Talking Shizzle

Connecting the Irrational and Rational with Progressive Design with Bryan Zmijewski

February 08, 2023 Taylor Shanklin Season 2 Episode 3
Connecting the Irrational and Rational with Progressive Design with Bryan Zmijewski
Talking Shizzle
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Talking Shizzle
Connecting the Irrational and Rational with Progressive Design with Bryan Zmijewski
Feb 08, 2023 Season 2 Episode 3
Taylor Shanklin

In this episode of Talking Shizzle🎙️ , Taylor Shanklin chats with Bryan Zmijewski, the founder and CEO of Zurb. It's truly a fascinating discussion! We are talking about progressive design, which could help to make people's dreams come true and make the world a better place.

A little background first, Bryan is a design transformation leader committed to exploring the behaviors and routines of exceptional creative leaders. He has served as a trusted advisor to numerous leaders, including CEOs who seek the value of being a design driven organization. His work as a coach and speaker has taken him to the office of the White House, the steps of Fortune 500 companies, NYSE, and the Stanford Business School. Bryan has leading the charge at ZURB since 1998 and he has consistently challenging both the team and their customers to always strive for excellence.

In the simplest terms, ZURB is a product design company. They look to help companies design incredible digital products (things like desktop software, mobile apps, etc), websites, and integrated services.

Taylor, Will and Bryan also talk about Bryan's experience in the tech industry, and that he has been designing products for 25 years, understanding the needs and wants of customers, management, engineers, designers, and marketers. He has worked on numerous products in Silicon Valley, including Netflix and Hulu. And something amazing that we all are familiar with that Bryan had a hand in assisting with is the design of Netflix's Just for Kids feature, wow! Thank you Bryan! We talk about Bryan's amazing lifetime of experiences, where ZURB is now as a company and who they are helping, plus so much more;

  • Exploring Progressive Design and Digital Creations
  • Designing User Experiences
  • Early Experiences with Streaming Services & the legendary Blockbuster Video
  • Exploring Design Strategy and Inclusivity
  • Building Creative Trust
  • Creative Feedback in Data and Design
  • Understanding How Consumers Think and Buy Products

Get in touch with Bryan to talk about Progressive Design;

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/bryanz/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/bryanzmijewski
INSTAGRAM: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryanzmijewski/

Or Reach Out to Bryan Professionally for Assistance;

https://zurb.com/
https://helio.app/

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Talking Shizzle🎙️ , Taylor Shanklin chats with Bryan Zmijewski, the founder and CEO of Zurb. It's truly a fascinating discussion! We are talking about progressive design, which could help to make people's dreams come true and make the world a better place.

A little background first, Bryan is a design transformation leader committed to exploring the behaviors and routines of exceptional creative leaders. He has served as a trusted advisor to numerous leaders, including CEOs who seek the value of being a design driven organization. His work as a coach and speaker has taken him to the office of the White House, the steps of Fortune 500 companies, NYSE, and the Stanford Business School. Bryan has leading the charge at ZURB since 1998 and he has consistently challenging both the team and their customers to always strive for excellence.

In the simplest terms, ZURB is a product design company. They look to help companies design incredible digital products (things like desktop software, mobile apps, etc), websites, and integrated services.

Taylor, Will and Bryan also talk about Bryan's experience in the tech industry, and that he has been designing products for 25 years, understanding the needs and wants of customers, management, engineers, designers, and marketers. He has worked on numerous products in Silicon Valley, including Netflix and Hulu. And something amazing that we all are familiar with that Bryan had a hand in assisting with is the design of Netflix's Just for Kids feature, wow! Thank you Bryan! We talk about Bryan's amazing lifetime of experiences, where ZURB is now as a company and who they are helping, plus so much more;

  • Exploring Progressive Design and Digital Creations
  • Designing User Experiences
  • Early Experiences with Streaming Services & the legendary Blockbuster Video
  • Exploring Design Strategy and Inclusivity
  • Building Creative Trust
  • Creative Feedback in Data and Design
  • Understanding How Consumers Think and Buy Products

Get in touch with Bryan to talk about Progressive Design;

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/bryanz/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/bryanzmijewski
INSTAGRAM: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryanzmijewski/

Or Reach Out to Bryan Professionally for Assistance;

https://zurb.com/
https://helio.app/

Taylor Shanklin  0:03  
Hey, hey, hey, talking shizzle listeners. You know, it's always been important for me to align our business with other companies and individuals who share our values, especially those who share a deep commitment to serving nonprofits and social impact. So for that reason, I'm super excited to announce our very first season to sponsor Kyla Kyla is a fundraising and donor management CRM that is built specifically for nonprofits by nonprofit professionals. These folks really get it. Their mission is to empower nonprofits to deepen relationships, retain donors, and raise more for their cause. A several of our clients and partners use Keela and have continued to be impressed by just how easy Keela is to use, how affordable it is, and most importantly, the results they see using the platform. The Keela team is also phenomenal to work with. They are super friendly guys, and they have a continuous commitment to equity and inclusion. Now, go check them out. We got a special offer for you as Season Two sponsor of the talking shows or podcasts. Keela is offering our listeners and community 40% off their first year subscription tequila 40% You guys. That is a lot of shizzle. Think about all the other shizzle you can get done by saving that money on your nonprofit CRM. Plus, if you have under 250 records, you can get access to the keyless starter program for free. So if you are interested in learning more and booking a demo, go to keelah.co/partners/creativeshizzle

Hey, hey, how are you lovely people out there. You've got a lot going on in your day with big dreams and big goals for your world. Are you ready to talk some shizzle and learn some shizzle from leading entrepreneurs, changemakers coaches and overall interesting people who like to shake things up. I'm your host Taylor Shanklin, CEO and founder of creative shizzle and I am stoked to bring you a fresh episode of talking shizzle today, this show is all about helping you think differently so that you can grow. Talking chisel is brought to you by our team at Creative shizzle where we help businesses, entrepreneurs, and social good innovators make amazing marketing shizzle happen. Check us out on the web at Creative shizzle.com. Now, let's talk some shizzle All right, what's up, folks? It is January 3. This is our first recording of talking shizzle for the new year, super pumped to be here today with Brian Zmijewski. I think I got that right.

Bryan Zmijewski  3:15  
Yeah. All right.

Taylor Shanklin  3:17  
Let's get to have you here, where you are the founder and CEO of a cool company named ZURB. By the way, go to zurb.com. Check out their website. It's super cool. Super fun. So Brian, thanks for coming on and talking some shizzle. With us. Today, we're going to be talking about progressive design. But before we get into it, I want to hear a little bit about your background, who you are, why you started deserve and what you're observing around doing these days,

Bryan Zmijewski  3:44  
what I'm observing around doing so graduated in 1997. And really excited about technology and learning about it almost failed my CSS class and didn't really understand or want to do any kind of coding. And what do I do a year later, I created a business that helps people figure out how to make their coding useful. So nine years, so will be 25 years and started the business with the intent of helping people make their digital creations with the idea that most of those creations we were working on at the time, were products, they were things that people use the needs to function and have utility, and we're not magazine sort of layouts. So the complexities of working with lots of people to produce something just got me really excited. And I realized the convergence of really understanding people in sort of needs in what they wanted from the product with the customers wanted from the product with the management wanted from the the product alongside the people making it, you know, the engineers, the designers, the marketers who had sort of position this thing. And so I just I found that extremely fascinating. I realized it wasn't as rational as I thought it was like it. It's not an engineering problem. It's very much about a Understanding the edges of problems and being able to work with people. And so that's what we've been doing for 25 years and had the fortunate opportunity to work on some of the coolest products around from Netflix, Hulu, basically, every major company in Silicon Valley, except sans Google ever worked with Google.

Taylor Shanklin  5:18  
Very cool. So have you had your hand and any of the like design behind Netflix like choosing what we want to watch anything like that,

Bryan Zmijewski  5:28  
we actually did the first version of just for kids. So when that launched, we had learned a bunch of things about how kids did video online, and that a lot of that work actually migrated and pushed into the main Netflix. So I don't know if you remember when it first came out all this metadata and it was like, sort of like a library with lots of information. And the experience you have now on the TV is much more like browsing windows, or thumbnails and fun things. And so what we learned, kids just want to watch what they were watching before and where they left off. And so there was like a progress bar of what they'd seen and watched in the latest thumbnail of what episode they were on. And brands, like kids understood brands, like they understood and identified with characters and use that sort of as a reference to help them find what they're looking for. So you'll see a lot of that sort of simple pattern. Now in most of the apps where you know, you're it's very visual medium, and not so much like a library. Much more like the original blockbuster, where you go in, you walk the aisles, and you saw the cover art, and you're like, oh, I want this one, right. And you'd hold on to the box until you found the next box. And you were kind of like, Okay, which one are we watching? So that experience early on was lost, you know, and sort of the browsing experience. And so trying to simplify that. So that'd be an example of some of the work we had done and started off with so about that. It's been around a while. But yeah, stuff like that is is exciting to us to try and figure out how do you solve those types of problems?

Taylor Shanklin  6:59  
Yeah, it's fascinating. I was actually just having a conversation with a friend a few days ago about like, remember, when we went to Blockbuster on Friday night, and it kind of like set up our whole weekend, you know, and then like, my first early memories of Netflix are in college, getting the DVDs delivered to my apartment, and then you know, forgetting to put them back in the mail, and then you know, like, oh, oh, I still have this one. Oops. And

Bryan Zmijewski  7:30  
it didn't feel as bad because somehow you weren't being charged for that CD, it was more like, I'm not seizing as much opportunity to watch more, but you didn't feel as bad more like the gym membership. Whereas blockbuster you'd go in with your tail between your legs and try to convince them that the two days, like some somehow there was a problem here, like, your date is wrong, or you know, I didn't your store was closed or someone shut the door earlier, Blockbuster had more power, they would revoke your car. It was a disappointing experience, usually, and I never got it on in in time. I don't know. I was just never like that type of person. That was like trying to figure out how to get it in on time. So

Taylor Shanklin  8:11  
yeah, yeah. I know, never did and always fighting those late fees. Yeah. Last night, I took my daughter to drop off a book at the public library. And she was like, But mom, the library's closed. I was like, well, there should be a book drop. And she was like, what's up? book drop? I was like, well, after hours, you drop the book and a thing and it goes into the building.

Bryan Zmijewski  8:36  
Okay, I know people want to hear about our experience, but we're really aging yourselves here.

Taylor Shanklin  8:45  
Failure of the year, not staying on topic, or first talking shizzle podcast of the year. But that actually takes us into failures. I want to hear a little bit about some of your failures and something that you've learned maybe from a, let's just talk about a large failure. Okay, you have worked with a ton of very large brands in Silicon Valley, you must have had little failures along the way, like, what's one you're comfortable talking about today? And what you learned from it? Well,

Bryan Zmijewski  9:16  
I can I can talk about some of the more funny ones. Those are always interesting. So like we were talking about a little bit before, every failure list is sort of like I can pick basically everything on the list and say, oh, yeah, I've experienced that at this stage. I don't laugh it really anything. So when I first started back in, maybe one of the first projects that were done in 2000, I had been invited to work on this new public company that really didn't know much about websites and websites were sort of this thing you just kind of did and you had your sort of Uncle your cousin work on it. This is a public company, but so I was invited to a meeting that no one told me when the meeting was and they all showed up. The executive team did the meeting, and said Where are you? And so I had to sprint over there 15 minutes late. And this was a newly pressed couple of billionaires in the room. And so I was sprinting in and we were expected to try and come up with ideas for the website. So I was leading a brainstorm in which my task was to help everyone kind of figure out what the website should be about. So I started the brainstorm and I asked everyone at the table, okay, two people have some ideas of what they want in this this website. I remember the whiteboard and the billionaire one. Is that it? My right and the billionaire, is that the head of table way at this long table? I was okay, what do we got? And so the first person that starts talking, is the salesperson talking about why he's had a bad quarter. And why? Why the sales distribution? I'm like, Okay, where do I go with this? How do I spend this person? I'm like, like, in my 20s, I'm like, this has nothing to do with the website. How do I refocus? And then the HR person who I had kind of grown a little bit of rapport with in this, this process started speaking and talking about what did she need in the talent side, but she was caught off by someone else at the table. And I kid you not within, I would say about 90 seconds, the billionaire said, I think we're done here. So sitting at the head of the table, or standing at the head table with a white at a whiteboard with a mark and I'm like, Okay, what do I do now? I think we're done here. So I'm like, Alright, do I take a seat? Do I walk up the room? Do I like, try to figure out like how to transition it into a conversation. So I learned very early on that the web is a very odd medium, and that, you know, you have to have people prepared, you have to know what you're trying to talk about. You have to sort of understand what their their problems are. You have to like there's so much prep work and understanding of the problems that going into a meeting with a bunch of people and just expecting that they're going to have ideas is just unrealistic. And that was one of my first big experiences is learning that preparation is really important, especially when you have two billionaires in the room.

Taylor Shanklin  12:05  
Yeah, we're done here.

Bryan Zmijewski  12:08  
It rings true to this day. I'm like, Okay, I hear those words all the time. I think we're I think we're done here with the I think was I'm speaking we are done here. Yeah, humble, humbling experience. And if you don't have a whole lot of business experience, even if you did have business experience, just standing there at the front of a table, like trying to figure out what to do is learned a lot from that.

Taylor Shanklin  12:32  
No, that's absolutely a lesson we can all learn. And I remember also being earlier on in my career and being in some of those like boardrooms that I didn't feel like I was really ready to be in and just fumbling around like that. Yeah. And then the head honcho person does say something. Okay. Yep. Get on it. So yeah, that's it.

Bryan Zmijewski  12:56  
Well, maybe I mean, the way you can look at is, is maybe he saved me. Right?

Taylor Shanklin  13:00  
Right, exactly. What did you end up doing? Did you just leave?

Bryan Zmijewski  13:05  
No, I took a seat at the table and was a good listener. Okay, good. IBM Watson notes on a notepad and stayed focused on listening to what people said.

Taylor Shanklin  13:14  
Very good, good. Well, Will's gonna come up with a good Dad joke about we're done here by the end of this episode.

Will Novelli  13:21  
Well I'm still in 2022. I remember like it was yesterday, but I'm on to dad jokes in 2023. 

Bryan Zmijewski  13:26  
Well, the dad joke part of that is I think we're done here. That's the part that resonates the most because it was like, do we want to stop and it was more of an authoritative like, we're stopping. And so I realized this paradox of like trying to be inclusive at the same time, which you did in your way. So yeah, learn from that one.

Taylor Shanklin  13:45  
Let's get into progressive design. To talk to us a little bit more about what this is. I mean, we talked about your, you know, work with Netflix in that example. But like, what are some other kind of like starting points, things to know about what progressive design even is

Bryan Zmijewski  14:01  
progressive design is, is, you know, every creative agency is going to have their own develop process, right? That, you know, you learn to work in a way that aligns your operation with, you know, someone trying to get something done. What I learned early in the process of again, like the billionaire meeting, is that building and making things online is equal parts, irrational and rational. The irrational parts are extremely difficult to navigate in a medium that is like sort of unforgiving, it works or it doesn't work. And so trying to reconcile these two worlds requires helping people see broader visions along the continuum, just saying it's going to be this thing. Most people aren't willing to accept it, or one all that change or know how to accept that change, or even now how to talk to other people about this thing that was just made up, right. And so progressive design aims to make smaller incremental gains through conversations around moving people or towards a bigger vision. And so what I realized is you can't just have this vision, put it out there and expect people to be super motivated and psyched to do it, especially when they've asked for your help. And they've struggled through a problem. And you're like, Oh, it's this thing right here. And they're like, what? So progressive design aims to make structured debate and conversation around creative decisions and be able to move someone and a group of people to a better place. And so when you get that momentum, and you're able to get a ball rolling, and people are more willing to accept sort of the possibilities of what something could be, then you get them in a posturing that is more accepting and willing to sort of understand the why an idea might be valid, or why it could potentially be a good solution.

Taylor Shanklin  15:46  
Now, that seems to me like a theory that could be applied to a lot of things, I mean, product development and design in your realm. But like in our realm, I'm even thinking I'm like, Well, that's what we do all the time was showing someone their new brand, like this is where you're going to go, and this is what it looks like. And they're like, I don't know about that. And I'm like, just trust us, you know, but like, how do you walk people through that process. And that's really like, again, just so applicable in a lot of industries, a lot of verticals, a lot of things, 

Bryan Zmijewski  16:16  
some of psychology is involved in it, because most people have to operate, especially in a larger business from a fear not necessarily in their day to day, but when it comes to creative things that don't exist. But once it gets outside of an operational sort of plan, it starts to become very like, frightening, right? Even if your job is creative director trying to work within a group of people in what you've gotten really comfortable with their choices and their decisions, trying to push people outside of that can be really difficult. And there is like you said, Trust. And so I found that I start most work that I do with anyone that's making something accepting the fact that there is no trust. When we talk about trust, like creative trust, like where are you taking me and that trust needs to be earned through interacting and conversing. And trying to figure out how you build that confidence towards the place that you feel is going to help them and they need to be a co partner in that, right? They can't, I mean, you can you can stylize something and you can kind of put it on them and say this is this is who you are. But ultimately, that typically doesn't create the best creative results because they need to invest some of themselves into whatever it is to really have it have legs and last and be able to be a part of their business. So I find that is the most exciting part of the creative process is getting people into postures that are exciting to them. And they get excited to want to talk to you about the those new possibilities. I found that it typically takes about two weeks for that sort of intense process to unfold. But oftentimes it takes six months for them to really want to be in a place where they can accept something that's a big idea.

Taylor Shanklin  17:55  
Yeah, absolutely. I've seen that too. It kind of depends on the on the person or the organization, or company or team and kind of what you're dealing with. They're

Bryan Zmijewski  18:04  
so progressive, and has like all these methods and ideas around building that trust, and how you move people through a continuum, most of the creative process.

Taylor Shanklin  18:14  
And it been deeply psychological is kind of where my mind went to like even going back when you were talking about the Netflix experience, and all of the experiences that we have in these products that we interact with every day. So much of that is rooted in like, How do humans behave? So you mentioned trust? What are some other Principles of Psychology that you take into your work?

Bryan Zmijewski  18:36  
Oh, I mean, there's all kinds of methods and ways of thinking about this. But think about like this, I tell my team, if you want me to do something, and I feel like it's pretty good, then I want to agree with you, I don't by nature want to disagree with you, per se, I might be more negative in my sort of understanding of the idea that's just based in being human, we tend to like, not like change, but if you have a good idea, and you structure it for me to understand what that idea is, then I'm more willing to accept leaning into it. So an example of one one part of progressive design is we say it's threes, I'm going to tell you, I'm going to show you, and I'm going to tell you what I just showed you. So something as simple as that. People need repetition, they need to understand sort of, like hear it, they have to see it and then they have to have confidence in instead of you telling me what I just saw their window or their movie is a little different than yours. And so when you reframe it and continue to tell them what they just saw, then they can see it maybe from a different lens and so if it's say, maybe like you're doing a whole rebrand, you're not trying to do all the colors and logos and everything about that you might be only focusing on a few points of it like color, like what is the colors trying to invoke and speaking to the color because looking at the logo and the colors just way too much like way too many things to try and process to understand. So progressive design aims Is that sort of build on top of those decisions and those understandings to get, say, a full brand that gets people excited and making those incremental sort of agreements where people can feel comfortable that they reached a sort of a plateau of understanding and willingness to accept an idea helps to kind of move them into the next sort of more difficult, say, larger idea that would require more trust and more understanding, like the logo mark itself, right, where, you know, it sort of is the representation of their business or who they are. So that would be one thing, and progressively, threes are a big thing, you know, repeating things are often important. I've also found that when people give feedback, they're more complicit to where they're going. So even if they disagree, you need to have people feel good about providing feedback. Feedback is sort of the key word and sounds less exciting. But if you want to bring people on a creative process, you need to have them confident enough to give feedback, even if it's horrible feedback, because then you can shape that feedback in a way that they can rationalize on their head. And creative ideas are often just, they're made up. There's no one perfect answer. So you're really trying to get alignment and agreement of what that creative vision can be with that person. And when you add two people and three people and four people, these processes become more important, because you need them getting feedback with each other, and being able to buy into where they want to go.

Taylor Shanklin  21:30  
Well, everything we're all doing is all made up all the time, right. And then you get to a point where at some point, something that someone made up works. And then you get to a point of collecting information and data on that and figuring out well, this is what works. So we're going to build on that a little bit. So I imagine like, when I go to your website says data and design, design and data like that's your kind of headline, I imagine a lot of what you're doing now is then helping to understand with data, what's actually working on a product level user experience level, is that right?

Bryan Zmijewski  22:02  
It's still all made up, the data can't tell you data can't tell you what to do. Like, it just does not going to tell you what to do bit like people read data in there and form and they can figure out like, but data doesn't tell you what to do. And so you know, where we've really been focused with progressive design and how to utilize it is is an audience feedback. So think about it, like when you give that book report, presentation in second grade, and you're like, scared, it could be and you're up there talking about this thing, and you're worried about Jover, they're looking at you and making fun of you and send you over there, like stealing your ideas. And you're up there just trying to talk. What's frightening about that is that unknown of that sea of people over there, right there, like they're gonna judge me, I don't know what's going on. And so what we've developed is audiences that give you the perspective of all that people in that classroom, like giving you that feedback, so that you can learn and figure out how they're thinking about what you've presented. The cool thing about it is if you keep doing that, you start to learn that Oh, audiences are really all over the place. They don't all think you're the worst speaker and they don't think you're all the worst book picker or they don't think you're all the worst poster maker, right? They all have different ideas of what they're seeing. And so when you build creative things, the creator tends to think that there's a singular vision that people are going to like, pick apart. And oftentimes, it's not like that. And so when you have audience feedback, that you can see these unique perspectives from groups of people that may say like, buy your product, or maybe interest in your book or whatever, you get a very refined way of continuing to evolve those ideas with confidence, you still have to work with informed, experienced people around you, because again, data isn't going to tell you how to design things. But it does help you understand when you interpret that, oh, I didn't know my shoe was untied. Or I could have used red is my sweatshirt and people stay more focused and blue like, or the poster wasn't large enough. And people couldn't read it from the back row because they couldn't see it. Right? These are all things that as you go through a process, they just help you refine your ideas. And that feedback loop becomes much more helpful in the creative process. Yeah, so that's, that's really where we've been focused. In the last, I'd say five years.

Taylor Shanklin  24:19  
And you have a product or platform that does this.

Bryan Zmijewski  24:23  
Helio it's, it's connected to about 800,000 people and you can find audiences everything from people who buy certain things to people who are creative professionals, to middlemen to basically any organized group of people, you can start to find sort of common behaviors that you can start to overlap. So you might be in a b2b company selling to people and we have professionals that are able to give feedback. And it's different than say, say like usertesting.com, where you're trying to get us a pure user early feedback, this is more about micro moments and micro feedback in larger quantities. So the goal is to say, hey, if I had 100 people looking at this what what kind of feedback could I get in and continue to use that audience over time. So when I think about like, say, running a business or trying to operate something that's fairly complex, let's just say click a bagel shop, if you looked at the bagel shop and tried to interpret what's going on on say, like Monday, fresh bagels come in at 10, there's a wave of people that that come at 1030, the coffee might be have brewed for two hours, and that nobody comes for lunch, because everyone's busy trying to get there Monday started Tuesday operates completely different. And so you can start to see working with an audience over time is looking at different patterns and behaviors of people as they're sort of using something over a longer period of time, not trying to like ask them a bunch of questions in this sort of microcosm of time, but over an extended period of time and keep asking questions about the things you're working on. And you get these unique perspectives that sort of help you shape and come up with bigger ideas. Because you can start to then change, like the way you think about your business or the way you're building something creative. Because if you realize that, oh, no one's coming in on Monday, maybe just shut the shop down. And don't do it until noon to try and get the noon people coming in. These are all things business owners are used to seeing, because they're at a local level, see their audiences and try to make sense of the patterns, I find when people sort of abstract themselves and don't have maybe as much customer interactions, they start to lose these perspectives of sort of what is happening with their products and services. And so this is a unique opportunity to get closer to a group of people, that would be pretty difficult to get to if you didn't have an organized way of, of keeping lists. And in being able to get that feedback from your customers.

Taylor Shanklin  26:48  
That's super cool. I feel like we should use this on our new product that we launched, you know, like, actually, really interesting creative.

Bryan Zmijewski  26:56  
For Creative Services, I found that you can create a lift of about 30% in revenue just by doing this because the need is there. And being able to supplement services by trying to target, you know, that specific feedback that a customer might be looking for. It's a different process, though, because it does open you up to like, why is this wrong? Why did you not do a good job, right? But if you incorporate that into the process and realize that the creative cycle is a little is a little chaotic, as long as they see a point A and point B and you're helping them get there, then being I think more open about why something works or doesn't work is better, creative process, because nothing is 100%. Right? You have to alienate or offend some people to get to the target group that you want to get to that are going to be your rabid, super excited customers. And so understanding that that helps you shape, you know, products with perhaps some of the negative feedback that might come in your decision making. And that's a healthy thing, though.

Taylor Shanklin  27:59  
Yeah, that is healthy. And it's important to have that kind of open mindset and realize that like it's part of finding product market fit is like getting feedback and see like, is this actually going to work? Do people want to buy this? Or do I just think it's a great idea. So cool that y'all have a solution for that.

Bryan Zmijewski  28:15  
My first job, I was a toy inventor. And what I learned in that job was, we didn't actually make the toys. What we did was we sold ideas to toy companies that were looking to try and figure out what the next great hit was. And I learned a lot about how people, when you present ideas, what are they thinking about? And what are they looking for? And why do they buy things? And what are they I also learned a lot about, like how consumers think about the products and services. So when you look at say, trying to sell an idea, you have to understand the buyer has an idea of what they want in their head. But they also have this window of like possibilities where they don't really want the thing that's in their head, they want the thing outside of what's in their head, but then they have these constraints like 37 cents of plastic, I have the middle aisle at Target, like I have to fit this sort of business problem. And so you realize that there's both these like hard constraints in the way that the business needs to operate. And then there's these other is where people want to be in that space that's like, I want this great idea, I want this thing, right, but they have a very hard time bridging those gaps. And so what I often feel creatives lack or or need to be able to provide is the leap, the gap between the rational set of things that need to happen in this place of creating something magical and in fun and exciting, which everyone wants, but it's very like unwilling to just accept and have trust to get to and want to do. And I learned that very early on. So I realized that whatever I produced and tried to create, I needed to start with the idea that is irrational like it's not a rational set of things like and if I wanted to, because I'm hyper rational so I wanted to try and tell you the utility of this thing is exactly what it needs to be it. And I realized like people would not accept it, because it's not how people buy things or accept things or want things or need things or, and you have to figure out what those things are. And so I learned that very early on and you know, selling toys. Strangely enough, before moving into doing digital creative. 

Taylor Shanklin  30:21  
Yeah, cool. Cool. It's funny it actually it makes me think there's this popper toys out on the market now that kids just like love. And it's a fidget toy. Are you familiar with these, and you pop them like you, it's like, they come in all different shapes. And they're just all it is rubber. And it's like, you pop it from one side to the other, kind of like bubble wrap or something. And and when I first saw this with my daughter, I was like, Why is this so interesting? To me, it's not rational. They love it. They're like, just pump it, pump it. I'm like,

Bryan Zmijewski  30:54  
people like repetition, they enjoy repetition. And they enjoy building on top of whatever that repetition is to make something uniquely theirs, whether it's they've got a certain way they fidget it or creatively can talk to someone else. And the reason for that is because we enjoy having common bond with people in a way that we can both understand. But we also like to put some of our uniqueness onto things. And so things that are simple and pleasurable like that, there can be a simple shared bond that allows groups of people to kind of have fun together or even relate to each other talk to each other. A fascinating part about the toy industry. And this is this one's pretty important, I think for businesses that are trying to figure out like, how do they get feedback from people. And this is a unique story. But but but it helps you understand that maybe it's not as difficult as you might think. So when we would create a new toy, we would invite kids to test these toys. And so we want to get their feedback, because we're trying to figure out, how is this fun? It? What were the problems? What do they think of it? What are they trying to do with it, you could probably think of it as like a focus group, but it did have utility and people, we would struggle to get maybe 50% of people showing up oftentimes, like 30%. And it was really just not fun, because you're trying to sit there and trying to learn but then people can't show up or whatever. So strangely enough, when we started charging people to show up 90% plus of people started showing up to give us feedback. And I tell this story. Because most people are like, I don't know how to get feedback from my customers like, it's this mystery. And here we are charging people to come give us feedback on these toys that we're working on it and had a better performance than just trying to get people because we thought toys would be fun. Kids would want to come in. But when you charge you want to switch from was the kid maybe this would be fun for my kid to now I'm a parent and responsible for making sure my kid has an educational growth opportunity to test the toy. And parents then by paying for it had a more invested sort of like mindset going into it, then they're more willing to show up. So what I learned in this process, and what I think businesses and individuals can think about is if people are willing to pay to give you feedback, there's a way to get it. Right. There's a way for you to find pathways to your customers to be able to have conversations about the things you're making and the things that you're producing in a way that maybe is unsurprising to you but you have to be somewhat creative in that process. And willing to, to figure it out. fascinating the way psychology works when when trying to figure out how people buy your products and use your products and give you feedback on products.

Taylor Shanklin  33:39  
Yeah, it absolutely is. I love that I think about that often in the realm of branding and how to, you know, like, get people's attention. And we're like really hitting at a deep psychological level. So it's really interesting to be able to talk to you, because that's something on my mind a lot to and you're taking it into the actual like building of products and very cool. Well, let's finish up with one question for you, Brian.

Bryan Zmijewski  34:06  
Oh, that sounds ominous.

Taylor Shanklin  34:08  
Yeah, no, I really, we really tee it up here. You know, just like, if you weren't nervous during this whole conversation, you'll be nervous now. No, I'm kidding. What's the best compliment you've ever gotten?

Bryan Zmijewski  34:21  
You know, the strange thing about the nature of our work is that the expectation that people give you some of the feedback or whatnot. I've learned to accept that when something just works or something is magical, that you can see that in their use of it. And so there isn't necessarily a direct response to what I've produced. You just see people talking about or being able to and that to me is like the best compliment because we've done all the work. We've all we've done all the persuasion and you just see people engaged and having fun or getting up benefits out of something. So I know that's maybe a punt answer. But I feel like that to me and my team. It's not about trying to make a customer happy, like a customer that I might be serving, it's their customer or their end users that get the benefit at it. And that's when you know you have success. And that's when you know, you've done a good job. And you've really helped a company. So I tend to keep my ears open and eyes, looking to the things that we've produced to be able to really feel satisfied and deeper connection to you know, what we're working on. There's no usual direct feedback there. So it's more of watching in seeing them use something. 

Taylor Shanklin  35:39  
Yeah,

I love that. I feel you on that one. That's that's a great compliment. We appreciate your time. I've enjoyed this conversation thoroughly. And I hope to have you back sometime. Maybe we'll come up with another topic because this was really, really good. And I'd love to stay connected over the course of the year and laugh about what other failures we all have along the way. Well, hey there, that was fun. I love how much mind blowing and mind opening shizzle our guests bring to us with every episode. We hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as we did. Make sure you hit that subscribe button on your favorite podcast player so that you don't miss a beat of the talking shizzle podcast. And if you're listening on Apple, be sure to let us know what you thought and leave us a review. We'd love to hear from our listeners so that we can bring you all the good juicy Business Growth shizzle that you would like to hear about. Get in touch with us and follow along at Creative shizzle.com or email us at podcast at Creative shizzle.com Until next time, keep making your shizzle happen