Pixelated Perfect Podcast

29 min read

#02 - Dianne Eberhardt—Design, Travel, Entrepreneurship and The Future of Design

Dianne Eberhardt loves to design and travel. She started her professional career at Crocs and continued it in other small agencies. After traveling to 12 countries and working as a freelancer, she decided to start her own design agency.

Dianne EberhardtAug 3, 2022

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify,  Stitcher, Amazon Music, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

In 2020 Dianne started The Design Project (TDP). TDP is a boutique team of UX specialists that design products for startups backed by VCs like Y Combinator, Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, Accel, and also other companies like Mercedes-Benz.

In this episode of Pixelated Perfect, Dianne talks about how to travel while working as a freelancer, the challenges of starting a design agency from scratch, and how the future and its innovations can change design forever.

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Dianne: Welcome to the Pixelated Perfect Podcast, and welcome back to the pixelated. Perfect podcast. Hi Sam, welcome back!

Sam: Hi, Dianne, it's good to see you again.

Dianne: Yeah. So we're going to kind of flip the script for, for this episode. So what we're going to be doing is Sam will be nterviewing me asking me questions about how I got started in my career some challenges. I had some, I guess happy things that happen and kind of what has led me to kind of wear where I am today and maybe where I could potentially go. So thank you so much for being here. And thank you so much for kind of taking the lead and and kind of putting me through the, questionnaire, the ringer I'm excited to to kind of have a great conversation with you.

Sam: Yeah, Dianne. I'm excited to learn a lot. Learn more about what you do at TDP, how you got to where you're at. I've been working with you, for, you know, a past couple months now. And I got to learn a little bit about you and your background and our last chat. I would love to learn more about, just how you got into design and how you came, how you got to co-founding it, you know, an entire design company.

Dianne: We have to go way back. So, kind of the starting point for design, for me, is I went to school for graphic design, that was my major. Back in the day, here was like mostly very traditional graphic design classes. Like we were literally like not using our computer and learning how to draw typefaces and things like that. I think I took one like obviously most of our classes we were using the Creative Suite but I took one class about like flash and had a great websites and Flash. So that was really like, what I had my web experience from school. I did work at the school newspaper as a graphic designer, and so I created a lot of the ads and that was pretty fun. So that was definitely like where I started. My creative Journey would definitely be like, in graduating with a degree in graphic design from there. I got my first job. I was a graph a junior graphic designer at Crocs the shoe company. So this was a huge opportunity for me. I got to work at a world-known company, Corporate America diving into the unknown for me. So what I really learned, um, I was actually I was there for four years so I worked my way up from Junior designer to graphic designer. I did a lot of website design, emails print in store. So I really got my hands dirty with everything. Traditional graphic design, as well as some email and website design in those four years. That was an amazing experience. Being able to work at a company where there was hierarchy there was structured. There was a lot of designers that I could collaborate with, and kind of design leads and creative directors and all of that good stuff. So that was a really great experience. But I got to this point where I realized that I wanted something a little smaller and I wanted to try the agency world and working with a few different brands because I've been working with the same brand for four years. So I also was still looking at a graphic design position, but I took a position at a kind of small agency. It was basically me and one other designer, and then the creative director. I got a lot of branding which was really fun and I also got to start to do a lot of websites. So this is really kind of the first time I started working in UI/UX . We were building websites. We were working with developers and those early stages and that was, that was kind of this, like, aha of like, oh, this is the web. This is really interesting designing, something that's not Pixel Perfect or that can change the next couple months and working on a screen versus working for print and printing things, that was something that was really intriguing to me. So I worked there for for a couple of years and this is going through this like life midlife crisis at what 26 was like oh my gosh: am I just going to be sitting at my desk designing for the rest of my life? How am I going to work my way up? I want more Adventures. I want to do more. I would explore more. What can I do? And so I applied to this program called remote year where I got to it was basically you traveled the world. For 12 months and every month you go to a different location. So I applied and I got in and I was like, okay this is exactly what I wanted to do and because I got into that I knew I had to quit my job. And so then I was like, okay, this is forcing me. This is the opportunity for me to go freelance to try this thing that I can combine the skills that I've learned, I can get my own customers, which was really important to me as well. After working for companies in the past is like, I know the types of people I like to work with, and I'm excited to kind of search for those companies or search for those projects that I'm really passionate about. Sod I went full-time freelance while traveling, which was exciting, and daunting, what I learned and that year from design was that traveling and being creative and just opening my mind to new things, really pushed me to do some passion projects and to focus on some kind of different, just think about design differently. It also taught me that I didn't need to be sitting at my desk from 9:00 to 17:00 to be able to have a successful career. It also gave me an opportunity to take breaks and work with customers and not work with customers. Depending on what I was doing in the flexibility was really, really intriguing to me. I also started to made that transition to product design is UI/UX is I started working a lot at the very Forefront of ui/ux when they were like searching for the beginnings of ui/ux. And I got to help build some interesting products along the way and I think it was in those early stages of that ui/ux boom it's like learning best practices and a lot of the time I was just taking my graphic design skills in the web knowledge that I knew and just kind of winging it and along the way it was like interviewing or sorry doing user testing and understanding what users want and slowly starting to understand like what that space looks like and how you can combine users and empathy and understanding them and understand what are Best Practices on the web and kind of combining that and also graphic design, which kind of translates to me to UI. I, it's like that traditional, like, I think you have to have that skill set, you have to grow that skill set, you have to know like the color theory you have to know all of these bottom lines of what makes design. And that's definitely the very core of the graphic design. So I think taking that knowledge also helped with UI UX. So after that year I went back home and I was like okay I'm ready I think I'm ready to dive into a full-time gig again because I had done that freelancer and I was excited about it but then I was like okay going back to a life I feel like I had all these crazy adventures and I was looking for jobs still doing freelance on the side for probably three to four months after the program ended. And I got offered a position that was like 100k which was way more than I was making freelancing. And I sat with it it was going to be in a corporate setting and I was like this is not what I want. I do not want to work at a corporate company to be tied to my desk. I found this process of freelancing and living and working and doing all the work I needed to but also not feeling like I was stuck in that that grind. And I saw had this desire to continue traveling. So I continued to stay full-time freelance and I started traveling again and I said, no, I didn't want that job. So all that to say also is I also learned the value of money and those golden handcuffs and that golden handcuffs really tie you down. So I'm going to offer you all that money. Is that really going to make you happy? To me the answer is no, I get that for some people, there are expectations and there are things you have to get done butI think the golden handcuffs what that represents is very much what I talked with friends and other colleagues and people trying to make it in the career of product design. So started traveling again, and doing full-time freelance. And this was when I started to kind of do more freelance and take on more responsibilities and kind of bring on other designers to help me with some projects I was doing. So I was kind of starting to build this agency, but still under my name and about when the pandemic hit. I that was basically when my co-founder and husband Alex and I were talking about what can we do. I have some designers helping me out with some projects what if we were to turn it into more of an agency model and what does that agency model look like and we worked I've worked with startups. So basically when I started freelancing, I mostly work within the startup space and found a real passion for it. And we wanted to play with this idea of combining the agency world and helping startups. And that's really where the subscription-based model that TDP that really represents. TDP came from. So you pay a monthly fee. So we think of it as saas but we call it daas - design as a service-, so offering that subscription-based for startups and we launched two years ago, lots of ups and downs, but it's like my baby we've been able to grow a, we've had some amazing designers such as yourself, be able to join the team and yeah that's kind of moving my role from doing all of the work to being more of a design lead and then also kind of co-founding a company. So, there's a lot of things I do today that are not designed-focused. So it's just kind of juggling and balancing,

Sam: I love it. I love that. I love hearing your journey from, you know, starting out like after college, graduating college, with graphic design and starting at your first career, your first job. And you know, moving moving into through all of these like different types of work environments and such. I love hearing all about it and it sounds like you have such great experience in all different types of roles and, you know, jobs and was that your able to find out what works best for you and follow your heart? I think that is what a lot of people listening to on this podcast. Would be interested in hearing is, you know, how did you get to where you're at? So, that's so cool. Thank you for sharing your story with me. Dianne, that's awesome. You went through a lot of different things. And so I'm going to probably dig a little bit deeper into these topics, but I'd love to get to know I guess. I guess I would love to learn more about you know your time and remote year and what was that? What was that like like freelancing and traveling at the same time. I think that is a dream for many people. So love to hear about your experience and I guess hot like what was the work-life balance?

Dianne: Traveling is a full-time job within itself, so I did not work full-time while traveling. Occasionally, I would take on gigs where I would work a lot, but it's really hard to juggle a full-time gig as well as doing all of the things you want to do because, you know, we were in a different country, every month. It was like soaking up as much as we possibly could. So that work-life balance was hard, I highly suggest finding a workplace, a workspace. I actually right now, personally, do not like workspaces because I feel like I'm on calls all day and don't have that ability. But when I'm traveling, I feel like it's like a dedicated place, right? So, I have my dedicated office at home, but I didn't have a dedicated place. So I think having that office space and like kind of being like, okay, this is when you're going to go to work was was really important. I definitely think knowing that you should save some time to do all the other things you want to do, and that's really why you're traveling is super important. It also helped me to understand what kind of projects I wanted to take on, because I knew that I wouldn't have the flexibility that maybe some of the projects required. So it really was like I had a lot of conversations. I reached cold emails a ton of companies that I was interested in working with and it was really about me reaching out to them and telling them what my specialty wasn't making it really personalized, and kind of following up with them. And that's kind of how I started to build my base of customers that I was working with. They all knew that I would be traveling in that I would maybe be in different time zones and they were also very respective with that. So I think it was finding these customers that were really aligned with that place. I was in my life and respectful of that and also knowing that I would deliver the best work always. So that was interesting to kind of find those customers that I was excited to take. On another thing that was very interesting and I think I talked a little bit about money, was that I learned that I could live with much less than I ever thought I could, especially in a lot of foreign countries its way way cheaper to live. And so they gave me the opportunity to just, like, enjoy the places. I was in and not have to work much in knowing that the amount I was spending. While traveling for everything was way cheaper than what I was spending before traveling. So yeah, I guess that kind of like summarizes working and traveling I guess, I guess the last thing I would say is like I think I mentioned this before is like the creativity that kind of inspires you while you're traveling to go to all of these amazing museums and the getting the culture, and the local art scene of, all of these places was definitely really inspiring to me. And I found myself like wanting to try personal projects and to just like it just opened my mind. I just left me feeling like really positive in a creative way that sometimes I think as a creative person it's hard because we sometimes it's hard to be creative, right? Like you wake up in the morning, really good. I don't feel like it. And so I felt like, I really just always had this like, on on whether it was me just brainstorming ideas or doing personal or customer work.

Sam: So I love that you talked about your experience about like you know, what was it? What it was like sitting in court like in corporate sitting at a desk, you know, a structure and then from you transitioning into a more like flexible environment, where you really took control and power over your own schedule and the projects that you got to got to pursue. And I had a question about creativity and like designers what what helps you get out of that Designer rut or that Designer flock? Like what brings you what gets you inspired?

Dianne: Um it's an interesting question now because I feel like I'm at this place in my career where I would consider myself like an expert in a lot of the things I'm doing. And so It does come pretty naturally. Now when I sit down and I'm like, okay I plan out my day, I know this is when I'm doing deep work time and when I do when I get into deep work, if I'm actually designing like that is my happy place because I know what I'm doing, I feel confident in what I'm doing and it's like just a switch for me these days if you I think about like at the beginning of my career sitting at that desk, like it's definitely hard to get into that creative pattern. I think that early on in my career, something that was great was having co-workers design, co-workers to brainstorm ideas, or if I get stuck to just say, hey, like what do you think of this? I definitely think in the agency, when I was in the small agency, the designer that I worked closely with, like, I think we would brainstorm a lot in me at a really good Rhythm. So I think, especially if you just have that one person, you can go to and kind of like open that space of getting feedback or just like, hey, I'm in this right, do just have like 10 minutes to just brainstorm or take a look at my designs. I think that's really, really impactful and you know, that is what we try to do at The Design Project. A big part of TDP is we say we have this agency and that means that the designers come together weekly and get to share the designs. They're working on getting feedback on maybe places that they're struggling. And I guess that is the number one thing I would recommend. I didn't know that's where I was going when I started this. But yes, I would say definitely having other designers to brainstorm is probably the best way to get out of that design RUT.

Sam: You kind of answered my next question that I was really curious to learn more about like out of your experiences, you know, in these different work environments what are the pros and cons of each? I love that. You talked about like, sometimes having another designer on the team would really, I don't know, like, have the ability to like bounce ideas off of what was your freelancing experience, like, like working on your own, maybe in a different country, how is that experience?

Dianne: So, yes, I was definitely alone in that and that world and I definitely was selling myself on things that maybe I wasn't as experienced as I sold myself as so a lot of that was definitely doing a lot of research doing a lot of diving into the programs I was using back, then, it was still Creative Cloud. So we were still designing your designing UI and like Photoshop. I spent a lot of time researching best practices and that is actually probably another big thing that I do with everything. Anything creative I think about, I'm trying, I'm building like a tiny home and I pull inspo. inspiration and research is probably like The number one place for me to start on any project and so by seeing what others have done, it just gives me inspiration and ideas. I can just like on top of that go even deeper. So I'm constantly like looking at what other people have done, and what best practice today, we call them best practices. What they are today to see what what I could could do. So, I definitely spent a lot of time, just like researching and Diving deep into what were web best practices back then.

Sam: I love that you started talking about you know the kind of like the places are your methodology defining inspiration? Do you have any like go to sites or maybe blog posts or websites that you typically use to look for inspiration?

Dianne: So, for ux the place that I usually go to get my tips and tricks' Nielsen Norman Group Armand, group, they've been around forever and I think they are just very focused on best practices, nothing trendy. Like it's like set in stone. It's like what's Based on data based on Research. This is proven and I really appreciate that from a ux perspective. UI highly suggest looking at current products whether they are usually competitors. What's out there, I we all kind of hopped on that dribble Bandwagon for a while and ripples great-looking stuff. But functionality-wise, it's I think it kind of misses the mark As far as following great UI with pairing it with ux. And so a lot of times when I'm pulling inspo, I'm looking at current products. I have been using the app Mobin recently, where it has a lot of IOS and Android screenshots of a ton of different products and that's been really useful. So, I don't have to actually download them or pay for them. I can literally just go to this website. So, right now. Those are the two that come to my mind.

Sam: I also love that you talked about I think at the beginning of our conversation, you talked about how you pretty much saw the boom of ux and just the field of ux starting to form itself. What was that? Like in that experience? Like, I know there are a lot of terms that just kind of pop up. Like here and there, but, you know, maybe maybe it wasn't like a maturity to the industry yet, by love, to hear more about your experience, about being able to see that boom of UX and UI.

Dianne: It just evolved. Like I don't think there was ever this moment where I was like, oh, this is UI/UX and this is what I do. And this is how much money I'm going to make by doing it. I think, in hindsight now, it's very much, it is these trendy terms and it is almost thought of as, like, it's been around forever. And it hasn't. And so, a lot of the times when I am talking about, you UI UX, especially with customers. I don't use those trendy terms because I think it's a lot of our customers aren't and that space and don't understand. And I don't know, I guess I've just like gotten out of that habit and I just try to bring everything down to as real of a level as possible and just talk like a straightforward as possible so everyone can understand. So I definitely don't find myself like using all of those terms. I think some of them are really popular and make sense but Maybe what UX has kind. Of course our ux/ui product design has brought to the industry. And one of the reasons why I say, I love product design versus graphic design. Me personally, is because it is combining like the psychology of people and it is understanding people and showing empathy for people and that was never something that really existed. Like, we would just say this is the brand. This is how we're going to do it. This is what it is maybe what UX has kind. Of course our ux/ui product design has brought to the industry. And one of the reasons why I say, I love product design versus graphic design. Me personally, is because it is combining like the psychology of people and it is understanding people and showing empathy for people and that was never something that really existed. Like, we would just say this is the brand. This is how we're going to do it. This is looking back at it that now that we can is popular and it is a job or we get to ask for people's opinions and build designs Based on data and best practices gives it just more. And it's also like I say a lot of the times like you and I just had a customer meeting actually and we were going back and forth with our customers like what's the right answer? And we're like, none of us know, we can go in circles all day, but let's put it in front of some users and test it before we build it. And when you and I brought that up like the ta-da, that's a great idea. And so, I think that's probably like, what has pushed me even further into this product design ui/ux field is being able to still be creative and use colors and now animations and web three, and all these amazing things that the web does. And also combine that with building something that users can actually.

Sam: Yeah. Yeah. I love everything that you said about that. It's almost like and I had an added extra layer 2 design where it becomes almost strategizing in addition, to being the UI work like designing the actual interfaces and the color palettes and the graphics and the interactions, right? So I love that you talked a lot about like, in hindsight, like, looking back at the industry and your experience. Where do you see the design industry going? What's your, do you have any predictions for the future or

Dianne: I think the design industry is going to change a lot and that it's not going to be visual so thinking of Alexa and self-driving cars and all of these things that are coming out, they all use ux and they need ux And that's so kind of a new field like bringing ux into voice. But like in addition to also bringing in other ways of Designing and using empathy and best practices, I think product designers still very much can be in that world as well. I also think that accessibility is becoming more and more popular for good reason, because a lot of the time early on, we were just building for the one person, the one set of people and as we know, there are tons of people with tons of different accessibility needs and I mean even outside of product design, just like every everyone is just focusing more on accessibility and I think that's really important. So I definitely also see the need to build more for accessibility people. People with accessibility differences and I mean things like building for the older generations and as people age like, so using technology and they love technology, but they might not be able to click the buttons in the same way that they used to. And the colors might not look as clear. And so that's definitely a huge one. I see continuing to kind of build from there. I would definitely say crypto, I know right now crypto is kind of being thrown for a loop but me personally, having been able to design for some blockchain and crypto companies, there's just a lot of its kind of like, outer space. It's like or like when the.com era, like, no one knows how to design. No one knows what's even there. And so that's kind of exciting to be able to build for kind of industry That never existed and just kind of building it from scratch. So yeah, I guess those three I would say, are the future in my mind.

Sam: Yeah, that's crazy. To be able to live in a world where maybe as product designers, you could be building like holograph Holograms, or something like that or like maybe like, from your experiences from freelancing to starting your own company. I think that is so interesting. And I've, I share like I know for myself at least like the goal is to ultimately be able to lead a team or maybe just make an impact at like a startup company or something like that, right? So I would love to hear more about, you know, your experience you were talking about in the pandemic, kind of came to this, aha moment that you wanted to run the ship yourself and not want to work work for anyone else. What was the, what was the thing that sparked at that thought?

Dianne: You know, I think what sparked it is that I had been working with a lot of startups. Whether it was just freelancing. I was full time at a start-up for a year during that period and just that startup mentality and the passion that comes with from those Founders like they come up with this idea and they get to start something. And so I always had this idea in the back of my mind that I like the idea of starting something, I had no idea that was like, oh, I just, I like that idea. And so t was logical that as a designer if I started something that incorporated a design that was already my passion and what I was doing that, that would be a great thing. I didn't know what that looked like. I knew there was an agency component because that's what I had been doing. I was bringing freelance designers to help me do that. And Alex was really the one to come up with kind of like taking a spin on what an agency is and that's also something like what's current it was like doing all this research. What's currently out there? What's in this space? How can we take that idea and play off of in spin-off? It and do something new and do something different. So when Alex first pitched me this the subscription, you can ask him. I was like, no like that doesn't feel right, that's not how it works. Um, and then slowly, I was like, that's great, that's not how it works. Like that's why it makes sense. In it it actually it took me quite a while to kind of like jump on that bandwagon but the more and more I thought about it I was like some of the hardships and the really hard things about starting with an agency is all of the paperwork, understanding the scope, understanding all these things. That was very, very opposite of working in a startup space things change so rapidly, you can't define that you can't work on that like you're going to have to have designers jump around. So once I warmed up to the idea and I was like okay this does sound great, you know, we did a lot of exercises we sits and together we brainstormed what this would look like we tested. We had some designers early on that we're working with us kind of trying to build this model out of nothing and a lot of it was just taking that current UI UX process and building it for our structure and using best practices and things that I knew and Alex knew from business and other designers opinions and just bringing it all together to build an internal process and so TDP definitely evolved quite a bit. we still have that subscription-based model. But now we have that process that we all follow and we have resources for designers to be able to do these things quicker and templates and everything like that. And I think that's really what has allowed us to to get to this point that we are today is the differentiation and also like the devotion that we all have to like building a better process and making things easier for designers. So, it's definitely been some little bit of challenge, kind of taking on your own company. I work a lot, so very opposite of my freelance., traveling the world working part-time days, but it's really awesome to be working on something that's my own or that I share a passion with all of these people that are also a part of the team. I'm very much about like ownership. And I want people that TDP to also feel like they have that ownership and they're growing and expanding and learning and doing all the things that I think that I'm also doing it TDP, I would say the hardest thing is that I'm doing a lot less design and a lot of unknowns. So I think you asked me the question of like, how do I get into that design mode? And I said, you know, it comes really naturally right now. Like, I've just been doing it for so long, but what doesn't come naturally is accounting. Or Managing teams of people, understanding, customers, understanding churns, understanding customer success. All these things that are new to me that I have to learn from scratch are exciting but also very, very exhausting and it's like, I feel like I'm constantly like, oh, I'm feeling, I'm feeling, sometimes I'm not sometimes I feel, okay? So it's definitely it's hard in that sense. It's also hard is like, you kind of feel like you have this company's weight on your shoulders and while it's a good thing, sometimes it's like a heavy load to carry. So I wouldn't change it for the world but I definitely think it takes a specific kind of person to kind of decide to become a founder and really be able to stick with it and push through the hard times, no matter what. And continue to just push IT.

Sam: Absolutely, that's so awesome. And you're doing a great job. Dianne, everybody a TDP, we all love you...

Dianne: I appreciate the good words because sometimes it's hard but also just to add to that as you know is TDP were very much about feedback. That's also super important to me. So being on open and having people come to me and tell me things and I need to be doing better and me being able to go to the team and tell them where I think that they need to improve is also really, really important to me and I think that's also led to TDP success. We're all just so open and honest with each other but I think that's also helped a lot in our success.

Sam: Can you tell? What can you tell me a little bit about your challenges of building a team like going from, you know, you as a designer to maybe building your team of like designers to now building ultimately a company with many designers?

Dianne: It definitely feels like imposter syndrome. You know? I started bringing on freelance designers and working my way up and starting TDP hiring other designers. And I always just felt like that's really hard to lead people. And a lot of the times managers they're just kind of like they get like from a designer standpoint it's like you girl just in your designer and then you become a manager and a lot of Industries. It's like that. You just get to a point where, like, okay, now you can become a manager managing people is hard and there's a a lot of things behind it that they don't teach you. And so I have read so many books. I've done so much research and I really want to become a good manager and I want to become a manager based on some of the past experiences I've had with managers and differences that I want to do. Asking friends that have been managers that are managers. I'm just constantly trying to get as much knowledge as I can to be better at bringing on more designers and managing them. So some of the really big things that I guess I've learned is I definitely like to hold people's hands. I want to make sure they're okay and I want to be like hey can you do this or I'll help you do this? What I'm learning is I just need to go let them fail and try again, instead of feeling like I have to get them to a good point, because I really think that we're learning comes in is when you have that time to try hard to figure out and you get frustrated and you can't figure out and then you do in that, ah-huh moment. So I think like pushing my designers, go try it, it's gonna be hard you're gonna fail and I really think that that's a huge learning that I've had. I also think that learning about the designers growth path and really where they see themselves and building out the plan for them. I think that a lot of designers feel stuck or they don't know when to ask for that raise or they don't when no one to ask for that promotion. And just having those conversations often about like where do you see yourself? Like how can we get you there? What skills do you want to learn and working through that and just being really open about that has also been really important in kind of leading a managing. The last thing is hiring. Hiring is also very hard. I know applying to jobs is hard and I know it's a really tough space and I know a lot of times, it feels bad and you just keep applying you don't hear anything. And I know that. I will say on the other side of the table, it's also very hard. I like feeling connections with these people, but maybe they're not a good fit, and then I have to let them down. Like that's really hard for me. And I'm trying to just like, get better because knowing if I don't tell them that or if I take them on. Because I like them, even they don't think they're going to be a good fit. It's going to be bad for everyone. So I think that we now have a much better process of hiring. And we have, we have a list of kind of our values be called, our DNA that we want all of the team to really kind of fall into, and to respect. And to also feel passionate about. So we ask specific questions and we don't do like before I was like, oh hey, this is just a casual interview, let's just chat. And now I'm like, okay here set of questions. I want to ask you that are interviewing because I need to make sure that you can answer them in the way that we need to be answered to hire. So that's been huge to is kind of bringing that hiring process and being able to make sure we're weeding out. The people that are just not the best position, not dress fit for that position for so many different reasons. Not that they're not great designer or not, they're not a great person, just they're not a good fit for a TDP or just for the position or for whatever. And then really also kind of bringing on people that we think are always that are raising the bar. So yeah, I think those three things are what I've learned about managing um, in the past 2-3 years, that of, it's been very hard. But we got there, we got there.

Sam: That's awesome. I love that. It's in today's session. We talked a lot about your experience from, you know, going through as a graphic designer starting your first job, incorporating first, big girl job, and then moving into the freelancing world. And then to really just deciding that you wanted more for yourself and jumping into like starting your own company. I also love that we talked a lot about where you find inspiration as a designer and all of your environments and a little bit about TDP and what it's like to be a Founder on the others and the yeah, founder and like an employer. I guess on the other side of the table for the people that are designers and looking for a job. So I wanted to ask like what is the future for TDP? What's your vision?

Dianne: On TDP we want to build an agency that's accessible for everyone again that keyword accessibility. So that's really kind of this mission that we've redefined is like we want to build for the small company for anyone in any It's building some product that they that users are going to use. We want to make sure that all users have a great experience, so that really is our mission and we're just continuing to build on top of that building better processes, testing processes, and building platform potentially TDP could be a platform where you're the designer and the customer are have an interface and that's how they communicate. And there's a lot of Automation and things just to make the designer in the customers way easier. Like, let's put something on the calendar. It happens automatically or just chatting in a different way. There's just so many things we can do there. We also are trying to think of places that TDP can go, where else can we go, how can maybe there's other things outside of the agency world that that TD`P can become? You know, there's a lot of templates out there, like, how can we template eyes are process? How can we sell more things to help designers get better at designing and less at wasting their time? So I think it's all focused on the designer in the customer and we're just open to brainstorming other ways that TDP can kind of work in that space. So, yeah, if you're a part of TDP, you know, we're always testing and, like, coming up with weird ideas and throwing them to the wall and see if they stick.

Sam: Yes we do a lot of testing iterating and back to the drawing board. But that's the most fun about TDP is that environment to do. So I have a final question for you. Dianne is where do you see yourself growing as a designer and a founder, and a professional?

Dianne: I think that my growth is with TDP, I think whatever changes, whatever new ideas we come to, its me learning and growing and trying new things. So I definitely think like TDP is my future and I want to continue to see it through and continue to build upon it and build all the amazing things we're doing. And I think that's one of the great things about founding being a Founder is like, it definitely feels like my baby. And I definitely want to continue through hard times and good times and continue to test what TDP can potentially become.

Sam: Awesome, thank you so much. Dianne. There were so many topics that you talked about that. I wanted to dive deeper in, but I know we're short on time, so maybe the next time or at some point, we can dive a little bit deeper. Yeah. Thank you so much. Dianne for hopping on and sharing a little bit about your story and your journey.

Dianne: Thank you, Sam. It was awesome to chat more with you and kind of open up and answer some of your questions. So I really appreciated it. Thank you so much and I look forward to doing this again.

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