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Andrey Gargul, lead product designer at Shopify

Andrey Gargul, lead product designer at Shopify

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Who are you:

I’m a lead product designer at Shopify, an e-commerce platform that makes it easy to sell online, in-store, on social media, or out of the trunk of your car.

 Your current job:

I started my career as a graphic designer, and I always loved how widely-applicable design methods are. Things that I learned by making logos and brochures for clients stayed true when I moved to digital and later to product design work. Recently, I got a new challenge. I’m learning how to apply my design skills to help our design team make better decisions and be more productive. That’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I believe that my good old set of design tools—framing problems, focusing on the right things and removing unnecessary elements—will help me with this.

In which city are you located?

Toronto, Canada

A word to define what kind of worker you are:

Neurotic, constantly questioning any decisions kind of worker

What tools are essential to your life (app, software, etc..)

Email, Dropbox, Google Calendar, Dropbox Paper, Balsamiq Mockups… ok, let’s add Slack to this list.

What does your office space look like?

It’s pretty sick! Our office has everything I need for my work and tons of things I don’t. I even have a standing desk, but I spend most of my time on a couch and use it only to charge my laptop.

What kind of music do you listen when you are working?

Don’t let me embarrass myself.

Do you have a way to organize your day to maximize your work?

Unfortunately, to get shit done and feel productive, I need to start my day early. The idea of going to the office while it’s still dark outside (have you heard of long Canadian winters?), makes my life miserable. So I cheat! I start my mornings in a local coffee shop and spend an hour or so planning my day, catching up with news or reading design blogs.

What tips would you give to improve productivity?

I think people are most productive when they are inspired. Then they just don’t have time for social media crap and other distractions. A common mistake is to see inspiration as some kind of luck that unpredictably comes and goes.

  1. Learn what inspires you. It might be setting clear goals, looking at cool designs or something else.
  2. Get inspired.
  3. Do the job.

You’re better than your colleagues to:

Playing Russian scrabble. I’m a champ and they just don’t speak Russian.

What is the best advice anyone has given you?

There were so many of them! People like myself who don’t have a formal education are usually called ‘self-taught’. That’s not quite true; I wouldn’t know anything I know without many people, whom I worked with, who were kind enough to teach me.

The most recent advice was—have strong opinions, but hold them weakly. That way you are not getting attached and if there are evidence that clashes with your opinion, you are more likely to “see” or “hear” them.

What is your best tip for saving time?

Are you working on the most impactful thing? If not, stop what you’re doing, and focus on that.

What is your routine start and end of the day?

I described my start of the day earlier. As for the end of the day, I’m a Netflix addict. On weekdays, I allow myself to watch one episode of whatever before going to bed.

Aside from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not you go without?

Coffee machine