One of the things that brings me the most joy is helping other people.
A lot of the work that I do is helpful in some way.
- I work with organizations to create websites and products that affect real change in the world.
- I compile an email list of bikes for sale and send it out to people.
- I run a small Slack group for digital professionals.
- I work with Patronage, helping companies match their employee donations.
While I enjoy all of those things, I’m happiest is when I’m able to help someone directly. This can be something as simple as making an email introduction, grabbing coffee with another designer, or listening to someone considering going out on their own.
People did it for me
When I graduated from college and moved to NYC, I reached out every designer that I could, and bought them a coffee. I sat down with all sorts of people to pick their brains (I even started a short-lived interview series about it).
Every time I asked, people were happy to do it. These designers were excited to share their time, expertise, and connections with me to help me find my footing as a designer in the city.
When I was in school, I used to tune into a UX Q&A session Whitney Hess hosted each week. It was a video chat, where she would take questions from the viewers and answer them. I remember how accessible Whitney made herself, sharing her experiences with people who were looking to learn.
I’ve been looking for a way to do something similar. It’s time that I return the favor, and give back to other designers, the way people have for me.
Starting on February 15, 2017, I’ll be holding Office Hours each Wednesday between 3 pm — 4 pm EST. Each session is a 1/2 hour long, with one person at a time, and we can discuss anything they’d like.
I’m excited to hear what people are working on, what they’re struggling with, and what their aspirations are. And I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with them, with hopes that it will help move them in the right direction.
I know I don’t have all of the answers. There’s so much still to learn. But I do have some experience, and I’m excited to share that experience in a way that will benefit someone else.
The sessions are free, with one caveat: I ask everyone who signs up to commit to doing at least one good deed for someone else within 24 hours of our conversation. That might sound corny, but I’m a big believer in paying it forward, and I think that’s a reasonable request of someone.
I’ve written up a description of the Open Hours concept, including guidelines on who might benefit from the conversations, and who might not (if you’re a potential client, we should definitely talk, but in a different format). You can read a detailed outline at iamdavedawson.com/office-hours.
Deciding on a format
I considered a number of ways of going about creating this:
- A group hangout, where I could answer questions on the fly
- A form to submit questions, and a blog series to answer them
- A podcast where I brought people on to ask questions, and guests to help answer them
- A video recording where I could answer questions submitted ahead of time
I decided to go with a private 1:1 format because it provides the best opportunity to make individual connections, allow for people to ask questions they may not want to ask in public, and for some back-and-forth in a conversation.
I would like to take some of the questions I’m asked and write about them here. So keep an eye out for those posts in the future.
Do you have something you’d like to talk about? How can I help?