In 2008, You Changed Me

In the past year, my life has turned upside down. It was more than I ever wanted and everything I needed. And it happened because of all of the amazing people whom I just happened to cross paths with, whom I sought out, who sought me out, who were introduced to me, or whom I was introduced to. However it happened, it happened, and life can now never go back to the way it used to be. The Whitney I was in December of 2007 and all of the years prior is gone forever.

I plan to write an events-of-the-past-year recap on January 10, the first anniversary of this blog. In my mind I link the events in my life to the genesis of this blog because it was when I started to make things happen for myself. Yet the calendar year, 2008, is solely about the people. It doesn’t much matter what happened; it’s about who it happened with and because of.

As boisterous and silly as I am with my close friends, I’ve always pretty much been a loner. As an only child I’ve never found it hard to spend long periods of time alone. I consider myself my best friend, and always have. But when I wrote my New Year’s Resolutions for 2008, I found myself writing a strange one: to accept more invitations. It doesn’t sound momentous, but for me it was. Never one for partying, I often spent nights at home when my friends were out just cuz I didn’t feel much like socializing. Some of it might be have dissatisfaction with my work, or somewhat of a depression after my grandmother passed away in 2005. But at the end of last year, something inside of me knew that it was time to be more open to unknown experiences.

Along with that shift was the desire to figure out what my career trajectory might be, and I figured the way to do that was to expand my professional network. Both objectives regarded broadening my horizons and meeting more, different people.

With 2008 at a close, I think it’s safe to say that I more than exceeded my goal.

Inspired by some tweets I saw going around on the eve of the New Year, in particular from Russ Unger, a.k.a. @russu, I decided that the best way to finish out the year would be to acknowledge the amazing people that helped me become the person I’ve always wanted to be.

My dedications are re-posted here so that they never get lost.

  • @russu Meeting you and @mariobourque at the IA Summit was one of the highlights of my year. I’ll always have this
  • @mknell I’ve never been more fully embraced than when you hug me. You’re an angel. I’m blessed to have met you this year. Friends for life
  • @livlab You’re my UX sista. I know we’ll be encouraging each other’s pursuits for many years to come. Thank you for your endless wisdom
  • @russu has inspired me to let you all know how much you’ve radically changed my life this year. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
  • @armano If it wasn’t for you, I’d still be a wallflower with a lot of aspirations but no chutzpah. Thank you for showing me the light
  • @jmspool I’ve always been looking for a mentor, but I never dared to imagine it could be you. Thank you for your guidance & your friendship
  • @bobulate Your support has been invaluable in recent months. I hope to have a career even half as impactful as yours is so far. Much to come
  • @zeldman Thank you for taking a chance on a UX designer you didn’t even know. Working with you has been enlightening & endlessly fulfilling
  • @efortiz You swear we met at Interaction08, and even though I don’t remember it, you’ve been by my side ever since. I salute you, Mr. Marine
  • @zarzecks @mikepratt @yoni @robertmurray @mikegermano You took a chance on me & showed up to Tweetup #2. It was the start of true friendship
  • @orian All I can say is thank you for accepting me for exactly who I am
  • @matto @snookca Almost a yr ago, I experimented w/ video chat for the first time b/c of you. We’ve had dozens of amazing conversations since
  • @seneb @kaleemux You showed me the light about consulting. @jseiden You gave me the nudge I needed to make a giant leap. TY for your honesty
  • @billder @sisoma You warmly welcomed me to a new city (twice) and inspired me with your kindness to one another
  • @inkblurt You reignited my passion for the UX practice with your IA Summit keynote and inspired me to create bridges and knock down walls
  • @mediajunkie @cb You opened my eyes to a history of IA I never knew existed with just a quiet walk around Savannah. Formative moment for me
  • @keithinstone Your live Twittering of Interaction 08 motivated me to do the same and wholly changed the way I experience learning & sharing
  • @supergreek You peeked your head into my world & made it your own. You’ve inspired me with your talent & devotion to your craft. I love you!
  • @cchastain You’ve been my solidarity sister in NYC’s UX scene. Greatly looking forward to the transformation that UXBookclub can help create
  • @ceonyc I was just a girl on a bike stopping at the boathouse to say hi. I never could’ve imagined the impact you would have on my life. xo
  • @efortiz @hikirsch @webmetricsguru @coreyh @ewphoto You came to my very 1st Tweetup @ 79thSt Boat Basin. Couldn’t have dreamed what was next
  • @alexlines You were beautifully kind from the first moment we met. Thank you for cofounding obe and bringing me to places I’ve never been
  • @mdfsmash Something just clicked on the roof of the Gansevoort and I knew we’d always be there for each other as we subjugate these geeks ;)
  • @brett With your resolute exterior and underlying humility, you have shown me how to become a respected influencer and connector
  • @tonybgoode You gave me a home away from home, a place to work and grow and learn and be inspired. Your smiles and hugs always right my day
  • @marissalevy You showed me the kind of relationship I want to have and the kind of friend I want to be
  • @gruen @ozsultan @naterkane @dingman Wherever I showed up, you made me feel I was supposed to be there. It’s been so long since I had a crew
  • @waltribeiro You saw me from across the room and threw your arms around me like we had known each other for years. That’s just you, my BFF
  • @semanticwill Who could’ve guessed when you stood me up @ BoltBus that it’d be the start of a true friendship? You make me a better designer
  • @HTMigueL No one in the future of the universe will ever again initiate a conversation by asking, “Tufte has a box set?!” Miss you, neighbor
  • @klenert You were too shy to say hi, but our nocturnal ways helped bond us. Your amazing devotion to your biz makes me want to be better
  • @kmaverick @sarahcooley @thespottedduck @tikkers @coskay @niche @juliaxgulia @andrearosen Women I want to be around. Let’s take what’s ours!
  • @megfowler We have yet to meet, but from 3,000 mi away you’ve shown me the graceful, honest, sassy, hopeful, loyal, kind woman I want to be
  • Wishing each and every one of you a joyous 2009. You have all, collectively & individually, helped me find my true self. Endlessly grateful


One very important dedication was left out. And that goes to my amazing parents, Lois and Eliot Hess, who have supported me in everything I’ve ever done, given me the resources to succeed, the strength to face any adversity, the adventure of 100 lifetimes, and the respect of friendship. We will always be a unit. I love you.

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  1. Lauren says

    Nice post Whitney. I like how you always acknowledge folks that have some how affected you. I'm sure your parents are kvelling in your achievements.

  2. says

    I gave birth to Whitney and Whitney gave birth to the computer. I will never forget the screams of joy when Whitney's dad took her to buy her first MAC from The Wiz. While the store was only a few blocks away, she called me bellowing “I got it,” with very much the same euphoria as when a baseball player hits one out of the park. I remember thinking to myself “Will she feel the same way when she buys her first Prada handbag?” Seventeen years later no Prada but huge sighs of happiness with every new piece of technology she gets her hands on.

    Her most recent blog doesn't surprise me at all. Her most joyful moments are the ones she describes above. I am just grateful she remembered us. We are antiques and could have been thrown out with dial-up.

    We love you Whitney !!!!!!

    Mom and Dad

  3. says

    Whitney, I'm so glad to have met you this past year. You've accomplished so much since we were introduced, and I expect only good things from you in the year to come.


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