A Book Apart

Get to know Rachel McConnell

Apr 14, 2022

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Black and white portrait of author Rachel McConnell against a light background.

Meet Rachel McConnell

Up next in our Meet the Author series, we’re getting to know Rachel McConnell—author of Leading Content Design. She lets us in on how she starts each day, why time might be her most precious resource, and what keeps her up at night.

ABA: What is your favorite thing about your workspace?

Rachel McConnell: I didn’t complete my office space until my book was pretty much finished, so I tended to write from any comfy spot…the sofa, a sunbed, and even my son’s archery practice field at times! Now that it’s complete, I have a lovely, light space. But the best thing about working from anywhere at home is that my cat isn’t usually too far away—and a cat snuggled beside you is always a comfort.

ABA: What’s the first thing you do every morning to start your day on the right foot?

RM: Before the kids get up, I squeeze in half an hour of exercise, which could be a 5k run, some pilates or ballet core, or some yoga, depending on my mood! By the time they get up, I’m drinking my smoothie, and feeling energized and ready to tackle the day.

ABA: In your opinion, what should someone consider before starting out in web design / development?

RM: It’s not enough to be good at your craft. It took me a while to learn what helps us progress in our careers are skills like communication, collaboration and pragmatism, as well as emotional intelligence. Think about how you can hone these skills, as well as how to excel at your discipline. You can work on these skills in any role, so even before you’ve got your dream job, take the time to learn how to operate in an organization and work effectively with others.

ABA: Is there anyone you’re following the work of right now, who you’d recommend others pay attention to?

RM: I’ve always followed Lauren Pope. Not only does she do great content strategy work, but she also intelligently curates the most insightful content for her newsletter. She just launched an audit template which I predict will be so useful for a lot of people.

ABA: What does the tech industry need more of? Less of?

RM: I’d love to see more inclusivity and hear more fresh voices. The field must seem quite intimidating to people new to it, and we need to do more to make it feel like a welcoming space, particularly on Twitter! I’d also love to see design teams solving the really important problems instead of wasting time on the minutiae of UI tweaks. We can get so lost in the details we don’t step back to think about the bigger picture, and that’s often more important.

ABA: In moments of self-doubt, how do you recharge and rally to keep going?

RM: Take a break, and avoid negativity for a while. Putting down your phone helps! I also like to have something on the horizon to maintain my focus, whether that’s a holiday, a milestone like a birthday, or an arbitrary deadline I’ve set for myself. Knowing I’ll get a break, however small, is something worth working towards.

ABA: What is your go-to source of inspiration when you’re trying to get out of a creative rut?

RM: I like to think about similar problems and how they’ve been solved. There are no new ideas as they say, just new ways to execute them. I take inspiration from all over the place—sometimes someone will just say something in a meeting or a talk that sparks an idea, or I’ll browse my bookshelf to see what leaps out at me. There’s so much knowledge all around us.

ABA: Is there a fear or professional challenge that keeps you up at night? What is it?

RM: I’m establishing a new team at Flo, and my biggest challenge is how to help the team work in the way they want to work (going deep into design work) while still providing support across all our product teams. I wish there was a magic formula; if anyone has it…let me know!

ABA: What characteristic do you most admire in other driven/creative people?

RM: Focus. I have so many ideas all the time for things I still want to do or create, but I’m usually juggling so much. I admire people who can stick with one project at a time and refuse to start anything new until it’s done. By nature I’m just a messy multi-tasker!

ABA: What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to do the work you do?

RM: Time! I work full-time and I’m a single parent, so finding extra time in my schedule usually means missing time with my kids or with my partner and his kids, or skipping essential housework chores like cleaning or washing! I often write in the evening or weekends, to the backdrop of video games and sizzling dinner pans. So time, and, maybe a few spoiled dinners!

ABA: Is there a piece of professional or life advice you’ve gotten that has always stuck with you? What is it?

RM: “Do one thing every day that moves you closer to your goal,” is something I live by. However small, I do something almost everyday that contributes to improving my career or life. I believe in continuous improvement.


Learn more about all our authors—check out the rest of our Meet the Author series!

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