Once again, it’s the end of the year—we made it! I want to keep the streak going for the second year in a row, so here’s a recap. While 2021 was a learning year for me, the theme of 2022 was applying what I learned, listening to my instincts, and making big changes.
Mid-way through the year, I transitioned from my work as a Staff Product Designer at Asana to a new role as Director of Product Design at All Turtles. While I was having a blast working on Asana Goals, I was craving a new challenge and more variety. All Turtles reached out at the perfect time.
All Turtles saw something I didn’t see in myself yet, and it felt like a great chance to put my design leadership skills to the test. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Product Design Director thus far—my team is so talented, and I learn something new every day! I am excited to continue exploring and growing in this role, along with the awesome startups in our portfolio.
This year, I once again set a goal of writing six posts and six email newsletters. This post is my sixth, woohoo! Here’s a recap of the five other posts I wrote in 2022, in reverse chronological order:
- Case study: Asana Goals 2-year vision. This is a follow-up to the initial Asana Goals launch. It covers the work I did to onboard other designers, solidify the product vision, and advocate for the inclusion of goal management across the rest of Asana.
- Finding meaning in design when nothing is fine. I turned my Game UX Summit 2022 presentation into a blog post. Topics include navigating hard times, overcoming a career block, and building a guided, more sustainable design career.
- Facilitating effective design workshops. A lot of people don’t like brainstorms, so I wrote some tips to help folks facilitate effective group activities. I hope this helps workshop facilitators make a bigger impact in less time.
- Trading pixels for people. I wrote about my decision to transition to a people management role. This builds on my 2021 post about deciding between management and mega-senior independent contributor roles such as Staff Product Designer.
- 4 lessons from my dozen-year design career. I missed the opportunity to do this on my ten-year career anniversary, so I decided to do a 12-year retrospective and share what I learned.
I will unfortunately miss this year’s email newsletter goal—I’ve only written four this year, aargh! I am setting an intention to send an email update once per month as I believe the monthly consistency will help. Join my mailing list to see the archive and receive future updates.
Last year, I set a rule to only speak once per quarter, so I only spoke at four events. This year, I decided to be more flexible and ended up speaking at seven! It was a bit challenging to manage the creation of several new talks, but I had fun and am hoping to present this content several more times next year.
Two of the talks were for conferences, and I’d love to bring these topics to more events in 2023:
- Moving from execution to strategy as a designer at Rosenfeld Media’s first-ever Design in Product conference. This talk was all about showing the value of design at every part of the product development process, which is something I love to discuss!
- Finding meaning in design when nothing is fine at Game UX Summit. Design burnout is something we really need to discuss if we’re going to have long careers. You can find the slides here.
Three of my speaking engagements were for schools and bootcamps. I discussed moving from IC to management for Useful School advanced students, did a career walkthrough for General Assembly UX students, and covered representation in games for students in CCNY’s new Game Design program. I’m glad I increased my number of school appearances this year since I always feel invigorated by meeting folks who are just getting into tech.
Finally, two gigs were conversations about game dev with online communities. I got to do a very fun fireside chat with Brown Girl Gamer Code, then made an appearance on a panel about networking for GLITCH Minnesota’s Discord group.
I’m still slowly chugging away at my new game—it’s starting to feel like something cool, but it needs a lot more time. This year involved a lot of iteration; I completely rewrote the game’s premise because It was feeling too capitalist. I didn’t like the idea of reinforcing something I don’t like. The new story feels more like a thought experiment that could change people’s perspectives, which excites me as a creator.
2022 was all about consistency and blocking out time to do the things I care about. Thanks to my game dev accountability buddies, Amy and Aileen, for coworking with me a few times a month. Without y’all, I would not have spent so many hours on the game this year!
Game Devs of Color Expo
Year seven involved a lot of consistency, but also a lot of changes. We had to part ways with an organizer for several reasons. That was tough, and it took a lot out of us. But we persevered and delivered an event I’m super proud of—especially because I had a big hand in curating this year’s talks and panels!
We’ve begun to release 2022 content on our YouTube, so check out the playlist when you have a chance. This year’s themes were sustainable growth, community engagement, and innovative storytelling. We featured honest conversations about crowdfunding, unionization, and leadership. Shoutouts to everyone who made this year’s event the success it was. I look forward to GDoCExpo 2023.
I gave back in two ways this year: mentorship and donations! Both forms of giving back involved doubling down on efforts from last year.
After my positive experience volunteering for the 2021 Made in the Future mentorship program, I decided to do more mentorship in 2022. Connecting with others in design to discuss career challenges gives me joy since it helps me process my own experiences in the industry while helping others. I signed up for (and invested in) a service called Merit, which offers networking opportunities for individuals in product design, engineering, and product management.
In 2022, I met more than 20 designers and product managers for mentorship sessions through Merit. We discussed design portfolios, moving from IC to management, hitting career ceilings, and much more. I used my years of hiring experience to conduct several mock interviews and a handful of portfolio critiques.
Several questions consistently came up, so I decided to start a video series in October. My first two videos were about UX career pathways and standing out in UX interviews. I decided to pause the series after all the tech layoffs began. I will continue the series early next year when the dust settles, so subscribe via YouTube or LinkedIn to get notified when the next video goes up.
I will do more mentorship in 2023. The people I directly met with said I helped them a ton, even though our sessions were only 30 minutes. Rebuilding my design community has given me a lot of positive energy. If you’d like to talk design with me, here’s my Merit profile!
Once again, I put energy into paying it forward financially across GoFundMes and charities. My minimum donation was $50, just like in 2021. Here are the organizations I donated to in 2022:
- Brooklyn Cat Cafe
- Imani House
- New York Urban League
- Inneract Project
- National Bail Out
- Imani Winds Foundation
Feel free to drop some bucks their way if you can afford to!
I wanted to round out this update with some notes about the fun, leisurely, non-work things I’ve done this year. As a human being, I can’t just work all the time! This year’s hobbies were mostly physical activities. Remote life is very sedentary, so tactile hobbies keep me from feeling like sludge.
I’ve been climbing since 2015 or 2016, and I always max out around V5s. I was hoping this year would be different, but I once again hurt my shoulder early in the year! So, I had to pause and do physical therapy until my shoulders could heal. That took about six months. During that time, I got sucked into…
At first, I just went to a weekly indoor skating party with some friends. Then, I attended the Moxi Skate Camp and that got me hooked. Over the summer, I lived in New Hampshire and had a huge apartment with great floors. By the time I came back to NYC, I was more of an intermediate skater. The weekly skate party in Brooklyn is on hiatus, so my skills are withering a bit—but I’ve since put that time back into rock climbing.
One thing that helped my shoulders heal was hot yoga. I have appreciated asana yoga since I was a child, practicing alongside Wai Lana Yoga on public access TV. 2020 was the year of home yoga, and 2021 was the year I stopped doing yoga. This year, I found a yoga place right across the street and decided to try the heated version. It was so fun that I got a membership and now go several times a week!
Asana yoga is a great complement to physically strenuous activities. Stretching and intentional breathing help you become a stronger, more flexible person. Hot yoga removes any possibility to think about work, and that’s why I love it. Every class pushes me to be a better practitioner, and I always leave feeling empty in a very necessary way.
Last year, I was super into Just Dance and subscribed to an at-home dance class service called Steezy. In 2022 I traded that time for roller skating and hot yoga. Maybe I’ll find some way to squeeze it in next year? We shall see.
That’s all, folks!
Onward we go. Let’s see what the next 365 days bring—I’m sure it’ll be a wild ride! Thank you for reading, and happy 2023.
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