Elias Lind, Product Designer
To showcase our band members, every now and then we put a Spotifier in the limelight. Today's headliner is Elias Lind, Product Designer for Data Collection in Gothenburg. Put on your headphones, hit play, and read along!
Questions & Answers
Why are you a designer?
I’ve always been very into people and the inner workings of their lives. I was really close to becoming a psychologist or anthropologist, however, the methods and processes of design pulled me in by being a sort of “applied psychology/sociology” — where understanding people and their problems go into creating solutions for them in the form of products, features, services or systems.
It is the processes and methods of design that get to me, and the fact that most of them involve other people, in one way or another, makes it a good fit for me. However, I usually say that my midlife crisis is going to be me going back to school for psychology — we’ll see.
Describe your job at Spotify without using the words "design" or "designer."
I work for the teams that oversee how we collect data inside the organization, or “event delivery infrastructure” as it's called. When talking to people outside of Spotify, I usually say that I don’t touch anything they see as Spotify. Instead, I see myself as a plumber of sorts, working far below the surface and making sure everything runs smoothly.
My job consists mostly of running research on our users, who are internal engineers at Spotify, to understand how they make use of our products and what we can do to make their lives easier. It is all about understanding their everyday technical needs and coming up with new features or products that make the engineers faster, more efficient and more productive. It is a great deal of fun and I am so spoiled to have all of my users a Slack message away.
Show us a picture of your desk, and explain why it looks how it does.
1. ZOOM H2N microphone — I’ve previously used this to record choirs and song vocals. When I realized I could use it as a USB mic as well, I got a cheap arm to attach to the table and started using it in all my meetings. It makes a great difference in sound quality.
2. Bose Quiet Comfort 2 — A pair of old headphones that I can line into the microphone to hear my own voice clearly.
3. External webcam — Allows me to work on the big screen whilst also looking into the camera.
4. My partner’s homemade trellis — She is very proud of this one, especially the fact that she used her high school math skills (did I hear pythagoras theorem?) to get it up. We have a ton of plants growing on it and it makes my office feel a little more like a jungle. By office I mean the 5x5 feet space next to our kitchen, it doesn't get more home office than that.
5. Water bottle — This is my favorite water bottle — and that says a lot since I have about 10-15 of them. I usually keep slices of lemon or lime in it and refill it with water throughout the day.
6. Coffee thermos — About 2 fillings last me through the day. Since I started working from home I got really big on decaf. Now, when I’m feeling dangerous, I make my own blend of caffeinated and decaffeinated to spice things up.
7. Standing desk — When starting to work from home I began having back pains (hello adulthood) so I decided to invest in a good standing desk and a decent chair. I don’t stand as much as I should but it’s great to have the option.
Tell us about a time you beat an intimidating design challenge.
When I first started at Spotify, I worked as a summer intern in the Podcast Research department trying to understand how users created habits around listening to podcasts. It was a huge project that involved the whole spectrum of users, from people who had never listened to a podcast to users listening daily. I ran the project as a diary study, which is when you let your participants complete daily tasks and write about or record their experience from each day. I had hundreds of video snippets after collecting data from participants.
In the end, I came up with an interesting habit formation framework based on the findings from the users. Putting the findings into something digestible took a long time, but I finally got there with a ton of help from my supervisors, Adam Winer and Christina Mosti (thanks, you two). I’m actually quite proud of the work looking back at it and it is still used in the organization as a way of understanding podcast habits.
Name three non-designers you feel inspired by when designing.
Leah Reich — My former manager, who once told me “we’re not trying to cure cancer, get your insights and get moving”. This is something that has stayed with me and a mantra I tell myself whenever I am hitting analysis paralysis. (If you work with curing cancer, don’t take this as your mantra.)
Daniel Bark — Daniel is a great friend of mine who ALWAYS does what his heart tells him, no matter what. Doesn’t matter if it means starting a whole new career, staying up to 4:00 am to watch tons of YouTube videos about walking on a straight line across Wales, starting his own coding channel, or building a potato chips tree for his wedding. Stand up guy that inspires me — always. Check out his stellar content.
Luke Leighfield — Luke, like Daniel, is a never-ending creative soul. A musician and UX-writer by trade, he creates challenges for himself to make life bigger. It can be anything from reading a book a week, going vegan for a year, writing a musical or producing a song a week. The way he and his beautiful wife do life inspires me. Go follow his weekly newsletter and tag along!
What would your self-portrait look like?
Any final shout-outs or things you'd like to share?
Think highly of other people — most people you’ll ever encounter are your friends and want the best for you and themselves.
Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there. If you hear something inspiring in a podcast, or read a cool article on Medium — write to these people on LinkedIn or walk up to them after a keynote. Get to know people, tell them what you’re dreaming of and how you think they can help — you never know what might get your foot inside the door.
And lastly, one of my favorite quotes from a Norwegian teenage tv series called SKAM — “Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind, always.”
Sending loads of love to my partner (Hi, Anna 👋 ), and my family and friends who make my life rich.
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