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Folder Newsletter by Dennis Cortés - Issue #1

Dennis Cortés
Dennis Cortés
I’m a full-stack designer who makes music and videos. I’m currently the Head of Design at Northstar.
Outside of work, I’m a big fan of coffee, video games, tech, interior design, and learning new things. You can find me on Patreon for exclusive content and see more from me on my personal website.

Life has been busy lately. I just hired 3 designers to join me at Northstar, I’m trying to live in year 2 (3?) of a pandemic, I was diagnosed with ADHD, I put out my first studio album Sonder, I dyed my hair blonde, I’m dealing with some health and family issues, and just trying to still make time for myself.
As a result, you may have noticed I haven’t been posting as much as usual. I appreciate your patience with me as I get ahold of these new life changes and maintain a work-life balance for myself.
Why I’m Bringing This Back
I’ve been thinking about what is a more manageable medium for me to post without putting pressure on myself to put out a YouTube video or finish a whole album to give me a reason to post. I think writing will be a fit for me right now. Reply with topics you want me to touch on!
My chronic pain, specifically wrist, forearm, back, and joint pain make it almost impossible to edit videos or work on side projects lately. I have 4 videos recorded, but I just don’t have the energy and strength to edit and put in the effort I typically do for my videos.
Some days are better than others, as with most chronic pain, but I’ve learned that my health comes before anything else. Writing is much easier for me since I don’t have to use a mouse much for it. I’ve also been learning so much in design and leadership, that I want a better medium to share these learnings.
I miss writing the way I used to (I used to write weekly articles for 2+ years). So, I am going to attempt to write and share more in 2022. I am keeping myself accountable by sharing this, and time-boxing my writing to just 1 hour to make these posts.
Posts will typically have a main topic, what I’m working on, what I’m consuming, what I’m learning, and Cool Stuff™. I’ve felt inspired by others and their writing and want to give a newsletter a try for myself. You can also receive extras on my Patreon here.
No promises, but I will try my best to start writing as a means to share more and am aiming for 1-2 times a month. Let’s give it a try this week with updates from the past few months, always open to feedback on the format of these!
What I'm Working On
👥 I Hired 3 Designers - Learning how to manage and build team culture at Northstar now that I have 3 designers on my team. Delegating is harder than I expected it to be! I’ll be writing about some of my learnings in this newsletter, reply with topics you want me to touch on!
🏋️ Figma Coaching 1on1 - A way for anyone to learn Figma 1on1 with me by the hour, inspired by Joey Banks. You’ll be able to book time to learn basics, design systems, component building, and more.
📝 Side Project, UX Sheets - Still slowly but surely working on my UX Sheets project, with templates to hold research studies with easily and quickly. Design work is tough for me to do these days with my wrists and full-time work, but I’ll get this shipped someday. I’m trying to be patient with myself and show grace here.
💡 Sprucing up my Dining Room - Dallas and I got our new Article dining table in after a 3-month delay and our dining chairs sitting in our dining room. I posted some photos of how we set it up so far on my Instagram, with more plans to decorate the room soon.
💻 That New New Website - I pushed some updates to my website including new work, updated pages, and new music last month. See the updates here.
📹 Updating my YouTube channel - I haven’t been working on YouTube videos much lately as I said, but my channel has been doing well from the Building Powerful Components video I put out last September. My channel passed 6k subscribers recently and this specific video is at 17k views. For transparency and the sake of sharing, the videos on my channel currently make between $150-170/mo of passive income.
How to Design Powerful Components and Buttons with Variants and Auto Layout in Figma (2021)
How to Design Powerful Components and Buttons with Variants and Auto Layout in Figma (2021)
What I'm Consuming
📺 The 9 Seasons of Naruto - I finally finished all of Naruto and have started Naruto Shippuden, it’s already so much better than the original series (that last filler in the last half wasn’t great) and I’m excited to see where it goes.
📱 Too Much Social Media - I’ve been on social media way too much lately, feels like any spare second I have I am reaching for my phone. Hoping I can get better at this habit and am slowly working on it. Putting my phone in another room has been helpful! What have you found that helps?
🎧 Design Podcasts - I’ve been catching up on the Design Details podcast, my favorite podcast that I stopped listening to a few months ago. Highly recommend it for all levels of designers so you know you’re not alone in your thoughts. Hosts Marshal and Brian are genuine, transparent hosts that bring a ton of character and laughter to their show.
🦈 The New Pokémon Game Overdelivers - I’ve been playing Pokémon: Legends Arceus non-stop recently, I was nervous about how the new format for the game would play it but I must say that Nintendo crushed it. It’s so much fun and different from past games while keeping the same core character. Trying to finish this game before the new Horizon game comes out in a few weeks.
What I'm Learning
📘 Refreshers on Becoming a Manager - I’ve been reading The Making of a Manager again, highly recommend if you are in or are wanting to be in a leadership role.
🍎 How the iPhone Keyboard and Safari Were Made - I’ve been reading Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs. I really enjoy this book as it’s a mix of a story and a learning process book, highly recommend reading this book to get a look into Apple’s early design process.
Design-Specific Leadership - I just started Design LeadershipHow Top Design Leaders Build and Grow Successful Organizations, a recommendation from my friend Soren Iverson. Only a chapter in and I’m hooked. I love getting direct design leadership and culture pointers, as most of the leadership resources out there aren’t for design leaders specifically.
🧠 A Journey Called Therapy - Mental health and being kind to my body have been top of mind for me recently. If you didn’t know, I’ve been diagnosed with OCD since I was a teenager. As I mentioned in the intro, I was recently diagnosed with ADHD as well (which makes so much sense), so learning how to cope with both has been top of mind for me. Therapy has been a learning journey for me, and I recommend everyone invest in it.
Cool Stuff
Links and things I saved or found interesting recently
A UX designer walks into a Tesla Bar – Scott Jenson
You can be directive without being a jerk | Lara Hogan
Object-Oriented UX – A List Apart
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Dennis Cortés
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Dennis Cortés
Dennis Cortés @shyboytm

I share thoughts on leadership, design, and stuff I learn in work and life. I also share things I find that I find interesting and projects I am working on!

Designer, Musician, Content Creator, Software Tinkerer. I am currently the Head of Design at Northstar and make music as Cordio.

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