Feb. 28, 2022

Penny Talalak | On Designing a Successful Side Hustle

Penny Talalak | On Designing a Successful Side Hustle

Penny Talalak is a UX/UI Designer @ BCG Digital Ventures, Freelancer, Speaker & Mentor.

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Transcript
James:

Hello, and welcome to graduate theory. My guest today is a UX UI designer at BCG digital ventures. She's a freelance speaker and a mentor outside of working full time. If she sells t-shirts does food photography writes blogs and research has crypto known for turning hobbies into businesses. Please welcome the side hustle queen penny to allow.

Penny:

I love that injury.

James:

Welcome to

Penny:

like put a smile on my

James:

Yeah. I, I don't know if it was good, like it, I bet. Yeah. I must be a good wisely guest getting someone like saying all these nice things about you. I don't know. It must, must've been so

Penny:

I think he's just made me realize, like, that is a lot of being that I do. I'm just having someone said it all in one sentence. I'm just like, I need a.

James:

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Well, yeah, we know you're a very, very busy young woman and you know, like you said, you've got a lot of things going on. And I'd love to touch on that at some point through this conversation, but I want to take things back to start off with about, and talk about your experience with side. It was in, you know, doing things outside of uni or work, whatever. And perhaps we can go back to your first experience with a sod house. And I'm curious to know, you know, what, what did you end up doing? Like what were you selling all and how old were you even kind of have that, that sort of counter that.

Penny:

Sure. So my first side hustles, some people might notice or might not know this was that. I used to sew juries when I was 17 years old. And I started when when I went back to Thailand during. The long, long, long holiday, you know, between your 12 and starting first year uni, it was like four months off. And because I was in Thailand, I didn't have like a part-time job, but everyone was doing like a summer school or such. I was really bored. So I wanted to sell something and I was young. I didn't go through like a full process of defining the problems or what are the user's needs. Wanted to make juries. So I didn't really research that there was a need for it, but it was creativity and I love making things. So I started with making juries like bracelets, necklace handmade and got materials from Thailand. So it was very convenient for me to start off. The hustle and I didn't mark it as much. I just pose on Instagram and, you know, always the first customer is friends and family. And from there, cause I started Instagram account. I'm already in Thailand, so I started a website for him and did some website design. I wasn't a designer back then as well. So my design wasn't as great, but I just needed something to do. I knew my cell, what I loved doing was selling. I love talking. I love I wouldn't say like persuading people to buy stuff, but marketing, I love doing those kinds of things like advocating for what I love doing. That's one thing. So you've got to believe in your products, so then you can sell them. And I love my products. I was really encouraging people to buy my juries. That's what I'm good at. If I was to do sales, probably not. So Yeah. I really have to love the products to do it. Yeah. And I did it for three years. Fast forward on. I started doing engineering. At university, I really wanted to be an engineer because it was kind of the early occupation that I knew, you know, that has the reputation apart from doctors, lawyers, accountants, like yep. Everyone knew what engineering was. So I started to doing engineering. I wasn't really good at maths or physics as well. I just did it for the sake of that. So I started before uni and then I kept doing it while studying engineering, which was tough. I was struggling in class as well as struggling to sell juries. I was just struggling in general and like nothing was going good. So I wanted to change the degree. It was either choose engineering or choose to go business side. I wanted to change to commerce, and I thought about it every single day. I work up and I thought, do I need a commerce degree to be an entrepreneur? Do I need a commons degree for another three years to have a business where I already have a business. And I kept asking myself this, and maybe I do marketing. Maybe I do design. Maybe I do like entrepreneurship. Cause so I ended up not doing it and dropping engineering and going into a design degree because engineering just wasn't working. But during university that you want us w was really into startups and business vibe. So I had a lot of ideas that was really frustrating me because I was struggling in engineering. And so as my, my friends and I wish I knew that engineering wasn't for me before I got into engineering. So I had a lot of a lot of ideas, like how can we. Future future students, future university students realize that passion and what the degree was like. So I started applying, you know, just ideas, competition, startup competition, like pitching competitions and just writing my ideas down without, you know, business plan or business model. I just had an idea cause it all started with an idea, right. And actually a little bit, the problem is that I would my frustrations and then I started actually researching into it. Like, is it just me? Or is this

James:

Has that been, has that been a problem? Like a, a common thing? Cause I know, you know, you, you, you said you're doing the jewelry and there's other things that you've done like, the time as that being a common thing where you kind of, it's been a problem for yourself and then you've been like, okay, perhaps this is a problem for other people. And then it's kind of started that way. Would you say that's the case?

Penny:

Yes. Always thought a with me for, I was like, I'm always the problem. And then I kind of thought, am I alone? There's got to be someone out there who is experiencing the same. So we'll never, I come across a problem. That's like a big issue that I see that maybe I'm not alone. I always do surveys and I would actually send out surveys, my friend, who, if they listening to this right now, So, well, and they're so sick of my surveys and I make them do it. So each surveys that I sent out usually get about like a hundred response, some of them that I would really need the response. I would push for it and get about 600 like surveys. I would just mourn for getting surveys. And so I have a lot of data on. The weakness was that I don't know how to do data analysis. So I just have a lot of raw data that I do, and I just read through it and just analyze it manually. And I found out it was a problem. And when you have the data back up, you are likely to be able to pitch it and use that data to tell the people, tell the investors that this is the problem. 600 people are facing something like that. Oh, it helps a lot. And I was entering through these competitions. I pitched through it. I made people vote for me. And yeah, so it was more of like a startup without startup. Like obviously these ideas didn't get through. It was just an idea. And I was, Yeah. Until one of them reach out to me like one of the investment, like VC, like ventures they'll have, oh, we really like your idea, but we're happy to help you build it out and make it come to life. And I was so excited. Wow. My ideas coming to life, it's like an app design and their proposal was about if we are going to do an app design for you, it caused about 10,000. And I was 19 years old and I'm like, no. way I don't have $10,000. Yeah. no, thank you. I'll just keep my ideas to myself. That idea now is actually be my existed. Like I say it out bad, like someone's did it. And I was like, oh man, I could have done. It could have been made,

James:

oh,

Penny:

but I met the co-founder. I was like, oh, you know, five years ago I did the research on it. I was something like. It's so common now. And on so many people are solving like similar problems that I went through, which is like bridging the gap between high school and university and choosing like the right degrees and such. So that, wasn't my big passion

James:

Yeah.

Penny:

And now so many business does it.

James:

I'm curious, like you, you're saying you went and did surveys and you got all that data and stuff. Like where did you go to get that? Is that just something that you posted on Facebook, like social media, different things, or is it, did you actually go into a specific place, like a specific community for that problem or something like that?

Penny:

so that one, because it was a problem, like, you know, high school and university students changing degrees and not knowing what they want to do. I spin it out to like you and SW discussion. And that? page alone has about 10,000 people. And then I had people posting, posting on Facebook and I also did for high school as well. So a lot of my friends were tutoring high school. I just sent them out to them. I was tutoring as well. So I made my students do it and just sent them like, it was a lot of data. I was like, that's why I reach about 600 of them. And Yeah. mainly Facebook. Yeah. Pretty much direct message. So when it comes to surveys like bees, yes, I do posts on Facebook, but I always direct message people. So that's why, like my friends know me very, I was like, oh, another survey for penny, but I keep it really short and really smart so that it's not like a boring surveys. So that's why.

James:

Yeah, that's good. I was going to ask it. Yeah, that was going to be my next question was like, what's the structure like? Cause it sounds like you've done a few of these and have kind of worked out perhaps what the best way is to do it. And yeah, that's interesting if you keep it short and maybe the questions are quite you know, you have, I guess a pretty good think about the questions you want to ask. Cause you don't get that many to ask. Yeah. Is that like, how do you go about doing that?

Penny:

So, this is like when I was 18 doing surveys anonymously, like probably what's made me a UX designer right now asking questions and interviewing people. I wouldn't have known that I was a survey or back in the day the type of questions I usually keep within less than 30 minutes, something that you can do fast, where you can just answer. Bullet points, not bullet points like boxes. I always use Google form because it's cheap and it's free. I'm sorry. Cause it's actually phrased. So that's one and the questions they actually quite long, but because the way that you introduced the questions, people start, people stop realizing the time and they just keep answering the questions because then it becomes like, oh, you know, I actually. I came across that problem. Like, I'm actually angry about it and completing the surveys and because you're already halfway through, I think most people would just kind of finish it and always keeping it like one minute, like, you know, introduction. You've got like the classic never asked for the name. That's one thing and never asked for gender. I think like age range, I don't think that's kind of necessary as part, like you try to. amount of personal information as much as possible. So for me, like I had a year, or like, what are your in uni of years? Like that's easy and try to make it most tick boxes and check boxes as much as possible. Like really. Typing time. So that was me because like checkboxes is quick. Right. And you can do that within seconds. So that was one, like the classic you know, what university do you go to? What year that's like three seconds done. Next ones. Yeah. So it was just like, what degree do you do? They can type that in. So like do a survey, something that they already know and they don't have to think a lot. That's how you get people to do surveys quick and fast.

James:

Yeah, that's a good point. And yeah, definitely good things to consider when you're doing that kind of thing. Is that something, you know, you said you did them a lot when you were in university, do you like, do you, do you still do a survey or do you do like different kinds of market research now for the things that you're doing? Or is it still do, do any market research or like, you know, how do you go about doing it now? Is it still survey or do you have other methods to go about it now?

Penny:

Oh, absolutely. Survey is like the easiest and cheapest way to do it now. So like type, form, easier to do, or that's what we do at work and usually UX designers to surveys. But now we haven't had a type of testing, which is in VAT testing, like testing with Facebook. Very easy, but very expensive, but you've gotta have a budget for it. And Facebook ads get a lot of data, you know, the kind of people who clicks in the kind of comments you might get, the kind of likes, like see, like who interacts with your ads. That's another data to validate as well. But most of what I do now is probably use the interview, like actually talking to them one by one. So that's more, more intimate, but also more costly because you're paying for their time. But also like. More detail, but less quantitative. Yeah. It's more quarterly.

James:

Yeah, Cheryl Ann, how do you think about the kind of balance between market research and then just doing something because you're interested in it, because this is certainly a point where you can sit and do market research. You know, for ages and then not actually do the thing. Right. So how do you think about that? You know, particularly thinking about some of the, some of the sun hustles you have at the moment, like, what do you think the right balance is between, you know, researching the market and then actually.

Penny:

This is a tough one, right? Because a lot of people, when they want to start something, they do so much research. And a great example is like selling things on Amazon, Amazon FBA, or like, starting an e-commerce business, studying whatever business you are, you do a lot of research and that's fine. Like I do research too, but for me it's all about, I'm a very practice person. Like this depends on type of people. You are like, you know, there will be a risk taker person, and then there will be like the risk of. Type, and that's fine. Just one might be faster than the other one might fail faster than the other, but it's always better to fail faster. So then you learn faster as well, right? Warrior's like one might do so much research. No, exactly right or wrong. But when you put it into practice, it's different or you maybe watching so many hours of Amazon FBA video. And I still watch it every day and it's like, so using. And then when you actually do it, it's different, right? Like that's every video that you watch, like yes, you get an idea. But as long as I think starting is a difficult one, even like creating an account would be a great start, but not many people realize that. So just taking like small step forward for me. I think that designers do have the advantage, but when I wasn't a designer the way that I validate my ideas is just talking to. So I that's part of market research already talking to friends, like maybe like five people. Once you get five and you see that it's not really worth anymore. Like the ideas is probably like been existed. That's when you stop.

James:

Yeah. Yeah. That's cool. That's interesting. Cause yeah, I know that you've kind of built up based kind of, You know, who is sticks or like, you know, kinds of ways of doing things over time, because I know you did plenty of this stuff with that. So that's really interesting, but you mentioned something there about failing fast and, you know, kind of, if something's not going to work, you should find out quite soon. I wonder if there's been periods in your life and, you know, side hustles that you've tried where, you know, where's the balance there as well between. It's just early days, it's still working on improving it, but you know, I'll continue on versus like, it's not going to work. I'll stop. Like, I'm curious if you have any thoughts on like, when it's time to stop versus like when it's time to push through people, not liking it. Cause it's going to be good. One that, you know, that kind of balance there. I mean, yeah. Do you have any.

Penny:

Oh, there's so many side hustles and business that is like at the back of my bed is just solid, like stacking up of ideas that I want to do this. I want to do that. But you got to remember like having a startup, I'm having your own. You really have to dedicate and worship it for like the rest of your life. That's when you know, it's accessible. And I thought to myself, like, I don't think I am passionate enough about this, or I don't think I am liking this as much as like, I'll probably like it at that moment. And then when I realized long-term like, are you really passionate about this? I'll probably get bought like the next day already. And that's when I realized, like to see. About it. But I did go through like a process, you know, the initial process, probably like talking to friends and seeing if there's already something out there this should take like about half a day. Like you shouldn't be like a week thing, like half a day, or maybe like just one day, just talking to different people, see what they think. And pretty much like that should already validate like some validation to your ideas. And if you see that that's an actual problem. That's when I start like looking for competitors, if there's already a solution out there and what are people using? And if there's already a solution out there, it's like, oh, should I really bother making a solution for it? Because if like, let's say Uber eats, right. And there's another delivery app that I want to make. And there's so many delivery apps right there. You have to be so passionate about delivering. no comment for like five, 10 years to beat Uber about it, Uber eats. And that's just something that I am not ready. And that's when I know before I even start that I'm not going to Yeah.

James:

Yeah. Yeah. And that's interesting too, like having your personal interest. As part of the thing that you're doing, how do you think about that? Like, would you ever do something that, you know, you weren't interested in, but it was a good business idea or is it like, or do you kind of, you know, you kind of noticed straightaway like, Hey, this is a cool idea, but I'm not like into that. So like I'm not going to do it, you know? W what are your, how do you think.

Penny:

Oh, there's so many ideas, right? That I think. it'd be great idea, but I'm not too passionate to actually do it. And I just hope that someone out there is fixing this one day. So I feel like ideas should actually be transparent and should be shared around the world because there's no such thing that you can IP an idea. Like that's stupid. Like you just say a word it's like IP in a sense. So like, yes, you can Peyton a business idea, but you got to have a good full business plan about it. You know, when it comes to. Brainstorming, no one's going to pay to the stickies or whatever they do. Like it costs a lot and who's going to bother doing that. And if you're actually going to bother doing that, you already waste so much time and money might as well just make an idea. So there's a lot of people who are tight, like very conservative of their own ideas on how things work and solution. And I try to kind of encourage people to be more open about, you know, the ideas, you know, it doesn't mean. That people are stealing ideas. Like so many people are talking about, or no, you stole my idea, like delivery room is the same as Menulog and also the same as Uber eats. So they still successful. Right. It's still business. And I think like, yes, if you're going to have a business and it's already exist out there, I don't think that should be. A stopping point. If you're passionate about it, I just wasn't passionate about it. I wasn't like bothered to actually compete with Uber eats, but there will be some people who are bothered and very passionate about food delivery to come up with a new business idea, like milk run. For example, there was like a new business idea with like, I don't even know a scalable business model that doesn't scale. It's only like working in red fund Eastern suburbs doesn't even deliver. So that kind of business idea that I feel like you need to really be bothered about it and passionate about it to build something. Hmm.

James:

Yeah, I think that's great. Great advice. You

Penny:

I list you have a lot of money to just throw out of high someone to do it. It's like, yep. I acquired that and I sold it to other

James:

yeah.

Penny:

easy.

James:

That's yeah, that's a good point too, but I think that's interesting. Yeah. Like your personal interest, it takes quite a high priority in the things that you do. Cause yeah, I guess that's, what's going to be carrying you over the long-term as well. If you like, if you're not interested in it. And then even though it might be a good idea. Yeah. Is it really worth doing that? If you're just going to get bored, like pretty quickly?

Penny:

Well, you made a great point, right? It's like, I don't like doing this, but I make a lot of money and it's a great thing. Oh, you'll never be happy with it. I think at that point you will then realize that money doesn't make you happy.

James:

Hmm. Yeah.

Penny:

It's always a saying.

James:

We had, that's a good point. thanks for listening to this episode of graduate theory. If you haven't already subscribed to the graduate theory newsletter you can do so by at the links in the show notes, the graduate theory newsletter comes out every single Tuesday morning with my thoughts and lessons from each episode. But without further ado, let's get back into it. Perhaps we can talk a bit now I'm interested to hear your thoughts on sort of time management and productivity, as you think about doing these things on the side. Cause obviously you're working full time at the moment and then you've got, I'm not even sure how many things on the side at the moment, but it's quite a few you know, I'm interested to hear, you know, how you go about managing your time and how you think about productivity. You know, do you have a kind of a system that you follow, whether it's, you know, like, do you have like your calendar, like fully planned out or do you know, are you put more of it? Just do what I feel like doing. I'm curious to hear like how you actually think about managing.

Penny:

yeah. So I would say like a lot of people know him as a very. Time management structure, plan person. When people want to see me, you have to book me in like two weeks in advance or I would be, I would know what I'm doing every single weekend. So there will be some months like February. I know what I'm doing up until like the NFV and next availability is like, mid-March that kind of thing. But am I really that busy? Obviously know there will always be time, right? Like you're not actually doing something eight hours a day. Like, there'll be. You're eating showering your on Facebook. I'm like on Facebook all the time on Instagram all the time. I have times when I post on my stories, I have time to watch Netflix. But why I'm doing these things, my mind is actually working and this comes to like multitasking and my tape spot is, is I'm sure. Replying things fast by doing things very fast and that minimizes decision making time, if you decide something very slow, your life will probably be slow, but that's also, you know, like I'm a risk taker and I don't really think much, like if I want to do something, I'd do it straight away. If I want to reply, I reply straight away. So that's for me, like reduced decision making in your life. And mark Zuckerberg did this. You know what he was telling us why he would always wear gray t-shirt because it reduces decision-making in his life. And the other writers stay for like five minutes to choose. Like when you were not like women, right. I always have two hours choosing like what I'm going to do like outside. So he made a really good point and that's how I kinda like live through, you know, reduce your decision-making time. It doesn't mean that you're a risk taker and don't make decision at all. Like, please don't ever do that, but it just means that you gotta be very logical and smart in knowing if you do this, what's the outcome. If you do this, what's the outcome. So just, yeah. reduce that, like be a fast texter. That's fine.

James:

Yeah

Penny:

I'm always above texter, always on my phone. I'm always there for people. And one of the reason being that I'm always on my phone and be there for people is that if you're not there every minute, you're losing an opportunity. So taking, for example, if a friend's upset and they texted you. not there because you're just probably not on your phone. Maybe you're busy or something, that's fine. Then you're already losing that opportunity to be, to be there for someone like to be there for her when she's upset and she will go to other people and she will stop relying on you. And for me, like, I want to be the person who's actually reliable and I want to create trust between people. And that's where, like, you know, I feel like you're being a good friend for it. So that's just, that's more about like friendship kind of type. And then it just kind of. Grow on me that I'm just always a fast replier same as like job. Right? If, if, like, let's say someone wants to do a website design and buy, if I'm a slow replier, I will lose that chance. And they will go to someone else who will apply like faster than you. So it's just that mentality. And that's why, like, I'm always replying fast. Cause you gotta be first in the line and you gotta be fast in action because that will always be someone who will be above you and foster that. So, yeah, life is all about competitions and that's like my time management. Yes. I have a calendar, but I do time box everything as well, except maybe Sunday. Cause like I really do

James:

Yeah,

Penny:

and I do a little more too. So that will be times where I don't actually bring my laptop and apple watch, so I don't get notifications and I use the way to chill, like just going out. yeah, Otherwise if I'm at home, I'm on like my laptop, like 24 7. And when I'm on my laptop, like I have three screens. One screen is like work. The other screen is another work. The other screen is like another, another work. So always like looking at up and down and see what, what I need to

James:

Yeah, well, yeah, it's certainly, I know you've managed to accomplish a lot in one day, which is, which is really amazing. And I think, you know, going back to what you were saying there about the speed I've heard it described like once you make it, like, you know, you kind of have this feedback loop of, you know, observe REO. Decide act. I think it is. So you observed the situation, work out what you're going to do. Maybe it's less than that. Maybe it's like, all right. Decide act, probably it will be, we'll be fine. Like, you know, realize the situation, decide, act, and then get feedback when your decision and the quicker you can complete that loop. Like the quicker you can do things. So like, like what you were saying with the speed. If you finished something on, like, it took you a week to do something versus a few days or one day, then you're able to like, Get feedback on the thing that you've done. So if you finished it on Monday versus like Saturday you know, then you would have the feedback, you know, mid-week versus like, you know, and then you can just see how that the loop would just speed things up quite quickly. So I think that's really interesting how you assign speed is something that's quite important and making decisions quickly replying quickly. Yeah, I think, I think it's really important for productivity. Yeah.

Penny:

Like for me, like I find it really easy to stop things. Like if I'm going to start a business, I'll start it. Like in the next five minutes, if you want to start like a new idea or start like straightaway or like Gary thoughts at starting, but I find it really hard to end things. So when I start something the next day, I'll have to think about how am I going to end this? And I break it down. And at like process, like phase one, it's got to end phase two. It's got to end. The my work, which is going like long, long, like this has been going on for five months. Why is it not ending? And they do tend to forget because I'm a very forward like future person. I don't actually know like what happened in the past, which.

James:

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Well, I'm curious to hear, you know, what are some, if someone is working on a side hustle outside of work, are there any productivity or time management tips that you would give someone. Managing their side hustle or side hustles. In your case, you know, outside of work hours, is there any, you know, anything that's worked well for you that you think, or any advice generally that you'd, you would give to someone in that.

Penny:

Yeah, I think. A lot of it is, I would say personality and characters. This is something that you probably can't teach someone, right? Like motivations, ambitions yeah, time management. It's something to practice, but a lot of people are, I think it's the environment you're in. So if you're constantly with surrounding with people who. Who don't have side hustles. You're probably not going to have side hustles, but he was surrounding yourselves. He was like, you know, always like, get, go get her, have side hustles. Then you will feel like you are behind. And people don't actually realize that until they got out of the circle and go into another circle and you feel like, wow, I am like the odd one out. I think some tips for me who already have side hustles. I think they know what they're doing really well. And yes, you will have a mental breakdown. So please reach out to me. I do have mental breakdown. And it is. Okay. Yeah, some tips on this, honestly, I don't really to have any tips. Usually it happens at Nichols. People who have side hustles don't sleep before midnight. So yes, I will be up and I will be there for you. That's one, but also multitasking. Just kind of set your schedule. I'm always using like Kanban board. To move things and it is so satisfying when you move things across. And so there will be some carts that will be there for months and months, and it's annoying. Right. Cause you really want to move it. So where you can do is just kind of break down into like little cards. So you can just move it as like every single day because they breaking down a little task instead of having it as an own like little giant umbrella breakdown, like into step back. Even though, like you can do a step-by-step inside the car, make sure that step-by-step is like a separate card. So that's a smart way of me just moving things, because it's a satisfaction that you're moving. One thing to like done and it feels so good. Yeah. So that's one I use notion for, to do lists Kanban board. And I would say I use Figma a lot to do calendar, so I've got a monthly calendar to see like. When things should be done for my side hustles and I have a weekly calendar. So then I know like in one week what you've done is are on like Monday to Friday. So that's more of like social calendar that. kind of

James:

Yeah.

Penny:

So that's how I found out. But for people who want to start side hustles, where they don't know how that's a hard one, because it's about like motivation. It's about like finding what you want to do. It's about like finding if you're going to be passionate enough to keep up with it. Yes. You're going to fail. But I would say the Mo the best way to get motivation is to be surrounded by the people who are doing the same thing.

James:

Yeah, I think that's, that's good advice. It's that whole thing, you know, surround yourself with like, you're, you're the average of your five best friends and even the surrounding yourself with people you want to be like all that kind of stuff I think

Penny:

is that true with the five best friends? Like what if you only have like less than five?

James:

think, I think, yeah, the way I interpret that quote is. You fought best friends is maybe let's say your closest friend probably has the biggest impact. And then it kind of goes down as like you'll, the closeness goes down. And so then it's almost the sum of all your inputs. And five is maybe just a good number to pick, but really, I think it's the sum of everything. So it's like who your friends are, who your parents. You know, what's kind of things. Do you watch on TV? Like, what are you actually use? Like, what do you actually use a time with? Like what kind of, what kind of outside things are coming into your environment and all those things together is going to either is going to really shape your motivation and your thoughts on things. And, you know, the five best friends is maybe yeah, a good way of, and the simple way of like, visualizing or understanding that. But I think for me, it's more than just your friends. Like, obviously they're important. I think it's more, even the sum of like all those things coming in. Like, what are you watching?

Penny:

Yeah.

James:

you listening to? What are you even doing with your time? Cause I think that even in itself is a, you know, it's something that can, can help. Yeah, that, that's the way I understand it, but I think, I think it is quite accurate because if you, if you look at someone. Doing like doing something, whether it's even for me, like a lot of the guys that like I'm friends with other people doing podcasts, which makes it easier for me to do mine. Like if I was just doing it by myself, I didn't even know anyone else doing it, then it would be a white Honda. And I'm sure for you as well, like you probably know people that like support you and you know, doing it like similarly, you know, cool stuff. Maybe a

Penny:

I am slightly different from my best friends.

James:

really.

Penny:

Yeah. The thing is like, I, I have multiple groups of friends for different purpose, which sounds really bad. But for me, If I have, like, let's say 10 groups of friends by the time I get to the first one, I will see them like the next three months. So it's like a rotation, which is it, which sounds really bad. But yeah, just kind of think of that. It was like an interesting one. Five was his friends and I'm nothing like my five closest friends.

James:

Hmm. That's interesting. Maybe it doesn't like then maybe it's in me.

Penny:

Like maybe it has.

James:

Yeah. That's so funny. Well, I want to ask some questions around to your career as a designer because I know that's something. Yeah. That's something you do really well. And you're working with a fantastic company and I want to understand more like how. You got into the field of design and kind of what traits I know you mentor people in this space too. So I'm interested to hear, you know, what, if someone listening is into design and they want to become a designer like yourself, you know, what are some things that I can do to help them get into this field and even like grow their skills in this area. I'm interested to hear if you have any thoughts.

Penny:

Yeah, so I think first of all, design is such a broad term that you can be an engineer design. You can be an architecture, design, fashion design. So my field is called user experience and use the internet. is such a long name or in other words, like UX UI. And also no one kind of knew that acronym like explained to my grandparents, which is most difficult thing is still like, it's been around for a while and we do it everyday. But you know, having a job title like that is, you know, it's coming up, it's getting more known these days now, which is good. But there's still like, you know, I would say 80% who don't know what I do. You say experience design is what would you're designing for user to have the best experience and people won't be asking, like, what do you do? How do you make user have the best experience? You know? Like how do you know someone's going to have a good experience or not because you can't always place everyone. And that's the hardest part of my job, right. Because I have to please people and making sure that the design is right. Yeah, Everyone's going through the same, but that will always be like 10% minority out there who will hate your design and things like this is not working and that's totally okay. Just something like you have to accept it. Like not everyone likes Facebook, not everyone likes Instagram, but you get used to it. And it's the pattern. So it's a lot of psychology that you have to understand how the human works. What is their pattern like? I already out there, what is successful? What's a good product. What's a bad product. And it's usually for digital design. So, you know, we're moving along like digital experience. So that's why, like I design a lot of apps, design, a lot of website design a lot for like web 3.0 and crypto stuff, which is really fun. For people want to get into this where, what I do, UX UI, first of all, you can. Have a UX background or have a UI background. So I came from graphic design and UI is more designed creative style. And you know, where things go is placement of text buttons, making things look pretty, but it might not be the best experience. And then there's UX, which is amazing flow like Amazon has so addictive yellow button that uses keep on pressing by. That's terrible, terrible UI, like terrible interface. It looks like it's coming from like 1990s, but it's working so well. So that's like coming from UX and then you've got UI. So yeah, that's like, people, a lot of people coming from like, there's no, degree for it. You can essentially do any degree. And that's why, like, I just want to graduate and self-taught UX UI myself, and I started with a UI just designing apps, designing. And website, and that's the more you design and just copying like existing apps out there. The more you start to see the pattern, what's the size of a button. What's the size of a phone? Where should the button go? The terminology that people use, or how many screens should an onboarding process have? So the more you copy design, the more you understand like, yep. This is how app works and that's the same for website as well, like copy a lot of website. So then you finally figure it out. Oh, Yeah. Image should be placed here. Font of like titles should be like, this big button should be this big and you start to realize like the pattern for it. Like e-commerce right. Why does the card always at the top and sticks to it? What happens only if you put the cart on the side? Like maybe it looks good, but. The user, like e-commerce website looks the same and there's a reason behind it is because people will always be used to e-commerce website and sometimes like ask for designer who wants to like, go be yawn. The pattern might be like difficult because everyone's so used to it. So, but that's a challenge like in our life is like, how do you break that pattern? And making people like buy differently without making them. Not knowing, not getting used to it. It's, it's a really difficult job, but a lot of people see it as like a really easy job, because if you're depends on if you're good at it, like you do it so much, you can finish the work like really fast, like design really fast, like designing website, you know, your routine, you know, your speed. It's all about speed. Right. But even not good at it, like, you're probably like taking a long time to create websites. And you're thinking like, this is really ugly and you're not happy with it. You'd do it again.

James:

Yeah,

Penny:

I know I'm going off the topic of

James:

no, that's again.

Penny:

into the industry, but I will say start copying design and looking at apps and website.

James:

that's cool. I'm interested to hear, you know, what are some things awesome skills of that are involved in being. Yeah. A designer, UI UX designer that you think are important that you think other people or the mark, like I think other, like other people underestimate the importance and perhaps you think their point, is there anything that you think people under-appreciate in terms of skills for this area

Penny:

Yeah. Well design like creative skills. The eye for design is already really hard to train. Like if you can't like, honestly, like some base skills, creativity, some people are born with it. Like they great draws. They, they can draw, they, they know where color goes. They know the eye for design. It's just really hard to train and. I used to be able to draw. I can't draw anymore, but because I do design so much, like looking at exemplars or can website, I am able to kind of put it in my head where things goes, but some people who haven't done that before, it can be really hard. And I think a lot of people appreciate that because they realize that, oh, I actually can't design this. Like, wow, it looks so good. Because at the end of the day, everyone thinks that they are a designer.

James:

Hm.

Penny:

to repeat that everyone thinks they are. You can design. I can design everyone can design a website. Right. But what people don't realize is the psychology behind it. How do you design something that not really looks good because the word good right. Is different from everyone. You might think that this button looks great, but I might think that this looks terrible. So how do you actually prove, like what's actually defined good. So in the industry, there's no such thing as. Good design anymore, but more of like what's usable and get validation from other people like the actual users and customers themselves. And that's like a great proven point that if you're designing an e-commerce website and it looks great, or actually, no, I don't want to say it looks great. Like, let's say you're designing an e-commerce website as a designer. You might think it looks good for the customer that it looks really bad. So. It's not their fault. It's like your fault that the commerce, that the e-commerce website is not making sales. So that's something that I don't think people notice, like a lot of people don't hire designers because they feel like they can do it themselves. Like, you know, logo's really easy to do. Now. You can get it for 10 bucks from like Fiverr or Upwork. And there was so many like freelancer, like.com that is marketing, like website design for 10 bucks logo design for five bucks. But there is a psychology behind it that you're missing. There's two types of designers, one the cheap one that just, you tell them what to do. And they just do it for you. The two, the expensive one, you tell them what to do, but they taken like a grain of salt and they give you suggestions and advice on how to make it better. So a lot of people go with the first one, right? Because designers are very. just go for like, yep. This is what I want. I just need you to make it look pretty. And I have so many clients who's asking for like logo design. I just needed to make it look pretty. But then there are also other clients who actually need my suggestions to it. Like I don't care, but I know you can make it look pretty, but I want to know how to actually make sales and how to actually get more people visiting my website. That's the, that's the thinking behind it? That not many people appreciate.

James:

yeah. That's, that's real. I think that's really interesting. Yeah. The psychology behind it is something yeah. That suddenly if you're really interested, or if you were interested at all, you could really upskill yourself in those kinds of things and then improve as a designer quite. I want to kind of start to wrap this conversation up and I've got two questions left around your career as a whole. And I'm the first one of these is, has there been a particular moment or is there something that comes to mind that was a failure for yourself or something that didn't go to plan, but ended up being something that was a really valuable experience or it was something that. Yeah, it was almost a failure. Yeah. If it ended up being something that you really appreciate now and something that has turned out really well. Is there anything that comes up.

Penny:

Yeah. Definitely when I was applying for graduate position a lot of my friends final year applying for internship and graduate position, and I went through a lot of interviews. Any other grads do a lot of interviews. Assessment center design challenge went through like last round and then just didn't get awful. As in like, I got zero offers where I would be listening to my friends, getting five offer, like, wow. And that point I felt so low and thought to myself that, why am I not good enough? Like, am I, is it my degree? That is my fault. Or like, what is it that is missing? My mark or is it of my degree is not aligning with what they're looking for, or maybe that's just other people. And that made me doubt my skills a little bit. Cause I really wanted to get into UX UI. Like I was so determined to get into UX UI, but there wasn't many UX UI graduate program and I have some interviews. As well at a UX UI graduate program, but I didn't get it. And I just felt like, oh, okay. Maybe this is the end of the industry for me. And I thought I was doing so well. I was doing so many app design and website. You might own time. I had a very smashing portfolio and which got me through like actual interviews and last round, but no, I just didn't get it. And I started looking outside of graduate program and I got a job as like a junior entry level. UX UI designer instead of just graduate. So I went, I skipped the junior process and I just went through an entry level, just a normal UX UI designers. And I don't think they were looking for juniors as well. Like the job title was looking for UX UI designers, and it says like maybe two to three years experience. Like I had like zero experience. Cause I just graduated. But. Lucky for my portfolio, because I've done a lot of practice of like UX UI. And I made my portfolio look like I have two to three years experience and I had the eye for design that I practice already. So even though like, you know, I got a degree that is on UX UI never actually had a UX UI job. I was able to land a role at like the legal tech firm and my manager back then explained to me. Why he actually hired me, which was hilarious. It wasn't because I knew what I was doing. It wasn't because that I was, you know, experienced in UX UI. It was because I didn't know shit. And I was just bullshitting in interview and he was like, Yeah, she's easy to train. So that was me being open-minded in the. And knew what I was doing, but I actually didn't know what I was doing. And you found that pretty funny. So he hired me and train me up because he was looking for someone to actually mentor and able to train up. And I think that's for everyone, for junior, like don't expect to be the best, but going as your best self and like, you know, like all this shit. But then at the end of the day, like they can see that you probably don't know stuff. So that was a reason I'm like, oh, okay. That's funny. And I grew a lot from there because I was open-minded I was willing to learn. I was like, Hit me like whatever you want. And I started from ground zero, like he trained you from like the beginning of how to use Photoshop and Adobe illustrator. And I was having like, this mental breakdown was the hardest job ever. Usually I just drop boxes, like making website. He made me like copy website in Adobe illustrator. And that's like, you got to learn the hard way to be successful in the future. I. Yeah, that's mental out there. I always mentioned him. He has my Instagram. He's probably listening to this, so yeah, that was one failure. But then it also taught me about salary negotiation. And that was the best, like, you know, a lot of graduates asking like, you know, that low is really pay attention. I'm actually very thankful that I skipped all the graduates program and got into the entry level at a higher salary even. And I was able to use that as a benchmark, to like jump to another company and skip that. So I felt like I didn't have to go through junior process as much. I think it's for me, like I still consider myself a junior. I'm still a junior at my company, so Yeah. you will always be a junior for. So that's just me. Like, if you keep thinking yourself that you are a junior, then you will always have that mentality mindset that you're not good enough.

James:

Yeah, it definitely is. I think that's a great store and yeah, I think it's it's, it's really interesting to hear that you didn't get a great offer and know look where you are now. I think it's really you know, it's been like, yeah, it's worked out perfectly almost. But I've got one more question for you today, penny, and that's a question I ask all the guests and it's, if you were starting your career finishing uni. You're starting your first job again this year. Is there anything, any advice that you would give yourself if your race starting your career today?

Penny:

Oh, that is a hard one because I love my job. Like I'm doing really well on if I have to go back and start it over again, I would be panicking because the competition is way higher. Right? Like COVID hit so many people out of jobs, so many great designers out there. I think like if I didn't. A job offer. Cause like going through a job application again is exhausting going through graduate program. I think for, for sure, I would not apply for graduate program. I'm done. I'm done with that. Or I'll probably look for something more more entry-level personally. And even though like the bench is so high, I'll probably start a. If I'm going to start my career again, I'll start a business and I'll stop applying. Like I'll apply, but I wouldn't be upset if I don't get it because I'll have my own things too.

James:

Yeah, I think that's co and certainly, you know, you've shown that there are plenty of opportunities out there for side hustles and for extra things to do. If you, if you can look for that. Yeah, and be interested in what problems need solving the world. So I think that's, that's great advice. And certainly, I think we're in the, we're in the period now that people are applying to grad roles for starting the next year. So I think that's great advice and very timely advice as well. So,

Penny:

Oh, it's stressful for them. Like, I didn't want to go through that ever again. Like job application is way stressed within a breakout.

James:

yeah.

Penny:

but like, it's so bad. Like just quote

James:

Yeah.

Penny:

vacation rejection is way more stressful than a guy rejecting you. Absolutely. Yeah. because it, it hurts, right. Like every day you're checking your email, you didn't get a job, you didn't get a job like your life stocks. And you're surrounded by people who are making money and flashing the suit in Barangaroo. So That's one, and I never get to experience that because it didn't work in Barangaroo. But I think like creating jobs for yourself will help you get a job. And a lot of people don't like

James:

Yeah, certainly. I think that's great advice and yeah, absolutely. I think doing those side hustles and things like that, so I can to anyone. So if you can pay attention to the problems in the world and help people solve them, then I think, yeah. You'll be setting yourself up in the right way. Absolutely.

Penny:

And also no people, I think like I wish if I went back more, I wish I knew more people, even though I know a lot of people, I just, I just want to know more people like no more smart, talented people that is within your circle. You need people like that.

James:

yeah, definitely. No, it's so important. Absolutely. And so, thanks so much for the chat today, penny, it's been really illuminating into your life and all the things you're doing and all that amazing advice you have to share with us. But if people want to connect with you more, find out more about what you do. Yeah. Where's the best place for them to find.

Penny:

literally like on my Instagram, I don't really use LinkedIn anymore. I feel like that is so professional. You know, like the message. Hey, penny. Sam, like, wow. And I reply back like, Hey girl, you know, know, like I think in this world, there's so much stress already. Like writing emails is already formal and then you go on LinkedIn and then you have to be formal again. It's like LinkedIn is on email. So I feel like yes, obviously LinkedIn to kind of communicate. And I, when you get to Instagram, right. You have my Instagram, I think like you feel personal connection and you feel invested in someone's life and what I'm trying to do. Like, I want people to come on a journey with me because not a lot of people go through like what I do each day. And like, what is, what is the life of a side hustle, workaholic like, and yes, like there were mental breaks down. Like people are involved with my success. People are involved with my failure and the more you get personal, like I'm a very open person. It becomes more of like a friendship rather than like a professional relationship. And I don't want to have that, you know, regards penny morph, like, Yeah. let's catch up penny.

James:

Yeah, no, I think, yeah, that's certainly very true. Well, yeah, we'll have the links to your Instagram and all your, your website and all that kind of stuff in the show notes. But yeah. Thanks so much for chatting today. Penny, it's been really fascinating hearing about yourself and your story. So yeah, thanks so much for your time today.

Penny:

Thank you for having me.

James:

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of graduate theory with penny to life. She's started so many side hustles. She worked extremely hard at what she does, and it was really great to get her insight into different things that she's doing and how she manages it on top of working full time. If you haven't already subscribed to the graduate through our newsletter, you can find my takeaways from this episode, as well as every other episode, they'll come straight to your inbox every single week. Thanks again for listening to this episode and we'll see you again next Tuesday.