Work at a scale that resonates to you

24 July 2021

This quote snippet is taken from an Offscreen Magazine interview with, the always deeply introspective, Craig Mod. The whole interview transcript is worth reading. But this portion really floats my boat.

Question

Some time after writing those essays you took on a design role at Flipboard, but you eventually went back to being independent so that you could focus on writing. Was working for a tech company not what you expected?

Answer

It was everything I expected. Working with Marcos Weskamp and the team at Flipboard is one of the highlights of my life. They were outstanding humans and outstanding designers and engineers. I’ve never been in a room with more talent. And all of us were moving in synchronicity, with aligned goals, during the headiest time of digital publishing, the iPad fresh, infinite possibility with a nearly infinite budget — nothing was constrained except for our imaginations. Truly. A once in a millennium moment in an ancient industry. And we spent some acid-trip like adventures exploring bizarro interface tendrils that never made it out into the world. I learned a lot.

I learned how vital a strong mythology was for leading a company, for raising a huge sum of money. You need product, you need market-fit, but you also need a helluva story. It was all a high. And I have gratitude for everyone on the team.

We launched Flipboard for iPhone and instantly — boom! — had millions of new users. But I didn’t feel my heart move. Not an inch. It was just an observation, a truth. You have to acknowledge these truths. It came with no judgment. My heart didn’t move. I loved the people and the work, but the object, the artifact, did not move my heart. By that point in my career I had worked on enough projects that had moved me to understand what was happening. I had archetypes to lean on.

Simultaneously, as we made the app I made a meta-book about our making of the app — the design detritus, the engineering commits — and presented that to the team. Jesus, my heart moved a mile. It was difficult not to cry. I realized in that moment that scale is secondary to grace or movement.

Does affecting one hundred lives turn you on? A thousand? A million? A billion? Why? What does it mean to have a positive impact on a life? How intimate does that connection need to be? Understanding your scale — the scale that moves you — is critical to understanding with whom and how you should work, how you should live.