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Author: J.B. Skelton and Molly McMahon

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Welcome to Unserious, a podcast that explores how creative people create and communicate to achieve uncommon results. 

Join hosts J.B. Skelton and Molly McMahon as we try to have some fun with the changes that fall into our laps. Because when we can get some distance from the seriousness, we see problem spaces in new light and opportunities we might not have otherwise. And, lowering the stakes helps us take care of our teams and ourselves.

In the first season, we're exploring how to manage and manifest creative impact amid constant change in conversation with some extraordinary leaders we know and admire.

Tune in and follow Unserious wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow us on Instagram at

7 Episodes
Embracing failure as a force multiplier for growth and creativity is a core belief here at Unserious. So in this our final episode of the season, we journey back to the origins of our podcasting adventure, reflecting on some of our favorite moments and valuable insights we learned along the way. In this episode, Unserious producer Micah Vono joins J.B. and Molly to talk about storytelling and narrative building from his unique angle of human-centered design. We talk about our hopes and dreams for the future and offer a sneak peek at what we're thinking about for next season. Join us as we celebrate new beginnings and let us know what suggestions you have for Unserious! "Being able to take that step back and say ‘this thing that I’m working on is not me’ is table stakes for producing great work.” - Micah Vono0:12 Intro1:24 Learning and Growing Through Podcasting4:36 Great Moments From Season 112:41 Hire, Fire, Boss!15:48 Storytelling for Humans22:24 The Future of Unserious27:43 OutroYou can check out more of Micah's work at and connect on LinkedIn.Mentioned in this episode:- Julie Zhou on loving the problem- Storyteller Sarah Kuck of Present Medium Productions- Dieter Rams' Ten Principles for Good Design Follow Unserious in your podcast app, at, and on Instagram and Threads at
Research shows that joy and high performance are tightly correlated, so it's worth asking: why don't we play more? And how can the power of play help us produce better, more innovative, and more personally satisfying work? In this episode, J.B. and Molly speak with Lauren Cooke, the creative director behind diverse brands like Alamo Drafthouse, Mondo, Snap Kitchen, and Bestow Life Insurance. Her insights reveal the transformative power of joy and play in creating ideas that are just weird enough to connect with. We also dive into the stickiness of using AI to drive creativity and close with thoughts on working with or being introverts in the creative process. Grab some Play-Doh for this one!"You have to consciously decide to carve out time to be silly, to do something weird... Going through some paths that won't work out makes the final product sing." - Lauren Cooke0:13 Intro3:20 Give Me The Weird6:49 Hire, Fire, Boss!12:11 Encouraging Play in the Workplace19:17 Introverts in Structured Brainstorms22:02 On Ambition24:52 AI's Impact on Art and Creativity31:05 Reflections and outroCheck out Lauren's clay animations on Instagram and connect on LinkedIn.Mentioned in this episode: - Lauren's favorite fidget clay (don't forget the eyeballs)Follow Unserious in your podcast app, at, and on Instagram and Threads at
When we think about our best work, the things that come to mind are probably about the work itself, but guest Denise Burchell poses that team member relationships are the real determiners of success. In this episode, J.B. and Molly learn how to design those relationships for maximum impact and innovation as Denise shares valuable insights garnered from years spent leading cross-disciplinary teams. They also explore shifting focus from products to people and how to plan for the relationship dynamic, remote or not. "You can do anything with a distributed team that you can do with an in-person team... you just have to make up a lot of the serendipity with orchestration." - Denise Burchell0:10 - Intro1:22 - Shifting from product first to relationship first7:30 - Aligning with executives13:53 - Hire, Fire, Boss!17:38 - Ways of working and macroeconomics20:48 - Team ideation for the TED conference26:35 - On distributed and in-person teams30:42 - Reflections and outroConnect with Denise on LinkedIn.Mentioned in this podcast:- Create Inclusive Collaboration Experiences During the Design Process training by Molly and Denise on Salesforce TrailheadFollow Unserious in your podcast app, at, and on Instagram and Threads at
Creative processes and frameworks are often presented as neat and linear orders of operation. But looking closer, we'll find a circuitous mess of unexpected twists, turns, and detours that we hope are worth it in the end. In this episode, J.B. and Molly explore with rogue creative director Mary Michael Pringle the crucial roles of joy, play, and vulnerability for fostering creativity in the workplace. She shares her approach to creativity, from drawing on her inner child and using toys, games, and stories to spark fearlessness, to creative briefs and verbal dreaming, to creating emotional connections that truly resonate with audiences. Get ready to unleash your inner child."It is about returning to your younger self. The word 'make believe' is perfect, because you do have to believe in what you're making...  it's about really believing and wanting to try.  You get back to that and you've got yourself your creativity back." - Mary Michael Pringle 0:10 Intro2:25 Play in the workplace5:39 Accelerating creativity and positivity12:55 Hire, Fire, Boss!17:05 The creative brief and brainstorming21:45 Case study: Egypt Air26:43 Friendships at work30:29 Reflections and outroConnect with Mary Michael on LinkedIn. Follow Unserious in your podcast app, at, and on Instagram and Threads at
At the advent of a transformative time in technologic history, skills like empathy, compassion, collaboration, and curiosity are becoming more crucial than ever. In this episode, J.B. and Molly speak with magician-turned-technologist Ryan Modjeski, the driving force behind the top-grossing literacy app, Reading Rainbow's Skybrary, as well as UNICEF KidPower and most recently, Empatico. Ryan shares advice on building empathy and emotional skills at scale and the power those can have in creative problem solving. He also reveals some illusionist secrets that have surprising application to user experience and technology."The culture I try to build is one that is unafraid to try and the only real sin is making the same mistake over and over again." - Ryan Modjeski00:01 Intro01:24 Social-emotional learning and empathy08:43 Hire, Fire, Boss!12:55 Skills for a better tomorrow15:49 Empathy at scale22:11 Embracing diversity on teams23:41 UX tricks from a former magician31:00 Final thoughtsKeep up with Ryan at @rmodjeski on Twitter / X and learn more about Empatico at in this episode:- Dance, Dance, Dance by Haruki Murakami- The Power of Moments by Dan & Chip Heath- The War for Kindness by Jamil ZakiFollow Unserious in your podcast app, at, and on Instagram and Threads at
In this first episode of Unserious, J.B. and Molly speak with design leader and coach Courtney Kaplan about practical ways to manage creativity and personal growth during a particularly difficult time in the workplace. She shares advice from founding design operations at Facebook, highlights how leaders can create safe spaces for their teams and manage stress effectively. Finally, Courtney discusses coaching and the benefits it can bring from navigating fast-paced work environments to working toward larger personal transformations.“The promise of being your best self or transforming that self - people get excited about those promises. But the truth is that true transformation comes from practical ways of being a little bit different over time.” - Courtney Kaplan00:00 - Intro03:02 - What’s keeping creative people up at night?06:30 - Demonstrating value to the business12:24 - Hire, Fire, Boss!15:24 - Creativity through structure25:44 - Navigating stress and finding moments of calm27:56 - Transformational coaching35:58 - Wrap-upFollow Unserious in your podcast app, at, and on Instagram and Threads at
Introducing Unserious

Introducing Unserious


Welcome to Unserious! Get to know hosts J.B. Skelton and Molly McMahon as they kick off a season of exploring how to manage and manifest creative impact in an era of constant disruption. Also, there are fireballs. Follow Unserious in your podcast app, at, and on Instagram and Threads at
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