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Q&A with Justin Jackson

Canadian who likes to make stuff

My name is Justin Jackson. I'm a Canadian who likes to make stuff. I also like to write and podcast.

How did you get started in product design? What is your background?

I've been building things with computers since I was 5. Even though I was introduced to computers at an early age, I've never been especially good at programming or design. But I do have these two skills: I'm good at getting things done, and I have a good sense of what people want.

My first digital product (the people paid for) was CRM software built on Microsoft Access. I put it on CD-ROMs and sold it at tradeshows for $20 per CD.

Then my wife and I had kids and didn't release any products for a long time. Then, in my 30s, I started making really small products again. It's been fun.

What are you working on now?

I'm going to finally finish my Marketing for Developers book. I needed to put it on the shelf for awhile so that I could really focus on my kids. They're all in school full-time now, so I've been able to dedicate more time to it.

I'm building a web app with my buddy Marty called Network Effects, and a WordPress plugin (with my buddy Carl) called ProductPress.

What tools and software do you use for your work?

Oh man. So many. Most of my books have been written in Draft and then published using iBooks Author. For the book I'm working on now I'm trying PressBooks. My favorite image editor is still Fireworks (I've been using FW ever since they were with Macromedia). I was super bummed when Adobe discontinued it. I have Sketch on my computer, but just can't get into it.

For writing code I've been using Atom, but to be honest, I still love the Dreamweaver text editor (again, old habits die hard).

I couldn't live without TextExpander. It saves so much time.

For project management I use Sprintly. I've been really getting into Kanban, and I think Sprintly does it right.

What is your ideal work environment?

I used to really like getting up early and getting into my private office in downtown Vernon, BC. Recently I started a coworking place with some friends. There's some stuff I miss from having my own office, but it's nice having a "buzz" around me while I work.

In our coworking office we have an old bank vault that we've set-up as a recording room. Sometimes I like to go in and just lock myself in there and try to get as much stuff done as I can.

Where are your favorite places for sharing experiences?

Not sure if I understand this question. I like sharing my journey on my blog and my podcast. I also use Instagram probably every day.

I run an online community called Product People Club where we check in and try to share our progress every day. That's been super helpful. Community is a powerful motivator.

Who are the creatives you admire most?

I admire great writers and storytellers with a point of view: Derek Sivers, Jason Fried, Patrick McKenzie, DHH.