After 5 years as a copywriter and strategist for national clients at a top ad agency in Toronto, I was ready to pivot.
My side projects made me a natural UX writer: I was a journalist, performed improv, and published a book — all of which informed my tone versatility, my sense of ownership, and ability to embrace change and ambiguity.
After a few years of content design work, a Facebook recruiter took notice and asked if I’d consider moving from Toronto to California.
Being an improviser, I instantly said “yes.”
I never planned to be a writer, despite being a voracious reader and quickly outgrowing every novel in my school libraries. Kudos to my Grade 9 English teacher for biting her tongue when I chose Joyce Maynard’s steamy To Die For as book report fodder.
I figured I’d be a programmer. I read Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs and thought it sounded glamorous (hey I was a weird kid, ok?). I was in my high school’s first-ever HTML class and became obsessed with customizing Geocities sites. When I tried to teach myself C, I realized maybe engineering wasn’t for me. But I learned enough about general logic to serve me well all these years later.
I became a comedy nerd way before it was cool, which turned into a useful niche when I went to journalism school. For over 20 years, I balanced this as a side hustle, both as a freelancer (VICE, Vanity Fair) and running my own outlet.
Meanwhile, I was workin’ 9-5, everywhere from broadcasting to a retail chain’s head office to a non-profit cultural center, where I learned an array of now-obsolete skills (if you ever need local tv promos scheduled using DOS-based software, I’m your gal). At the time, I thought I was spinning my wheels. In retrospect, I was gaining invaluable perspective on the wide variety of users I’d eventually serve.
The other professional development was happening after 5pm. Despite paralyzing stage fright, my comedian friends convinced me to get on stage for five minutes. I didn’t suck. I ended up going New York City to study improv and comedy writing with Emmy-winners who destroyed my fear and blew my creative brain wide open.
I learned everything about strategy, collaboration, and going head-first into the unknown through improv.
I didn’t go to ad school or major in design. I did eventually go to clown school. Unfortunately the only thing I can juggle is multiple deadlines (hey-o). But seriously: comedy teaches you how to communicate through empathy, embrace ridiculous ideas, trust your instincts, and listen to what the audience needs (aka “the users”).
Plus: constructing a joke is just as delicate as writing the perfect error message.
I’ve had some adventures. When we talk, ask me about: