Fresh out of college, not knowing what to do with his creative writing degree, Cap spent a year digging around serving coffee in Louisiana, before he was approached by friends about launching a new company in San Francisco. He learned HTML as a teenager and had a pirated copy of Photoshop back then (“We all did it,” he adds). He enjoyed building and designing websites in his spare time, a hobby he continued well into his twenties. “I built my own blog, redesigning it over and over again, for years,” he explains. His first job as a designer meant moving to California and spending a few weeks in a friend’s flat until he found his own place. Cap says it was a formative moment in his life, where he suddenly realized all the possibilities of web design.
“That’s when I realized that I could do this for a living, this that I liked.” That was nine years ago. From humble beginnings, Cap has risen in the world of startups and technology, working at companies like Etsy, Zoosk, Formspring, and Amazon. He is Faroe Islands Email List well known on the speaking circuit for his approachable and down-to-earth style, and his blog spits out inspiring and thoughtful words on management, leadership, and teamwork. We sat down with Cap and asked him about a variety of topics, including what it’s like to be a leader at BuzzFeed, how he personally overcomes creative blocks, and even where he sees the future of our industry. *This interview has been edited for clarity. What is it like to be VP of Design at Buzzfeed?
First Impressions Count
CW: Different every day. I’m responsible for the product design team, which is the website, the apps, and all the internal tools. I’m also responsible for brand design and marketing design, which means on any given day I move from user experience flows to art direction. It’s everywhere, every day, which is great. I like that. I think variety is really helpful. What do you do daily to stimulate creativity? CW: I don’t know if I’m doing anything to get creative. I think my role now is to help others unlock and have time to be creative, if that makes sense. The writing on my personal blog is as creative as I am at the moment, so I’m really happy about it, I really enjoy it as an outlet. Well, what did you used to do to get those juices flowing? CW: People say, “how do you inspire yourself?”
And I feel like they’re looking for short-cut ways to do it. But I found that it is more of a muscle that develops over time. And I feel like they’re looking for short-cut ways to do it. But I have found that it is more of a muscle that develops over time. That’s something I was in the creative writing department. The advice was, if you’re going to write, make sure you get up every day, write at the same time every day, and have a ritual about it. At first, it’s very difficult because you don’t know what to say and you don’t know what to write, and then over time your brain starts to understand, ‘Oh, this is the moment I’m . creative.’ Your brain will start preparing ahead of time, so when you sit down, you’ll be ready to go. It’s not much different in design.
Fast-growing Agency Seeks Passionate
The more you can train yourself to get in and out of that creative mode, the easier it will be. So you are not looking for ways to get inspired or creative, you can just turn it on. The best designers don’t get so blocked; it’s just part of what they do. What design magazines/websites do you keep up with? CW: I don’t keep up with any designs, actually, at the moment, unless I see something on Twitter. I follow people who write about management, leadership and organizational issues. There’s a great mailing list called Software Lead Weekly, which includes five to eight links a week on management or leadership. Everything about it is really good; it is so well cured. Some people I like to read include: Julie Zhou, who is like my spirit animal. Camille Fournier, who is just killing him.