Here’s how you design in the age of data (and opinion)

Hint: you probably don’t even need to read this.

You just do it. You just design things.

And you kill things (projects not people please). And you persevere. And you keep getting better and better. You practice. You improve. You learn by doing and experiencing.

People look too much. 
People read too much.

Especially when you’re starting a business (whether as a freelancer or a company), the thing about looking and reading is that it feeds and fuels all your feels. And I know, because I have a lot of them as a founder.

How it feels being a founder. Jk 🙄

As I read, as I look, it feels comforting. Or discouraging. And challenging, perhaps inspiring. Often depressing. Or helpful. Or why-didn’t-i-think-of-that-ish.

It doesn’t really matter.

Because it’s generally just a distraction and it’s adding one more voice and opinion. Basically just one more piece of 💩 in the paranoia that’s already in your mind all the time. Like: This is stupid right? Do my friends secretly pity me? Will anyone actually use this? Why isn’t our pre-launch list multiplying faster? What happens when I run out of runway? Shouldn’t we be charging more? What happens if I get appendicitis and can’t work for a while? (I literally thought I had that the other day — thankfully not).

Notice, mostly negative. Charlie Brown syndrome.

At least for me, you don’t generally have super positive thoughts about yourself and especially your designs and things you’re doing when you’re starting something. There’s a ton of self-doubt and that ever-present imposter syndrome. Of course there’s the good moments when you actually believe everything is going well, but let’s be honest. Those are small peaks and there’s a heck of a lot of big valleys to fall into.

One example of one type of valley out there. Product-building trough of sorrow.

And this looking, reading — it feels like doing something which is why it’s such a siren call. It feels like you’re learning something, growing, improving, changing. So it’s super easy to justify (if you even think about it) and keep doing it.

It’s a drug. And it’s nice to feel things. Feel sympathized with. Understood. Challenged. Huddled with others and not alone.

Founder life!

I’ve found that the more I look though, the more I read, the more paralyzing and kind of demotivating it is in a way.

The wisest man ever said “…he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” So I think I’m in good company here?

There is a kind of looking and reading that doesn’t lead to paralysis or worse. But that’s pretty rare from my experience. And I would say, it always lands more on the technical, specialized and need/practical skill-based learning side of things.

Because again, there’s always another infographic to look at, another data point to analyze, another opinion and another voice to take into consideration. Another “new development” or tech to look at or AI to worry about or design language or trending topic you “Must read”.

YOU MUST! You’re missing out if you don’t! FOMOOOO

And you know what? Screw all that.

I have a really hard time taking it for any length of time. It’s why my friends are super annoyed that I’m always on and off social media. Because I generally don’t care about a lot of what is happening in this “industry”, and when I’m on it, I find myself caring about and wasting time on the stupidest stuff that is just draining life from me.

Just text me ok?

Partly that’s because too many products these days are just designed to keep your eyeballs in their app or on their site whether it’s actually good for you or not. So all that “curated” “helpful” stuff you’re seeing and reading like “omg. this is exactly how I’m feeling!” is most often, just data and psychological manipulation to make the investors and shareholders happy at the next meeting.

Where the magic money matters happen.

And it’s all keeping you from actually doing the things you want to do. It’s definitely been a distraction and added fog to my focus.

Maybe it’s time to turn off most of your notifications. I did.

So instead, talk to real people you’re friends with.

The tell-it-like-it-is not-afraid-to-be-honest ones. Talk to family. Get mentorship. Get real, personalized advice from people who’ve done things. And then move on and do your own thing and apply what you can. Invest deeply in learning more about what people are struggling with and observing what they need and how they think.

But not in a creepy or controlling way so you can take something from them.

It’s why I joined Product People recently. Even though I’m pretty busy and so don’t get to participate all the time, it’s been cool to be a part of that group and see what people are making and be spurred on to keep going.

Getting involved with people (locally or in a smaller group) who are trying to do similar things so you can learn form each other is major 🔑. DJ Khaled right guys? Is that still a thing or is that too 2016/15?

Whatever you do, don’t listen to the internet.

The internet is a black hole.

What getting on the internet feels like. Mob / tribe mentality.

And really. Thanks for reading. I hope it wasn’t a waste of time. 😏🎉

If you made it here, might as well click or tap that little heart 🙇🏻

Also, while you’re lingering, check out this thing I’m helping build with Foyyay. It’s called Commons and it’s going to be a super basic, but purposeful little app to meet the needs of people in small groups and bible studies.

Take a look and add your name to the list if you like:

It’s been surprisingly fun to have people reading my stuff. But don’t just read and heart and follow Thoughts from Foyyay. Say hi to me on Twitter so I know who you are and what you’re actually doing! @erichoekendorf