Ep. 508 – Travis Lowdermilk, Principal UX Researcher at Microsoft, on how Moments can Make or Break a Customer Experience

This episode is in collaboration with QUAL360 North America. 

Our guest is Travis Lowdermilk, Principal UX Researcher at Microsoft and author of The Customer-Driven Playbook and User-Centered Design.

We are thrilled to have you on the show. 

QUAL360 North America:

  • Date: March 8-9, 2022
  • Location: Washington D.C. — Gallup World Headquarter

Find Travis Online:

Find Jamin Online:

  • Email: jamin@happymr.com 

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Music: 

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[00:00:00]

Jamin Brazil: Our guess today is Travis Lowdermilk, principle UX researcher at Microsoft and author of the Customer-Driven Playbook and User-Centered Design. Welcome to the Happy Market Research Podcast.

[00:00:16]

Travis Lowdermilk: Thank you for having me. It’s my pleasure.

[00:00:18]

Jamin Brazil: Support for the Happy Market Research Podcast and the following message comes from Michigan State’s marketing research program and HubUX. I’ve done hundreds of interviews with today’s top minds in market research. Many of them trace their roots to Michigan State’s marketing research program. Are you looking for a higher paying job, to expand your professional network, and to achieve your full potential in the world of market research? Today the program has tracks for both full-time students and working professionals. They also provide career support assisting students to win today’s most sought-after jobs. In fact, over 80 percent of Michigan State’s marketing research students have accepted job offers six months prior to graduating. If you are looking to achieve your full potential check out MSU’s program at BROAD. MSU. EDU/Marketing. HubUX is a research operations platform for private panel management, qualitative automation, including video audition questions, and surveys. For a limited time user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account visit HubUX.com. This is being done in conjunction with Qual360 North America. The title of that, it’s actually a live event, an in-person event, excuse me, in Washington, D. C., Empowering Insights through Emotions. I can’t wait to be in person again. Your topic is “Moment Makers: How to win over your products teams.” I love that. Give us a sneak peek.

[00:01:57]

Travis Lowdermilk: Yeah. So this is a talk that I’ve given a couple of venues and I’m very excited. Fingers crossed that we’re able to get together in person in D. C. and I can look at folks’ eyeballs and see their faces as I reveal this content to them. But a sneak peek of it. So basically it’s this notion that I kind of came across about a year ago. I came across a book by Chip and Dan Heath called The Power of Moments. And what they talk about is all the neuroscience and psychology behind experiences that leave a lasting and memorable impression on us. And you know in some cases these moments could be small, a kind word from a colleague at just the right time or they can be momentous like a wedding or a birth of a child. And so what I started to appreciate is that ultimately our lives and our work is kind of defined and shaped by moments. They happen all around us and they define the way we behave, they influence the decisions we make, and they certainly shape how we perceive the world. And so when you really kind of think about it and you start to appreciate how powerful all these moments can be, you realize that often times if we’re smart they don’t happen by accident. And so as a UX researcher, what I’ve learned throughout my career is that really I’m kind of in the business of creating powerful moments for my product teams, for our leadership team to help engineer those moments so that they walk away with memorable and sticky insights based on what we’re learning from our customers. And so I kind of came across this idea, kind of put it together with what we do as UX practitioners, and it’s something I’m really excited about, something I’m really passionate about. It’s really helping us understand that you know each of us has the power to be a moment-maker in the work that we do.

[00:03:43]

Jamin Brazil: So user experience is really about creating these moments for the user, in which case they have some sort of an emotional outcome. Is that what I’m hearing?

[00:03:51]

Travis Lowdermilk: Well yeah, certainly. I mean if you look at it from the customer lens or the user lens, we’re all incumbent if we’re product makers and it doesn’t really matter if you’re making digital products or physical products. Our goal is to delight the customer, right, and create a moment for them. So when you think of customer experience and those sorts of things, certainly moments are at play. What I kind of have done is to kind of turn the lens more inwardly. Folks like designers, UX researchers, market researchers, we’re often the conduit between what the customer desires and what the business desires. And so we find ourselves in these moments with our product teams, our leadership teams where we have to kind of convey to them what’s happening with our customers. And sometimes even in the case of – depending on how large your organization is, what’s happening with other product teams. And so it takes a great deal of empathy not just for our customers but also on the other side of the glass if you would, of our UX labs is the teams dynamics, right, and the power dynamics that are there. And kind of acknowledging that, recognizing it, and kind of realizing that to break through with our product teams or break through with our leadership teams you really do have to engineer moments for them as well so that they get those insights; that they become kind of elevated above the fray, above all the noise of signals that are coming in. So really yeah, you’re absolutely right. You know our duty to create powerful moments for our customers but I would argue that it’s also our duty to create powerful moments for our products teams and our leadership teams as well.

[00:05:15]

Jamin Brazil: Do you find that – and this is a little bit of a personal question. Do you find that muscle that you’ve been developing over the last decade or two of being a moment creator, it bleeds out even into your personal relationships?

[00:05:29]

Travis Lowdermilk: Certainly. I mean I look at raising two boys. I have a 15-year-old and an 11-year-old. And you know their lives are shaped and defined by moments. And you know when you think of being a parent, it’s about showing up in those moments in meaningful ways, right. And so yeah, absolutely. There’s – what you start to realize and I can’t recommend this book enough, The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath again. When you look at it from the lens of our day-to-day interactions, certainly in the work context; even in our personal context, you really start to appreciate that there’s all these little defining moments that happen. And that you have an opportunity to elevate those moments. And so what Dan and Chip Heath talk about is that essentially what is a moment? So we keep throwing this word around and say OK, well I get it. You know it might be something small and innocuous or it might be this momentous thing but ultimately they break down moments as these four kind of critical things that are happening. A moment is elevated for instance. It feels a little bit different than just getting coffee in the morning or that kind of thing. There’s something about it that is substantial that makes you – gives you pause. Also a moment develops insight. It gives you information perhaps that you didn’t have before. In a work context, ideally these moments create pride. They give you a sense of purpose or a sense of yeah, we’re on the right mission. Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet. I know the product teams that I work with, that I’ve been blessed to work with at this company, they really are driven by that. They really want to feel like the work that they’re doing is driving that level of impact. So there is a great sense of pride in that. And then finally great moments, powerful moments create connection. They create connection with our customers and they break through. If you’re an engineer writing code on a computer screen it’s that moment of seeing the customer actually use the product that you’ve slaved over and have a delightful experience. That creates that sense of connection. That brings all of these things together. And so when we kind of start to think about it a little bit more strategically, it really does affect the work that we do. As a UX researcher it affects the way I present my work for instance. Rather than developing pages and pages of reports that may – that I might send through an inbox and cross my fingers that folks on the other end will actually read it and devour the information, I realize that I have to elevate those moments a little bit more. So I might have to for instance include video clips of a customer struggling with a product so that folks can actually see with their own eyes, hear with their own ears the customer express it in their own words. That elevates it beyond a written quote on a page. I have to work hard mediating between product teams to make sure that there’s connection there; that I’m not caught in between engineering and design for instance or marketing and business and engineering and these sorts of things. So the work that I try to do I really do process it through that lens. Am I elevating the moment; am I creating insight; am I engineering pride in what we’re doing; and am I connecting others.

[00:08:14]

Jamin Brazil: It’s so interesting. And you’re right, product reviews are all about the moments. It’s about the feelings we create. It’s interesting. I hadn’t actually thought of it like this, but even at a team level it’s about the manufacturing or the engineering I should say for the opportunities for moments. In a lot of ways it sounds like a skill that you’ve been cultivating over a period of time. Is there a way to institutionalize that inside of your team so that other people can like learn and eventually be able to do it?

[00:08:47]

Travis Lowdermilk: Yeah. So I love that question because it’s something that our team think a lot about. I have the great fortune of working in the developer division here at Microsoft. And I think I’m a bit bias here but I think one of the best UX research teams on the planet led by Dr. Monty Hammontree. And we spent a lot of time thinking about how to scale these kinds of things. We take the insights that we gather from teams that are working well together and developing good products and we learn often times that there’s these kinds of human components that often aren’t written about in business books that really make teams click, connect with one another, and ultimately create a great work. So then we’ve kind of turned our researcher lens not only obviously we’re incredibly focused on customers and what they need but it’s almost impossible to not turn that lens on our own product teams and see what they need as well. And so that’s what inspired us to write the Customer-Driven Playbook initially and then our follow-up book Monty and I wrote, the Customer-Driven Culture, which dives into I think what you’re describing, which is what kind of culture do you need on the ground to truly be customer-driven. I know that customer empathy is the new black. Everybody is talking about it, being more connected to customers is certainly a very popular topic at the moment. And what we were investigating is like what kind of culture do you need on the ground to truly be customer-driven. And it turns out that you need a learning culture for instance. You really do need a culture that is – that celebrates learning and not knowing. And we talk a lot about that, you know growth mindset and these sorts of things. And depending on the organization that you’re in or the team that you’re on, maybe that’s a little bit lip service. It’s like a thing that we aspire to do but we operate with all these belonging cues that suggest that really still knowing and being right is ultimately the currency of the realm. And so we’re intentional again in these moments. So I’ll give you an example. Let’s imagine we’re having an all-hands where everybody in the division is getting together. Our leadership team is intentional about who we invite on stage. Of course we’re going to invite folks on stage that are doing great product work because it’s important for all of our colleagues to see the great products that we’re producing and some of the innovation that we’re working on. But they’re also intentional to bring on folks on stage to share other moments. So for instance we might have a junior-level program manager come up on stage to share a story about how they did something innovative to better connect with customers and hear their stories. And so what we’re trying to communicate, what we’re doing is we’re trying to send a very strong belonging cue to the rest of the organization that yeah, shipping products is important. Let’s be clear. We need to ship on time and all these kinds of things. We are a business. But learning is also incredibly important too. And we can value that just as much if not more quite frankly than shipping on time. So we often say an invalidated hypothesis is just as powerful and just as important as a validated one. So you might have a product team that investigates a particular area of business for three months and they ultimately come back to the organization and say you know what, there’s no there there. There’s no place for us to play, to win, and those sorts of things. And we need to get better as organizations to not throw up our hands and say well, I guess you wasted three months of your professional career there. You got nothing out of it. And we need to really get better at embracing those moment as a strong belonging cue to the rest of the product teams to say no, actually you told us where not to play. And that’s incredibly valuable and incredibly important.

[00:12:04]

Jamin Brazil: When you think about the next generation, Gen Z and even Gen Alpha, their level of exposure and opportunity for knowledge and experience is so much greater than any previous generation, especially given the fact that we are probably moving to some sort of regular cadence of shelter in place. Is that – I mean I’ll give you a good example. My six-year-old, last year is his first year in school, so grade one. And it was all online. And he didn’t know any different so he thought it was great. We would pack his lunch and he would fill his backpack up and he would walk over to his – and this is going to sound like an infomercial. I don’t mean it like that but he would open up his Microsoft Surface, I think it is right?

[00:12:49]

Travis Lowdermilk: Fantastic. It is an infomercial.

[00:12:53]

Jamin Brazil: And log into his Teams by himself. And it was like this complex password, multi character and he just navigated the whole thing really well. And he is f’in six-years old.

[00:13:09]

Travis Lowdermilk: So I think what you’re referring to is – you know it’s so funny that you mentioned this because I’ve been hearing this term all this week and I was familiar with the term but for some reason this week it just keeps coming up is the digital native.

[00:13:18]

Jamin Brazil: Yeah, that’s right.

[00:13:19]

Travis Lowdermilk: Next generation of digital natives. These are the young people who came out of the birth canal with a phone in their hands.

[00:13:25]

Jamin Brazil: Yep, that’s right.

[00:13:26]

Travis Lowdermilk: They know how to use it.

[00:13:27]

Jamin Brazil: That’s exactly right.

[00:13:29]

Travis Lowdermilk: And if you talk about – in fact, both of my children unfortunately are home today because both of their schools are closed down as a result of the pandemic. So they find themselves back to doing remote learning. My wife is a teacher. So I’ve got to watch her firsthand try to teach students remotely and all that sort of stuff. So this is certainly an area that’s close to my heart. When you think about the next generation of work and kind of where this is all kind of leading us, right, is I’m a Gen Xer so I came up in the world of – I got to straddle both worlds. I lived in a world before technology consumed everything and then I get to live in a world where technology is all around me. And it’s easy to kind of pull out my lawn chair and gripe about how we don’t have enough interpersonal communication anymore and how no one looks at each other anymore when they’re talking and these sorts of things. I wouldn’t go so far to say that. There’s a lot that excites me about the capability that we do have. And it’s not because I work at a technology company and folks are using Teams or Zoom or what have you. There’s another lens to put on this that it really is amazing that we were able to stay connected, and some might argue the level of connection and I understand that but stay connected and still – with each other despite some of the challenges. But when you think about how folks, these digital natives and what they’re coming into the work context for, it’s still – some of the research is showing that we’re about 50/50. There are still many folks that still want to return back to the office and they desperately miss that human connection. And that spans across ages. So it’s not a generational thing, particularly young people who are starting their careers need much more face time. They certainly reported that. And so as we think about moments in that context, is that really creating powerful moments that connect us is even more important than ever. And thinking more innovatively about how we do that. So like we had to completely translate our in-person workshop. We do quarterly workshops with our product teams where we walk them through our whole customer-driven playbook and our customer-driven way, approach of doing work. It’s a three-and-a-half-day workshop. And we did that all in-person. And one of the big selling points is boy, this is awesome. We all get to get together in a room and I get to spend time with folks that I don’t often get a chance to spend time with and we get classic Post-It notes that every UXer loves and cover the walls and all that sort of stuff. And it was really distressing when the pandemic – in fact I was in the middle of a workshop when they sent out a note telling us all we needed to go home. And it was very uncertain about how we would recreate this kind of moment for our product teams going forward. And we were able to successfully transition it to online. And I think a big part of that is because what we realized is there were some key components in the moments that we were creating that really were independent of whether we did it in person or online. And those things being like working on work that matters for instance; not coming in hypothetical work example for everyone to do. We’re going to build a balsa bridge and work on a teamwork – you know, not to suggest that those exercises aren’t important and –

[00:16:22]

Jamin Brazil: Adds some value.

[00:16:23]

Travis Lowdermilk: They have some value but something that stood out to us was boy, folks really love getting together, working on work that’s going to matter that’s going to drive impact. And so we really need to make sure that the activities we give them give them the ability to actually do “real work” that the leadership will see. Leadership involvement was still obviously very important. So our leaders would dial in on Teams and they would present over Teams and they would get on camera to show that their face was visible and that they were there and that they were connected and that they cared about the work that was being done. And these are new employees that had just joined the division. Again, getting back to that belonging cue. The leadership team makes time in their day because they realize that these are new employees and they want to see that their leadership cares about being customer-driven. And so these new employees get a chance to spend time with our customers. Some of them it’s the first time they’ve ever talked to a customer. And then they get a chance at the end of the workshop to look the leadership team in the eye for the very first time for many of them. They’ve never had a chance to have a meeting with senior-level executives and tell them what they learned from the customer. And our leadership, Amanda Silver and Julia Liuson, they do a great job of showing up in those moments despite their busy schedules because they know that they’re powerful and they elevate and they create insight, pride, and connection. And so that’s the kind of work that’s required if you’re a moment-maker.

[00:17:35]

Jamin Brazil: Yeah, it’s all around the intentionality of knowing you want to create the moment and then engineering and designing for that moment to actually take place. What I found really interesting almost categorically is that people want to be led there. And so whether it’s executive-level management or someone who just is a brand-new employee, they’re all willing if that path is carved for them to make that journey. There’s not a lot of risk as long as you put the effort into creating that path.

[00:18:06]

Travis Lowdermilk: Yeah, so to build off your point, you’re talking about there’s this notion of engineering moments. And certainly I talk a lot about that. But I think you’re raising a good point in that is something that we all can do today is simply just acknowledging that these moments exist and taking advantage of them. And so example of a moment that was quite profound that wasn’t certainly engineered is I think back in 2018, some of your listeners may remember this but the Tham Luang cave in Thailand. We have those young boys. They were ages 11 to 14. They were on the soccer team, the Wild Bores, and they were stuck in that cave back in July. And I was traveling in Canada at the time and I remember everybody at the hotel was just riveted. We were all watching the television as they were trying to reach these poor kids that were stuck in this cave. It was all anybody could talk about. I remember continually checking my phone looking for updates, did we get them, did we get them. And if you remember Elon Musk was trying to send a submarine over there and the whole world was captivated by this moment. And if you pause and you say well, young people and children especially are in distress all over the world all the time. What was it about this collection of young children or teens in this case that just captivated us? And I would argue that there were some key elements to that. Number one, it was elevated certainly. It was a very distressing thought to think of these young boys stuck in a dark cave. But it also created an insight I think for all of us certainly as parents, of just the empathy of the families who were just out of reach of their children and couldn’t get to them. Something else started to happen where it was kind of really cool at least from my perspective is that the world kind of leaned into it and we kind of created this connection with Thailand and folks from all over the world were sending resources, their best engineers. We sent the US Navy Seals because we kind of looked at it as like hey, this is something we all can pitch in and try to – a situation that we could try to resolve. And thankfully we were able to do that. And so when you kind of think about it if you look at these moments with this lens, I’m confident that our listeners will find that in their day-to-day work they’re actually letting some of these moments pass them by that could be elevated, that could engender insight or pride or connection. So I would certainly encourage listeners to kind of think about that and think about perhaps moments that could have been better captured.

[00:20:22]

Jamin Brazil: There’s such an opportunity to leverage this for good and then there’s the flip side, which is leverage for bad. And you see specifically in the political realm right now where you have this constant state of polarization, which is in a lot of ways driven by just manufacturer – and I’m being careful to walk the line here because I’m not a political show but you might be able to make arguments on either side.

[00:20:53]

Travis Lowdermilk: Yeah, I would say that to me is distinctly different about those kinds of moments and depending on what side of the political spectrum you land on, I still feel like they feel like the same to us regardless of what side of politics you’re on. What’s different to me about those types of political moments is that they often divide for one so that don’t create that sense of connection. They are elevated and then tend to be – elevation tends to be kind of the signature kind of ingredient if you will, but not always do they necessarily create a level of insight that leads us to connection. And so I would agree with your sentiment that that’s where we have to be careful with moments certainly and treating them with their due respect. But when you really bring the four elements together, elevation, insight, and pride and connection, connection is the last one. If our moments aren’t bringing people together and they’re not creating insight between groups then I would argue they’re falling more on that dark pattern that you’re talking about.

[00:21:47]

Jamin Brazil: Oh my gosh, talk about a whole other podcast topic. We got to move through this so talk to me about what do you see as the biggest challenge facing consumer insights today?

[00:22:00]

Travis Lowdermilk: Oh boy. There’s so many. One that I’m really intentful on at the moment is as we navigate the last couple of years every industry is dealing with profound change and trying to grapple with it. Something that I have been really interested in is the way we talk to one another particularly in a work context and how do we share these insights in a meaningful way and how do we navigate difficult conversations and these sorts of things. So something that I think that UX practitioners, market researchers, designers, and the like where we’re really naturally kind of set up for success here is again really helping our teams have productive conversations with each other that generate insight and connection. So I think as we navigate being separated physically. That’s a key moment for us as practitioners that study human behavior to help our organizations navigate that discomfort in a successful way. So I certainly would encourage folks to think about particularly if you’re looking to develop more credibility in your career and that sort of thing or maybe you’re feeling like your organization doesn’t necessarily value the work you’re doing is perhaps look at it from an internal lens and say if I – you always have to stay focused on the customer because that’s where our business lies but are there opportunities where you can help some of these difficulties that all of our organizations are struggling with, with your skills in human behavior, studying human behavior, empathy, interpersonal communication and all these sorts of things. I think there’s a tremendous, tremendous opportunity for us as practitioners who have spent our lives dedicated to understanding human behavior as it relates to computing in the UX realm, but like what can we do with that to help our organizations be more collaborative, connect better, create psychological safety so folks can generate their best ideas and do their best work, and ultimately, help people find their purpose because I think it’s a really critical component to what we do as practitioners is helping people get up out of bed every day and know what they want to do. It’s so critically important, particularly now where folks are struggling and it’s hard. We get up and we got a lot of stuff on our plate that we never imagined we ever would. So I think it’s hard for folks to kind of remember when they show up and they sit down and look at their inbox and go why am I doing this. What was the point of all this. And we have a unique position I think to help folks remember that by helping them connect with their customers, helping them see the challenges that are out there that we’re best positioned to tackle, and hopefully help motivate them that their work does matter and that we have a unique opportunity to oh gosh, am I going to end it with this, but make the world a better place.

[00:24:32]

Jamin Brazil: I love it. Let’s do that. Can I infringe on your time for five more minutes?

[00:24:36]

Travis Lowdermilk: Of course. Why not?

[00:24:38]

Jamin Brazil: Well you might have.

[00:24:41]

Travis Lowdermilk: We’re not. I’m having fun. Let’s go.

[00:24:43]

Jamin Brazil: I’m having a great time too and I just feel like I will regret not asking you this question. So as a Gen Xer you remember a world of Sesame Street.

[00:24:57]

Travis Lowdermilk: Yes.

[00:24:58]

Jamin Brazil: And really very no technology to a world where now we’re immersed in technology. The internet when it launched really publicly in the ‘90s was thought of as kind of a place where people could post recipes or very static content is my point. And now it’s like – it’s crazy. It’s unbelievable how it’s impacted everything from the lights in our houses to the cars we drive to how we monitor our dogs. And so in that it’s been really impactful but we’re stepping into another stage, aren’t we, the metaverse.

[00:25:34]

Travis Lowdermilk: Yeah, the good ole metaverse.

[00:25:36]

Jamin Brazil: The good young metaverse.

[00:25:39]

Travis Lowdermilk: Yeah, I guess that more – a good young metaverse. Yeah.

[00:25:44]

Jamin Brazil: How are you thinking about that in context of experience or moments?

[00:25:49]

Travis Lowdermilk: Yeah, moments really. You know what’s interesting about the metaverse and VR and augmented reality and this sort of thing, obviously – well I shouldn’t say obviously. I think I enter this space with a little bit of trepidation. I think many of us in industry are looking at it maybe with a sideways glance of saying I’m not sure this is the right direction we should all be going in but I also want to be hopeful that we can create some really engaging experiences that delightful but most importantly that create that sense of connection I’ve been talking about. What’s interesting about – you can get down into the logistics of it and say OK, what kind of technology do we have to create that creates a safe space for folks to engage in a way that certainly makes them feel comfortable and at ease and safe, get into things like optic feedback and clipping in terms of how close can one avatar get to another before it’s not acceptable and then monitoring even the way we interact and communicate on these platforms, which has been a problem well before the metaverse. So I’m encouraged because I think you know there’s some really exciting work. I’m a technologist at heart so of course I fall in love with all the capability that technology affords us. I think what’s been interesting for me to kind of see happen from my perspective is that we were talking about digital natives earlier. And we have a generation of folks and really quite frankly more and more people as they get online is that we have a society that has access to more information and more avenues of communication than we could have ever imagined our species having. And what’s been so fascinating is that despite all that it does feel or I observe that we still struggle with poor communication. And perhaps it’s even exacerbated. So when you think about how we communicate, particularly when we have disagreement, how we talk to one another still is fundamentally the same way. So you and I are having a conversation right now. We might be having a what-happened conversation. This is actually from the book Difficult Conversations written by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Shelia Heen. They’ve done some phenomenal work. This book’s been out for a while so if you’re interested in this sort of thing definitely take a look at it, Difficult Conversations. But what they talk about is there’s three essential things that are happening in every conversation. There’s the what-happened conversation; there’s the feelings conversation; and there’s the identity conversation. So you and I are having a conversation right now and predominately like most folks we spend time talking about what happened. Is this happening; what happened before; is this going to happen; these sorts of things. There’s the feelings conversation where particularly in a business context we never spend time, in fact particularly in North America, we try to get feelings out of the equation as much as possible. But that’s usually actually what drives us and the topics that we choose to talk about, why we bring certain things up because we’re again, defined by moments and there’s a feeling that compels us to talk about such a thing. Then there’s the identity conversation, which is even deeper, which is what does this mean to me that we’re talking about it. And so as we transfer over the metaverse where potentially you can have any identity that you want to try on, which is both exciting and exhilarating but also I don’t know. I have a big question mark of what does that mean for human interpersonal communication when I can take on a fictional avatar. It could be profound, it could be great, it could be liberating. It also could be as we referenced earlier, used for a dark pattern of sorts and it could be harmful. But I think it’s really going to come down to those three components. It’s really about exploring what happened and being able to look at truth for instance. That’s something we could have a whole other podcast on is like how do you find truth in an information-saturated world. It’s about our feelings, getting better as a society and more comfortable, particularly here in North America talking about our feelings and being OK with expressing feelings. I’m really encouraged and really delighted to see millennials and Gen Zers getting more comfortable and outspoken and vocal about their feelings. I think it’s great. I think it’s long overdue. And then thinking about identity and what identity we bring to the context and being open and receptive to others’ identity and how they see themselves and how they want to be seen and ensuring that we’re doing that in a healthy way. And so if we’re able to achieve that in the metaverse and we focus on those kinds of components and we create a space not of a way to escape reality but to better – to augment it and perhaps even get better at communication, then I think I’m all for it. I would definitely be encouraged for folks that are doing work in that capacity. It’s when we get into that kind of escapism and trying to move the cheese as it were, we’re saying we don’t communicate very well in meet space, so let’s go into virtual space and maybe we’ll toss a digital frisbee and we’ll have a better conversation over there, I tend to be a little bit dubious. So that’s my take for what it’s worth, my two cents. But it’s certainly a fascinating space and Microsoft and others are certainly invested in it. It’s not a question of if it’s happening; I think it’s a question of when and how. But it definitely for all of us as practitioners is something we should keep our eye on and particularly if you are in the business of human behavior, I really implore you to be vocal and really make sure that we’re doing right by what we know about human connection, human behavior, and human emotion that we make sure that we’re infusing those insights into those spaces as we develop them.

[00:30:57]

Jamin Brazil: My last question. What is your personal motto?

[00:31:00]

Travis Lowdermilk: All right. This one’s obnoxious. I have a fear that like either listeners have already stopped listening because they’re like gosh, this guy sounds like Mr. Rogers or speaking of I was more of a Mr. Rogers’ guy instead of a Sesame Street guy. So my personal motto, this is if I brought in either of my boys, and I’d say what’s our family motto? It’s work hard and help others. I feel like it really does boil down to that. We got to do our best work. It incumbent on us. That’s why we’re here. We got to push these hard rocks up hills. But if we’re not doing it in a way that really helps the people around us then you know it’s really for naught. And so what I always encourage them is hey man, do the work. You got to do the work. Come on, let’s go. We got to dig deep, we got to do the work but also let’s pause and reflect and make sure that the work that we’re doing, the rocks that we’re pushing up these hills are actually making the world a better place and helping other people. So that’s pretty short and sweet but that’s our family motto anyway.

[00:31:52]

Jamin Brazil: Our guest today has been Travis Lowdermilk, principle UX researcher at Microsoft and author of the Customer-Driven Playbook and User-Centered Design. He will be speaking at Qual360 North America. Again, the title of this particular one, in-person in Washington, D. C.: Empowering Insights Through Emotions. I hope you’ll come to the event, shake his hand, and make a new friend. Have a great rest of your day.