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December 2019 · 3 minute read

I'm turning 34 today! Since my birthday conveniently lines up with the end of the year, I thought I'd share some of the highlights from my annual questionnaire: 40 questions to ask yourself each year.

2019 marks ten years that I have been working with my friend and business partner, Jesse Genet. Our first Kickstarter campaign launched December 23rd 2009 as a small side project while we were both studying industrial design. I could have never expected it would spiral into what Lumi is today, helping my favorite companies manufacture sustainable packaging on the scale of tens of millions of units each month.

This year we moved to a new office in downtown Los Angeles, our fourth location. After ten years of working in converted lofts and warehouses, it feels like a well-deserved luxury to finally have central air and private meeting rooms.

The team at Lumi gets stronger every year. It's so cool to see people grow and develop their skills. I'm also thankful for the amazing new folks who joined this year. It's exciting to be building something important enough that people with decades of experience want to share their talents with us. An important life lesson was staying true to the hiring principles we established a few years ago — I had a fun chat on this topic with Emily Sugihara founder of Baggu on my podcast. Our principles which you can see on every career page, have been with us long enough that I can far more confidently say they are strong predictors of success at Lumi.

Speaking of the podcast, Well Made hit its 100th episode. I tweeted about some of the lessons learned.

I had some time to travel this year. It was my first time in New Orleans for my father's 60th birthday. The food and music couldn't be more up my alley, so I can't wait to return.

I went on a solo retreat to Sea Ranch, in northern California. It was a meditative, introspective experience in the woods. I find it so calming to be surrounded by redwoods, and would like to do it more often. The architecture there is also quite special.

I was back in Hawai'i, for the first time since I was 10 years old. Snorkeling among the coral reefs as a boy is part of what inspired me to pursue zoology and ecology in college. Being there again was a visible reminder of how important it is for us to protect such awe-inspiring ecosystems. It's what gets me out of bed in the morning to work on making the world's packaging supply chain more sustainable. Fun fact: my internet handle, kepano, is the hawaiianized version of my first name and comes from that inspiring trip I took as a boy.

I officiated my sister's wedding, something I had never done before. It was an experience I'll never forget, and turned out to be even more meaningful than I expected for everyone, including myself.

I decided to watch fewer shows and more movies, something I'll continue next year as I like to explore the work of specific directors and their influences. My favorite movies were Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Free Solo, Adaptation, Your Name, Charley Varrick, The Red Circle. As for shows Love, Death & Robots topped my list, especially the "Zima Blue" episode.

I enjoyed the Artificial Intelligence podcast by Lex Fridman. My favorite books had a related science fiction bend: The Dark Forest, Death's End and Exhalation: Stories. As for games, I loved Link's Awakening and the late entrant Two Spies on iOS.

My favorite purchases of the year were personal upgrades. I had never owned a dishwasher until this year (Miele G4998SCVISF), and also got a robot vacuum (Eufy RoboVac 30C). These have been immense time savers, I can't imagine going back. I have generally been trying to buy as few things as possible, but choose durable products that will hopefully last me a lifetime. There are two smaller items I added to that list: a wonderful razor by Leaf Shave and a pair of Kai 7230 scissors. Both excellent gifts, if you still have folks on your list.

As you close out the year, I encourage you to take a look at those 40 questions and write up your own reflections. Please share them with me if you do end up making some of your answers public!

Cabin in Sea Ranch

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