In this episode Tutti Taygerly describes her own journey from an eclectic education to design leadership at Facebook and now design leadership coaching that forms the core of her work.
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Andrew Polaine: Hi, and welcome to Power of Ten. A podcast about design operating at many levels zooming out from thoughtful detail through to organizational transformation, and onto changes in society in the world. My name is Andy Polaine. I’m a service design and innovation consultant, educator, coach and writer. My guest today is leadership and executive coach to Tutti Taygerly. She has over 22 years as a design leader working at startups and large companies, most recently at Facebook. And throughout her career, she has been building products as well as culture today. Welcome to power of Ten.
Tutti Taygerly: Hi, Andy, thanks for having me.
Andrew Polaine: So, gave you the kind of one liner bio there. Who are you and tell us how you got to here from where you were.
Tutti Taygerly: Long story I’ll try and bottom line it now. I think that just throughout my career, I’ve always I’ve always loved design, and have never been quite sure that I was a real designer. Because I didn’t have a graphic design background, I didn’t have a visual design background. And instead, I came around to design from a psychology a human computer interaction, fascination. I, when I was in school at Stanford, I studied all the things I was interested in. I was a computer science major for two years just because I’m fascinated by the logic and that understanding of machines but then realized that I was slowly getting so much more fascinated with philosophy, psychology of mind and ethics. And I was able to wrap that all into a major they called symbolic systems with a focus on human computer interaction, which is a precursor to a lot of the design school work has right now. I’m really lucky to be able to see that and then do a ton of This bunch of work through my 22 year career and I’m always a designer. Now, even though I may have questioned it at points through there.
Unknown Speaker It’s really interesting, isn’t it? That idea that still designers… I often wonder if conductors I mean, most conductors, or orchestra conductors and musicians that they can play something to but I wonder if there’s a thing there, you know, “I’m not really a musician”, because I, you know, they didn’t they didn’t really say “I’m not really a musician because I just wave a stick”, right? But it is that that thing that if it’s not explicitly a kind of, like visual design you mentioned, then you’re not you don’t really feel like a kind of real designer.
Tutti Taygerly: Well, a lot of the designers I used to work with and some of the, some of the clients that I coach right now, struggle with this dilemma, which is if I go into management, do I take away from getting my hands dirty in the craft of design and am I really a designer,
Andrew Polaine: Anymore you mean?
Tutti Taygerly: Exactly.And do I still Have it could I still do it? Could I still jump back, jump back in? And when I talk to some of these people, I think the first question I get to is just Why, what’s your Why? Why are you doing this for what to serve who and for what end?
Andrew Polaine: In terms of the leadership thing or in terms of just what they’re doing in general? What?
Tutti Taygerly: Why are they attracted? Why? Why do they do the work they do.
Unknown Speaker And for some people, it’s to make stuff, I need to make something, a product and interface that is absolutely gorgeous. And it’s from the sheer joy of making in could be a selfish, pure joy I want I want this out in the world. For the others, it’s to service a need for for a person using it. And then I think for many, many people who are less hands on in the pixels, it’s really to serve and create a bigger process. Culture a body of work to enable and serve others. And that’s a journey that I personally made from, from being a maker of products and pixels to maybe being more of a maker of processes and culture. Yeah. And in a way, that’s been pretty, a surprisingly seamless beam into doing what I do now, which is leadership, coaching and getting the best out of people.
Unknown Speaker So I do a similar similar thing and coach, people in design leadership and one of the things I just wrote a piece actually finished it last night, which was about this idea of the dip, which is, you know, that thing you’re describing where you’re kind of giving up your and I think a lot of designers go through this when you’re giving up your tools or your craft skills, that very explicit stuff that you talked about the beginning that makes you feel like I am a designer, and you move into an area they may well not have been trained in at all Depending on your education, in in sort of comparison to say someone who’s been in sort of management consulting or project management stuff, where kind of managing people and process and so forth is, is kind of what you’ve done from the very beginning. So it’s just sort of expand this with diet designers is often a bit of a kind of 90 degree turn there. And the dip is where you kind of letting go of your tools, skills, and still gaining the other ones. And so you’re kind of bit rubbish at both. And it can be a real, it can be a real psychological shock, it can be a real kind of confidence dent. What was your experience of that?
Unknown Speaker I think that my path to design has always been a fascination with people and machines. Yeah. Sometimes it’s been more towards the machine. Sometimes it’s been more towards the people and I I’m a restless soul. I like a lot of different things and variety. So there’s been a lot to keep me
Unknown Speaker Do you think it helped that you didn’t kind of? You said before you didn’t sort of obviously identify as a designer at the beginning. Do you think it’s helped you made that make that kind of shift?
Unknown Speaker I definitely because I don’t think I was in deep, deep, deep training learning competencies skill set as being the best graphic designer or the best animator or the best motion designer.
Andrew Polaine: So your identity wasn’t sort of hung up on that.
Tutti Taygerly: Yeah, I think I was good at a lot of things. And very specifically, just around this fascination with people. My first job actually, I started out as a researcher for about six months before I realized that I loved the research but I also needed to create and make
Andrew Polaine: And then so when you’ve kind of, we’re starting to make more what was the thing that was giving you the kind of buzz out of there. Because there’s a lot of drudge work with making too, right. Necessary kind of, I say, drudge work. There’s there’s basically there’s lots of kind of hard work. I mean, I I have a thing, for example, where I, I feel, I’m kind of cursed with the ability to see that typography isn’t working. But I absolutely don’t have the patience that a good typographer has, and therefore don’t have the skill to to get it. Right. There’s that. You know, there’s patience and of hard graft, and you need something to carry you through. It’s actually what Seth Godin talks about as the dip. There’s something nice every project has that kind of thing or law like this is just work. I know. What carries you through.
Tutti Taygerly: It’s interesting because I think I have a surface level answer and a deeper answer
Andrew Polaine: Well, let’s have both.
Tutti Taygerly: And the surface answer which is almost define that, especially when you talk to a lot of people give a lot of interviews, you have a practice and a surface level. I’ll answer. Like, when people ask you in interviews, what are some of your strengths? What’s your design superpower, all of this stuff? And the surface answer I always clung to for many years, was a little bit like this Power of Ten. Like the the satisfaction of being able to zoom out and see that big tall meta view, you know, what is this? Why does it really matter? How does it connect to everything else, the systems design part of it, yeah. And then also be able to zoom down to one little micro interaction and obsess about it, and then back up and down again. And, you know, increasingly towards just the middle and end of my career, it was more spending time zooming up and spending that time zooming down to work with designers to help them see the up and the down. And so that’s been that’s been the part that I’ve enjoyed the most and the process of it, you know, and no That at any point in time, you’re in one of these levels of zoom. But it’ll be it’ll change to be able to shift and get a new perspective to get a new insight.
Andrew Polaine: But that’s quite a.. I mean, I found and this thing actually I’ve I’ve always looked for in people when I’ve been hiring sorts of what I’ve been looking for when I’ve seen conflict going on, or sort of misunderstanding more is it’s it there’s a real art to knowing which level of zoom you’re out, right and which one you should be working on. Because often, you might know that you’re in a kind of level of detail, but actually, you need to kind of go up a level.
Tutti Taygerly: Yeah, where’s the mismatch? Because, the rest of the team why the stakeholders are in a different level of zoom.
Andrew Polaine: Right, and often sort of one, er, a conversation around sort of one level of zoom around detail is expected to somehow kind of transform the business in some way without the business tackling any of the kind of broader structural stuff, which is a common thing of a lot we need to improve our CX and can we kind of make some money moments that matter and well moments and to fiddle with that stuff without actually dealing with the, with the broad resume and the expectation that the CX team should somehow make that happen.
Tutti Taygerly: Yeah. And also on the other hand that as a designer, there’s one thing that only you can do and can be really, really good at at the detailed level. And simply getting just the right hit for the right. animation or detail transition gets so much emotional resonance from stakeholders that you immediately buy, or get receive a level of trust and understanding which allows for some of the deeper work around whatever product or service is being created.
Andrew Polaine: The details matter there’s a there’s a famous Eames quote, actually, and I think it’s something that you know, “the details are not the details, they are the product”. Yeah. Where it’s very easy to kind of dismiss I think, though, that’s just the kind of detail but You know, I think right now because as we’re talking we’re right in the middle of the sort of Coronavirus, climate crisis and, you know, things around the way you talk about stuff, things around small touch points around. So I have a lot of American friends who are applying for financial help. And, you know, the details of that process are just kind of making it all fall apart. And so they have kind of massive social consequences.
Unknown Speaker Well, even in this conversation, it’s hard for me to talk about zooming to the different levels without having another Zoom coming to mind.
Andrew Polaine: Yeah, yeah. Well, there’s that one too. Yeah. Yeah. And and that’s quite a good example of Zoom about of, of the the app Zoom of what I can only perceive from the outside and I see you only ever see the outside of conversations that maybe should have happened. That didn’t happen very early on, of course, once you suddenly hear kind of gross, but the question is, well, if you don’t have that conversation early, when do you have it right?
Tutti Taygerly: Well you have it when it’s the absolute right time.
Andrew Polaine: Well, all you have in the crisis
Tutti Taygerly: Right now, right? Yeah, exactly.. So, Andy, to your to your earlier question, I think I answered it with this kind of perspective and different levels in men in view as the practice answer.
Andrew Polaine: No. Okay. Okay. Well, that’s still quite deep though. So what’s the deeper answer then?
Tutti Taygerly: Well, I think the deeper answer has to do with with the transition that I made last year for for a second act a different career. And, you know, over time as I started doing more and more projects, I started wondering what was the what was the meaning behind it. And for me, one of my curses and blessings is that I have worked both on enterprise apps and consumer apps and I’ve done a large variety of work on both iterative large scale redesigns reworks For example, I worked on that for for the Facebook ad system. And then a lot of net new blue sky zero to one concept work. And I’m completely drawn passionately in love with the latter. And meaning for me, it was harder to find that because just with the nature of anything new and different, there’s going to be a ton of failures. It’s gonna be a ton of you know, let’s try this for a little while. Oh, it’s not getting enough traction. Alright, let’s, let’s change let’s do something different. And what I started to notice over the last, probably five years of my design career was that the things that stood in mind to me was not the amazingness of a product launch or the satisfaction of seeing just the impact of a product to a person when they’re when they get to use it for the first time like when it shifts their lives when it you know, enables to have new forms of livelihood because I worked on video creator tools for a while video, creating platforms to enable creators to make a business by publishing what they love and shooting video of it on Facebook. That was wonderful. But ultimately, the thing that really drove me and that I remembered, day over day, week over week was the people, the designers, the product managers, the engineers, the the sales people, the marketing people, the leadership, just those tiny little interactions, relationships, just memories.
Andrew Polaine: And what out of that triggered you… because there’s a kind of restlessness in the thing that you just said about kind of always going from zero to one and this new thing or nothing quite works. Let’s do next thing. And I’m often quite jealous sometimes people say well, you know, I’ve, I’ve been doing this thing. So the jeweller made my wedding ring, for example. She’s she does new things every time but they’re extensions of her existing craft. I think It’s a real problem in the kind of digital world because our tools change so quickly. And it’s not all that craft skill you’ve built up. And obviously the experience remains, but not the craft skills and suddenly a new program out and you know, I have to kind of not sort of throw half of that out and learn this whole new thing again, there’s a kind of restlessness in that way. What about that, and the kind of people stuff you’re seeing made you what triggered that shift for you to go, I’m gonna make this change.
Tutti Taygerly: I think that there’s a desire to have kind of a Oh, one thing happened. And then this x led to why. And I think the the honest truth is, it was something that was gathering and building over time. And I’d spent 10 years in design agencies. So fun, you know, really fed my restlessness, right. Three months, coming up with the future of connected TV, the next vision of the connected home for, you know, the world’s largest companies, and yet, I think I worked on what 70 some projects in one company over five years and three, three made it out to ship. And so that was one first inflection point where it was like this has been amazing. I’ve gotten the joy of thinking and creating and variety and flexibility of product projects yet, plus meaningful because I want to see it through how to disperse push pull between the restlessness and the really seeing something through for long term impact. So that was one first inflection point. And I think the second was going to startups where I was at a enterprise Big Data startup for two years, where it was amazing to go from just the kernel of an idea to MVP v1, v2 of the product And just see how drastically it it had to change. And it being just the interface as well as way the ways of monetization ways of having it as on prem versus on the cloud, just different things like that. And I felt like that hooked me to be like that was the variety to say variety of through all the different phases with different ways of people interacting with it. So that was a second inflection point. And then the last was probably just a combination where I knew it was time to leave Facebook. But I still felt that I was going to stay in design and find another job and design and as a lark on the side because I had been, I’ve been coaching on the side at Facebook for about maybe three, three and a half years. And this is an addition to my team, but just coaching other people and running leadership workshops, I just thought I would dive in and do a series of coaching training. So I would be a better listener, so I’d be a better leader. So I would just get better at this craft of design that I’m doing this craft of leadership. And then I got so hooked, just the sense of flow and energy and connectedness and passion to doing this and just, you know, in maybe my third three day workshop was the big a little bit reluctant, but also, you know, very excited Wow, this is this is what I’m gonna do.
Andrew Polaine: And was it reluctant because you knew you were having to kind of give up something else if you were gonna go whole heartedly into this or what’s the reluctance?
Tutti Taygerly: I think it’s reluctance because I’m a I’m a skeptic. I have learned that when something draws me. There’s, for me, there’s always an initial reluctance. Like, that’s how I’ve learned to follow my. I’ve learned to follow my reluctance and frustration and cautiously being intrigued and being drawn deeper and deeper. So the reluctance is very personal familiar feeling. Love. Oh, man. It’s happening. All right. I wasn’t sure I was ready for this wasn’t sure I wanted this. But Wow, this is right. Oh, my gosh, everything’s gonna change.
Andrew Polaine: It’s interesting, isn’t it? I mean, you probably find this in your coaching too, that how much we fear the thing that we should be doing. You know, and that that same pattern seems to come up over and over again. And people how people, I don’t know what it is like for your coaches, but how people will then sort of talk themselves down from it or talk themselves small and kind of, you know, self sabotage and have the editor inside your head all the rest of it.
Tutti Taygerly: Yeah, it’s weird. I think it’s very, very human. We love familiarity and routines, you know, in. In San Francisco, I think this is week six or seven have shelter in place. And there’s a routine and there’s a rhythm. I think that there’s a time and a place for every individual person in their context to settle into a routine and rhythm and comfort. And it depends what your what your focus is for that period of your life. And I think at some points in time, there’s a shift, there’s a trigger, there’s a, a yearning for for change, and something different. And that happens and boom, that’s that’s the trigger for another shift. And it’s completely new and different, you know, similar to having children.
Andrew Polaine: Yeah…
Tutti Taygerly: Many people have a yearning. It’s the time sometimes it’s an external expectation. Sometimes it’s an internal it’s the time to have kids and you know when you’re in it, especially with young ones under under five, and especially Now for the parents who have to play that double shift. It’s hard. It’s really, really hard, but yet also very, very satisfying and meaningful.
Andrew Polaine: I’m convinced that we see the humans see the entire world in terms of relationships with other humans as well. We anthropomorphize stuff all the time. I believe our kind of relationships to companies and services and stuff like that too. And that’s why we get so annoyed when it feels like a company treats you in a way that you wouldn’t treat another person because it feels kind of wrong. And that’s why I have such a sort of, I’m so irritated often bias of HR policies and stuff which take weirdly given the name take the human out of kind of the those relationships often, but as you were talking about that kind of start up, you know, and doing all these different things and then wanting to kind of, it really sounded like I’ve had lots of kind of relate ships and flings, and it’s all been very exciting, but now acquire like to kind of settle down and have the long term relationship. And then you know, maybe see the weather, you know, and have children and settle in and that there’s a different kind of, there’s a different kind of change that settles in, which is instead of constantly changing, and having something new and exciting come from that the excitement comes from watching the same thing evolve and change and experiencing those changes, which is to have relationships to but it was kind of struck me as you were kind of talking about it, and then you went on to the kids thing. And I think that’s part of maybe the active part of growing older, I think but I think that’s also part of the I am would suggest that’s part of that journey into design leadership to bring it back to that which is I I don’t need the new thing all the time that I’m making actually what you start to take a kind of longer view of things. Is that been your experience or….
Tutti Taygerly: Absolutely. It’s the longer view of things. I remember, I was chatting with one of one of the design leaders at Facebook. And he and I were having this conversation because I was working on some of this new, really hard work, which is how to make video very meaningful and inspire a sense of connectedness for for Facebook watchers, and not just me, passive popcorn, light entertainment. Yeah, we’re having this conversation. I was really frustrated because we tried a bunch of different things and, and he asked me, well, how long do you think this is going to take? And I just was six months. And he laughed and laughed.
Andrew Polaine: Why?
Tutti Taygerly: Because we’re changing or trying to just have people’s behaviors and perceptions of this giant brand. be changed. That’s not a six month endeavor. Like I believe it, I believe it can happen. But I don’t know what amount of time it will take. And if we have the patience to keep doing it over the time…
Andrew Polaine: I thought you were going to say the opposite.
Unknown Speaker I don’t know if it’s a two year, three year five year well, it’s a hard problem, you know, the harder the problems, perhaps the more meaningful they are. And the longer they’ll take. I mean, you’ll get lots of quick little wins, right and get data around quick little wins and little experiments for one segment of person. But how do you do at whole scale, wholesale at scale? That for me is is the long view, you know, it’s the long view similar to you were saying just leadership, culture, people, takes time to adapt.
Andrew Polaine: I thought you were going to say he was laughing because six months is like kind of six years in Facebook, kind of in Facebook years. You know that in Facebook time that because I sort of imagined that, you know, the response would be no need to be much quicker than that. And so and so on and so forth.
Tutti Taygerly: He was a wise man, he is a wise man. And you know, in six months, yeah, we’ll launch four new products. Launching is easy.
Andrew Polaine: Do you think it’s but so which was talking about age quite a lot here. Do you think it’s possible to be a young design leader?
Tutti Taygerly: Absolutely. I mean, look at just the energy coming from, I’d say even beyond design, so many young leaders and entrepreneurs and co founders. Yeah, I think there’s a I think there’s different ways to lead.
Andrew Polaine: Yeah, tell me about that.
Tutti Taygerly: And maybe the two that I bifurcate into is like maybe my haven’t thought of this super deeply. So we’ll play with it here along the way, but a does a leadership in data have technical knowledge and expertise, you know, whether it’s I am the most brilliant engineer anything that I are we dream up I can code and make into existence in. Yeah, you know, a couple days, there is very much just a leadership and persuasion of uh, well, I’ll build it. I’ll make it and if the thing is that I made is intriguing enough that gets others on board and drawn to whether it’s the thing I made the fact that I have the competency to make it that quickly. And there’s a there’s one model of leadership there, right?
Andrew Polaine: Yeah, absolutely.
Tutti Taygerly: Um, and now my cat is now fascinated by this microphone.
Andrew Polaine: Another get some purring in the mic in a minute.
Unknown Speaker Oh, she is a loud purrer. So she might… no she’s making her way to my lap, that’s the problem. Um, and I think the difference is, there is a, almost a single kind of command and control type of leader, which is not that type of leader that I talked about, could also be the brilliant creative director, you know, who through her vision and strengthen, you know, beauty and craft will show that this is the right way. And in a crit, everyone looks at that and that’s absolutely the right thing. And that can come from the creative director or it can come from the guy who just graduated from college and has like the latest, newest youthful ideas, but he’s the creative leader in the room by virtue of his work.
Andrew Polaine: It’s interesting, I think in those two things sort of archetypically it’s almost the difference between a warrior and a queen that say that the warrior is kind of showing through their craft, you know, what their… that leadership. And in the example of the creative director, you said, there’s obviously craft embedded in that, but actually in the way they talk about it and the narrative and the storytelling, the ability to, you know, to really kind of inspire people through a story and explaining the vision of the story of a vision is that is a different kind of set of leadership skills. Some people seem to be, if not born with that, they certainly seem to grow up with that… it comes more naturally to them than others. When you’re coaching—because I think this is a thing that comes up quite a lot in coaching—which is, you know, I feel like I need to have more presence. I don’t have the kind of skills to kind of communicate. Because a lot of that that level is, is less… a lot of the difficulties less around kind of this is a difficult design problems. And this is I need to convince enough people and stakeholders to come along the journey with me. And a lot of a lot of that kind of self sabotage and a lot of that kind of feeling like, I don’t have this yet is around building up that skill. How do you go about or is that a thing that you recognize? And how do you go about coaching people to get there?
Tutti Taygerly: Yeah, super familiar. I think we every leader goes through it. Yeah, from the imposter syndrome, who am I to be here? Look at all these people all around me. And to the to the feeling that, wow, look at all these different types of leadership presence, this executive presence from, you know, different examples from you know, the quintessential, this is how Steve Jobs led to, you know, this is how someone like Sundar Pichai leads or this is how someone like Marissa Meyer leads. And I’m not like that. I don’t look like that. I don’t, I don’t have that confidence that wisdom, those years, whatever it is super, super familiar. Like we all it’s very human, we all go through it. And I work with a lot of work with emerging some emerging leaders to really identify their leadership voice because what’s gotten them here isn’t necessarily going to get them there. Now you may be the best highly crafted designer and that’s why you’re gonna get promoted to manager but entirely different set of skills. And what I do with a lot of these people that I coach is really go back to talked about this earlier, go back to the why. Why is it that you do the work you do? What parts of the work energize you, and I use the word energize because you can have positive or negative energy But I’m looking for the amplitude and magnification of energy. But what what stuff energizes you? So you’re in this complete state of flow, perhaps inherently, like immensely frustrated because you’re trying to solve this problem or fascinated by it? You know, I’m just in this in the state of joyous or frustrated flow. And then look for what are you good at? What are your natural strengths? And what are your values? What really matters to you and has mattered to you since childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, just what seemed to be these themes? What are the values you have and what are the aspirational values that you want? When you look at certain some of these leaders, not just them as like this end to end just person, but what is it about their leadership that you would aspire more for and kind of looking at all this as the basis for this is this is you, this is you as a leader, this is a draft, a foundation of you as a leader. And how do we work to run lots of experiments to be like, “Alright, you want more? You want more bold confidence?” Like if that if boldness is one of your values? Let’s try running a number of different experiments for acting more boldly. How does that feel? Does that feel like uncomfortable but good? Or does that feel entirely not you? That just gives you more data, more indications that you want more? Naturally fits you.
Andrew Polaine: It’s interesting. I mean, I have this thing that I kind of think leadership has been a bit sort of fetishized in particular kind of white male, you know, and I’m white middle class, middle aged males way of the here’s the in that sort of HBR way of kind of, you know, here’s the seven step framework to have kind of leadership qualities or whatever. And I’ve kind of seen people kind of execute that stuff. I mean, it really feels like… you know, when someone does active listening, but they do it in a way that you kind of know they’re doing active listening and somehow you kind of feel like “now you’re not listening because actively because you’re thinking about active listening”. And there’s this kind of weird thing that, that you know, I, there’s this kind of whole idea of kind of leadership has these qualities and it’s been like studied to pieces, and if you could only just kind of reverse engineer that then and just do those things, then then it’ll kind of work for you. But you know, talking just listening to you there, you know, and we talked about going right back to childhood, which is so much where a lot of that stuff, kind of more a lot of the kind of blockers come there’s a
Tutti Taygerly: Saboteurs…
Andrew Polaine: Right, yeah…
Tutti Taygerly: Patterns that worked for you in childhood…
Andrew Polaine: Yeah, Mark Shayla, who’s got this great book called Do Present. And I’m hoping to hopefully have him on the show soon. He has this great question that he asked people in his workshop about presenting which is “who stole your voice?” and when I read it I can just see how that, you know, cuts to the heart things because obviously, you know, people then that come to a moment of like, they know exactly. There’s not many people I imagine who say, “Well, I don’t really know…” I recognize people can really kind of pinpoint it. And, you know, it’s interesting when you’re talking about people aspiring, you know, to people like Steve Jobs and so forth. I was really pleased the other day and someone said to me “Oh, Michelle Obama!” I though Oh great, thank god it’s not you know, Steve Jobs or another white male.
Tutti Taygerly: I heard myself say it and I was like, Oh, my God, I said, Steve Jobs. I though to myself, “Do not about Apple. Do not talk about Steve Jobs.”
Andrew Polaine: But you know, there’s a person with kind of, you know, huge charisma, huge talent, huge sort of attitude. And you know, lots of that doesn’t come without its shadow side either as the millions of things written about and stuff show, but what’s interesting about as, you know, I can’t be Steve Jobs and nor can you. You can’t be Michelle Obama you can only be Tutti in I can only be Andy. And to kind of find that sort of tuning, tuning fork or that kind of radar that you’re talking about, which is try a little bit of… and I… when I talk about it as experiments with, because I think that lands really well with design as into like design leadership. Because I think designers, my found at least have a bit of an allergic reaction to that kind of HBR type of kind of executive leadership kind of structural stuff. I think they much more respond to this idea of “Well, here’s an experiment.” It’s just like a, you know, designing something, and you iterate on it, you get feedback, you know, you’ve kind of prototyping your leadership as it were, as you go to find, but it’s a kind of tuning thing. The validation is also that you’re your own sort of user in that respect of kind of tuning into, well, that you know, you sometimes speak to people and they come alive and they’re talking about a certain thing and you can just kind of see it. And then sometimes you can kind of see them sort of shrink back again. I think it’s such a lovely way of thinking about that, that journey. Have you got a favorite experiment on that front? Or is it very personal, you know, depending on who you’re coaching,
Tutti Taygerly: It’s very personal. And I have to come back and say that I love frameworks and processes. So I gobble up all of the ones from HBr. And, and grief theory and change management theory. And I’m, I’ve always been a systems designer, so And what I love is providing the context of experiments within a framework, because that’s that’s what a framework is. It’s a it’s a way of modeling and organizing the chaos of the world and a new concept into a, a framework that’s more easily digestible for others. So I love putting the context of the experiment into a framework And the ones I tend to push people more to, or the ones that are less familiar to them. So I primarily work with technologists, co founders, tech CEOs, engineers, product and designers. And I find all of us in this world are very driven. We’re problem solvers. We build things. We get things done very efficiently, very well. We do roadmaps, we do all of this. I don’t think many of the people I coach need help with that. They’re high performers. They know how to do this. So the experiments I push towards are more of the unfamiliar, which is some of the stuff that can seem more woowoo accepted. It’s really firmly grounded in in neuroscience.
Andrew Polaine: Yeah.
Tutti Taygerly: Which is, when you’re walking into a meeting, how do you want to be What’s your intention for how you want to show up in that meeting? You know, that’s a, that’s a frequent experiment that I’ve asked people to do. You know, and if someone goes in and be like, Well, the first thing that I’m going to think about most is the relationship. I want to be relational. Or it’s going to be very different from someone walking into a meeting, and who’s maybe a little bit nervous because they’re presenting their designs for the first time and their intentionality is confident or someone walking into a complicated situation and having an intentionality be be curious. So the experiment that I asked people to run tends to be more on the emotional be awareness of their bodies type side. And then I asked them, what was the impact of that? How did that affect the outcome of the meeting? And you know, if I was a, if I was coaching, maybe yoga teachers be excited It would be more towards the other, try doing this and see what happens. It’s more just about disrupting changing it up, because people get into their patterns.
Andrew Polaine: It’s interesting. I mean, I when I said think about frameworks, I mean, I’m similar in that I, I Hoover up stuff, right? I really do kind of… you know part of the thing for me and we were talking about at the beginning, where that kind of zooming in and out and stuff, I think people have those kinds of minds tend to do a lot of that thing over there is a bit like this thing over here. And that thing over there has been in look at the kind of similarities between the two and that’s where some of the kind of interesting thinking comes from. I was listening to you talking about that is those frameworks and those kind of structural things is, what you’re doing is is bringing them back to be really human. And I think what can sometimes happen with those is they become sort of painting my numbers, and I’m doing an have seen people do that I’m doing and I’m saying well the things that they said in the book, but it’s Not really kind of working for me. And I once was in a session, there was a kind of group session. And this person was, you know, lovely guy. He was sort of worried about his his executive presence, which is a phrase I don’t like very much. But you know, he’s worried about his kind of ability to kind of hold a room, basically. And we went through a whole lot of stuff and ended up with him saying, so are you saying I can be myself? And everyone’s like, Yes, absolutely. But he’d felt like he had to be kind of playing a role. And therefore because it was inauthentic and you know, whether people know it or not, they sent it. He didn’t have that kind of presence. And as soon as he actually kind of, it’s actually quite hard to be yourself because obviously, you need to find out what yourself is in the first place. But that really kind of set him on a completely different trajectory. And he really had exactly that experience a lot on, you know, when we checked in a couple of weeks later, I did this, I was this this way in a meeting and you know, I think So with the project or whatever it was, you know, he just had kind of found himself. It was very nice to see.
Tutti Taygerly: if I circle back to a question you asked earlier, which is, is it possible to be a more youthful leader? Yeah. what resonates with the story you just told is depends how well you know yourself.
Andrew Polaine: Yeah.
Tutti Taygerly: Yeah, because I think a lot of the journey for many of us who are not natural, youthful leaders, it’s throughout the years you try on different personas, different identities, and you see how well it works for you. And some people may early on try on a impactful executive presence. That’s not them. But it works for them so well, they just keep doing it. And for other people, it doesn’t. And you know, if you ask someone every five years of their professional career, what’s your executive presence? I’m really most interested in the people who have have changed who have found, like, different ways of expressing it or what’s worked externally for the external validation, great executive presence, you can really hold a room versus what feels right. On the inside.
Andrew Polaine: Yeah, I think there’s a you know, I think there’s a thing there where you can fake it until you make it a bit of that. I think that is quite an important thing. And that’s actually one of the ways I think, for getting yourself through the dip. And I think what happens a bit later on is that you realise everyone’s faking it. And that’s okay. And you become sort of more comfortable with it. And I feel like it’s easier. So I’m saying I’m 48 now, nearly 49, I think it’s easier as you get older, I don’t think it’s impossible to do this youth I really don’t want to kind of say to anyone listening to this “hey, you can’t be a kind of design leader until you’re, you know, old and grey,” because I have also seen this done. Yeah. So you can you know, you can I’ve definitely seen youthful leaders, or young people kind of leading, I think what happens is, I would say so I’m going to suggest it’s easier when you’re older. Because I think one of the things that happens as you get older, you have less need to kind of prove yourself. Yeah, and with that comes a kind of relaxedness of “Well, I’m going to go into this meeting and I’m going to just say, what I think and how I feel about this don’t really care if they kind of think I’m wonderful or not or, you know, have presence or not.”
Tutti Taygerly: I mean, here’s the thing, Andy, which is maybe a little bit meta, you know, you and I are both grizzled old leaders in our 40s. And we’re talking about this and, of course, we’re gonna agree, right? And imagine like a podcast with a 20 year-old designer, who’s leading a team with his, his guests, or her guests. I bet. I bet the conversation is equally intriguing and unlikely with a different with a with a different flavour to it.
Andrew Polaine: We’re the old dinosaurs who non’t get it, right?
Tutti Taygerly: Yeah. Who are these old people who think you need age be able to lead properly and just interesting shifts in perspective?
Andrew Polaine: Yeah. I think there’s an interesting… there’s a there’s a radio programme, very famous in the UK called Desert Island Discs. And then the whole sort of conceit of it is you know, what records would you choose to if you are going to a desert island And they use it to kind of it’s a great interview technique because they use it to people go, Oh, well, I chose this song because it’s my my mom and dad, my dad used to sing it to my mom in the kitchen. And then it’s like, Oh, really? So tell me about your parents. And then it leads to this kind of whole deep conversation. But one of the things about it is it’s really great as you hear actors in particular, of celebrities who have become famous when they’re older compared to people who became an A, or the stories of people became famous when they’re young and kind of what they went through. It’s very, very different. And I take a lot of solace in that. So listen, that we’re coming up to time ever. I asked all of the guests what one thing it has an outsized effect on the world and in that kind of zooming in and out thing. I that could be something that’s unappreciated and overlooked, or it’s something that’s desperately needs to be read thought that would have an outsized impact on the world.
Tutti Taygerly: Andy this has been stressing me out the whole podcast. What is my brilliant answer to this? Oh, two things because I am not good at following directions. One for for designers, you are amazing at the design process at the divergence and convergence of making your product or service. The best thing possible, consider applying this design process to you to your life to your leadership, understanding what design principles or values govern your life, choose your life, your leadership with with intentionality, and apply those principles to design your own leadership. that’s a that’s a little bit of a soapbox that I talked about a lot. And then the other is, is, as many of us are getting in touch with and realising through forced in force confinement right Now, relationships really, really matter. Yeah. And where we’re going to be emerging and entering a new normal at some point what parts of relationships and connections to different people? How do you want to redesign? What matters who matters the most? What matters about that relationship? What do you want to be true and hold on to over time with those two.
Those aren’t small things as a big things, but they’re very good things. Where can people find you on online?
Yeah, my website is tuttitaygerly.com and I publish on medium every week. Come and find me, come chat!
Andrew Polaine: Okay, we’ll put the links everywhere. Are you on Twitter, too? Is the heresy as an ex-Facebook person?
Tutti Taygerly: I’m on all the things but there’s the things that I’m on because I should be on them and there’s the things that I’m on because I love, so…
Andrew Polaine: Okay. We’ll put all the links up in the show notes. Thank you so much. It’s been a lovely conversation. It’s been also lovely to hear your cat purring in the background. It’s been quite comforting.
Tutti Taygerly: I wasn’t quite sure that came gthrough.
Andrew Polaine: No it’s good.
Tutti Taygerly: Wonderful.
Andrew Polaine: Thanks so much for being my guest on Power of Ten.
Tutti Taygerly: Thanks, Andy. It was so fun.
Andrew Polaine: Thanks for listening to Power of Ten. My name is Andrew Polaine. You can find me at Polaine.com or @apolaine on Twitter. Thanks for listening and see you next time.