As designers, we are uniquely equipped with the skills to tackle any number of problems. Randy Ellis knows this, and our conversation really reflects just how much of his career and creative energy goes towards this very goal. We talked about his work through his consultancy, 5ivehat UX Agency, and then went into a spirited discussion on diversity in the design community. We also touched on design education and the for-profit university model, teaching at General Assembly, and even cryptocurrency! It's a great big world out there, and it's clear that Randy has what it takes to make an impact!
As designers, we are uniquely equipped with the skills to tackle any number of problems. Randy Ellis knows this, and our conversation really reflects just how much of his career and creative energy goes towards this very goal.
We talked about his work through his consultancy, 5ivehat UX Agency, and then went into a spirited discussion on diversity in the design community. We also touched on design education and the for-profit university model, teaching at General Assembly, and even cryptocurrency! It's a great big world out there, and it's clear that Randy has what it takes to make an impact!
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Maurice Cherry: All right, so tell us who you are and what you do.
Randy Ellis: Hi, my name is Randy Ellis. I am part-time lead instructor for General Assembly. Also run a consultancy called 5ivehat UX Agency out of Chicago, Illinois.
Maurice Cherry: Let's talk about 5ivehat. Where did that name come from?
Randy Ellis: Great question. Generally with all my names that I come up with, passion projects or businesses that I'm trying to spend up with having a entrepreneur background, 5ivehat came from an actual term that is used to describe how we organize data. So one of the terms is the 5ivehat racks and when you think about how data is organized is based on five criteria. So you think about what these five criteria are and is based on what we called the LATCH system. So L-A-T-C-H. So that is broken down into location, alphabetical, time, continuum and hierarchy.
Randy Ellis: So when we think about when we go to the grocery store or we're going to the airport and we're looking at the boards for our flight, our arrival or departure times, every information that we consume is based on these five criteria.
Randy Ellis: So if you're looking at alphabetical, then you're at, you know, the library. If you're looking at category, then things such as your shopping list or at the shopping center and you're looking for apparel or something of that nature. Starts off with a, for apparel and anything before or after that follows that. So, that's where that name came from. A lot of times when I tell people that, you start seeing their eyes glaze over, like "God, just get to the point."
Randy Ellis: But you know, that's kind of how my brain works when I'm thinking of names. I want them to have a deeper understanding rather than just me coming up with something that's whimsical or not just clever, but it does have meaning. So how that ties into 5ivehat is that when you're in the UX field, and that's my primary skillset, is we're all about the data. It's all about how we organize the data and how we use that data to make great experiences for businesses clients, for their users, their products and services.
Maurice Cherry: Nice. What does 5ivehat studio specialize in? You mentioned UX just briefly.
Randy Ellis: Yeah, so mainly that's our primary offering, user experience. And we break that down into other categories such as research, competitive analysis, prototyping, whether we're doing a form of information architecture where we focus on taxonomy or involving making better navigational experiences for an existing product that's in the market. Someone may come to us and say, "Hey, our users are dropping off when they land on our homepage, what is it that we can do?" So we may do a number of exercises internally first just to get their interpretation of how things are supposed to be categorized. And then from there we do external testing. And then we look at the two. We say, "Well this is how you view your menu. But when we did external testing with people that may use your product or may use a similar product, they may use their competitors' product. They see it in a different light."
Randy Ellis: So they may put the About Us page under a different section. They may put it in the company's tab rather than just having it by itself. So we shift and then we do some form of multivariant testing to see how people respond to that in the background. So we may not do a total conversion, but we may follow the whole frog in a pot analogy to where, "Hey, you just don't throw people in the deep end because they're going to be shocked. They're going to be jarred. They're not going to have the same intuitiveness when they visit your website. So you may pepper in a few variant pages that may reflect the changes and then see how people respond on it." Then after the testing is done, you come back to the table and say, "Hey, we had 75 people, they understood or they knew where to go exactly. While the other 25% kind of ended up diverting and going in a different direction" and then make it permanent or go in to another test.
Maurice Cherry: You know, it's amazing how many companies skimp on this kind of stuff. Before I started at my current company, I had my own studio called Lunch where I did design for nine years and I swear every single time I would present a client with something and there was some type of a research phase or a user testing phase or even wire frames. They just balked at it. They just wanted you to just jump right in and start making stuff and it's like, Oh, slow down. Like there's a reason that we're doing all this. It's so one, we don't have to do the work multiple times afterwards because you've changed your mind on stuff, but two, it helps to get as much information as possible so you're making informed decisions about the design and the placement and the layout and the architecture and not just doing it based on a feeling.
Randy Ellis: Trust me, this is going to be a constant struggle inside of the user experience space, the design thinking space, human center design, whatever label that we place our skill set in. It's mostly deadlines. I'll just put it plain and simple. For those that are listening to this, I'm pretty sure they start shaking their heads and saying, "Yeah, it's deadlines."
Randy Ellis: How I combat that in the business space is more of a quid pro quo approach. For example, I may have a client come in and say, "Hey, we need to do a four week sprint, but we don't have time for contextual inquiry. Meaning we don't have time to go out and test this in the field. We think that we know what it is that we want based on how customers or visitors are currently behaving on our platform or our service." And I receive that, because as our job as an empathetic person bringing empathy to the table, you can't just bat away existing data.
Randy Ellis: You have to say, "Okay, yeah, you know that that sounds good. I'm happy that you have a finger on the pulse. You're not someone just kind of shooting in the dark and hoping that you hit the target eventually." So I receive the fact that they do have data. However, once we put that data out there, the next step for me is to say, "Well, while we're exercising what it is that you want, I would still like to eventually at some point push out some form of focus group or some type of testing." Even though we've launched the product, we launched what it is that they want or that they think they want based on their data, but we still want to do some form of proxy, some form of alternative or auxiliary testing, if that makes any sense. To kind of like prove that their hunch is right.
Randy Ellis: So yeah, still do what they asked you to do based on their timeline and the stakeholder expectancy of this, but you have to come to the table and bargain with them. It comes down to a negotiation game. You can't naturally just say, "Okay, sure I'll do it" but then are you really being who you say you are in the role of user experience? We always combat our sales or we always use our arsenal of the why. The why factor. The five why's. Always saying, "Okay, well why do you think that? Okay and why is that?" And just you continue to peel back those layers until you really get to the root of the matter on why they feel like they know the answers.
Randy Ellis: So generally, I pride myself on this as saying, you know, no one, whether you're a designer or a non-designer and you know we're seeing these days where I have people that were in the hospitality industry coming out of my classes becoming junior UX designers. Had no skillset whatsoever and then they land these roles and that's taking nothing away from it. But we start to see where the landscape is going in terms of anyone can be a designer, but it's about how you think and how you interpret the data.
Randy Ellis: So I come with making sure you're not closing yourself off to the non-designers because you think that they're trying to design, but all they're trying to do is offer the data to you and you need to have an open mind and an open heart to that.
Maurice Cherry: So I hope people are listening. Open mind, open heart. What are the best types of clients for you to work with?
Randy Ellis: Believe it or not, I like people that don't know what they're doing. And what I mean by that is, I come from my background of being an entrepreneur. I started my own business in 2013 and it was in a position of where I didn't know what I was doing.
Randy Ellis: It was a fashion tech startup. And if you see how I dress, I am no terms a fashionista whatsoever, you know, a couple of Target shirts here and there and call it a day. I do collect sneakers, but outside of that, you know, I'm just more so like, "Hey just give me something casual. Nothing that has a ton of labels stuck all over it and I'm fine."
Randy Ellis: But I saw a problem in the market where it needed to be addressed and I went towards that trying to solve that problem for existing boutique owners that were in the Chicagoland area. So when I say I like to work with people that don't know what they're doing, I feel that most entrepreneurs or most business owners are constantly flying by the seat of their pants because you're only as good as your latest business venture or your latest sale.
Randy Ellis: So a lot of times you're, as a business owner, you're always poking around trying to find that next thing that can get your sales up or get you some press in the news for being a visionary in this space. So when I sit down with clients, I love the ones that are saying, "Hey, we just want to test this and see where it goes." And by doing that, they open up the flood gates of all types of creativity. Whether that's design creativity or non-designer creativity, meaning, "Hey, you know, we want to add a feature to our eCommerce platform that's going to incorporate chat capabilities. Let's see where that can go." And then we'd go into the market and try to find out ways that we can implement that without disrupting the experience. But then also making it more intuitive for users.
Randy Ellis: So the scrappy, hungry individuals that always trying to find that that next innovative service or technology that they can implement it to their business are always the ones that I go for.
Maurice Cherry: I would also imagine it's probably easier just to work with those types of clients because they're not trying to tell you what to do. They're not trying to do your job.
Randy Ellis: Yeah, exactly. It's more so, I don't mind people that, you know per se, they do have an understanding of their business. You know, maybe they've had a successful company or agency or some type of product or service in the market for five, seven, 10 years and they just need someone to come in and do the heavy lifting or the production work for that project. However, I make sure that in the beginning, during our discovery process in which, I call it my clarity questionnaire, whether it's a hard format or it's just a clear discussion that we're having at the table.
Randy Ellis: I always ask them like, "What are the things that keep you up at night outside of this issue? What bothers you? And what do you see this business success in the next couple of years?" Some people like the place, like five years. But I say, what's going to happen with your business in the next two years? Do you see yourself as a leader? Do you see yourself as not a follower, in the bad sense, but more so like, "Hey, if the trends are going in this direction, we're going to pivot and go in this direction." So normally, what business doesn't want to talk about how successful they are going to be and you just sit back and you listen to what it is that they have to say and you formulate your opinion and come back to the table to say, "Well I see what you're talking about now. So we don't need to discuss that anymore. We know what the main directive is now for the next 60, 90 days. But from what you're saying, you're looking in the next two years to create this whole new directive for your business."
Randy Ellis: And that's where I want to get deeper in the discussion with them. Not at that moment in time because we already have our objectives, but I want to just plant that seed in the back of their mind that I'm thinking future terms for them and that gets them to open up more and more so they feel like they have an advocate at the table because I've listened to them, I've provided them that outlet to say, "Randy listened to what my future goals is. Tom, he's not so on board because he's one of those, don't fix it if it's not broken type people. But Randy can be an advocate in that." And then that's when you start getting more and more work and opportunities open up for you.
Maurice Cherry: And now you said this isn't your first foray into entrepreneurship. What sort of drove you from the initial startup that you were talking about to wanting to go into this more focused kind of consulting based business?
Randy Ellis: We ran out of money.
Maurice Cherry: Okay. Real talk.
Randy Ellis: I don't have any type of different perspective of it. I think in the time that we got our seed round of funding, we moved down to Omaha. We had about a mixture of 10 employees full-time, part-time and interns, doing our course. So we were growing pretty fast and that was like in a time of, let's say six months, I was running it with my co-founder for about maybe a good six months before we got our seed funding and went through the accelerator program. But we mostly were like, "Hey, you know, we got this problem here. We think there's an opportunity here, so let's move forward." But after our runway ran out, I had to figure out what my next step was going to be.
Randy Ellis: And pretty much I was the beginning and the ending of our platform. So I kind of looked the whole product space. Like, "Hey, I'm digging the fact that I have experience with user experience. I shadowed a number of people back in my career days." I started working at cars.com but this had nothing to do with design. It was an entry level position. But because I had the opportunity to shadow a bunch of individuals in the product design department, it gave me that opportunity to say, okay, well I know how customers think in a way because I've been kicking the tires on my product with my business for the past year. So I have a good chance on that. And also the biggest thing that provided me the space to get into consulting was people love hearing about failure stories.
Randy Ellis: People love to say, "Okay, well let me listen to Randy because he screwed up. And because he screwed up, he can offer me some valuable insight on how to choose the right co-founder. What are some of the negotiation terms that you need to put on the table when you're talking to people that want to fund your business? What's the difference between a seed round versus a series A round or you know, how do I start raising money? Where are some of those avenues at?" So lucky that enough for me, that earned me the opportunity to start doing the public speaking circuit, speaking at conferences, panels here in the state, Champaign-Urbana, University of Illinois near Chicago and speaking at Tribeca Flashpoint, number of different universities, and then also with my involvement with general assembly sitting on panels talking about entrepreneurship and design. That afforded me that.
Maurice Cherry: Now before 5ivehat, you worked in a lot of different studios in the Chicago area, you worked at Eight Bits, you worked at the Digitas office there in Chicago.
Maurice Cherry: What do you remember about like those past experiences? What did they teach you?
Randy Ellis: That's a great question. I would say the opportunity to really broaden my horizons and how people think and when I say how people think, it's more so that even as a user experience designer, some people are just kind of stubborn to work with, so you have to be creative in your approach with them. It's not so much about getting what you want, but it's more so about getting them to open up about what it is that they need out of it. Because most of the time when you're in the agency world, it's more of a push than a pull. And when we say push, it's more of them pushing. Like here's the creative brief. You got to answer the creative brief. But there's some areas in this creative brief that just does not make sense.
Randy Ellis: So you have to come back to the table and ask the right questions and you have to be able to deliver at the time that they want you to deliver without causing too much disruption. So I would say for the agency world, just knowing how to deal with a large number of people, because in agencies you have so many different backgrounds, so many different walks of life. You're dealing with not only people that are of your peer level in your space, but you're also having to deal with individuals that has been in their role as a manager or as a VP for seven, 10 years. So you have to be very creative and know how to finesse your way into getting your ideas on the table without seeming too stuffy or being too abrasive, you know? Cause a lot of people think that, "Hey, I take it by force, you know I want this so it should go in there."
Randy Ellis: But that only works in certain situations. For me, it's more so about coming to the table and just listening, having an opportunity to just listen to them. Even though they may say the most ridiculous thing, don't react, don't wince, don't make faces. You've got to have that poker face at the table because once they see you have some form of reaction to them, it makes the conversation that much more difficult to achieve what they want and also what you want because now you've put them in this position to where now they have to arm themselves with their defense. With their armor they have to like get ready for battle.
Randy Ellis: But I'm more so of a person, like people have told me, I'm hard to read in meetings and I'm like, "Well, that's because I'm listening." I assume no position in these meetings and it's until I learn everything that I need to learn, it's until I either come back to the table at a later date or respond via an email or have an offline sidebar conversation and say, "Hey, I think that you know what has been said in the meeting. It makes a lot of sense. However, I feel these couple of points right here, we may need a little bit more visibility on because we don't want to come out the gate assuming this when it could be actually that."
Maurice Cherry: Yeah, I've gotten that similar kind of feedback being in meetings, like I'm spending a lot of time listening and so I may not always be speaking up or it may seem like I'm not paying attention, but the actuality is I'm paying a lot of attention to what everybody is saying and where I feel I can sort of give my input instead of just speaking just to be heard
Randy Ellis: I've struggled with that too. I don't make myself out to be this King of Meetings. I'm definitely an individual that says sits back and absorbs and you know, that's one of the things I definitely wanted to talk about today in our discussion is when we talk about inclusion, we talk about diversity in the workplace. I feel that there needs to be a lot more attention given to it, especially as blacks in the industry and the design industry when you are in the position as a designer, as a user experience designer.
Randy Ellis: I feel like there are positions that I have been in where I wanted to be vocal. I wanted to stand up for what I assumed was right, but there is this little person that sits on my shoulder that says, "Hey Randy, you have to be methodical about this. You have to be more thoughtful or tactful about your approach because you may see someone that is not of your culture, not of your background, and they're very abrasive with their approach. They're very steadfast and they're just pushing back on everything and people are kind of okay with that."
Randy Ellis: But I feel like, and this is maybe something that I have to bring out in a therapy session one day, I feel like we all have this, especially in the black community, is that we have this stigma of that if we come to the table being angry or being abrasive, then it makes for an environment that people are not comfortable with. So for me, I want to be able to break those barriers down and say, "Hey, I want to be able to come with the same energy that Susan has or Tom has or Rebecca has without you feeling like I'm making it a environment where people can't feel comfortable."
Randy Ellis: And I feel like it can somewhat be a double standard in that. I can't speak for everyone, but for me, I've experienced like, Hey, I've witnessed certain people where it's like, "Hey, did you hear what, you know, such and such said in this meeting? Like they just stormed out or they just yelled and slammed the door." And I'm like, I think about, I put myself, as being a UX person, you have to put yourself in other people's shoes and you have to ask yourself like, "What if I yelled or stormed out or slammed the door being who I am?" You know, I'm not a small guy. I'm six foot tall, pushing 300 pounds, you know, so I can have an intimidating stature in the office space. And if I was to do something of that nature, I have to ask myself the question, would I have a job after that?
Randy Ellis: Would I be able to come into the workplace and still be received in the same light, even though I've just seen this person behave in this manner? Can I behave in that same manner? And I don't think when we talk about diversity and inclusion, not just in the design space, but just in the corporate space, I don't think that we're there yet. And that comes back to a whole different topic where we talk about community, policing, being able to be a part of other cultures community and understanding who they are, the backgrounds and and how do they look at life.
Randy Ellis: And especially with corporate. Corporate is private. Corporate, they decide to say who comes and who goes. As an at-will employer, you can say, "Hey, this is not working out. Don't call us, we'll call you." Or it's more so of a, "Hey, this is making us feel uncomfortable." So there are some more steps that we have to achieve and that's one of the things that I want to put up on the table. You know, whoever is willing to have that discussion with me,
Maurice Cherry: Man, you are, are strumming my pain with your finger. There are so many times where I know that I've been the only person in the room or the only black person in the room or whatever, but certainly I've been in those kinds of situations where I need to be cognizant of so many other things that don't have anything to do with my job or the knowledge that I bring to the table just to make sure that other folks are comfortable. And I know that there's this whole notion around diversity inclusion, about being able to bring your full self to work, which I agree with that. There are places where-
Maurice Cherry: ... full self to work, which I agree with that. There are places where that is a thing. You can bring your full self to work and that's not saying that you shouldn't, but I've also been in places where bringing your full self to work means they have more ammunition to catch you in something because you brought your full self to work. And so people of color, marginalized people, et cetera often come into these situations with a guard up, because a company says all kinds of great things to get you in the door. They do a great job with recruiting, but do they make you feel welcome there? Do they make you feel like you're wanted? Is this just something to make themselves look good or are they really concerned about you and what you can bring to the table?
Randy Ellis: Well, here's the rub about that, Maurice, is that the things that a company used to get you into the door, if it was the department's role of structuring with documentation that you have read and they were responsible for that, meaning I'm being hired by the director of UX for that department and that director of UX put together a set of a mission statements or a mission statement or a design, "What are our design principles? What are our culture principles?", then that person will obviously be held accountable for that documentation getting sent to you.
Randy Ellis: However, the disconnect that I've observed with a number of companies is that a lot of that stuff does not flow through the proper channels. There's a broken chain of evidence when it comes to what a company actually defines themselves as. If they're talking about inclusion, if they're talking about making sure that they have a diverse department, a lot of that is coming from the C-suite. The C-suite has to push that agenda because they don't want to be seen as a company that is not sensitive to that.
Randy Ellis: However, when it finally trickles down, there is the opportunity to where that does not get to those individuals that are in the power to hire those individuals and they don't have those same marching orders. They may receive it in an email. They may receive it when they have an all-hands-on meeting, but is it really absorbed? Is it really taken to heart when they start bringing in people from different cultures? Are they really embedding that in their department long before they even hire their first black designer? Because if they're not a part of those discussions and it's just marching orders coming from the top and trickling down, then that's where you get the whole, "Hey, we're all about diversity. We're all about hiring our first 10 black developers." Sure, that sounds good from an outside person looking in if I'm looking at the job post, but then does that department follow suit with that and do they really believe in that?
Maurice Cherry: Man, we could talk all day about this, and I know there's definitely more than I want to talk with you about, but I'm curious, I kind of wanted to switch gears here a little bit. I know that you've done a lot of your work in and around the Chicago area. Is that where you grew up also?
Randy Ellis: Yeah, born and raised. Grew up on the south side of Chicago. Bounced around a couple of places, but yeah, that was the majority of my youth.
Maurice Cherry: Were design and tech kind of a big part of your childhood growing up? Were you exposed to it at an early age?
Randy Ellis: I would say yes. With my father, he passed away in 2015, him and my mother, they definitely were instrumental in that. I can go back to when I was a kid growing up, it was a two income household. I didn't want for nothing. However, I had my own world. I had my room to myself. And I can remember at one point in time my parents putting a 286 in my room. Now, for those that don't know what a 286 is, it was a version of a PC back in the '80s and '90s, so you had 286, which was a chip set. If you think about an '80s computer, it's clunky, it's big. It had the floppy drive on it, the mechanical keyboard. It was just beige and ugly.
Randy Ellis: They set this thing up in my room. And I would say for a good part of the first maybe six months, probably even longer than that, I didn't touch the thing. I was too busy playing Nintendo, Sega Genesis, whatever the case may be. I didn't touch those things because I was like, "What is this thing? I'm not doing accounting or something like that, so what is this? I'm eight years old. I'm worried about toys."
Randy Ellis: But it was one particular day where I just sat down in front of it and I turned it on. I don't know what sparked that or what triggered that. I turned it on and then from there, I just jumped into it, and from that point, started establishing a bond between me and my parents, more specifically my father, because as I started to get older, we started to assemble PCs. We had a rivalry between myself and my uncle, who worked at Xerox and he would like, "Hey, I can burn CDs now. I got this graphics card and I got this much hard drive space." It's like, "Whoa, okay. Now we got got to one up him. We got to do better." So it came into that space of like, "Hey, I'm coming into technology," and I loved it from that day forward.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. Sounds like, I mean, not only were you exposed to it in a very kind of early age, but also you had a lot of that familial support, so it was always something that was kind of a part of your world. That's a good thing.
Randy Ellis: Yeah. Yeah. I would have friends that would come over and we'll just be playing different PC games that just came out, installing them with ... At that time, it wasn't just a CD that came with it. You have like 20 floppy disks. We're talking like between the five and a half size floppy disk or the three and a half inch floppy disk, which were considered more modern and you have to install the first disk and the first disk will take like 10 minutes to install and then it prompts you to say, "Okay, eject disk number one and putting in disk number two," and you have like 50 of these things that you have to sit there and just load up to the hard drive before you even get the play the game or the program or whatever.
Maurice Cherry: I remember those days all too well. And then from there, it went to CDs, and then even with the CDs, you had multiple ones. I remember getting ... God, this was maybe a '90 ... oh, this was in '99, because I remember I got this as a graduation present. It was Final Fantasy 8 for PC. I think it came in four CDs and you had to install the first one and go to the second one. But I think the actual video game was a multi-disc kind of affair too. But no, I fondly remember those days of the multiple floppies and the multiple smaller floppy disks and everything. I remember that all too well.
Randy Ellis: Yeah. Yeah. And from that point, I think where the game, when we talk about the game shifted and changed is I remember there was this puzzle game that came out and had a horror or a spooky thriller element to it. It was called The Seventh Guest, and you can look it up online. It was one of those groundbreaking motion capture video games to where they actually brought in, it wasn't polygons, but they were using live action actors to immerse you into the story.
Randy Ellis: And that was a game changer for me. I was like, "Man, this is totally pulling me in." It's like the puzzles were tricky and it just had this whole story. It was kind of like the game Clue come to life. It was a number of different characters and you had to figure out who was killing people in the game and solve these puzzles to get to the next area, something along the lines of Mist, if you remember Mist, but Seventh Guest was the standout title for me that really took it over the edge for me, like, "Man, this video game or this entertainment space involving computers is going somewhere where it's going to be astounding."
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. I remember that game because it was one of the first games that came out on CD-ROM, and I think it actually came on to CD-ROMs, because this was right at a time ... See, we're both dating ourselves here. This was both early '90s [crosstalk 00:33:59], right, early '90s or so, but this was also a time when computers didn't have CD-ROMs. A CD-ROM was an extra peripheral you had to install or attach in some sort of way. It didn't come standard in a tower-based set up because it just had a floppy disk drive.
Randy Ellis: Yeah, and I believe we had the CD-ROM where you had to put it in a cradle. You had to put the CD in a cradle and then put the cradle inside of the CD-ROM and it'll read it that way. So yeah, that was those times.
Maurice Cherry: Man, they need to bring that game back, especially now because I'm sure what the size of how it was then and the processing speed and everything, it's like, oh, it was a big deal back then. Now, it could probably be a mobile game. It could probably be something really, really simple.
Randy Ellis: I believe I looked it up maybe a number of months ago and I saw it on the the Apple Store.
Maurice Cherry: Oh wow.
Randy Ellis: But yeah, I think they do have it out there. But yeah, when you talk about space, I think that game, if you installed it, it was like 500 megabytes and then at that time, that was like half or all of your hard disk space, so you had some decisions to make. "Am I going to take off Quicken or Quicken or whatever other accounting software just so I can play this game and then re-install it?" or whatever. Those were the first world problems back then with technology.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. Now, you started off going to school. You went to the International Academy of Design and Technology. Talk to me about your time there. What was that experience like?
Randy Ellis: So we're talking 2000, 2001. I came out of high school in 1998, and I was just trying to figure out what my next step was going to be. And I had a discussion with my mom at the time where she wanted me to go to a particular college where a lot of my graduating class from high school ended up going to and I had a different path for myself. Now, a lot of times, parents come to you and they say, "We want you to go to this college because we feel like it's a good structure or a good path for you." And of course, as a rebellious kid that thinks they know everything, my main argument to them was, "I don't want to go to this college because I graduated with a lot of people that I'm going to end up seeing at this college," so it wasn't from an academic sense. That this tells you how much I didn't know crap about.
Maurice Cherry: I felt the same way when I was graduating high school because I went to high school in Alabama and a lot of folks stayed there. They stayed in Alabama, and I was like, "I got to get out of here. I seen y'all way too much. There's a much bigger world out there that I need to explore and I'm not going do that by staying in the same place around the same people doing the same stuff."
Randy Ellis: Yeah. And it was this dichotomy that I had to observe and analyze from like, "Okay, if I hang around with the people that I've been hanging around with for the past four years, am I going to grow? Am I going to find different things about myself or is it going to be the same avenue?" Now, looking back on it in retrospect, yeah, I ask myself, "Hey, what if I would've went to this college over staying at International Academy of Design and Technology?"
Randy Ellis: So, going back to your question, I think with the International Academy of Design and Technology, mind you that this college does not exist anymore, it was mostly an eye-opening moment for me. And by it being eye-opening, is you realize a lot of their structure wasn't based on more so the nurturing of young minds trying to get a good job. It was more so like, "Hey, this is rank and file. This is the proper curriculum to give to these individuals and here's your script to read to them whenever they go off the path."
Randy Ellis: So being that whole evil term of for-profit bears in mind. We talked about this in terms of, hey, for-profit colleges, universities, they tend to have obviously a different MO when it comes to how they enroll students. It's more so a metric for them than it is embodiment of education and providing those people with a solid path to success.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. Well, and the for-profit schools also just tend to get a bad reputation I think because of ... I don't know if it's necessarily the quality of the education or something. I know there was a time, especially in the '90s, there were a ton of these schools. There was DeVry, there was ITT, there was Westwood, which you also ended up going to as well. You went there to study graphic design even further, and a lot of these schools were built as, they're technical schools. My older brother, my older brother, he's four years older than me, and I remember when he graduated in '95, '95 he graduated, and he wanted to go the DeVry cause he wanted to learn about technical skills and he did end up going there. Didn't finish. But the schools just always had this lesser reputation as opposed to say a traditional four year institution or a liberal arts school or even a community college. The for-profit schools tended to get such a bad reputation.
Randy Ellis: Yeah. I have a relative that went to DeVry and ended up landing an amazing job and retiring from that job all based on them going through the DeVry program. So I would say it's all subjective in terms of what people expect and what their drive is when they enroll into these colleges, whether the college is being upfront, providing all the materials that that person needs to be all knowing, or just basically the transparency aspect of these colleges needs to be more of the low-hanging fruit for these individuals more than just an advertisement on a bus or a commercial during the talk show break or something of that nature trying to drive you in and gravitate towards you.
Randy Ellis: I think if we're talking in present tense these days, I don't really watch too much TV and when it comes to me commuting on a bus, I got a billboard in my hand versus paying attention to billboards on trains and buses these days. I would say the college aspect or the college perspective has shifted to people being more self-learners than it being, "Hey, I need to go to our traditional four year college for this."
Randy Ellis: Now, you see the discussions from Elon Musk. You've seen the headlines from Tim Cook saying, "You do not need a computer science degree to be a developer." You've seen all of these different articles coming to the surface about, "Hey, you don't need to go to college for this. You can go online, find an institution, make sure you do your due diligence on your end to make sure that they are providing you with the right information to be successful, and if they have any type of placement programs for them to connect you with companies that are looking for junior level developers or designers, make sure that that path is clear and cut for you."
Randy Ellis: But nowadays, if I'm comparing my college days to present days, I always remained a self-taught person. I didn't look at college as the way to learn more. I think that they had their structure and that structure or those rails I had to navigate myself on. I didn't look at college like, "I'm going to come here and be so smart." I looked at college as are, "I'm going to come here. I'm going to meet new people. I am going to study what they want me to study, and then if there's stuff that I want to study more, I have to find that somewhere else."
Randy Ellis: And I'm not saying that what they handed down as curriculum wasn't amazing to me. My most favorite class, believe it or not, was critical thinking in college. It had nothing to do with design or color theory or composition. It had to do with creative thinking. And that's where I kind of evolved into this whole user experience, digital psychologist role, because I love how people think or navigate. One of my favorite books by Dan Ariely called Predictability Irrational focuses on why do we do what we do. Why do we think a dollar aspirin will cure our pain of a headache versus a five cent aspirin? Why do we look at things in this construct and take action on those things? So it's more so like, "Hey, I love this part but I'm going to also love doing something else that has nothing to do with the direction of the college, the industrial educational complex."
Maurice Cherry: Did you receive any bias from anyone because of the schools you attended? Once you, I don't know, were getting out there interviewing or just talking to people, did anybody kind of say, "Oh, you went to International Academy of Design and Tech, you went to Westwood?" Did anyone give you any weird shit about that?
Randy Ellis: Honestly, no. I think mostly I got more wagging of the finger from my mom because as I mentioned before, she wanted me to go to this more traditional school than anything. But I would say in the job space, I never got pushback from that. It was mostly like, "Okay, we see that you went to this school." It wasn't the traditional university experience where I moved somewhere and stuck myself into a dorm. It was more so like, "Hey, I'm here in Chicago. I'm going to take the opportunities that are given to me and make the best of them," because I knew how to spin it in interviews.
Randy Ellis: If they had some questions about, "Well, tell me about this school and how come you didn't go to this type of school for your learnings," I will put my spin on it and say, "Well, I was afforded certain opportunities and I had to work with the tools that I were given and if you give me this job, I'm not going to cry and kick and scream about what I don't have. I'm going to use the best of my knowledge to work with what I currently have and be creative with the things that I'm without."
Maurice Cherry: I'll never forget I did an interview. This was ... When was this? This might've been in like 2000 ... it was right after I got my master's degree, which I got it in 2009. Might have been like 2010, 2011, I was interviewing somewhere, and I'll never forget I was in the interview and the person was looking at my resume and they were like, "Oh, you went to Morehouse." They were super impressed with that, like, "Oh you went to went to this school," and then they saw that I got my master's degree from Keller Graduate School of Management, which is basically like DeVry's graduate school, and I was in the interview and they were looking at and they were like, "Oh, so what happened here? Did you get burned out or something?"
Maurice Cherry: I was like, "No. I was working 40 hours a week. I was going to grad school full-time, which Keller allowed me to do without actually being on a campus or having to take classes during the day. I also had my own other project that I was doing outside of work, so I was booked, I was at a full schedule doing things." But it was so interesting that they looked at me going to graduate school and just because it wasn't, I don't know, like a Georgia Tech or something, juxtaposed with, going to a prestigious undergraduate school and then going to a for-profit graduate school and they're looking at it like, "Oh, something must've happened." I'm like, "No, nothing happened. I have my degree. You can look at my transcript and my GPA. I passed it."
Maurice Cherry: And later on, I actually taught at the school later. I taught in the business information systems department teaching a course on web design, so I got to see it from the other end. It wasn't just being from a student. I got to see, this is how the curriculum is and how the grading is and stuff like that. And it gave me such a different perspective. The first thing I had to do was completely change up the curriculum because it was ... When was I teaching? That was 2012. They were still teaching students how to make webpages with tables. And I said, "You are setting every single one of these students up to fail if we're teaching them to make web design with tables because they will never get a job. People will looking at their portfolio and look at their code and be like, 'What is this?'"
Maurice Cherry: And so I remember the dean saying, "Well, if you want it to be something different than rewrite it." So I rewrote the whole curriculum, suggested a new book. They ended up adopting it, because I just didn't feel right about teaching ... and this was sort of the other thing. When they have the adjuncts and people slotted into these positions to teach, they're often just given whatever the curriculum is and they say, "This is what you teach." You don't get a chance to sort of come and really put your own spin on it or put your own thumbprint on it, so it was even unique that I was able to do that. A lot of places, they just sort of slot someone in and say, "Okay, here's the curriculum. You teach this." All the quizzes are coded the same way. Everything is done the same way.
Maurice Cherry: It's a really interesting perspective, especially dealing with the students, because it was one of those things where they were taking courses online and I don't think people realize how much discipline it takes to really keep up with an online course load. I feel like every person who has never done it completely underestimates it, completely.
Randy Ellis: Oh, I totally agree. For Westwood, I was doing online classes for that, and it takes a certain caliber of individual to really have the discipline to work in your home with all the distractions that you may have around you, whether you're taking care of your family or you're just taking care of yourself, or you just bought that new Xbox game and you want to play it, but you have to study instead. You have all these different distractions. But one thing that I've enjoyed with myself is that no matter where I live, that I always make sure I have a place for thinking and a place for meditation, to allow myself to not only enjoy my home but then also have a place where I can be productive. It's only so much productivity that I can do at the kitchen table or sitting up in my bed with the TV on or something of that nature. I want to make sure that wherever I call my home, I have that space to where my creativity and my mental health can be nurtured and taken care of.
Maurice Cherry: And now, right now, you are teaching at General Assembly. You've been an instructor there for over four years now, right?
Randy Ellis: Yep.
Maurice Cherry: What has that experience been like for you? Coming from your past educational experience and now being in this position as an instructor, what's that experience like?
Randy Ellis: I would say to start off right now, I never thought that I would be in that position. It was brought to me from a friend that said, "Hey, you're in the space of user experience design. Why don't you go and teach?" And I said, "Well, I don't see myself as a teacher."
Randy Ellis: ... and teach. And I said, "Well, I don't see myself as a teacher." And I went ahead and I was nervous as all hell, you know, going in and doing a mock teaching. And I ended up getting the role, you know? And that person they've since moved on to another role, that hired me and gave me the shot, but I've been there since 2015. And I would say in that time, what always brings me to the table with teaching is that I enjoy watching people write in a new chapter. You kind of see the neurons fire off in their head when you're teaching them about a new subject or a new way of thinking. And generally the first day when they come into the class, they have to think about, "Okay, you know, what is this person going to deliver to me? So at the end of this 10 weeks, I'm not sitting here spinning my wheels in place looking for a job or panicking."
Randy Ellis: And that's where I come in with my experience to say, "Look, your experience is not going to be cookie cutter." It's not going to be... "This person's experience is not going to be that person experience, it's going to be your experience." And you can come at them with the cliche response of, "You make it what you want to want it to be." But it's more so like how can you take the understanding of this practice of designing intuitive experiences, delightful experiences, for people and make money from it? How can you do that? Tell a story that is compelling, drive the narrative to a point where people understand and they're not overthinking themselves.
Randy Ellis: Another great book that I definitely would recommend to the audience that's listening is by Steve Krug, that's K-R-U-G. And it's called, Don't Make Me Think. It's definitely available on Amazon. But that's the whole element that I tell people about it. There's no mysticism to user experience design. It's not magical. It's not that we've turned ourselves into these omniscient wizards that just know where to put the button and what color to make that button. It comes from following the data and understanding it. And once you start explaining that to people that have half a curiosity of user experience design, it starts connecting. The gaps start to fill themselves in and you start seeing this person's new chapter coming into fruition. And it's just... It's an amazing experience that I see from that.
Maurice Cherry: What do your students teach you?
Randy Ellis: Definitely tons of empathy. And just to unpack that some more. You have some students that come in and, you know, they're skeptical. I'll just be honest with you, you know, they took a chance on this. They've done their homework. You know, they say, "Okay, you know, this sounds interesting." You know, they're coming off the recommendation of a friend or family member or a coworker saying, "Hey, I think that you'll do great in this role as a user experience instructor." But I think they give me the challenge of being empathetic because for me as an instructor, I'm here to do a job. My job is to provide you with, you know, the best experience. Not just following on the rails of a curriculum that has been designed for me.
Randy Ellis: And that's one of the great things about me teaching at General Assembly is that they will provide me with a base or foundation of a curriculum, but it's up to me to follow what the industry is doing. If the industry tomorrow got rid of Sketch and decided to bring in, you know, Adobe XD 3000, I'm just making up a name or whatever. Then that's something that I have to start baking into my curriculum to make sure that they stay ahead of the game and know what they need to put in their resume to remain competitive. So that's one of the things that I have total autonomy to be able to adjust and pay attention to the industry.
Randy Ellis: Because I'm all about bringing in as much information that I can about what's the latest design trends. You know, who just won the design excellence. What company just won an award for designing a great, you know, application. You know, these are things that I place in front of my students and say, "This is the direction that I want you to pay attention to. Not strive for, because all our paths are not going to be based on someone else's successes. It's going to be based on how you look at what they've produced and how is that going to inspire you for the projects that you produce in your future?"
Maurice Cherry: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And now some of the other things that you're dabbling in. I remember, you know, just from doing my research, you're doing some dabbling also in cryptocurrency? You've got your hands in a lot of difference areas of interest.
Randy Ellis: Yeah. The cryptocurrency space is definitely an interesting one. I jumped on board about 2017, that was at the height of when a Bitcoin kind of had his holiday breakout. Where people were talking about Bitcoin at Thanksgiving, and telling their grandparents, and telling their aunts and uncles, "Hey, you should buy Bitcoin." And it shot up to, I think the highest point between December and February, it was like $20,000 or $22,000 per Bitcoin?
Randy Ellis: But fun fact, even before that back in May of 2013, I always tell people this because I kick myself for this. Is I was using Bitcoin as a way to use services... Not illicit services or illegal services, get myself in trouble on your podcast. But you know, I was using Bitcoin to just buy things, you know, online. It wasn't Silk World or anything like that, but just you know, just buying like a VPN, a virtual private networks so I can just access this website or something of that nature. And I was paying like $5 worth for Bitcoin. So I was a user of it, but I didn't... I wasn't knowledgeable enough of it. Because at the time it was $134 a Bitcoin at that time. $134 and what's today's price? I think it went down to about 8,000 a coin. So my knowledge of Bitcoin goes all the way back to 2013 but I didn't do my proper homework.
Randy Ellis: So now today I make sure that I get in early on a number of different, you know, great projects that's out there in the cryptocurrency space. And just kind of, you know, hope that those things... We have our term where we talk about moon boys, you know, we talk about, "Hey you buy a cryptocurrency that's worth two pennies and then in the next, you know, three, four years it could be worth, you know, $200 [inaudible 00:56:58] something of that nature. So the moon boys are always the [inaudible 00:57:02] or the fudsters, the [inaudible 00:57:18]
Maurice Cherry: Hmm. And so how would one sort of start to get involved in this space? Because like I hear a lot about it and I don't know... I think I even went to a restaurant one time that had a Bitcoin ATM. This was, I don't know, a few years ago when I was in Dallas, I saw that. I was like, "How do you have a Bitcoin ATM if it's all virtual currency?" How would you recommend someone get started in this if they're really interested?
Randy Ellis: I would say start off if you're more of a watcher more than a reader, I would definitely say use YouTube as your resource to look at... There's an individual named, Anthony Antonopoulos. He's kind of like the advocate of Bitcoin and he mentions like where Bitcoin is going to be the gold 2.0. Because if you look at the fundamentals of Bitcoin, and I'll break this down as much as possible in lay terms, is Bitcoin was created in 2008 and if we look at that year, what happened in that year? It was a response to the economic recession with all the banks getting bailed out. So the individual, and this is kind of the mysticism or the lure that got pulled into cryptocurrency, is that the individual that created Bitcoin remains unknown to this day. Nobody knows who this person is, but they created a white paper in 2008 that was a response to the economic crash. People losing their homes, people losing their jobs. And they said that they wanted to make a decentralized platform, peer-to-peer payment system, to where it cuts out the middleman.
Randy Ellis: And the banks, government, got scared. And to this day, you know, you see conversations in Congress now about, "How can we stop Bitcoin?" Or, "How can we take control of Bitcoin?" Because there has been so much corruption and so much, you know, a greasing of the palms inside of institutions to where the banks are everywhere. The banks are ubiquitous. We cannot escape the banks and they're fearful of this. If they see Bitcoin as a way to disrupt their business, to take them out of the plan, and then we become our own banks. Because that's the whole push with Bitcoin is that we don't need banks. We can be our own banks in terms of being able to cut out the middleman, and if I need to pay you for cutting my grass, I can do so with Bitcoin.
Maurice Cherry: And has that sort of helped you out with achieving financial freedom, because of that kind of detachment in a way?
Randy Ellis: Well, unfortunately I didn't invest when it was $134 a coin. [inaudible 01:00:09] We would be having a different conversation man, we'd be on my yacht or something like that at that time, if that was the case. But what Bitcoin and its emergence has done for me this day is gives me the opportunity to look at other projects that's in the space. So I mentioned that Bitcoin was created in 2008. Now to put this in a different perspective, if I wanted to sell you an iPhone that was made in 2008 would you buy it from me, yes or no?
Maurice Cherry: No.
Randy Ellis: Exactly. Why is that?
Maurice Cherry: It's over a 10-year-old phone. It's probably outdated and obsolete.
Randy Ellis: Exactly. So now all of the momentum and the notoriety and the understanding of Bitcoin is being caught up now. Because it's a old technology. It's what we call first-generation blockchain. And first-generation blockchain involves one fundamental and that is I create a ledger, it's a decentralized ledger. And in order for that ledger to be updated, all the computers that are running this ledger have to be in agreeance with one another in order for the ledger to be updated.
Randy Ellis: So if you cut my grass and I use Bitcoin to pay for the services that you provided for me, the miners... If you've ever looked, you know, or ever heard about Bitcoin miners. They are trying to solve a math problem created by the system. And whoever solves that math problem, whatever Bitcoin miner solves that problem, they get an award. They're rewarded with, right now I think it's 12 Bitcoin, but in May of next year, it's going to be half of that. So it's going to be 6 Bitcoins when they solve those problems. And then when you solve that problem, the ledger is updated. So it's a very decentralized, unregulated system where people don't have control of it, government doesn't have control of it, nobody has control over it. You can't shut Bitcoin down. And that's what makes people scared. And that's just talking about a 2008 technology.
Randy Ellis: Now fast forward to 2019, there are over 2,900 cryptocurrencies in the space right now. And that's just for a 10-year period. So now what I'm starting to do my homework in is looking at what we call second-generation blockchain, and third-generation blockchain. And third-generation blockchain, and I'll just tell you the difference between the two, between second-generation and third-generation. Is second-generation incorporated what we call smart contracts. And what smart contracts is, is that that is the legal document that binds... If we're still using the example of you cutting my lawn, we've made a digital agreement that lives on this ledger along with the transaction. So now there's a contract that exists and that's when we created the second-generation blockchain.
Randy Ellis: Now with third generation blockchain, we're solving several problems that first-generation and second-generation has not solved or cannot solve based on their technical limitations. With third-generation, and that's where I've invested a lot of my interest in, is they're solving three challenges. The first one is sustainability. Can this blockchain sustain itself from a point of having a treasury that people that want to create projects on this blockchain, or use this platform as a way to create a application or platform, some type of enterprise grade product. Can they use this, and the system maintains itself without having a controller or someone at the top of the mountain controlling the levers?
Randy Ellis: The second part is scalability. Can it be a global competitor to the Visas and the Mastercards of the world? Can it do a thousand transactions per second? You know, because that's the main thing that they're going after now is that can blockchain technology compete with our credit cards? That's in our wallets. You know, there's millions of transactions that's going off as we speak right now. And that's being propped up by a industry that has been around for decades, for 50, 60, 70 years. You know, when we're talking about credit or borrowing credit. So that all has to move digitally and it all has to scale.
Randy Ellis: And then the last one is interoperability. Meaning can this platform talk to other cryptocurrencies? Or can it talk to other fiat currencies? Meaning government backed currencies, so we talk about the yen, the Euro, the dollar. Can it work with those other currencies without having a person to struggle with the understanding of it? So with my involvement with third-generation blockchain technologies, that's where I'm at. Being able to invest my interest and say, "Hey, third-generation blockchain technology. We are ahead of that right now in terms of building it out. So now let's go ahead and start implementing it into different locations around the world." So places like Africa, Mongolia, you know, smaller underdeveloped countries have the opportunity to build on these third-generation blockchains to totally change their landscape of their economic existence on this planet. So then they can complete with countries like a Europe and the United States, et cetera.
Maurice Cherry: Wow. I mean this has been a really great sort of explanation and look into cryptocurrency. I didn't know anything about it before. Well, I mean, I knew a little bit about it before you started talking about it. But I had no idea about the different generations and how each generation kind of adds a different layer of security, and interoperability, and extensibility on top of it. So I guess as it keeps improving it, you know, hopefully becomes more feasible as a currency.
Randy Ellis: Yeah. And because I'm talking about this now and hopefully, you know, especially with this podcast reach. You know, this is something that people can come back to in the next 5 to 10 years and say, "Hey, you know, there was this individual talking about third-generation blockchain technology in 2019. And here we are in 2029 and we have these particular cryptocurrencies that are all across the board." We've seen the discussions about Libra, Facebook Libra. You know, coming in and disrupting the space and they're getting a bunch of pushback in terms of, you know, are they going to launch? And the government is scared because Facebook and their privacy issues.
Randy Ellis: Believe it or not, Libra is going to come out towards the end of 2020, but there's going to be a lot of people questioning their modals. Is it going to be private enough? Are you going to track me? Are you going... Is the government going to have their hands in my information being exposed? Because the sole purpose of a cryptocurrency is privacy. We don't want people... We don't want people all up in our business. We don't feel like... Unless we decide that we want to expose ourselves, you know to say, "Hey, everyone I just bought a quadruple bacon cheeseburger." Or whatever the case may be, and whatever the case, "Here's my receipt." Unless I want that to be known, it should not be advertised. And I'm not saying that that's the society that we currently live in, but people want to have options. They want to say, "Look, I want my transactions to be a public record." Or, "I don't want my transactions to be a public record." And I have these options available for me to pick and choose.
Randy Ellis: Because the great thing about Bitcoin and the second and third-generation technologies is that my transactions are public, but my name is not attached to them. There's a string of characters that identify me. And if there needs to be some type of investigation where someone's following up on a fraudulent transaction or something of that nature, they can be able to follow my string of characters that identifies me to the culprit that may have, you know, stolen my identity. And said, "Okay, it went to this Bitcoin address, and this person took the money out at this Bitcoin ATM, at this place." And you know, it's all of public record, but it has its capabilities to be able to remain private, and useful for those that want to use it.
Maurice Cherry: So I know we've, we've touched on a lot of different topics in this interview. When you look back at your career, your education, everything that you've learned up until this point. What do you wish you would've known when you first started?
Randy Ellis: The art of patience. I think when we are of a certain age in our lives, and I'll just put it out there, when I was in my mid to late twenties I felt like no one could tell me anything. And I would dive in head first. I would think that I had the greatest idea since sliced bread, and then I would fall flat on my face. Now I'm not saying that through those failures that I didn't learn anything because I think failure is a great instructor and motivator for people that think that way. But I feel that if I gave myself more patience to really understand not only a problem that I was trying to solve, but the right problem.
Randy Ellis: And that's why I owe a lot of my success through design thinking methodologies to be able to empathize with people. And I think it's made me a better person by being empathetic, and slowing myself down, and saying, "Randy, shut up. Just listen to this person, you will get more out of this and you'll be able to help them more if you just shut up and just let them talk." When I was younger, of course you're filling yourself, you have this identity that, you know, all it just takes is just this one opportunity and then I'm going to have a private island with the private boat and servants and yada yada, yada. You kind of gas yourself up thinking all these things. Not saying that that was me, but you just have this idea of like, "Hey, I'm going to be the greatest in the world." And it's good to have that confidence, but it's the wrong type of direction that a person goes on.
Randy Ellis: And I think if people start leading with the level of patience allowed to themselves. There's a individual that I don't fully subscribe to 100% of their views, but if you ever heard of a Gary Vaynerchuk, or Vandernick?
Maurice Cherry: Vaynerchuk.
Randy Ellis: Yeah, Vaynerchuk. Yeah. I kind of look at him like this motivational speaker, cool uncle, you know, in his forties and he's running around being cool. And kind of getting people into the whole, the new religion as I call it, the entrepreneurship religion. But he says a lot of things that resonates to meet to a certain extent of just being like, "Hey, just shut the hell up. And just let people talk and find out what it is that they need." And when it comes to taking action on things, yeah, go out and do it, but learn from what you're doing. Just don't do it to do it, and then when you fail, you're just like, "Oh. Oh, well. You know, let me try something different."
Randy Ellis: Well, why are you trying something different? Is it because you failed in a particular way that you don't have any direction? Or did you fail and you didn't learn from that experience? Did you learn by saying, "Okay, that didn't work, but why didn't it work?" Start asking yourself those questions and then shift your your mindset to be able to say, "Well, I'm going to tackle it again but I'm going to tackle it in a way that now I know what not to do."
Maurice Cherry: Well Randy, just to kind of wrap things up here, where can our audience find out more about you and your work and everything you're doing online?
Randy Ellis: Yeah, pretty much. You can go to, iamrandyellis.com, that's all one word. That is my personal web page, reach out to me via my emails at the bottom of the page. You can also check out 5ivehat.com, that's the number five, then I-V-E-H-A-T dot com. Reach out to me there. I'm also on LinkedIn under I am Randy Ellis. I have a series that I'm doing right now called the Theory of 5ive, which is a small mini-series based on user experience tips and tricks, for people that are trying to get into the user experience space. So I provide, you know, 5 to 10 minutes segments on top five tools that I use, top five methods to get your ideas heard in meetings. So that's a cool little series that they can check out. I think the latest episode is on my website, iamrandyellis.com.
Randy Ellis: And then lastly I have a book coming out, I'm a contributing author to this book, it's called Lift Off. Hopefully that's coming out either at the end of Q4 or the top of Q1. So it'll be some stuff on my websites advertising that, and shout out to Chris Avore, that's the coauthor of this book that gave me the opportunity to contribute. And yeah, that's it.
Maurice Cherry: Man. You are working a lot of stuff, man. Randy Ellis, thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you. I mean you dropped so much knowledge on so many different things, I don't even know where to start. I mean one just talking about the work you're doing with your company 5ive Hat, the diversity of design discussion, the cryptocurrency discussion, the for profit school. I mean, there's just a lot in here, I hope people were taking notes when they listen to this. But I can tell that you're working on a lot of stuff, doing a lot of big things, and I'm just glad that we could have you on the show to talk about it and I really look forward to seeing what you're doing in the future. So thank you for coming on the show. I appreciate it.
Randy Ellis: Maurice, thank you very much for the opportunity. And if it just helps one person, that's a success to me. I appreciate it. Thank you.