043. John Zeratsky: Designing Time
RemakeApril 07, 2022x
01:19:00181.1 MB

043. John Zeratsky: Designing Time



John Zeratsky is a bestselling author of Sprint and Make Time, and has reached millions with articles in The Wall Street Journal, TIME, Harvard Business Review, Wired, Fast Company, and other outlets.


He's a former Design Partner at GV (Google Ventures), where he developed a Design Sprint methodology alongside former guest of the podcast, Jake Knapp, and where he supported many of GV's most successful investments, including Slack, One Medical, and Blue Bottle Coffee. Before that, John was a design leader for YouTube, Google Ads, and FeedBurner.


Today, John is a Co-Founder and General Partner at Character, a venture fund where he supports technology startups with capital and sprints.



In this conversation we talk about:

  • His childhood, where he learned a strong orientation towards service being a boy scout, and where he learned that he doesn't have to accept the way things are, that he can challenge the status quo.
  • His career as a designer before getting into GV, first working at FeedBurner, then after the acquisition by Google, working at Google Ads, and eventually leading design on the YouTube Channels feature at YouTube.


We also discuss:

  • The particulars of being a designer at Google at the time, where he felt like he had to present hard data and actually learn how to code to even get a seat at the table.
  • His time at GV, where he was brought in as a successful designer at YouTube to help portfolio companies benefit from his design experience alongside the other design partners, which eventually led to the creation and iteration of the Design Sprint.
  • Their process of writing Sprint and Make Time, and how they treated it like any other design process.
  • Character, their new venture fund, and John's idea of starting a fund as a way to create alignment again, between him as a designer and the companies he serves.


This conversation with John is one of a dozen or so weekly conversations we have lined up for you with thinkers, designers, makers, authors, entrepreneurs, impact investors, and more, who are working to change our world for the better. So follow this podcast on your favorite podcast app, or head over to remakepod.org to subscribe.


And now let's jump right in with John Zeratsky.




[4:27] Life During Covid

[9:13] Early Childhood Guiding Forces

[12:35] Alignment and Incentives

[16:19] A Tech Journey

[30:42] On Being a Designer

[36:22] On Being a Designer at a VC

[42:54] Making Investment Decisions

[49:22] The Evolution of the Design Sprint

[56:16] Scaling the Portfolio

[1:00:52] The Creation of Sprint

[1:06:26] The Creation of Make Time

[1:09:49] Building Character

[1:16:22] A Short Sermon