Austin Baum

Digital Director

What do you do?
I solve puzzles. Since I was young I have loved working out brainteasers and math problems. These days the puzzles relate to programming, communication, and business strategy.

What is your inspiration?
Bold leaders, decision-theory science, and behavioral economics. I enjoy learning what makes people choose the things they chose. I like leaders who to stick to what they know is true and right. I love seeing problems solved in elegant and simple ways, with visual design, clever engineering, or leading-edge technology. Real results inspire me. I’m always looking for people and things that make the world a better place.

How do you work?
Lists, reading, and free thinking. 
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande convinced me that simple lists are powerfully effective. I make a list every day, on paper. I write yearly goals in a spreadsheet to guide the overarching trajectory of the year. Our team’s greatest value lies in connecting the dots. We draw on an array of knowledge, experience, and skill to bring to light solutions that others might not see. We connect ideas from unrelated fields to identify fresh opportunities. I spend time working out solutions in my head before ever grabbing a pen or keyboard.

How did you come to Openform?
A few of us began collaborating out of an old warehouse space. We enjoyed each other’s flavor of thinking, worldview, problem solving, and communication. It wasn’t long before we realized we were better when we combined forces.

What are you reading?
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
The Basque History of the World by Mark Kurlansky
Finding Ultra by Rich Roll
The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier – always in rotation
Design Patterns by Gamma, Helm, Johnson, Vlissides – frequent reference
The Bible

Who do you admire?
Digital Telepathy for the way they align their incentives with clients to achieve the best outcomes. Dieter Rams for his simple solutions; he embodies the idea of design to improve experiences that increase value and persist over time. Pentagram for their timeless work–it’s intelligent and pushes boundaries in elegant ways. Rene Redzepi of Noma and Grant Achatz of Alinea for their relentless pursuit of what’s next. They work a lot, produce a lot, learn a lot, experiment a lot; they never stop. Elon Musk. When he needs something he doesn’t buy it off the shelf; he learns how it’s made and then remakes it exponentially better. Entrepreneurs in Tucson, for choosing this place to build something, while enduring a challenging local economy and oppressive heat.

What are you working on?

Do you have an interesting challenge?

Tell us more

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