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EP 3: Kevin Philpott, Head of UX at Pie Insurance

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:01  

Hi, and welcome to episode three of scale by Design. Today, we are joined by Kevin Philpott. Kevin, welcome to the show!


Kevin Philpott  0:20  

Hey, James, thanks very much for having me on. I appreciate it, buddy.


James Mackey  0:23  

Yeah, man, we're really thrilled to have you here. And,  I'm very excited to speak with you today. Before we jump into all the cool topics we want to discuss. Would you mind just sharing with everybody a little bit about yourself?


Kevin Philpott  0:33  

Sure, absolutely. So, in the past, I've been a design leader for brands like GEICO, design for IBM, Quicken Loans, Office Depot, Credit Karma. And currently the Head of UX for Pie Insurance which is kind of one of the fastest-growing insurtechs in the United States. 


With all that, I'm blessed to have, thankfully always had, very strong teams, helping me deliver that UX along the way. My passion is really evangelizing UX, right? I love user experience. You know, and over the last six months or so I've really tried to kind of start sharing that as well, too. So I've been doing talks for USPA, all three of the top HCI schools stand for human-computer interaction. So Carnegie Mellon, the University of Washington in Georgia Tech, plus some conferences like FinTech design, summit UX system about Istanbul, things like that. 


And currently, I've been publishing a lot in Forbes. And I've been lucky enough to have some of my research go pretty broad. So I've been cited in over 50 countries at this point. And all of that is really just what you would see on a resume. But I actually like to be a human being as well, too, as opposed to just rattling off bullet points of things that are fantastic. And I love just hanging out with folks that are interested in design and trying to make the world a little bit better by providing some of those better experiences in the way that I can.


James Mackey  2:15  

I love it! And now you've been at Pie Insurance for actually a little bit over five years. Can you tell us a little bit about how much the organization has scaled and maybe where it was when you started in terms of headcount, and in terms of sophistication when it comes to UX and product design, and overall, just product development? 


And a little bit about that scale journey and where it is today, just so we have some context to your perspective as of late.


Kevin Philpott  2:42  

Yeah, absolutely. And let me just kind of give you some context setting here about play insurance, right? 


Pie Insurance offers insurance protection for small business owners. So if someone gets hurt on the job, while they're working, if they slip if they trip, if you're traveling from spot HB, for a work-related purpose, that's kind of what the product does, right? And we're starting in workers comp, but our primary goal is to provide commercial insurance protection for small business owners. 


So the other thing I should probably say is that there are some things that are kind of uniquely different about planning insurance, right? We can save folks that are getting workers comp insurance up to 30%. So anyone that works in the insurance space knows that price is the thing that a lot of people are concerned about because you want it to be affordable. 


The other thing is that we offer our product through a broad range of channels, whether it's an insurance broker that wants to come to us or a direct consumer and get a quote in as little as five minutes. And we also have an API so that you don't have to just come through our partner portal or through our website, you know, if you want to do it in the comfort of your own systems, we have that experience as well, too. 


We have a super broad underwriting appetite. That's important because insurance agents don't want to go to a bunch of different places, right? They want to just go to one particular carrier if they can get away with that and do that for convenience. And we kind of offered that benefit as well, too. And the key thing here is that we're offering instant decisions on about 73% of what are called Class codes, which are like the risk type and worker's comp, but what that means is, you get that number or you kind of just you understand if you can kind of proceed or not instantly, which is obviously what everybody wants in this day and age, right. 


And that's kind of just a little bit of context, but why don't I start with like, Hey, what is Pie and break a little bit into me and you know, how did I get into this Henry fall into it? 


So, James, when I started I was the first employee at Pie Insurance, and imagine the setting. I have a stable job. My wife is pregnant. And I'm like, hey, you know what I should do? I should leave my job. And I should join a sterile insurance, which are not two things you hear about together very often. And by the way, they don't have any customers yet. Right? That's, that's the title, awkward, right? 


James Mackey  5:29  

Sounds a little bit stressful today. How did that go? It obviously worked out.


Kevin Philpott  5:38  

Retrospectively, it went very, very well. But I can't really imagine, you know, you're an entrepreneur, right? And, you know, you take risks, and you know that those risks can sometimes alter the course of your life. Right? 


And so I can't imagine what my life might be like if Pie Insurance hadn't grown incredibly dramatically.  So that's the kind of personal risk that you're talking about there. Right. So, you know, you start off, there's one employee, you know


James Mackey  6:09  

What did the products look like, like, back in the day, when you first started, what was that, like? Tell us a little bit about where it was. And yeah, the iterations from that point forward?


Kevin Philpott  6:20  

It's a great question. And I'm sure you're familiar with the philosophy of agile thinking and word of design. So like, way, way back, it was, the product was essentially a website, right? Like, you know, are people interested in this? 


And then we had a rater tool, which allowed people to kind of engage with us and see how much they were kind of overpaying for worker's compensation insurance. And that allowed us also to kind of like, understand, how much people would want to kind of go further with that, when they understood it, right?


So that was like, very, very early days, it was just like, hey, informational. This is what you could be saving. And then very quickly, we kind of moved into here is the ability to get a quote, and we were one of the first to allow people to buy your worker's compensation insurance online. Right. So that was like, very early days was the kind of product and really what that's all about, you know, you say product, right? But this is like, imagine you're a small business owner, for some of these small business owners, worker's compensation is a pretty significant line item, right? 


And so, you know, we're helping that kind of Main Street, kind of small businesses really protect their employees. The small businesses know and love their employees. So we're trying to get them to get the coverage that they need. But also, there, they were overpaying they really weren't right? So we were helping them do that. So that was what the original product looked like. 


James Mackey  7:53  

Gotcha. And so fast forward. Now. How big is the product and UX team? I mean, what does the org look like today?


Kevin Philpott  8:02  

That's a great question. So, five years ago, we were looking at like zero of everything. In the first four months of 2022. Right? We've increased our annual run rate premium to nearly 300 million. We're serving 28 hundred, on average, independent agents, that's 30,000 applications coming in each month. And on top of all of that, like sales growth, right, we've got policyholders at a retention rate of no greater than 80%. So zero to that has been really quite a phenomenal growth trajectory for any small business. 


And what does that mean for UX? And, you know, my team right now where, you know, give or take contractors and such were five folks, right? So that's still relatively small, given the amount of growth but I think that's very doable, right? If you do it the right way, you can absolutely have that level of efficiency.


James Mackey  9:14  

Sure. And so when you talk about scaling out your team, I would love to hear a little bit about how you go about hiring specifically for UX. What are the skill sets in the background that you're looking for, as you hire for your own team?


Kevin Philpott  9:29  

Yes. And it changes over time, which is kind of an interesting thing. So you know, in UX, you've got a couple of core skill sets, you've got information architecture, right? That's kind of, you know, where's How do you organize the information on your website? 


You've got user research, do you even know what your customers want, right? You've got visual design. And you've got interaction design, right? 


And interaction design is essential, it's like all of the little things that happen on the way to getting your experience, right, if it's like a lot of it is formed design. So it's like, are you using an easy-to-understand set of steps to get people to purchase a product, it can be like all of the little interactions on a field, right? It's all of those little things as you interact with the website, right? And, you know, if I constantly but mind back to day one, right? Interaction Design is really, really important for a lot of products. 


Visual Design might be incredibly important for, say an entertainment-type website, or something that's a very, very visually oriented product. But interaction design is really critical. When you've got any kind of product where someone has to do something, right? 


So the first hire, as well, I was the first hire, but my first hire was someone who was strong in interaction design. And in a startup, and I'm sure you've come across this yourself, right? Like your first couple of hires are really important. And also, they kind of have to be able to hit the ground running.


So the first hire was Jeremy Pike, who's one of the best designers I've ever worked with, and is, of course, still with us, right? Much, much farther behind the senior now. But that was super critical to get in place, that particular skill set. 


And after that, you can start building up the team around it. But one thing that I learned pretty early on is like you kind of want to start thinking about ratios as soon as possible. And what do I mean by that? Well, I mean, how many UX professionals do you need relative to your engineering team? And you'll read a lot of that online, and they'll give numbers but the most important one is normally the front-end engineers to the UX because the back-end might be able to work away on their own right? They might just be building APIs, right? But you really want to, like learn over time, what that right number is for your organization, right? So that's an important ratio, you typically want to have about five UX professionals to one UX leader, right? 


UX is complicated, you do not want to have a span of like, you know, eight or nine UX professionals. It's just too much. And then the last. And the last one I'll give you is just one UX researcher to a team of five UX professionals is about good, too. And when you focus on those ratios, that allows you to scale, right? You don't have to necessarily go back and change that over time. So that's, that's in a nutshell, how we kind of grew UX apply?


James Mackey  12:47  

Sure, sure. So what was the exact ratio from front-end engineers, front-end engineers to UX? So, what is that supposed to look like?


Kevin Philpott  12:55  

Yeah, I actually won't give an exact number because it really depends on the organization, it really drags on the efficiency of your organization. But what I would say is, you monitor that for a year or two, and whatever that number looks like, right, then you start building off that.


James Mackey  13:11  

So efficiency, like what else would you like? How do you go about Jeb any more insight on like, how you go about making that determination? Like, what specific things do you kind of evaluate in order to determine what that ratio should look like?


Kevin Philpott  13:27  

Yeah, I mean, look, this is I think we're science on our meat, right?  When you're in a startup, and you're growing, in the early days,  you might be hiring ahead of yourself, or you might be hiring a little bit behind, right? So to look at the exact number of UX folks to engineers, you need to do that little bit of adjustment as well, too. You might be like, hey, look, we've got two UX folks now. And we've got, you know, we've got 10 front-end engineers, and we've got a bunch of other back-end engineers. But we know that's too strange, right? We know, that's, like not working.


So that's, that's kind of what I mean, here a little bit about efficiency is like, you got to factor some of that in as well, too. And sometimes you're, you know, you're learning race, like in the early days, well, in the super early days, you're probably never gonna get more efficient, right? It's like a small group of people, and they're going to produce a product, and that's super efficient. 


And then you grow for maybe two or three years. And you know, you're hiring people. I know you're trying to figure it out, you're shifting from, there's a couple of small people in a room able to knock stuff out to Hey, actually, we need processes, we need communication, we need to figure out how that works. So at that point, you might also say, hey, actually, we, you know, we think our long-term ratio here could actually be much better. We just need to figure some of this stuff out. Right.


James Mackey  14:57  

Gotcha. So after the first time hire? Can you tell us a little bit about what you did in interaction design for somebody who was really strong in that? Walk us through the course, like the hires that came after that. What kind of skill sets did you prioritize for your second? Third hire?


Kevin Philpott  15:16  

Yeah, it makes sense. So, once you have interaction design in there, you're really looking for what I would describe as a UX generalist, right? Which kind of has little pieces of those. Now, you typically can't get someone who's like a rock star in information architecture, research, visual design, and interaction design, right?


So, it can be based on your type of business, just starting off as a company, information architecture was not super critical, right? Like we're not a library or a company that has tons and tons of content? So that wasn't like, supercritical out of the gate? Right? User research was, but we didn't need a full-time user researcher.


So basically, with user research, you want someone who can do UX design plus, spend maybe 10, 20% of their time even doing user research as well, too. And with user research, you're really looking for someone, there's, like, there's a lot of user research techniques, but the ones that get used most frequently are usability testing, user interviews, right? I mean, those are the two primary methods, right? 


So, I would say, the first three or four hires we had, were all kind of in that kind of vein. And then the only thing there I would say, is like, you do need a certain amount for your visual design, right? Like you need to not appear like a sketching company, right? You do not want to have any visual design. That's terrible, right? But most UX designers can do visual design, you can also hire someone to provide your style guide or your design kit if you will, and some of your brandings, so that then you don't necessarily have to have your UX designers doing all of that you can kind of buy some of that in, and then they can very easily reuse it. Right?


So we did a lot of work at the start kind of around our branding, right? To make sure that that was on point. But then those two key areas until we reach five employees really around interaction design, and user research. And then on the fifth, we hired a full-time researcher.


James Mackey  17:39  

Okay, cool. And so I suppose if you're moving in, it's like a one person, UX department or when you're at the early stages of building out a UX team, I'm assuming like, maybe there's so the reason you don't hire the user research first is that maybe the Head of UX, to some extent, is probably doing some of that to uncover the priorities for the UX department. Right. I mean,  that's what you said, you don't need a full-time person doing that. But that's probably the role of the UX leader at first, right?


Kevin Philpott  18:06  

Well, I mean, let's be honest, like when you're in the early stage role, right? Everyone's kind of a player-coach, and right, even when there are two people, you know, like, I done some research, we bought some research, like, you can outsource the research as well, too, and just manage it, right? And then you can have, like, our first senior UX designer was also doing research, right? 


So, that's how you kind of make that up as you go along, you just make sure that someone is doing a little bit here and there. The challenge you find when you scale, though, is, if you have a very typical trap that I see a lot of companies fall into, they just hire UX designers, right? And they don't hire any full-time user researchers. 


And the challenge with that is, if your company is a startup, it's very tactically driven at times, right? In terms of like, we've got to get to the next thing. And what can happen in that scenario, is the UX designers end up being focused on just building the next thing, just building the next thing. And you actually need to have someone who's 100% dedicated at some point, in my opinion, to user research to make sure that you get enough of that.


James Mackey  19:17  

Right. I think that's so one of the challenges being just getting maybe sometimes, young students maybe falling into just focusing on tactics versus really over thinking about like more. So strategic level thinking and cross-functional thinking. And, I would love to learn - maybe we can dive a little bit further into that. 


And kind of go into how the design process kind of changes as you grow. And as you start thinking about how you're interacting with your peers and engineering and products, and just how the org becomes a little bit more sophisticated over time. 

Could you walk us through what that looks like from early stages, one person UX to then you know, being built A UX team that, you know, with a company that now has 350, around 350 employees? What does that look like?


Kevin Philpott  20:06  

Yeah, and that starts with the process, right? So, you know, years one and two, right? You might have virtually no process, right? You have a maybe it's not fair to say no process is probably more of an intuitive process, right? It's not codified. You don't have to teach people that per se. Right. So it might be you if you're a UX professional, and a couple of engineers sitting around the table. And that's your process, right? You know, what your deadline date is, you know, you got to produce, and it can be almost as simple as that. It's super efficient in the early days, right? 


And then, at that skill, shared understanding almost just exists by default, right? Then you grow a little bit more, and I'd say year two, and three, you kind of no need to tighten up a little bit,  you probably need to make sure that you're going through the process each time of empathizing, with your user defining the problem, super important, because everything else after that, if you get it wrong, doesn't really work. ideating, let's make sure we're looking at a couple of things, not just like early days, where it might be, Hey, we gotta hit this deadline, we think this is best, let's get it out. prototyping and testing, right? 


So you're really getting into that kind of like, more formal, at least mindset, right? You might be doing research on most things, right, you're still probably a little bit selective, because you probably don't have enough time to do everything. You may or may not create a prototype, you might just be like " Hey, we got a quick sense of this, we need to get it out. Let's keep going. And your ability to iterate might be limited by time as well to in year two, and three, you're still kind of under a lot of execution pressure, potentially, right? 


And you've got the beginnings of a design system coming, right, you've kind of done a couple of experiences, if you put them together, they kind of you know, make sense, you have that look and feel going and but you don't really have a proper design system yet. And then year three to five, I think is where it takes off, right? You've got kind of, you should really as early as possible you can build that design system with engineering, right?


That's massive from an efficiency perspective, right, you want to be able to reuse as much as you can. You don't want to reinvent the wheel every time you're trying to do something, particularly if you've got multiple experiences you're trying to design, right? You're documenting maybe some of your processes, you're communicating your processes to other people in the organization, you're probably free, you're getting big No, right, people need to understand how this works, you're probably doing you're using tools like Jira, maybe dovetail for your user research, you might have to have an intake process to prioritize your research needs. 


And you're also measuring, you're really making sure you're measuring your value. At this point, you might get away with that. And you're one you really need to make sure you've got good metrics around, your UX outputs at this point, so you can know what the outcomes are. And then finally, I think year five plus,  you're getting into pretty sophisticated design systems, you know, you might have almost a body that makes sure your designs are up to scratch, right? You might have a voice in the customer system, right? You're systematically looking at the performance of all of your experiences, and that's driving some of your roadmap, right? You have a roadmap, right? A UX roadmap, essentially. And you know, you've got budgets, you're bringing people in, training becomes a much more important thing, because you're trying to build a team, right? And you're probably even educating folks about best practices, Lean UX. 


So that's, and then you can continue on that cycle forever. But that's a quick sense of like that evolution from early stage to kind of five years.


James Mackey  24:17  

Gotcha. And can you talk to us a little bit more about just general like UX vision and strategy, right? How do you really work alongside your peers to really continue to develop that strategy as well?


Kevin Philpott  24:30  

Yeah, so you might have heard the term product design in the same sentence, even sometimes as UX design, and it's, it's a little bit of a trend in the industry. It is badly defined, like what is the product designer versus UX designer. But if you go and you look, and I have a lot of different definitions out there, one of the common trends that you'll kind of see what that is. One of the main differences is, product designers don't just design for users, they also design for the business as well, too. 


I would tell you that I think most UX designers, if they're not designed for the business, may not find themselves growing their career as much as possible, right? So regardless of what your title is, you need to be thinking about what the business is, right? And that's where I think, vision for UX begins, you need to understand what the business vision is first, you are aligning with that you're making sure you understand your business's, you know, mission, vision, what's our strategy? Ideally, you want everyone on your team, if you're using OKRs, KPIs, or any other kind of metrics, I'm a firm believer that your UX folks should have a good understanding of those, not just the people in the business. Right? 


So you understand that first, and then from there, you think about, well, what is the vision for the experience that we would need to have in order to realize that for the organization, right? And there's a lot of, putting that out there discussions internally to kind of align that. You're communicating the vision, I think you need to as a UX leader, you have to, if part of your job is to make it exciting for folks, sometimes it's not that exciting, as a business, say, hey, our sales growth goal is to grow from X to Y. Right? 


It can be much more exciting for the business and can get much more buy-in from folks by painting that picture, of what these amazing experiences that you're going to deliver in order to do that, that can change. It doesn't have to be perfect, right? But I think that's a key role that UX can play in the organization in terms of actually building that vision, right? 


And, of course, once you've got that kind of vision in place, and you've kind of thought about your strategy, how are we going to get there, you do need to make sure that every designer producing is tied to something measurable, right? Ideally, it ladders up to your OKRs or KPIs. Right, you might be instead dealing with some leading indicators before that. It could be, you know, the conversion rate in some form that you're designing, but the important thing is that each and every designer knows basically the success of their design, right? I released this, what impact did this have? 


The reason that's important is because then you have continuous learning. And you can adapt, and you can identify problems early on, right? And so that's really important for UX designers because they feel a lot of times they're focused on qualitative research, but I really think to be successful in organization, you do your folks a disservice by not teaching language to the business and also getting them involved in, hey, how do I measure the impact to the organization of my design? Right? 


So that kind of, you know, brings you from the vision, all the way down to like, how do you kind of understand if you're making progress towards your strategy or not? Right? And I think the other thing is like, you really have to make sure that everyone in your team understands,  what do you do? You're setting expectations, right? So they understand that, and you have a dialogue with them? Because maybe you're wrong initially. Right? You are helping them with timelines, right? What does the roadmap look like? When do we need to achieve this stuff? And, you know, you can basically just repeat that you repeat over and over again, that kind of, you know, maybe the quarterly process of setting that strategy, seeing how you're doing and going along that way. So that, in a nutshell, is how I would see it.


James Mackey  28:53  

Okay, cool. I would love to talk a little bit more about metrics. So specifically, you know, what type of metrics are you? Are you tracking? 


I know you mentioned, one of the things was like, actually understanding the outcome of pushing out a release, you know, making it making the change. So maybe we could talk about both of those things, general metrics, and then how more specifically you measure the success of a design?


Kevin Philpott  29:19  

Yeah. So again, you're starting from whatever your company's OKRs or KPIs are, right, but I'll just use some examples here. Right. You know, I'll use some common ones. Sales, right? 


So that might be why you want to increase sales of your product from 10,000 to 20,000. Right. As a UX designer, you don't have control over all of that process, right? So you probably are designing some sort of online onboarding or application form or shopping characterise, and things you can look at, as an early indicator of your likelihood to sell more can be the conversion rate. So that's the kind of the number of people that start your shopping process to those that either make a purchase online or end up going off and talking to somebody else, right? And then finishing the purchase, there's also time on task, right? That's a pretty decent indicator of, are you making it easier? Now, it's not perfect, right? Sometimes a little bit of extra time can actually make things a lot better for the user. But as a general rule of thumb, if something's taking in like an hour or a couple of days to do for more sophisticated products, reducing that is normally perceived as a good thing, right? 


So conversion rate and time on task are two great ones. And then the other one, especially if you're near user experience, some sort of satisfaction metric. So this could be, you know, the survey that you pop in your study, or, you know, it can be NPS. But one of the challenges I think NPS, for small companies, is it can take a long time for it to get to statistical significance or to lateral that one experience you did to your NPS, and not be like enough of the overall experience to be felt, right? So you can kind of like bootstrap a little bit at the start. And it can be just like, hey, what was the satisfaction before I did something versus after I did something right? 


And then you're what you're doing is you're taking all of that stuff, and you're looking at your overall sales process as it matters up to a KPI. And then you get into all sorts of fun stuff. If you're, if you kind of have an online process, that thing connects into an offline process. Because you could maximize your digital conversion. 


I'll use a fake example here, but we'll just make this operate. I am shopping for a mortgage, right? I remove questions from my online mortgage application process, which improves my conversion. I cut out some of the steps that are explanatory and also reduces my time on task. And you know, it improves my conversion as well too, right? Then someone gets into the sales process, talking to someone over the phone. Next thing, they don't have the information they need. Right, so now might be negatively impacting my conversion rate later on. You know what, maybe we didn't collect the information we needed to properly price the products early on. So that could negatively impact conversion later on. Right? 


So you really have to while you are in UX, you have to be aware of that. Because you're really looking at the CX, the customer experience, you're looking at the end experience. And you're looking at the end and metrics like sales, you can't just entirely focus on your world, right? So that's, that's a little bit of an idea of like, how do you get from KPIs to something that you can measure in UX? And how does it all fit together?


James Mackey  33:12  

That's a really good example. And that's usually when I think about UX interacting with the organization. I'm thinking about interactions with product and engineering. But what I love about that example is it's talking more about a potential relationship with sales, customer success, and marketing as well.  I mean, even just as somebody who's used B2C applications, I feel like that is an area a lot of companies dropped the ball with.


Kevin Philpott  33:40  

Yeah, I would say, a very common research tool in the UX space is customer journey mapping, right? And one of the beauties of customer journey mapping is, it can like, you know, if you do it the right way, what you're doing is you're starting at the very start of your experience, if you're, online feeding to talk to someone over the phone, you're tracking it all the way along, right. 


And those types of methodologies are honestly just talking to some of your folks in sales or service, right? Really reveal some of that type of stuff, the disconnects between your different departments, and that could be product and engineering, and UX, right versus your sales team. Right? That's, that's a valid disconnect. Right?


So you really have to, like I find it super valuable to track that process from start to finish, because you start to find things like," Oh, we didn't ask for this thing online. And now our sales folks don't have that piece of information". They have to go look it up, that delays them getting back to the customer, right? Negatively impacts the customer's experience, right? So you kind of got it to follow through all those different examples by looking at it holistically because that is how it works. I don't know about you, but like when you're doing UX, right? UX folks are involved in the training with sales and service, right? A product goes live, you have to understand how you're handing it off to this other group, or else, it ain't gonna go well. And sometimes that doesn't happen, but you really have to be looking at it that way.


James Mackey  35:20  

Sure. And I feel like it's just highly situational as well, right? For some companies, it might mean a closer partnership with sales, for others, it might mean a closer partnership with customer success, because it's customers that are already onboarded. That, you know, the way that you optimize the workflow could have different implications on how people interact with customer success. 


So I find that really fascinating. And that's a really helpful insight. You know, we're coming up on time. And we have time for one more topic, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about career development for people that want to really elevate their game within UX. 


How would you recommend going from more of a maybe entry level mid, or maybe even senior level role into breaking into management leadership? Are there any lessons learned that you could share with people out there that want to take their career to the next level?


Kevin Philpott  36:14  

Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think it's interesting, right? In school, and this is not really, I think, super different from UX, but most of your training in UX is around, how do I do the best research? How do I create the best prototype? The technical skill set, right? And then, of course, when you want to make that pivot to leadership, you have to like the skill set changes. Now, it's about your soft skills, right? 


So the earlier I think, in your career, that you start identifying that and practicing that because that can take a long time to just get right, the better. So in UX, you know, you're talking about persuasion, how do you get really good at taking a design and collecting feedback with different stakeholders and presenting that? And the difference between, you know, I think a successful senior and someone on the track to leadership is that they really have the ability to understand the perspectives of people in other departments in their organization and use that in building a kind of, like, more collaborative solution and pitching that as a way to improve the organization overall. 


So I think persuasion and, and pitching and just getting as much experience with that as possible, is helpful. I actually think public speaking is a good one, right? If you can do some conferences, you know, USPA, does a whole bunch of conferences and tries to get newer folks involved, right? I think, the more comfortable you get with speaking, the easier it becomes for you to become a voice within your organization. Right? 


And I guess, maybe noticing is just, I don't know how to describe it. But it's like the little things you need to do to move projects forward. That might also be soft skills, right? Little things. 


Like instead of saying, When do you think we can get this done? Boy, if there's real-time pressure, slight rephrasing to how soon do you think you can get this by? Right? You know, you're showing the urgency or trying to ask for like, hey, no, really, how quickly can we get this done? Right? It can be, instead of coming into a meeting and saying, Hey, we looked at the research, this is what we're going to do. It's about bringing people on, you might have to involve them, appropriately. So in the research process, right? 


And instead of saying, this is definitively what I, you know, think we should do, it's because you never really know that you might say, based on x and y, citing the evidence by hypotheses, the best next step for us is x. Are there any violent objections to moving forward on that, right? So you're really trying to find little ways to kind of move the whole project forward because sometimes things can just get stuck. And you want to be the UX leader that gets things done. Right. So those are some of the things I think that are like the softer skills from a UX perspective that help to grow great leaders.


James Mackey  39:42  

Right? How well do you understand overall business strategy, how the different functions work together, how to move people along and get buy-in from people on your own team, and also cross-functionally? Yeah, I agree with you. 


I mean, generally, just moving into leadership in general or even if you're, you know, Founder CEO, right? Your ability to rally the troops and get everybody bought into the vision of what you want to create is, generally speaking, one of the most important skill sets, right? And it kind of ties back to what you were saying about creating a compelling future by talking about experience, what kind of experiences and outcomes do we want to create at a business level or business outcome level? 


So I 100% agree with you. And that's, that's a åsuper, very helpful insight. And I would love to can you continue chatting, we're coming up on time here. So I just want to say thank you for joining us today. This was a lot of fun.


Kevin Philpott  40:39  

Hey, look, this has been a blast. I really appreciate it. Thanks for having me on.


James Mackey  40:44  

Yeah, of course, Kevin, and everybody else tuning in. Thank you for joining us, and we'll talk to you next time. Thank you.

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