Design Better Podcast

InVisionApp, Inc

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 and brought to you by InVision, the digital product design platform used to make the world’s best customer experiences. Discover more best practices, research, and resources at www.designbetter.com.

Rewind: Seth Godin: Learning to take risks, be generous, and make a ruckus
06-07-2022
Rewind: Seth Godin: Learning to take risks, be generous, and make a ruckus
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.
Dr. Sian Proctor: Building common languages
21-06-2022
Dr. Sian Proctor: Building common languages
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.
Nir Eyal: How to be Indistractable
24-05-2022
Nir Eyal: How to be Indistractable
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.
Rewind: John Cleese: A cheerful guide to creativity
07-12-2021
Rewind: John Cleese: A cheerful guide to creativity
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 creativityWhy John uses writing to explore ideasWhat “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.
Eileen Fisher: Embracing imperfect newness
09-11-2021
Eileen Fisher: Embracing imperfect newness
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.
Robin Petravic: Honoring the people behind the products at Heath Ceramics
26-10-2021
Robin Petravic: Honoring the people behind the products at Heath Ceramics
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.
Scott Berkun: How design makes the world
17-08-2021
Scott Berkun: How design makes the world
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.
Astra CEO Chris Kemp: Bringing talent into your orbit
20-07-2021
Astra CEO Chris Kemp: Bringing talent into your orbit
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.
RISD President Rosanne Somerson: Transformation through education
22-06-2021
RISD President Rosanne Somerson: Transformation through education
In its 144-year history, the Rhode Island School of Design—also known as RISD—has graduated numerous notable designers and creatives, from graphic designers Shepard Fairey and Tobias Frere-Jones, to painter Kara Walker, to cartoonist Roz Chast, to Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia. Rosanne Somerson became president of RISD in 2015 after a distinguished teaching career there (and after John Maeda’s departure). We speak with her about some of the common traits of RISDs most successful graduates. We also learn what she brings from her own studio practice of furniture design to her current work, how COVID has changed higher education, and about the power of a degree in the arts. Rosanne also talks about how the overlap of disciplines leads to innovation, and the importance of staying connected to your craft.  Bio An accomplished educator, academic leader and furniture designer, and a sought-after speaker and juror, President Rosanne Somerson is an advocate for the arts and the relevance of RISD’s unique type of studio-based education. As the 17th president she is committed to expanding inclusion, equity and access to enhance a genuinely rich learning environment full of diverse experiences, viewpoints and talents. Somerson is also a practitioner with three decades of experience directing her own furniture design studio. Somerson has deep roots at RISD—extending back to when she was an undergraduate student at the college in the 1970s. In 1985 she returned to campus to teach furniture design, and in 1995 became the first leader of RISD’s new Furniture Design department, helping to establish its strong reputation in the field. After subsequently serving in several academic leadership roles on an interim basis, Somerson emerged as the top candidate in two separate international searches, which led to her appointment as provost in 2012 and then president in 2015. An interview with Somerson is included in the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art Oral History Project and she has earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts along with the James Renwick Alliance Distinguished Crafts Educator Award and a 2019 Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts.
Sara Seager: Pushing boundaries through collaboration
08-06-2021
Sara Seager: Pushing boundaries through collaboration
If you’re lucky enough to look up into a clear night sky and see the thousands of stars visible to the naked eye, it’s hard not to wonder, “are there other planets like ours out there?” Our guest for this episode, Professor Sara Seager, is on a mission to discover potentially habitable planets outside our solar system.  Sara is an astrophysicist and planetary scientist at MIT, and to discover these exoplanets, she relies not only on her own brilliance—she’s the recipient of a Macarthur Fellowship, otherwise known as the “Genius Grant”—but also on some pretty extreme collaboration across different disciplines. In the course of our conversation, we talk to Sara about how these teams push beyond initial friction, and how giving herself permission to fail has driven much of her success. Sara is also the author of a memoir titled The Smallest Lights in the Universe, and we talk to her about the book and bringing her full self to work Bio Sara Seager is the Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Science, Professor of Physics, and Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her past research is credited with laying the foundation for the field of exoplanet atmospheres, while her current research focuses on exoplanet atmospheres and the future search for signs of life by way of atmospheric biosignature gases.  Professor Seager is involved with a number of space-based exoplanet searches including as the Deputy Science Director for the MIT-led NASA mission TESS, as the PI for the on-orbit JPL/MIT CubeSat ASTERIA, and as a lead for Starshade Rendezvous Mission (a space-based mission concept under technology development for direct imaging discovery and characterization of Earth analogs). Having authored three of her own books (’The Smallest Lights in the Universe: a Memoir’, ‘Exoplanets and the Search For Habitable Worlds’, and ‘Exoplanet Atmospheres: Physical Processes’) and edited a fourth, Sara has experience consolidating years of research into an authoritative resource and is credited with producing a book that “will be a bible for students and professionals interested in exoplanet atmospheres.”
Netflix's Steve Johnson and Rochelle King: Making great stories accessible
23-02-2021
Netflix's Steve Johnson and Rochelle King: Making great stories accessible
If you’re anything like us, you’ve been watching more than your fair share of Netflix this past year. And with such great original content, from The Queen’s Gambit to more obscure shows like Midnight Diner, we were curious what it takes from a product design perspective to create and deliver these shows to a massive audience, in a way that’s accessible not only to audiences here in the US, but all around the world. So we sat down to chat with Steve Johnson, Vice President of Design, and Rochelle King, Vice President of Creative Production at Netflix, to talk about how they approach inclusive design for a global audience, how they use a data-informed rather than data-driven product strategy, and why looking for passion rather than for credentials might be the key to your next great hire. This is the last episode of Season Five of the Design Better Podcast. But don’t worry, Season Six is just around the corner, where we’ll be sharing interviews with guests like bestselling author Dan Pink, who will teach us how to use persuasion to be better at our jobs, and Professor Sara Seager, an astrophysicist and planetary scientist whose research on exoplanets can shed light on how we can be better collaborators here on Earth. Also, in-between seasons we’re going to do a bonus Q&A show, where you’ll have a chance to record your questions about design, creativity, leadership, or any of the topics we cover here on the show and we’ll do our best to answer them. Just head over to and fill out the short survey there to submit your question.  Takeaways: Learn about the ROI for inclusive designHear how the design team at Netflix approaches the power dynamics between product and designUnderstand how to prioritize and say no to work that won’t impact the business