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21 - How to blend Chinese philosophy and technology with Azure Yang UX Transformer at SapientRazorfish

“Philosophy facilitates a good environment for technology to do it’s job”

Azure Yang is a mix of UX designer and Chinese philosopher who’s currently working as UX transformer for Sapient-Razorfish.

Azure is Shanghaiinese, born in a more rural setting outside of the downtown city area where he was always misbehaving and trying to sneak away from his parents house.

Azure comes from an artistic family and so early on thought that he would be a designer.

This shifted over time as he became a web coder and worked for Microsoft. Since he felt very comfortable in solving problems and had a more analytical outlook, he shifted much more towards UX.

He’s currently now focusing on how he can bring elements of Philosophy, both Chinese & Western, into how he builds products and services..

In this episode:
+ Always wanting to do things in new ways
+ What it was like growing up in Shangahi during the opening up of China
+ Working in Microsoft China
+ Transitioning from visual design into interaction design & user flows
+ How his life seems modern at the surface but he’s actually quite traditional
+ Helping people to find what they truly want in life
+ Uncovering the pattern or the “rules” of the world
+ Differences between a “Chess” type problem or a “Go” type problem
+ How studying philosophy impacted his career & craft
+ How he tries to align his vision with client expectations
+ How 80s & 90s culture had strong theme of “exceed yourself, become the hero” or “fight without thinking, you’ll be king”
+ Changing themes in Japanese manga & Chinese manga over past 20 years

Find Azure:

Linkedin:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/azure-yang-96699615/

WeChat:
azyreyang

Music:
http://www.bensound.com

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20 - There's no single answer to understanding Chinese consumers with PT Black of Nike

“Nobody should know how runners run more than Nike’s running team. Why would we hire someone for that, that has to be us”

PT Black is Senior Director of Brand Experience at Nike running the brand strategy & planning for greater China. He’s been studying Chinese for almost 25 years and has lived in Shanghai for 17 years.

On a day-to-day basis, PT Black works closely with the consumer insights and research teams for Nike in China, with his ultimate goal of using what he learns to help improve people’s lives.

He’s originally from Boston before he moved to New York, only to end up in Shanghai where he’s been ever since.

In this episode we discuss a wide range of topics from politics to using bars to improve your Chinese to even the tricky decision to send someone to jail for stealing from you.

We also discuss some of the challenges he faced growing up and finding his place in the world and what it takes to operate effectively in branding & advertising in modern day China.

In this episode:
+ Why he studied Chinese long term
+ Why you should never do the same things over again
+ How to argue or not argue about politics
+ Coming to terms with working in China
+ Cultural habits like the habit to “the answer” as opposed to the many answers
+ Working across Chinese & German cultures at Siemens
+ Why he wears the same thing everyday but has 450 pairs of Nikes
+ Dealing with the pressure to be active at work
+ Mastering his own discipline
+ About procrastination vs planning

Links:

Instagram @ PT Black:
https://www.instagram.com/ptblack/

Linkedin:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/pt-black-3b8b766/

Music:
http://www.bensound.com

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15 - Scaling both a career & company through Y-Combinator & China with CPO Teng Bao of Strikingly

“We were scared, like the jobs that we had, made us scared for our futures.”

Teng Bao is cofounder and Chief Product Officer of Strikingly (Sxl.cn in China) which is a website building tool that went through Y-combinator and has scaled from 0 to more than 1 million websites since its inception in July 2012.

Teng is currently heading up product design there and got into product by way of trying to design video games when he was young. His interest in games led to coding and eventually to overall product design. As he puts it, “videogames are purely UX” and he sees a huge overlap in building a good game and designing a product for smooth user experience.

Teng has started several companies in the past few years before and during his time at the University of Chicago before meeting up with his current cofounders to launch Strikingly. In this episode we discuss his career journey, which used a lot of ‘well I don’t want to do that’ to eventually find his way into moving to California and joining Y-combinator.

From there, we then track the company’s journey to Shanghai and building out the team with China-focused products to supplement their current US-based web design products. We also delve into some of the strategies they use to develop and nurture their international company culture.

In this episode:
+ Moving to the US when you’re young
+ Making flash video games
+ Which parts of gamification translate well to product
+ Being a summer intern in finance
+ Advantages of being a mix of a designer & a developer
+ Crowdfunding for school projects
+ Battling against constant self-doubt
+ Being rejected by Y-combinator
+ Then fighting back into Y-combinator
+ Moving a company to China from Silicon Valley
+ Building products for the Chinese market
+ Cultivating an ‘international’ company culture

Links:
Teng’s site:
http://tengbao.me/

Linkedin:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/tengbao/

Strikingly:
http://strikingly.com/
https://www.sxl.cn/

Music:
http://www.bensound.com

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