Brain Balance – follow up

In the four years since I wrote my initial post about Brain Balance, I have received innumerable emails from anxious parents asking for my perspective following the program.  Unfortunately, I am no longer able to personally respond to all the inquiries I receive.  I am writing this post to address those questions, and to provide some additional information.

The main question I received from parents over the years is some variation of “is it worth it?”  In other words, will the cost, the time, the stress of the program result in a happier, healthier, well adjusted kid?  The answer (for us at least), is sadly (but unequivocally), no.  

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UX Maturity Models – A Collection

For at least ten years now I have been collecting User Experience (UX) and Customer Experience (CX) Maturity Models.  I keep hoping to find the perfect one to help executives understand what we do, and what good looks like.  Oftentimes my conversations are about how to maximize funding for UX services.  Other times the goal may be to help an executive understand just how much further we have to go before we’re really getting the benefits of engaging a UX professional.

Over the years, I’ve been frustrated that so many of the models I’ve read seem best suited to help UX teams think about their own evolution and growth.  Either the complexity or the language make them by UX and for UX.  Very few of them seem accessible enough for an executive audience, and particularly ones who may not be familiar with UX.   Maturity Models from the CX field seem to be more accessible and executive-ready, which in and of itself is a lesson for UXers.

In the end, I ended up writing one that seems to be effective with the executives stakeholders and customers I work with ever day.  It meets the very specific needs that I have with my audience(s), but I’d love to know what others think.

Before I share it, I thought it might be worthwhile to review some of the others I’ve collected over the years, what I liked about them, and a brief statement about why they didn’t work for what I was trying to accomplish. Read More

I’m a People Nerd

In January I was interviewed by dScout for their People Nerd blog series.  dScout is a mobile research platform that spun off from innovation consultancy Gravity Tank, which was recently acquired by SalesForce.  The interview is called The how and why of building UX for SAP and ZS: Natalie Hanson on anthropology getting a seat at the table.  It went live yesterday.

Here is a teaser …

Natalie Hanson has had anthropology on the brain since at least the third grade. She’s followed her curiosities in the decades since, from her Ph.D. in anthropology to building out the UX teams for both SAP and ZS Associates. She sat with dscout recently to discuss launching UX teams before UX was a thing, the contrast between UX for consulting and engineering, and mainstream perspectives on anthropology and design.

I still have Hashimotos

Just over three years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Disease.  I was in pretty bad shape at the time.  I knew my mental acuity was deteriorating rapidly, I was perpetually exhausted, and I gained weight no matter what I did about food and exercise.  It was finally with a referral from my ob-gyn to an endocrinologist that I received a diagnosis.  However, beyond prescribing a few pills, the endo did very little to help me on my healing path.

At the time of my diagnosis in October 2014, I was sleeping ten hours a day, and then taking 3-4 hour naps every weekend.  I was too tired to exercise, and I continued to gain weight in spite of making a number of dietary changes (including eliminating gluten, dairy, and soy).  I also tried a low carb diet to no avail.  I was depressed, but it was largely because of my health issues.  I felt like my life was slipping away from me, and what scared me the most was that I was missing so much time with my young children (who were 4 and 6 at the time).  I knew I needed to focus on healing.

With the little bit of energy I gained from the thyroid medicine and some additional dietary changes, I began reading everything I could get my hands on about Hashis and the constellation of conditions that typically accompany it.  What terrified me the most was that people in patient support communities said I should expect it to take 18-24 months until I was able to truly understand and manage my illness.  Although I am more than three years in, I remember my near hysteria at the time.  I had felt so terrible for so long, and waiting another two years seemed unbearable.

Towards the end of my first year, I chronicled my findings and my progress in a blog post entitled I have Hashimotos.  I had made a number of changes and discoveries, and that blog post was the first substantive one I had written on this blog in years.  The intent of this post is to continue that trajectory by sharing with you what I’ve learned and experienced in the past two years, and what I think may come next.  Briefly, I would say I have learned to manage the condition, but I know now that my life will never be the same.  And it’s hard not to resent that sometimes.

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It’s not just Flint

Every day I read more news about toxins in our environment, and the growing body of research that makes the connection between these (largely unregulated) chemicals and a variety of insidious health conditions.  I feel like Americans generally don’t understand the seriousness of the situation, and how much corporations affect our environment and ultimately our health.  I do have some hope that the press about Flint Michigan will help, but that is far from the worst of it.

If we just look at lead as one well-known contaminant, we begin to see how very difficult the situation is.  The reality is that – in spite of the fact that the US government collects data on lead poisoning – many states don’t report lead levels in water at all:

lead-poisoning-map.png

Given the publicity related to the lead poisoning in Flint, maybe consumers will start to pay more attention and start to demand this information.  But, according to the comments in this post, there are 160K water systems in the US, regulated by a wide variety of local agencies.  And the most recent version of the Safe Drinking Water Act has a loophole that avoids any EPA accountability for issues in drinking water that result from fracking.

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