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Karen Clark Cole kiteboarding in Mexico, her favorite place to practice her sport. (Photo courtesy of Karen Clark Cole)

If it wasn’t enough to be a co-founder of what could be the longest running UX shop in the U.S.,Karen Clark Colewould also like to be a professional kiteboarder, racing over the waves at 25 miles per hour while grasping a kite with an area equivalent to three queen-sized mattresses.

The two might sound unrelated, but for Cole, who is CEO of the Seattle-based UX companyBlink, kiteboarding plays a big role in her success on the job. In kiteboarding, one launches their kite — and themselves — into winds blowing 20 knots. That moment of release, said Cole, is terrifying.

“I’m scared every time and I’ve been doing it for 10 years,” she said.

这项运动需要巨大的焦点,是一个完美的方式来放松工作,同时也将她推出她的舒适区 - 一种健康的风险行为 - 拍摄的风险行为,这感觉很像是她作为企业首席执行官所需要的。它帮助她学会认识到良好的恐惧 - 进入陌生的恐惧 - 从不良恐惧中出现,当某些东西真正出现问题并需要纠正措施时。


“I said, ‘That’s it, that’s what I’m doing. I’m putting my art into interactivity,’” she said. Cole took an intensive, year-long course in IT and began working in what was then called information architecture. She moved to Seattle, worked briefly at a web development company and then convinced a colleague to start a company with her that focused on UX.

Karen Clark Cole,CEO和眨眼创始人。(眨眼图片)

In 2000, Blink was born.

The company grew slowly for years before ramping up. A couple of years ago big corporations began knocking on the door, interested in buying Blink. Instead, Cole and co-founder Kelly Franznick launched a strategy to themselves acquire smaller companies, aiming to become the biggest UX business around.

The plan required money they didn’t readily have on hand, which led them to partner with an investment firm and grow their own employee count while researching companies to acquire. That’s when the ability to tell good fear from bad fear became crucial: the deal with the investors felt wrong and both parties walked away.


有一个失败的交易结果,科尔说。Thanks to the experience and their investments in infrastructure, the company was able to quickly change gears when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted work and it gave her confidence for weathering the economic downturn.

“We are tough and strong and been through tough times before,” she said. “None of this is going to hurt us.”


“I get goosebumps thinking about it. It’s been the most powerful two weeks in the history of company,” Cole said. The business is not as racially and ethnically diverse as they would like to be, and Cole has focused on listening empathetically to employees who do belong to underrepresented groups. She has talked openly with her company about racial injustice.

Talking about those issues, “that was probably the hardest leadership moment of my career,” Cole said. “I am not qualified to do that, and yet I need to. It was an intense learning curve and a lot of listening.”

As a company, Blink is committing to making diversity in hiring a top priority, while also making sure their work is inclusive and represents diversity.

Blink’s current projects include a 7-year partnership with NASA to redesign NASA.gov, unifying 3,000 sites into a modern web experience that will allow them to share data internally and with the public. It spans everything from satellite data to information for kids to content on space missions. Another project is with a virtual reality company, designing the equipment worn for VR experiences.

Outside of work, Cole is the founder ofGirls Can Do,一个非营利性,举办类似于“女孩的谈话”,特别是来万博世界杯官网自种族多样化和低收入家庭的女孩。该组织在西雅图中的三场比赛,其中一个在华盛顿,D.C.包括一个万博世界杯官网welcome address by video来自前第一夫人米歇尔奥巴马。由于缺乏资金,努力已经放缓,但科尔希望再次升起。重点是分享关于砂砾和克服逆境的故事。狗万平台


Current location:巴拉德,西雅图的邻里

Computer types:金ipad空气,黄金macbook air

Mobile devices:Gold iPhone 8 Plus

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools:OneNote,1password,Excel,Keynote,Photoshop,iMovie

The glass walls in Karen Clark Cole’s office helps her feel connected to colleagues even when sequestered in back-to-back meetings. (Blink Photo)


My desk area is very small at the back of the office. I have two comfy chairs for one-on-one meetings and a round table with short, velvet stools for meetings. Glass walls let people know I’m in the office (we have five locations), and help me not feel out of touch if I’m in meetings all day. My office is strategically placed across from the main client boardroom, which is also glass, so I can jump out and say hi and thank them for their business anytime they are in.

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life?我总是说我们都有一生,需要平衡。我在这件事上工作很努力。家庭,睡眠,运动,工作,然后健康的饮食 - 按此顺序。我知道我的优先事项,允许我在此刻展现出色,并专注于每个人。即使我走过狗,我也聊着她,并确保我和她一起看到世界,而不是做别的事情。充分存在,一切都是为了丰富的体验。它让我成为一个更好的倾听者;我了解更多,因此我总是得到新的想法。它还展示了我与之互动的人,他们很重要,我尊重他们。

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work?LinkedIn is the only social network I’m active on. I post articles and updates, and as often as I get time I read what’s there. I use Twitter sporadically, email and Slack daily, and that’s it.

Karen Clark Cole and her daughter hit the slopes. (Photo courtesy of Karen Clark Cole)

您的收件箱中未答复的电子邮件数量吗?About 140. I have three inboxes, one for anyone on the Blink domain, one for all other mail, and then one for flagged mail. The flagged mail are ones I’ve seen but not read. The rest gets deleted. I have someone helping me sort through this and getting rid of the junk a few times a day.

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week?每周平均30。我在星期二和星期四没有会议,大多数时间都没有会议,所以其他三天都被包装。

你如何运行会议?Fully present, no phones or multitasking, only computers open for presenting and occasionally notes, but most people use paper or iPad. Any time it’s a conversation it’s no machines, and I always get up from my desk and sit beside the person to give them my full attention if they come into my office.

I ask people if they have things they need to multitask to pick one and focus on it, and do a great job. I am actually happy if someone leaves a meeting, because it shows they know their priorities, and take their work seriously, which is important.

每天工作制服?Professional. Suit pants or skirt and shirt, full suit if a client meeting and some company meetings. Colorful, fantastic shoes are important as is nail polish!

How do you make time for family?我的女儿是我最优先的。将晚上和周末与她的焦点改变,并清除了工作的思想,给了我一个急需的休息。结果,第二天我明确的头脑和低压力。如果我整夜工作,我就会炒,我很容易做到。

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug?Daily morning running, which I consider active meditation, listening to my breathing and the birds, no music. The physical side of running is also critical for me to keep my stress down. At the end of the day, the transition between work and home life involves one stiff drink. Tequila or bourbon depending how the day went.

During the COVID closures, Cole invited neighbors to decorate river rocks using paint and materials that she supplied, and place them under a tree in her Seattle home’s front yard. (Photo courtesy of Karen Clark Cole)

What are you listening to?我11岁的孩子经营着播放列表,所以有很多麦莉赛勒斯和凯莉克拉克森。我偶尔露天湖潜水,晚餐音乐是Bocelli或Diana Krall。

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters?GeekWire daily, Quartz daily, Twitter for quick-hit news.

在您的床头柜(或电子阅读器)上预订?“Apollo 13”由宇航员Jim Lovell and journalist Jeffrey Kluger,“弯曲,不打破”通过ping fu,和“露西午餐”by Sherry Stewart Deutschmann.

夜猫子或早期提升者?I am a night owl, left to my own devices. But I force myself to get up early, and then I’m so tired I get to bed early. 6 a.m.-10 p.m. is my typically weekday. On the weekends I love to sleep in.

Where do you get your best ideas?The time between waking up and getting up is most prolific for me. The shower, of course, and other unstructured times like when I’m gardening or driving.

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate?Bill Gates. I wish I could read as fast, as much and retain like him.



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