The origins of women’s medicine, and why healthcare today is anything but modern.

Artwork by Hiromi Suzuki
Words by Arthur Julio Nelson and Christine Goudie

Lexi—my best friend from college—has been living with chronic pain for years. Her cramps were always bad, and it was always chalked up to period pain. Doctors cycled her through different birth control medications but nothing ever worked. She tried homeopathy, putting aside her skepticism but still finding no relief.

As we graduated and grew into adulthood Lexi was first to marry. Then she had a kid. Then another. Then another. Maybe the pain was worse now than it was before, or maybe it was the same. …


Oracle cards courtesy of the Deck of Character

Part 3 of “Responding to the now”

  1. Lead with common sense. there’s no need to A/B test your way to the right answer. Move quickly with obvious changes. Then look at the data, test, and adjust.
  2. Gone for now versus gone good. Know the difference between a customer you’ve lost forever (e.g. they went out of business) and someone you’ve lost for the moment. Measure and market to them differently.
  3. Changing demand versus changing behaviors: Similarly, it is vitally important to know whether you’re losing (or winning) users because of a change in demand or a change in behavior.
  4. Obsessively…

Oracle cards courtesy of the Deck of Character

Part 2 of “Responding to the now”

  1. Fear marketing is dead. What was already a bad idea (fear marketing drives open rates but won’t get you active users and certainly won’t keep people engaged) is now an awful idea. Good riddance.
  2. “Behavior is now anomalous and different” (h/t Brian Balfour) Look at granular, real-time data instead of quarterly. And keep looking, every day it will change.
  3. Sales and marketing must inhabit the same brain. Proximity to the customer is paramount. What marketers and sellers are learning — about what works and what doesn’t — must become a virtuous circle.
  4. Must…

Oracle cards courtesy of the Deck of Character

Part 1 of “Responding to the now”

  1. Being early > being late. Know where we are in the current economic cycle. When anticipating where we will be, it is better to be early than late (opposite of VC logic).
  2. Collapse organizational silos. Right now, information and speed are paramount. Silos impede those and are costly to maintain. They make sense for scaling growth but inhibit agility — the thing you need to stay afloat.
  3. Know what lever to pull for your business. Resources, time, information — in good times you usually have two of the three. In a crisis, you…

The role of design, and a set of emerging principles, for designing in taboo spaces.

Mental health, sexual wellness, women’s bodies, HIV — an incomplete list of things seen as taboo by our culture. Each taboo a composite of the stigmas and misperceptions that shrowd our bodies, and lower the quality of life for entire communities.

The role of design fundamentally changes when we design for spaces that are seen as taboo. Instead of simply creating a solution to a well-defined problem, design must create the conditions that let us see something with new eyes, so we feel safe enough…


Note: this was originally written in May of 2019 for the team at Dear Brightly, a rising beauty company here in San Francisco. After chatting with them, we thought it’d be helpful to share this (very informal) note with founders and teams looking to get smart fast on all things brand.

A hopefully helpful note from me to you.

1. Know what needs to be omnipotent versus omnipresent.

Not all parts of your brand’s identity are created equally. Sometimes a mark (like the Nike swoosh) or a color (like Glossier pink) are the parts which are the most influential and iconic. They have power. And like power, the more you wield it, the less powerful they become…


Leaders, structure, process—a gross but helpful oversimplification.

“Let’s not pretend the people in this room aren’t the ones who can change things.”

I once found myself in a room full of powerful, brilliant executives—each representing a vital part of a multibillion-dollar business. Together, we reimagined the future of their company, laid out a strategy to bring it to life, and crafted a bold set of initiatives to get them there. People were excited, until they weren’t. One by one, every one of them got stuck. The obstacle wasn’t competitors or profitability. Operational complexity or technological feasibility. It was culture. Quickly, the room and the tone shifted from what could be—to the fear that this kind…


It’s the first slide of your all hands. The start of your team’s offsite. Your screensaver (wait — does anyone still have those?) It’s on the back of your badge, printed on the poster that hangs in your office, embroidered on your fleece and stitched onto your backpack.

It’s your company’s values. And they’re everywhere.

They can sound generic, they can sound grandiose, they can come in a short-hand only insiders can decipher. Values are an expression of the character of a company. What they stand for and what it’s like to work there.

The problem is they’re often just…


This is my last week at SYPartners. Next week, I’m thrilled to say I’ll be starting a new chapter—with a whole new host of wonderful crazies and familiar faces—at fuseproject.

One of my favorite SYP rituals is the goodbye email. Maybe it is because I came from Accenture (population 411,000+), but I simply love that SYP is the kind of place where employees can send company-wide goodbyes, give gratitude and celebrate one another. I pray that this remains a precious part of the culture, never to be cannibalized by Slack.

And so, here is my goodbye email, unedited. …


I’ve spent the last decade as a professional problem solver, using some combination of brute force and pattern recognition (and the bias comes with it) to find the answer. One of the many ways I’ve grown since moving to San Francisco is to bring more thoughtfulness, more creativity, and more listening to how problems are solved and solutions are shaped.

But like any human, when we’re limping we grab crutches. And in moments of ambiguity or fear we retreat to what’s always worked — forgetting what is required to do great work. So I made this list of practices, a…

Arthur Julio Nelson

strategist | writer | founder of Crazy Studios

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