Karen Clark Cole

Chief Executive Officer, Co-founder & Partner

Karen is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Blink. She is primarily focused on company vision and developing strategies to get there. She has a long history of execution and implementation, in combination with innovative, big picture thinking.

Karen’s leadership philosophy is founded in Blink’s design principles, starting with research, then prototyping and gathering feedback to stay relevant, fluid, and guide the company.

In support of Blink’s mission, to enrich people’s lives, Blink is a positive, values-driven environment for both employees and clients, with a high standard of excellence. To measure and maintain Blink’s culture, Karen implemented a cultural framework, with six pillars to ensure employees leave at the end of the day feeling valued, and ready to create a bigger impact in the world around them.

Karen began her career studying fine arts in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. She holds a degree in fine arts from the University of Victoria and is a graduate of the Information Technology & Multimedia program at Capilano University in Vancouver. Karen is currently working on her Ph.D. in the values-driven leadership program at the Benedictine University, IL.

Through her work at Blink, Karen was a winner of the 2016 Enterprising Women of the Year award and a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2015. In 2016, Blink was listed on Forbes Magazine’s Best 25 Small Companies in America list.

Karen writes a column for Forbes.com on the Entrepreneurs channel discussing many topics including how UX is Revolutionizing Business. A 2020 biography talks about her leadership through chaos, in Seattle’s tech authority, Geekwire. in 2016, Karen was featured in a small-business commercial for MetLife, which aired internationally over two years.

In 2020 Karen was appointed to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of the National Ombudsman, Regulatory Fairness Board, which represents small businesses’ voice on regulatory fairness issues.

Karen is a member of the Small Giants Community, the International Leadership Association (ILA), and is the Executive Director for the nonprofit organization she founded in 2014, Girls Can Do. GCD is an event series for girls with the mission to inspire a generation of possibility thinkers and ignite a vision for equal opportunity. In 2016, First Lady Michelle Obama gave a keynote video address, and Karen received a thank you letter from President Obama for her work with girls.

Karen speaks at conferences and loves to talk to groups of entrepreneurs and students whenever she can such as Seattle’s Franklin High School and the Canadian League of Innovators. In June 2019, she spoke on the keynote panel at the global Women and Leadership conference, and she is often a guest on radio and podcasts. In August 2019, she was interviewed on “Patricia Kathleen Talks with Female Entrepreneurs" a mentoring podcast, and appeared later that month on Startup Grind San Diego. In 2017, Karen was interviewed on Sirius radio’s Mind Your Business, by the Wharton School of Business. In 2020, Karen became a regular member of the weekly podcast called “The 21 Hats” sharing candid business experiences with entrepreneurs.

Karen lives in Seattle, Washington, and was born and raised in Victoria, Canada. She loves to trail run, garden, backcountry ski, kitesurf, and hang out with her amazing daughter.

LinkedIn bio and Twitter @karenclarkcole.

Related Content

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2021

Karen Clark Cole

This International Women’s Day, we asked women in leadership at Blink to talk about equity and the importance of gender diversity and representation. Read on for a response from our CEO and co-founder, Karen Clark Cole.

Read Article

Blink loves Mars

Karen Clark Cole

Blink is extremely proud of our friends at NASA, who successfully landed the Perseverance Rover on Mars this week.

Read Article

How We Created A Thriving Culture By Measuring Data, Not Beer

Karen Clark Cole

In 2017, CEO Karen Clark Cole wrote about our evidence-driven approach to company culture in her column for Forbes. The lessons and reflections ring truer than ever in an unprecedented year.

Read Article

Has Work Changed Forever?

Karen Clark Cole

The world has changed as a result of COVID-19 and social distancing. The new question emerging is not so much "how will we return to work?", but rather "how has work changed forever?"

Read Article

Blink’s protocols and procedures for November’s new COVID-19 restrictions

Karen Clark Cole

In response to Washington State’s November 15th new Phase 2 restrictions and guidelines, Blink has revisited our health and safety protocols and evaluated the in-person research lab studies that are currently in progress.

Read Article

Blink’s Coronavirus Update (COVID-19)

Karen Clark Cole

We have set up a Blink task force, including a dozen members of Blink’s leadership team, which meets daily to review the most recent health information and determine communication strategies so that everyone inside and outside of our company receives accurate and timely information.

Read Article

Blinker Health & Well-Being

Karen Clark Cole

Below is a message from Linda and me, and we’re also speaking on behalf of the Blink leadership team.

Read Article

Open for Business & Ready to Help

Karen Clark Cole

While Blink’s offices are temporarily closed and our employees are working safely from home, I want to assure you that Blink remains committed to delivering excellence on all of our projects — in all the flexible ways our clients need during this time.

Read Article

Karen Clark Cole Returns to Mike Adams About Money Radio

Karen Clark Cole

Karen talks to Mike Adams, host of About Money Radio, about how Blink has grown since she was last on the show, and why user experience research is still an important part of designing a website, product or service.

Read Article

Startup Grind & Fresh Brewed Tech: Karen Clark Cole Interview

Karen Clark Cole

On August 6, 2019, Karen Clark Cole was interviewed live on stage by Rachel Gauvin for a Startup Grind San Diego. The interview aired on the Fresh Brewed Tech podcast "Tacos & Tech"

Read Article

"Walk with Your Head Up": Karen Clark Cole talks to Patricia Kathleen About Opportuni...

Karen Clark Cole

On August 7, 2019, our CEO and co-founder Karen Clark Cole was interviewed by Patricia Kathleen on her podcast.

Read Article

Redshift Digital Joins Blink for a Golden Gate Future

Karen Clark Cole

It is with great anticipation and excitement that I announce that the well-known, high-end, wildly creative, and super fun San Francisco UX studio, Redshift is joining forces with Blink!

Read Article

UX Design Is a Philosophy

Karen Clark Cole

At Blink, we think and talk a lot about UX. And while each day more people are joining our conversation, there is still a lot of confusion around what UX actually means. I talk about it as a way of thinking and a business approach: User experience is no longer a job title or a service offering, it’s a way of thinking about your entire business.

Read Article

Karen Clark Cole on Mike Adams About Money Radio

Karen Clark Cole

Karen talks to Mike Adams, host of About Money Radio, about why having a positive user experience is no longer a way to set yourself apart, but really a requirement for any successful business.

Read Article

Welcome Tectonic!

Karen Clark Cole

I am thrilled to announce the brilliant minds at Tectonic are now in-house at Blink as part of our design studio!

Read Article

Blink Gets New Digs in January 2018!

Karen Clark Cole

Blink is getting ready to move into our new 28,000-square-foot studio office space which we have been designing and building out for the last 8 months. 

Read Article

Sirius XM's Business Radio Interview

Karen Clark Cole

Karen talks with Loren about designing complex systems through Evidence-driven Design, examples of how voice is changing healthcare for seniors and people with disabilities, and how voice can make it safer for truckers.

Read Article

What A Year!

Karen Clark Cole

This year had a lot of firsts for Blink. We reached over 90 employees, covering research, strategy, design, and development, and a fantastic support network keeping the company running like a well-oiled machine.

Read Article

California Dreamin'

Karen Clark Cole

After three years of planning, Blink’s expansion efforts are starting to take shape, beginning with the recent opening of a new office in San Diego. San Diego is the first of several new West Coast offices, and then we will be heading east.

Read Article

Find Me on Forbes.com

Karen Clark Cole

In the spring of 2016 I had the good fortune of starting a blog on Forbes.com in the Entrepreneur channel.

Read Article

Blink UX Featured in MetLife Commercial

Karen Clark Cole

Earlier this year Blink was selected to be a featured company in the MetLife small business benefits commercial called “Anything But Small.”

Read Article

Blink UX Named One of Forbes Magazine’s Best Small Companies in America!

Karen Clark Cole

Being named on Forbes Magazine’s Best Small Companies in America list is truly amazing. It’s a great honor for Blink UX to represent not only Seattle on the list but the entire West Coast!

Read Article

People Are the Purpose

Karen Clark Cole

My vision for Blink is to make a difference in the world through our work and our people.

Read Article

Karen Clark Cole: EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award Finalist

Karen Clark Cole

We’re extremely proud and excited to announce that Karen Clark Cole is a finalist for this year’s Pacific Northwest Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award.

Read Article

Ask Your Clients What They Need, Every Day

Karen Clark Cole

It’s my goal to build a company that people love. Employees love working for us and clients love working with us. It all boils down to building relationships — myself building meaningful relationships with each employee, and everyone in our company building those same kinds of relationships with each other and our clients.

Read Article

Playing Legos With Kids Makes You A Better Employee

Karen Clark Cole

A friend told me he usually goes into work late because he’s busy playing Legos with his son instead of racing out the door to work. I thought to myself, “I bet he’s a great employee and gets a lot done.”

Read Article

What Gets You Fired?

Karen Clark Cole

It sounded absurd to me, but apparently no one at Blink had any idea what gets him or her fired. “Oh dear,” I thought. “That’s a problem.”

Read Article

2014: A Big Year For Seattle’s Seahawks & Blink UX!

Karen Clark Cole

I’m so proud of so many things that it’s hard to know where to start. Mostly I am proud of every single Blink employee for really taking ownership of our company this year. Below are some of the fruits of our labor…

Read Article

Being Real in a Complex World

Karen Clark Cole

I was recently asked how I cope as a busy person in a world that is becoming increasingly complex. I had to think about this. I’m not sure the actual world has become more complex, but how we communicate certainly has.

Read Article

Hugging Your Clients is Good for Business

Karen Clark Cole

When you sign a new client and the company is called Cultural Care, you expect it is going to be a nice client to work with. Culture and Care are two words usually associated with good things. So when we began working with the Boston-based company earlier this year it was such a great reward to find out that my feeling was right.

Read Article

Creativity, Collaboration & Confidentiality

Karen Clark Cole

So how do we get together and collaborate on ideas when a project is top secret? When only one person at Blink knows what the client is working on, and only a handful of employees at the client’s company even know what it is?

Read Article

Why the Toughest Conversations Matter Most

Karen Clark Cole

Karen Clark Cole, CEO and co-founder of Blink UX, holds closely to the 7 Fierce Principles in her work and life. In fact, she has them posted on her office wall. I asked her some questions about how she applies them.

Read Article

On Winning the WPO's 7th Annual Fastest Growing Woman-Led Company Award

Karen Clark Cole

Recently, Karen Clark Cole and Blink UX were named to the Women Presidents’ Organization’s 7th Annual 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies award list. I sat down with Karen to learn more about her involvement with WPO and what it meant to her to win this award.

Read Article

Why I Will Always Interview Every Person We Hire

Karen Clark Cole

Running a fast-growing, world-respected consulting firm requires extreme focus on people. As CEO of Blink UX, one of my top priorities is being personally involved in hiring and growing the best User Experience professionals in the country.

Read Article

Blink Supports Tronie Foundation’s Mission to End Human Trafficking

Karen Clark Cole

For the past several months, Blink has been working with a truly exceptional and inspiring woman named Rani Hong, co-founder and president of the Tronie Foundation, an international non-profit organization dedicated to end modern day slavery and human trafficking.

Read Article

Client UX: Think About Your Client’s In-Box

Karen Clark Cole

I am always saying “think about it from the client’s perspective.” That’s what I call Client UX.

Read Article

Open House Party a Big Success!

Karen Clark Cole

Thanks to everyone who attended last Thursday’s open house, gallery opening and speaker series event. It was a huge success, with over 300 people attending throughout the evening. The wine and hors d’oeuvre flowed, as the evening kicked off with an artist reception showcasing the photography of Mark Gsellman.

Read Article

Blink’s New Offices with a View

Karen Clark Cole

Blink’s new office space had many requirements; workstations, client meeting rooms, project collaboration rooms, training and event space and most importantly, state-of-the-art usability labs with adjoining client observation rooms. All this, plus it had to be a highly usable space, comfortable to work in and look good.

Read Article