illustration for Putting Emphasis on User Outcomes with Marisa Morby

episode 52 Joel Hooks

Putting Emphasis on User Outcomes with Marisa Morby

Marisa Morby is a professional product manager. A common question she gets is "what's the difference between a product manager and a project manager?" There's a lot of overlap, but the difference is a product manager has to understand what needs to get done and why and be able to communicate that, and the project manager makes sure that everything stays on the rails and results in a cohesive product.

Many teams put significant of focus on user outcomes. A user outcome is the ultimate goal of the user. It's what they need to happen. If we don't know what the user needs to happen, we'll end up focusing on the wrong thing.

To figure out what a user wants user research needs to get conducted. No, you don't have to break out the lab coat. Research doesn't have to be so rigid. Just have conversations with your users and try to gain an understanding of their wants, needs, and frustrations. Make sure that you don't make assumptions about your user's needs. Ask questions that might seem painfully obvious to you

Marisa also talks about working with all-remote team. We live in an amazing day and age that allows us to do our work wherever we want, but there are challenges we have to overcome for everyone to still be productive. We have lizard brains that make it challenging to build trust with people whose faces we never see. Regular video meetings that give some space for non-work conversations are essential in building that trust with people. Meeting people in person also has a substantial positive impact on communication; it gives you a lot of context with people's mannerisms!


Transcript

"Putting Emphasis on User Outcomes with Marisa Morby" Transcript

Resources

Marisa Morby

Joel Hooks

Transcript

Joel Hooks: Hi Marisa.

Marisa Morby: Hey Joel.

Joel Hooks: How are you doing today?

Marisa Morby: I'm pretty good. Enjoying the sunshine. How are you?

Joel Hooks: I'm doing well. I'm really excited to talk to you because I want to talk about project and product management and some ideas about process and building software from that angle, but first, I wanted to ask you a question about trees and community and what we can learn from trees and how they interact with one another.

Marisa Morby: I can talk for many, many minutes about that.

Joel Hooks: Nice.

Marisa Morby: I'll keep it short. Trees in the community are fantastic and wonderful, and I love them. I recently participated in an event where we went and counted the trees in local parks and also made sure that their health was good by measuring their height and stuff like that. From a livability standpoint, they've done studies that show when people have green spaces and trees and are able to get outside, the city is happier. The people are happier. They walk more and they're just overall healthier, but the other thing about trees is that they also perform and can create a neural network with each other.

Marisa Morby: They talk to each other just like we talk to each other. I just think they're absolutely fascinating. They have so many similarities to how our own society has built up and we don't even realize it, because we can't hear them talking. We don't know how that all works exactly, but the way that they help one another is really similar to the ways that human societies help one another. Just having them around and being able to have them in your community just to help make your air cleaner, your wildlife healthier, and you healthier is fantastic. If I could, I just go plant a tree every day like rogue gardening.

Joel Hooks: I actually heard recently there's climate change is probably one of the biggest issues that humanity's ever faced. I read that one of the biggest like single impacts we can have on a global scale is planting a trillion trees.

Marisa Morby: Yup. Yeah. I read that article too, and I think we need to do it and creating natural forests with the trees that are supposed to be there also helps make that area stronger. It makes the soil stronger, the air stronger. I wish we could do that. I would love to be able to do that, plant a trillion trees.

Joel Hooks: It seems achievable. Generally speaking in terms of what we can do, planting trees doesn't seem some sort of unrealistic or something that people would even complain about. This is something we can do, and we can do for the earth and it just makes sense because who doesn't like trees? Whoever that is, I don't want to be friends with them to begin with.

Marisa Morby: I would agree with that. I would agree with that.

Joel Hooks: Oh, I hate trees. That's really just not a position.

Marisa Morby: It's like, "I hate trees." Well, you're a bad person. Clearly, the conversation is over now. We don't need to speak any further.

Joel Hooks: Slowly back out of the room. I want to talk to you about developing products. You are a product manager for GatsbyJS, which is a project I'm super excited about. We're big on it at Egghead in general. We're rewriting our entire application in Gatsby, which is a neat challenge and I'm interested in it. You've been a consultant in the past, so that switch from being a consultant and providing services to working on a product. I was wondering how was that different? What's the difference between focusing on a product versus being a consultant?

Marisa Morby: The main difference is how you're able to have an impact, I think. Just from a higher level, as a consultant, you get to have the ability to go in and say, "Okay, for my previous experience, this is what I've seen work, and you get to help implement something that will hopefully make the business run a bit smoother and be able to make everybody's life a little bit easier." That is always helpful and feels great. I think the difference is when you're doing that in a company and not as a service, you have such a granular ability to see what's happening on a level that it's hard to do from a consulting standpoint because there's just never enough time.

Joel Hooks: You're swooping in.

Marisa Morby: You're swooping in. You're looking at it from a high level, and you're assessing the problems and saying, "Okay, here's what I see and here are the fixes that I think we can implement," but honestly, once you're in it and you're doing it yourself, you come in and you make changes and you make updates and you try to make it better, but then at some point, it becomes so granular that you also become part of the process. You're not looking at it from far away anymore. You're making these granular decisions that it makes it hard to step back and look at the big picture sometimes.

Joel Hooks: Like when they say you're too close to the problem, I guess in a good way, in a bad way, I think it's sometimes, right? At Egghead, I have my depth of knowledge because I've been working on this single product for six years. It's a lot different than when I'd have a six-month engagement and I'd drop in and try to help a company either fix a problem or increase velocity or whatever.

Marisa Morby: You can't see the forest for the trees as they'd say, but I think that that is one of the biggest things. It's a challenge trying to step back once you're in it and you know that it's playing in your mind constantly, all of the things that you have to do, the different intricacies of the product. Sometimes, it makes it more challenging to think through stuff just because it's all there and you know too much.

Joel Hooks: Well, it's hard like scoping. The scope of the problem is the approach is infinite, sometimes it feels like. It is finite, but that's just the feeling that you get. We have the idea. There's product management. You're a product manager, and then there's project management. What's the difference between product and project management?

Marisa Morby: That is a really good one. I get that a lot. I think that they overlap. Everything blurs together because the whole goal is to be able to move work forward. I would say the distinct difference is that a product manager is responsible for understanding what needs to be done and why it needs to be done, and communicating that expectation and vision to stakeholders and to the rest of the team so that they understand what they need to do and why. I think from a project management standpoint, it's that person's job to help make sure that it stays on the rails, so making sure that the work is actually moving forward and that follow follow-ups are happening and that it's coming together as a cohesive thing.

Marisa Morby: Not necessarily, it's not the what we're doing or why we're doing it, but it's the when and the status of it. At Gatsby, I do product management but there's also elements of project management as well. I just had a call today about some project management stuff because you have to have it to be able to drive stuff forward. It's such an integral part of a business.

Joel Hooks: You overlap to the extent that sometimes you're going to have to wear both of those hats, I would feel.

Marisa Morby: Definitely.

Joel Hooks: As a product manager, I know user outcomes. We want to understand the problems of our users, and we want to provide solutions for them. What does that mean when we say we're focusing on outcomes for users?

Marisa Morby: When we say we're focusing on outcomes for users, we want to think about the ultimate thing that they're going to do. We want to think about instead of the actions of how they're doing it, we want to understand the ultimate outcome. I talked about this a little bit in relation to bike pathways. A lot of times when we think about connecting a system, we think only about, "Oh well, all these systems are connected, and because of that, it's good." We have these bike pathways in Portland, where I am, and they always tell like, "Oh, well we have all of these bike pathways and however many miles, like 100 miles of bike pathways in Portland."

Marisa Morby: It sounds very impressive, but they're talking about a metric which we tend to think about. When we're speaking about customers and products, we think about metrics like, "What are they doing in the product? What are they clicking and things like that?" We don't think about the outcome. Well, what are they ultimately trying to do? What actions are they trying to complete? In the scenario or the example of the bike paths, we think about, "Okay, well all of these roads are connected and that's great because there's 100 miles of bike pathways."

Marisa Morby: What we don't think about is where do they go? Where are people trying to go? How are they using it and what outcome are they trying to accomplish? A lot of times, people are trying to say go to work and there may be 100 miles of bike path, but if those bike paths don't connect, they exist but they're not helpful. When we don't think about the outcome and if we don't hone in on that and really understand what people are trying to do and trying to achieve, we can focus in on the wrong thing.

Marisa Morby: It's easy to then admit or come in and think, "Ah, I'm victorious. I've done this amazing thing," without actually making sure that the outcome, the thing that people need to do can be accomplished in a way that is helpful and an elegant solution.

Joel Hooks: How do you figure out what the outcomes are? Is it something we can just intuit by observation, or what do we do to figure that problem out and figure out where the users want to go on their paths?

Marisa Morby: I do it a lot with the user research. That's something that we love to do at GatsbyJS is research to understand where people are going. There's also some design heuristics that you can use. Now that software is such a normal and integral part of our life, we have patterns and habits that we tend to exhibit when we're using software as well. There are certain outcomes that we can... I wouldn't say intuit, but we have so much past data from people using software and how they use it that we're able to set up heuristics as well.

Marisa Morby: We know that people are going to navigate to a certain part of the page in order to close out a tab, or we know that they're going to look in a certain area of the screen in order to find the menu. Maybe they need to do that in order to achieve their outcome, and so we're able to actually put that in place, but ultimately for me, I like to have a deep understanding of the problem in order to figure out what the outcome is.

Marisa Morby: That means talking to people that even if they're not using our product yet or they haven't heard about it, understanding their problems and the root of some of the pains that they're having helps us know what outcomes we should put out there for them by understanding the pain that they're having right now.

Joel Hooks: When should we start talking to folks?

Marisa Morby: All the time, as soon as you can. I think people assume research is this very regimented formal process. What we don't understand is that we do research all the time. Every single time we talk to someone, we're conducting some type of research because we're trying to learn about another person or help them. Either way, we are getting more information and understanding more and more about that person's motivations and pains and needs. I don't think that there is a time that you can say, "Oh yes, now we will bring in the research crew, and they will come in and they will ask all of the good questions."

Marisa Morby: We should start that from the very beginning and just bake it in with our conversations and realize that even if we don't feel like we're doing research, because we're just having a conversation, we are constantly learning and taking this in. We're starting with research from the very beginning.

Joel Hooks: When you hear the word research, like the brain, my brain will go instantly to lab coats and white papers and peer review and scientific journals. I don't feel like that's the kind of research we're talking about at all. I mean, that's research but it doesn't have to be so formal and academic.

Marisa Morby: To me, research is just learning. It's learning more about people and learning more about their motivations. When I say research, I honestly envision a conversation. Just a conversation that you'd have even if it's informal with a friend or if it's in a business case with someone that maybe is thinking about using your product or has heard about your product and has asked you a question, all of that is research. It just doesn't really feel like it because it feels like a very normal part of human life.

Joel Hooks: It's like asking versus assuming too, because we assume so much. I assume every single day. That's part of it. You were talking about heuristics, so these things that we just air quotes, no, but we're also making assumptions then versus user testing and user interviews and these sorts of things.

Marisa Morby: Being able to listen and also ask dumb questions that seem.... because it's really easy to make assumptions, especially about when we're talking to people in software particularly, because we're both pretty close to software and so we make assumptions that, "Oh well, I do it this way so maybe they do it this way too," and so being willing to ask the questions that seem silly and sit there and listen to the reasoning behind it without having that preconceived notion or coming in with an assumption, I think, is one of the most important things we can do.

Marisa Morby: It feels funny to ask a question that you feel like you know the answer to, but when you stop and listen and let people talk, you learn so much about how they're thinking and how they're solving their own problems in ways that you may not have thought of.

Joel Hooks: Erika Hall's Just Enough Research is one of my favorite books. It's so thin, and I feel like everybody that is involved with software or anything honestly, it's just a really good book about the human side and having the conversation, the asking versus assuming. I really love that book a lot. Should software developers be involved in the research process? Is that something that we should be doing? I feel like developers do research all the time. We're always solving our technical problems.

Joel Hooks: When we're in there Googling and stack overflowing and all that fun stuff, that is active research. It's not user research. I'm wondering how do developers get into that, and should they be involved in the research process?

Marisa Morby: I personally think they should be involved. We at Gatsby, we involve engineers on the process as well. I think that as long as you are creating a safe space and have a moderator for the participants to be able to have a little bit more structured conversation, if you have more than one person in the room, it's a fantastic idea to have engineers in there. When we've had people do usability or use interviews at Gatsby and we've had some of our engineers come in and listen in by random interview like this just the other day.

Marisa Morby: You, as an engineer, there are questions that engineers can ask that maybe I wouldn't know. They hear something that maybe I wouldn't pick up on. It's that idea of two heads are better than one. They understand the intricacies of some of those problems better than anyone because they're working on it all the time, and so having them in there to listen and offer their knowledge and their experience and then ask those really pointed questions has been invaluable. I think involving engineers in that is fantastic to do from the beginning.

Marisa Morby: Then once you get into usability, it's great to have engineers be able to see how people go through a product that they've helped create too, because it helps build empathy and understanding. Also, we all know hat frustration of when you can't find something or you're like rage clicking on something that won't work, and experiencing that as an engineer when you see someone doing that in the product you've helped create, it just creates more of a human feel to it.

Joel Hooks: It also creates a lot of,"Oh shit," type moments where you're like, "Wait, oh no."

Marisa Morby: I always watch people. Sometimes, you can see videos like usability videos too. You watch them going around the screen with their mouse and you're like, "No, no, what are you doing? The button is right there."

Joel Hooks: No. No. No.

Marisa Morby: What are you doing?

Joel Hooks: Click it. Click it.

Marisa Morby: Just do it. Just click it.

Joel Hooks: I've been in an organization and we're user testing and user research and literally only one, and I wish we did it more. I wish we could say we've done more than zero but we don't do it enough. We don't do enough research, I don't feel. I've only been at one organization where it was agile and we rolled in user testing. At the end of every sprint, we do our whole retrospective. Then we'd watch a curated selection of the user testing from the previous sprint. It was amazing. The entire team would watch these things and we weren't participating live-

Marisa Morby: I love that.

Joel Hooks: ... but we would the curated videos. It was amazing actually as a team watching people use these features that they just created a few weeks ago and and seeing what people were dealing with in terms of using what we had created.

Marisa Morby: I love the idea of doing it after a sprint, so it's still fresh in your mind, but you're far enough away from it that you can look at it with not fresh eyes, but your brain has had time to relax a little bit. You're not thinking about the problem that you've worked on that day. I love that idea. I think that's fantastic. I love looking at the user like the videos too, and just watching what people are doing is fascinating.

Joel Hooks: You can learn so much. I think it should be an essential part of any long-term project for sure. You're a product manager. How do you figure out what to work on? How do we know what we want to work on next? I assume that that comes partly from research, but then we're building backlogs and that sort of thing.

Marisa Morby: I mean, as a product manager, you want to always have a really strong backlog that you're maintaining and pushing forward and prioritizing, but in terms of coming up with what we're going to work on next, it's a really interesting balance of some research. I spend a lot of time talking with people that aren't customers yet, but meet some standards of where we know we're going and maybe use Gatsby, maybe don't, but we know they're in the market that we're looking in. I spend time talking to them.

Marisa Morby: It's partially that. That's more of a conversation where I learn about what they're doing day to day, not even necessarily how they're using Gatsby, but just what does their day look like and what's frustrating to them. It's this discovery and just talking to people. Then there's also the industry, so looking at industry trends and seeing where we're going, trying at least as much as you can to look on the horizon a little bit and be forward thinking. You marry that with the discovery research, with the pain points. I know someone's having...

Marisa Morby: We've heard that multiple people are having these problems, and we can see that the industry is on a trajectory. Then how do we fill the gap? That becomes either the feature or the product that we want to create is that filling in of the gap. From there, you have to break it down into manageable pieces, which takes a whole team in order to do because it's hard to just have this. You may have a vision, but then you have to break the vision down.

Marisa Morby: I think combining those two things like where the industry and the market and then the actual people that are going to possibly use the product and understanding where their pain lies. We add those two things together, and from there, come up with that ultimate vision. Then scope back and work backward to create doable chunks of work.

Joel Hooks: How do you know when a backlog is a strong backlog? I've seen horrendous ones like JIRA that has hundreds of tickets and would take me 15 years if it was all stretched out to something where people are having to ask and beg for work. How do you balance the size of the backlog like, "Oh, we're never going to do this so might as well go away and make sure that it's there and it's useful to people?"

Marisa Morby: I mean, as boring as it sounds, we make sure that we have frequent calls to manage the backlog. Right now, I manage it actively once a week and then we get on a call about every other week with the larger team to talk through each issue. It takes time and attention, but that's the only real way, especially with a remote team and a cross functional team where you're in all different areas. The only way to really know what is currently active and what isn't and how long it's been is to talk to people and make sure that you all have that shared context.

Marisa Morby: Then can we tend to be pretty good about saying like, "Okay, well this issue was created say a month ago, and we've changed direction in that month," which happens a lot being a startup, and so we try not to be too worried about it and we just get rid of the issue. If it seems that we're not going in that direction, we can always recreate it, but it's better to make sure that you know your backlog, at least for us right now, to make sure we know it's current and active. That to us is a healthy backlog. It should be actively maintained. That's how we know that the work we want to do is relevant and also that it's being moved through.

Joel Hooks: On the public Gatsby repo, I've actually seen there's a robot that'll just kill them after 30 days.

Marisa Morby: The stale bot, Gatsbot, I love that guy. He's great.

Joel Hooks: If you say no, it's like, "This is gone."

Marisa Morby: We're actually going to start using that, I think, for both product and design because it's pretty easy I think to just pull over that implementation. When I've gone in because the learning... I think all of that's public like the learning roadmap is public too, and it has the little gatsbot that comes in and tells us, "Oh, is this sale?" That is super helpful with that large of a community, because you otherwise would have no idea. I think that begs a different question too is like, "How do you do it when it's internal product versus something external that people see?" We do have to manage those differently based on the amount of people in the open source backlog too.

Joel Hooks: If anybody can file an issue, the end result is utter chaos.

Marisa Morby: There are good issues too. That's the thing. You don't want to get rid of them. You just want to make sure that they're prioritized correctly. For that, we typically try to leave when the stale bot comes. He's like, "Hey, this is stale." Since we manage that blog every couple of weeks, we are trying to be really ruthless in prioritizing and then seeing how we can maximize our efforts to get as much done as possible. The issues are so good, and there's just so many of them.

Joel Hooks: I mean, there's only so much anybody can do in a given amount of time and even good issues can get stale over time and no longer be relevant, so it's really a give and take. You mentioned remote teams, and Gatsby is a fully remote team, is that correct?

Marisa Morby: Yeah.

Joel Hooks: Have you been working on remote teams for a while now, or is this a new experience for you?

Marisa Morby: I've worked on remote teams for the last couple of years. It's been off and on. When I first started doing consulting, I was remote and that was when I was in other countries. That was very remote. Then at the last company I was at, the last half of it was remote, but the first half was colocated. I have experience working with both. The way Gatsby works right now is we've got a small team in Berkeley, but everybody else is distributed in that small team in Berkeley. They work remotely most of the time. They just do have an office space that they can go into.

Marisa Morby: I have so many thoughts on remote work cause it's such an interesting... It's just a fascinating thing that we can do now and a way of working that is fairly new with the technology that we have now. We say in our job descriptions, and I think that this is very fair. We list it as one of the best things about Gatsby and one of the worst things, and they're both true.

Joel Hooks: That makes sense.

Marisa Morby: It's fantastic because you get the flexibility. You get the ability to set your own schedule. If you're like me, I am one of those people that I love talking with people and being able to have conversations. If I'm in an open office, I'm the person with the sign on my back that says, "Don't talk to me because I'll keep talking to you for two hours." Being remote is really helpful for that because I can put my headphones in and stop my notifications, and lo and behold, I am this hugely productive person. In that sense, the flexibility and the ability to set a very real physical boundaries is great.

Marisa Morby: I guess one other thing that I think is really good is it makes our conversations really intentional, which is nice because I can't speak to all of your experiences, but I know that I have had the experience where sometimes because you're all in a room together, you just have a meeting, but it's not really a meeting, and like, "Why are we all talking about this? Can anybody really make a decision?" That doesn't happen because it can't, because we're not all sitting there.

Marisa Morby: Those types of that intentional communication is good too, but I think when we're talking about what's difficult, it's like all teams are built on trust. All human interaction is built on trust. It's really hard to build trust and understanding when you don't see people in person that often. I'm starting to think the way our brains are wired, we have to have a certain amount of input in order to make determinations about people, and because when we have these reptilian brains, we just, and maybe this is just me, but if I can't see someone's face, I don't know exactly what they're thinking.

Marisa Morby: I can't really be sure that they're hearing what I'm trying to say.

Joel Hooks: The nodding language and expression, the micro expression [inaudible 00:27:30].

Marisa Morby: It's harder to have the conversation, and I think it's harder to build trust. I'd say every single thing boils down to how well you're able to build that trust on a remote team, and then extrapolate that out to say how well you're able to communicate. I love being able to work remotely, but you have to work harder to build trust. Every time you get the chance, whenever you're talking to someone, we try to turn the video on. I always build in what I call... I don't know. Can I swear on here?

Marisa Morby: It's just like bullshit time, where I know I'm going to lose 10 minutes of a meeting talking about non-work things, but you need it in order to be human.

Joel Hooks: Well, I mean you still get... This is the internet, right? I feel like I'm internet native. It hasn't been around for my entire life, so I'm not like my kids have had the internet for their entire lives. At the same time, you hear the expression like IRL in real life. People still use that as if this isn't real life. It is. It all is, folks, because we're in real life. Marisa and I are in real life talking right now, but at the same time, there's that separation. When we hang out in person, it's different than if we chat over Zoom.

Marisa Morby: It is. I'm like more formal over this than I am in person. I don't know how to not be that way because there's this boundary, right? I know you, and I know what you look like. I know your body language and expressions from hanging out with you, but having the boundary, I then become a little different.

Joel Hooks: I think it's really cool because we had Skype before but it was not good. It was okay.

Marisa Morby: No good. No [inaudible 00:29:13]. No.

Joel Hooks: It was better than nothing, I guess. It was pretty decent for voice chat but the video wasn't there, but Zoom to me over the last couple of years has totally changed my disposition on video chatting. I worked remotely for like a decade now, and I couldn't go any other way to be honest, but Zoom has really opened it up and allowed a different level of conversation that I think is interesting.

Marisa Morby: I love that it allows group conversation too, because that was the other thing like with Skype, well, the video was terrible, but we would have some group chats there but you can never really see people. You could never really get a group conversation going. I feel like with Zoom, we did a breakout room the other day in Zoom for a meeting which was so cool. We had 10 people and then we broke out into little groups and did a breakout room session. That was fantastic. That's not something we were able to do even five years ago.

Joel Hooks: We're doing remote workshops with it also, where we get 30 or 40 people and then we'll have group work sessions with the breakout rooms and not to turn this into a Zoom ad. I don't know what else people would use, but it's awesome and really has pushed the envelope. I also personally think that one of the absolute essentials is to get together in person. We have to do that. Even if every company is scattered across the globe, everybody has to come together at some point and meet in person.

Marisa Morby: Yes, 100% We do that too, and I 100% agree. I do think there has to be a lot of downtime, which feels like... I don't want to use the word wasted, but it feels like, "Oh, we're here for work. Shouldn't we work?" You have to be able to just bond over a shared experience, which I mean that's why people love to eat together. It's like a shared experience where you bond. Having that and seeing people and learning about them in a very organic way is absolutely a must, or else all of the team dynamic breaks down. It just doesn't work.

Joel Hooks: We don't do any work when we do our gatherings for Egghead. It's basically a group vacation, which it's work-related. It's not your family or local friends, but we get together and just try to hang out and have a good time. I don't think that's possible for every organization. It just works for us, but just the physical act of getting together and doing non-work stuff is critical. I don't know. We went for a long time just because we couldn't afford it as a company, and as we grew a little bit, the team grew, we were able to do it.

Joel Hooks: We still got by, but the ability to all get together has changed everything, and it increases the kind of the bonds and the familiarity and the ability to communicate with each other.

Marisa Morby: it does, and it makes it every interaction thereafter more easy, because you start to understand who that person is. You understand their communication style, what motivates them. There's all these things that you can get from just a short in-person interaction that I think take longer to get when it's remote.

Joel Hooks: I think it actually adds to the ability to... You're talking about expression and body language and that face-to-face stuff. I think you read it better, and you interpret it through a different lens once you've had physical communication versus virtual.

Marisa Morby: I know exactly what you mean because it's like you have to understand that someone maybe just has an expressive face. They're not mad. They're just thinking. That's their thinking face. You don't really get to know that until you see them in person and can other data points that you can put that together, and be like, "Oh, they're not mad. They're just thinking."

Joel Hooks: I'm going to close it out with just a simple question about what are you excited about right now? What are you interested in? Whether it's technology or whether it's not, what are you into?

Marisa Morby: The thing I am into right now, well, there's two things. Can I have two things?

Joel Hooks: Of course.

Marisa Morby: I have two things. Neither of them are technology related. The first is city mobility.

Joel Hooks: What does that mean?

Marisa Morby: City mobility is how we move around cities and how we get from point A to point B. Are we driving, walking, biking, taking a bus, taking a train, flying? How are we moving around? How do we as humans move around? That is one of the most fascinating things that I have ever been able to study. I read a lot about it. I am not in any way professionally trained, but it's just amazing because it's one of those things that we do every day. It's just an integral part of our life that we don't even realize. It's like food.

Marisa Morby: We have to move from one point to another. Humans just in our bodies, we're just nomadic. We walk around. We move. We have to go places and being able to understand how we do that and how we have the opportunity, particularly in cities, to create transportation and options that allow people to get around in ways that are sustainable is fascinating to me, because it's... You talked about climate change earlier, and transportation makes up a huge part of our carbon footprint, and so being able to rethink how we get around is fascinating to me.

Marisa Morby: Plus, there's all these positive livability things and health things with being able to bike more and walk more and being able to be out in your community when you travel like taking a bus or taking a train rather than being stuck in your car.

Joel Hooks: So we should build more highways?

Marisa Morby: No, I can't believe you would say that to me.

Joel Hooks: Sorry, I couldn't help it.

Marisa Morby: You're going to get me started on induced demand and everything. No more highways. I would love it if they took the highway out here. I really would. Vancouver BC is the only city in North America that doesn't have a highway that runs through its downtown.

Joel Hooks: That's true.

Marisa Morby: I feel like Portland should just copy that.

Joel Hooks: I feel like that ship has sailed. I mean, I agree with it. It's a madhouse of everybody driving around and then the unintended consequences oof building more and better highways and the whole-

Marisa Morby: We don't even like it. We just want to go see our friends. We just want to get to where we're going.

Joel Hooks: Honestly, yeah. We want to get there quickly and comfortably. What's the second thing?

Marisa Morby: Oh, the second thing, also not technology-related, is ceramics. I've been doing ceramics now for about a year almost. Since I work on the computer all day, I thought I need something that I can physically do with my hands and actually create things that are very physical. I've been doing that for the past year or so. I'm still working on your succulent pot. I did paint it up for you-

Joel Hooks: Nice.

Marisa Morby: ... which it'll eventually be done. It took me a while to paint. Anyway, that has been one of the things that has been really gratifying because you get to see this slow progress that you make, being able to only make something that's really teeny tiny and then now making bowls and stuff like that. It's a great experience and my mind shuts off when I do it. It's fantastic.

Joel Hooks: It's like a fast track to slow state in some way.

Marisa Morby: It is. It's instant.

Joel Hooks: It's all technology to me. We're making these useful things and we do that with software, and I can't recommend the getting back in crafting, building something. I dabble in a little woodworking every now and then, and it's just so gratifying when you make something. I have a little table that I built. I stack stuff on it, whatever, but I look at it and it makes me smile. I'm just like, "Oh look, there's my little table that I built."

Marisa Morby: I use one of my bowls that I made a couple months ago. It's this perfect size for berries, just for a snack. I love using it, and I'm like, "Oh man, I made that. It's so cute."

Joel Hooks: It probably makes your smile along with your delicious berries.

Marisa Morby: Exactly. Exactly. It's a double dose of happiness.

Joel Hooks: Well, Marisa, thank you so much for taking the time out of your afternoon to speak with me. I really enjoyed it, and I'll talk to you soon.

Marisa Morby: Talk to you soon. Thank you so much.

Joel Hooks: Cheers.

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