patrick jones

Listen to the Users

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from design-thinking, it’s that listening is a most valuable skill.

You think you have an idea that will solve the problems of cyclists who need to cross intersections more safely? Just tell the city planner so it can be fixed. But before the solution gets employed, you might want to speak to cyclists themselves (like Patrick Jones). New discoveries are made when we ask open-ended questions.

What the designer might perceive to be a problem may not lead to the transformative fix. Anthropologists like Kenny Latta are used to doing field work to get to the crux of an issue. They empathize with others to truly understand what’s going on so that all facets and emotions are included in subsequent thinking and decision making.

If poor health is a problem in a low-income community, an obvious answer might be to occasionally send doctors to the people. But a closer look might unveil that transportation is what’s hindering people’s health because of a lack of access. If one doesn’t own a car and public transit is too inefficient or costly, a person might skimp on taking preventative healthcare measures. (Ruby Payne has a lot more to say on this matter.)

The reason I mentioned this, is that if we want to serve our audiences, we should listen and take note of what they want or even need.

Since my blogging debut, I’ve constantly sought the feedback of friends, family members, and co-workers. And they’ve had a lot to say. Some proofread for me. Some provide story leads. And some encouragingly say, “Keep it up.”

What’s been especially helpful are specific comments about my site:

  • “I do enjoy reading the articles that I know you are writing for a class, but you make them very entertaining and disguised so the average reader doesn’t know the purpose.”
  • “Can I guest post on your blog?”
  • “Consider establishing a separately branded Facebook profile to match memphismaverick.com. Not everyone who is friends with Burton wants to see your posts continuously pop up on their feeds. With a brand-specific page, those that like the page can receive updates.”
  • Apply the same logic to Twitter since my handle is @MemphisMaverick, yet it’s not as critical because you can get away with many more posts of varied topics there.
  • “Every time you publish a new post, put it on your Facebook so I can see it.”
  • Provide more photos of events.
  • “As a non-user of oh so many (almost all) social media applications. I laughed at your article. And as much as I hate to say it, reading your posts makes me wish I was more social media savvy. Enough to make me use it.”

Who doesn’t like receiving feedback? It’s a lot to think about and if I acted on everything, it could radically alter the way I’m operating. However, with four months in, I’m ready to shake things up.

Yes, I’m listening to the people so expect to see some different and exciting guest posts from creative millennials very soon.

What do you want from me?!

Memphis in May: Resource Roundup

Loyal MusicFest fanatics already know the ins and outs of trouncing through mud and cutting into mile-long porta-potty lines. But here are some useful hints for first-timers and veteran reminders for the 38-year-old Memphis in May International Festival.

Beale Street Music Festival (May 2 – 4)

  • The Lineup features dozens including Kid Rock, the Alabama Shakes, Joan Jett, and the mainstay Jerry Lee “The Killer” Lewis.
  • The Stage Schedule becomes your bible as you’ll be forced to make painfully difficult decisions like seeing either Foster the People or Snoop Dogg.
  • Tickets! Sellouts are possible. Single one-days start at $35+
  • Drinks? Mostly SoCo, sodas, and run-of-the-mill beer.
  • Park anywhere downtown and walk, bus, or Trolley to Tom Lee Park. Expect to pay at least $20 the closer you get. Tip: Line your floor boards with newspaper for your muddy footprints.
  • I personally take taxis. Call Omar and you can disco your way downtown with party lights and a mirror ball.
  • Rain gear: Locals call it “Memphis in Mud” for a reason. Pre-purchase some wellies because the city oddly sells out. Guys: Try Home Depot, Lowe’sOutdoors Inc., and Bass ProLadies: You have many more options; start with Target.
  • Where’s Waldo? The crowd is so dense that you WILL get separated and cell service will be dicey. I suggest setting old-fashioned meeting places and times upon arrival. And I highly recommend gaudy, blinking apparel. My crunk, Superman glow necklace reunited us last year.

Salute to Panama (May 5 – 11)

  • Brush up on your Spanish greetings because music-loving Panamanians will descend on the town expecting your hospitality.
  • Viva Panama!, the main attraction, will feature a night of jazz and Central American cuisine at the Orpheum on Thursday, May 8.

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (May 15 – 17)

  • Tip: Know that it’s mostly private tents and teams, however, if you hang around ’til the weeknight evenings and have a friendly smile, you might score an invite.
  • Want to be a judge but lack a law degree? Well, for $60, you can taste, vote, and be sucked up to by 250 barbecuers. (The judging deadline came early, but good to know for next year.)
  • The Ms. Piggie Idol Contest will take place Thursday, May 15 at 6 p.m. It’s a snort-worthy revue of pop culture, satire, and elbow ribbing by the teams themselves.

Sunset Symphony (May 24)

  • The event is budget and family-friendly, and picnic baskets are welcome (more FAQs).
  • Your rite of passage to becoming a local is hearing a rendition of “Ol’ Man River” on the Mississippi at sunset.

P.S. Suffer short-term memory loss? Just download the free MIM app to your iPhone or Android.

Take 5: Patrick Jones

Meet a laid-back biker who’s keenly interested in cityscapes, green parks, and cartography.

Patrick Jones

Patrick’s 10-speed includes “Warp.”

Stage namePatrick Jones

Some friends call him Pat Jones; but he honestly prefers Patrick.

Starring role: Legal Assistant with Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC

Offstage: Patrick serves on the board of advisors of his fraternity’s local alumni association, TKE, and oversees the granting of scholarships to incoming CBU freshmen.

On the weekend:  “If it’s nice, I’ll ride my bike into East Memphis to see my parents, go shopping at Whole Foods, and then back. It’s a 20-mile loop.”

Biking for transportation? “It doesn’t take that much longer, and you see more because you’re not going as fast. It’s just pleasant.”

Scenic sights? “Right now I’m borrowing a Canon Rebel so I’m taking as many pictures as I can.” Check out his serene photoblog of cityscapes: MidCityScenes.

Favorite spot? “Overton Park. I like that quick transition from the hustle and bustle of Midtown to the calm and quiet. It feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere – an oasis in nature.”

That reminds me – your tweet: “Yes, I got over 40 retweets after pointing out that Parks and Rec used an old map of Overton in their last episode.”

But, HOW did you notice that? “I’ve always liked maps.”