Marc Hemeon: “That little play button on YouTube videos? That was me.”
KANSAS CITY— Those who stuck around for the last speaker of Big Kansas City were in for a major treat: Marc Hemeon, who brought laughs by the dozen sprinkled with earnest stories and thoughtful insights.
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Hemeon—who previously led design at companies like digg and YouTube (“That little play button on YouTube videos? That was me.”), worked for Google X and co-founded several companies—offered the crowd “nuggets” of advice saying “take what you like, ignore what you think is dumb.”
“When you’re asked to do something, just say yes. Don’t be a baby. Figure it out. If there’s a block, find a workaround and get it done. Just say yes. You’re not too cool, famous or important to say no.”
“It’s amazing how often people just don’t show up or put in the time. There’s no secret to this advice. Show up.”
“Google has this idea that you should always be willing to help somebody, which is fascinating to me. They’re very much about collaboration. So if you’re an entrepreneur, and you don’t have a co-founder, get one. Convince someone else that your idea is valid first, and never make excuses for not helping.
Say “Yes, and…”
“Yes, and… is an improv tool that is a superpower for any meeting, any discussion. Even if it’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard, go with it, add to it, and see what happens. If you want to be the originator of an idea, that’s your ego, so get rid of it. In true collaboration, you can’t pull out where the idea originated because it doesn’t matter anymore. Steve Jobs would be nothing without the other Steve; none of those guys built anything amazing without a team around them.”
Hire smarter than you.
“It’s scary to do this, because then this wonderful person is going to take your job, right? It’s intimidating. But do it anyway. Meet amazing, smart people, hire them, and that will elevate you and your company even more.”
Set aside 20% of your time.
“20% of your time should go toward the little extra fun stuff, because that will probably lead to your next job or the next interesting thing you do in your life.”
Value emotional intelligence.
“All people are kind of the same; they have the basic needs of wanting to feel included and be loved and connect with each other. As you build things, your ability to focus on how users react to what you’re building matters a ton. You have to make sure that consumers have triggers, motivation and an ability to do what you want them to do. Like, the secret sauce of YouTube is the right rail of related videos. That’s crack cocaine right there.”
Measure all the things.
“Get data, but don’t become a data psychopath where you use it to justify all behaviors. There are so many great tools now for measuring what you’re doing, so use them.”
Punch above your weight class.
“Do the uncomfortable thing, because it increases your capacity. Say yes to something you don’t know how to do.”
Use peer reviews.
“Your peers are the ones who validate you, and that is more impactful to your day-to-day-work than anything else.”
Accessibility is key.
“The biggest problem for product design is accessibility, designers creating beautiful things that are useless. Always think about how diverse the world is and design accordingly.”
Get rid of your ego.
“Nobody cares about your ego. It doesn’t matter. What matters if your willingness to help someone else.”
“We’ve all been in that meeting where the decision-maker person comes in 20 minutes late and then asks to back up. Screw that person. That’s an uncivil thing to do. If you have a meeting scheduled, get there on time. Be respectful of other people’s time.
Acknowledge that all jobs are hard.
“Everyone’s job is super hard, whether they’re hourly or a CEO. If you really want to get to know someone, ask what they do, and then say, ‘Your job sounds really hard.’ The next thing you know, people tell you all sorts of things. It’s an amazing way to connect.”
How to avoid “imposter syndrome” and burnout.
“Well, if you want to be a designer, don’t ‘act’ like a designer and get a sleeve of tattoos. Go design. Do the work. And if you’re feeling resentful about saying yes to everything and working so much, that means you don’t believe you should be doing whatever it is. The only thing that creates burnout is resentment.”