Better Product

Betting on Outcomes Over Outputs with Kelly Watkins, CEO of Abstract

We can all agree on one thing: 2020 shook everything up. As a result, we see people and companies making big bets across the board, both professionally and personally.

Kelly Watkins bet on leaving her role as the VP of Marketing at Slack to take on the role of CEO at Abstract. In her new role, she’s taking another bet moving from design outputs to outcomes with the launch of Abstract Notebooks.  

Why make these bets? Hear her conversation with Christian Beck. 


  • In life and business, there’s no clear right or wrong. You just evaluate the trade-offs.
  • Use your product development choices to tell a story to your audience.
  • Providing feedback to designers requires context first.
  • Design is a competitive advantage.

Things to Listen For:

  • [00:49] History of Abstract 
  • [02:35] Why Kelly made the shift from Slack to CEO of Abstract 
  • [04:55] The creation of Abstract Notebooks 
  • [06:23] Understanding the current product landscape for designers 
  • [07:35] Why develop new products versus adding new features
  • [10:04] The open letter to the design community 
  • [11:01] How Abstract knew it was time to make a big bet as a company
  • [20:54] How to think about making big bets 
  • [23:55] The impact of COVID on Kelly’s leadership style 
  • [26:20]  How Kelly builds an environment where people can thrive
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