Nov 21, 2023

7 traits of top ICs

I used to be jealous of designers who got in early at the top startups...

Surrounding yourself with A-list designers at a place like Facebook in the early days is a cheat code for your career.

Very few people experience something like that, yet it's easily the best way to learn and grow.

But what if we could recreate it?

Well, I tried my best by assembling a panel of all-star designers who all met at Facebook back in the glory days πŸ‘‡

I started out by asking a simple question...

What traits differentiate the best ICs that you've worked alongside in your career?

Here are my 7 takeaways πŸ‘‡

1) Top ICs are the most proactive

They don't feel constrained by the typical responsibilities of a "designer".

Instead of waiting to be told what to do, they identify what matters most to the business and get it done.

Too many people create the master deck for how to make an impact... but what if you went out and created the V1 instead?

Brian Lovin said he wants people who operate like a "band of pirates" 🦜

​2) Top ICs are a conduit for ideas

I had never considered how much strategy goes into positioning yourself as the person other designers want to share their ideas with...

But it's the best way to be plugged into company strategy.

If all the best ideas go through you then you're ensuring you're the smartest person in the room 🧠

​3) Top ICs identify who is driving change

Each designer mentioned the importance of a "listening tour" when ramping up on a project.

Ask your manager who is important for you to meet... then ask that person who else is important for you to meet.

The goal is to figure out who is really driving impact at your company πŸ‘€

​4) Top ICs know how to frame novel ideas

It's amazing how much language matters when presenting your ideas.

If you present a concept formally, people's knee-jerk reaction will be to look for holes.

But using phrases like "Wouldn't it be crazy if we did this?" disarms people. Instead of looking for why it won't work, they'll be looking for the golden nuggets to pull out πŸ”

​5) Top ICs aren't afraid of pair designing

It's easy to throw pair designing into the junior designer bucket. But Steph says it's one of her favorite tactics.

Why? Because not only is it helpful to get eyes on your ideas as early as possible...

You're also gaining an ally when presenting your concept at CRIT. If people contribute to your work then they'll be quick to champion it πŸ‘

​6) Top ICs plan secret missions

If you want to level up the craft of your product, go build a secret team with an engineer and say "Hey don't tell anybody but we're going to solve this thing an hour a day".

It builds camaraderie, moves the needle, and helps you become that conduit for ideas 🀫

​7) Top ICs share when it's uncomfortable

If you're not uncomfortable sharing your work, then you've probably waited too long to post in Slack 😬

​This is just a little taste...

The full panel discussion is dense and full of tactical strategies you can use to make a bigger impact on your team.

Listed on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts πŸ‘‡

I used to be jealous of designers who got in early at the top startups...

Surrounding yourself with A-list designers at a place like Facebook in the early days is a cheat code for your career.

Very few people experience something like that, yet it's easily the best way to learn and grow.

But what if we could recreate it?

Well, I tried my best by assembling a panel of all-star designers who all met at Facebook back in the glory days πŸ‘‡

I started out by asking a simple question...

What traits differentiate the best ICs that you've worked alongside in your career?

Here are my 7 takeaways πŸ‘‡

1) Top ICs are the most proactive

They don't feel constrained by the typical responsibilities of a "designer".

Instead of waiting to be told what to do, they identify what matters most to the business and get it done.

Too many people create the master deck for how to make an impact... but what if you went out and created the V1 instead?

Brian Lovin said he wants people who operate like a "band of pirates" 🦜

​2) Top ICs are a conduit for ideas

I had never considered how much strategy goes into positioning yourself as the person other designers want to share their ideas with...

But it's the best way to be plugged into company strategy.

If all the best ideas go through you then you're ensuring you're the smartest person in the room 🧠

​3) Top ICs identify who is driving change

Each designer mentioned the importance of a "listening tour" when ramping up on a project.

Ask your manager who is important for you to meet... then ask that person who else is important for you to meet.

The goal is to figure out who is really driving impact at your company πŸ‘€

​4) Top ICs know how to frame novel ideas

It's amazing how much language matters when presenting your ideas.

If you present a concept formally, people's knee-jerk reaction will be to look for holes.

But using phrases like "Wouldn't it be crazy if we did this?" disarms people. Instead of looking for why it won't work, they'll be looking for the golden nuggets to pull out πŸ”

​5) Top ICs aren't afraid of pair designing

It's easy to throw pair designing into the junior designer bucket. But Steph says it's one of her favorite tactics.

Why? Because not only is it helpful to get eyes on your ideas as early as possible...

You're also gaining an ally when presenting your concept at CRIT. If people contribute to your work then they'll be quick to champion it πŸ‘

​6) Top ICs plan secret missions

If you want to level up the craft of your product, go build a secret team with an engineer and say "Hey don't tell anybody but we're going to solve this thing an hour a day".

It builds camaraderie, moves the needle, and helps you become that conduit for ideas 🀫

​7) Top ICs share when it's uncomfortable

If you're not uncomfortable sharing your work, then you've probably waited too long to post in Slack 😬

​This is just a little taste...

The full panel discussion is dense and full of tactical strategies you can use to make a bigger impact on your team.

Listed on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts πŸ‘‡

I used to be jealous of designers who got in early at the top startups...

Surrounding yourself with A-list designers at a place like Facebook in the early days is a cheat code for your career.

Very few people experience something like that, yet it's easily the best way to learn and grow.

But what if we could recreate it?

Well, I tried my best by assembling a panel of all-star designers who all met at Facebook back in the glory days πŸ‘‡

I started out by asking a simple question...

What traits differentiate the best ICs that you've worked alongside in your career?

Here are my 7 takeaways πŸ‘‡

1) Top ICs are the most proactive

They don't feel constrained by the typical responsibilities of a "designer".

Instead of waiting to be told what to do, they identify what matters most to the business and get it done.

Too many people create the master deck for how to make an impact... but what if you went out and created the V1 instead?

Brian Lovin said he wants people who operate like a "band of pirates" 🦜

​2) Top ICs are a conduit for ideas

I had never considered how much strategy goes into positioning yourself as the person other designers want to share their ideas with...

But it's the best way to be plugged into company strategy.

If all the best ideas go through you then you're ensuring you're the smartest person in the room 🧠

​3) Top ICs identify who is driving change

Each designer mentioned the importance of a "listening tour" when ramping up on a project.

Ask your manager who is important for you to meet... then ask that person who else is important for you to meet.

The goal is to figure out who is really driving impact at your company πŸ‘€

​4) Top ICs know how to frame novel ideas

It's amazing how much language matters when presenting your ideas.

If you present a concept formally, people's knee-jerk reaction will be to look for holes.

But using phrases like "Wouldn't it be crazy if we did this?" disarms people. Instead of looking for why it won't work, they'll be looking for the golden nuggets to pull out πŸ”

​5) Top ICs aren't afraid of pair designing

It's easy to throw pair designing into the junior designer bucket. But Steph says it's one of her favorite tactics.

Why? Because not only is it helpful to get eyes on your ideas as early as possible...

You're also gaining an ally when presenting your concept at CRIT. If people contribute to your work then they'll be quick to champion it πŸ‘

​6) Top ICs plan secret missions

If you want to level up the craft of your product, go build a secret team with an engineer and say "Hey don't tell anybody but we're going to solve this thing an hour a day".

It builds camaraderie, moves the needle, and helps you become that conduit for ideas 🀫

​7) Top ICs share when it's uncomfortable

If you're not uncomfortable sharing your work, then you've probably waited too long to post in Slack 😬

​This is just a little taste...

The full panel discussion is dense and full of tactical strategies you can use to make a bigger impact on your team.

Listed on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts πŸ‘‡

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Get our weekly breakdowns

"There's no doubt that Dive has made me a better designer"

@ned_ray

Join 10,000+ designers

Get our weekly breakdowns

"There's no doubt that Dive has made me a better designer"

@ned_ray

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"

I've been binging Dive Club lately and the quality is nuts

Literally the only show about design I watch”

Eugene Fedorenko

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