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Leadership | Simple As Toast

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves.” – Lao-Tzu


When I talk about leadership, I am referring to people and design. I have lead several teams over the years and I have found when you know the strengths and needs of the team, work-life balance becomes that much easier. I want my team to love what they do, and love where they work.

My Approach

I rely on a simple approach: arm the team with tools to figure things out, and get out of their way. When empowered, encouraged and accountable, designers make amazing experiences.

The Design Squiggle

The Design Squiggle illustrates the characteristics of a design process, making it clear that we might be uncertain in the beginning, but in the end we focus on a single point of clarity.



Experience Basics

1. The experience should make an emotional connection the the user and be desirable.
2.  The user should be able to intuitively navigate without confusion or questions.
3.  The experience should feel natural to the user and facilitate accomplishing their tasks.
4.  The experience should provide alternate paths that solve for predictive tasks.

Methods & Frameworks

“Giving our users what they need… not necessarily what they want.”

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Visual Design Approach


Strip out unnecessary graphic elements.

Use white space as a visual divider.

Organize content logically and succinctly, in ways that make it easy to consume.


Provide templates for content modules and page layout that can be leveraged across platforms.

Start to align graphic treatment/elements across platforms to provide familiarity.


Avoid using color as a graphic element.

Use color discretely, where it is appropriate and purposeful.

Limit color to imagery & icons that support adjacent content.

Growth and Failure

“When you succeed you grow a bit. When you fail, you grow a bunch.”

Holistic growth

Get out of your comfort zone

Collaborate outside of your function

Think beyond our small world… look at everyday things for inspiration

Be industry leaders

Stay because this is where you belong

New ideas feed the passion we need to be successful


Recoverable failure

Simple mistakes: promise time, not revisions
Test: don’t assume you know just because you’ve experienced something.
When you fail: own it!
Manage the unknown: don’t make your stakeholder play “bad cop”.


Unrecoverable failure

Again, own it.
Don’t be afraid of confrontation.
Build the next bridge and then walk away.