Strategy Retainer

Get 24-7 Access to Me for Design and Product Strategy Advice On Demand

Right arrow painted on blue brick wall

Designing useful, usable, beautiful data products customers find indispensable is challenging. Learning things the hard way can be extremely costly.  Your ML, data science, analytics, or engineering efforts need to show results, and if there are humans in the loop, then how you design the last mile experience can have a huge impact on your ability to produce value. You don't want to produce a technically correct, but effectively wrong solution that produces little to no value, and that's where my retainer engagements come in.

A retainer with me is intended to give you access —when you need it—to my 24+ years of design and business experience so that your data products, enterprise applications, visualizations, and machine learning models are human-centered and capable of producing the user engagement and business outcomes you seek.

How It Works

Our agreement entitles the primary project contact to unlimited 24/7 access to me via phone, email, and a private Slack channel. I return all messages no later than the next business day, although in practice response time is much quicker (particularly between 10am to 6pm ET, but also nights and weekends).

Meetings are scheduled in advance, typically take place via Zoom, and are sometimes supplemented with online meeting and/or screen sharing software (e.g. GoToMeeting, Skype,

There are 8 possible areas of involvement:

  1. Kickoff Meeting to discuss your long-term goals, current initiatives,  and the organizational or market challenges you're facing
  2. Viz/UI/UX/Product Design/Presentation Reviews: aka creative direction. I will provide fast answers to your UI/UX/product design questions, product strategy, usability issues, or ML model development as it relates to end-user experience, and visualizations.  Note: this retainer does not include design work (i.e. me creating any type of design assets, mockups, prototypes, etc), however I can advise you on how to efficiently integrate a human-centered design practice into your process and workflow.
  3. ML Model Critiques: concerned about ethics, second-order consequences, optimizing your reward function, user engagement, model interpretability, or other human factors relating to your AI initiatives? I can help advise you on the non-technical and operational considerations you need to consider to ensure your technology produces the desired outcomes.
  4. Hiring Advice: I can advise you on hiring UX/UI/product designers, usability specialists, product managers, and front-end developers, as well as provide input on the critical people skills you may want to look for in your analytics and data scientists.
  5. Product Strategy: particularly relevant to digital natives and software/tech companies, I can review your product backlog or roadmaps, pitch decks, or strategy documents from the lens of a customer/user and provide advice on the UX or design considerations you should have in mind.
  6. Managing Stakeholders and Cross-Department Relationships: design is a team sport. Are internal politics or people in the way of your initiative? We can discuss how centering around the customer/user can help you navigate tricky situations and build relationships.
  7. Periodic Market Insights: when I come across content, events, or people in my network I think you should know about, I'll be sharing that with you so you have another set of eyes on what's happening in the data product space.
  8. Situational Responsiveness to needs that arise that you deem require my assistance not covered elsewhere.

My fee is $15k (USD) per month, payable via credit card, wire, ACH transfer, or US check. Professional courtesy discounts are available for quarterly and annual arrangements. Participation is extremely limited. You can elect to be added to the waiting list if spots are not available.

Interested? Contact me:

In your email, let me know:

  • Who (role) of the primary project contact for the retainer
  • The date you're looking to start the retainer
  • (3) dates/times your available to discuss the engagement

I'll then reply with next steps. Ready now? Contact me:

I can’t recommend Brian enough…

When Brian came on board, he helped us significantly accelerate our design efforts and meet our major enterprise clients’ expectations and deadlines. We have gotten a lot of mileage out of his work, and we've received good responses from our customers. I can’t recommend him enough.

Alex BeletskyAlex Beletsky
COO and Co-Founder

So much higher than what most designers can provide…

When you’re bringing on a consultant, there is always a level of uncertainty about results, and there’s nothing worse than ending up with solutions that aren’t feasible, workable, or usable at the end of the process. While Brian’s processes differed from what I was used to, and I didn’t always want to get into the level of requirements detail that he felt was necessary, the bottom line is that Brian brings a very high floor in terms of end results. Given how many different responsibilities I am juggling at any given time, it was extremely comforting to know that my goals for the [new Apptopia analytics] product would always be met, and that my bottom line was so high. I’ve recommended Brian to my peers because the worst possible end result they will get from him is so much higher than what most designers can provide at their best.

Jonathan KayJonathan Kay
COO, Apptopia

The new design Brian created will only help reinforce GSG’s brand as being innovative and ahead of the curve…

A big concern when you’re introducing new technology to your staff and clients is making sure they will want to use it. We were concerned about the ease of use and appeal of a new survey data platform we were introducing, but Brian was really able to understand our challenges quickly. His design and recommendations significantly shifted people’s excitement and expectations around it. A big reason why we hired Brian is because he understands data, and the new design he created will only help reinforce GSG’s brand as being innovative and ahead of the curve. My team has been really impressed with Brian's ideas and the simplicity of the designs he created. I definitely recommend him!

Michelle WoodruffMichelle Woodruff
VP of Practice Operations
Global Strategy Group