Twenty Seventeen In Review.

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Inspired by the Paravel boy’s (Dave and Trent) accounts of their 2017, and the themed annual reports of Khoi (movies) and Jeremy (writing), here is a brief overview of my 2017.


I accomplished more at work this year than I have in the previous three combined.

At IBM, I earned a reputation for getting things done with an outside perspective, and in this year I was given more challenges. Everything from running two more Incubator projects to internally producing the InVision film to…well lets just call it a project to empower the entire sales organization there.

In August I was offered a tremendous opportunity to join USAA as an executive director running the design program for the financial advice and solutions group. I inherited six teams of designers, directors, and producers — half of them in Austin, the other half in San Antonio. In addition to our product work, I’ve also been able to dive into the challenges and needs of standing up a design organization within a large company. My work at USAA is incredibly rewarding, and I can’t say enough about the people there and the support and trust they have extended to me.


While I continued to counsel a handful of people throughout the year, I chose to spend most of my extra time in 2017 working with Jen Dary on her work building Plucky. Jen’s energy and passion are infectious which makes the time spent more rewarding. Last year I got to put my design skills to use in a way that I haven’t done in a while (read: non-digital), and I’m anxious to see the outcome.


I acquired a few toys this year: 2017 Volkswagen Golf R, Google Home, Nintendo Switch, and a DJI Mavic Pro.

— I’ve always, always wanted a Golf R and this year I happily turned in the Lexus GS F and picked up a white one. Two hundred and ninety-three horsepower with all-wheel drive turns every driving occasion into a GT event. It certainly makes the journey to San Antonio and back a lot of fun.

— After testing Google Home, I kicked Alexa out of the house. The conversational user interface is a pleasure to use because it’s smarter than both Siri and Alexa combined. I picked up a Google Max, and I have to say it has exceeded all expectations I had for sound quality and volume.

— For years now I’ve been pretty good about only having one game console in the house (I’m Brilliantcrank on PSN if you’re there too). That all changed when I saw the early promotional videos for the Nintendo Switch and the new Zelda game and I knew I had to have one. It’s nice to see Nintendo get back on top with their innovation in building an entire experience (hardware to software) that is so unique and enjoyable.

— While Kitchen Storey and I enjoy our townhome with a fourth-story roof patio, it doesn’t provide the same view that we had while living at The Shore in downtown Austin. Now we’ve got these damned gigantic power lines in the way of our southwest view. Well, not anymore thanks to a drone with a fantastic camera. It’s my new favorite activity in the late afternoon, providing the conditions are right.


Like the friends above, I too consumed a lot of media. While I enjoyed a fair amount of movies at the Drafthouse this year, I enjoyed “television” more: Ozarks, The Crown, Westworld, Mindhunter, Glow, Godless, and Ricky and Morty. There were notable documentaries in 2017 including Abstract: Art of Design, Vietnam, Oklahoma City, and LA 92.

In 2017 I pulled the cord and canceled packaged cable replacing it with a subscription to HBO, Netflix, and PS Vue. The picture quality is insanely better than anything I ever got from Comcast, AT&T, or Google. And my total spend is less than half of what I used to pay for television.

While I’m writing about media consumption, let’s cover podcasts: The Daily, The Stack, Design Driven, DesignBetter.Co, Serial, Best Episode Ever, and Slow Burn (my favorite of 2017).


I’m happy to report that primary recording of a new podcast series with Brett Harned wrapped up last month. Everything is now in the hands of our producer. Of course, I’ll write more about this in the future, but I’m pretty excited to be done with the primary work. Now I need to finish the brand and marketing collateral design work.

In addition to that excitement, I was honored to be a guest on Design Driven with Snook, Jina, and J. Recording that episode was a lot of fun and I hope we can do it again.


Despite working for a global company and asked to prepare for intercontinental travel, the only trip I ever made for IBM was to Atlanta near the beginning of the year. Still, I made it to Salt Lake City, Park City, Pacifica, Atlanta, Big Canoe, Kansas City, and Gateway Canyon for the first Design Leadership Camp.

Due to the obscene amount of travel she has to endure throughout the year, Kitchen Storey typically wants to stay home during the holidays. This year, sitting on a million-plus airline miles and a handful of first-class upgrades, she wanted to get out of the country. So we did the planes, trains, and automobiles thing visiting Belfast, Cork, Castlemastyr, Dublin, and London. I really enjoyed the trip, and I love the photos I got out of it.


I spent time in the last three months reflecting on career and life. With introspection in hand, I have been taking steps to prepare to spend more time in 2018 learning and creating. And that starts with a lot more reading and writing like I used to do when I lived Ten Miles to Disneyland. I miss that time and place, and I’m determined to find that groove again and make better use of my mind and time.

Happy New Year!

Constant Observer. Occasional Writer. Operations Chief. People Coach. Design Enthusiast. Type Collector.

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