Smashing Spotlight: Kathlyne Taylor, Strategist

Ever wonder what makes Smashing Ideas so smashing? Our people! We sat down with Kathlyne Taylor, Strategist, to talk shop, how her background in psychology, marketing, and UX is highly applicable to her role in digital strategy, what her mantra is for staying über calm under pressure, and how her love of camping could soon take an Austrian turn.


You have an interesting background, from psychology and marketing to UX. What led to your transition into digital strategy and what carry-over skills have been the most beneficial?

My passion for psychology, specifically striving to understand what makes people tick, is a core skill that has carried over from my background in psychology at NYU to marketing and on into strategy. As a strategist, I extract customer insights from research and use that data to inform our decisions. Thanks to my background in psychology, I am vigilant of potential biases that could skew the data, which ensures that I produce accurate analysis on the users that I am interviewing.


A significant portion of Smashing’s strategy approach involves future proofing products and services. What’s one tactic that you find particularly useful in helping clients/internal teams plan for an unknown future?

It is always tricky trying to predict the future. One approach I’ve used to help future proof our concepts is by doing desk research on emerging technologies and market trends so we are aware of what is coming down the pipeline.


Say you came into work and had 2,549 unread emails and you could only answer 197 of them. How would you choose which ones to answer?

I would sort my emails by priority and choose to answer the most recent emails received with the highest priority.


You’re known to be super cool under pressure, despite tight deadlines or tough questions from clients. What’s your secret?

I have the mindset of that while you can’t control what happens to you, you can control how you react in situations.


Camping is your game. If you could camp anywhere in the world – time and money restrictions removed – where would it be and why?

Hohe Tauern National Park in Austria, because it looks so beautiful.


Rumor has it that you speak four languages. How did that come to be and how often do you get to exercise those diverse language skills?

In college I discovered my passion for traveling the world and immersing myself into different cultures. As part of this, I loved learning and practicing new languages. In high school I learned Spanish, in college I minored in Italian and took free French classes on the side. Please note, I am nowhere near fluent in any of these languages (except English of course!).


You’ve worked with some of Smashing’s largest (and most confidential) clients, many of which are rooted in very traditional waterfall ways of working. How do you go about helping big companies embrace change and new ideas?

By challenging assumptions, giving them good reason to embrace the change, and bringing them along for the ride so they have an opportunity to have their voices heard. The design thinking methodology has been a great tool that we have used to help tackle that challenge.


What is your favorite workshop warm-up activity that is guaranteed to garner some laughs and get people outside of their comfort zone?

The “yes and” and “yes but” exercise is one of my favorites because it shows participants how language and being open to new ideas can significantly affect the outcome of the problem you’re trying to solve.


And last but not least, favorite thing to cook in your Instant Pot?

I’m obsessed with Xiao Long Bao dumplings! I buy them frozen at Seattle Super Market and steam them in my instant pot. They come out delicious!

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