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'Putting yourself out there' and other neurotypical concepts
New year, new newsletter
For those who don’t know me, I’m a pretty outspoken UX leader, autistic and ADHD woman who survived 10 years and counting in the London tech scene.
I used to be quite active on Linkedin, however lately I’ve been feeling a slight sense of dread at the thought of going on it, seeing content I didn’t want to see and end up either doom scrolling or crafting snarky replies in my head.
But since my brain won’t stop producing opinions and thoughts I’d love to discuss, I thought “why not try this Substack thing the cool kids are talking about”.
Here’s the deal. I’ll send out one of these every couple of weeks, on Fridays (because it’s not a thing you’d read in the middle of a work week), and it will be full of thoughts and stories about management, leadership, design strategy and neurodivergent life. Sometimes all mixed together.
And if you want to comment, react, or ping me privately about any of it, I’ll be happy to chat!
Today I Learned…
Did you know that UK Postcodes were only developed in the 60s? And to teach the public how to use them, the Post Office (which owns their intellectual property and needs to get paid every time they’re used, genius business strategy there 🤯) had to invest a lot of money, effort and time in PR and education? There were posters, ads and tents at markets and country fairs. They even came up with Poco the postcode elephant, which was adorably pink.
My favourite story is how they came up with a country fair elephant ride for children where, in order to participate, the parents had to fill a form which required their name, address, phone number and - you guessed it - their postcode, which they could learn at the Post Office tent nearby.
This is genius. They forced parents to learn their own postcode by dangling a way to entertain their kids. I can just imagine grumpy parents being pushed by their child towards the post office tent, wanting nothing less than learning a piece of data. But they did, and it worked!
When I heard this story, my mind took me back to the old days of trying to get the front end engineers to adopt a new Design System.
.. and of socialising a research report to stakeholders so they could use the insights in product strategy.
… and of educating companies on what the UX department is and does.
My first reaction: why did I ever think that just ‘explaining’ my work to stakeholders would work?
Imagine if the Post Office’s strategy to get the public to use postcodes was to ‘share the vision’ with them, ‘keep them up to date on how much faster and easier postal operations would be’. Yikes!
Lemme tell you something…
Communication is hard. Getting other people’s attention is hard. The fact that it’s a requirement to be successful in certain jobs is unfair, the world misses out on great ideas and talent because of it, and we should work to change that.
In the meantime, we should just go ahead and approach everyone we talk to as if they had ADHD 😇, giving clear information, making it positively relatable, respecting headspace and memory, and having some fun with it!
Next time I’ll talk about narrative, hope to see you there!
I met Brittni when we were both speakers at designFAO last year, she’s a lovely freelancer in Berlin and her Instagram is full of tips about how to refine the way we present ourselves, and the importance of hitting those dopamine receptors in your audience.