Mitzi Okou


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Apply today and tell them you heard about the job, the revision path. Get started with us and expand your job search today provision path dot com forward slash jobs. You're listening to the revision path podcast a weekly showcase of the world's blatant graphic designers, web designers, and web developers. Through in-depth interviews, you'll learn about their work, their goals and what inspires domes- creative individual. Here's your host Maurice Cherry. Hello everybody. Welcome to revision path. Thank you so much for tuning. In this week I'm your host Mariz, Cherry, and this week I am talking with Mitzi. Oku. An interaction visual designer at HP in. San Diego. California. Let's start the show. All right. So tell us who you are and what you do. My needs is Michio Kaku ion in action in digital signer I N based in San Diego California and I currently work at HP. So we're recording this during this pandemic that seems to be the only thing everyone in two thousand, twenty years of dealing with together. How are you holding up during this time? Yes. That's a loaded question because I'm feeling a range of emotion. So I'm good in some sense where there is a her lining in this pandemic can learn a lot of things and take classes in really kind of dealt into things that I've been wanting to add to my skill set. But then there's the other side by you know I myself I'm an isolation. So I have to think about a lot of things in that can be super overwhelming. So I'm good but also super overwhelmed by a lot of things I would say yeah. But seems like in California for at least were able to tell by the news that seems like the State is going. Maybe into some other form of lockdown. Procedures are being rolled back is that is that the case where you're at? Yes. So we were at phase two for a little bit. So a few things happened like restaurants bend and then it rolled back to phase one. So we're all just in lockdown nothing's really open for just harks neighborhood parks beaches, and that's basically it's super strict. You can't really get any service anywhere without rain a mask so it's it's super super strict. Okay. Yeah. I don't know if that's going to really be the case. I was GONNA say nationwide it's still feels like there's so much. There's so many arguments around whether or not people need to wear masks. There's going to be mandates I mean even here in Georgia like I'm in Atlanta and the mayors like you have to wear a mask and the governor's like, no, you don't and I'm GonNa see you mayor for say that people have to wear masks like there's. Different places there's war just weird precautions around all of this but. It seems like until we all get on one just like one accord on all of this this is just going to have to be something that we deal with especially going into the fall. Oh Yeah. I agree and it's weird because of the beginning of this people were putting a time line they were saying, oh, we're going to be back in three months. Back in four months, two weeks, and it just feels like there's no end in sight especially with how things are being handled in the country. So it's really weird because when you are thinking about changing careers in changing. Location yet to keep all nine that okay we'll let this mimic how long am I going to be in isolation for and wouldn't allow me to go anywhere in things open up back soon or sooner than we thought how does that affect everything? So there's so many things to think about yeah a varies in so many different places in the country too so Just. Even if you're like, say you're in New York, are you travel down to Florida I think I was reading something on if you're coming back from I, think it's a number of states. Florida's one of them that you have to do two weeks of self quarantine. Once you come back to New York but then I'm not sure how people are enforcing that. It's like here in Atlanta. Things have been pretty much open since April thirtieth there's been some levels of rollback with like you know I think we're back at phase one, I believe with our our city as well. But people are still going out and go to restaurants and going to clubs and the bars and places are still open. So it's just a really like tricky I know that there's a concept foam fear of missing out. I don't fear that I'm missing Alpa. Range of emotions like you said, when you see people just out about living life like buyers in kill says and killed one, hundred, fifty, thousand people I'm not afraid of you know. So it's kind of weird, how's it been working through this pandemic? You're an interaction designer at HP like how is that been Owen so I really try to keep myself motivated because I was reading this article about saying that it's actually really hard to work from home because the physical space of the office is meant to be that way because it helps you shift your mindset and also the commute their health you shift reminds it from the home life to the work life. And now it's taken away it's very hard to switch between mindset. So when you wake up, it's very hard to go to the work mindset. Then when you get into work mode and work is done, it's very hard to switch off because everything is so blended. So I really tried to continue to be motivated to the work in ninety my best in everything but I think personally, it's very hard to shit to that mindset to try to your best at work in my opinion. I've worked from home though for. Twenty twenty I've worked from home now for twelve years. And it is hard I mean even even after twelve years, it's that simple. It's definitely like building a muscle or training a muscle to be able to switch between those modes and it is tough especially at a time when you can't leave the house like it was a lot easier for me to work from home when I could leave the house I could go to starbucks. I'm working at a client location or something like that. But now it's like your home is now also. Your office and your gym and the club and the hang out spot and all these other things in one place and so yeah, shifting from that is it is tough. It is tough I think after twelve years I think I've done pretty well being able to make that shift but even with that like it comes with consequences because especially now with you not being able to kind of leave the house, you can still shift in mindset but like the work is sort of still. Lingering in a way as yeah like I found for me, it's been helpful to make zones like I have like my work office zone in my apartment, and then I have my relaxing zone in my apartment and I try not to do work in the relaxing I try not to relax in the work zone. That doesn't always happen, but it's helped a little bit. But yeah, working from home is tough especially with the constant news feed. Now about what's happening with the pandemic with other things that are going on in the world civil unrest, etc. it can be a lot to deal with yet and I find what helps oddly enough is to actually change your outfits to Sarah he's. Always in slick sweatpants. So always mentality of. WanNa. Be Sleeping but I noticed later on to be months I'm still learning to obviously because it's a a again it's muscle that you have to train. Like you said, I noticed when I wear work clothes, it helps me get into that mindset and then to switch off that all were Jim close my can work out in that tires me out and then I will switch back to shower in the John. Lewis and batches really helps with the transition and I think the thing that is also hard working from home is communicating with. Other people out work. So many things slipped through the crack because when you're in the office, you can just go up someone's desk and ask them a question. But when you're home, you have to wait for sponsors or people to get the end of the fact that we have these boundaries that don't exist. So then they take advantage of that five scheduling meetings during lunchtime or scheduling meetings past five or six nothing it really frustrating because like I want to ship mentalities to kind of properly put boundaries in work life my home life. Has HP been good about sort of allowing you all the grace to to kind of set your schedules during the Sun. They have been pretty good about it but I think internally because I work with the studio, you have to really be strong out the boundaries that you set because. So many people especially with a new upcoming release will just run over that in scheduled meetings during lunch or schedule meetings at eight or seven morning or after work. So I think the company upholds it. I would probably say the people in this. Do you don't really uphold that? Tell me about the worker at HP. So I, sent on the out of box experience team. So that has to do with when first of all printers. But when you're on the out of box experience team that has to do with creating the experience of a user customer person robbing a printer and that experience from. The package all the way to win the printers done being set up. And what I do is I make logic close and document behaviors as an interaction designer and pass it onto developers in review that and then when that's done because slickly on hybrid and I think the only interaction slash visual signer on the team batting requests can come to me and I will you know nicely skin it and make sure that all the branding is up to code and then delivered to the developers and the implemented? That's kind of an overview of what I do. I never thought about the the experience of setting up a printer. When I think about I mean I've had my my current printer, which is a Samsung I don't even think Samsung makes printers anymore, which lets you know how old it is but. I just remember getting it and the setup was pretty easy. You take it out of the box you hook it up the computer recognizes the driver, and then you're just kind of like good to go. I would imagine that's kind of the the best case scenario when you're working the printer but with HP, is there other like other parts to this sort of it almost sounds like an on boarding process to to kind of get people up to speed with printing? Yes, there are so many things that go into it. So I starting with localization, right because it's not about it's not just about America there other people in the world that uses product. So we have to localize Oliver copy properly and think about right to left text so that people can have a great experience nothing can see themselves in it. Then it's about all of these different little things like errors, how we present errors when someone does something wrong or when something goes wrong on the printer how do we make that Experience Nice? So it's making the user fuel bat and then what is the recovery path to put them back on the happy So a lot of things that go into creating the perfect experienced, almost kind of like looking at different paths in trying to streamline to one or have yours office the happy path, how we can go to a great recovery path in connect them to customer service to help them out or also not trying to you lead them to customer service because calls are really expensive. So it's unreal in that So the more calls we get the more money HP spend. So one of our objectives is always reduce customer service calls interesting. How's it more expensive? I don't know the mechanics find all I just remember is my manager saying that we cannot let them go to customer service that we have to create the vast experience because apparently really expensive I remember, consider the cost I mean oftentimes if I'm having an issue with tech customer is kind of the first person I want to speak with because. I'm a customer and I need help servicing no I can fix it and there have been you know services now that I think about it, you know mostly software as a service kind of things like Amazon or something like that where they try to steer you away from actually talking to anyone as much as they possibly can like they'll guide you through a wizard. They'll point you to a knowledge base article, but it's like I wanNA talk to somebody but I never thought about if that's expensive for the company I would imagine just what the cost of the call or something I don't know. That's really. I've never heard of that about it being expensive to do customer service in that way Yeah. So that's why we have to think about a lot of troubleshooting paths crossed to have the customer recover properly. So they don't have to go to customer service interesting. Wow. Okay. So is this your your first full time job here they? This is my first full time job right out of college. Awhile, how's it been house experience? It's been a whirlwind. Say, it's been the biggest learning experience. I think not really in terms of design. But I think having to deal with office politics and personalities as well as leadership and what is good leadership in what isn't good leadership yeah. I think those are the biggest lessons that I'm wearing and at first I was like I wanna be learning designed more but I think that learning the social aspect of being in a corporate environment is actually super super important and I think it could actually trickle down to your personal life on how you deal in reacts to people. So I feel like it's changed in the two years that I've been at each p. because now I really kind of sit with my cell. About what I want to say or how I want to handle situations and you know make people feel good and not bad rates. It has fueled like turning it on difficul conversations but also learning how to step for myself as well and not let people run over me. Yeah. Her fashion in that sense. And in your first job like that, especially right out of school like you're kind of. Your prime fodder for that to happen like some higher up. We'll take out some decision. They had nothing to do with you out on you and you're like I'm just I'm just here. It's not that I did or anything like that. How many people are on your team? So we have about thirteen people on our team. It's a really huge team in some sometimes will pop up and be like. Oh were worthy outbox exchange marketing and will will just feel it. We're ready to come from like this team is so much bigger in and kind of trickles down. So many different networks because the outbox experience, it's a huge complex networks and that's probably the most complex teams I'd probably want their people, but I'm pretty sure there's more lingering out there. So you're in San Diego right now you mentioned that before we started recording is that where you grew up now? So I grew up in Atlanta Ga.. Born and raised yeah I didn't know that. Okay. Growing up here in Atlanta was was arden designed kind of a big part of your growing up here. Now it wasn't I was actually a classical cellist. So I played cello for I've I certainly chills I was four and did all the way through high school and went to a music school for two years. So I actually didn't pick up the line or even we'll know I was introduced to design in Georgia but. Use, which is a part of my upbringing All the way up until I left home interesting classical cellist. Is there a big cello market in Atlanta I know there's a symphony here but When I was during if there used to be a big challenge market I, don't know if it's still that wakes not chopped into the network anymore. uh-huh. I think looking at different places Atlanta with such a great place to grow up as a classic especially a young black classical musician. That's really important. Being in this youth talent development programs that really worked bringing you up to be a professional. So that way I ain't gonNA mission statement was to. Basically raise the percentage of black people in orchestras across the nation, and so they would train you keep it all like music camps. So it was so great because there is a community of black hostile musicians in Atlanta that I'm pretty sure other people other young blockage rally didn't have which is really unfortunate. So it was great i. know that there is there's actually a music artists here. He's a jealous. Okay Cello. Have you heard of him. I don't think. So what is what's his first lasting? Oh, Cory Johnson but he goes by cello he's based out of Atlanta. Graduated from Morehouse I think a little bit before I did probably but I know about okay cello honestly, I'm not going to make like I like I'm like I'm like original. Oh. Okay Cello Fan. About this year, because I was supposed to interview him for a speaker series thing prior to the pandemic but you mentioned cello his name like immediately came to mind like Oh. Yeah. I could see that and I can also see how Atlanta would be a good city for a black professional musician because there's so many environments that you can be in. Like professional environments probably like political fundraisers I'm just imagining all the lake events and stuff to happen like in Buckhead, Ansley Park and stuff then they always wanna have like a string quartet at the event is. Atlanta's very lush with. Great art opportunity whether it's fine arts and performing arts. So I personally Miss Atlanta because back. But yeah, it was great and I guarantee you. I, don't know. Okay Cello but I'm pretty sure I know somebody that knows him because the thing is the the music, the classical music communities Berry small. So it can easily be like one of those Kevin Bacon degrees just like I know somebody that knows that knows my notes on the news him. Too. So that makes sense. Yeah. So you kind of mentioned before that you didn't pick up design kind of growing up. When did you? I know that design was something you wanted to do for a living it was actually my second year of college I was living in Boston and I was at a music school called the Boston Conservatory. I remember just feeling like the path that I was going down as a costly Shin was just not financially stable and I was worried I wasn't going to. Really Book Batman Gigs because it's so competitive about how talented you aren't who you know. Everyone, but it was really really bad in the classical music community especially as it's horrible and so. There was a certain lifestyle I wanted to live and I wanted to travel around and eat really good which is you're successful the cost musician you could but I felt like there are a lot of things going against me. So i. kind of thought to myself. Well, what I don't WanNa. Do this anymore mostly because I don't think that this is not going to be financially sustainable, but I walked to solve issues for people who had this lovely idea work. About it and I told my parents I, didn't WANNA. Do it anymore the only cello and they were just like, yes, we completely understand we're feeling this this entire time what you WANNA do and I said I wanNA do something with. Art Technology I don't know the name of it. I don't know what it is and they said Okay we'll book some school towards around the country and we'll go and so I went to school store a Taurus one being mass art think another being Chicago and my dad said Okay will I got your personal private tour Scott let's go together and go down there. So I went to Savannah and some of the counselors were asking me what you WanNa do and again I explained i WanNa do something with art and technology i. just really don't know the name and they said okay it seems like he wanted to graph designed To, start off with bat anti, I, feel about it and I said, okay that sounds good. Then I transferred to scab insurgent graphic design. Loved it loved foundation year, and then I took my first human computer interaction class because I was thinking to myself. Wow. Is My classes that I love this but this is still not putting on the route where one assault issues for the industry that I laughed and so one of my counselor was just like I think you would probably be into you X. so take this human computer interactions class first and see how you feel about it until I said Okay and I went in I took. The First Class with Yuki. Chung and that was, is that classmate it extremely clear that that is exactly what I WANNA do. So I took a few classes in interaction design obviously did the entire minor but it didn't add financially and I would have had to do some extra classes back nothing to do with the minor. So I didn't declare it but I tickled interaction minor classes and that's got into it and that led me to a fellowship. on's and that's A while so you really didn't make a a big pivot to go from music to design and then it all kinda started with that tour. Yeah. What was your time? Like they're in general? I mean coming from a music background and now you're in this art and design school was very similar to any previous experiences you've had. It was actually kind of a culture shock at verse, which kind of sounds strange. But it was a culture shock because in the classical music were all. It's so competitive and it's such a solitary discipline and even when you're playing in an orchestra, it's about being self aware. About what you're doing in order to blend with the orchestra. And? So that. was traumatizing because it was so negative and so when I got to Scott I was kind of expecting the same thing because it was a long fine arch track and when people would come to me and saying, Hey, do you want to collaborate kind of look around you want to actually work with need to get this project done and they were like. Why not and it was so crazy because there wasn't really any competitiveness it was pretty open in the sense that somebody was wanting to collaborate with you on something and so there's like this great community at even during finals it there was sense of camaraderie because during finals week so stressful and you would see Sony students in the building trying to pump off their finals and because everyone kind the empathize with each other if you needed something Oh, here's some scissors whatever he go to random people can ask for anything they would hand it off to you. So that was a great experience coming from something super competitive I would say. So it sounds like scared really kind of helped prepare you when you got out there in the working world as a designer. Oh for sure, I definitely could say that it gave me a solid foundation, but definitely gave me a healthy competitive drive to want to create amazing experiences and. Try and be the best. So so I really appreciate Scott for that. Okay. Speaking of amazing experiences. Let's talk about this conference that you put on back in June a few months ago where the black designers I want you to take the audience but also take me back to the beginning like where did the spark I begin for you to even like do this. that. It's not just one spark multiple sparks but. The first part actually started at scattered. And it was great experience. But there was something that was bothering me about the environment because skied is predominantly white institution sitting in Savannah Georgia, which is probably one of the and cities and was a predominantly black neighborhood and there was no streamline of black designers or black creatives coming in and you sitting in class and be one of the only black people and interest. Did Not feel right. So me and my friend or my friend and I Garrett I came to him and I said Garrett you something about this real raise awareness about this I want all teams to come together as a community to try and do something about this. So we try to do something similar but in a physical sense where we wanted to occupy galleries. And get community involvement in outside of school. But that didn't work because we have to get the venue and we have to get approval from the school, and if the school didn't approve, we had to separate ourselves from it and basically get things out of pocket and it was so much that it didn't pick off the ground. So we let it go and that was. Maybe three or four years ago, and so then after that I remember I was sitting in my room and I saw your talk where the block designers and I was in awe because I was just like this is the most fantastic blueprint and I was looking at the stream or the numbers of us on the video and by so why is nobody talking about this because? and. I was really questioning the in the thing is I came up every black history month as on Lincoln. It would frustrating so much that I would see companies say, Oh, we support the black community we support black history month here are token black employees and they can tell you why they love working here. Any me so mad because I'm just like it's very clear that your company does not have that many black people I don't know where your data is. So I really cannot. Say this out loud because I had nothing to back it up and also rushing for me. So when I saw your video, I was like this this is it, and this is exactly what everyone needs to see again. Come in the same thing would happen I got super frustrated. So then when the pandemic came and then after another flare up of black lives matter, I, don't know if it was the PINTA energy. Would say it was a combination of pent up energy and the triggering of me observing black history of all over again. But it's ten times worse because all of these companies are proceeding black squares and I said enough is not an ir literally remember the day before I watched your presentation 'cause I always do this when I get really really angry the design world I watch a presentation in I call Garrett now like we have to do something and I just really Really blocked to amplify the work that you did exactly what you were saying and basically use this as an amplification of voices and that's basically how pat came about and it was great because we didn't think it was gonNA blow up and it did I think the poster challenge in the kind of creative protest we had in digital space really put out there and then a lot of people came and wanted to help and it was so much and it happened so fast. But it was also so big do in super beautiful. Yeah. So. That's how that came about this interesting that you mentioned like this time has been like another black history month because that's I've been trying to put my finger on sort of what that feeling has been through most of June like. Of course, there's a horrific thing that happened with George Floyd, getting killed by police. There is now this increased I would almost say like this mega increased awareness of. What's happening with black people at the hands of police in just like in the general American system, you know in all facets of it, it has sort of felt like another black history month just in the terms just in terms of the I'm loath to call it support. I'll just say the attention because as many folks I know who you know who have been doing this for a while like that kind of support is fleeting like it's it's a good spike for about a month and then it just dies out as it's good to have that attention when you have it. But like it's never a sustained sort of thing and I remember getting during that month, I was getting all kinds of like press calls and stuff and folks are like so do you think this will last this last and like no I don't I mean It'd be great if it does last but you know I also know that I get the same spike, every February for black history month. So that's why I felt like it did feel like another kind of event like that. The interesting thing about that presentation, I'll I'll give some history behind it which I don't know if you've been really shared this on the show. So I had the idea to do that presentation back in twenty fourteen when this was. Around time that I I joined AIG as diversity inclusion task force. Shout out to answer that care for being the one that really kind of like gave me the inspiration to do that because she had joined as a CO chair and you know actually that's what I joined a I was in two thousand fourteen, and so really kind of getting on the task force and starting to do research on just black designers in general because they IGA had this. Series of interviews that they did call design journeys and they never really kept it up from year to year. It was a good effort but they never really tried to it didn't feel like they tried to update it a whole lot. and. Then even just being able to talk to folks that work in the archives and like look at the Nineteen Ninety Journal entry that came from Cheryl D Miller's nineteen eighty-seven article and looking at the results from the ninety one job symposium and everything and seeing how you know twenty plus years. Later none of this has changed that sort of inspired me at first kind of put the presentation together and of course. Do the research and everything submitted it to south by South West because they have south by southwest has process where you have to like you submit your panel information and I was doing a solo pound. This is my second time going to south by so I felt kinda confident that I would be able to to get in but the way that they do it is you submit your like panel and everything in like. July or August or something like that, and then around September Ish September October something like that. They let people know like, Hey, your panel idea was accepted. So every pam idea they get submitted doesn't accept it. So it gets accepted into this thing called the panel picker, which is a public forum for people to vote on your panel, and there are all these criteria that your panel have to like has to hit in order for it to Kinda be successful one of them's acronym called vowel which stands for voice opinion women ethnicity location, or something like that. In terms of like, no the vocation that's what it was in terms of the diversity of what you have for your panel. So you don't just have like four white guys or or whatever you WanNa diversify but then there are all these other sorts of things that you have to hit in terms of the time limit and things like that. So I got accepted into the panel picker. I. Had people vote on it and I had no idea whether or not I was going to get in because the panel picker voting period is pretty short it's like. It's like two or three weeks or so. And then south, by South West us is that they announced in waves like who got accepted to be part of the programming. So they do the first wave in like October November they do the second wave in December, and then they did away. I think it was in January of two, thousand fifteen, and now the event takes place in March in Austin. And it's a sold out of events like you have to get your hotels in tickets months in advance. So I, didn't find that I was going to south by in March until January and by that time I'm like, I have no idea if I even though I'm going to stay like all the hotels are books. If you get an AIRBNB, it's like five hundred dollars like it's it's super expensive. Yeah. Yeah it's Not. To mention getting a direct flight from Atlanta to Austin you know there were some direct flights, but they're more expensive because off is not necessarily a hub like you know Houston would be your Dallas or something like that. So I put up a Gofundme E.. G. A. said that if you raise a thousand match it, so I raised thousands of of gopher me so they matched it. Defined AIRBNB and went and gave the presentation. Now when I gave the presentation the way this south by does not know if they still do it this way but they put the majority of the quote unquote diverse content. In. One Room in like the top back of the Convention Center. So you have to go all the way to the top floor all the way to the back in this room nine ABC is where they usually have it. When first spoke at South by South West and twenty ten I was in that same room and now I'm doing the second presentation in. Two Thousand Fifteen in the same room and I'm noticing even as I look at the programming, I'm like why they put all the diversity stuff all the way in the back of the Convention Center I think they do it on purpose if somebody from stop is listening, I would love to get an update on that but I feel like you do it on purpose. So hit. Question. So. Weird. So aside from it being like all the way in the back, you know South by South West? Really only markets they're big tent pole type events they'll markets the film festival or if a celebrity is speaking like. Jimmy Kimmel, for example, I think spoke the year that I was there was speaking the room next to mine. So I spoke my room was like this weird overflow room where people Kinda just ducked in to charge their phone or like take a nap because like my presentation was at five o'clock on a Friday like people were really trying to stick around they were. Trying to go get some beer, get some barbecue find out where the party is. So I didn't really have a great time slot. It was not at a great place and there were maybe about fifteen or twenty people in that room people were asleep I can hear the noise from Jimmy Kimmel in the other room and people being like, yeah, she was so great. Give him a little presentation dearly empty room you know screaming lots versus. You know like some are asleep. Somebody up and they back off and but the people that were in there. Were people from facebook from pinterest. There was someone there from Dell there are a couple of other folks. So there were folks in the room that did hear it and we're like, okay, we need to talk to this guy like find out what what he's about in everything, and so from there I got invited to the facebook house because different companies come and they basically will rent out like a restaurant or a big house or something for the whole south by southwest time, and they'll do programming based out of there and everything like. A home base for the company while they're there. So they got to go to the facebook house and talk to people there, and that's how I ended up. That's basically how I ended up speaking there I think about a year or so later was really Kinda like hobnobbing get to know them but also them seeing the work that I was doing. So it Kinda worked out that way. But yeah, I remember giving that presentation and it was not popular at all aside from the fact that it wasn't popular at South by South West. prerecorded. Tend to go up on Youtube and then I think they I put up post about it after south by South West and the comments and the feedback that we're getting from people were so bad. Nearly yes. A lot of first of all a lot of people thought it was racist star like a lot of people thought the the initial imagery with the black background and the white like cartoon is a lot of people are like this is so racist this is like Sambo, Jim Crow Whoa Whoa Whoa wait a minute. This is more like looney tunes rain isn't he like every cartoon in the past fifty years when it's dark all you see I mean come on you know. But I was getting chewed out by people about that presentation and you know folks say, well, how can you ask that question and you don't wear the black designers always been here It's a rhetorical question. Okay. I know that we've always been here. Even look at the presentation it clearly we are. But I got a lot of flack a lot of flack for their presentations someone I did it and I put it up. I kept kind of directing people to it I. Think I even gave that talk a few more times I gave it enough and a few ad agencies gave it at how design live the next year here in Atlanta in two, thousand sixteen and kind of just let it stay up. There I was like, Oh, you know people want to check it out they can check it out but I remember getting so much hassle from it. I was like look it can just stay up here. I hadn't thought about updating it or anything like that. I just left it up there because at the time it didn't seem like people were very receptive to it. And then based on the feedback that I got from. Shit I just I'll just leave it up there. You know now granted this year in particular it's gained a lot more. Steve. Impart impart because of your event. But also because of now, this increased awareness of black voices and black designers and we start listening the black voices in someone's like I found this presentation I'll youtube. You know there'd be be a passed around and I saw pass around link Dan and someone asked me for my my then. Malinche. Just WanNa make sure that you're getting paid for this tremendous work I'm like I haven't touched that thing in five years sure. He my bag people aren't paying me for the presentation now after they've seen it I'm like Oh. Okay. So maybe I should update it because I honestly hadn't. Really thought about it. Since I gave the presentation. But then that's how I found out about your events because someone was like Oh. So you're doing this this events around it and I'm like wait what I'm not doing an event what are you talking about and then like someone shows me the website and I'm like it's the saved black hog wired up like. Like. This. I had no clue what it was about. I was just alerted to it when you were doing it like an early June of this year and I'm like what is this and I had to clear it up online because people really thought it was me and I'm like it's not me I don't even know who's behind it because there was no about page or anything so I don't know who's behind this. So let me just say I'm not behind it. So let's clear that up. So people don't think that I like all of a sudden putting this event out there. Right yeah and I think in remote because there was such urgency goes back to your point that it's so easy for this to be a trend in it's crazy how no one talks about this whole pattern of the flair of being out around the summertime and so there's some urgency 'cause I was like, okay, there's a slurp but I guarantee you in a few months it's going to die down no one's talking about it again and again maybe it was just pent up energy from this quarantine I was like no more this I'm not going. To, do a whole repeat of this black history month and to be honest either so shocked that there was amazing your presentation such an amazing resource in leads to all these other meeting resources and it just really baffled me that no one was looking at this and that design agencies and design studios were posing these black squares looking at this amazing blueprint of so many solutions out was literally just a click away on youtube if you just ask the question to because that's that's how I came about your presentation I was so angry one day that. Literally. You know you just type in random questions. Sometimes, just the wilder in. Washington. Hanley, just after will I wear the black sign in your presentation? Oh. My God this is amazing. Typing tracking the activity for I think since since twenty sixteen until now and you just disappointing that it just wasn't getting that much traffic and I was just thinking to myself. This is the question to ask because it's it's really important and I don't think that it could be. Any other way and it's rhetorical question but it's just something that I ask myself sometimes when I go into a row not to lack designers themselves but to companies right on where are people that look like me like this is not cool at all and. It's crazy because the event happened we got so many D- ends in emails that were saying Oh man I actually did my sister thesis and made it where the design is a really long time ago or I did a nine zine a few years ago for for my school called Worth Watson there's selling people that actually did a project around this question and it was great. Because I was just like so many people have been asking this questions, but it's the creative space in the in the tech industry don't want her either under the NBA ignore it or they just really just don't know about it like at all. So yeah, I feel like it's a little bit of both because like I mentioned before about black history month I'll usually get. Ping's about not necessarily about the presentation but certainly, just about revision path like during February and we'll say, Oh yeah, well, we can. We can feature revision path for black history month of Mike it's black stream of every month revision path but sure. It also happens to be our anniversary month but just a feeling of knowing that. You seem to only be valuable to as a community once a year, a sort of especially after I did the presentation I just focused on just revision path. I've been really thinking about the presentation like I put it up online I bought a domain. So if people typed in I, used to own the where other black designers domain. And I had a redirect to their youtube presentation and I forgot why let it lapse I think because nobody was watching it I was like, Oh, I'll just let it go. It's fine. So it's not surprising that it's starting to kind get more traction not even put on the presentation now I've said I plan on updating it for twenty twenty, which has caused a whole new set of I wouldn't say issues to come up and now people are like the update the presentation digit hard digit we want to put it in our book we wanted to like Whoa Updating it on my timelines. Like I'm going to be doing it with a colleague of mine because she has some some great data to add to this, send a Walker and I'm like we're going to do it. But like I'm not in any rush to get this out because I know when I I did this there was no rush to get it out. There, was a rush for to get it by south by, but like nobody was clamoring for asking for it. You know. And now it's like, Oh, well, if you do it, can you presented here and can we hosted here and can we do this Mike? Everyone can wait because you've been waiting all this time. I'll get to it when I get to it you know and that's not to be not to be a dick or anything, but honestly, it's like It's not top of mind for me. I will get around to it but I just haven't done it yet and I think the thing that has made the presentation probably still. So so pressure these these years later is that the stats have really changed yes. Yes I think that was the thing for me because I would watch it every years since twenty sixteen and just think that nothing has changed and then I think when everything happened again, this box wears came up I was just like nothing has changed in nothing is going to change and so that's just performance activism and That was just so rude. So yeah, that's that's a great point. Yeah. Let's let's go back to the event because you pulled everything together in a. Excuse me you pulled everything together in a very short amount of time I mean from I think you said you kind of first conceived the idea of doing this online like early June and then by the end of the month like the event was happening. and. You and I are talking about. An conversation actually you need Garrett we talked about this and one of the first things that I said to you was if you really want to do this like and do it effectively, you should wait and I was saying that out of like you know jealousy or spider anything but also just because like this information has been here this whole time. If there's this much demand for people will wait for it and I'm not saying that you have to like string them along but like give yourself enough time to. Like get it right I guess like do the due diligence because I didn't really know what a what shape the event was taking what I could tell just kind of based off of our initial conversation but I'm Mike. So this is a very short amount of time to put something together like. Maybe, wait a little bit and I feel like at this point especially with the pandemic people can wait what are they gonNA go? What are they gonNA do gonNA where to go? How did you pull everything together in such a short amount of time? That's a great question because originally asked this again because I really mean it we did not think it was going to get that large we were. GonNa be happy with three hundred people or just not hundred people because we just thought that that's what the scale was gonna be and I think that the poster Chime to happen really put that out there especially because it was community engagement and I think the fact that designers use her stills to say something. So I think it spread and then when it got really big and we started looking at How much this was gonNA cost to host all those people we were like, okay like this is actually a much bigger deal than we thought. We didn't know we were GONNA do we originally thought we were going to just have some type of small community discussion about this rhetorical question ray and not really have like an entire five to six hour conference and so when it got that big, we were kind of panicking a little bit because we just didn't. Have the resources. We didn't have the experience we didn't know anybody that had the experience, but I think the beautiful thing about it was because internally people so just jumped in to help one of the first people being Gary Hus- twit and he was just like let me just use my connections in just take care of the production side for you guys can really think about what you want to say and then it was kind of like you like game. Of Monkey in the barrel where it's like it's that little one. It's those red monkeys and they hook up to each other. It pulls another one out and another one until like the stream of these things. But but they're all connected in a way bats with that. Was We kind of dislike? Hey, we need a little bit of help one person hopped on and said okay. I would lucky do this but you should you should talk to this person to speak, and then we will talk to that person and they will put that they pull back personal log. Pulling people we knew that could offer all of these interesting voices. So it was very communal in its in the sense that everybody kind of like held hands and kind of came together to make this happen. This was like a community effort. It wasn't just me and Garett doing everything by yourselves it was like so many people are so many resources and so many interesting stories that that's how up really came about an interesting way and. Even than meeting other people and you as a young designer who just hadn't really no direction. In saying Oh there's there's a block designed community here that you referred to. But then also with the perspective of like not knowing that there was really a community I didn't really properly do researcher even like Dick hard enough especially excited to know where to even start I was also kind of bringing in other black designers that I felt like also should have voice and may have been. Knew or should be also introduced to the black designed communities also can all come together and discover each other that makes sense So that's how that was pulled together and I really made sure to say that it was really a community effort I feel like you're not kind of lit the spark and it just the came this huge fire because everyone contributed to it becoming that huge. Yes, I think you had told me that there were like thousands of people that had RSVP for this event. Yeah, it was. It was crazy. It was super overwhelming in a good way but also very stressful way to because. People were seeping. It was like the microphone was getting bigger and the audience was getting bigger and so we met with Cheryl because she came it. It was great because Aaron I had no idea what we were doing and we could have just completely gone on the path where it could have been a train wreck and luckily Cheryl stepped in and she highly corrected us but then was also really kind of. gave us direction in the sense that she's like you have this really big microphone. The best thing you can do is say a few things and say it's super wells that people get it, and in talking to her about that, it really helped us kind of steered the direction and pool a lot of things back because I can honestly say that we were doing way too much at beginning or earlier on. So thousand that she stepped in especially as a lack designed elder to really give us direction also being honest we didn't even know what we were trying to do as well because it got so big and so we were really mysterious always until the day of the event and even go after even after part of the criticism that came about was due to confusion because I think it goes back to the Chris. You're getting that a lot were here. Are you talking to us or are you talking to somebody else who are you talking to and I think after George flats and really think about the fact that we weren't even very clear on who we were talking to and So we really sat down and Lutton. We really figured out that we were talking to. I'll because even in the conference we were we were saying that lacking lot do anything Beethoven doing amazing doing great and needs to just continue what they're doing but it's all of these other allies I want to help out that need to. Also put in the work within themselves and. Also used some of their privilege in power and shift. So got beacon. Again divest from this white supremacist system in racism that has trickled down to even modern day technology, which is absolutely ridiculous. So it was very overwhelming in both good and a I would say stressful way but I always look at things as a learning experience innocence. I didn't take things personally when I got the criticism because even if somebody was saying the criticism in a way that made people even need feel uncomfortable I didn't really pay attention to the uncomfortableness because there was some truth in what they were saying and it made me question why that came a vow. So it was kinda process of filtering all of that but. and. I thought to myself. Well, if they're saying this out loud, it means that they partially care and that they want to see the succeed otherwise why would they get their time and energy into saying this out loud. Yeah. I was actually going to ask about that. That criticism. Some of it. I saw on twitter some of that I saw on instagram heavy criticism most notably from other black designers like how did that make you feel? Yeah I took it really hard out police say the first two weeks after the conference, the success that I felt the day was very, very short. Lived I. Only felt that for a few hours and then the criticism started rolling. In and I felt really really bad about it. Because I went into this mindset of thinking did I do more harm than good? Did I create a division in the black designed community and even within the industry it's pretty small, and so the last thing I want to do is create a divide in a community that is already kind of small compared to everything else in the industry itself and. I think the thing that really was a little bit. Frustrating for me is I did this part of this out of the intention of the fact that I wanted to connect a lot of black signers To the black design community because it's out there. But some of us, some of the young black is iron are on these little. Islands where we don't know what's out there. Right and I really have this passion to know what's out there. I realized this passion to be connected to people that look like me because I feel like it's really important to see that a tell me continue on my career in my opinion, and so I don't really bad because I thought the ruin something and it was amazing because a lot of the black Zaire's just like you know what you did. Great. You said which you need to say mate you. Could have done this that way. Maybe you could have said things and that was great to hear them say that in some people were just like you know we are we are here for you whatever you need don't worry about the criticism continued wine and then I think with as the as time kind of move forward I kept looking at the criticism but my perspective shifted in the sense that the the criticism wasn't really negative. It was more than just asking question and sometimes social media makes things look negative. Doesn't. Have to realize in separate was some social media has a tendency to make questions look really really really really negative and so I, reached out to some of these people that were giving the criticism. Now's like hey, I just want to sit down and hear what you mean by what you said and it was great because I met some of these people and not connected with them and they are give me the most amazing guidance and you know they clarified that it was just a question that all they were asking and. Even, after the conversation, I, don't look back on the criticism beaten just think to myself. Yeah. Actually was just a question wasn't really harsh criticism that it wishes that there was some confusion in that they just wanted to know why certain things happened or why certain people weren't included in any of this it took me a while to really comfortable with what happened kind of move on from that and I'm still doing that tube because I'm trying to learn how to step in the right way in like walk into like run superfast. It's all learning process, but I'm definitely keeping that criticism in mind I will be honest in the sense that do I like how some of the criticism was delivered note but do I respect it? I respect it completely, Gotcha. Yeah. A lot of the criticism that I saw I mean some of it was. During the events I did watch the events and like I saw people that were saying things like in the slack room there were people are saying things on twitter. There are people that were saying things like the youtube chat just to kind of see. Like. How it's all going and everything and I know just based off of the fact that you had to put this together. So quickly I mean I think logistically like the event went off. Great without a hitch like. From transition different things like it went off, you know Kinda just fine at I don't know if this was part of the criticism that you receive but I know for me as I was watching it I was like this feels like and you sort of said this earlier like it's less about. Black and more about. Like this is more for allies like it's. Four black designer because I think that there might have been this conflation of and this is something that I feel like also mostly took place in June because I haven't heard much this month but. This inflation of black with by talk or. Be IPALCO. To spell out each letter in the acronym, but it almost felt like it was this conflation of that where the question is, where are the black design is not where are the bypass designers and the allies that will help them you know what I mean Yeah Yeah and the thing is it was crazy 'cause even going through this process it was like a battle like okay. If the title is worth black signers and I remember I would put him by will be like, no I think the concentration be on black designers and Someone may have very clear to me and gave me amazing feedback that was saying you to be worth that if you're a title and there are words in this title at care to an audience, you should probably focus make your focus and your opportunities for the audience that is in your title. So the fact that they're the words black designer in them, that means that I need to focus on because that's what being highlighted and. So I understand that there is this confusion bind debt because again, I. Think. It goes to your point that by was being thrown around and then also going to being associated with black as well. So it was really confusing wishes why were trying to make it very clear now, even within the slack community that this is for black designers because it is and it should be treated exactly as such speaking of the the slack community. So you have the slack sort of team that was going on in tandem with the event and I think at its peak I may have seen close to four thousand people in there. Have you been back in the slack group since the event has ended oh? Yeah. So, there's a really nice community in there because originally that sock with us for the child than so many people stayed so many people started exchanging resources and contacts and so. This opportunity came up that we could actually create this community in slack because it's a great tool to kind of branch out into of things can be dangerous, but can also be amazing radio. So the slack people's are breaking out into different groups in different clubs. So I go in there regularly and we actually have a team of volunteers that help make the a space. super-safe, and we're starting to structure it and really build foundation to where people going in the sock comedian posting jobs. But we just shut down the job channels in the community. We told people to streamline that to a survey that we are going to link to the blackhawks know because we have a channel mainly actually not even mainly only for black signers in black creatives. and. So rocky starting to work at structuring this because so many people are in there and they don't want to leave and they are really happy that they can connect with this many people in one place and our blackhawks national is so beautiful. It's so amazing and it feels like this one huge family everyone talking to each other. Conversation in everyone's putting out ideas on what they can do to help out each other they're giving us ideas and suggestions on how should structure this everything. So there's a live community in the black designer slack channel right now, and it is it is popular for sure. It's well in live as good to hear that you put some structure. Around that because I think I might have popped in maybe a couple of times after the like the week after the event and it was just kind of seeing how things were sort of shaking out because I just. Feels like what are these? Past experiencing revision pads used to have a slack a couple years ago and it never got super large. I'd say, maybe at our peak we might have gotten about. Three hundred and fifty, four, hundred people or something never was was too big but. We did end up having those like bad agents that would come in there. That were particularly they're just kinda like stirrups a mess or you had people there that were just trying to mine data from people that were in the group like everyone send me Your Lincoln Account. So I can add you and then when you add them, they're actually spamming you with information about their startup that they want you to be a part of or something like. All sorts of things but I'm glad that you're putting this kind of like organization behind it. So it's sort of hopefully gets rid of and cancels out a lot of that kind of stuff I think at this point like slack has to know that their tool is no longer just for like working teams like it's A Hulk a big I know that they've been adding different features and stuff to try to make it more of a like a chat room message boards sorta hybrid but. I don't know eventually they're going to have to realize you to add some more like just moderating structure and things like that because you can have moderators enrolls, but it's still not like for example, one slack member can block another slack member right because you're all in the same team together. So the only way to sort of handle it is to completely remove someone altogether. Your verbally say some of them but even then like that's a bit of a Adriko Nghien measure to take when you know if the user could just block this person that is interacting with them that could be great. But that's a a slack thing. That's not anything that's endemic of you know that particular where the Black Outer Slack community that's just the tool itself. And I think it's been great to because. So many people are passionate about this community that I mean to be honest the slack community kind of runs itself to especially with the Black Caucus Channel I. Think I made sure to make it clear that this is a community we should treat it as such authors no-one trying to be trying to lead this sense where it's like if you wearing told what to do so it's really kind of beautifully autonomous because people are working to actually keep it safe whether they aren't official volunteer are not and they are either messaging or the team. Oh or seeing there someone being really suspicious or trying to stir up some trouble Dave report reported in their own channel and say, Hey, this is not the place for this either you get out or we will all kick you out. So it's so crazy in amazing to see how people are just so passionate about this community that they are willing to that. I keep their time and energy to keep it as such lending. We're just all excited that we can speak connected to each other on not be on these little islands like I said. So it's pretty great. and. I think it would help I. Mean I don't know how often you're kind of popping in there and you know saying, hello, whatever but I think that also helps. So people know that like it's something that you're a part of as well. I guess it's for the community but also like I'm here, I'm here benevolent overlook well, maybe not like that. Puppy and say hello. Gets people you know some of what Cheryl said you've you have this this big microphone, and now you have this large group of people with slack community that that's power. have. You thought about it that way? I thought about it in a way where like I feel powerful but not innocence words like myself in were there. So many of us and. There's kind of this attention on us where we can. Kind of like demand anything right now and call out so many people together and it will get so much attention. But that's that's how I feel powerful in the sense that there's so many people that are contributing like this community is making me feel powerful as a black. Designer not as the person that put this together. That makes sense. So, now that it's been, you know a month out from the event. You've had some time to kind of process, not just the logistics leading up to it, but even things that have happened afterwards like. Where are you at now with everything like I know you mentioned there was some next steps that you're planning on taking. You mentioned the end of the event. Yeah. So we're are actually trying to con a nonprofit because. So me companies and people are so passionate about donating, and we kind of want to continue on this momentum and really push the agenda diversity end and just representation forward. So we have newsletters are coming out. We have some amazing things are actually coming having to do with a lot of black designers putting out their work, not gonNA spoil it but it's GonNa. Be Pretty Great. We are Kinda planning eight fall series of just talks that are very useful to. Black signers and potentially allies but right now, our main priority, our lack designers. So so just bouncing around like having conversations about you know simple things like how to negotiate your salary because I feel like. We're not top things like that in slowing. This is in an opportunity to talk about things I can really empower young black designers to understand that they bring something amazing to the table. So we're kind of censoring that that empowerment in our fall series. And a lot of companies want to collaborate but again, sought full balking before running really trying to set up the good. Foundation all structure while also implying in highlighting other amazing initiative. So on Instagram we're always looking to highlight amazing people. We are trying to use a little money to donate to our community by hiring lack creatives to do some work for our website because again, this is communal were doing the wool companies considered a job in its database just specifically for black signers. So there's so much that we that we want to do but we're. Taking it step by step and just Kinda using just the resources that we have now. So that's basically hosting talks that's not gonna be as big as the conference and just kind of putting out challenges everything that the community can get involved in I'm curious to know you know this is really a blown up for you very quickly in a very short amount of time has this any sort of way affected your work with HP? Yes a little bit because after the conference. I'd probably say my second line manager was saying, okay. How can we do better? So that's what's changed in the sense, but it's not like a huge change around some type of celebrity or something especially because I don't really like that kind of attention and I just want to be taken seriously as a designer spill up a solid reputation like I've been trying to use since graduated. So it's good that they're not giving me special treatment because I don't want it. But outside of HP nothing honesty has really changed and I rather just keep it that way in since I, definitely do want it to get into the wave of opportunities but I don't want special treatment in a way where her are not working hard for something because I like working hard I think that when I'm working and learning a lot of things I don't WanNa stop learning if the all make sense. The make sense I. Get what you're saying. I'll just give you one tiny piece of advice. Don't sign anything with your current employer as it relates to this you've managed to. Build this up in a very short amount of time and I'm just telling you from past experience. Some employers will see that and they want to maybe hitch onto the gravy train just don't sign anything. Don't do it. Just, pass it along talk. So what is it now that is keeping you motivated and inspired these days I mean between work in even in the midst of his pandemic but you got this really positive thing happening with with what happened with the event like what's keeping you going these days honestly I think what's keeping me going is the work that I'm seeing in terms of personal working in design and I think looking at all of these amazing black designers in their style some these people styles just crazy an incredible and it's so different from the whole clean and minimal and Swiss grade, and it's so inspiring. It's giving me a new wave of creativity to just go wild and let. My funky Nassau and my love for being are funky and groovy in terms of design. So it's honestly just black designers in other designers in creative a collared. That are really just inspired me because they are truly being there often to. Cells in their work and when he put it out there, it's so incredible and I want to get to that point because I think I used to work in a sense where I want to impress people and really prim something to people but not starting to realize only at anything to prove and I think that when I'm warm myself, people enjoy that more in. It also makes more of a statement in the world especially to people that don't want to see a succeed. So that's been keeping me inspired these days. How are you using your skills to help create a more equitable future? Not, even my designed skill center contributing to. A more equitable future I think it's just empathy and sympathy. Because at the end of the day, I, know plenty of other black people know what it's like to be disrespected I think I care about others so much that I don't want anyone to feel that way, which is why I pushed this conference so hard because. I think for me. I don't really care about getting hurt I think it's like seeing other people getting hurt really just rex me a lot. So I think it's my empathy and sympathy that's helping me. To those things by being really open on communicating with people having conversations all the time it's kind of a fulltime job because or it's kind of two fulltime jobs because I have my regular full-time job. But then I'm also always scheduling meetings and making sure that I talk with everyone not messages me I really try to talk with everybody enter everybody's questions and really make them feel I'm paying attention to them because it's true I want to pay attention to them because they are really important and I don't WanNa, make them feel negative in any way on any level so I think it's Empathy and the meet communicating. That's helped contribute all of this in what I'm contributing. Where do you see yourself in the next five years? What kind of work would you like to be doing? I think in the next night ears. At such a loaded question because to be honest I don't even know I'm eat for lunch and I can't believe. I think I would love to be at a very high leadership level and leading young black like myself were even younger than that because I do love children do love education. Because like that is kind of key to solve a lot issues. So I think in five years, I would love to be in some type of leadership or mentor or teaching role. That's kind of what I the only envisioned right now and I try to Kinda take things step by step with the vision of looking at things in the future but not too far. I. Think that's all all I can say for now. All right. Well, just to kind of wrap things up here Mitzi where can our audience find out more about you about your work on line? Yes. So you can head over to my website Michio Cu dot com and you can also go on instagram. Okay underscore mitts and I think that would lead you to mostly everything else in the work that I do. All right sounds good. Well, Mitzi Oku I wanNA thank you so much for coming on the show. I'll be completely honest here when I reached out to you. So many people were like, why are you talking to her? A lot of people were like, why are you talking to her? She stole your presentation why are you talking to her and I said look I want to get a sense of like where she's coming from because this is all transpired. So quickly with this event and you putting all this together and everything happening, I'm like I'm going to give her a chance to really kind of just. Talk about who she is I don't really know anything about her. I don't know what her story is like really where all this came from. So I want to have her on the show to be able to talk about that and talk about the event in a space that is free from the moment him of events, right? Like if we would've talked during the time, this was going on. I feel like that could have been a different conversation, but I was like look let's let's however ask some time away from this. We'll talk we'll get a sense of lake what she's about and where she's coming from and so I feel like it's yielded not just a great conversation but also just a great snapshot into who you are and what your driving your work ethic is and. What is you're trying to accomplish, and so I said before when I was on twitter I was like support the event i. see what they're trying to do in terms of the mission I see where you're coming from with this. Now I support where you're going and I'm excited to see what comes next out of this. So thank you so much for coming on the show I. appreciate it. Thank you so much very giving me the opportunity in the time to come on here I, really appreciate our conversation that we had. It was so fun. Big. Thanks to Mitzi all too, and of course, thanks to you for listening. You can find out more about Mitzi and her work that the links in the show notes at revision path dot com. Provision math is brought to you by lunch a multidisciplinary creative studio in Atlanta Georgia. Are you looking for some creative consulting for your next project. then. Let's do lunch. visit us today at it's lunch dot com up linked to it in the show notes. This podcast created hosted and produced by me Maris Cherry with engineering and editing by RJ Silio. Are Voiceover is by music man dray with Notre Music Yellow Speaker. So, what did you think of this episode? Hit US up on twitter or on instagram or even better by leaving us a rating and review on Apple podcasts I'll even read your review right here on the show. As always, thank you so much for listening and we'll see you next time.

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