2023 Year in Review
To all the conversations we've had this year
As we reflect on our conversations this year, we're reminded of the value of creating a space where we can share our experiences and perspectives. We've explored a wide range of topics, from the personal to the societal, and we're grateful to have had the opportunity to learn and grow together with our guests and readers. We appreciate all of you who have joined us on this journey and look forward to continuing to explore new topics and perspectives in the years to come.
Without further adieu, here is a recap of our 2023.
We spoke with five new guests, including:
Faraz Ahmad is a father, husband, brother, and a Senior Software Engineer at Netflix. He shares how his north star of providing for his family has guided him throughout his life and career to find safety and stability through resilience and a deep desire to learn. We talk about his childhood, the paths he chose, some stumbles along the way, and ultimately, how full circle many of his decisions have been in hindsight.
Ashley Woodfolk is a Brooklyn-based mom and a full-time award-winning writer of books for kids and teens. Ashley shares how her interest in children, books, and writing has driven her decisions as she navigated her life and multiple careers. From teaching to successfully publishing her debut novel, The Beauty That Remains, while working in publishing, to now as a mom and writing full-time, Ashley has learned to hone in on recognizing her strengths to make her voice and contribution to the world stronger.
Red Gaskell is a Filipino director and photographer based in Los Angeles. He runs RG Studios, a production company focusing on branded content, commercials, feature-length films, and documentaries. He shares how he got started in the production world by diving into freelance and sharing his learning process with others. Along the way, he's found satisfaction through the ability to collaborate with friends. He hopes to continue to do so as he further explores the world of directing.
Jay Demetillo is a Filipino-American designer whose career and life spans worldwide. He grew up in New York, making his first cross-country move to design in the early days of Silicon Valley. He eventually made cross-world moves to further experience and embrace living an international life. He shares his experience as he navigated his design career and the decision points that helped him expand his worldview while actively contributing to East and Southeast Asian communities.
Kirk Fernandes is the founder of Merit, which is where tech workers find mentors, get career advice, and connect with the best companies to grow their careers for free. Kirk shares his journey and inspiration for starting Merit and how he incorporates his whole self into his role as a founder. We deep dive into Kirk's interpretation of work-life balance, which he defines as spanning over a long period of time through investments in relationships and rejuvenation. He also offers a simple framework of how he keeps himself and others close to him accountable for the overall health of his company, physical self, and relationships with others. Ultimately, he offers not advice but his own experience to inspire you to make informed decisions for yourself, whether or not you're a founder.
Introduced Voice Notes
We introduced a new series called Voice Notes, where we expand further into different, more personal topics. Notably, sharing:
on how west & ease came to life
Cross-post of "Office Hours" conversation with get-merit.com
Shared subscriber audio and video exclusives
For paid subscribers, we also shared more exclusives this year, including:
[Video] Live guest lecture "Voices from the Field" conversation hosted at UC Davis Design 001 "Intro to Design" course
[Video] Live guest lecture by Leslie Luo for UC Davis Design 40C: Design for Aesthetics course led by Professor James (Jim) Housefield
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[Audio] Jay Demetillo talks about his recent projects with Grab, a Singaporean-based tech company providing ride-hailing, deliveries, and financial services in Southeast Asia. Jay shares insights on how privacy and safety are crucial to ride-hailing services like Grab and themes and learnings from two projects: Audio Protect, which introduced audio recordings during rides, and Telematics, which focused on enabling and encouraging safe driving habits.
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Donated to 5 organizations
With every Conversation, west & ease makes a small donation to a non-profit or organization of our guests' choice to pay it forward.
Faraz Ahmad chose The International Rescue Committee (IRC) that helps people affected by humanitarian crises—including the climate crisis—to survive, recover, and rebuild their lives. Faraz believes in its mission to support refugees from different countries seeking a better life.
Ashley Woodfolk chose Food Bank for New York City, which has been working to end food poverty in our five boroughs since 1983. As the city's largest hunger relief organization, we employ a multifaceted approach to helping low-income New Yorkers overcome their circumstances and achieve greater independence.
Kirk Fernandes chose The Bowery Mission which exists to promote the flourishing of New Yorkers overcoming homelessness and marginalization by providing compassionate services and a transformative community.
Thank you to our guests for sharing their stories. With west & ease, we can support our communities and missions we're passionate about.
We will continue to explore topics with Voice Notes, subscriber-exclusive audio and video formats, and, of course, delivering more conversations and behind-the-scenes pieces. We are excited about what 2024 brings us and hope you'll continue this journey.
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