On episode six of STANDOUTS, an Only Co. Production, we chatted with Adam Cruz, Design Manager and Product Design Lead (UX) at Intuit. Through our chat with Adam, we learned about his journey through multiple small start-ups, which led him to becoming a leader in the creative strategy realm for a company with over 10,000 employees — as well as how growth within an organization can either make or break its future.
Check out the full episode here, and keep reading for a summary of our chat below:
Adam Cruz’s involvement in the start-up world began with building a new church in Cheyenne, WY with a few other friends. Their focus and theme would be centered around customer empathy and providing services to meet the needs of those coming in and investing their time at their church. After a year or so in their new venture, they started to see growth at an increased rate, creating more opportunities for more thought-out systems and defining what it meant to best serve their community. What made them unique in the eyes of their customers — the congregation — was the representation they felt via their leaders. Adam and his team actively put themselves in the shoes of their customers, constantly asking themselves how they could provide a space where people felt like they belonged.
Undertaking many marketing experiments and simulations, Adam and his team made every effort to check all the boxes that they thought their attendees would need or want in a church. In the process, they learned the importance of ensuring that their growth was always accompanied by authenticity as the driving force behind their endeavors.
Soon after this venture, Adam Cruz joined Adam Metcalf (a previous STANDOUTS guest) to start up Zeemee, a company focused on helping students make their transition from high school to college via a social community-based app. Cruz brought the concept of customer obsession with him to Zeemee, taking the time to do design research and thinking hard about what it looked like to understand their customers. Some of this research looked like taking designs into high schools and getting first-hand feedback from students, as well as holding brainstorming sessions with users. His goal was to stay as close as possible to their customers, listen to them, and ask questions. This research and intention ultimately helped them build an app that would soon be used by thousands of pre-college students around the United States.
Fast forward a few years and Cruz found himself at yet another start-up called TSheets. Today, the company has been acquired by Intuit. Adam has maintained his expertise and leadership throughout the process by bringing design-forward thinking to his team.
From Adam’s perspective, what differentiates Intuit today is their branded version of design thinking. Their team is constantly disrupting themselves, learning constantly, and beginning and ending with one thing on their mind: their customers.
Adam’s extensive experience with start-ups has made him an expert on growth. He states, “Growth is really good if you’re ready for it, but growth is really dangerous if you’re not.” How we manage growth as leaders is pivotal in how we scale our organizations for success. Quite frankly, most things don’t work out that you build; however, Adam has been lucky enough to be a part of multiple companies that have seen tremendous growth. And after learning more about his journey, we can say it’s no mere coincidence.
If you’ve read this far and had either of these two thoughts:
PLEASE REACH OUT! We look forward to connecting with you.
During our chat with Rob, we talked about how his path in economics during college ultimately led him to becoming CEO of a finance company.