Thank you to Mr. Dan Kramarsky who in the eighth grade suggested that I elect to take the Computer Science class in ninth grade.
Thank you to Mr. Charles Rice who let me take his one Computer Science class for all four years of high school, and encouraged me to consider applying to Carnegie Mellon University.
Thank you to Assistant Dean Mark Stehlik who, when I told him I wanted to leave CMU’s School of Computer Science, nodded in understanding, and told me that the door would remain open to me if I ever changed my mind.
Thank you to Susan Swan, a PhD student and my freshman year English teacher, who awarded me a Kermit the Frog stuffed animal for having written the best paper in the class, and ignited my passion for writing.
Thank you to Jim Davidson, my journalism professor, who believed I had what it takes, who taught me how to conduct an interview, how to structure a story, how to develop my own personal style, how to do away with all the rules, but always make sure to spell the source’s name correctly.
Thank you to Scott Kaufman who thought to tell me about his double-major in Human-Computer Interaction, twice until I understood it, and shared the magic of the “field studies” he had been assigned to do.
Thank you to Professor Richard Scheines who took me under his wing, accepted me into the HCI program, gave me job designing educational software at an hourly rate I probably didn’t deserve, and let me linger in his office longer than I needed to, because I needed to.
Thank you to Professor Bonnie John who drilled into me the mantra, “The user is not like me,” which I continue to carry with me like a torch, a guiding light, to remind me who I am, why I’m here, and what I’m destined to do.
Thank you to Professor Randy Pausch who changed the way I see the world, who taught me how to prototype and iterate on my really bad ideas, who regularly took me to task in a lecture hall of 150 students, who let me argue back, and who I now realize was always right.
Thank you to Dave Camillus, my senior year roommate, who thought to forward me a job post for an interaction designer position back in NYC, when I had no idea what an interaction designer even was.
Thank you to Tom Blum, Stew Katz and Consuelo Ruybal, three VP creative directors who interviewed me at Digitas while I had a fever of 102, and opted to give me a position above entry level for reasons I still don’t understand.
Thank you to Oonie Chase, yet another VP creative director at Digitas, who gave me the freedom to explore my ideas, got huffy when I wouldn’t push the boundaries far enough, and supported me in bringing user research and testing practices into what was a very creative-driven organization.
Thank you to Brendan Gallagher who locked himself in a room with me for six weeks while we took an idea from nothing to something never seen before, and for showing me the align button in Visio (which saved me quite a bit of time).
Thank you to Judy Laughren, the SVP of account management, who trusted me to present our card finder prototype to the CEO of American Express, on the couch in his executive office, when I was 23 years old.
Thank you to Ken Chenault who cared about what he saw, and recognized how it improved people’s lives, and initiated a patent filing on which I am named as a co-inventor.
Thank you to Brian Ragan, my next boss, who protected me from an unstable leadership, gave me free reign to run my own projects, and didn’t hold it against me when I abandoned ship after only 6 months.
Thank you to Josh Seiden, my user experience manager at Liquidnet, who opened my mind to rigorous process, helped me to focus on enhancing my strengths instead of eliminating my weaknesses, and became the catalyst for me following my true path.
Thank you to Jared Spool who (by being the second person to follow me on Twitter) is the reason I started this blog, who enlightened me when I read his essays in college and continues to enlighten me every day, who I am honored to call my mentor and friend.
Thank you to Liz Danzico who has been my role model, my inspiration, and my connection to an incredible community of the most talented practitioners I’ve ever known.
Thank you to Jeffrey Zeldman who gave me a gig at Happy Cog when he hardly knew me (with a referral from Liz), who asked me to speak at An Event Apart having never seen me present (other than to our clients), and who has astounded me with his generosity time and time again.
Thank you to Tony Bacigalupo who gave me a home away from home, a place to work where work is love, a community of brilliant and motivated people who enable me to be more brilliant and motivated, and friendship that I never imagined was possible, that I was at first too afraid to try.
Thank you to Charlie O’Donnell who introduced me to Fred Wilson who introduced me to Avner Ronen, founder and CEO of Boxee, who sparked my passion for startups and gave me the opportunity to collaborate with one of the best teams in the industry on one of the most beloved products.
Thank you to Lis Hubert, Ray DeLaPena, and Donna Lichaw who asked me to join them in forming UX Shop Talk (which quickly became UX Therapy), who every week have the courage to share themselves with the rest of us, who encourage me to bitch about whatever is on my mind, and who are always there to remind me how fortunate I really am, to have them, and to have this life.
Thank you to Jennifer Bohmbach and Livia Labate who took a big risk when they invited me to give the closing plenary at IA Summit 2010, despite several people’s protests that I was too young, too inexperienced, and too insignificant to be worth listening to.
Thank you to Kevin Hoffman and Brett Harned who guided me through the most difficult and rewarding project of my career, three emotional months of user research for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, who taught me grace and humor in the most challenging moments.
Thank you to Ana Hevesi, Jason Kende, Ben Fisher, Jonathan Wegener, Michael Tseng, and Theo Skye who give me Sundays to look forward to, who force me to lighten up, and who each and every day remind me what independence truly means.
Thank you to Campbell McKellar who sat down on the couch next to me at New Work City and changed the course of my life with just one conversation, and who together with Anna Thomas, Cody Robbins, and our entire Loosecubes team are helping me to realize new dreams and old.
Thank you to my parents, my friends, my colleagues, my readers, the reasons I get up in the morning and who flood my head when I go to sleep at night, whose love and goodness and charity are boundless, who sometimes drive me crazy but always get me a drink, who have the highest expectations for me and appreciate when I fuck up and let them see it, who make me feel like I’m nothing next to them but I’m everything to them, and who I’m eternally grateful to walk beside on this extraordinary, unexplainable journey.
A million thanks. Thanks is never enough.