Episode 403: Communicating by Design with Tim Hykes

Mp 403

Design “is an art form that allows us to tell stories,” says Tim Hykes. “These stories allow us to connect with each other and allow us to see the other side.” It is with that spirit that Tim performs his craft as a UX designer at WorldWide Technology and visual scientist. Tim joins us this week to help us unravel how design can be a tool for justice and equity.

Want to know how serious Tim is about his work? Look no further than his conference, Design+Diversity, where Tim and team bring together professionals across industries to push the boundaries of design and communication toward change with a keen strategic eye on social justice, equity, and inclusion. As a matter of disclosure, Mission Partners was an Industry Sponsor of the conference in 2021.

As you’ll hear Tim say of the conference, “this is a safe space. This is the area. This is the place where you ask all those questions, because the best thing that could ever happen to you, is you could be corrected.” At a time when so many organizations are looking out for tools and strategies to sell, to engage, to communicate to their assorted publics, there is no better resource than Tim Hykes to demonstrate the power of bringing communicators together to for good.

We are honored to have a bit of his time on Mission Forward this week.


Episode Transcript

Tim Hykes:
The best thing design has is that it’s an art form that allows us to tell stories, and these stories are what pretty much allow us to connect with each other, or allow us to see the other side. It is okay to be who you are. It’s going to be tough, but the people who don’t care are going to matter a lot, and the people that do care, probably don’t matter, and you should really just move forth in life, being exactly who you are and who you want to be, and practice that daily.

Carrie Fox:
That’s the voice of Tim Hykes, a UX Designer at World Wide Technology, and a self-described visual scientist. If you haven’t yet listened to our bonus episode with Tim, I hope you will, as you’ll see, pretty clearly why we wanted him on as part of this season of Mission Forward. He is thoughtful, and intentional, and fun, and driven by his greater purpose of design as a tool for justice. So hang on for this great and energetic conversation with Tim Hykes.

Carrie Fox:
You talk about yourself as a UX designer who is passionate in making technology simpler and delightful to use, and you are so much more than that too. So tell folks a little bit about who you are.

Tim Hykes:
Thank you so much for inviting me out to speak to your audience, and I’m super elated to be here. Yeah, a little more about me and who I am. This is not a question that I’m asked every day, so I’m excited to share. I’m, for people who don’t know, you might not be able to hear, but I’m black. I was born in a poorer community than others. I was born in a community that suffered from redlining, and seeing the effects of redlining at my age and not knowing that that’s what happened in that community. Growing up in that community and having a grandmother who wanted more and better for her grandchildren, and forced us to move out from Pine Line in St. Louis City to more of the county where the education was a little bit better in that area, so I ended up going to the Hazelwood School District.

Tim Hykes:
So I went from the Pine Line School District to the Hazelwood School District. And there, I was kind of introduced to art and my love for art. What I was doing in junior high and high school was I was selling pictures of Tweedy Bird. So, I would find different poses and different ways to draw Tweedy Bird, and I was selling them for 25 cents. And I was using that to basically make money on the side to buy the little snacks and everything that I was doing.

Tim Hykes:
I didn’t know I was an entrepreneur at the time, that concept wasn’t taught to me, but if I knew now what I knew then, I would be running the world right now. And that led into me being introduced in high school to Adobe Photoshop for the first time, because I always used to wonder how they were making these magazine covers, images in magazines and different things, and that really led my passion for art.

Tim Hykes:
But that wasn’t what I originally went to school for, because my grandmother led the household I was in. And so, she pretty much dictated what everyone was going to school for, and all she understood was people are making money in certain industries. So we were going to school to be a cop, or to be a lawyer, be a doctor. These industries where she knew they had success and they were making money, because she wanted the best for each and every one of us.

Tim Hykes:
So that’s what I did. I went to Lincoln University, and I was studying to be a lawyer. I was really studying to take the test for the next level at Lincoln University, where I ended up being the Student Government Association President at the time, because I have the gift of gab. I can’t believe people trusted me enough, and that’s something that we both have in common, which is crazy.

Tim Hykes:
And from there, I continued to do flyers. I continued to design stuff for different organizations on campus, and one of the bigger highlights of designing something was for our homecoming. I designed the flyers one year for homecoming at Lincoln University of Missouri. It’s an HBCU in the middle of Missouri. That was like the high point of the college career for me.

Tim Hykes:
I was SGA president, I was able to do this thing, it’s being seen all around the area on billboards, this thing that I designed, and I didn’t know it was an industry. So that led me into, after leaving Lincoln University, I came back to St. Louis and just trying to figure out, “Okay, I have this one degree, but I’m trying to figure out what to do with something that I know I like,” and that led me into St. Louis Community College, where, surprisingly, a lot of the teachers there graduated from Harvard, different higher level organizations, which was crazy.

Tim Hykes:
But they were teaching at St. Louis Community College. So that became an affordable way for me to learn about art, and then move that career forward. So I learned the foundations for art at St. Louis Community College. That’s all your theory on drawing, all your theory on color theory, the additive and subtractive color. And then I finished up at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where they really helped me polish my eye training. And really taught me more about the phrase that I use a lot, as being a visual communication scientist, where we’re studying and practicing the science of communicating with people visually.

Tim Hykes:
And while we were in that, I presented my senior year, which is the conference, Design + Diversity. The theme was Design + Diversity, and that was my senior thesis where I talked about how do we diversify the design industry? And I was scared, because there was so much going on. I didn’t know how I fit in. I didn’t see a lot of people that looked like me in the industry, so I kind of figured that I’m designed out of it. I like to say that either you’re designing it for me, or you’re designing me out of it.

Tim Hykes:
So I figured I designed out of it, and that really brought me to my senior thesis. Moving forward quickly from there, I had a couple agency jobs that didn’t work, but also in college, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, I studied UX design, and I wanted to find a way to use that, because I really like that better than just regular design or graphic design, because it’s harder for someone to say, “I feel like this background color isn’t working,” where I’m using more science, ergonomics, and human factors to help me really determine if something is working for the user.

Tim Hykes:
So we’re thinking about the way people communicate with machines. And what a lot of people don’t know, the way something is designed, we normally punch ourselves for it. We say, “Oh, I’m the one that did this thing incorrectly,” but I’ve come to learn through the science that no, maybe we should reconsider how we design this thing.

Tim Hykes:
How many people have really designed an application to take every way that you can think of, including the date. You know, can I put in there next Monday? And it knows what the date of next Monday is. Can I put 11.21.21? And it understands that that November 21st, 2021? Can I use dashes? Can I use hyphens? Can I use slashes? What are the many different ways I can communicate with the system that it would understand versus me putting it in there. And then after I put it in there, find out that it’s wrong.

Tim Hykes:
So I’m a UX designer now at World Wide Technology. And here, there’s a lot with the organization that I like, but it’s a lot in the field that allows me to be me. And it allows me to really practice the thing that I love and that’s UX design.

Tim Hykes:
So that’s the whole scope of who I am. We skipped over some jobs that I’ve worked at in the past, but pretty much that’s where we are now today. So that gave us information around the conference, and where it got started was, that was the 2015. I graduated in 2015. My thesis was in 2015 and that brought us all the way up to present day.

Carrie Fox:
Well done. I just got a whole narrative arc of your life there. And I think two minutes and it was amazing. And I have so many questions to follow up on, but I want to go back to your grandmother for the first one, which is having you make that shift from law to design; was that tough to receive at first? Was it well received? And, how does your family think now about the work you do as a visual scientist?

Tim Hykes:
Well, the shift was made and this is really deep. The shift was made when my grandmother died and it took me a while to get over that. I was on Spring Break at Lincoln University when it happened and my family didn’t tell me. So I was just partying it up down in Florida, give you input on what was going on in, MTV was on the beach, pink box that was getting ready to blow open for Spring Break and everything. So I enjoyed it down there.

Tim Hykes:
And then I came back and all my family was at the university and I was just like, “Y’all came back to greet me from Spring Break? Did I party that hard?” But yeah, that’s what it was. And after she died, I didn’t have anyone that’s really pushing me to go that direction, but it was my senior year. You’re already at the degree.

Carrie Fox:
Yeah, right.

Tim Hykes:
Even if I got a D in my classes, I would still graduate. So from that point, it was like, “What do I want to do? What’s best for me?” And my family was in on it because they saw the changes. They saw how hard I work. And there was one thing that a teacher told me when I was at Lincoln University. She’d said that your major classes, you should be acing. They should be the easiest thing because it’s something you should love. And if you’re not loving it, and if you’re working really hard to make the grades, this might not be the thing you should be doing for the rest of your career, because you’re going to hate it.

Tim Hykes:
And I found that to be so true when I switched over and I started going graphic design versus law and yeah, it made so much sense. The classes that I got A’s in, in graph design, it was easy to get the A. If I got a B, I made a conscious choice to get a B in a class.

Tim Hykes:
And I had to work harder to get a B than I did have to get the A because I was making a constant choice to what classes am I going to spend less time in? So I have time in these other classes to get the grades that I need to.

Tim Hykes:
So a lot of the human, the history art classes took a lot out of me and I needed more time for those classes to get the B in the class, or maybe to get the A in that class. But it was okay if this is my major class, I could get a B in here.

Carrie Fox:
Right.

Tim Hykes:
It would probably be one assignment that I wouldn’t turn in. With an A average, I would still get a B, but still pass the class. So that’s, yeah, that’s what happened. The decision got made when grandma died and I asked myself, “What does Tim want to do? What’s going to make Tim happy?”

Carrie Fox:
Yeah. Yeah. And that’s a really important question to ask yourself. And I think a lot of people don’t ask themselves that until pretty far on in life. Right? And I feel really grateful to be doing the work that I feel like I’m made to do. But similar to you, I didn’t follow a straight path to get there. And I remember so long actually, still people today who hear about the work that we do say, “I didn’t even know that existed. I didn’t know you could do communications and purely do it for good or do it for nonprofits. Is that really a thing? Is that a job?”

Carrie Fox:
Right? So it feels like these things that we’ve stumbled into of how we’re able to take our passions and our identity and put them together is a really special thing to have landed there. So thanks for sharing that.

Tim Hykes:
Welcome. Welcome. Yeah. I don’t mind sharing. I think that was the first time that anyone has really heard that story. So you got the exclusive that no one else has ever got.

Carrie Fox:
Well, I feel honored. Thank you. I mentioned to you, and actually we talked a little bit about when we were last together, how I’m really interested in this intersection between design and communication and culture and how we can actually challenge the norms of our existing culture to, in fact, improve design. And I actually want to start with a question that goes back to something you were talking about around UX design, that I am always interested in issues of bias. And how do you detect it? How do you address it? How do you reduce it? Because bias is in everything we do, right?

Carrie Fox:
It’s in inherent to the experience we’ve had, how we’ve grown up, what we’ve learned. We’re going to bring bias to something in some way. And there is inherently human bias that then informs the machines that we design, right? And the systems we design/ I’d love for you to talk a little bit about how does that show up in the work you do as a UX designer? How do you and your colleagues and maybe even broader? You know, how does that feel that you’re in think about the need to account for bias in systems design?

Tim Hykes:
So I give you something that was said at Design + Diversity. So we had a UX researcher from Google that was part of the machine learning team come in. And, she talked about how the bias is put into the Google search engine. And what happens is everything is labeled on your site. You have pictures that are labeled certain ways. And so many people label these certain types of picture, or the same picture the same way, that when Google goes to search the websites, it pulls it and it pulls it with that name.

Tim Hykes:
And now as you search for it, since it’s common and so many people are doing it, you’re pulling up the same thing. So if Google only get images of three black kids who are only mugshots, then that’s what you’re going to get back when your search is three black kids. If the headlines are always three black kids did X, Y, and Z, and it’s mugshots, that’s what you’re going to get back.

Tim Hykes:
And if Google only get that same type of text on pictures, three white kids, but it only comes for stock photography; that’s what you’re going to get back. So they have to bring someone in to really break that up, to make it more equitable, to really show three black kids in the same type of light. So that’s how it sometimes appears itself in the industry. Where things that people are just naturally putting into the system that could be biased a certain way, or just not really good to look at, or the aesthetics are not correct, or right. And then we have to deal with that.

Tim Hykes:
Another thing I can give, another example I can give also deal with Google is that the art that pulls up, that Google’s pulling up, only 0.03% of that if you do a search for Native American art is actual Native American art. There’s a bunch of imitators, replicators, but real Native American art.

Tim Hykes:
So they don’t really get that spotlight that they deserve, or they’re not really showing up higher in search results based on their community and their culture and the way that they live their lives and how their culture is based. So you have this second issue now where a lot of their livelihood is based on the money that they’re making from their art on these different reservations, in which people go and buy from them. It’s hard for you to get to it if you don’t have a direct website. And it’s hard for you to find if the search results that are returning are not from real Native art, indigenous art.

Tim Hykes:
And sometimes you have to play around with the words, but this is another example of how it shows itself in the work that I do. And how do we solve that? There was an article that Harvard Business Review did and it was called [inaudible 00:16:09] Diverse Teams Are Smarter and it was done by David Rock and Heidi Grant in November 4th, 2016.

Tim Hykes:
So this is like a year after I graduated. And in that 2015 McKinley Report, they did a survey on 366 public companies. And they found that those that were in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have better financial returns. And then when they had females that were sitting on the board and those organizations that was in those top core quartiles with females that were sitting on the board, they found that there was 15% more likely to have better returns.

Tim Hykes:
So basically what we’re seeing here, that some of the ways that we can solve that, is bringing people from different thoughts, from different backgrounds to sit on the same teams, to work with us and help you think differently.

Tim Hykes:
There was also another study that was done by a Harvard Business Review, where they took college students from their certain fraternities and sororities. So, of course these people who think the same, think alike.

Carrie Fox:
Right, right.

Tim Hykes:
And they had them to try to solve a murder mystery and read the reports to figure out who was the killer. And so they took the same people and where the sororities and fraternities were the same, they found themselves not really coming to the conclusion of who was the actual killer. But when they started bringing in the new person, like a newer sorority person and then putting it with a different sorority. So if you take the Deltas and bring an AKA in, and now they’re talking and having newer AKAs and trying to discuss, because the thought is different, because the commonalities are different.

Tim Hykes:
What they found is, was a huge increase in the groups of nailing who actually did the murder. So, these are just different examples of how you can try to solve this culturally. These culture differences with different people and how we were brought up differently and brought to see things differently allow us to attack the problem differently. And that’s what I’m starting to really find in my industry when we’re having these discussions.

Tim Hykes:
And the organizations that want to focus on a particular type of group that doesn’t let us do user research, usability testing on multiple different groups of people to really come to an understanding of what we seeing or getting understanding of what’s actually happening; you find out that they don’t really solve their problems. They only solve it for one group and therefore, that particular group, the application is made great for. And you miss this whole different section.

Tim Hykes:
So it really comes down to diversity. And as you see diversity leads to higher amounts of money. It really helps solve a lot of problems. But that biggest issue that we run into in the world is how do we get to that point?

Carrie Fox:
You know, it’s like the beauty and the challenge in this idea of having a control group, that when it comes to human beings and the human experience and the diversity in that, it’s very hard, I would imagine, to have a control group because people think very differently and have different experiences that inform that thinking, which is why I think the work that you are doing and doing through this conference is so fascinating because you are bringing together hundreds of designers every year to have these deep, thoughtful conversations about how they actually address these issues in their workplace.

Carrie Fox:
I’m curious if you knew, or if you had an inkling that this was going to take off, this conference idea, coming out of your thesis the way that it has, because it is really, Tim, taken off.

Tim Hykes:
Oh my God, no, not at all. The first year we did the conference back in 2000… I think ’16 is when it was, I was scared. It was 42 something people that year. And I didn’t think it was going to happen. I was running around crazy. I didn’t think no one was going to show up. We brought these speakers in from across the country. No, had no idea.

Tim Hykes:
The second year got a little larger. I was still panicking. At the end, we didn’t have a mailing list still. And people still showed up. So I was just like, “Okay, people are still showing up.”

Tim Hykes:
By third year, we got in the rhythm of this. We did something a little bit different. We went and changed the venue up. We was in these really eclectic places in St. Louis and people were showing up. They were having these intense conversations. We were really set in an environment that allowed them to act anything.

Tim Hykes:
My beginning speech, I really think, sets the tone for the conference where I tell people now the door is closed. Symbolically, this door is closed. This is a safe space. This is the area, this is the place where you ask all those questions, because the best thing that could ever happen to you is you could be corrected. And that’s the best thing, because now, you know what the right response is from experts in the industry, from people who are living these experiences. And it just takes off every year.

Tim Hykes:
I don’t know why people continue to come back. I guess this must be my innate ability to make sure that we have a roster of people with different topics that we haven’t heard from. Because we always ask the question, “Who needs the floor, who needs the opportunity to speak? Who haven’t we heard from? Who needs this space?” And looking at the conferences that we’ve done all the way up to now, we are continuously evolving on who needs this opportunity, which route virtually it brought the opportunity for us to go worldwide, bringing people from India as speakers. Never thought of that.

Tim Hykes:
We had people from Canada speaking, we had people in England that were speaking at this conference this year that you would’ve never had if we didn’t have the pandemic. So the pandemic was kind of like a blessing and a curse at the same time.

Carrie Fox:
Right, right.

Tim Hykes:
We never would’ve saw this. So yeah, it’s blowing up every year. And I had no idea or no clue that it would be what it is today.

Carrie Fox:
Have you ever read or heard of the book, The Art of Gathering by Prya Parker?

Tim Hykes:
No.

Carrie Fox:
So it’s an awesome book. And what you don’t realize is that you have created an event that has a very clear purpose, and this is a lot of what she talks about in the book; is that oftentimes people focus on building an event around the things, the venue, the meal, the people, and then they kind of just let the experience unfold how ever the experience is going to unfold, right? Versus knowing really early on what is the purpose? Why, in fact, am I bringing these people together? What do I want the outcome to be? And am I creating and designing experiences that move toward that goal? And it speaks to essentially the work that you do very much, which is design is in everything we do, right?

Carrie Fox:
So you’re designing that event in a way that you may not even be realizing to then move towards a really powerful outcome.

Tim Hykes:
You were focused on the event side, but one thing I focused a lot on is the people milling side and the people coming together. And one book that I focus on a lot, I think it’s The Art of Making Friends and I can’t remember. And it basically talks about how do you make friends, and having something in common. That’s how you make friends. You have that thing in common and that thing threads into other things. And that’s what I think everyone that comes to this conference, they have something in common. They see the diversity issues in the world or they’ve experienced it in some way in their life and they want to figure out how do we solve it?

Tim Hykes:
So we now have that common theme and then, we all come to the conference. Now we have the conference as a common theme, the day as a common thing, the venue as a common thing, the city as a common thing. So now you added all these things that we can now talk about because we’re all from different places. So I can talk about me, where I’m from. You can talk about you and where you from. And now we can continuously talk about the conference. The speakers that we heard, the different people that are here at the conference, and that continues to thread over and over and over between the people that come to the conference.

Tim Hykes:
And what really makes it unique is that it’s a smaller conference. So now people have the opportunity to sit down and pick the brains with the speakers, which a lot of bigger conferences that’s really difficult to do unless you wanted to wait in longer lines.

Carrie Fox:
Yeah, that’s right. All right. So we’re going to move away from conferences for a minute, but keep that theme going of building bridges because I think really what you do well, and we’re talking about in your day job and in the conference, is building bridges. And there has been no shortage of conversations in our society about divisiveness, right? And so I’m going to not talk about divisiveness, but I’m going to talk about commonalities. How design can work to actually build bridges between communities and between those who, perhaps on their surface, think I don’t have anything in common with X, Y, Z person or X, Y, Z group. But design in fact can help build bridges. And I’m curious if you have any good examples of brands that do that well or projects you’ve worked on of design that’s intended to build bridges.

Tim Hykes:
The best thing design has is that it’s an art form that allows us to tell stories. These stories are what pretty much allow us to connect with each other or allow us to see the other side. So if we think about the movie, The Butler, and most people don’t think about the movies and acting and things, being an art form. And so I’m going to translate this into more UX design and what I do in life.

Carrie Fox:
Yeah, yeah.

Tim Hykes:
That movie, that whole thing to me with the movie was about there are people who are not out on the streets, who are not currently marching around to get their message across. There are people who are serving in this life of servitude who will become extensions of other people’s family and through the conversations with them and through seeing them day in and day out, you get the sense that they’re human, just like I am.

Tim Hykes:
And that allows you to see them differently, which is why The Butler working for the president, working for so many presidents was able to change the minds and hearts of the people in The White House based on just being there in the presence and being a person of color. And that allowed them to see the hurt and pain when there was rioting going on or seeing their people being treated differently. It makes you think about who do I know that I’m close to, but I know The Butler that I’m close to.

Tim Hykes:
And so how this comes up in design and how we’re able to take these same type of concepts and how this weaves in with the industry is I’m now working on the app that changes lives. So one in particular app, so I can’t really name the client. I can somewhat talk about the app and what it does, but it’s map data that’s going into this large app from all across the world.

Tim Hykes:
If this system that we are creating is not accurate, your GPS could literally send you down the wrong way. It can send you down the wrong track and it becomes very important for the system to have this information correct. So I’ve worked on the system, making sure that it can accurately get the data that different countries are putting into it. We are working with the federal government and the federal government is making sure that the appropriate structures in the United States that’s around our security is not being blasted out on different maps of different things. And it’s down to the micro calculation. We’re talking about 0.00001 in the calculation of how accurate it has to be to make sure that cars are going the right way. You know, making sure that you’re not getting a highway that’s returned with 500 lanes, when actually there is only going to be one through eight lanes in the United States.

Tim Hykes:
When you think about it in the terms of this particular map and different areas, well, how does maps change lives in that same concept that you have a Butler who’s working for The White House changing lives? Well, how we do it is when you go into rural areas and someone is looking for water or water wells, and these things have been mapped. That’s where these different instances come into play.

Tim Hykes:
When you’re trying to fly things in, such as we just had the earthquakes that happened recently in Haiti, that’s where things are being taken care of because it’s predominantly black, it’s a predominantly black area. Who are we talking to? Who are the people that we’re communicating with? Where we’re communicating with people who look like me and like you who are able to put this information into the app.

Tim Hykes:
And so now digitally, I’m really working with the people from that area who are informing the app of what’s there, what’s there? It’s hard for us to tell on a dirt road or a dirt path that this is a dirt road that the locals are using. But when we have the locals in that area, using that information and putting it in the system, then we’re getting more information about how people can travel through that different area and navigate around.

Tim Hykes:
So they’re saving lives right now because someone put that information in the map to make it more accessible for people to get in and fly in. It’s telling them what buildings are in the area. It’s telling them what roads. It’s telling them what’s a No Fly Zone. And right now they’re probably having communication of what buildings are not there. What areas do you have to evade? What areas have gas lines there, because all that information go on to the map data.

Tim Hykes:
So it’s kind of a hard comparison, but pretty much it’s the people that we deal with on a day to day basis that helps us make these changes, that changes people, hearts and minds.

Carrie Fox:
Yeah.

Tim Hykes:
So in the system that I work in, it’s yeah. In the field that I work in, it’s me working with people, but in a literal case, it’s people working with each other, that’s making these changes and allowing you to see that humanistic form that allows us to identify with one another. Yes, skin is just a little bit, but when you remove the skin, we’re pretty much all the same.

Carrie Fox:
So what’s so cool about those two examples is on one side, you’re talking about very high stakes design, right? That design has to be right in that solution because if it’s not spot on, I mean, someone’s going to get into an accident. Someone’s going to go the wrong way. And so I don’t often know, or know how often people think about every little piece of code, right? And how important it is to the big picture solution on one side.

Carrie Fox:
On the other side, I love that you talked about The Butler because that really speaks to me about design as an empathy builder, right? That it allows… So much design allows us to get inside experiences that we would have not seen firsthand. We might not have had an opportunity to see firsthand. It wasn’t our own experience, but we can learn from being engrossed in a film that brings us there, that transports us there.

Tim Hykes:
And do you remember when they took the 3D monitors, those headsets, the virtual reality sets, and they put them on the head to the leaders in the, I think it was in the UN or maybe here in the United States? To have them live through the experiences of the people that they govern to help bring that empathy. It’s used so much in that content to help people empathize with one another, that bring that humanistic element, to show that we’re pretty much all the same. What’s really different is that you came from a place for privilege. You came from a place that allowed you to have advances, allowed you to have support there versus someone else who grew up in the area where that support wasn’t there.

Carrie Fox:
It reminds me a lot of a story that I heard. Do you know the name Leland Melvin, the astronaut?

Tim Hykes:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carrie Fox:
So he tells a story actually in his book about when he went up to space, he was part of a crew with astronauts from all over the world. He was in the space shuttle looking out and he saw the US and he actually was able to see where he was from. He said, “Oh my goodness, that’s my home. That’s my… That’s where I… I can’t believe I’m seeing this from a whole new perspective.” And next to him was a French astronaut. And the astronaut said, “Oh my gosh, I see France. I see where I’m from.” And they had this moment and realized if only our world leaders could be up here with us. If only they could look down and realize we’re not Americans, we’re not Frenchmen, we’re earthlings, right?

Carrie Fox:
Like collectively, we are all of the same earth. We’re all of the same place. And I think you’re right, we often forget that; how much more alike we are than we are different.

Tim Hykes:
The truly sad part about that is, as time goes on, the thing starts to become unnoticeable. So as it repeats through generate and generation, we start to not notice that. And we start focusing on the differences. And instead of focusing on how much we are all alike and I mean, our skin color is just what? A 0.2% of what makes us different. I mean, it’s so small, minuscule.

Carrie Fox:
Well, the work you’re doing, I think, is incredible how you’re using design to build bridges in a lot of different ways. And as we come to the end of this conversation, though, I know it’s not going to be our last, I’m going to ask you a couple questions because you asked me some good ones and it got me thinking that this would be really fun to get to know a little more about you in this way.

Carrie Fox:
So I’m going to ask you, Tim, what is your favorite thing to do after a hard day?

Tim Hykes:
Oh my God. So my favorite thing is to grab a glass of wine and turn on some anime and laugh all night long. I don’t know what it is about anime, but it’s really one of those things that I kind of enjoy. They really get you into a character and you’ll be connected with this character for years and they’ll kill it off. And it’s just like the saddest thing ever. And they have this animated death where they’re just… You guys can’t see me. So I’m throwing my hands up in the air and they’re just flying through the air in slow motion and they’re turning.

Tim Hykes:
And now they’re thinking about their life. And you’re seeing all these different things that they’ve done with their life. The people they impacted and how they’re not going to be there anymore. And then they probably do a jump cut over to the person they impacted most.

Tim Hykes:
It just draws me in, and I’m drawn into these stories. So if I think about my hero, Academia is one of my favorite anime, Naruto was definitely one of those that’s on the top of my list. It’s so much action in Naruto. Yeah, that’s what I’m doing most of the time; sitting, drinking, anime.

Tim Hykes:
That’s why my friends love for me to come visit them because they know that I don’t get on their nerves. Eventually it’s going to be to a point where I’m going to be stuck somewhere in a room, watching anime with a glass of wine. And you know what? Box wine is definitely not beneath me.

Carrie Fox:
That’s awesome. Well, I hope you have some of those things in your future. Although maybe today wasn’t a hard day, so you won’t need to.

Tim Hykes:
Right.

Carrie Fox:
So what time do you typically start your day?

Tim Hykes:
I am part of the 5:00 AM Club. So I’ve read the 5:00 AM Club by Robert Charmin. I’ve been actively practicing those techniques, waking up at 5:00 AM, working out for 20 minutes, using the benefits from working out. So there’s science in the benefits of working out to help me motivate and I can journal, do some mindfulness. And then after that, I do a little bit of education, personal education. So whether it’s learning a new language such as JavaScript or something like that, or right now I’m reading, rereading, The Design of Everyday Things. And really going through how I could use those practices that Don Norman is talking about in that book to help me in my career as a UX designer. That’s where I’m at.

Tim Hykes:
I love getting up that early. There’s nothing else to bother me. I try to stay away from the electronics as much as possible unless I’m listening to a podcast, like the one that we’re on now, or I’m watching videos to help further my education and knowledge more.

Carrie Fox:
Even more proof that you are my kindred spirit friend. My alarm goes off at 4:50 so that I know I’ll get up at five.

Tim Hykes:
Yes.

Carrie Fox:
But I need those 10 minutes so bad. All right. Last one. What is something you would tell your 17 year old self?

Tim Hykes:
Oh Lord. I would tell my 17 year old self so much stuff. Number one, I would tell my 17 year old self to do art, go art, get into it early. That’s something that you like, continue to practice it.

Tim Hykes:
I would tell myself practice consistency because that’s, over time, adds up, being consistent. So I do the thing on YouTube, but I’m not very consistent, which is why I don’t have a large audience watching me. So practicing consistency, being able to commit to something for a very large time is a good thing. As you can see with college and all these different things.

Tim Hykes:
And then I would tell him that it is okay to be who you are. It’s going to be tough, but the people who don’t care are going to matter a lot. And the people that do care probably don’t matter. And you should really just move forth in life being exactly who you are and who you want to be, and practice that daily. Go in to jobs, if you can’t be yourself at work, it’s a job that you don’t need to be at.

Tim Hykes:
I was code switching at the early year parts of my career. Now, I don’t code switch. I am exactly who I am right now who I am at work. They know I could get frustrated and get snappy at work. That’s part of who I am. And so now, I do it more eloquently. That’s completely different, but that’s part of who I am. And I want to be who I am no matter where I am.

Tim Hykes:
I enjoy being the brightest person in the room, both in intelligence and plus with my personality. And I also enjoy those other snappy moments, because they’re funny. And there are things we can talk about later as sometimes as being raised on how could I improve or how can I see the situation differently? But with mindfulness, I’m finding myself thinking about the reaction way before I react, which is a really awesome thing.

Carrie Fox:
Well, as I’ve mentioned a few times how much I enjoy listening to you and getting to know you, you are truly, not just one of the most interesting people that I’ve had a conversation with in a long time, but you are incredibly gracious. And one of my favorite kinds of people, because not only can I tell you are so focused on learning for yourself, right? But you share those talents with so many people. And that, to me, I think is the greatest gift that someone can give. And so thank you Tim, for creating the platform you’ve created and for sharing so much and being with us today. It was awesome to talk with you again and look forward to continuing to get to know you better.

Tim Hykes:
Thank you so much the fabulous Carrie Fox, as I call you. I really enjoyed being over here, speaking to your audience. Thank you so much from having me. And I’m pretty sure this will not be the last time that both of us will be talking with each other.

Carrie Fox:
And that brings us to the end of another episode of Mission Forward. Mission Forward is produced with the support of [inaudible 00:39:12] and The Mission Partners Team in associate with True Story FM, engineering by Pete Wright, music this week is by Lance Conrad and Josh Link.

Carrie Fox:
If your podcast app allows ratings and reviews, we hope you will consider doing just that for our show. But the best thing you can do to support Mission Forward is simply share this show with a friend or colleague. Thanks to your support. We’ll see you next time.