Technically Speaking
Technically Speaking with Harrison Wheeler
Stranger Creatives mindful approach to building an equitable design practice with Steven Wakabayashi

Stranger Creatives mindful approach to building an equitable design practice with Steven Wakabayashi


If you were told you were about to die, how would you respond? Steven Wakabayashi didn’t wait long to use it as opportunity to turn his health, life, and career around. His three programs are his best approach to prevent others from going through the same thing he did.

Do not wait until something bad happens to start taking your health seriously. Steven's story provides valuable information and support to help you make lasting changes in your life, so that you can become your best self today.

You would love what he said about how there isn't only one way to work and talk about things. By providing a space where people can observe other options, we can help empower them. The world needs more stories like these.

So check out this week's episode where he shares not only his accomplishments in UX, but also his vulnerabilities. Discover how he changed how his team works, processes, and still produced impactful results.


“I try to come in with really fresh blank slate into different projects that I come in. And even the concept of like the vision we want to achieve, I try really hard, especially as a leader not to go in with this preconceived notion. Because at the end of the day, it's something that we have to build collectively as a group, and not just a vision that I have like myself.”

“There's been a lot of amazing work by many organizations, such as the Creative Reaction Lab, Project Inkblot that focus on how we can bring the community into our work. So context is of spaces thinking about reconstituting power. And one thing that we're trying to add to the mix as an organization with Stranger Creative right now are just different heuristics that we can bring that measure safety, that measure autonomy, that measure transparency.”


(00:47) - Leading by example; showing up for himself and his community while weathering COVID

(01:49) - Icebreaker: The mind-blowing pandemic hobby he developed, how it benefits him, and his plans for it in the future

(04:01) - Icebreaker: The two words synonymous to Steven Wakabayashi     

(08:05) - Icebreaker: Why it's important to talk about institutionalizing changes needed in DEI 

(08:37) - Who Steven Wakabayashi is: The unabridged version

(11:37) - Why he took a step back to reflect after achieving success

(15:12) - Resuscitating not only his love for creativity but his heart as well

(16:09) - How his identity played a role in his work on inclusion and equity and his three programs thay support it

  • (17:47) - QTBIPOC

  • (19:55) - Stranger Creative

  • (30:13) - Mindful Sights

(21:07) - Changing institutionalized inequity one word at a time through self-expression

(24:25) - Methods to use to approach more equitable problem spaces

(30:13) - The beauty of mindfulness and presentness in two perspectives: his as an individual and the society's

(32:22) - How to approach a new project 

(36:03) - COVID recovery advice

About the Guest:

Steven Wakabayashi (he/him) is a queer, first-generation Taiwanese-Japanese American based in New York City. He's a Creative Director, Changemaker, and Founder of mission-driven organizations empowering historically marginalized communities within the design, tech, and mindfulness industries.

After leading creative teams at many notable brands and agencies, including Apple, Google, Walmart, Huge, and Razorfish, he is now creating pathways for queer BIPOC creatives into the design industry through QTBIPOC Design, creating safe spaces for BIPOC communities within mindfulness through Mindful Sights, and designing equitable products and experiences for clients with his creative agency Stranger Creative.

Starting out as a web developer, Steven now manages creative teams across big brands and agencies, bringing both a right-brain (creativity) and left-brain (analysis) approach to his work. Through years of studying mindfulness and meditation worldwide, empathy and mindfulness heavily influenced his leadership style.

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Technically Speaking
Technically Speaking with Harrison Wheeler
Technically Speaking is a podcast by Harrison Wheeler about BIPOC designers, entrepreneurs & technologists sharing their unique stories of triumph and resilience at the intersection of product design.