An interview with Ximena Vengoechea, author of ‘Listen Like You Mean It’

Not long ago, I received an advance copy of a new book called Listen Like You Mean It. I quickly judged it by its cover (intriguing, fun), flipped through a few random pages (amazing illustrations, witty writing), then decided to actually read it. It was great, and also not what I expected.

The author, Ximena Vengoechea, is a design researcher as well as a writer. I’m a designer and writer. …

33 tricks for facilitation and teamwork over video

Hey there! This post is a cheat sheet version of The Remote Design Sprint Guide which I created with John Zeratsky, Jackie Colburn, and the input, advice, and smart ideas of over one hundred Design Sprint experts from around the world (see below).

This cheat sheet is pretty good, but the Guide is better and much more detailed—it’s just really long, so I thought it would be handy to have a quick reference thing to go with it. This is that thing.

Wait, what’s a Design Sprint?

The Design Sprint is a process for small teams starting big projects. Following a step-by-step checklist, the team…

A quick pep talk for those feeling lost or discouraged

I just moved back to Seattle after eight years in San Francisco. It feels really great to be home. And it reminds me that I’ve been a designer for a while.

In Seattle, phantoms of my earlier life are everywhere. The University of Washington campus, where I stubbornly majored in painting, while slowly realizing I loved computers more than oils. The bus stops where I commuted to my first design jobs. The coffee shop where I scratched the schedules for what would go on to become the first Design Sprints in a spiral notebook. I’m in that just-moved honeymoon stage…

An interview with Range co-founder Braden Kowitz

When I joined Google in 2007, everybody said, “If you want to learn how to get things done, watch Braden Kowitz.” Braden was a designer who’d worked on the first versions of Google Sheets, Google Trends, and Google for Business (which is now G Suite).

Over the years, I learned a ton from watching Braden. I got to work with him for a few years, first on Gmail, then later at Google Ventures, where we also collaborated on a book. …

(and how to try your own low-stress experiment)

All illustrations: Jake Knapp

In 2012, I realized I had a problem. My iPhone made me twitchy. It called to me from my pocket, the way the Ring called Bilbo Baggins.

My moment of clarity happened in my living room. I was sitting on the floor one evening, building train tracks with my kids, when my older son said:

My friend Stefan once said “Books are cheap” and I asked him what he meant. He said that even if you only get one idea or mental model from a book, it’s a great return on investment, and it’s pretty easy to get one idea from most books.

And I was like, huh. Yeah. I guess that’s true.

I thought about my own experience. I don’t like nonfiction books. That’s a weird thing to say, considering I’ve written a business book and a self-help book, but I don’t just totally love the genre. …

The small stuff needs to get done now. The big stuff is overwhelming. Here’s how to tackle the stuff in the middle.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Co-authored with John Zeratsky

If you want to make time for things that matter, the Busy Bandwagon will tell you the answer is to do more. Get more done. Be more efficient. Set more goals and make more plans. It’s the only way to fit those important moments into your life.

We disagree. Doing more doesn’t help you create time for what matters; it just makes you feel even more frazzled and busy. And when you’re busy day after day, time slides by in a blur.

With so many things vying for our attention, figuring out what to make time…

Illustration by Doris Liou

This summer I got to do a super fun project, and I thought I’d write it up. It started several months ago, when I got an email from Laura Prah, who leads culture and engagement at The New York Times.

Among other things, Laura is in charge of an event at The Times called Maker Week. Maker Week is like a hackathon. For one week every summer, folks are encouraged to step away from their regular work (as much as humanly possible at a newspaper) and experiment with new projects. …

There’s plenty of great advice out there for making a design portfolio, much of it written by excellent designers who hire other excellent designers. If you’re a designer, you should do what they say.

Me? You should be skeptical of my advice—I’m a solid designer, but not amazing, and I’ve actively avoided being a manager. I don’t hire people. What do I know? But I have gotten a few design jobs over the years. Here’s my advice.

1. Pick one project. JUST ONE!

What’s the coolest thing you’ve worked on? Doesn’t matter if it wasn’t really that cool (the coolest project in my first portfolio was…

From the journal of a newbie sci-fi writer

Here I am, at the keyboard, staring at a blank doc with zero words. Don’t get the wrong idea. When I said “How to” in the headline, it was more of a question than a promise. I mean, by the end of this post, I’ll have more than zero words in my sci-fi novel, I promise. But I don’t yet know how I’ll get there.

I’m a newbie to sci-fi, but I have written before. Seven years ago, I started writing a fantasy adventure novel on nights and weekends. Three years ago, I wrote a business book. Eight months ago…

Jake Knapp

Writer, designer, person. Author of SPRINT and MAKE TIME. More at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store