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108 / The Human Reality of User Experience, with Aaron Usiskin

Hosted by Paul Gebel & Brian Loughner




Aaron Usiskin


Aaron Usiskin is a veteran design executive with a hybrid approach that fuses the UX process with strategic business analysis. As a design leader, Aaron has extensive experience building dynamic cross-functional creative teams with an idea-led culture that fosters innovation with world-class results. In addition, his extensive knowledge in UX research and synthesis, prototyping, design, QA, AI, Machine Learning, and deployment drive internal efficiencies and the totality of User Experience.

Before Zelis, Aaron worked across industries with Fortune 500 companies, including Nielsen, Infor, Serta Simmons, Merrill Lynch, DIRECTV, Western Union, and Microsoft as well as startups and nonprofits to amplify User Experience and accelerate growth.

Aaron has won awards from Nielsen Norman (Intranet Usability Guidelines Killer Applications, Parsons Brinckerhoff), (Standard of Excellence award for, and Cre@teonline (Best B2B website,

The recent acceleration of artificial intelligence into the product + design space may spark more answers than questions. But the questions that persist are big ones. In this episode of Product Momentum, Aaron Usiskin, Director of UX/UI Enterprise Incubation and Enablement at Zelis, explores this philosophical head-scratcher: with AI/ML, are we at risk of losing the humanity from our human-centered design practice?

Aaron guides host Paul Gebel and guest co-host Brian Loughner, a Lead UX Designer at ITX, through his multi-level response.

“There are so many ways that AI and ML have already streamlined our process as designers and UXers,” Aaron says, “that we shouldn’t step away from it. We really should embrace it even more than we do today.”

At the same time, he concedes, “AI is based only on the things that people have done on a website or a mobile app. Plus, it’s really hard to understand how one person or a group of people are going to use your system, regardless of how much research or AI you do.

“If you really want to understand people, you have to be among them. You have to be learning with them, interacting with them, communicating with them, interviewing them. And when you’re interviewing them, it’s not writing down their answers. It’s looking into their eyes, understanding the facial recognition of what they’re doing.”

There’s no AI that’s going to be able to tell you if someone’s paying attention, he adds. “I don’t think it’s ever going to take away the humanistic factor of design out of it.”

We’re looking to a future that combines the power of AI with the fundamentals of human-centered design. Thank goodness; that sounds like a winning combination.

Be sure to catch the entire conversation with Aaron Usiskin: learn how to apply AI/ML to streamline the design process – but only after you have the fundamentals of user experience in place.

Join Jesse James Garrett, Rich Mironov, and Radhika Dutt at ITX’s Product + Design Conference, June 22-23 in Rochester, NY. Final 3 speakers to be announced soon. Learn more.

Paul [00:00:19] Hello and welcome to Product Momentum, where we hope to entertain, educate, and celebrate the amazing product people who are helping to shape our community’s way ahead. My name is Paul Gebel and I’m the Director of Product Innovation at ITX. Along with my co-host, Sean Flaherty, and our amazing production team and occasional guest host, we record and release a conversation with a product thought leader, writer, speaker, or maker who has something to share with the community every two weeks.

Paul [00:00:43] Hey everybody. I have the special privilege today of being joined by not only our guest, Aaron Usiskin, but also a special guest co-host, Brian Loughner, Lead UX Designer here at ITX. How are you doing today, Brian?

Brian [00:00:54] Doing great, Paul. How are you doing?

Paul [00:00:55] Excellent, excellent. I am especially excited to share this episode. There are so many things to geek out on. One of the top ones that came to mind is just the analogy to help people get centered on how deep design systems can go. Aaron has a huge record of triathlon experience and he talked about just having a bike and a bathing suit being really all you need to get into the sport, but if you want to measure every molecule of nutrition and every hour of training regimen, the rabbit hole just keeps going deeper and deeper as long as you can chase it. What was your favorite takeaway? What were you most excited about?

Brian [00:01:28] I think, you know, being a design system lover as well, you know, talking about how design systems and the introduction of artificial intelligence and machine learning and how the juxtaposition of that as a UX designer is always been focused on the human and how those two things are going to work together, and separately, in the future.

Paul [00:01:45] Yeah. Aaron was a great guest and I learned so much from him, so I’m really excited to share this conversation.

Paul [00:01:52] Well hey folks, welcome to the pod. We are delighted to be joined today by Aaron Usiskin. He’s a UX specialist, creative consultant, and Director of UX/UI Enterprise Incubation and Enablement at Zelis. He has over 20 years of experience in UX/UI and is a proponent of artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as design thinking. Aaron has worked on global websites and apps ranging from $30 million eCommerce to $5 billion consumer channels and SaaS cloud suite. He’s passionate about creating comprehensive customer experiences that meet users’ needs and deliver intuitive, user-friendly, and enjoyable products. He’s also an avid cyclist and triathlete. Aaron, thanks for joining us today.

Aaron [00:02:31] Hey, thanks for having me, guys.

Paul [00:02:32] Absolutely. You know, as we chatted previous to the recording today, we covered so much ground. I’m almost intimidated to take a stab at getting started in this conversation. But I wanted to actually jump into the deep end and kind of set the stage for some of the really niche things that you’ve been thinking about, but guiding us there, can you talk about what we were starting to explore in the topic of constraints? So when we’re working on a product or a design system, either net new or reskinning an existing platform, how do you approach it from just putting the puzzle pieces together? What goes through your mind at that highest level, entering into a new problem space?

Aaron [00:03:11] Well, you know, if you have the design system already laid out, it sort of makes it a lot easier for the designers to think more futuristic than they are, you know, thinking about elements and things like that to lay out on the page, where a button should go, those type of things. So having constraints in a product world and a design system sort of helps, I think, designers get a better design, a better flow, a better endpoint to what they’re trying to accomplish, that if you don’t have those endpoints, then you’re sort of scrambling, always searching, what colors to use, how should I use it? Is it accessible? Is it not accessible? You know, you’re going down a path that is three times more likely to cause bloat than it is if you had something that you’re constrained in a little bit more.

Aaron [00:03:54] Now, it’s not for every designer. You know, let’s be honest, doing a product design and following a design system doesn’t always get you the glitz and glamours that a Coca-Cola or an agency is going to get you. But in the end, I really believe having those constraints and having a little bit more rigid process allows you to get to a better end goal.

Brian [00:04:13] Yeah, especially with working with, you know, more than one designer in this space. I wanted to ask a little bit, as Paul mentioned, you know, you do triathlons. What lessons from triathlon training have you brought into design system thinking?

Aaron [00:04:26] You know, being a triathlete is a little bit of type A. In the littlest form, triathlons are relatively easy. You got a bike, you got goggles, you got your swimsuit, and you can usually get through it. In the hyper form, you have your diet, your training, you know, how many hours a week you have to do, and being able to really sort of schedule those really helps. And I think that applies to everything that we’re doing in the product. What are you going to be looking at it? How are you going to be designing it? When are you going to be reviewing it? All those have their place in what we do, and having those sort of written rules that we don’t have to think about also helps quite a bit in what we’re doing.

Aaron [00:04:59] And same with tris. You know, you can have a book written on UX and follow it, or you can have a book written on UX and sort of add to it like you would do with a tri bike, right? You can have your $1,000 tri bike and probably get through it, or you can have your $10,000 tri bike, which isn’t much different, but except for the pedals, and the weight in the handlebars, and all the good stuff you can do to it. So as long as those fundamentals are still sort of down, I think it helps. I think it’s just how you prioritize your day, really is what it comes down to.

Paul [00:05:28] 100%. When you first started your answer. I was going to say, “So, a bathing suit and a bike, that’s all I’m missing in order to get this going?”

Aaron [00:05:36] Yeah. In the end, it’s the super athletes, right? The guys that it’s a job for them. Like, all of us would love to have the job of being a professional sports athlete, right? You know, it’s good to be a professional, but it’s really hard being an amateur. You know, a sponsored athlete really helps, but an amateur sponsored athlete, you know, you get good stuff, but a bike, some running shoes, a swimsuit, some goggles, you know, on the grand scheme of things, you can get through most triathlons. You know, when people mention, let’s say, Coca-Cola as the grand scheme of what people want to work on, or I want to do a triathlon, people think Ironman. Well, you know, there’s everything in that realm. And I think what we do for UX, there’s everything in that realm as well. You know, you could be working on Coca-Cola; it’s probably a pinnacle, or some would people consider that a pinnacle. It all is what you want to make of it and how deep you want to get into it.

Brian [00:06:23] Yeah, Aaron, I love the analogy. As I’m thinking more about it, for a triathlon, you do, you know, you need shoes, you need a bike, you need a swimsuit. But just like a design system, you need your base components. You can go on top of that and you know, you can get your $10,000 race bike, but it just has to have wheels first, which is the important part about it. So I think it’s a really good analogy of design systems.

Aaron [00:06:42] Yeah, I mean, I think we discussed even, you know, one of my first assignments as a grad student was, how do you drive a car? All these analogies are the same thing. We all think that we know how to drive a car, but if we all went into that analogy and thought that everyone knew how to drive a car, our business would be pretty easy. But it’s not. There’s too many pieces, there’s too many fundamentals that outline what we do on a day-to-day basis. And as you said, you know, hey, from tires to go ahead and put on your bike, but what kind of tires are you going to put on your bike? What kind of surface are you going to be on? Right.

Aaron [00:07:12] Those are all the same questions that I ask clients as I would approach a triathlon. Is the gearing right based on the hills, the course, or my shoes right for that type of stuff? Am I going to do a beach run? Am I not going to be using shoes? You know, for me, it’s, you know, the totality of what I do, right? It doesn’t matter where I’m going, what I’m doing. You have to evaluate the situation before you dive in.

Paul [00:07:33] Yeah, I love that analogy. And it took me back to when we were chatting prior to that recording today, about the industrial design class that I took in college and just kind of explaining the experience in the shoes of the user. When you’re talking about driving a car or that ‘how to make a peanut butter sandwich’ video that went viral a couple of years ago, and, you know, you need to open the jar first and then stick the knife in and then take the knife back out. And when you explain it from the perspective of a learner’s mindset, almost like a childlike experience, you’re not dumbing down the experience, you’re actually improving it for everybody.

Paul [00:08:05] So to go back to, you know, just the context of where we are in the world today, in 2023, as we’re sitting here recording today, people didn’t trust phones 10 or 15 years ago. Right? But now the information that we just give to social media and really any platform that we’re a part of is shocking, right? I remember when I got my first email, everyone was paranoid about using your real name online because you didn’t want anybody to find out who you were. And now we just, we give everything up. So just to put a fine point on this, can you talk about the example that you were sharing about the butterfly effect or the thumb effect, as you put it? I think that was a great story.

Aaron [00:08:44] Yeah, I call it the butterfly effect. My daughter, you know, hats off to her. When you look at a phone today, as opposed to a phone ten years ago, your finger could, and when we talk about fingers or touching a system, the research still comes out that most people use one hand to do it, whether it’s right hand or left hand. So imagine this analogy and that I’m putting both right hands and left hands together in phones, the design will look like a butterfly when you have your oh factor, which is, “Oh, I can reach everything.” And then you have your ah factor, which is like, “Ah, maybe I can’t get to that.” And then you have your top part of the screen, which is your ouch factor. And you colorize that and you put them together and you have this nice little butterfly effect.

Aaron [00:09:20] And it’s like, the years have changed, but when you look at things, and I used to use it as an overlay to all my designs, is because where do you put things on a screen? If people can’t reach it, how relevant is that? If they have to move their hand or adjust their hand at any point in time, that changes our interface. Now, there’s a lot of things I don’t understand why they haven’t done. If I tilt my screen, why shouldn’t I be able to use it in my right hand? Right? Why should it be based on design? Or maybe when I load up an app, I can say if I’m right-handed or left-handed prominently. Why shouldn’t it change how it lays it out automatically based on your right or left hand? We still haven’t even dove into that yet.

Aaron [00:09:56] Now, we have moved the menus down to the bottom and we’ve done all that kind of stuff. But you know, as these phablets or phones get bigger and we keep talking about it, you know, it’s, where does it break? And that’s an important part. And I think most designers today who probably haven’t gone through this, they’ve grown up on maybe one or two phones, You know, I’ve been doing this quite a long [time]. I’ve been using it before they were touch screens and the Sony Ericsson 610, I showed you that example for British Airways when I first started out, which is the same size as an Apple Watch today, which is even funnier, is that when you have those type of experiences, you understand that it’s nice to do a beautiful design, let’s not lie, but can people get to it? Is hitting the logo that important? Like, people want to put their logo that important, but on a prominent phone, where is that really relevant, right? They’ve already logged in. You want the information to get there. You know, Amazon does it well. Now they’ve gotten it down to two or three clicks that you can now check out, right? Brilliant.

Aaron [00:10:51] As long as you put that swipe there, I think it’s relevant. They’ve nailed it. Even today. I saw another example of someone, you know, sort of touting that. And it’s funny, I’ve been doing it for five or six years now and I’m like, I thought it was revolutionized there, I’m like, “Oh my god, I’ll call it the butterfly effect.” And now it seems like more and more people have either glommed onto it or understand [it]. And I don’t care who uses it or talks about it. It’s good that people are talking about the aspects of design before you put anything onto the surface.

Brian [00:11:18] Yeah, Aaron, that’s a great point. And, you know, I don’t think we can ever stop talking about, you know, how actually users use the product and users’ needs. And as kind of a UX community, we’ve been really striving towards bringing the more human aspect of things into products and designs. And as artificial intelligence and machine learning and more the algorithm, computer side, are inevitably going to be more a part of our daily lives and process, what are your thoughts on these things working together? Like, you know, the strive for the human that we always have and then the improvements and all the gains we can get from the AI/ML?

Aaron [00:11:51] Hey, you know, I’m a proponent of it. I’ve been doing it for quite some time before, you know, this year it’s become the talk of the town. I think, you know, especially within e-commerce, you know, especially if you know what your bottom dollar is. Let’s say you want to sell coffee bags where the lowest you can go is $10 and you know, based on a geographic reference, Uber’s got it sort of worked out that, I forget what they call it, their octagon, they have it down to almost the zip code and where they can sell things and send drivers and turn drivers on and off.

Aaron [00:12:19] But imagine being able to say, well, and yes, this can be unfair, but the airline industry has been doing it for a while. Imagine if you can, depending on your zip code, you can raise or lower prices. I mean, that’s huge for AI and ML and especially for the bottom line of companies that, you know, they can say, “Okay, we thought that the 08540, which is Princeton, was high and everyone would buy things, but we’ve now come to find out that they actually are cheapskates and they’re not going to spend that much money, so maybe we should lower that dollar.”.

Aaron [00:12:47] So it helps with verbiage, it helps with writing certain things, it helps with call-outs. You know, there’s so many different ways that AI and ML have streamlined our process as designers and UXers that we shouldn’t step away from it. We really should embrace it more than we do. But, you know, fundamental designers are always worried that things are going to be taken from them, their natural ability to go ahead and create. And that’s not the case in my eyes. I see it as a beneficial tool in the underlying systems. Imagine a website that reshuffled itself based on where people were searching on the page or going to on a page, and that can help e-commerce in itself. How would certain surfaces, different products based on what you search on and how does that look, what you’re buying, and how that’s going to affect what comes up in the, “hey, let’s add this to your cart.”.

Aaron [00:13:35] We can keep going and keep talking about the AI and ML. I just really believe, in the e-commerce world it works really well. I think in the health industry, I think it’s going to work incredibly well. You know, Apple’s figuring it out. Again, a billion data points and you have to be capturing the data. Serta has one of the best sleep studies. I got to work a little bit on that project for their sleep tracker. They’ve been going for, so I left Serta in 20… The end of 2018, 2019, they had this product. I mean, you’re talking one of the longest sleep studies ever. And imagine what they’re figuring out from that: how you sleep, where you sleep, what your sleep patterns [are], how can we expect those sleep patterns based on your mattresses? It’s endless if it’s done right.

Paul [00:14:16] Yeah.

Paul [00:14:19] Hey, folks, please excuse the quick break in our conversation, but I wanted to share a quick reminder. Coming June 22nd and 23rd, 2023, ITX is hosting our second Annual Product and Design Conference. I can now confirm three of our guest speakers. Jesse James Garrett, one of the founding fathers of UX Design and currently a UX design leadership coach, will be delivering a day two keynote. Rich Mirinov, a legend in the software and product space, will conduct a workshop in addition to a keynote talk. And we’ll also have Mike Belsito, CEO of Product Collective, returning to help us emcee the conference.

Paul [00:14:50] New to the lineup is the amazing Radhika Dutt, who like Jesse, Rich, and Mike, was a guest right here on the Product Momentum podcast. Radhika is an entrepreneur, leader, coach, and the author of Radical Product Thinking: A New Mindset for Innovating Smarter. The conference is a great time for networking, learning, and bringing some great ideas back to the product teams that you lead to help level up your game. It’s also going to be the opening weekend of the Rochester International Jazz Fest, which is always an awesome event. If you have any questions or want to know more, you can go to That’s All right. Let’s get back to our conversation.

Paul [00:15:31] This is more of a philosophical question that I’m curious for your take on. As well as being a proponent of AI and ML, you’re also hugely rooted in human-centered design, human elements, heuristics. Do you think there’s something lost or at least a risk of losing something? You know, we talk about human-centered design. Will AI and ML begin to take some of the humanity out of it? I know that that’s kind of a loaded question, but we’re just at the very tip of the iceberg of generative AI. We’re theoretically decades away from, you know, really, really getting into a true thinking system. But I guess I’ll leave the question there. Is there a risk in commoditizing, you know, what makes us unique? The idiosyncrasies and neuro divergences and all the things that make us human, and bringing AI into it. Is that fearmongering or is there something there?

Aaron [00:16:19] I don’t think it’s fearmongering. I don’t think at all. Anything can change and a lot of things can happen in the years to come and all that kind of stuff. But an AI system that can think based on a persona of what, I don’t even know how many different things there are out there that, you know, those numbers become infinite after a while. How users use things, I don’t know. You can map it, sure. You can map a certain user and you can figure that out. But how a user interacts, it’s really hard to understand how one person or a group of people are going to use your system, regardless of how much research or AI you do, and AI is only based on the amount of, you know, things that people have done on a website or on a mobile application.

Aaron [00:17:00] But every day there’s a new user, there’s a new interaction, there’s a new way they’re going to look at things. You know, the kids are now growing up younger and younger using these systems. We don’t know how they’re going to use it. You know, and then, of course, it comes down to the eye tracking. You know, we’re thinking fingers and hands and all that kind of stuff. There’s the accessibility issues. There’s so many other things that, we’re generations, let’s just say, you know, as much as we think that the AI and the ML, people will use that, absolutely.

Aaron [00:17:26] I think you can do a great system using AI and ML and probably get to 70% of where you want to go and no one’s ever going to question it. But if you really want to get to understanding people, you have to interview them. You have to be among them. You have to really be learning with them, interacting with them, talking with them, communicating with them, interviewing them. I mean, it really is amazing. And when you’re interviewing them, it’s not writing down an answer. It’s looking at people, understanding the facial recognition of what they’re doing, right? If I give a presentation and I see, you know, people start nodding off, obviously I’m not on to something. There’s no AI that’s going to be able to tell you if someone’s bored in a room or not. Maybe there is, I don’t know of it off that. But I think it’s a help. I just don’t think it’s ever going to take away the humanistic factor of design out of it. That’s hard.

Paul [00:18:13] Yeah. So if I could summarize, I think what I heard you say is that we’re not headed for that dystopian future of designers versus machines, but it is going to become very quickly AI- and ML-empowered designers versus non-empowered designers, right?

Aaron [00:18:28] Yeah. That’s a good way to put it.

Paul [00:18:30] So the systems that we’re going to become more and more exposed to are, you know, going to be perceptibly smarter, but only if we have smarter people driving the bus.

Aaron [00:18:39] Yeah, I mean, they still have to be designed. They still have to be thought of. All the fundamentals still have to be in place before the actions can occur. And once those actions occur, hey, I’ll let a machine take over from there. If I developed a website and all those web parts, let’s say the website’s made up of five web parts, and I’ve developed ten different web parts and the analytics then tell me, “Hey, it’d be better to put web part four in web part one’s place, let’s go ahead and do it.” Why should I do it? Why should we be paying programmers to do it when an AI machine could just scoop it up and put it right where it needs to go? As long as they’re developed, let’s go for it.

Aaron [00:19:11] And then the verbiage should change there too, you know, an AI should look at, “Hey, if we look at the analytics and see that X amount of people have been doing X, Y, and Z, let’s write a statement based on that.” As you can see, once it’s built, it should run itself.

Brian [00:19:24] You know, Aaron, I just want to circle back on the topic of any concerns with this. And I think the questions that you asked and that we’re talking about, like, as we approach the uncanny valley of whatever this melding of humans and AI works, I think we always have to continually ask these questions. But to bring this back a little bit more on the design system side of things, I wanted to ask, how have you been using, and your thoughts on AI and ML in design systems, the whole designer and the organization, and just in general?

Aaron [00:19:54] Well, I mean, we’ll get there and I think that it’ll be great. But really, you know, it’s funny, I was just thinking about that. You know, organizations have a hard time with design systems, I think. You know, sometimes you can get them done pretty quickly depending on who and you know, how big the company is. Sometimes it takes, you know, Nokia just relaunched theirs. It took 18 months for them to do their design system. Now, imagine if you do a general design system based off, you know, something that is already out there, material design, right, material design is out there. The accessibility has already been done by a billion-dollar company, so a smaller company could absolutely leverage them.

Aaron [00:20:30] But now imagine building able to tie ML into that so that I can tell an ML engine to go ahead and change the color throughout all my buttons relatively quickly. Again, we go back to building the system, right? It’s pretty simple to build a system, or so I say, system, or to retrofit a system to fit a company, right? Maybe your buttons need to be a little rounder, but again, ML and AI can absolutely change that. And based on your user needs, you can do it rather quickly. But again, engines have to be built and all that kind of stuff. You lay the foundation, have it do it, right?

Aaron [00:21:03] Design systems are tricky, are expensive, are not understood. Let’s make sure, you know, a lot of companies I’ve worked for, they don’t understand that everyone has their way in which they want to go ahead and release it. You know, we have this conversation weekly where I’m at is that I can do a design system that is Triple-A compliant. Are you talking just design? So my Figma can be completely Triple-A, compliance doesn’t mean it’s going to be Triple-A compliance once I build it, because there’s development that has to build a mirror up to that. So the colors, the components, the atoms, the molecules, the buttons, the shapes, the size, all that kind of stuff is already done, but if you don’t have the development or the engineering that backs it, you’re still only level one or level two compliant, right? You’re Triple-A or just one A, and that is what people don’t understand. They completely forget that there’s another 50% of a design system that needs to be done that isn’t. Can ML or AI or any of these engines help out? They could, but you have to have the right people writing them and have some sort of understanding of it. You know, everyone wants to say they’ve done something in AL and ML because it boosts their resumes, right, but the amount of people that have actually touched or done any sort of AI or ML is a fraction of the world out there, especially as designers.

Brian [00:22:21] No, for sure, and I think we’re going to see that for a little bit longer as well as this kind of evolves. But after wrapping up our time together, I just wanted to know, what are you reading, or like, what are you being inspired by that you can point our listeners to?

Aaron [00:22:32] Oh, god, it’s a funny question that, you know, there’s one book, you know, it’s more of a textbook. At this point, it’s probably a bit old, but it’s The UX Book and it’s by Rex Hartson [and Pardha S. Pyla] and it’s great. It has all the fundamentals. It’s everything you want to do. It’s a textbook and it talks about all the fundamentals and what you need to go ahead and start an application or a design. And it is a great book to read and it’s one of the few ones, it’s probably a couple of years old now, that I constantly go back to to make sure that I’m hitting all those important pieces. After that, it’s blogs. I use Feedly on a daily basis that I have, you know, a hundred different blogs coming in there and you’re reading them, because, you know, with what we do, once you put something in paper, if it’s not the fundamentals, it’s good to read and it’s great understanding, but tomorrow it’s out of date. And so by me telling you, “You should read this or do that,” you know…

Aaron [00:23:24] Vince Flynn, I like to read those type of novels. But you know, to me, it’s all about, are my fundamentals still sound? I think that’s the most important part. And, you know, The UX book seems to update itself every once in a while and from there, you know, Nielsen Norman I would point you to. The fundamentals from Nielsen Norman and all that are pretty sound and they’re great to look at and understand and go by. After that, I really believe, you know, from when I used to teach, if you know something, say it, educate us all. Because what we see on a daily basis, we don’t want to put blinders on. We should be constantly learning and evolving and taking ourselves out of our designs so that we can do better.

Paul [00:24:05] That’s a great answer. You can’t applaud that loudly enough. I think that’s really well said. The fundamentals, they’re classics for a reason, right?

Aaron [00:24:13] Yeah.

Paul [00:24:13] The last thing that I’d like to ask you, it’s not intended to be a gotcha, but it is a little bit of a curveball for you. Something we ask all of our guests before we let then go. What is your definition of innovation? How would you define the word innovation?

Aaron [00:24:27] I would say something that disrupts someone’s normal life. In a good way, well, it doesn’t even have to be a good or bad way. You know, you think of pumping gas into a car every day, and I’m not an electric guy, but you’ve got to think of innovation that has changed things is, hey, we used to play with electric cars every day when I was a kid, with these little engines on them and stuff, and we used to laugh about it. You know, now innovation has changed, right? Cars are faster. I can’t say that they’re better. I don’t really know. They’re probably better maybe for the environment. I don’t know all the ins and outs of it. But innovation is something that disrupts, if you ask me. It’s just it’s a disrupter for good or for bad, right? For me, it might be bad for others, it might be good.

Paul [00:25:03] I like that take because a lot of times we’ll get an answer about, “It’s always, you know, a force for good, it’s always a positive change.” But there is an opportunity cost. It might not be a zero sum game, but there are winners and losers. Aaron, I have thoroughly enjoyed our time together. I really appreciate you taking the time in your day. I know you’re a busy guy and it’s really been educational just to get the on-the-ground experience and your perspective. So thank you for sharing it. Like you said, “If you know it, say it.” We all need to learn. Can’t sum it up better than that.

Aaron [00:25:30] Paul, thank you for having me. I think this has been great. You know, I love what I do. I really do.

Paul [00:25:35] And it shows.

Aaron [00:25:36] Hey, let’s keep talking about it. Let’s keep doing it, guys.

Brian [00:25:39] Yep, for sure.

Paul [00:25:40] Cheers.

Paul [00:25:43] Well, that’s it for today. In line with our goals of transparency and listening, we really want to hear from you. Sean and I are committed to reading every piece of feedback that we get. So please leave a comment or a rating wherever you’re listening to this podcast. Not only does it help us continue to improve, but it also helps the show climb up the rankings so that we can help other listeners move, touch, and inspire the world, just like you’re doing. Thanks, everyone. We’ll see you next episode.

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