Head of Product Design and Design Partner
Welcome to the seventh edition of Async Chats! This letter is all about candid conversations with people like yourself. If you’d like some more context see this letter. Otherwise, let’s get into this.
David is currently Head of Product Design at Webflow and Design Partner at On Deck, where he works with the design fellowship program. He splits his time between Los Angeles and Palm Springs, California, but prefers to say Southern California to keep it simple! He prefers working remote-first.
I’ve worked both in a fully remote environment and in-office. There are benefits and trade-offs for each. My ideal is remote-first with locations where people can gather.
What are your interests outside of work?
My work is more operational and administrative these days, so anything I can do to be creative gives me energy. I love to write, read, and sketch. I studied art in college and have been finding a lot of energy in painting again. To unwind, I enjoy getting outside either hiking or going to the beach.
What are some of your favorite digital or physical tools?
My favorite digital tool these days is Obsidian. It’s a great app that augments features on top of your markdown files. It’s been extremely helpful in helping me organize thoughts and ideas into a personal knowledge management system.
Baron Fig’s strategist index cards have been a recent favorite. My Leuchtturm1917 dot grid sketchbook is my go-to analog tool, but the index cards have been great to move around the table and visualize ideas. When I’m building any slide decks or storyboards, I start with the index cards.
Do you prefer to work/ communicate asynchronously or synchronously? Why?
I like a blend of both. I’ve worked on projects that have been completely asynchronous and missed the team bonding. Our team at Webflow and On Deck are global so asynchronous is crucial. However it’s nice to have synchronous overlap for important rituals like critique or fun activities.
Questions of the week
Based on this edition of The Gray Area.
What are your opinions on hustle culture?
I have many thoughts about Hustle Culture. First, I think the term has been taken out of context these days. The part of Hustle Culture I’m not keen on is when people create the appearance of getting things done by the number of hours you work. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re effective. I think that culture is over-glorified and inauthentic.
That said, I do believe that you need to hustle depending on what you’re trying to achieve. Working in startups is hard, and there are trade-offs in each phase.
I believe in hustle but not hustle culture. I think in past years it’s been conflated as a lifestyle. To move or act energetically and rapidly. To push or force one's way. To act aggressively, especially in business dealings.
Why does our society strive to hustle?
I think it’s a perceived lifestyle. You have influencers who have built brands on hustling. Everyone is looking for an exit and not spending a lot of time simply existing. The other aspect is there is this perception of instant success when it really takes time. Instead of Forbes’ 30 Under 30, I’d rather see 50 over 50. For me, I define success as being able to do something over a long stretch of time vs. a blip of success.
Do you have any advice when it comes to this topic?
Everyone is going to have their opinion of what’s ideal, and you need to come up with that answer for yourself. If you are at a phase in your life where there are other important things in your life than work (such as a family), it may not make sense to join a 0-to-1 startup. If you’re earlier in your career and have fewer dependencies, then maybe hustling gives you energy. When I was in my early 20s (seems so long ago) I really enjoyed putting the extra work in, and a lot of my network were coworkers. If I ever wanted to start a company later in my life, I know what it would take based on those different phases. The only person who can tell you what is best for you, is yourself.
Define what success means to you in life and what you want to achieve.
I love the saying, “There is no success without a successor.” I think any impact you make in your career has to benefit and sustain beyond your time. The impact you make can come through what you build, who you mentor, and what you invest in.
What is something few people know about you?
As someone in a leadership role, I’m actually an introvert. I’m one of those people who will give a keynote talk at a conference then spend the rest of the time in the hotel room watching movies and ordering room service.
Anything new or important you’d like to mention to the readers?
I write a weekly newsletter called Proof of Concept - davidhoang.substack.com
My website - davidhoang.com
Twitter - @davidhoang
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