"I couldn't stop thinking that a good experience should connect all the quadrants of learning: see, understand, do, and experience," says Lyndze Blosser, about her studies in behavioral science. Read about Lyndze's sometimes winding path toward becoming the User Experience Lead at ADP's New York City innovation lab.
"YES!! Wait — this isn't that hard. I wonder what else I can do?" That was Lyndze Blosser's thought after her first time modifying a few lines of code. "What can I say? I wasn't going to take, 'No, it can't be done' as an answer," Lyndze recalls.
This type of persistence is what motivated Lyndze to join a startup in San Francisco's financial district. It didn't take her long to learn that her engineer partners were not interested in their product interface's aesthetics. That motivated Lyndze to teach herself how to code and how to get it right. Now she leads the NextGen Front-End User Experience of Global Payroll at ADP's innovation lab in New York City.
But this wasn't the original plan.
From a Small Town Girl
Lyndze was born and raised in south Detroit. Her dad maintained a small auto repair shop where he worked on diesel trucks and built race car engines from the bare bones of a cylinder block. "My younger brother and I never knew what vehicle our dad would be driving next," Lyndze said. "One time he picked us up from school in a monster truck – the kind where you have to stand on a five-gallon bucket to reach the door handle."
Lyndze's mom, a science technician at the University of Michigan Kellogg eye center, encouraged Lyndze to learn digital technology because she knew Lyndze particularly enjoyed creating promotional material for her grandparents' florist businesses. Her mom recognized her daughter's creative strengths and enrolled Lyndze into a program for design, where she learned traditional printing press operations, graphic design, macro media, and won a Guttenberg award.
Lyndze received a partial scholarship at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, where she studied interactive technology and automotive/product design.
Above: Lyndze with her grandma Mo performing a science experiment at preschool.
"I grew up covered in grease in my dad's garage, and that garage was in 'Motor City,'" Lyndze said. "So, it made sense that I would probably find myself designing vehicles at one of the 'Big Three' automotive companies. That's why I studied German in high school, you know, just in case I worked for Chrysler."
However, unknown to Lyndze, Michigan's economy would take a dramatic downturn and jobs would be nearly impossible to find. Even though she had a year left of school, Lyndze decided it was best to move out of the state.
"Do I think I made a mistake leaving? Yes, probably. Twenty-year-old me didn't think so. Plus my dad told me, 'There's nothing here for you. You're smart. You should leave.' Plus, I was frustrated with CSS," Lyndze recalls.
So she did what every hip, young, foolish kid did. She moved to San Francisco to work for a startup.
Midnight Flights Going Anywhere
Lyndze transferred her credits to the Academy of Art University, where she earned her Associate of Arts in Computer Arts New Media and Bachelor of Fine Arts. She describes San Francisco in the 2000s as a think tank of a city.
"I loved that no one said no. What could go wrong hanging out with my fellow dropouts with creativity in the air? We were building lots of crazy concepts, such as a digital product called Rent-A-Pup, a dating/dog walking app that matched guys with adorable, fluffy, joyful creatures," Lyndse said. "Silly as it sounds, we received enough money to cover two months' worth of rent."
But with every new trendy startup that received funding, those funds came with a cost. The city that Lyndze fell in love with began to change. Rents were high, and startup pay was sometimes erratic. She made it work by learning to get by on the bare minimum, often less, making a burger last all day by only eating part of it and saving the rest.
"You could always tell us startup kids from the norm, rocking a blazer over a t-shirt and skinny jeans," laughed Lyndze. But the fact was, she was broke and simply tired of the lifestyle's struggles.
"It felt like I failed. I collapsed and couldn't stop crying. I couldn't live the startup life anymore," she recalls. Soon after, Lyndze took a red-eye back to Michigan where she found a position as a front-end developer.
Going back to Michigan was a difficult decision, even though Lyndze was eager to expand her Rails development skillset. She was the fourth person hired, and the only woman who contributed to the code base. The automotive startup sought to consolidate the vehicle purchasing process and to unite the experience within a single application. It was hard work, and there were disagreements between the group.
"I learned to stand my ground and not let other people intimidate me," Lyndze remembers. "Particularly one full-stack engineer who deemed user interface interaction less important."
A year or so passed and Lyndze found herself on yet another flight going anywhere. She needed a change, or as she tells it, "I was bored. So, I went to the desert to find myself." In reality, she was involved with multiple startups, and one of them obtained funding from Arizona State University's entrepreneurial program.
"I worked every single hour in the day and loved every second of it," Lyndze said. During the day, she found employment at an award-winning, well-established creative agency, which was created by two "Madmen."
"I learned a lot from them, especially not to inhale a cigar," laughed Lyndze. She worked with well-known brands such as Red Bull Racing, Honeywell Aerospace and Gore-Tex, and is known for her Arizona Lottery rebrand. But at night she worked with people around the world who worked toward the build of an interactive aerospace simulator.
Lyndze also was elected to the local chapter board of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) of Arizona. There she participated in creative events and acquired valuable business knowledge such as how to work within process rules and to navigate layers of feedback - all valuable skills for improving user experience.
"I love Arizona, and one day I'll move back. I just felt this urge to move to New York, so I did," Lyndze said. The move to Brooklyn was smooth, and she found a job as a user experience designer with an intelligence analytics startup focused on big data predictions. Lyndze worked on the user interface, visualizing big data, product design, and interactive prototyping. The work was a great combination of her design and tech abilities. Still, Lyndze realized that in order to produce a better experience for the user, she needed to understand more about the science of the why.
That quickly changed after Lyndze read Sandy Pentland's book, "Social Physics." "I felt like I had found the missing link between the creative artist and nerd in me," Lyndze recalls.
She continued her studies in behavioral science just for fun. "I couldn't stop thinking that a good experience should connect all the quadrants of learning: see, understand, do, and experience," Lyndze said.
She also became interested in virtual and augmented reality, thinking, "Wouldn't it would be awesome if we could learn and experience things directly, instead of just hearing and reading about them? What if we could take a field trip to an era when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but from the comfort of our homes?"
Coming to ADP
Lyndze had never heard of the place before attending a product meetup at ADP's innovation lab in New York City. She remembers clicking with her future colleges right away.
"They just get it, I remember thinking," Lyndze said. "I started to talk with them about how user experience is not the icing on the cake – it's part of everything. It's the why and how might we make a cake. Everyone there understood, and I had a lot of confidence in the engineering teams. I knew I wanted to work for ADP."
In the summer of 2016, Lyndze started as a senior user experience (UX) designer and has been making a difference for people, both users, and her co-workers, ever since.
Lyndze co-founded an employee resource group with female colleagues. The group has since partnered with a company-wide business resource group, iWin. Lyndze holds the co-president position.
"This group celebrates women in STEM careers and the men who support us," Lyndze said. The group has organized photo shoots for new head shots, discussed personal brand growth, financial health, and even have a book club. One of the titles the group plans to read this winter is, "How to Get Run Over by a Truck" by Katie McKenna.
"We've all said that some days we feel like we've been run over by a truck," Lyndze explained.
Her approach to designing software for users, especially users of human capital management (HCM) solutions, is to understand that HCM means people. "How do we create software that keeps humans human?" Lyndze asks. "We all know that jobs and careers are challenging, but we can't forget that it's people who make a difference. So, we should build things that people love to use, that are trustworthy and helpful."
Don't Stop Believing' In You
Lyndze's advice is to know yourself because people will always challenge you.
"People will say that it can't be done, but remember they don't know you," she said. "They don't know your talents, or how hard you will work to achieve the impossible. Be the example of perseverance. Lead with integrity and push past your comfort zone! You're stronger than you realize," Lyndze concluded.
Lyndze is an avid multisports contender who finished her first Ironman competition in 140.6 in Lake Placid, New York. She is an ambassador of the USA Triathlon Foundation, an organization that focuses on three key areas: young athletes, paratriathletes, and/or Olympic hopefuls. Lyndze also aspires to earn a place on Team USA as an age-group athlete which would qualify her to participate at the ITU World Triathalon Series.
Lyndze recalls an inspiring quote that her grandma Mo liked to share from John Wayne: "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway."
Lyndze adds, "Be persistent and don't be afraid to try new things, to change your approach or even your career. I'm proud of the mistakes I've made. And I love working someplace where we are proud of who we are and what we are building together."
Above: Lyndze Blosser crossing the finish line, just seconds away from becoming an Ironman.