Eric Strand is a Senior UX Product Designer with expertise in conceptual prototyping, information architecture, workflow and wire framing for functional specification. He has a range of experience working with big and small brands and has a wealth of knowledge to pull from. Currently, he is located in Marshfield, Massachusetts.
He attended Berklee College of Music. His passion stems from wanting to design a great experience for users, and he found himself making a natural, transition from music to UIX design. To date, he has had a long and successful career in the design and production of web and mobile properties for companies including: NetApp, Adobe, ClimaCell, Hitachi, Berklee Music, AT&T, FedEx, IBM, and Harley Davidson.
In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit, or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?
Discipline in my personal life. A regimented dose of task management in my personal life in order to chip away at everything non work related has really made for a positive change. Seeing the results of the structure in my personal life actually reduces stress and makes me become a more effective person on multiple fronts.
When you feel unfocused what do you do?
Becoming unfocused for me is usually a result of too much time on task or neural overload from trying to span a large project across too many fronts. Either way, I usually unplug and change course on something tactfully different but still continues challenging and exercising my mind. Working in my wood shop on a variety of projects puts me in a place that is different but still taps into the design sense of the brain that I like to exercise with some good hands on work to boot. I’m also a lifelong musician and composer which is probably the strongest changeset I have to step away from the day to day grind and put me in my highly constructive private place. Returning to the work at hand after a visit to these other hobbies gives me fresh insight and higher level of productivity
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
Professional growth takes place in three phases. Doing, becoming and being. In the “doing” phase you are exploring and discovering what resonates most with you and motivates you to be excited to wake up and discover more. Be risky and don’t be afraid to fail often as a means of rapid learning, resetting and honing direction. This can take several years. These were some of the most exciting times of my life and should provide you with many story telling chapters later in life. Really, go crazy here it’s your only time and people have regrets later in life if they have “played it safe”. There will be a time when you won’t look to others for guidance on your work realizing that you understand when your work is of quality and finished etc., This is the moment you become that person in your field that has confidence and you are now “becoming” that seasoned professional you have been chasing for years. In this phase you develop a tool kit that is customized to you and how you approach and execute your work in order to be a master in your field. Be strong and if you feel you are good at what you do then start framing your approach as your tool kit and rely on your process and experience to shine. Just as anything, this will take a few years to become that leader in your field. At some point later in life you will have a reflective moment where you stand even taller looking back at your accomplishments and failures but in the end truly understand that you are “being” what you have been chasing.
What is one lifestyle trend that excites you?
I love the wearable tech! I personally use the Garmin Fenix 5x. I have broken down runs, mountain biking, strength training and even yard work into activities so that I can see how long and hard I train and burn calories. Another really great feature of this is the heart monitor which unfortunately also provides windows into your stress levels (laughs). It’s been a great window into my mind and body. Apparently, my watch says I need more restful moments (laughs)
Who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
My mother has influenced me greatly. A single mother raising two boys is tough. She is also an artist with an uncanny ability to see through the mess to the other side of problems with unbelievable passion and grace. She has instilled in me the basic qualities that has made me who I am. And not just through talk, she’s a doer and a go-getter. I’m glad that this apple hasn’t fallen too far from that tree.
What’s one of the biggest life lessons you’ve learned?
Growing up in a highly transient family has given me a number of large lessons. In one leg of my multiple city upbringing, I landed in Chillicothe Ohio where I was one of but a few white people in my school. I joined the football team and got thoroughly beat up by my own teammates I suppose because I was white. I kept playing even though I desperately wanted to run away. On one occasion we were playing a team in another city. We lost terribly, and on the way back we saw across a long dark field, with a huge cross burning in the distance. It was that moment when I looked around the bus at all my black teammates that made me realize why they picked on me constantly. I hated Chillicothe and wanted to move so badly. Eventually we did and ended up in Columbus Ohio where we landed in a very rich, white, neighborhood. The school was full of spoiled brats and troublemakers. One day a new kid showed up in our school. He was black. We became best of friends and hung out all the time. Then it happened. My school started to call me names and they started to fight me because I was his friend. It enraged me particularly after seeing what Chillicothe taught me. Again, I didn’t give up and paid for it dearly. Eventually they gave up and found other people and things to destroy. I silently became something bigger but never realized it for many years later. Stand tall, be brave even in the face of tremendous and sometimes scary life challenges and you will become something bigger than life. And no matter what happens don’t lose your passion or be molded and changed by others who live in fear and anger.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Part of it is in the genes and passion just as an early catalyst. My mother is a workhorse still in her golden age, she is landscaping and doing everything she can, refusing to slow down and get sedentary – almost to a fault. I’ve learned to continue through tough times and be positive.
I have made an early investment in life to remain focused on the creative aspects of life. Music, art etc., Persistence in staying in that area has made me who I am today. Persistence, skill and passion are the recipes for success at least for me. I relished in the journey and the learning where others usually stop due to their patience running out or frustration. It’s part of becoming the artist and I guess that’s what I’ve always been.
How do you stay motivated?
Being able to see through problem solving at the inception stage is key. Knowing that you can solve problems creatively and with confidence makes taking on complex problems actually comfortable and fun. Knowing that the journey is difficult but also having the vision of what your project will evolve into is the secret sauce for disallowing daunting tasks to demotivate you. Again, it’s part of the “becoming” phase where persistence and passion should be embedded into your nature in order to keep going.
What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
I hope to impact the world with a product of my own making that changes the way people experience their lives and also be able to positively impact the world in a needed healing manner. Humanity needs the private sector to constantly invest in society and it would be a great ending chapter if I could give a little back to make positive change in others.