I think it's an education problem, I don't want to bubble it up into it's a pipeline issue, because it's not a pipeline issue, there's a ton of diversity on the planet, I think there is a, a gap. There's a skills gap that these companies are looking for this caliber talent, the same thing with the NBA, the same thing with the NFL. The same thing with any professional league or organization, they're looking for this kind of caliber of talent. And if you're not grooming or educating or training certain communities to be able to develop those skills, then you're not going to see them at the end result. And I think that's what it is with tech. There's enough jobs available for people, there's seeds, there's budgets, but if you don't have enough people learning the skills and getting the opportunities to grow their careers, and evolve, then nobody's gonna give them a shot, because they're just gonna always fall back to well, you're not the right candidate, what we're looking for, and it's like, Well, nobody's actually setting them up to ever be the right candidate. So I would say, yes, there's a diversity problem in tech, but I think it's a bigger problem with lack of education and lack of skills training.
Hey, what's up everyone? Welcome to works in process, the podcasts about uncovering creative methodologies from people doing inspiring work. In each episode, whether I'm talking to a designer, and educator or entrepreneur, we learn the hows and whys behind what they do. Through experiences and determination. My guests explore the techniques and inspiration that have helped them navigate their creative careers. I'm your host designer and educator George Garrastegui Jr. Join me as I continue to elevate the creative process by shifting the focus to how we work over what we produce. On today's episode, I want to welcome Fonz Morris, great design gives Fonz life. Prior to joining the growth team at Netflix. He was the lead designer and growth team at Coursera. The world's leading online platform, and as founder and growth designer he's led product design to startups and worked with some of the world's biggest companies. As a leader. fawns focused on balancing experience with spontaneity, and intense creativity with the discipline and methodologies of production. His undergraduate career began at the HBCU Morehouse College and ended with earning his BS in computer science from Georgia State University. With no formal education and design, he's an advocate for the self taught designer. Additionally, he mentors the design students through made in the future cascade SF, California College of the Arts, Kim yo Foundation, brain station, and General Assembly's UX design bootcamp, finds his passion is creating effective and successful experiences that engage, inspire and attract customers. He was the cohort member at the first round capital's founding designer track. And he's currently a cohort member at floodgate fund and design advisor for signal fire. His talent, enthusiasm were well respected throughout the design industry. And he's been invited to speak at several professional tech audiences, including Afro tech rethink HQ, how design live Design Thinking conference, the black is tech conference UX best ux dx, designed by us, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. Hey Fonz, so glad to get you on the works and process podcast.
Right? Yeah, but hearing you say that made me think I might need to short. Maybe I need a brief and an extended version. But it's always fun to hear somebody go over your bio, but I do think I might need a shorter one. I'm not gonna lie.
I know I do have a short and a long just so you can like you know, for certain instances. But man, it's been a minute trying to schedule this Convo. And I'm lucky that we're able to make this happen.
Your tenacity is is very respected, and your professionalism as well. It's just really hard when you're like, I'm a father. I'm a husband. I work at Netflix. I do a lot of public speaking, mentoring, traveling. I'm from the East, but I live on the west. So I'm just moving around a lot. But when two people want to really make something happen, they'll keep trying. And here we are.
Yeah. Thank you very much, man. I appreciate that. I appreciate that. And so, you know, we're going to talk a bit a little bit later about what it means to be a growth designer. But before we do that, I want to dive in and clear your mind. I started every episode with a fun icebreaker. You ready? Go for it!
coffee or tea?
toast or bagel?
airMAX or Air Jordans.
kind of question is that looking at a pair of Air Jordan threes right now?
Oh, Not, but it's not an answer, though.
okay. The black, the black elephant, elephant print, and black got to do to three. Yep. The ADA dunk contest,
designing or mentoring.
Now in my career, I would say mentor,
East Coast or West Coast.
Now where I am in my life, I would say west coast. Oh, man, you're gonna bring it back home. And well, don't get me wrong. I love the East Coast. But what the West Coast offers for me right now is more of my lane. But I love the East Coast. I was just there a couple of weeks ago. But for quality of life weather opportunity, I just got to give it to Left Coast.
Cool. And so some quick word associations. What's the first thing you hear when you think of these words? Right?
the backbone of society,
one of the most powerful things we have on this planet.
Also necessary skills. Oh, sorry.
necessary for growth, evolving
You don't know where you're going. If you don't know where you came from?
lacking for certain communities.
one of the most important things that a designer or anybody living on planet Earth should be worried about
The rapper first, because he's so popular, actually. He changed his name to cash, you change the name to cash. So I don't know if I can say future future. Very bright, I would say.
And of course, last but not least process
necessary, but should it be constraining.
Awesome. Right? I just want to always do that. Because it's a fun way to start each episode and kind of get you thinking about things that maybe you don't normally think about when you're starting a podcast. Oh, yeah,
no, that's cool. I love icebergs, because I always try to come up with different fun ones as well, just to kind of, like you said, lighten the mood before things take off.
So we heard a lot like you said in your bio, about, you know, kind of what you've been up to and what you've done, right. But now I want to give our listeners a glimpse into how you were introduced into art and design. So where'd you grew up, and were you creative as a kid.
So that's interesting, you asked that I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and I was creative. As a kid, I went to a high school actually called Art and Design. And I'm a self taught creative, I wanted to have the fine art skills of being an illustrator or being a painter. But I want to say, I wasn't naturally given that talent. And I didn't nurture that talent enough. But I did have a very strong attraction to architecture by growing up in New York City, as well as a very strong attraction to fashion because I grew up in New York City. So and then going to school in New York City, a lot of our early trips were to places like the World Trade Center, and to the MoMA, and to the Brooklyn natural museum. So I was being exposed to design culturally as a child and didn't even really, really know it. But it did have a lot to do with where I am now. Because when I was in eighth grade, I decided that I wanted to try to get into this art High School, and I had to create a portfolio. And I didn't know what a portfolio was. So I just went to the library, and looked up what I thought portfolios where I use the state and that we don't use any more called encyclopedias, to try to figure out what should I put in a portfolio and then I just started to be creative. And I just created all kinds of drawings. I created isometric drawings and cityscapes and floor plans, and just whatever I could think of that could show my artistic abilities. And then I had to do an interview to get into the high school. And once I got accepted, I would say that's where my true design journey started was when I started high school.
And similarly and you went to art and design I went to LaGuardia, which is that sort of you're on the East Side of Manhattan I'm on the west side of Manhattan literally almost across the park right from each other. And oh
man, I heard look wotty is really hard to get into now. I really really hard to get into
Yeah, cuz I think they also changed the metric because now it's it's no longer just Are you creative? They're now adding Are you smart? Are you this right? So so they're not just adding your talent when before it was mainly talent is Oh, talent. Yeah, that when we went it was just talent. It was like, Yo, are you good town? Yeah. So I think that's where it's making it harder. because some creative kids don't do well in English, or don't do well in math, but they can write, you know, they can sing, they can dance, they can draw, they can play music, right, like, and that's what when I went, that's what it was all about, you know? And now it's like, cool. Can you do that? But can you also rock a 4.0? And you're like, well, that's yeah, that's not necessarily the same thing.
Yeah, I forgot that you're from NY. So you can already see how the inequalities in the education system in New York, to me are so prevalent when you think of, it's so hard to get into the better schools. But if it's such a populated area than what happens to all the students that don't get into the specialized high schools, or the other schools good enough to be able to give these students the same education, or is only the 1% of all the kids in New York City, graduating with a quality education. So when you think of putting things in place like that, to where now, it's not just if you're creative, it's also how well you do on standardized tests. I just don't think that's inclusive.
No, definitely not. And that's why I think if if it was like that before, I would have never got in it, you know,
man, I honestly think I got in on grit. I think my interviewer saw that I just that I had the passion that I had the determination, I had the, the will, the want to, and the potential, that's what I've heard a lot fortunate enough in my life is people think I have potential, and when somebody thinks you have potential, then they'll invest in you. And that's why we need to start saying more things like that to our community, the design community, the black and brown community, the global community of just hey, you have potential and I'm going to give you a shot. Yeah,
I mean, that's so true. But let me continue this little bit. Before we dig into some of those heavy hitting questions you're automatically bringing to the table. Who, if any, was your biggest supporter as of your creative
career? That's a good question. Because like, I would say, it evolves over time. When I was younger, I would definitely say my dad, my mom passed away when I was young. So I was raised by a single dad. And he did the best he could. And he made sure that I went to school every day, I graduated from school, I have a roof over my head, I had food in my stomach. So I would say in my earlier years, it was my dad, I would say, in the middle stages of my life, it was my peers, because we were all learning this new multimedia world together. And we all put in seven days a week, 80 hour weeks together, and we grinded together and we supported each other and we lifted each other and we carried each other through. So I would say my friends during that phase. And then for the later part, I will say my wife because she's just my homie, she's right there beside me. She was there when I was just getting things off the ground. And now that we're farther on, she's still here. So I would say it's bounced between family, friends, and then my wife
seems like a different stages, right, give us different types of support that we need.
Because you evolve and you grow. So the support I needed when I was just getting started, I still need some of that support now, but I also need a different level of support that I didn't need then. So I would say for most people, it's probably going to change true over time.
And so you know, you mentioned that as you know, when you got into art and design, it was kind of that idea of first betting on yourself of like being a creative, right, but what was your first creative job? And how did you stumble into it?
Trying to think so being honest. You say job do you say like meaning as is, as I got paid for it? Or just this?
I mean, I think it's any? Like, I mean, you know, I say What's your first creative job? Do you think it means you got paid for that job? Do you mean it was the first time you realized like, so that's, that's your answer.
Job to me, would mean money. It's not money than I don't know if it's a job, it can be internship or something like that. So I would say job, I would say my first creative job was my own business that I started. It was my own creative agency. I started as soon as I graduated college, and I tried to get people to give me money to pay for I mean, I tried to get people to pay me for logo design, and one page, website design or music video, I was very, very focused on multimedia. So I would say my own creative agency was my first true creative job.
Cool. Cool. So when was the first time you consider yourself a creative
back when I did that portfolio, and I got into art and design so I felt creative for a long time way. Way. A longer before then when I got paid, it was more of creativity and being a creative to me it's more of a lifestyle. And I would say because I was going to Art High School, that was the, the lifestyle. I lived, I had the pencils, I had the pens, I had the tools. I had the two hours of art every day. So I would say back then is when I started being a creative I started making money from it once I got out of college.
Good delineation. I want to give more context to how I came across you right. And I think I was first introduced to you by one of the guests I had before Omari Susa and he was doing the state of black design at Texas State University. And I think in 2021, right as
you could do, yeah, program has grown to I mean, my goodness from even when I was involved till now, yeah, this year is was huge. It was huge shout out to Omar, we for sure. Yeah, shout out to him.
And you know, and listening to you and the come up and the panel that you were on, I believe, right, it was just good to hear, like, as we're going through right now, and other new york city kid doing big things. And I was like, Alright, I'm gonna, I'm gonna hit you up on LinkedIn just to kind of be like, Yo, I saw you, you know, I see what you're doing, and things like that you want to connect, right? And so you know, when we think about what you do, and kind of like where your trajectory is at now. But like you said, where we started, I want to ask you, like, the terminology and lexicon with design can be very confusing when you're talking about very specific areas of design. So can we just set the stage for a moment, right, like, can we explain what product design is versus UX UI design? Are they the same?
Sure. That's a question that comes up a lot. And let me start off by saying they're all very intertwined. And I don't think there is one correct answer, I think, depending on how what your experience with design has been, will help dictate the answer that you give. So I'll explain what I think it is, I think UX is your full experience with the product of some sort, from you learning about it all the way through you interacting with it, engaging it and not using it anymore, or being a repeat user or something like that your whole time using something your whole interaction with a product, I would say that's what UX is user experience, I would say UI is the actual interface that you're interacting with for that product for a laptop, it's the keyboard for your iPhone, it's your screen for your frigerator. It's the handle, or maybe you have a screen on your frigerator or it's your remote. So it's the actual interaction with the product, whatever you're using the buttons, you're pushing the screens, you're seeing that UI, and I would say product design, is how you actually created that whole experience, which is, okay, what problem needs to be solved? That's the step one. And from then you would go into, okay, well, let's really figure out whose problem this is. Should we solve it? How do we solve it? Do we want to do some research on things? Also the whole process of getting from ideation to execution, and then support afterwards? I would say it's product design. So UX and UI, I would say go under Product Design, if product design is going to be the umbrella.
Okay. Cool. Cool. I mean, I think that that is a is the way I would think about it, too. Right. And I love that you also kind of dictated that user interaction is also with the physical space, right? Like keyboards, the fridge, right? The handle is a huge, huge, yeah, we so used to hearing these four letters together, and it's like, oh, is digital. And we're like, No, you deal with it every day. It's an experience. You know, it's an interactive phone,
just to get your iPhone, there's still hardware, like it's hardware first, and then it's software on the hardware. So that's why when people ask that, I try to take a second to make sure that I'm being as inclusive as possible. I think that's the magic word for 2023. And beyond its inclusion because it's not just inclusion from a DI perspective, it's an inclusion from a philosophy of when you're saying UI, why does it only have to be software? It's hardware as well, thinking about the full scope gamut range reach of things, I think is smart. When you're giving a definition of something.
Yeah. Right. Even when you're talking about it, right. And when, like you said, when you think of product design is almost like the umbrella term, right? I want to ask you when you're thinking of new projects or starting something new, what comes first, the process the research, or the solution?
Doesn't solution doesn't come until the end because the solution can constantly change. So you may have a slight idea of how you have how you may solve this, but the final solution is Definitely some time out. So the research is almost step two. But I would say step one, to me is actually defining that there is a problem that needs to be solved. I think a lot of people jump into the solution. And then when you start grilling them on the problems, like, Is that really your problem? Or Couldn't you have just done this to solve that. So I like to step one to really be immersed in it and truly understand what the problem is. Because that immediately goes into well, you need to have empathy for somebody, if you're going to be trying to solve somebody's problem, which then goes into well, you got to know who to have empathy for. And that's where research, as well as understanding your target market that this problem is for. So it's like some quick rapid fire steps that you should do, if you want to get on the right track. And after you go through those steps, and you work on some things, I think, then you'll start to get a inclination of what the solution could be, but the solution should definitely not be first. It's just too early things change, you haven't learned enough about the problem or the space to be jumping out there saying you have a solution that early.
That's true. I mean, it's one of the things that that I focus on when I teach my classes is, you know, they all kind of want to be like, cool, I want to do this. And I'm like, You have no reasoning for this yet. Right? Like, doesn't mean you're wrong. But right now, you don't have any real basis to make these claims.
Whose problem are you solving? That's a really easy, you know, whose problem Netflix isn't solving people who like to stream content and people who like entertainment. And now, people want to watch entertainment in their home. So what is the problem that Netflix is solving, they're bringing the ability to consume entertainment, to whatever form of hardware you want to use, whether you want to use a TV, you want to use a laptop, you want to use a cell phone, you want to use a PlayStation five, whatever you want to use is fine. We know you want to watch content, and we're going to deliver to you that's our that's the problem. We're solving for users. Now, that breaks into a whole bunch of other things. But there's nothing greater than that. Right?
Right. Are there specific methodologies that you use when creating? Does it change based on problem? Or is it always this kind of series of things that you do? Similarly,
it changes because you like to have structure, but you need to be flexible when you're working at a fast moving company like Netflix. So process is good. I don't think it should be limiting, but processes good. But certain projects are way bigger than others, where I'm on a project. Now, that's two years plus. So that obviously is going to be a different process than another project that I worked on. As soon as I started the company, that was only two months. So it depends on the project you're working on. But you should still have some form of a process some form of a strategy framework, but leave a lot of room for flexibility.
Flexibility, I think is key, right? It's allows you to to make agile decisions and not be so set in stone.
Design is organic things change, you get more information, you learn more, whether it was good or bad? And are you going to utilize that feedback that you have or are you going to ignore it, we don't ignore any feedback we get. So we might be at the 25th hour or something. And if we know that this feedback is going to make this product better, and it's going to solve the problem for our user more efficiently, then we're going to think about implementing that. We don't want to but customers first.
So when you're looking at like customer first, or the possibilities of you know, this umbrella term product design, right, with a field that's moving and evolving so quickly and continuing to grow. What are the possibility career paths you see within product design, and there's something new that maybe me as an educator or to the design community need to be more aware of what kind of a shifting into
product management is super important. But I would say product management and design ops, those are two terms that people don't, maybe they know, maybe they don't maybe they think they can go into design. Maybe they don't maybe they think they go into tech, people probably get product and project management confused. But I would say everybody needs product management skills. I was just on a call yesterday with the general counsel for scale Venture Partners. And he said, man, to be honest with you, venture capitalists, a lot of product management as well. It's just one of those. I don't want to say industry, but it's one of those things that is more horizontal than just vertical. It spreads across everything. Everything needs a product manager, no matter what somebody needs to be able to help figure out how do you execute this? How do you get this done? Who are the stakeholders There's what success look like, what are the metrics, and that's always growing as we grow into a more product focused culture, then you're going to need people to manage all these products. So I would say product management, and then I would say, design ops, because design is finally, almost sitting at the table with engineering, and data science and these other industries. And it's getting more and more complex. So designers and design orgs need more support. And design Ops is, in my mind, equivalent to a TPM. And for the people that's listening. That's like a technical project manager. And that's the person who works in between engineering and design to help get things from engineering to design to help answer questions. They're kind of that liaison. And but they're coming from the engineering side. So design Ops is almost their peer coming from the design side. And they help us manage relationships with engineering set timelines, workflows, efficiencies, things like that. So I would say from somebody who was knee deep in the space, product management, and design ops are two really budding industries as well as data science, you got to throw data science in there. Because if everything is about data, you got to learn how to use the data. And you got to learn how to extrapolate it and find patterns and use it to make better decisions. So design is growing a lot more than just what people think of it being visual. And interaction, like I just said, it's, there's a product management layer, there's a design ops layered as a data layer, which leads into where I am, which is growth, because I'm focused on the results. I'm focused on metrics, I'm focused on revenue, or conversion, not just what product I produced, but what impact did that product actually have on the business?
So that's, I guess, I mean, let you run in right into my next question, right? Like, what is this transition of a product designer, right, with all these overarching skills to this term growth, your growth designer at costera. And now at Netflix, like that, to me when I read your bio, also doing a lot more research? Right? That is an interesting term, that obviously it may be it's tied to business, right growth and business, but it could be multi layered things. Can you explain what a growth designer is?
Yeah, like, it's definitely layered what I was focused on at Coursera versus Netflix, there was some similarities, but there was some difference. But they were, as you stated, focused on the growth of something when I was at Coursera. We wanted to grow the revenue, of course, but how do we grow the revenue that was from making sure that we were converting the visitors to our homepage. But what does converting the visitors to our homepage mean? We needed you to sign up for Coursera account. But not only do we need you to sign up for Coursera account, we needed to get you to our core sub pages, where you could actually enroll in a course or enroll in a degree program. So until you enrolled in one of those programs, we've done our job, but not all the way efficiently. Right. So that was what the flow of what we wanted somebody to do. Who visited Coursera. When you think about Netflix, it's a different ballgame, because people know the company. So we already have 200 million plus subscribers, but you know, we have 100 million people sharing their password. So that's a lot of money that the company is losing that we want to get back. So how do we get that back? What kind of initiatives do we need to put in place? What Kind Of Products Do we need to create? What kind of things do we need to change to be able to capitalize off those sharing households? And you also think of a lot of Netflix subscribers leave and come back? How do we make your experience super smooth? So when you come back, maybe it's one click? Or how do we improve the platform, so you never leave? So it's just a different layer of problems, I think a growth designer worries about versus just a general product designer, I think a product designer, evolved and matures into a growth designer, because you start to care more about what impact your product has, like I said earlier, so when you first get started, you might just be cool on creating something. And that's fine, because we're all creators. But after a while, you're going to want to see where this is going. Why did I create this? Who's using this? What impact did this really have? And that's when you start to get not out of design, but you start to dabble in the business space as well, because you need to understand the business goals and KPIs and what metrics are important to the business and what are the goals of the business? Where's the business trying to go over the next year over the next five years and now you as the growth designer, you need to be aligned with those initiatives and that vision And so you can help achieve them,
you know, as you're talking about what it is to transition, and this idea of a growth designer is kind of the elevation of product, right? And you like, once again, you know, talking into right, what I'm going to be asking next. Right, does it so you know, we're in the Netflix in the area of Netflix and chill, right? And you're talking about this initiative to kind of get people to stop, you know, sharing their passwords, right? And it seems like, it's unfortunately, so deep rooted in the Netflix experience that, you know, people share people's passwords, right. But what you're trying to do is change people's habits. Like how were you and Netflix thinking about that to get people to be more mindful of what like you said, if 200 million people are there, and only 50% of them are actually paying for it and everything else is shared, you're losing a boatload of money, how are you getting people to start to think about this differently,
we have to get users to the value that a Netflix account. And the same way you don't share your Amazon password, or you don't share your Gmail password, there's value in those passwords. Those are yours. That's what we're going to do with Netflix, where we want you to feel as if this is your account, this algorithm and has been personalized for you. This is your content, you sure you really want to share this, as well as increasing the overall value, making sure our features are exciting and appealing to where overall people are still excited to want to pay for Netflix. And they think that it's valuable enough to have their own account, and putting different type of communications in place to let people know that when they are sharing, hey, there's other ways for you to be able to enjoy Netflix without sharing. That's why we're introducing new plans to be able to not just tell people to stop and cut everything off. But just more introduce solutions. Once again, like I said, problems, need solutions introduced a solutions that understand where the users are coming from, we understand that this is a habit. But we also are a business. And if our users want us to continue to put out these blockbuster, amazing pieces of content, we have to pay for that. And that money comes from subscriptions. So it's explaining with transparency to users, what's going on, but being very empathetic, and putting different mechanisms in place to make sure that everybody can still enjoy the platform.
And so how different is that then like, you know, if I have multiple profiles on my account, right for my wife, you know, things like that, how different is that profiles from this new initiative to like, everybody being paying for their own access,
each plan gets a certain amount of profiles, right? That won't be affected. It's more of Netflix for a single household. So when you share outside of your household, that's where the issue comes into play. When you're at home with your wife and your kids, that's fine, you can share as and watch on concurrent devices. As many as your plan offers. Our thing is more when your kids are older, and they've moved out of the house, or you have a vacation house and another city, or you have multiple people that don't live in New York using your account, like we see, Hey, George are in New York, but you're also logged in in Miami, you're logged in in Houston, you're logged in, in Los Angeles, you as George, you can't be logged in all those places at the same time. And watch. So we're just going to ask you, George, where's your primary location that you'll say New York, and then everybody that's in New York can watch it no problem?
I mean, I know it's a huge issue. And I wonder, is this an ethical, cultural, experiential or monetary decision?
I mean, it's a business. So because it's a business businesses have to make money. I wouldn't say ethical, because we're not judging anybody for sharing. And we're not saying anybody's wrong, or anything like that. We're just enforcing an existing policy that we were previously not enforcing. You can our terms and conditions, it's still assessed the same thing. Netflix is for a single household. I just think, over time, people came up with their own definition for it. And we understand that, but now it's time to get to level set those expectations of the platform. And but that's why we're trying to make sure that we put different mechanisms in place to not necessarily affect your experience with the platform.
And yeah, I mean, it's always been right, this idea of, you know, household driven, and obviously, if it's, once it's out of the household, it's a whole different ballgame. Everybody should have their own access, which is interesting. I think it's just this like you said, there's problems and there's things that need to be solved and something that is so inherently like, just in the world, people sharing passwords and you're like, and you're like, oh, no, this this is an issue and You know, if we don't solve this, like you said, we can't produce these things that you're now accustomed to seeing from our company,
right? I mean, this is big money that Netflix stands to earn by curbing password sharing. And that money is going to be used to reinvest into the platform and continue to grow and make the company amazing and, and to continue to allow it to be the number one streaming platform. So we've been working on this for years, this isn't just, oh, we decided two months ago, nothing moves at Netflix that fast as well as it's a massive company with a lot of cross functional partners, and different things you have to worry about and regulations. And it takes a lot to really roll out something as big as this, but we've put a lot of user research into it, we've spoken to a ton of users are confident about the decision. And we're confident about the solutions that we've also put in place to help make sure that people can still use the platform the way they're used to.
So just kind of re emphasizing kind of what Netflix is really about instead of adding a whole new kink,
right? It's just about, hey, this is the best content that you're going to get. Everybody knows that Netflix has the best content. And we want you to value your access to that content. And that's through valuing your account. And it's also through education, educating our customers on the same question that you said, what are profiles versus accounts and things of that nature, people have a lot of questions. And that's something else that we're very, very adamant about is making sure that we give the right information to people. So we can educate them on what's going on, as opposed to just even having to assume or be left in the dark, or come to their own solutions based on from searching the web and stuff like that. It just makes good sense for us as Netflix to make sure that we're putting out the right information for our customers to learn the best way to use the platform.
So, you know, you've been in the game for a minute, right? You wrote something in your bio that I thought was really interesting. And what metric Do you think you use to determine what's effective and successful?
Did I solve the problem? There is no one specific metric. It's did George spend more money? Did George leave the platform? did George downgrade his plan to something else? Did George refer somebody else to sign up? So? It depends? It's very unique. But for Netflix, it's all of those? It's are you a happy customer where you're keep paying every month? Are you a disgruntled customer? Were you cancelled? Did you pause? Did you share? So all those different things are the different metrics that you can look at to see, okay, are our customers happy? Some people look at stock price. Some people look at revenue. Like I think that's up to the individual. I'm a mixture of all of them, because I think all of them matter for the success of the business.
And it seems like you know, like you said, all of these things are are larger systems level thinking that designers now have access to right, the way we think that the creative ways we can solve problems don't need to be strictly visual. They're not. I'm wondering, with all of this stuff out there. What kind of problems? Do you think product designers and creatives should be tackling more in the future,
making sure that customers are happy, I'm going to keep beating that until the wall making sure you're truly solving their problem, there's one amazing gift, but it's not a gift. It's an image that they show. And it's of a cat with one of those scratching pads, and it has all these random different poles and things all over it. And it's like what you think the customer wants. And the next image is just a cat inside of a box. And it's like what the customer actually wants. You know what I mean? The cat just wants to sit in the box. And that's fine. We thought the cat one and all this other stuff. And it does it. Like I think you end up being kind of detached from your customer, sometimes because you're so focused on revenue, or you're so focused on what you think the customer wants, you lose that sight of what does the customer really want. So I think forever, product designers should do more user research. So you can be more in line with your customers and have a better understanding of where they are and what they want and problems they have. So you can solve those as opposed to just assuming and guessing. The user research needs to 100x
Yeah, I mean, it goes back to what you're talking about before, right? Like, you know, understanding empathy and what people really need, versus just giving them this tool, this thing and they're never going to use it because like you said, the cat just wants a box.
Right? It's like how you solve all my problems. If you never spoke to me. You don't know what my problems are. You didn't speak to me and if you spoke to me I could have told you, and I probably surprise you. That's why I love that Netflix has such a amazing customer insight UX research department. Because we're in so many qualitative and quantitative walls and research sessions, we're always learning about what customers think about Netflix. And when you're in 190 different countries, and you have 200 million plus people, those people are all different individuals, you don't want to assume for anybody you want to hear from them, and let them tell you what's up. And I think that's why the company has been very successful over the last 25 years, just making sure we stick to what we know how to do do it well, and improve on that. And that's what we do. And we know what to improve by always reaching out to our customers and trying to figure out what's important to them. Where might they be struggling? How can we improve things or optimize things like that? Were very customer focused company, which I don't know if a lot of people know that.
Interesting. And, you know, obviously, like you said, 25 years, right? You're a tech company, you're on the West Coast. Is there a diversity problem in tech? Or is it an access to tech problem?
I think it's an education problem. But I don't want to bubble it up into it's a pipeline issue. Because it's not a pipeline issue, there's a ton of diversity on the planet, I think there is a a gap, there's a skills gap that these companies are looking for this caliber talent, the same thing with the NBA, the same thing with the NFL, the same thing with any professional league or organization, they're looking for this kind of caliber of talent. And if you're not grooming or educating or training certain communities to be able to develop those skills, and you're not gonna see them at the end result. And I think that's what it is with. With tech. There's enough jobs available for people, there's their seats, there's budgets. But if you don't have enough people learning the skills and getting the opportunities to grow their careers, and evolved in, nobody's going to give them a shot, because they're just going to always fall back to, well, you're not the right candidate, what we're looking for, and it's like, Well, nobody's actually setting them up to ever be the right candidate. So I would say, yes, there's a diversity problem in tech. But I think it's a bigger problem with lack of education and lack of skills training,
is it because the industry is not coming backwards? And letting us know what they need? Or is it because I can be training somebody for the skills that you don't need? Right? So if I don't know the skills you need, though, how am I going to train them to be on your team? Or be part of your your company? If we don't know what you're looking for? Because it evolves so rapidly? Right? You know, right. And so I'm wondering, is it a, is it an industry problem? Where like, we're just not aligned, right? Because we don't know what you're looking for? And if it is, should it be something that individuals put on themselves? Right? You're a mentor, right? Like you're mentoring a bunch of people? Is it something that that is the job of fawns to do the work? Or is it? Is it or is it the companies, the tech industry being like, hey, we need to make sure what we're looking for. We're letting them know what's out there.
I would say more of the latter, than the former, I'm not going to put any event on a company, a company's job is its Netflix's job to stream content. That's it, right? When you go deeper than that, that's very subjective. I think it's only the end, I tell everybody that I mentor, if you want to know what's going on that you need to be doing the research, when was the last time you looked at any of these jobs that you claim you want to get? And went through their requirements line by line and saw what they're asking for versus what you have? That's work that you have to do on your own? I don't think anybody should have to do that work for you. And that's why as a mentor, that's the type of feedback I give people like, Okay, so where do you want to work? And why do you want to work there? And what problems do you want to solve? And what industries are you interested in? I like to get people to do a lot of fundamental question and assessment so that they can have a better understanding of where they are. And then now they they can have a better path into what they want to do. And like, what I mean by all of that is, if somebody's really interested in UX research, then why am I teaching them to be the best figma designer possible? I'm not saying don't learn figma but why are you spending all your time in figma? If you want to be a UX researcher, that's because somebody probably told you, or you came to your own conclusion that designers skills or heavy visual design, and maybe that's it If somebody would have sat down with you helped you understand that you're looking to do more UX research to maybe they will tell you, sure, you can learn figma. But you need to learn these other things as well. But if you can't tell me that you want to do UX research, or nobody's ever told you that there's a such position as UX research, then you're gonna have a lot of people stuck in step zero, trying to get to step one. And I think they, that's where the mentors are really powerful on helping people get from step zero to step one, because of the experience that they have. And then being able to be a leader, and help that person, even create a path, see some new opportunities, maybe set up a new experience for them or something of that nature. So I will say the company is telling you what they want, by what they're hiring for, and their job description. And I think the designers and the mentors, and the teachers and society need to do a better job of knowing how to use that information.
All right, that's very smart, right? Like using the the information that they disseminate out there, and you know, and their job descriptions and go, Cool, let's put it on you to do the research and look at what you
tell you. But I mean, they're telling you, bro, they're literally telling you what they're looking for. And now you can go to that job listing and say, okay, Apple's hiring for 650. Designers, let me look and see which of these designers stand out to me of something I want to do. And now let's say I find five jobs, I need to go to each one of those jobs and see what they're offering, see where I stand in relation to those jobs. And if I think I have a good understanding of those skills, and I should apply, it should be that simple. But I think we need to understand that there's a lot of work that we need to do, we need to turn our own self into a product, almost honestly, until you get to where you want to be. So that you're putting that same amount of time you're putting in an ideation for yourself, you're putting in that user research, you're putting in wireframes, you're putting in prototypes, treat yourself like a product, and you'll get a lot farther.
Nice. And that's a great way to think of yourself as a product and kind of use that experience to build what you're into and do your own research right on what you want to do where you want to go. Because I think, you know, we just hear big name companies and like, I want to work for Netflix, I'm like, Oh, but I don't know what jobs they have. Right? So how are you gonna know where you fit?
Go to the job board? When was the last time anybody told you? Hey, George, I just came back from this job board. And I saw all of these different requirements, can you help me figure out where my skills are in line with that, I'm not knocking them for not doing that. I'm saying more, they need to be taught that those are the type of tactics that they can use to have a more focused skills building session or learning or a better understanding of where they want to go. As opposed to just pulling all of the exciting things that are the buzzwords that sound cool, like UX UI, figma, and responsive and web and all that type of stuff. And go a little deeper and really see where you're passionate about what industries you're excited in? Where are you going to work that it's going to fill your cup, as some people will say, as opposed to just having a job that's just going to pay you ever two weeks?
I think one of the biggest things you said was also the idea of the mentorship being that like translator, right. Like, you know, you have the experience, you understand what maybe some of these terminologies mean, where the emerging creative is still like I'm not clear of how they fit, right? And the mentors job is to help piece those things together. So they go, Oh, I've been doing that. But I didn't know it was called this. I didn't know it was the way you did it is different than the way Apple does it or the way that, you know, XYZ does it, you know, but it all may be the same thing. And we understand the terminology. And sometimes it's just a translation issue.
Like I think mentoring is super important, man, I support it. 1,000%. They're like a coach, I just got two new mentors. For this venture capital program. I man and both of the first sessions were just mind blowing, and it made me remember how people feel so good when they leave mentoring sessions with me, because I'm enlightening them. I'm inspiring them. I'm supporting them. It feels good. I got the exact same thing I give out from my mentors this week. And I already feel like it's life changing. And we just started. Well, that's great. You know what I mean? Yeah,
I mean, it is a two way street. You know, I think sometimes, you know, we think when we're given back, it's just you know, to do that, but I think sometimes it's, it's really invigorating to understand that like, there's people and things that we're able to share with that to help bridge the gap and have that ability to say, okay, cool, I'm gonna bring you along with me, or I'm gonna learn from you, you know, because you're maybe so much more up on tech than I am about this new thing that's going on and I'm like, you I can't keep up right and So you know, somebody else my mentee may be the one, you know, putting me on
to stuff, ya know, I mean, that's mandatory. I think every industry does it, I think all layers of society do it. That's why you need to have a strong network so that people can, the game is to be sold, not told, You know what I mean, unfortunately. So you got to get into these markets and to these pockets and meet these people that they have this knowledge that they are willing to share, but not if you don't ask them for it. So along with visiting these websites, and looking at what the industry is asking for, you need to be growing your network and trying to beat people that can just sprinkle you with a little bit of game, if you add all of the different sprinkles from everywhere, it starts to add up, to be honest with you, but you got to be out there I was in the city last night, at an event, after a completely full day of work, I drove an hour to San Francisco in the rain. Because I wanted to go to this event that I knew I wouldn't be able to networking, I think nine out of 10 people would have skipped it. But not me, because that's not my style. And I know what can happen from being in those rooms. And I take that access very serious. And I'm glad that I went I got to meet two people that I've been trying to get on the calendar for a minute. So that's what I mean to back this all in. Yes, it's up to you, George, it's up to me to support and teach and help and mentor. But it's also up to the individual to put a lot of time and effort and energy into themselves to be successful. And that's why I said treat yourself like a product.
Nice, nice. On a personal level. What's something that you would like to explore more creative wise?
Ai, I think AI is super cool. Right now, I've been dabbling in it, I want to learn more about it and see, are there ways that I can use it to either create a business or help some people out, it's a powerful tool doesn't make sense to be anti AI or anything like that. I don't think they're coming from my job or nothing like that. I think it's a new technology that you should learn how to maximize. So I'm all about it. I was using made journey, chat GPT right before we got on this call, so I'm always gonna stay on top of all of the current trends and technology, I'm never gonna fall behind on that. So I will say machine learning and artificial intelligence, that stuff is super, super cool. It's very, very powerful. And when you really understand what's going on, you can do amazing things with it.
Okay, all right. noted, noted, on a business level, what shifts are you seeing in the industry,
with the growth of web three, I think people want more control and ownership over the content that they create. And they want to learn how to monetize, I think people have more, are even more interested now than ever to learn how to monetize their craft, their career, their celebrity, their knowledge, whatever. And it's exciting to see that it's exciting to see people being able to survive off of their YouTube channel, or their web three project has gotten enough funding where they can pay for themselves. I like seeing people have control over their destiny.
Okay, I like that. I like that putting control back in our hands. What advice would you give to younger funds entering the industry today?
The same advice Apple give anybody else, you need to network people need to see you grind and they need to see your face, they need to see you out there is only going to take a couple of times before they see. Oh, that's George, I remember you from the event that was here. And then I saw you at this other event. And I saw you at this other event. Hey, tell me more about yourself, what are you into. So keep networking as I've always done, and keep your eyes and ears open on trends. You know, if I would have known about crypto when I was younger, I could have got into bitcoin early. I'm not saying I would have been a billionaire. But maybe I could have put $100 in Bitcoin when it started, who knows what it would be at now it would be more than it was then. So making sure that you always keep your ears and eyes open to society. Things are moving fast. But we're in the information age, it's at your fingertips. If you can scroll Instagram for leisure, you can scroll it to learn if you can be on Twitter for leisure, you can be on the to learn the same thing with LinkedIn. So I would tell my younger self just stay ahead of the curve brother, you can't lose if you stay ahead of the curve.
Well said well said when lastly, I'm starting this new ending of my show where I'm calling it pay it forward. Now that you've been on the show, who do you think I should have on? And what one question about process? Should I ask them?
I don't have a specific person off the top of my head but I think you should have a product manager on the show I think we need to get because being a product manager doesn't always require someone to be creative, right? But there's a lot of other responsibilities that and a lot of other skills that you can have that would make you a great product. manager, I think we could convert a lot more people into product management, if they understood more what the job was what the requirements were. So I would say if you can get somebody on the show that can help explain what their journey into product management is like, and just how broad but also how mandatory and necessary product management is, I'm telling you that industry is going to skyrocket forever, it's never going to stop, because there's new businesses being formed every day, somebody has to help manage those products. So I would say that and as far as process go, I would tell you to ask them, How do they manage when things don't work out the way they thought they were going to be? How do they handle conflict? What happens when they set dates, and they missed those dates, and there's a disagreement between cross functional partners, and you got to come to some kind of resolution, like I would want them to talk about triumphing over adversity, as opposed to just some of the stuff you see on Twitter or tick tock, where it's like, this is my life as a product manager. And I do this and I do that, I don't necessarily want the fairy tale explanation, I want more of that, than not too deep, but scratched the surface enough to really inspire some people and educate them on product management, and then talk about how it gets tricky. But if you can withstand it, it's a very rewarding career.
And that's, that's always part of it. It's always part of it to uncover that. That thing that you know, not the shiny, perfect thing that people want to put out there, but the grit and the experience and the when it gets tough, what do you do next? You know, those are always the stories that have helped me or help anybody figure out really what it is that people do and why I want to be interested in that thing. And I think, you know, like you said, having a product designer would probably be a nice break, because also their design adjacent newness to you know, super, they're creative in their abilities, but not creative in the same way people think of as like visually creative. And I think right, there is such a need for people understanding that that's also creative.
And we need them, they're my partners that another thing I'll say in closing is spend some time talking about how it's a network, it's a web, it's not just product design, is product design. And then under Product Design, there's content design, and there's interaction design and visual design. But then our partners are product managers, but then our partners are engineering units front end, and there's back end engineering. And our partners are data scientists, you know, in our part as a UI engineers, go to all the roles that are that make up these mega teams that these people look up to and and aspire to join. They're not one person, there's not one role. There's no such thing as just engineering from the outside, it's just engineering. But when you scratch the surface, like I said, their front end engineers, their back end engineers, their front end engineers that work on React, there's front end engineers that work on CSS, there's product designers that work on visuals, there's product designers that work on design systems, we got to educate the community and as through exposure, and the exposure comes from you having people like me and yourself and other people that are in the space, come on the show and talk about what their career path has been like. But then also what their day to day is like so people can try to find parts that may be resonate with them, and then they can get a little more clarity or direction on where they would want to go.
That's exactly what I'm trying to do. You're on your way, Georgie for explaining that even better than
I look forward to seeing you continue to grow the podcast and continue to bring on more people and just keep doing your part and having an impact on a community man. Thank you.
Trying man. So what's up next for you? Where can listeners find you if they want to look more about what's up Fonz?
You can just hit me up on Twitter like I'm always around on Twitter, lurking, reading, liking, supporting the community. I'm heavy on LinkedIn or on Twitter, at young farms. On LinkedIn, I'm Fonz Morris. I'm always on LinkedIn support and posting. Inspiring. I'm outside, if you outside, you'll see me if you're not outside, you won't see me. So that's the best way for me to explain it. If you want to find me come outside just
right, right. You know, build your network. Right.
Like I said, I should see you in my comments. The way you'll see me and your comments, I should see you retweeting something that I posted the same way you'll see me posting your stuff, you got to support each other. So I'm on all the platforms and I'm looking to always politic and, and holler at people and connect people and stuff like that. They're not in a good spot. So I'm trying to help as many people as I can.
Thank you so much. And we appreciate the time man, this was this was enlightening. And you know, I appreciate you on the West Coast, you know, kind of like just hollered at me and we just chatted up, you know, two kids from the city. So, once again, Fonz, thank you so much for this man. It was all of course,
I can hear the back of an ambulance or fire truck and it's probably
a classic New York. You don't
hear that out here. You do not hear that out here at all. But you hear that in New York. That's the soundtrack of the city fire truck, ambulance, cop car train bus going by people yelling.
Yeah. I was. I was hoping it wasn't gonna be one thing. So not during the podcast. We wouldn't have it but you. You caught it.
Yeah, of course, of course. But thank you, Georgia is good seeing you man. Thank you for following up to make sure that we can pull this off. It's been a fantastic episode.
Yo man fonds. Thank you so much. Take care.
You too, my brother.
This has been works in process.
Once again, I want to thank Fonz for taking the time out of his busy day out in Cali to chat. It's so interesting to hear how Netflix is a consumer first business and the power that research plays in making sure they are able to solve users problems in ways that make people see value in their service.
The works on processes podcast is created by me, George Garrastegui Jr. and the content and transcriptions have been reviewed by Or Syziflinger, and this episode has been edited and produced by RJ Basilio. You can find works in process and all media platforms such as Apple, Spotify, Google, and more. And if you'd like the episode, come on, feel free and give us a five star rating on Apple podcast or Spotify. And if you're feeling extra generous, write us a review. It really helps. Also, just subscribe to the podcasts on whatever platform listen to right now. It's that easy. And follow us on Instagram or LinkedIn to stay up to date on the new releases of every episode. I appreciate you taking the journey with me and I hope you enjoyed our conversation. Until next time, remember your work is never final. It's always a work in process.