Plus a kitschy optical illusion. 
The Last Few Weeks.

A monthly roundup of product design, email, and climate news.
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I had a busy August! Day trips, weekend trips, meetups, concerts, sporting events, pool parties, birthday parties, beaches, lakes… I was away from screens quite a bit this month. As Dazed and Confused’s Wooderson says… Livin’.

So this issue might be a little chaotic.

Back my job, I’m now a few months into being a design manager and still don't really know if I'm doing a good job. I’m managing a few people and working on processes for the whole team, but also still doing design and code. I’m doing a bunch of things but feel like I’m not doing any of them particularly well. However I received some positive feedback from my team last week and it really lifted my spirits.

It’s a nice reminder for us all: If you notice someone struggling (with anything), give them a few words of encouragement. It can make all the difference in the world and it costs you nothing.

(steps off soapbox)

Welcome to issue #15.

In this issue:

artwork by Andrew Fairclough

Product design

As you can probably imagine, I’ve been trying to learn about management lately. I’m now four months into my new roles as a manager and I’m starting to notice Some Things™.

  • There’s a vibe shift: my relationship with the other designers is different. Now there’s a power difference and things are no longer the same between us. Previously I was the guy you could ask stuff you didn’t want to ask you manager. I’d give it to you straight but I usually didn’t have much more info than they did. That’s no longer true and people have picked up on it. Before people would ask “Hey so-and-so was let go, have you heard anything about why?” and now they ask “Hey why was so-and-so let go? Is there a layoff coming?”. Small but noticeable differences. I have to be more diplomatic now.
  • When I became a manager, I was invited to a bunch of new meetings and private conversations where I was exposed to information I didn’t previously know about. It’s a weird privilege. Before, I didn’t know what I didn't know. Makes me realize that companies are not as transparent as they often say they are. This is especially hard in remote teams. When folks are in an office, at least you can see other people talking and walk past meetings in a conference room.
  • I’m learning strategy faster. In the conversations mentioned above, everyone’s talking at a higher level. Conversations move quicker because folks can skip over a lot of details because the audience already understands. I’ve rather enjoyed this aspect, I feel like this is how my brain naturally likes to operate.

For seasoned managers this is probably nothing new, but as a new manager it’s eye opening.

Email Geeks

I’m giving a talk about sustainable email design at Email Camp next month and I’m really excited about this one!

This one is more personal than my others. There’s a lot of “me” and my personal values in this one. It’s relevant to our jobs, but it’s bigger than that.

I gave a version of this talk at a meetup last month and it felt good. I was amped up, moving around the room, and using a fair amount of profanities. Now, my Email Camp version will be a Professional Talk™, but I’m tryin’ to bring that kind of energy to it.

Email Camp is a free, online conference on October 4-5. There are a bunch of talks I’m looking forward to attending. Here’s a sneak peek from what I’m working on:

A fake ad poking fun at corporate sustainability ads reading 'Join our company in the fight to protect the planet from our company'.


Instead of a theme, this month I just want to share a few things on my mind.

A good day to remember that the rules of the Earth system are determined by physics and biology and the rules of the economy are made up by a small group of self-interested people and could change. - Dr. Elizabeth Sawin

Is it cost effective to save the world yet?

For fun

AN optical illusion of a series of straight vertical lines, but if you shake your head you can see a F word.

Thanks Tim.

Thanks for reading, see you in a fortnight ✌️