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Advocating for self-advocacy: Key takeaways from Diamond Ho

Patricia Ramos
Product and Marketing Designer at Swarm

I don’t know what I expected coming into UX+ Conference 2021, but I was delighted to be hit with a reality check halfway through Day 2:

No one is responsible for your career, except you.

Self-advocacy is a tricky thing. On one hand, there will be people who think it’s synonymous to being a huge brag. When done wrong, it can very much seem so.

On another hand, self-advocacy can be a wonderful way to establish your worth and what you deserve, in the least arrogant and most authentic way possible.

In fact–Diamond Ho, Product Design Lead at Facebook–regards self-advocacy as a required skill in the workplace, especially for those in big corporations.

Below are 4 takeaways on her talk about self-advocacy:

#1: Know your worth.

(Literally and figuratively.)

Screenshot taken from UX+ Conference 2021, Diamond Ho's talk on The Art of Self-Advocacy

When you know what you’re worth, it makes it easier to prove your value to everyone around you.

In a literal sense, it helps to do your research:

  1. What is the usual salary range in your company, role, and/or industry?
  2. What opportunities are in store for you?

Additionally, it pays to be self-aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, visions, and aspirations:

  1. What are you good at?
  2. What can you improve on?
  3. What do you want to work on? What are you passionate about?
  4. Where do you want to be now? In the next 3 years? In the next 5 years or so?

These questions will allow you to make more intentional decisions towards your growth and will allow you to price your craft confidently, which is often times a call you have to make for yourself.

Speaking of pricing your craft confidently…

#2: Always (4x) negotiate!

No one can put a price on a piece of art, except for its artist.

Screenshot taken from UX+ Conference 2021, Diamond Ho's talk on The Art of Self-Advocacy

How you negotiate before you get your role sets a lot of the expectations, but negotiation is a skill that you can ROI even after joining the workplace. The general rule is to always take what you deserve, if not more.

Nevertheless, the real trick when it comes to becoming a master self- advocator is to…

#3: Expand your influence.

You may know what you’re worth, but you have to put in the effort to let others see what you can bring to the table.

Screenshot taken from UX+ Conference 2021, Diamond Ho's talk on The Art of Self-Advocacy

One fool-proof way to let other people recognize your work is to bring them along and involve them in your process–allowing collaborators to see your efforts first hand. Additionally, the more people you get on board, the more support you get in the process!

Diamond also distinguishes the importance of communicating effectively, both laterally and upwards, that is:

Communicating laterally allows you to share your work and visions with your peers.

As much as possible, don’t keep your opinions to yourself–make sure your best ideas make it out there when strategizing and brainstorming with your team. Get feedback. Share your work during design reviews and “show & tell” activities. If there aren’t any opportunities to share, initiate one for your team.

Communicating upwards allows you to amplify your work through higher impact projects and through people with more influence.

The reality is that managers have a bigger influence than you. Why not leverage that?

Don’t underestimate the power of cc-ing your managers when sharing progress, especially those including achievements and higher impact outcomes. Document your work to provide tangible receipts of your efforts, and keep your managers in the loop when doing so. Constantly sharing and notifying your managers about your work keeps them informed and accountable, which is integral if you want to…

#4: Help your manager help you.

Newsflash! Your manager is not a mind reader.

Screenshot taken from UX+ Conference 2021, Diamond Ho's talk on The Art of Self-Advocacy

If you’re not actively keeping your manager accountable about your work, don’t expect them to ✨magically✨ recognize just how awesome you are. Similarly, don’t antagonize them for not doing so! Instead, build an authentic relationship with them–share your plans, where you want to head towards, and what you’ve been doing to get there. Heck, don’t stop there–share your struggles, passions, and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable when you can (and if you’re both comfortable doing so).

Ideally, your manager should be able to help you with two things:

  1. Planning for performance
  2. Planning for promotion

But these are things that you should already be able to have concrete goals and actionable steps for. Your manager should just be there to amplify and guide you.


You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. –Wayne Gretzky, Michael Scott, Diamond Ho 💎

It doesn’t matter how new or old you are in your industry–if you don’t advocate for yourself, no one else will!

Patricia Ramos
Product and Marketing Designer at Swarm
Pat specializes in designing early-stage product experiences and building impactful marketing landing pages in Webflow. Previously, she has worked with NanoverseHQ, AcadArena and has interned for companies such as Kumu, Investa, and 360 Digital.
Product Design
Visual Design

What are your own thoughts about self-advocacy?