— By Nicole M. Hill and Claire Smith

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The Stereotyped Cabeceo by Claire

A few years ago, I was sitting at a milonga with a friend of mine who was a longtime dancer. He didn’t know this crowd that well and I was pointing out followers he might want to cabeceo.

I nodded toward a woman across the room. “She’s pretty good, from what I hear.”

I saw the wave of skepticism pass over his face.

“Ehhh…I don’t think so. She doesn’t look like she’d be very good.”

I was puzzled — and a little annoyed. …


A tribute to everyone that made me fall in love with tango, “my helpers”

Nicole M. Hill

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My birthday dance with Michelle. Photo by Charudatta Phatak

“Love is at the root at everything, all learning, all relationships, love or the lack of it.”

“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

If you read my first piece, A Confession to the tango community, then you know how I struggled to end my birthday dance. The band leader, my dance partner, calls out to the crowd, “I need to finish the song.” No man in the room cuts in to “top off” my dance. ‘Chewy’ Suzuki taught me as a leader to never leave a lady insecure, he does not abandon me to pick up his horn and wrap the song. A helper, my angel, Michelle, steps up in her flowing velvety jumpsuit and her ever present beaming smile and eyes. I compose myself, you see leading is still a new endeavor and so is dancing in 4-inch Comme Il Faut stiletto polka dot shoes. In fact, I’ve never been able to adjust to this particular pair, the yellow leather trim peep toe does not allow my toes to spread and grip the floor properly, a beginner’s mistake choosing style over stability. I tower over the petite Michelle and flex my knees to be as grounded as possible in what feels like stilts. To this day I don’t know how female teachers lead in extremely high stilettos. I start to lead her, nothing flashy, just attempting to be clean, to have a respectable end. …


And a cautionary tale for all social dance communities

By Nicole M. Hill

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My birthday dance with Chewy. Photo by Charudatta Phatak

This post was written in December 2018 and republished here. It grew out of a Facebook thread about diversity, inclusion, and respect in Argentine tango. I was responding to the concern raised, by a white tango dancer, that tango is a very white space.

Yeah, tango is a very white space. I grew up in these spaces, tech job, Ivy League education, PhD from top university so I’m comfortable there. There are whole sections of my life where I had more white friends or dated more white people than black people simply because I can connect with anyone truly and sometimes there were very few black people. …


Infecting communities with good will

By Nicole M Hill

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Two years ago I had an idea about the social aspects of tango, not the dancing per se but all the things both good and bad that happen at a milonga when people interact. It wasn’t my idea really, but something that I learned about on NPR called Contagion of Violence. It’s the idea that violence isn’t random or unpredictable, quite the opposite, violent behavior is contagious like a cold or flu.

Epidemiologists, the people that study the spread of often deadly contagious diseases, like tuberculosis and now COVID, have a theory about violence. You can map an eruption of violence in a community in the same way that you can map an outbreak of a disease. And these maps look the same whether it’s gun violence or cholera. People exposed to violence are much more likely to behave violently, just like people exposed to COVID are much more likely to become sick. …


Attaining diversity and inclusion in the Argentine tango community

By Nicole M. Hill

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This piece was written as a Facebook post on May 31, 2020.

When I started writing this piece in September 2019, I could not imagine all of the suffering that people are currently experiencing from COVID and the murders of several Black people in the US. …


By Nicole M. Hill

Groupon facilitates customers to connect with local businesses. And as a user experience researcher, it is my job to represent and be an advocate for our ‘customers’ — both the merchants on our platform and the customers buying their offers. I use the word represent intentionally because it is important that people of all backgrounds are included in the research I conduct.

Representation matters from top to “bottom”

For those unfamiliar with the value add of diverse representation, here is a very brief and not at all exhaustive summary. When diversity comes up in corporate America, McKinsey & Company’s 2015 and 2018 reports are often cited. They found a relationship between diversity, specifically in terms of leadership and the financial performance of companies. The companies with the most gender and ethnic/cultural diversity on executive teams were ‘33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability.’ McKinsey talks about the ‘penalty for opting out’ for companies with executive leadership that have the least or no gender and ethnic/cultural diversity. …


By Nicole M. Hill

This work was a collaboration between Ling Hu, Dr. Kevin Nolan, and Dr. Nathan Carter. This piece is based on a presentation at the Strive 2019 Conference called, ‘Measuring trust when conversion isn’t enough’ by Ling Hu and Nicole Hill.

In Part 1 we discussed how Groupon was experiencing a tension between improving customer experience and conversion. The team believed that doing right by the customer was more important than short-term impacts on conversion, but we needed a way to measure the impact of following that direction. …


by Nicole M. Hill

This work was a collaboration between Ling Hu, Dr. Kevin Nolan, and Dr. Nathan Carter. This piece is based on a presentation at the Strive 2019 Conference called, ‘Measuring trust when conversion isn’t enough’ by Ling Hu and Nicole Hill.

We had an all too familiar problem at Groupon. We wanted to improve our ratings and reviews platform to help our customers make informed purchasing decisions. We had a roadmap of new features and we went about methodically testing them through qualitative research and AB testing. The problem was, although one of our features was addressing a user need, during AB testing it negatively impacted conversion. The team felt that this feature was the right thing to do for our customers and we believed that focusing on conversion short-term would damage our relationships with customers long-term. Ratings and reviews are only helpful when they are information-rich, reflect the variety of experiences and perspectives both good and bad, and set the proper expectations for prospective customers. Over time, anything short of this will cause customers to lose trust both in Groupon merchants and Groupon itself. …


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Photo by Charudatta Phatak

Best practices in facilitating user experience research sessions

By Nicole M Hill

Argentine Tango is a century-old partnered dance known for its close-body embrace, connection, and intricacy. …


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By Nicole M Hill

Illustrations by Ling Zhou

Every year, students contact me for feedback on their internship interview. Unfortunately, most seek advice and feedback only after they have been rejected. And more often than not, the students asking after failing are underrepresented minorities, international, or first-generation college students. What they all have in common is a lack of familiarity with the internship process and academic resources as well as limited professional networks to tap. These individuals may feel at times like they are outside of the process that more privileged students seem to navigate with ease.

It goes without saying that internships are incredibly important opportunities. First-generation college students and underrepresented minorities are often less aware of the long-term career impact of landing a prestigious internship. This is especially true at Groupon and my previous employer Grainger, which have a track record of hiring former interns. Good internships are sort of like reality tv-dating shows without all the drama and contrived elements. It’s basically an employment simulation, involving real project work to see if you would ultimately be successful as a full-time employee. At the end, both parties decide if they want to continue the relationship, hopefully by extending and accepting a job offer. And both parties benefit from this process because former interns tend to ramp up faster and are more productive while being fast-tracked into a full-time position. …

About

Nicole M Hill, PhD

I’m a User Experience Researcher. My superpowers are intentional connections, whether insights-to-actions or samba steps-to-syncopation!

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