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FRACTIONAL BY SWARM PODCAST

E01

·

Design

Dan Mall

Creating intentionality, choice, and leverage in fractional work

Dan Mall is a husband, dad, teacher, creative director, designer, founder, and entrepreneur from Philly. He runs Design System University, where he creates, collects, and curates curriculum, content, and community to help enterprise teams design at scale. Previously, Dan ran design system consultancy SuperFriendly for over a decade. Dan writes about design systems, process, and leadership and other issues on his site danmall.com, in his weekly newsletter, and on Twitter and Instagram.

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In this episode

We talk about Dan’s network-based model for Superfriendly, creating leveling and growth paths for freelancers, intentionality behind your freelance work lifestyle, his top two tips for new freelancers, figuring out what he wants as he continues his fractional journey, the commodification of designers in the advent of AI, figuring out your value, and a lot more.

Outline & Transcript

00:00

“Work happens to you” vs. Intentionality

00:30

What is Fractional?

00:52

Who is Dan Mall?

01:21

Topics Overview

01:57

Dan introduces himself

02:50

What is SuperFriendly?

03:59

Dan’s superpower: Being a connector of people

04:40

Daily networking habit

05:30

I believe freelancers can simultaneously…

06:20

The dichotomy of freelancing vs. working in a team

07:45

Aligning incentives

08:38

Matching opportunities to what people are good at

09:25

How did Dan get where he is? What were his beliefs?

11:37

Mental health as a 9-5 freelancer???

12:50

The general zeitgeist = reaction mode

13:25

I want the power dynamic to be in favor of the service provider

15:40

I would rather ____ than sacrifice time with family

16:34

How do you get to a position of privilege as a freelancer?

17:33

One great thing anyone can do at any stage in their career

18:06

No one can invalidate your journey

18:58

Creating runway in order to do what I really want to do

20:47

Shutting down SuperFriendly

22:49

Dan’s new thing: Design System University

23:41

Different people learn in different ways

24:41

The Frequency Illusion Effect

26:00

What are ways I can teach people in a more accessible way?

26:51

What are you learning about yourself?

27:29

95% intrinsic motivation, 5% extrinsic motivation

28:00

Wallpapers for my phone that say, “Are you having fun?”

29:14

If you can’t even answer what you want…

29:46

Facing your own reality

30:16

Will AI replace our jobs?

30:48

How AI works into design systems

31:30

Craft vs. Commodity

32:55

The hope despite commoditization

33:22

ChatGPT lies

34:24

ChatGPT is a remix machine

36:23

Before you take away a job, figure out the replacement first

38:03

AI will design for us. What do we do then?

39:06

I’m seeking fun

39:36

Message to freelancers and independent workers

40:13

You’re not cheaper as a freelancer. You’re more valuable.

41:29

Your value is so much more than “cheaper”