Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and so has another year of the Foster Made Roast & Toast tradition. We started it simply as a way to express our gratitude and encourage one another. Because it can be easy to get into a routine and take the people you see everyday for granted, so this was our way of making an intentional effort to take a moment to say why we’re thankful for each other. At least that was the idea.
That was six years ago. There were 10 of us on the team. I was the newest employee, and, I admit, I felt a little childish asking everyone to write down at least one thing they appreciate about each person on the team. It took a little cajoling and a lot of reminders for people to fill out their “thankful notes.” As I anticipated, people had kind things to say about one another. What I didn’t anticipate was the ridiculousness that would also accompany the sweetness as people wrote hilarious things about each other (all in good humor, of course). And so, amidst the fun and folly, the tradition eventually picked up the name “Roast & Toast.”
This year’s Roast & Toast was both comical and sincere, in typical fashion. There are 19 of us on the team now, and so the laughter can be even more boisterous as we’re all gathered around the table—and Adrian and Jill did a great job reading the notes out loud this year. I do anticipate someday we may outgrow the Roast & Toast (even today writing 18 notes can take quite a bit if effort, even if the notes are short), or the tradition will eventually have to take a new form. But for now, I’m thankful (and can’t believe!) we’ve had six years of roasting & toasting. I’m also thankful for my coworkers. As you’ll see below, they’re awesome.
Without further ado, here’s a compiled mashup of notes for each person from our 2018 Roast & Toast.
Christian Dixon: He brings the level of creativity and design up a whole few notches at Foster Made. And he’s probably the only person on the team who can confidently greet coworkers as “playboy” over Slack.
Garrett St. John: He gets things done, leads with integrity, and rolls with the punches like it ain’t no thang. He’s also got a sweet microphone, so when you’re video conferencing with him, you kinda feel like you’re on a hip podcast or something.
Jill Contreras: So many reasons I’m thankful for Jill. Most of all, she’s a bawse. B-A-W-S-E. She also made a Hulk Hogan costume very believable without ripping her shirt off or dropping the n-bomb, and that, my friends, is a skill.
Yannick Yeboue: He raises the company cool factor by about 75%. He’s got a great giggle, have you heard it? He’s passionate about his work, like for real. And he rocks that leather jacket like nobody’s business.
Jun Kim: He is steady and always helpful. His humor diffuses almost any tension or frustration, and his honest and good natured personality make conversations easy and enjoyable.
Adrian Calton: He went from ponytail to mullet and we’re all acting like this is ok just because of his charming accent and personality. His zest for learning and improvement, it motivates me.
Listwella Donaldson: She is like the Force, in that she binds and holds the universe together. She’s level-headed and has a lot of wisdom and insight. She also might be the only team member who always behaves like a kind, respectable adult.
Adam Winfree: He’s not just the “cookie guy,” he’s also a nice and funny person who I find to be a talented conversationalist. (You’re really my favorite Adam on the Adam and Adam show).
Adam Tsai: Cool nerd alert!!! He laughs at all my jokes. Then somehow follows them up with something funnier. I both hate and respect that so much. He’s also my favorite Adam on the Adam and Adam show.
Lina Calin: I’m thankful for Lina’s random dance parties and her positive energy around the office! I never knew someone could be so happy, and now, I believe I can be too.
Alex Mejias: He’s quick to understand complex situations and help clarify key points. He’s also still finding ways to randomly interject the subject of consuming one’s own urine for survival into the occasional Monday lunch conversation.
Jonathan Cox: Good lord, this is hard. how many people are there this year? Jonathan is as enigmatic and mysterious as he is quick witted, and that’s just wholesome. He makes me laugh out loud even when I don’t think he is trying to be funny.
Nina Rogers: Her velour slippers are the single flyest pair of kicks I have ever seen in my short time on this Earth. Her commitment to making a difference and being a positive influence are just a beautiful light in the world.
Matt Zador: Matt is the glue that holds the CMS Team together; he cares that his peers understand our projects and technology; and he responds with :badjokeeel: to comments in Slack that aren’t even jokes, bad or otherwise.
Mike Smith: He’s got great experience and is always thinking ahead on any project which is super valuable. I also get to learn the art of dad jokes at my own, Hooked on Phonics, kind of pace.
Andrew Westerhouse: I have this image in my mind of Andrew leaning back in his chair during a meeting while shaking his head and saying, “I don’t know... I don’t think that’s going to work...” but then—without warning, maybe a day or two later—he makes it work. We believe in you, Andrew, even when you don’t believe in yourself.
Paul Santos: International Man of Mystery. His jovial persona and welcoming nature allow those around him to feel at ease and comfortable even in a professional environment. It’s always good to see Paul.
Shawn Maida: He writes code like a boss. I’m thankful for his leadership, his unwavering dedication to make Foster Made a wonderful place to work and grow, and his willingness to go the extra mile with an awkward comment.