The teacher who never stopped learning – Kelsey Ruger (SPA alum)

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Episode #20: Kelsey Ruger

With us today is Kelsey Ruger, a UX consultant based out of Houston, Texas. Kelsey is a professor, a designer, a developer, and pretty much a jack of all trades. We met and got to know Kelsey because he’s also a member of The Side Project Accelerator. Kelsey has worked on web and mobile projects for Fortune 100 startups and agencies and was also named one of Houston’s 40 under 40 in 2012 by the Houston Business Journal.

Kelsey’s mission is to help people use their creativity to make better things happen in the world. He loves learning and consumes a lot of books, articles, and podcasts. In this episode, he reveals his tips for how he reads about 50 books a year. He also produces tons of his own content. Before he joined the Side Project Accelerator he had already published more than 100 articles. He shares with us his method for coming up with ideas and how to build a dedicated audience using the concept of “1,000” true fans.

This is the eighth episode of the second season of the Hacking UI podcast, ‘Scaling a Side Project’. In this season we interview designers, developers, and creative entrepreneurs who built and scaled successful side projects  that we admire.

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This episode is brought to you by Top Level Design.

Top Level Design now offers the new .design domain names. Just like and, you can now buy your own .design domain. Whether it’s for your creative portfolio or a side project, nothing beats having a custom-made .design web address that builds a positive first impression and improves recognition of your personal and professional brand.

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The Side Project Accelerator

The program works in batches, with only 3 batches per year. Registration for the next batch of the Side Project Accelerator is now open until November 10th, and there are only 50 seats available. Apply now to reserve your spot.

Apply now for batch #2 →

Key points from this episode:

  • Learn how Kelsey uses his broad background as incredible experience to be a key problem solver in his industry.
  • What is a BarCamp? Find out how these “unconferences” first introduce Kelsey to the startup scene in Houston.
  • Get a glimpse into a day in the life of Kelsey Ruger, and find out how he juggles his time between all his many endeavors.
  • What sparked Kelsey’s decision to completely rebrand his personal blog? Learn the importance of writing “evergreen” articles for a long-term blogging strategy.
  • Kelsey believes in pinpointing tasks that can be outsourced versus which to do yourself. Understand how he uses these critical distinctions to manage his time.
  • For entrepreneurs, one of the main struggles is distinguishing between working in the business and working on the business. Find out how this can be a major hindrance in your business growth.
  • How can you ensure that you hire the right people in a startup and mentor them to succeed in helping you grow the company? Find out why top notch employees are key to scaling your business.
  • What does it mean to make yourself “obsolete” in your company, and why is this important for your business to grow? Kelsey walks through the dangers of limiting growth with your own constraints.
  • Find out why a high salary job does not necessarily translate into freedom. Kelsey explains his views on pursuing career freedom.
  • How does Kelsey use small wins to get to his bigger goals? Understand why he values being on a schedule that he can stick to consistently and how this has helped him produce more content.
  • What is the concept of “1,000 true fans”? Learn how Kelsey applies this to his blog and newsletter and why it is his key to building a sustainable side project.
  • Kelsey used a unique method for building his email subscriber list. Find out why his approach was different, and how he applied the principle of “start with what you know, and who you know”.
  • Understand the concept of “audience driven product development” and how Kelsey implements this strategy in creating his newsletter.
  • “The most home run ideas are the result of 100 bad ideas.” Understand how Kelsey applies this thought to his writing when creating new content.
  • Kelsey reads an incredible number of books each month. Get an inside look into his reading habits, and tips on how to efficiently consume more content.
  • What are Kelsey’s tips for new speakers, and how is this similar to being an effective salesperson? Understand why Kelsey believes that aligning your content with an existing audience is the most efficient method.
  • Get the inside scoop on Kelsey’s method for preparing for a presentation and how a story format can help you most effectively convey your message and engaging the audience.
  • Kelsey discusses the concept of including an emotional appeal, a logical appeal, and a visual component in your speech to create the biggest overall impact.
  • Learn why Kelsey believes his legacy will be greater if he can point to and magnifying others through his teaching and that it is more important for him to give back than to receive.

Links from the show


If you’d like to read the full text of this episode, you can  download the transcript.

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About The Hacking UI Podcast

The Hacking UI podcast is hosted by Sagi Shrieber and David Tintner, a designer and developer who are also both entrepreneurs, bloggers, productivity/time-hacking maniacs, and all around tech geeks.

We started this podcast off with the ‘Scaling a Design Team series’ where we spoke with design leaders from top notch companies like Facebook, Apple, InVision, and Intercom, to discuss team structures, responsibilities, and workflows.

A few months ago we quit our day jobs to work on our former side project, Hacking UI, full time. So we found it fitting that our second season of the podcast should touch on that subject. The second season is called ‘Scaling a Side Project’, and we’ll interview creative entrepreneurs that we admire in order to get them to share their tips, experiences, and secrets to success.

About the author:



Product Designer at ContrastUX

Find hackingu_admin on:

About the author:



Product Designer at ContrastUX

Find hackingu_admin on:

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