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How Far Would You Walk For Answers?


Talking to users is one of the core activities of product teams looking to build beautiful experiences. Without the inquiry process, teams fail to understand the problems that need to be solved. But when we talk to users, are we really listening to them? Are they revealing their biggest problems and challenges?

At 23, Andrew Forsthoefel walked out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder, his copies of Whitman and Rilke, and a sign that read “Walking to Listen.” He had just graduated from Middlebury College and was ready to begin his adult life, but he didn’t know how. So he decided he’d walk. And listen. It would be a cross-country quest for guidance, and everyone he met would be his guide.

We’re excited to have Andrew join our list of world-class speakers for UX Fest 2018!

Andrew Foresthoefel

Walking 4,000 miles “primed [Andrew] for connection with people” and helped him focus on self-reflection and random observation.

“Don’t trust anybody” were the last words of advice someone gave Andrew as he departed on his cross-country journey of discovery. It became a refrain that would be repeated over and over again as he continued to walk. But Andrew was walking to listen, and that required granting trust to everyone he encountered.

If he wasn’t first entrusting them, how could they be expected to return the favor with their human-ness, their stories? Andrew quickly discovered that his granting of trust, having something to offer, led to a mutual feeling of trustworthiness among strangers.

But do we really have to walk across the country to learn how to connect with our users? To develop our listening skills and understand what listening really means?

Walking to Listen book

Join Andrew and hundreds of thoughtful people just like him at UX Fest 2018 and find your boundaries.

Register now

Author Heath Umbach

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