Denise JacobsDenise Jacobs is one of our keynote speakers at this year’s edUi conference. An author who teaches techniques to make the creative process more fluid, she shares methods for making work environments more conducive to creative productivity, and practices for sparking innovation.

We wanted to get to know her a bit better, so we asked her a few questions. Here’s what she had to say:

If your professional life had a soundtrack, what would it be?

I think I’d have to provide certain songs or albums, rather than a single genre.

  • Anything You Want” by Reel People. I first heard this when I was a project manager, and it speaks to the fact that we have the power to create what we want if we get in touch with it, which I have!
  • All songs from Jhelisa’s first album, Galactica Rush. It is simply awesome; this album is high on my iTunes “frequently played” list.
  • Compliments” by Maysa, simply a great song.
  • Philadelphia” by Bahamadia featuring Dwele. This is one of my favorite songs in general, for grooving… it’s so good that, if you’re driving around and you hear it, you pull over to listen or you CRANK it.

What would you tell your 10th grade self if you could chat right now?
“Everything is going to be okay.” 10th grade was a big transition year for me: around 6th grade I was tall, but chunky and awkward. Being tall left me feeling different, with a wonky sense of self-esteem. Right before 10th grade, however, I had a growth spurt that made things even out physically and I lost the chunkiness (and became not just “tall” but “really tall” [I’m 6’1′]).

Up to that point, my motivations had been geared towards academic excellence and less so sports. My physical changes helped me in some ways come into my own in the realms of volleyball and basketball. It got to the point where I loved the feeling of walking onto the court and taking care of business… but I had to really work to gain the skills to get to that level. I felt really confident about academic work but not about other things (like my looks)…so I’d like to tell that old self, “You are okay exactly how you are. Everything about you is fine.” Maybe she wouldn’t have listened, but hearing that would have helped.

In only three words or phrases, what is your worst UX/UI story?
Student tries to be creative; mean teacher criticizes and becomes voice in student’s head; student no longer tries to be creative. (Such a sad story, and one that emphasizes why it’s so important for us to free ourselves from that kind of criticism!)

What are you going to talk about at edUi ?
“Banish Your Inner Critic” will be a session that teaches you how to identify your inner critic, where it often shows up and applicable ways of dealing with that critic. It can pop up in perfectionism, comparisons, procrastination…there are a lot of behaviors motivated by our inner critic, but we have to learn to handle it in order to allow ourselves to express creativity that is otherwise blocked by that criticism. In our industry, people need the skills that allow them to get their ideas out and achieve criticism-free creativity, but we’re usually never taught them.

What’s the biggest misconception about the skills necessary to banish your inner critic?
I think the biggest misconception is that people don’t “need” this training, because everyone needs to know how to do this in their work life! However, the truth is that we lack self-awareness that there’s even a struggle ongoing, and that we suffer under this inner criticism. There is an underpinning of mindfulness to my work, which is often seen as “filler” or luxury in the workplace, but it’s actually crucial.


Denise Jacobs is an edUi keynote speaker to help you Banish Your Inner Critic to Unleash Creativity.

She is the Founder + Creativity Evangelist of The Creative Dose, a Creativity + Innovation Collective and an author of several books, including The CSS Detective GuideSmashing Book #3 1/3, and Interact with Web Standards.

Follow her on Twitter and you hear her at edUi. Register now!