About Platinum Performance
Platinum Performance is founded on the idea that revolutionary innovation leads to unmatched results. The wellness products they produce have powered the nutrition regimens of several Olympic gold medalists, NFL players, and that of many horses at the top levels of equine competition (including American Pharoah, winner of the American Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2015 — The only horse to win the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing — and Justify, 2018's winner of the Triple Crown.)
Justify won the Triple Crown in 2018. Making him the 13th horse in the history of horse racing to win the Triple Crown. His team team relies on Platinum Performance nutrition to keep him healthy and performing.
Mark Herthel, CEO of Platinum Performance, reached out to me in January of 2018 – letting me know he saw me give a talk, and was looking for UX hiring guidance. I met with him in hopes that I could give him some general advice around hiring a UX designer for his SF office.
Platinum was started after Mark's father, Dr. Doug Herthel, discovered that the nutrition regimen he invented, of healthy fats and other nutrient building blocks that he was giving post-surgery horses could actually not only help increase chances of survival for those patients but could be given preventively to all horses to decrease chances of future disease or injury. Mark, who was a Cal Poly Agriculture Business student at the time, saw the opportunity to bring this nutrition regimen to a wider population of horses, and eventually a regimen based on it to humans. Mark and his father partnered together to start Platinum Performance. Today, Platinum is the number one vet-recommended horse nutrition brand in the United States, and their nutrition is widely used around the globe.
I decided to work with Platinum for two reasons:
- Dr. Doug Herthel's innovative, pioneering and holistic approach appealed to me. He was part of the team that conducted the first successful horse colic surgery, helping to take the odds of survival in cases requiring surgical intervention from zero to above 90% today. He was one of the first practitioners to use stem cell therapy to repair injury. In fact, Dr. Herthel’s work in the field of regenerative medicine is the foundation upon which all other veterinary stem cell programs were built.
- Mark's vision is to go beyond today's one-size-fits-all nutrition formulas to a future where nutrition is personalized based on the patient's medical needs. Platinum regularly works with academic researchers across the U.S., and has now pioneered the world's largest equine biomarker study (a gut biome study), research that will hopefully one day be used to diagnose and predict future disease.
Initially this research will affect only horses, however, much like mice and chimps, the mammalian horse model is used in research to discover the insights that are later applied to humans. As someone who believes the advancement of preventive medicine is more important than the advancement of reactive conventional medicine, I see this pioneering work extremely important.
Summary of My Work at Platinum
I was hired by Mark to help his company hire a lead UX designer, mentor his teams on a UX process and distill his near-term vision into a shareable document that he and his team could use to align the company.
Over the course of my consulting engagement I accomplished the following:
I mentored both Platinum's customer service team and his SF Engineering/Product office on a modern UX process
- I initiated a weekly cadence of design reviews and user research.
- Mentored his team on modern UX brainstorming, design studio, and design review techniques.
- Introduced the user lifecycle model: Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Satisfy, Delight, Revenue, Retention, and Referral.
- Covered UX foundations such as the Kano model (delighters vs. basic expectations).
Introducing the engineering team to silent brainstorming and dot voting
Drafting out a presentation on Lean methodologies and design thinking
I mentored Mark's teams on the experiment-and-learn methods from Eric Ries' and Lean Startup
- Helping them adjust and lower the cost of an expensive experiment they were in the middle of conducting.
- Helping them initiate a monthly cadence of lean experiments using modern lean MVP methods, such as the Wizard of OZ method, among other MVP approaches I mentored them on.
- For each experiment they are using a snapshot template I created to help them track the progress of assumption testing and MVPs/experiments.
Slides from one of the training sessions I gave on Lean and Design Thinking
I helped Mark and his team hire a lead UX designer for the San Francisco office. Platinum Performance is a 20 year old established company that only recently opened a San Francisco engineering office. At the time, they didn't have any UX or product designers on staff. Backed by both my multi-year mentorship from Jared Spool and experience hiring designers at MindBody, I was able to guide them through the process of finding an ideal candidate.
- I started out by rewriting the job description to match their current and future needs.
- I designed an interview process that would properly evaluate experienced senior candidates.
- I led the design side of the interviews collaborating with Christina Forney, head of product.
- We ended up landing an amazing candidate, Allison Bloodworth, to fill the position. She is experienced in the full stack of UX (Interviewing, Research, UX scenarios, Wire-framing, Design Reviews, Prototyping, working with agile dev teams, and measuring results).
- She is an experienced individual contributor, with a passion for this kind of work and she is experienced in leading teams (for future growth) – a rare combination.
- She is an amazing culture fit (owns three horses and has a passion for functional and preventive medicine).
I helped Mark and his team distill Mark's vision into a 3-year vision doc, visionware designs, and most recently, a set of storyboards
- Using the user lifecycle model (Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Satisfy, Delight, Revenue, Retention, Referral) Mark and his team brainstormed dozens of ideas using storyboards.
- Referencing interviews I had with Mark and other documents Mark had previously written, I organized his ideas into a set of visionware designs covering multiple products and multiple users: including nutrition clients, internal customer support, and vets.
- Allison, the newly hired lead UX designer, has begun taking this set of visionware designs and, with the help of additional user research, has started the process of turning this vision into a set of stories and storyboards that platinum will use to align its near-term initiatives.
Leading a brainstorming and storyboarding workshop with Mark, head of product, and customer support and sales team members.
Drafting an overview of Mark's vision.
Initial sketches of visionware designs
- Adoption of a monthly cadence of Lean experiments
- Adoption of a weekly cadence of design reviews and usability testing
- Lead UX designer hired in SF office
- Helped Mark and his team create a clear 3-year vision