: Not to crosstalk...

DC: crosstalk No yeah. Best designer-

Shannon McGarity: We both got hurt shooting crosstalk.

DG: crosstalk I don't know if I've ever heard him say that the phrase best designer I've ever blank. So that's pretty good.

DC: That's pretty good.

DG: It's pretty good.

DC: How good does it usually get?

DG: It's tough. The bar is tough so that's pretty good. crosstalk So whatever you did, you can go home now.

DC: crosstalk The bar is usually like, they're okay.

DG: So whatever you did... So whatever you did crosstalk, you can go home.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk That's amazing. It was a flipbook.

DC: It was a flipbook.

Shannon McGarity: That's all it took.

DC: Yeah and so Shannon and I worked together back then. And since then, Shannon has... and I'll let her tell you more about her background... But she's an expert in design and UX and goal- centered... goal- driven design. And she gave a talk to us here, lucky at Drift and we are happy to have her on the podcast. Welcome Shannon.

Shannon McGarity: Hi.

DG: Thanks for coming.

Shannon McGarity: I am happy to be here. Thank you so much. It was such a thrill when David reached out, actually. Because it'd been such a long time.

DG: Well, okay, there's so many places to take this, but I think let's... before we dive in too much on the stuff that we talked about today, we want to bring on to Seeking Wisdom... some background on you and what you're doing now. Because there's an interesting story about being at Cooper and how you got there and just some of the stuff you've done.

DC: And what Cooper is.

DG: Yeah and what Cooper is. Yeah.

Shannon McGarity: Okay, okay great. And crosstalk.

DC: crosstalk Who are you Shannon?

Shannon McGarity: Oh my gosh. Oh, let me start. I was born in Toledo, Ohio. Just kidding. I've been doing some form of user experience design for about 20, I don't know, 25 years probably. And so when I met David, we were working at a company that... The umbrella company was called Concrete Media, but I worked at a company called Girls On. It was a women's community site. And David was working as a developer, amazing developer at Bolt which was a [ crosstalk 00:02:45].

DG: crosstalk So he did actually used to code that's a real...

DC: No one here believes that. Shannon set the record straight.

Shannon McGarity: He was badass.

DG: Go on, give me... Okay.

Shannon McGarity: No, I mean you wanted something done, David.

DG: Yeah. You wanted somebody done. Get your crosstalk. Code... Okay crosstalk.

DC: crosstalk See that. See that. To see that code. crosstalk No one here believes it.

DG: This is important crosstalk.

DC: crosstalk There's not one person here crosstalk.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk It happened, crosstalk it was true.

DG: crosstalk This is an important credibility moment. All right.

DC: It's a little fuzzy, but it was true.

DG: Yeah. He will tell us that in the early days of the internet he was coding.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah.

DG: Now we know. Now crosstalk know.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Yeah, pre streaming video. He was coding.

DG: Yeah.

Shannon McGarity: I was basically creating a front end interface for the stuff that David...

DG: But you guys are all part of these companies that was part of a bigger...

DC: Yeah.

DG: There was crosstalk a parent company?

DC: crosstalk So Shannon crosstalk-

DG: crosstalk So that's how you all got connected?

DC: Yeah.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah.

DG: Okay.

Shannon McGarity: Exactly. And so it was like a pretty amazing time. It was like in the late nineties boom time. We were creating something super special. It was a place that we all wanted to be all of the time and we made a lot of good friends and a lot of cool alumni came out of that.

DG: This is a question for both of you... which I think is interesting. How much of what you saw early internet, like 96 to 9... I don't mean that... See here...

Shannon McGarity: This is where it gets blurry crosstalk.

DC: crosstalk blurry yeah.

DG: crosstalk No. How much can you repeat? No, but how many things... Especially, because you're both... You're in a product world now and then everything here at Drift, and then on the design side. Do you see like seeds of what you saw in 96 sprinkled everywhere today? You always say like... and you said it today during your thing," Nothing is new."" These are all innovations." Do you see early stuff that you were working on then that you're now have seen like," Oh yeah, that's that thing that we were starting to do back then, or..."

Shannon McGarity: Huh, that's interesting. Look, we were working on community sites where we were connecting people to each other. That was pre-Myspace and pre- Facebook.

DC: Yeah.

Shannon McGarity: So yeah.

DC: There was nothing called the social network. We called it community.

DG: That's crazy.

Shannon McGarity: That's right we called it community and the mini-boards. Crosstalk Do you remember the mini-boards?

DC: crosstalk Oh my God. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mini- boards basically like our chat window is today. You know how it comes out from the side. We had this thing-

DG: Like inside of a community?

DC: Inside a webpage. So on a webpage, this thing would come out on the side and it was basically this thing called mini- boards. Where you could have a discussion in that, which just looks a lot like what Drift looks like today.

DG: Which is amazing. It's amazing crosstalk that that's crosstalk is true because there was a crosstalk...

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk There you go.

DG: crosstalk It's crazy. crosstalk It's crazy. There was a spirited... you say spirited discussion. You were in on Twitter, like a couple of weeks ago, somebody talking about this feature, that feature you're like," No, no, hold on."" This stuff has been..."" The whole concept of chat and communication has been since 20 years."

DC: At least more than 20 years. We had... It's funny because now I can look back at it and think like," Oh, wow, wait, we had all these things..." Obviously they were not the same, but they were all the same paradigms. It was just like," Oh yeah, we had this thing on the side."" What was this thing on the side."" We called it mini- boards.""And it was basically a way you could chat."" Oh, what does it look like?"" Oh, it looks exactly like the way that we chat now on the side."

Shannon McGarity: We didn't have the tech to back up the ideas crosstalk that we had right?

DC: crosstalk No, exactly. But the ideas were there. And the first version of Bolt, when we started working on that, used something called Future Splash.

Shannon McGarity: Oh yeah.

DC: Which later became rebranded as Flash, when Adobe acquired it. It was actually a company Macromedia before that, that built it. We built the whole site in this thing called Future Splash. And back then Netscape would let you install these plugins, but you had to restart your entire machine.

DG: Every time?

DC: Yeah. No to install it. You could imagine, like the first time they came to our website, the person would have to... talk about UX challenges... crosstalk would have to download...

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Ugh, so bad.

DC: Find the download on their computer, crosstalk double click, restart their whole computer and remember to go back to this website that they were just on.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Get the plug-in. Because that's not painful.

DC: Yeah.

DG: Yeah. But people would do it, though.

DC: People did it.

Shannon McGarity: That's all we could do. It was Dark Ages.

DC: And we'd have to go back on dial- up. But what we're using Future Splash for, later Flash, we were using it because we wanted this website to feel like TV. And you would go and you'd crosstalk play this little thing.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk.

DC: And it basically would look like the Instagram videos that you see today. YouTube clips like that... None of that obviously existed, but we were trying to do the same thing with very limited technology back then.

DG: It's amazing.

DC: So long ago, restart [ crosstalk 00:06:54] your computer.

DG: crosstalk Future Splash. See this is good.

Shannon McGarity: Exactly. I remember actually also like one year I dressed up... as long as we're talking anachronism... I remember dressing up for Halloween. My costume was the guy on the front of the director box. Do you know what I'm talking about? Nobody else will, unless you were around.

DC: Back then, that was Macromedia.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah director and flash, it was all a part of the landscape.

DG: That's crazy.

DC: And back then when we were designing... I wasn't designing. When Shannon was designing crosstalk webpages, we were basically... to what would be today, a blog post.

Shannon McGarity: We were all crosstalk.

DC: Which was most of Girls On... was basically just blog posts.

DG: Just text.

DC: But we didn't have something called a blog post. Shannon crosstalk would have designers design every single article was a unique design.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk. A different template.

DC: A different template and we would upload the text and the whole design. And that would be the article.

DG: crosstalk That's crazy.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Yeah, it was art, it really was.

DC: It was art. I wish we had screen shots.

Shannon McGarity: It was not efficient.

DC: No.

Shannon McGarity: But it was art. And every single article you made was something special and unique.

DC: It was handcrafted. It was like the equivalent of... you know how sometimes crosstalk-

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Artisanal internet.

DC: Totally. Sometimes today you go to the New York Times and they'll have those custom design articles that are amazing. Well every article that Shannon was designing was crosstalk a custom designed.

DG: crosstalk That's what it was.

DC: There was no standard. It was just a custom one every single time. It was amazing.

Shannon McGarity: Can you imagine?

DC: Yeah. crosstalk And all the...

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk The man hours.

DC: So many man hours.

DG: And now I would like to think you can write a blog post from your phone, like walking somewhere and publishing it. It's just crazy.

DC: At one point we were talking about... I don't know how we got on this topic, but we were talking about, I remembered... I had forgotten for 20 years the Bolt store. Remember the Bolt store?

Shannon McGarity: Oh gosh no, not until you just said it.

DC: Isn't that crazy.

Shannon McGarity: We were doing commerce.

DC: Yeah. Crazy.

DG: What were you selling?

Shannon McGarity: T- shirts crosstalk.

DC: crosstalk T- shirts.

Shannon McGarity: Mostly T- shirts.

DC: T- shirts that these interns would get screen- printed... somewhere, I don't know where. But we would have like these... I just remember, like you said crosstalk-

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Contests.

DC: Yeah, contests. It was fuzzy, it was like... It was basically like Threadless today or one of these crosstalk things.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Yes, exactly.

DC: But this was a long time ago. We would have people mail in designs and then we would pick some designs from them. They would mail them in. Kids from around the country would just mail in-

DG: Anything, not really like... What was the design? Like, whatever the crosstalk hell... whatever they wanted.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk It doesn't matter.

DC: Anything they wanted on a t- shirt.

Shannon McGarity: Exactly.

DC: We would pick them... I don't even remember how they were picked. And then these interns... and I remember some of them in the back of my mind... would go somewhere in Soho, where we were, get the... I don't know how they got them. They would get them screen printed. And then somehow we would sell the... the whole thing was like, how the hell did this work? But I remember it happening.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah. Yeah. It did. I'd forgotten completely about it actually. Yeah. That was a thing. Thank you.

DC: crosstalk Crazy, that was e-commerce.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Thanks for bringing my memory back.

DG: crosstalk All right. Fast forward from then, until now.

Shannon McGarity: You're like," Oh my God, we'll never crosstalk through this podcast if we talk about...

DC: crosstalk It's like the equivalent of like Bezos, which we have a picture of there, was selling books by basically getting emails. People would email him and then they would go get the book. We were doing exactly the same thing, except we were trying to create... Instead of being smart and having efficient crosstalk books...

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Delivery mechanism?

DC: We were just custom making all of them in New York, in Soho. A lot of man hours.

DG: It's amazing that people that were sending this company design and saying," Hey, crosstalk can you print these?"

DC: crosstalk Oh yeah, totally.

DG: That's its own billion dollar business today.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Exactly.

DC: crosstalk It wasn't then, but yeah, yeah, yeah... Yeah.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk press.

DG: 22 years later, DC call... Why are you here? What's the connection you just like wanted to reconnect or what?

Shannon McGarity: You could probably tell why you reached out? But I just got this really awesome message through LinkedIn. All of a sudden, after 22 years, I'd been at Cooper for about two and a half. It's a design and business strategy consultancy based in New York and San Francisco,

DG: Can you give the people a history lesson. Because I'm not in design. And I didn't know this until today. I did my research though. Give us the Alan Cooper story.

Shannon McGarity: Oh okay, cool. Cooper was started by Sue and Alan Cooper. Alan is really well known for... he was a developer and became a UX designer. And he's well- known for having designed the visual part of Visual Basic and selling it to Bill Gates over a handshake. That's how the story goes. But he's also this incredible thought leader in the space right now. He's written a bunch of books, like The Inmates are Running the Asylum and About Face, which are these like seminal UX texts.

DG: I was sitting next to crosstalk-

DC: crosstalk DG has never read any of them.

DG: No I've never read any of them. I don't mean it like as a throwaway.

Shannon McGarity: I know you have a very intense reading practice. So that's...

DG: Very intense.

DC: What did Craig say? Craig's our VP crosstalk of Product.

DG: crosstalk I was sitting next to Craig and during the session... And I was like," I got to take notes during this because Shannon is going to come on Seeking Wisdom."" I got to have some stuff." He's like," Dude, you haven't read... you don't know Alan Cooper?"" You don't know Visual Basic?" He's like,"You don't know The Inmates are Running..." He's like... literally like giddy. And I'm like-

Shannon McGarity: And making you feel terrible.

DG: Yeah. And I'm like," No, this is crosstalk-"

DC: crosstalk And Craig's a big man.

DG: No, this is crazy. Because I think back of..." All right, what would that be for me?" And I'm like,"This is the equivalent of Al Ries crosstalk who wrote Positioning or Ogilvy." It's like, that's...

DC: crosstalk Who wrote Ogilvy. Yeah, yeah. crosstalk.

DG: crosstalk It's a really cool... it's crosstalk cool.

DC: crosstalk It's seminal.

DG: Yeah, it's seminal. The Visual Basic part is interesting. I got to ask about... I know you weren't there obviously crosstalk-

DC: crosstalk You should also follow Alan Cooper on Twitter, which I did recently. Because he says crazier crosstalk things than I do.

DG: crosstalk I heard he's a good... Yeah. He's a funny...

DC: Much crazier.

DG: That's actually... Craig goes-

DC: I'm like tame.

DG: Before he told me who Alan Cooper was he was like," Oh, I follow that guy on Twitter."" He's a maniac."" I love it." And I'm like," All right, I don't know what we're talking about." But I also, crosstalk...

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk He's got strongly held views and he's pushing the practice.

DC: crosstalk I love it. I love it.

DG: crosstalk I learned today that Alan Cooper is also the father of the persona.

Shannon McGarity: Yes he is. Do you want me to tell that story?

DG: Sure.

DC: What is a persona?

DG: crosstalk What is a persona?

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk What is a persona? Persona is a... it's a design target. It's a synthesis of a bunch of research you do around your users. Try to get to understand who they are. And all have that information we try to synthesize and boil down into an archetype called a persona. It represents multiple people we've talked to and it kind of creates this... I hesitate to say fictional, but a character or a person that represents all of these data points that we learned from research. And it gives us a target to actually design for, and also evaluate our designs against. It brings people together.

DC: And we have a lot of marketers on the... who listen to the show? And they all use personas.

DG: All. Yeah.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk That's interesting.

DC: It's a very big thing in marketing to use personas.

Shannon McGarity: Well there are two different kinds of personas. Just to be super clear about that, because we have to deal with that in our consulting work all the time. There are marketing personas, which are much more focused on demographics and segmentation, et cetera. And the type of persona that we do at Cooper and Designit is we use design personas.

DC: What's the difference?

Shannon McGarity: They're much less focused on... They're more focused on goals and behaviors and pain points and high- level storytelling and very focused on... They're a great target for helping us to think about what a product or service can be.

DC: I've seen people mix them too. I've seen marketing personas that look like inaudible personas.

Shannon McGarity: Tools.

DC: Tools, yeah, it's cool.

Shannon McGarity: You use them the way that you want to and you've got to break them... Although I would say to be fair, I think it helps to demarcate a little bit and explain crosstalk-

DC: crosstalk Between the two.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah. Between the two.

DG: I didn't think of that. I didn't think they were separate things. That was great. But I wrote down something that you said during the persona thing, which was interesting, which is before people design things... Like engineers would build things based on what... or you design something around what was technically possible. But the whole concept of personas, it's actually to think about the user and say," Hey, forget what's technically possible." Because I can see how you'd basically just design yourself into a box. You're like," Well, we can't do this."" We can't do that.""We can't do that."" But what would this person actually need?" That's the foundation.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah. I think I was discussing pain points. It was difficult because it felt like design was always the caboose at the end of the train in a way. And," Okay, we're designing something because it's technically possible or because a product manager says that this is the way it needs to be, et cetera." But ultimately personas allow us to think about the users first before we ever hit Sharpie to Post- It. And think about people before we enter the production cycle.

DG: The one thing that... I don't know if he talked about this back in the day, but one thing he talks about now is the concept of company problem crosstalk-

DC: crosstalk Are you going to test... Are you going to test...

DG: What? I'm testing it?

DC: No me.

DG: I'm testing you? Oh, is crosstalk this a quiz?

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk This is a test right now. No, no.

DG: This is a quiz. I don't know.

DC: Tell me about the company problem.

DG: He always says company problem verse customer problem.

DC: No, I never thought about that crosstalk.

DG: crosstalk That's what it seems like this is the core of.

DC: crosstalk This is objective. That's what we do. That is legit what we do. We're marrying business objectives with user needs goals and bringing those two things together. Because you can't have a good business without both of those things. No, I never talked about that in the past. I should have listened to Shannon back in the day. Because I only learned this through decades of pain. It was just how we crosstalk learn it.

DG: crosstalk That's most lessons though, yeah?

DC: Decades of pain. Of not including the customer in the process and the design. Something that you touched upon in the talk, which is starting to build or starting the product or starting the thing based on our own gut, our own feeling, our own interpretation of what we thought the customer was, but never actually going out and talking to the customer. And I only discovered this really as a way, a methodology, that we've used in 2009. But before that I never did it.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah, you were telling me a little bit about that last night at dinner, about how you've actually created this whole practice in crosstalk a way around...

DC: crosstalk Yep, around customer driven...

Shannon McGarity: And understanding who they are and going into their offices and seeing who they're talking to and what they're dealing with on a daily basis.

DC: What was great about it, I was describing this process that is in that book Hypergrowth right there, which is this customer centered kind of approach to building products that we've stumbled upon. And as I was describing different pieces, she was giving me the real names for them. And I was like," Oh shit, this is official." She was like-

Shannon McGarity: I was applying jargon.

DC: Yeah, yeah. She was like,"This is generative..." Whatever. crosstalk I didn't even remember the words.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Research, yeah.

DC: Generative research." This is blah, blah, blah."" Oh, that's this?" I'd say... I can't even remember what they were, but they were like these big, big words and they sounded good. And I was like,"I've been doing that this crosstalk whole time." I've crosstalk been doing this whole time.

DG: crosstalk I'll take that, yeah.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk you're a selfish nerd.

DC: No, it was awesome. Because you validated something that we were doing. And I was like," Oh, this isn't just something we stumbled upon, this is actually a thing." But we accidentally, never approached it from understanding that it was a thing. And we just stumbled upon the same answer, which I think is awesome.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah, that means it's right.

DC: Exactly.

DG: You boiled down basically like... Okay, so the last 15 years of your career, you synthesized everything into three things. You said," Number one was you started to feel like design was an afterthought."

Shannon McGarity: Yeah.

DG: And I want to talk about each of these, but... Design was an afterthought. Quant often ran the show. People were relying more on what the data was saying than what you actually felt might be right. And then the third thing was you just grew tired of design... having to sword fight with clients. And I thought that was interesting because I think we have a story like the way that you guys talk about building products, building companies, building teams. Those are all related. We have something written-

DC: Same pattern. Same pattern.

DG: It's the same pattern design was last. You trusted data instead of your gut. And then arguing about client because a client says," Well, I think this is right." Whereas our motto here is like," Let's ship it, actually get feedback on it and see what happens."

Shannon McGarity: Hey, that's a huge part of the design process. It's making sure that it's built right. And testing and poking at it. Which is great. That's amazing. I think ultimately what I think where all of that pain was... what filled the pain was goal centered design. Being able to have a design target and having everybody align on that design target together before you got to that point, that's where all of a sudden my pain started dissipating in my career. That's what I was getting at with those three main points, I guess.

DC: What was amazing talking to Shannon last night and then today and during her talk is like how... It's something that we always talk about, which is... Shannon knows, she did in her talk, which is like, all of these patterns are the same. They may have different names and different contexts, but we were seeing the same patterns for things. Like we had a Q and A session after her talk and most of the questions... I was laughing to myself and I tried not to interrupt because they were the same questions that we get about marketing or sales or whatever, which is... all the questions were basically summed up as," Can you give me a three step process that I can follow to achieve X, Y, Z." And most of Shannon answers were-

DG: Who, as in like designers, engineers?

DC: Everyone in the room, everyone in the room. It was salespeople, engineers, designers. Everyone was basically asking for the same thing. Give me the secret formula to get XYZ. And Shannon would come back and say," Well, sometimes it depends."" Sometimes that's an art."" That's actually an art, that's not like a hard and fast rule."" And sometimes you just have to make a decision." It was all these things that we talk about in a different context, but it was the same lessons. And people... no matter how many times she said that the next person would raise their hand and say like,"What's crosstalk the next... give me the three steps to X, Y, Z." Done.

DG: crosstalk Well everybody wants a cookie cutter.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah, they're aren't. There just aren't. You've got framework that you can use as your guide. But I think also just knowing how to break the tools and being pragmatic about when to apply the tools to the project that you're working on. I know you guys are working really fast here, so do you eat all of the elephant at once and try to incorporate everything, all of this change at once, or do you just take little pieces and say," Oh, I'm going to do proto personas and see how that works." And pilot that out and see if that's a good alignment tool, Not doing it all at once I think can be helpful crosstalk in these moments.

DG: crosstalk What is your answer to that? How would you answer that?

DC: We talked about it after, which is, I think the answer is... and this is the answer that Shannon gave, which is in the elephant metaphor... which is you have to take an incremental approach. You can't go all the way to... and I think someone in the audience asked," Well we..." Basically it was a leading question. It was like," Tell DC to let us do X, Y, Z."" Well, we wanted to do research and we wanted to hire some people to do research."" And basically we wanted to have this giant process introduced, change everything, the way that we work, but everything that, the way that we work is working, but we just want to change all of it." And someone over there where I was sitting and that over there said," No." Therefore we can't.

Shannon McGarity: That's your job.

DC: How would you go about," Shannon, do you have an idea crosstalk... hypothetical for how you could do this?

DG: crosstalk Just asking, it's a hypothetical.

Shannon McGarity: Oh my God, you can't screw up this question.

DC: Yeah, yeah, just listening. And her answer was," Well, you start with a little bit, just do an incremental approach.""And then you build on that and you build on that."" And that would be my same answer to this person." But often people, wherever they are, they just want permission to go," No, we're just going to do a hundred percent the other way."

DG: Right. We're going to go off for three weeks and brainstorm.

DC: And hire 15 people and then we're going to have a new research process and we're going to change how we do things. And it's like," Who's going to agree to that?"

Shannon McGarity: I think again, it's about just making sure that you can carve out little pilots for yourself and improve it internally and then build on the success.

DC: Yeah. And there was one slide at the end, which no one actually had a question about, but it will be the most brought up one.

Shannon McGarity: Uh oh.

DC: Do you know which slide that was?

DG: No.

DC: Okay. Do you know which slide it was of your slides?

Shannon McGarity: Is it the one about goal driven design?

DC: No, no, no. Mark this, write this down.

Shannon McGarity: Oh boy. This time in history.

DC: This will be the number one thing that's brought up crosstalk about this talk.

DG: crosstalk Well it's on the record.

DC: crosstalk On the record.

DG: crosstalk It's on the record now.

DC: And it was a slide that said," Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up."

DG: I knew you were going to say that. I knew you crosstalk were going to say that.

DC: crosstalk No one asked a question, but I was just watching and I was like,"Hmm, okay, here we go crosstalk."

DG: crosstalk Everybody ignored that question.

DC: Well Shannon said crosstalk sometimes you have to slow down.

DG: crosstalk Shannon said slow down.

DC: Okay. What does that mean to you? That means that we just come to a stop.

DG: I'm slowing down.

DC: We just stop.

DG: I'm going to slow down.

DC: But you didn't slow crosstalk down.

DG: crosstalk I think I'm going to slow down.

DC: You just stopped. No, but Shannon said that we slow down, remember? Let's call Shannon in. crosstalk Shannon you said we slow down.

DG: crosstalk This is good. This is good. You guys have spent more crosstalk time...

DC: crosstalk Therapy. This whole show is therapy. And we were having this discussion after the talk of him saying that same thing with the example about the feedback that people want this binary answer. They want either we are going to do feedback and user centered research around the way that I want to do it, that I'm proposing. But if you say no to my exact way to do it, then that means you say we don't want to research it. And it's like," We didn't say we don't research it."" We just said we're not going to do this big project." And if we say... there's nuance, in other words, yes, we should slow down sometimes. That doesn't mean now we have permission to... we just stop everything because Shannon said," Sometimes you have to slow down." Yeah, and so mark that down.

Shannon McGarity: What can your organization absorb? What do they have a pallet for? And it seems like you guys have a palette for quick tests, so that's probably how I'd approach it. Every culture is different.

DG: Yeah. Because there's really... I think the thing that we do a lot, which is like... Even when you say the word quick tests, I think that means something different to us than what people think. People even think quick tests means like," Okay, well I'm going to get..."" Okay, fine, I'll get a group of five people and I'll test them for two hours." And we're like," No, for us a quick test is like, tweet it."" Did anybody respond to your headline idea on Twitter?"" Okay, maybe this is good directionally." Or spend a hundred bucks with a Facebook ad and see is anybody clicking on this thing? There's always some level of something you could do in five minutes that I think people just gloss over because it's like," Well, it's either one or the other."" It can't be both."

Shannon McGarity: Yeah. Well it's not binary.

DG: We are-

DC: Yeah, I think people want permission to do what they want to do.

Shannon McGarity: They have an idea. They have a solution in their head.

DC: Exactly. And you touched upon that in your talk.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah. I guess it's just like you have to see what the company will accept.

DC: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. What the context will accept.

Shannon McGarity: Exactly.

DC: Everyone's context crosstalk-

DG: crosstalk That's probably like all the battling with clients over design. They're asking you to create something. They already think they have the answer for it. There is no interpretation.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah. Honestly, that was pre- Cooper. People come to Cooper and Designit now... They come because they want to find out what they don't know.

DC: Yeah, which is awesome.

Shannon McGarity: Pretty incredible.

DC: Which is awesome. Because back in the day it would just be like," I already know what I want just give me crosstalk..."

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Exactly, go make this.

DC: Yeah. Go make this.

Shannon McGarity: Go make this. The data says that you should make it. So make it crosstalk_.

DG: crosstalk All right. I want to wrap up with some career stuff. Because this podcast is a lot about personal and professional growth. You said something that was really interesting. And you said," You have to know the difference between pain and discomfort in your career." Can you unpack that?

Shannon McGarity: I can unpack it. I would say that pain is not productive. You know that you're experiencing pain... Well I know because I'll get an eye twitch... But you'll know because you feel powerless in a way. And I think discomfort is actually... it's healthy stress. It's the thing that you put yourself through to level up in your career or in your skillset with the tools that you use. Discomfort to me is it's strength training for your career in a way. That's the difference to me. Pain, eye twitch. Discomfort, healthy stress.

DG: You said discomfort is resistance training for your brain.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah, that's [crosstalk 00:26:31] much better.

DG: It's like that crosstalk moment of you're at the incline on a treadmill and it sucks in that moment, but you get off that treadmill and you're like," I'm soaked in sweat."" That was amazing."" I feel like crosstalk..."

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk And you know that it's going to be better.

DG: Totally.

Shannon McGarity: I think when you're living in pain, you're like," I don't know when this is going to end, please make it stop." You're ready to end it. Discomfort is the magic word. And I'd shown that like slide like around David Bowie and how he said that" You know that when your feet are just about... if you're in the pool and your feet are just coming off the ground a little bit, that's the great space where magic happens, where you feel uncomfortable, but you know that something amazing is going to happen."

DC: I love that.

Shannon McGarity: Does anybody know who that was?

DC: David Bowie? Just me and you. Everyone one was like...

Shannon McGarity: Eh, like...

DC: Who's that dude with face paint on his face? Who's that? No, I don't know how many people knew that? Maybe 5%.

Shannon McGarity: They did know Back to the Future. I was shocked.

DC: They did. Maybe that must be on replay on something?

DG: In the mall.

DC: Maybe when you fly in Jet Blue you see that one. I'm not sure how they need that one, but most of the references they know, no. But I love this topic obviously of discomfort, something we talk a lot about. But I liked the way that you positioned it. And I love that David Bowie quote, which I will steal. That entire slide. I'm going to use that. Aside from Alan Cooper's books... We'll get those and we'll put them around here. Aside from those books, are there books that you suggest to other people that are either in design, not in design, to appreciate what you aren't talking about or...

Shannon McGarity: Sure.

DC: Yeah.

Shannon McGarity: Sure, there's the one that I talked about today. I really like that Org Design for Design Orgs by Peter Merholz. That's great because it explains... it diagnosis a problem that people are starting to grapple with, which is where design fits in an organization. And it talks about that kind of double diamond approach to product delivery.

DC: You melted everyone's brain on that. They're like," Who knows the double diamond approach to whatever?" And everyone's like," No." Nobody.

Shannon McGarity: Crickets.

DC: Crickets.

Shannon McGarity: I was living that life. Up until up until Cooper, I would say that I was living... Both of these diamonds are important. But if you've got the definition diamond, which is about solving the right problem. And then you've got the execution diamond, which is doing it right. Solving it, right. I was living in that execution diamond for a really long time. And with goal- driven design, all of a sudden, I'm doing amazing UX work and I'm doing service design where you're defining the solution, you're defining the problem really. That can be incredibly empowering. I love that book just for the... it changed my vocabulary about the pain that I'd been experiencing prior.

DC: We're going to have to get that book. And how do you describe, for the listeners, the Venn diagram that you had of what UX is? What are the three stories?

Shannon McGarity: Oh yeah. Hold on one second.

DC: Because I love this part.

Shannon McGarity: Now you got me on the crosstalk spot, I'm flipping out for a second.

DC: crosstalk It's four circles. Well, one of them was copywriting.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah. Well you had interaction design, visual design, copywriting, and all of these three things merge together in a way. I'd been doing all those things throughout my career and... Actually if you get about face, you'll see that Venn diagram comes directly crosstalk from the book.

DC: crosstalk Comes from there?

Shannon McGarity: Which is that form and content and the way it works all form together to make that sweet spot of user experience. And so, yeah, that is how I think about user experience now. That's my model for it.

DC: Because it overlaps with some of the stuff we talked about. I loved when you were talking about your own journey from interaction designer, then you talked about copywriting. Then you talked about marketing in a certain context. And I was like," Wow, I've never heard of designer talk that way." Because that was amazing to me.

Shannon McGarity: Well I have a very weird... I sidelined off into marketing.

DC: Yeah, yeah, you sold diet...

Shannon McGarity: I sole diet programs online.

DC: Tell me about that. How did that work? And you designed funnels.

Shannon McGarity: Funnels, email campaigns. I have mad love for email campaigns still because I loved being able to push the needle. To move the needle you could see with quant, how many more people you were getting with content A over content B or just a subject line. Oh my gosh, I loved that.

DC: Oh that's... See.

Shannon McGarity: I just loved crosstalk testing subject lines.

DC: crosstalk See?

DG: crosstalk You can come back. You can come back.

DC: crosstalk You see why Shannon's my homie? You see why Shannon's my homie?

DG: Designers aren't supposed to care about copywriting and marketing.

Shannon McGarity: I'm not typical.

DC: She's not your average designer.

Shannon McGarity: I don't have have the crosstalk same background.

DC: crosstalk That's amazing.

Shannon McGarity: I didn't go to design school guys.

DC: Yeah. We had a bunch of drifters eating lunch and they said," Uh, when is Shannon staying here?" And they voted. They voted you on the island.

DG: Yeah, you're on.

DC: Now if you leave the crosstalk island...

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk That means a lot.

DG: You're on. All right. Well, first of all, you got a bunch of stuff we can plug,

DC: Yeah, Shannon, we didn't talk about this, and I'll do the plugging.

DG: Here. I'll give you my notes.

DC: Shannon runs training.

Shannon McGarity: I don't run training. I participate in training.

DC: You participate in.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah, yeah.

DC: Because she does training. Training for Cooper. And so if you want to learn about all the stuff that we're talking about here, and a lot more in terms of design, she has a special offer for you. Go to cooper. com/ courses crosstalk

DG: crosstalk Was it/ courses?

DC: Courses.

DG: Training.

DC: Yeah. DG has notes, but he erased the URL of the notes.

DG: I didn't know. I didn't know that DC was going to be reading them.

Shannon McGarity: I would of gone crosstalk with cooper. com/ training.

DG: crosstalk Cooper. com/ training.

DC: Yeah, and in the middle of the podcast he's like," What's the URL again?" It's cooper. com/ training. And enter the code, driftwisdom... this is one word, driftwisdom20 to get 20% off classes. That's a special offer just for the Seeking Wisdom community that Cooper has stepped up. And thank you Cooper.

Shannon McGarity: Yeah. Cooper Professional Education is a part of... Actually, we were recently acquired by Designit, global design company. Sixteen offices across the world, et cetera. And so Cooper Professional Education is basically the North America region's training arm. And right now I do classes around service design, design thinking. Those kind of high level framework classes, but also around like technique deep dives, like design techniques and leading creative ideation and design leadership.

DC: You have to see some of these classes, it's www. cooper. com/ training. And these are some of the titles of some upcoming classes, design thinking immersive, design research techniques, landing creative ideation. I crosstalk don't know how to say that.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Oh, Leading, yeah yeah.

DC: Gleading, I don't know how to read. Mastering the Art of Feedback.

DG: Oh, I need that one. Send me... Yeah.

DC: Anyone that crosstalk works with me needs this class here called crosstalk Mastering the Art of Feedback.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk We'll talk after this.

DG: crosstalk You're actually teaching that one. DC's actually guest lecturing.

DC: Design Leadership and Service Design Immersive. If you listen to podcasts, we never plug crosstalk anything, but this is like hot.

Shannon McGarity: crosstalk Oh is that true?

DC: Oh yeah. A hundred percent, a hundred percent. Super high value. And there's even a workshop here called the Brand Experience Workshop. If you're interested in this stuff, cooper. com/ training, 20% off, go hang out with Shannon. Don't listen to any stories she tells you about me. None of those are true. Ignore those stories.

Shannon McGarity: Every single one.

DC: Yeah. Yeah. And for... about DC back in the day and go holler at Shannon. And show her how much you loved having her on by leaving a six star review on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. They currently only allow five stars.

DG: They only allow five. We've gotten a bunch of comments.

DC: But put in five stars and then put an extra one in the feedback.

DG: Maybe by Hypergrowth they'll have six stars.

DC: That's right. And so thank you for joining us Shannon.

Shannon McGarity: Thank you for having me.

DC: It was awesome to hang out.

Shannon McGarity: It was a blast.

DC: It was awesome to go back, please don't show those pictures of me to anybody.

DG: I might need those.

Shannon McGarity: Not even the flipbook one?

DG: The flipbook one's all right. That was a inaudible.


If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- Shannon is the Director of User Experience at Cooper. Her 20 years of product development experience cut across disciplines (visual design, UX, content, marketing) and environment (agency, startup, studio owner). But the reason she's on Seeking Wisdom is that she worked with DC back in the day and DC calls her "one of the best designers I’ve ever worked with." We talked about the power of storytelling, why you need to know the difference between pain & discomfort in your career -- and of course, lots of war stories about what it was like to work with DC back in the early days of the Internet :) -- Say hi to @dcancel and @davegerhardt. AND DONT FORGET -- HYPERGROWTH 2018 is coming. You can get your tickets at hypergrowth.drift.com with the promo code SEEKINGWISDOM for just $199. That is the lowest price on the Internet just for SW fans.