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Three Traits Of High Performance UX Designers

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Being A High Performance Individual

Just as soon as I was starting up this new edition of Solutionants ongoing, I discovered a new mentor in Dan Peña.

Even I don’t agree with everything that this 70-year old gentleman says, I’m really glad that he came into my life via the Joe Rogan Podcast.

After that, I started my digging and Dan’s videos are my lunch companion every day.

I made a few very important breakthroughs these last weeks, and in big part thanks of his teachings.

So I thought in choosing some of his “Penaisms” to share with you, adapting them to the very demanding practice that is User Experience Design.

And, at the same time, to give back for his teachings (by the way, all Dan’s material is online, for free.)

Three Traits Of High Performance UX Designers

Dan is all about becoming a High Performance Individual. Even if his marketing is related to ‘make people rich’, all of his content is aimed to change a human into a high-performance biological system.

A useful analogy is the high-end athletes: they do whatever it takes to push themselves out of the comfort zone and become better, day after day.

This is a very useful lens to change our perspective on what is needed to grow exponentially and become a senior UX Designer.

On my +9 years in digital businesses, I met just a dozen of HPUXers. Those all share the same enthusiastic approach to the challenges that UX projects bring.

And as you probably know, the industry is looking for more people like this: the ones that are accountable for their own success.

A few of the traits that I observed in all of them are:

1. They do it poorly until they do it well.

Dan summarizes this saying “perfection equals paralysis”. As UX professionals, we need to take every project as-is. There’s never time and budget to do it the way it should be.

So you create the best solutions given the scenario and players that you have at your disposal… You ride out the storm, so to speak.

At first, this will make us fail miserably. And that’s ok: it’s called learning.

Is a matter of keep doing this, and inexorably our seniority increases. In time, we will be better compensated with a salary/fee increase.

2. They get paid for performing their hobbies.

Last year I was able to be able to stop “working”. Now, I just “do things I love”.

But paradoxically, this is how my week look now:

This is how my 50-hour workweek looks like =)

Having been given the freedom to do whatever I like, I choose to put EVERYTHING I HAVE in my project.

I can do this because I love what I do. I find thrill in being at my best. I don’t need to ‘rest’ from this.

I’ll quote Dan here:

I’ve never seen a “part-time” super successful, high performance person.


The ability to push it to the next level is needed to become a HPI, and that is only possible when we really love what we do.

3. They are paid not for what they know, but what they can do (or get others to do.)

As part of the knowledge industry, User Experience Design has a vast amount of information available, in every format and sub-specialty (information architecture, interaction design, user research, facilitation techniques.)

It’s easy to loose ourselves in the theory and think that we can get a project moving right after that.

But unfortunately, that’s far from truth.

The ability to manage a project and a team are one of those things that the theory cannot give.

In fact, this is the main reason for which I created Solutionants: practice wins over theory a thousand times.

Is as simple as putting ourselves through stressful situations. Meet with stakeholders. Guide users in user testing. Face consequences.

It is utmost important to understand that we need to DO to be able to take our UX practice to the next level.

. . .

Thanks for sharing this fantastic discovery with me!

I’d love to know if you liked this article. If this is the case, please leave a comment and I’ll make sure of keep writing about HPI’s.


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