People > Pixels

Well, here we go again…

Another “hello world” post from a new Design Agency on the scene, holding up the same tired, bright neon signs that flash:

“UX Design”

“Design Thinking”

“Human Centered Design”

Design + Thinking = Yay!
Isn’t it all so cute and predictable, isn’t it.

And then … well …THEN! they share a Medium post to launch their website with their story. Everyone simply MUST taste their founding struggle, uncertainty and self-doubt, but still feel that sense of confidence, creativity and capability come through the narrative.

It’s so easy to be cynical, isn’t it?

It flows off the tongue and onto page with such ease. Moreover, its easy to buy into, because we all know in our hearts that it’s 1000x easier to just dismiss others than to stand behind someone or something you believe in.

Here’s our truth, and it matters a great deal to us

We’re extremely proud to launch You X but we’re not going to tell our story. Not because we don’t want to share it and not to snub the trend of it all. We treasure our opportunities to meet new people in person, share our story and hear theirs. The reason we’re not going to share our story is actually — because our story isn’t the story at all. In fact:

the story is the story

What on earth are we talking?

Fair question.

Caring > Work

Tyler and I both share a deep respect and sense of honour around the opportunity to coauthor critical chapters for the people we care about. After years of servicing amazing startups, enterprise & government organizations, its truly not the work that matters at the very end of the day, its the people we’ve collaborated with along the way.

The work itself changes, evolves, transforms and expires — and we can all live with that. What we can’t live without is the feeling that we didn’t treat our employees like a team, our clients like partners and our partners like a family.

That brings us to a dirty agency word:

Not true Moe …
Caring doesn’t scale very well, but its the only thing that really matters when its all said and done.

Caring is messy, emotional and ‘unprofessional’ to some and thus — often avoided in the service world.

Tyler and I started You X Labs in part because we believed in our capacity to build a practice together and in part to test our theory that caring matters more than anything. In fact, the people that we serve and the stories that we help draft are exponentially more important than any pixels we push.

We’re working hard to create a story that translates our mission and vision into experiences, artifacts and relationships that last. That’s why the story is the story — the journey is in fact, the destination. Ultimately, we think the best way to anchor that principle is through a promise to ourselves and others that:

People > Pixels — always.

It’s aways a precarious thing for a Designer to quote Steve Jobs, but since we’re all about squashing cynicism, I just love this quote Jobs shared with us all:

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R & D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R & D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it” — Steve Jobs

You X Labs won’t likely be remembered for our work, our service packages or our case studies. Of course we believe in our abilities, but that’s table-steaks for most founders when deciding whether to take the leap to start an agency at all.

our logo
We want to be remembered for our capacity to stand behind our guiding principles for ourselves, our team, our clients, partners, each-other and with those pillar in place: do the greatest work of our careers.

People > Pixels is more than a motto to us. It’s the DNA of our DNA. It’s the story between our lines. It’s what drives us and gives You X Labs any meaning at all.

Our Action Pact

time for action!

In 2017, we’re putting People > Pixels in action through our company culture and practices with our founding core team of James Chiu, Sisa Lleses, Larry Patrick Zolob, Tyler Copeland and myself, and will continue to build on these over time.

They include:

Team > Pixels

  1. Support year long + quarterly skill development goals of ones choice
  2. Support year long + quarterly knowledge based goals of ones choice
  3. Provide monthly bonuses during profitable months: not quarters or years
  4. Support ones self-directed pillars of happiness in their personal lives
  5. Support ones self-directed pillars of workplace happiness
  6. Quarterly retreats to share our personal & professional learning journeys
  7. A positive & supportive work environment — always.

Clients > Pixels

  1. Develop empathetic appreciation for their needs above our own
  2. Provide meaningful transparency to our clients in everything we do
  3. Make proactive thinking part of a clients expected experience
  4. Build co-working into each engagement

Community > Pixels

We’re actively working through the logistics of creating a fund that will provide random acts of kindness for others putting People > Pixels.

Shall We Dance with Cynicism For Old Time Sake?

Why not …

“Sounds like a bunch of hippies who care more about peace & love then building scalable, innovative software”

— The Toronto Stir

“Service company’s that just do whatever their clients want never end up with amazing work. We’re paying them for their skill — not their friendship”

— Grumpy Hypothetical Client

We know what it takes to research, prototype, design and build amazing software — and getting their requires creative tension, no question about it. Building strong relationships with people based on trust and honesty requires that you share the truth when things are bad, poor, distasteful, disappointing and weak.

When you really think about it, your closest friends are the ones that you can trust to share these harsh realities with you, regardless of how it makes you feel. Putting people first doesn’t mean that we won’t disagree, dispute and debate ideas and approaches — it just means that we’re doing it with peoples best interests in mind. To be able to do that — you need to care about them and their interests.

Thanks for taking the time to read!


Jason & Tyler

You X Labs is proudly based in Toronto with slices of our hearts in both Ottawa & Montreal. Feel free to reach out to us to book a coffee and share more about the impact initiative you’re working on: we’d love to chat.

If you’re interested to know more about us, you can always visit us online at