October 27 / 42 min

John Maeda: Working at the intersection of design, business, and technology

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John Maeda

John Maeda

SVP Chief Customer Experience Officer, Everbridge
About The Episode

note: since our interview with John Maeda, he has gone on to take a role as SVP Chief Customer Experience Officer at Everbridge

Over the arc of his career, John Maeda has been many things: a professor at MIT, president at the Rhode Island School of Design, a Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins, head of Computational Design and Inclusion at Automattic, Chief Experience Officer at Publicis Sapient, and most recently SVP Chief Customer Experience Officer at Everbridge.

In our interview with John, we learn how curiosity and humility has driven his wide-ranging and accomplished career. We also dive deep into his recent CX Report, which was formerly called the Design in Tech Report (we ask him about the name change). We discuss why algorithms have the potential to narrow our point of view, and why digital transformation is so hard for companies that are lower on what he refers to as the “Kardashev Scale.” 


  • Why “shipping your org chart” may not be a bad thing.
  • What “L.E.A.D.” products are (Light, Ethical, Accessible, “Dataful”).
  • How design becomes more important as the frequency of interactions with digital products increase


John Maeda is an American technologist, designer, engineer, artist, investor, author, and teacher. He is Chief Experience Officer at Publicis Sapient, the technology consulting and delivery arm of communications and marketing conglomerate Publicis. Maeda serves on the Board of Sonos and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

He has held positions with Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com; the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins; served as president of the Rhode Island School of Design; and began his early career at the MIT Media Lab at the intersection of computer science and visual art. Named as one of the “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century” by Esquire, Maeda draws on his diverse background as an MIT-trained engineer, award-winning designer, and MBA-community translator to bring people and ideas together at scale.

He is the author of several celebrated books, including The Laws of Simplicity and Redesigning Leadership. He has appeared as a speaker all over the world, from Davos to Beijing to São Paulo to New York, and his talks for TED have received millions of views.

Meet Your Hosts

Aarron Walter
VP of Design Education

Aarron Walter is Director of Product on the COVID Response team at Resolve to Save Lives. Previously, he was VP of Design Education at InVision, and founded the UX practice at Mailchimp where he helped grow the product from a few thousand users to more than 10 million. He’s the author of a number of books, the latest of which is a second edition of Designing for Emotion. Aarron’s design guidance has helped the White House, the US Department of State, and dozens of major corporations, startups, and venture capital firms.

You can find Aarron on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Eli Woolery
Director of Design Education

Eli is the Director of Design Education at InVision. His design career spans both physical and digital products, and he has worked with companies ranging from startups (his own and others) to Fortune 500 companies.

In addition to his background in product and industrial design, he has been a professional photographer and filmmaker. He teaches the senior capstone class Implementation to undergraduate Product Designers at Stanford University. You can find Eli on Twitter and Medium.

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