Episode 13

Fixing the UX industry with Debbie Levitt

Published on: 7th July, 2021

Debbie Levitt has set herself the audacious goal of trying to fix the UX industry, by making the user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) in websites and apps more user-friendly. With a background in Psychology and Music, and 26 years in the UX industry, Debbie has a thriving business and a popular YouTube Channel. In this interview, Debbie explains:

  • how the UX industry came about and developed to where it is today
  • why she provides most of her content free of charge
  • the impact your environment has on your attitude and state of being
  • what motivates her to keep going despite the immensity of the task

This is Debbie’s Delta CX Channel on YouTube.

Debbie is also an amazing singer. Check out her YouTube Song Channel here.

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Music: Pablito's Way by Paolo Pavan

Transcript
Maribel:

Well, thank you, Debbie, for joining us and agreeing to have this conversation with us. You are an expert in CX and UX. And I remember the first time I contacted you, and you explained that, I said, I'm so sorry, I have no idea what that is. So for people who are like me, can you tell us a little bit about what it is that you do? And what is your audacious goal?

Debbie:

Yeah, absolutely. And hello listeners, and thanks for having me on. CX and UX, the super short version, would be it's all about making things user-friendly. So when you think about an app that you have, or a website that you use, or a system that you use, hopefully somebody was brought onto the team, with a psychology background to make it make sense for the people who are going to use it. But because so many apps and websites and systems are, shall we say, total crap, you can tell that nobody was brought in to care about what our customers are trying to do right now? Why are they here? How can we help them get this done? Instead, they love to throw crazy stuff all over you as you're trying to get things done. Join the mailing list 10% off! Well, you know, it's crazy. So in our world, our main goal is just to make things user-friendly for everybody. For people like you and me and everyone listening, people with disability needs, people without disability needs. Everybody should find things to be user-friendly. And that's actually a job and it's a specialty, and people assume we're artists, but many of us are not. We're detectives, we’re problem finders and problem solvers. Some are artsy, some are not. I have a degree in music. So I like to say all of my art talent ended up in music, and I'm a terrible visual artist, holy cats. So people think, yeah, bring in these CX and UX people and make our screens pretty. But that's not quite right. And then if they're pretty, but they suck, who's going to fix that? Is anyone paying attention here? Or are we driving with our eyes closed? Did that make more sense?,

Helen:

Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense to me. I'm wondering, how long have you been in this profession, or in this industry? Is it a new industry, is it new for you? And what is it that brought you to it? What is it that interests you in it, Debbie?

Debbie:

Yeah, the industry goes back a bit. In reality. Its ancestors are ergonomics and industrial design, people who made chairs and other things. But eventually we had digital products, especially, for most people think of digital is really happening in the 80s or 90s, when you got your first computer. And as of then people had to say, okay, there's this whole new way of doing things. We've got these menus and buttons and checkboxes and what are these and how do these work? And someone had to formalize that. I have the book on like, from the 80s of like, what should a drop down menu look like?. Someone had to come up with these things. And that happened mostly in the 80s. And it was done mostly by people who actually had PhDs in Psychology. And so in some ways UX is newish in that it's mostly been around since we cared about digital products. But if you think about non digital products, then it goes back way before because somebody had to design chairs and cars and printing presses and stuff. So that's our ancestry. I have been doing it since about 1995. So I'm not an original gangster, but I am an you know, from an earlier tribe. And I fell into it somewhat by accident. I was a computer geek growing up. I was put in a programming class in 1979 at age seven, and I loved computers and technology, everything I could get my hands on I did and chemistry sets. I was that kid. And so when I was at university, I dumped quite a long way in. I dumped my pre med major and I had all the spare time. So I was like, I love psychology. Let's take some of those classes. And so I took psychology classes for kicks, and graduated with a degree in music. And then after that went into the music business in New York City, and a friend rings me up one day and he goes, You've got to see this thing called ‘the web’, and you can make pages for it. And I was like, What? Because before that we had email and we had text based things but this is big. So I think I stayed awake for a week learning to make web pages and then I said, I think people will pay people who know how to do this, you know, but I don't want to just throw stuff together on pages, I want to use the psychology concepts that I just learned. And ultimately, I didn't know it at the time. But that's what the customer experience and the user experience, CX and UX are all about.

Maribel:

So is it kind of like the signing stuff that is frustration free?

Debbie:

Totally. I have a model that I call the Four Horsemen of bad UX. That's my registered trademark. And they are frustration, confusion, disappointment and distraction. So anytime you see a website, app system, anything, it could even be an in person experience that is making you feel one or more of those, it's crap. And we should be improving it. And again, very often, companies didn't hire someone like me. Sometimes they did hire someone like me and they said, just copy what the competitors are doing, or just throw some ideas together fast, we'll figure it out later. And we're not really given the time, the budget, the opportunity to do our best work, we're mostly told to guess. And okay, we were okay guessers. But there's no substitution for the fuller arc of our process, which actually involves a lot of scientific research.

Helen:

On an earlier episode of this podcast, we interviewed a lady who was a real advocate of diversity in artificial intelligence. And she was telling us some horror stories of what had gone wrong, because you didn't get the right people thinking in the right way. And you mentioned earlier that the experience has to be suitable for everybody, including disabled people, was what you mentioned. I wonder if you can say a little bit about that, about the diversity of the people that are working in the job that you do?

Debbie:

Yeah, our industry definitely suffers a bit from not being as diverse as it could be. So we are also in a transition and repair and get this right kind of phase. It's still very white, in our world, and that needs to change. But I will say, especially having lived in San Francisco, and because aspects of CX and UX are creative, it's usually very LGBT friendly, LGBTQ, and I've seen it be pretty equal across male and female and other but I would say ethnically, it hasn't been as diverse as it could be. And that's, that's been bad and wrong. And one thing that I've been doing to try to improve that because I wish I could solve the world and racism on my own, but I haven't had a lot of luck, but I'll keep trying. I've tried to make sure that nearly all of the content that I put out is inexpensive or free. I wrote a 191,000 word book, length of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and I put it on Kindle for $12. I have hundreds of hours of content on my Delta CX YouTube channel, I turned off all the ads. So I don't make any ad money on that. And I don't want to. I turned down sponsors, because I don't want people to think I'm being paid for. So my whole thing has been, let's get good information out to everybody. And in fact, people say to me, Well, why don't you start a school? Why don't you start a school people can go to to learn to do this. And I go, yeah, and as soon as I charge for it, there goes a whole bunch of people who should be in that school. I can't, I can't make that model work. Because that ‘Save the world’ person inside of me says this should be free for the people who we decide get in who we mostly pick by personality and a little bit of raw talent. You wouldn't want to pick really by ethnicity or something else, like everybody is equally welcome in this industry. But while people are acting like, maybe you should have a Master's degree, or maybe you shouldn't have done this, or maybe you should have done that. And it's leaving a lot of people out and we’re still trying to figure out how to fix that.

Maribel:

I also sense, Debbie, from what you explained before that in this field, this type of work is not seen as valuable. Where does that come from? And how do you deal with it?

Debbie:

Yeah, you're totally right. Unfortunately, in many cases, companies think that their CX and UX people are, what I mostly hear is artsy fartsy hipsters, and they're the people who are just going to come in and make things pretty. And it's a huge problem in our industry, because many of us take psychology and other things rather seriously. But when we get to a job we’re treated as a manual labor pair of hands very often, even a few years ago with my experience, I get brought into companies, they throw money at me and they go, Well, you know, Sam has this idea. Can you just draw what Sam's been talking about? And it's like, wow, I'm a problem finder and a problem solver. And there's so many things I could be doing. And that's what you want me to do? I've quit a lot of jobs in the first month, when that's kind of the way it's been looking. So I think that there's a lot of disrespect. But I think it comes from misunderstanding. When you think that these are the people who we bring in to make something pretty, then how do you treat that worker? How do you assess that you've hired the right worker, we have a big problem in our industry where people lacking skill, lacking talent, throw the word UX on their resume or CV, a company doesn't understand what we do, they see the word on the CV and they go, looks great, hire them, the person guesses at stuff and thinks that's the way to go. Because Hey, guessing sure is fast, will save time, and avoids a lot of the scientific nature of it. And then you get stuck with an app that you hate. You're complaining to customer service, you're leaving the company. So there's all this carnage at the end. But I find that we're not being held accountable. And while we're not being held accountable, they're hiring all kinds of people. And all these people, not all of them, but many of them are doing a fake it until you make it, but they're still faking it. So it's a and that leads us to the big audacious goal, which was like, how do I fix my industry, when it's so misunderstood? And right now seems to be supporting ugly trends, crappy short cuts, unqualified people, can I change the whole industry in even some small ways, because the experience that you have as a customer or user, there's nothing more important than that. If you don't like it, you're going to leave, you're going to stop paying, you're going to put out angry tweets. It's really not worth it. But time after time companies put out crap, I'll ask you two, can you think of an app or website or a system that is so freaking amazing that it really helps you get your tasks done efficiently? And you love going there, because you know, it's gonna be good?

Helen:

Well, Zoom.

Debbie:

Zoom, except if it's the first time you use it, I get a lot of first time Zoom people because I interview them. And they're like, oh, what's, what's this green button? What do I do now? But it's true. Once you know Zoom, it certainly is easy when you don't know Zoom, it's surprisingly hard. I even feel that way about iPhones because I'm an Android person. You hand me an iPhone, and I'm like, Where's the Back button? Um, I'm so but Maribel, what about you? What's like the most amazing website app system that just gets it right?

Maribel:

Wow

Debbie:

Exactly! I accept that answer. I accept that answer. Because that’s the reality.

Maribel:

I wouldn't be able to say that there's one that I find fascinating.

Debbie:

Lots of room for improvement.

Maribel:

Even Microsoft Teams, I use zoom a lot and I know my way around and...

Helen:

She's making a face right now, I have to say,

Debbie:

I did make a face, you can’t see it, not worth it, go ahead.

Maribel:

I didn't know what to do. I felt like I didn't have any hands or like disabled, oh, my goodness. Oh, help me.

Debbie:

Yes, that's bad. And we have a list of standards that we use for products. And they're things like, Can people recognize what to do in a new system? Or does the system expect them to remember it? Does the system expect them to stop and learn it? We have lists of standards that we’re supposed to go by. And yet the first time you use something, it's not intuitive. They end up trying to give you lots of tutorials because they know it sucks. And I keep reminding people if you build something intuitive, you wouldn't feel like you had to send me to school. But as for our industry, the Godfather of our industry is still alive in his 80s and he's claiming that he is working on standardizing the education of our industry. But he is an old-school psychology PhD guy. So like, two years after announcing that I believe he's just formed some committees. So I love the guy and I respect the guy and I can't wait to see what he comes up with. But I feel like I could have started 24,000 schools in the time in which he's finally made some committees and so I hope to have a voice in that and be a part of that but I've also gone in my own direction. As we are speaking now I am like 45% done editing a what's probably going to end up an eight and a half hour video course for human resources, recruiters, staffing agencies, hiring managers, because I think a lot of our problems start with crappy jobs, crappy jobs looking for the wrong person. And so I've written a giant HR training and that I've recorded in the home studio, and I'm now editing down. And I'm gonna put that out for free. I don't want to hear anybody say, your training seems really interesting, but we don't have a budget this year. So we couldn't take your training, don't want to hear it. Everyone take the freaking training, it's going to be free. And so I'm out there with the machete trying to chop at every single thing I can. So I also speak at a lot of engineering conferences, where I explain what the heck UX is, and how we're engineering super buddy. And we're gonna save them so much time when they're not building garbage and having to rebuild it. So I'm out there like the octopus with, you know, something in every direction I was telling you, before we started about the time I spoke at an event and my power went out. And they invited me back. And that's actually a marketing conference. And so I have all these different talks that say some of the same things, but to all these different audiences. And I just get out there as much as I can. And sometimes I charge for my time. And sometimes I don't, and I just try to explain to people why this is important. And I've shifted from like, why is UX important to why is customer-centricity important? You may or may not care about me. And you may or may not care about whatever this UX thing is, but if everyone at our job cared about the customer, and put the customer first and said, You know what, we're not going to release this new version, because it doesn't work for blind people, or, you know what, we're not going to put this new version out yet, because we just learned it doesn't have what hard of hearing people need. If companies would just delay things a few weeks to make it better, it would be a huge difference. And I'm trying to inspire them to do those things, rather than release it, learn it sucks, and then have to scramble to fix it.

Helen:

You said you’re offering, or you want to offer, a lot of this free of charge because it should be available to everybody you know, no matter their income levels, and whether they can afford it or not. So how do you make your living?

Debbie:

Yeah, I make my living by doing projects. So Delta CX is my agency, and people tend to hire us to do the types of things I'm talking about, though not as an in house employee, more as a hired consultancy or agency. So last year we did a huge research project for a very famous company, I probably shouldn't name. We interviewed 71 sellers on the platform. We watched them put up items, we learned so much about them. And it was a really fantastic project. So that's that and my low cost of living, living where I do now helps me you know, keep on truckin and be able to devote a lot of my time to these things that are not necessarily direct moneymakers. But people do ask me like, what is your business model? It looks like you're giving everything away. And do you ever sleep? And I've just said look, to me, it's the long tail. It's if you fall in love with what I say, or something I've said has improved your job or improved your company, maybe someone will go, let's bring in Deb to speak and throw a couple of dollars at her. Hey, let's bring in Deb's agency to help us out with something. It's like the super long tail of things. But if nothing came of it, it would still be worth doing it because almost every day I get thank you notes from people. Thank you, you're helping me make sense of my job. Thank you, I knew what to say to my manager to explain to him what was going wrong because I couldn't put my finger on it. Thank you, the people at my company are trying to make me rush to put out garbage. Now I'm going to show them your video on why we shouldn't do that. And so to me, it's enough reward to know that I'm creating change. And I just assumed the money will show up somewhere from something.

Helen:

Of course, yeah, very noble intentions as well, if I may say, Debbie.

Maribel:

Indeed, I was wondering while you were explaining all that, what's going inside of you Debbie, as you know, Debbie the person, and how you keep going, because I have gotten the impression you deal with a lot of resistance from companies that the market and not being recognized for the value that you can bring and you've been doing it for...

Debbie:

Yeah, 26 years.

Maribel:

20 something years. What is it that keeps you so motivated, from what I hear? What is it that keeps you going?

Debbie:

It's knowing that I think I can make a change even if for now the changes are small at the individual level, the notes that people, someone sent me a note the other day and she said, I'm just now learning UX, I'm trying to break into the industry, and you have the best content on the web. Your information is honest and fun and actionable. And everybody needs to know about this. And I actually saw some haters on Reddit, someone said, they're talking about you on Reddit, you better go look, and I was like, Oh, I don't want to look. And I went on, I went and looked and there are a few people who had made up some untrue things about me and were having some fun with that. But then, like a whole bunch of people rushed to my defense. And a couple of people said, Yeah, I've asked around at work if Debbie Lovett has good content or not. And everybody I spoke to said she's really fair, and maybe they don't agree with everything she says, but she's a really good source. And I feel like that's the best I can do. And that keeps me going, that someone out there says, You know what? After I wrote my book, I like to joke that if 85% of people agree with 85% of what's in my book, I've probably done a pretty good job. Like, I don't expect everybody to line up with everything I believe in or that I'm pushing for, we can disagree. But I'm hoping to, I'm really hoping to create a movement of people who will start caring about the quality of what your experience is like when you use these garbage systems. And if we could get, you know, the problem is we care about it. We care like crazy. We deal with imposter syndrome, mental health issues, physical health issues, because we care so much. And that's how you hear empathy being such a big buzzword right now, even though it's become a buzzword in my industry. And the problem is we end up with these workplaces that are driven by time and money. And we say, Well, don't you care that people can't pay their bill easily? Nah, they'll figure it out! Well, don't you care that people are tweeting angry crap about us? Nah, it'll go away! And we end up in these worlds of people who don't care. But then very often hold like these empathy workshops, and like all this BS in theater, and so we also struggle with a lot of mental and emotional and other issues, because we care so much, and everywhere we go we're blocked. I have a psychologist who's a recurring guest on my show, and he knows poop about UX. But I keep bringing him on to talk about, how do we deal with being gaslit? How do we deal with being better critical thinkers? How do we deal with conflict at our jobs, and I just kind of bring him in as kind of a therapist for an hour on my show and takes people's questions live, because we do all these streams live on YouTube, to just try to help people understand like, imposter syndrome is normal in our industry, because even if you've done it 20 something years, you get to a job, the job treats you like garbage, and you go maybe it's me, maybe I'm maybe I'm a fraud, and people really struggle. It's bizarre.

Helen:

Yeah, I mean, I guess what you're saying, you're in the tech industry, and you're talking about the user experience in apps, but you know, what you were saying about the way that users or citizens, anybody experiences ‘the system’. So it might be the food system, you know, the tax system, you know, any kind of system...

Debbie:

Go online and try to fill out a form, go online, go to the government website and try to find that form you need to fill out for that thing you need. You can't find the form, you can fill out a form. Yeah. And so these are really simple examples of CX and UX. And the question is, who designed this garbage? And very often, it's nobody, very often someone wrote down, what does the system need to do? And a programmer said, I'll make the system do that. And there often wasn't attention to how it does that.

Helen:

But is that a reflection, is what's happening online in terms of... I've gone to the government website and tried to find the form to fill in. Is that a reflection of how we are being treated in life, you know, being moved from pillar to post? Is that how it's being reflected, how life is being reflected?

Debbie:

Yeah, I think that the amazing, I think you're right, and I think that the amazing thing for me is that every company handing you garbage, usually it's like a picture of Steve Jobs up on the wall, and they love to quote Steve Jobs and Apple and go oh, Apple does this and Apple makes amazing products and then I go, Okay, and which of Apple's things are you emulating you know, you love Apple so much? Are you putting the time that they put into research and development? Are you testing things on people? Steve Jobs said, and I'm bad at quoting him, but he said something about how you don't build the technology first, you find what the people need. And it's like, well, did you do that? And so I think that there's just a real slow motion disconnection. I think if you went to someone in government and said, like, do you care if someone can fill this form out well? They'd probably if they really thought about it, they'd say, Yeah, because when a form isn’t filled out well, it's more work for me, I have to process it again. I have to track that person down. I have to ring the solicitor, I have to do whatever. And if they really thought about it, they would say, it is important that this person fills this form out well. Okay, next question. Why isn't your form easier to understand and fill out? Oh, yeah, that would take, that would take time and money. It all comes down to time and money. I don't know why we're in such a global rush to give people crap. Slow down, give them something better. It works for everything. I mean, it works for lunch, you know? I mean, it works. It works for relationships. I think it works for everything. But I think when you get over obsessed with time and money, as industry has, and even more so in the last 10 years, I think that it makes people worship the wrong idols and have the wrong priorities. I mean, we see this now, especially in America, even though I don't live there anymore. I do follow some of the news on who's being sued for having a website that disabled people can't use. And the craziest news, if you want to Google something and go, WHAT?!, the craziest news was Domino's Pizza. Do you know Domino's Pizza? Domino's Pizza was being sued because blind people couldn't order a pizza. And their response to that, we know what their response should have been. And their response was to fight the lawsuit. Rather than going, It's a fair cop, okay we didn't make this website easy to use for people with visual disabilities or visual situations and issues. All right, you're right, we should just fix that up. They spent more money fighting the lawsuit than it would have cost them to bring in experts and specialists and test it with people with different visual disabilities and make sure they can order a freaking pizza because guess what, people with visual disabilities eat pizza. And they'd like to order it themselves. And they should. And so it's amazing to watch some of these things happen in your like, I don't even think that saved time or money who decided that was a good idea? So like, we live in this very surreal world where we feel like we're watching people make these decisions, supposedly out of time and money, but then it always costs them more later to fix. And I'm just going like, shrug. I look like shrug emoji. This doesn't look like...

Helen:

You do actually look like a shrug emoji right now!

Debbie:

Except I have like, you know, what I call my New Yorker face, which people can see, which is like, I grew up in New York. And I think of those people as not particularly genuine in general. So it's like this face of like, yeah, you're having a problem. Yeah, that's really, I'm so sorry to hear you're having a problem.

Maribel:

That really sounds authentic.

Debbie:

Thank you. It was. It took me a long time to lose that accent.

Maribel:

And now you're free.

Debbie:

Mostly, yeah. Except when I need my annoying character, then it's like, ah, sounds like everybody I grew up with, I'll just use their accent.

Maribel:

But Debbie, then it doesn't make sense. Because it sounds to me like counterintuitive if companies would consider what's better for their clients so that they can, or customer, so they can keep them. Where is this huge resistance coming from, because...?

Debbie:

I'm gonna go with ego.

Maribel:

Ego?

Debbie:

Yeah, I think it's the ego of some of our coworkers. And sometimes people in corporate leadership and management. I know you've both been there. And we've all seen that person who drives a project, and the project is partially or wholly garbage. And the culture is one of Wow, I can tell this is garbage, but let's not say anything. And especially if I'm being judged on how fast did I work, which is a lot of what you hear if you hear about agile or agile software development. And agile is supposed to be about being able to, I mean, agile was really based on old factories and assembly lines. So the idea of sgile was, we're a well oiled machine. We know that we can get good software or apps or systems out in a certain amount of time. It's pretty predictable, it's pretty reliable, we've got a well oiled machine. But rather than just settling for a well oiled machine, it seems like many companies think the idea is you must keep speeding up the machine until it burns out, breaks or catches fire. So I think it's the ego of some of the leaders at some of our companies. I'll put it on them because this is very often from leadership, it's not from the worker bees. The worker bees are not like, please work me to death and have me build something I know I'm going to have to fix later. I think it's the ego of some of what we call the stakeholders, or the managers or the people with some sort of horse in the race, and they might be in trouble from people above them, hey, you didn't make your numbers, hey, we didn't sell as many as we thought, hey, something's going wrong, you know, make something happen, and they think, hurry up and make this thing happen. And I think that's also where you end up with some unethical decisions, and some borderline decisions and some creepy crap, because someone was like, Oh, my gosh, I've got to show my boss that I can bring in this money or bring in these customers and I can do it fast. So I interviewed a meeting expert for my book and he said that the average Chief Marketing Officer, that highest Marketing Officer of a company needs, I think she said four years to really be able to come up with a plan, build the right team, get the budget, and enact their own plan, see the plan through, it can really be a four year cycle. I think she said the average Chief Marketing Officer is fired after 27 months, because where's the results? But she said it should take you four years to get to the results you've planned. But companies in many cases are cutting you off early and saying we gave you two years, for a four year plan.

Helen:

It's like this, you know, the short termism and faster and more productive. It seems like to me a disease which has infiltrated the Western society and we don't really know how to deal with it.

Debbie:

Yeah, I mean, you can deal with it by moving to a small island, right Helen? Because you know, I grew up in America, I grew up first in New York, I went to university in Boston, I lived many years outside of San Francisco, though I was always the country mouse at heart. And finally, for the last three plus years, I've been living in Italy on the island of Sardinia, which is a large island so it's not like I'm on a deserted island waving a flag. But you know, we've got 1.6 million people, but spread across 377 villages and communities. So I'm in a little Italian village of 1500 people. And I'm telling you, there's only so long your American or London or Berlin mindset is going to work for you in a community as we call it Island time, you know, and Americans used to go on vacation to the Caribbean. And there was like no sense of when something was going to happen, you know, but if people say the land of mañana Oh, I have that in here. It's like when does the accountant want to see us? Mid morning. No, that's not an appointment. Is it 11:00? Is it 11:15 you know? And it really, it honestly took me two years of pushing against the reality here to realize I was the problem, you know, and that I can be [?] in my own house, but as soon as I step out of my own house, all bets are off, you know? And my boyfriend says, let's walk to the village and go get some cheese, you know, that's a two hour thing because even though the village is half a kilometer, you are going to run into everybody, and everybody wants to talk to you. And nobody has a short conversation. It's not like New York where it's like Hey, how you doing? We should have lunch sometime. See you later. It changes you but I remember I used to live in Tucson, Arizona, which is absolutely beautiful. I lived in Oro Valley, which to me is the most beautiful part of Tucson. And it's a part of Tucson where there's a lot of rehab centers and famous spas. And I went to the spa one day to treat myself and a Supertype A inners, you know, big city American lady was there. And she's looking out the window like she's catatonic. And she turns to me and she goes, Have you seen these mountains? And I said, Yes, every day. I live 12 miles south of here. And she started shouting at me and she goes, Who do you work for? I want to work for them. How do I get a job? How do I move here? I was like, thing one, slow down. You know, I was like you're not ready for here. I said, I worked for me. And she was like, Oh, you know. And the funny thing was to watch people come to Tucson to go to these spas and whatever and then go right back to your crazy lives and wondering how much of that spa week which had to be $7,000 or whatever, they're really going to bring back with them. I'm sure it's a beautiful vacation, everybody go to Tucson. But when these are our environments, we are those environments, and it's I think it's very hard to change yourself when you are still in that same environment. But you know, I'm no psychologist and I'm no specialist in No, that's the musician's opinion, everybody. Take it as that.

Maribel:

Well, for me just sounds that businesses and people just need to slow down.

Debbie:

I never thought I would do it. And this place made me do it. It took me two years of living here to not eat at my desk while working. Because in America, they barely give us lunch breaks. I know you’re thinking America, they’ve got money, they've got stuff. We have nothing, we don't even have healthcare. I mean, like we have super nothing. And we have have dreams and lies. And I was happy to move away and I'm still a citizen, I pay taxes. So you know, everybody enjoy that. But we don't even understand how wacky it is that we're given a half hour lunch and we're expected to take it at our desk and keep working because time, time, time, time, time. And it took me two years here to not eat at my desk. And now I don't eat at my desk. My keyboards are lasting longer, by the way, because I've stopped dropping food on them. Unintended side effects.

Helen:

This has been such a fascinating and interesting and funny discussion. I think we're gonna have to move on to the last question, Maribel.

Maribel:

Yeah, let's do that.

Debbie:

Go for it!

Maribel:

You know, our podcast is called AudaciousNess. And it has these two parts, audacious that part of taking a bold, hairy goal. And the ness is like a part of land going outside into the sea. So our last question is, how do you keep that solid grounding around all that water and wind moving around you?

Debbie:

Hmm, beautiful question, gives me shivers, really nicely asked. I think that you have to find what fuels you. And it's been different for me when I've lived in different places. In San Francisco, it was, I'm just going to go ride my motorcycle a little bit and get some breeze in my face. Here, my motorcycles don't have plates yet. But here, it's, I'm gonna go talk to the dogs a little bit. I think that it's about finding your own self-care and your own balance. Because my big audacious goal is trying to fix or change in small and large ways my entire industry and everything going wrong in it. And it's getting other people down that I know. And it gets me down from time to time. And I think you just have to focus on the small wins. Even if you don't have the big wins, my goal will never be achieved, but it's the journey. And you have to find the things that still make you feel good and remind you of who you are and why you're doing it. So go talk to the dogs, and go walk into the village and go stop working for two hours and make a complicated lunch, as they do here. I think that's how I do it, is I just try to remember that every person who has sent me a thank you note is why I do this. And I don't need the thank you notes. And I don't wait for the thank you notes. But when I do get them it's that reminder of, I changed something small for one person. And there might be others like this person who didn't write to me and I just have to keep doing it. And I find ways to make it fun. You know if you thought this was a little fun, my live streams are super wacky with sound effects and video effects and pictures of my dogs and you know when we make it wacky, so I'm trying to make what is kind of a depressing situation like, our jobs are a mess. our workplaces are a mess, our customers hate this crap, and find a way to keep smiling at it.

Helen:

That's beautiful and we'll be sure to put a link to your YouTube Channel into our Show Notes.

Maribel:

Absolutely.

Debbie:

Thanks.

Maribel:

Thank you so much for this entertaining and funny and also informative conversation because I also learned a lot.

Debbie:

Well, thank you both. Thank you so much.

Helen:

Thank you, Debbie.

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About the Podcast

AudaciousNess
A solid grounding on which to practice your audacity.
AudaciousNess showcases individuals who have set themselves bold, audacious goals and have worked to achieve them. Our purpose is to inspire people to act with the courage to create a positive impact in the world.

Through interviewing 'regular people' about their audacious goals, we highlight the fact that role models are everywhere. Each and every one of us can have an impact in some way. Our goal is to enable a courageous community that honours their genius and lives their calling.

The name 'AudaciousNess' has two components: audacious, meaning 'bold', and ness, meaning 'a strip of land projecting into a body of water'. We believe having a solid grounding on which to practice your audacity is crucial, or, in the words of the great philosopher king Marcus Aurelius (Meditations, 4.49):

"Be like the promontory against which the waves continually break, but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it."

About your hosts

Maribel Ortega

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I help women find their worth and be confident so that they can use their voice, speak up, take new opportunities and ultimately lead fulfilled lives.

Helen Strong

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I run an eco-friendly, vegan B&B in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. This is just one of the many audacious goals I've pursued in my lifetime.