Creatives Offscript

Anomaly: Azsa West

Episode Summary

Azsa West is the Executive Creative Director at Anomaly, where she brings her multi-disciplined background of design, art, filmmaking and photography to lead their creative team. In this episode, we talk about her alternative education as part of the W+K 12; a "cult disguised as an experimental school" within Wieden+Kennedy's walls, as well as the inspiration behind her creative direction, art exhibits, screenwriting projects and filmmaking pursuits.

Episode Transcription

Nate Watkin: Azsa West is a multi-hyphenate artist that has exhibited her work at the Pompidou in Paris, the Art & Science gallery in Tokyo. And even published a book of her artwork. After 15 years as a creative director at Wieden+Kennedy, she's now the executive creative director at Anomaly. And also a film director, repped by Where The Buffalo Roam. With a client list that includes Nike, Coke, Google, Disney, Burberry, and many more, her style has been described as spell binding, insanity inducing, mind blowing, and gooey. Welcome to our show, Azsa.

Azsa West: Awesome. Thanks for having me.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Absolutely. So you had such an interesting childhood, it seems like. I've heard many different descriptions of it. Raised in a haunted ghost town, metaphysical graphic designer. Skater dad. Raised by dolphins. I mean tell me about your childhood, and what made it so special.

Azsa West: Yeah. I definitely had a very unconventional childhood. And I think it has a lot to do with my parents just being two weirdos that found each other, and fell in love. But grew up in Ventnor, California. It's a little beach town, about an hour and a half north of LA. And at the time when I was there, it was more working class. A bit rough around the edges, but it's still quite charming as well. And it feels like it's stuck in a time warp, a bit. Nothing really changes there. It stays the same.

But my dad was electrician. So working class guy too. Grew up skateboarding, surfing. And that's where I got all that from. And my mom was more of the art side of things. She had a graphic design business when I was a kid. And as most people do, she fell into this more spiritual way of doing things in Southern California. So grew up with a whole the aura reading thing, and horoscope thing. And all that jazz.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. And it seems like your mom had such a big impact on you creatively, throughout your career. Can you tell me, how did your mom nurture your creativity at a young age?

Azsa West: For sure. Yeah. My mom is probably the biggest source of my inspiration. And I think, a lot of that may have to do with the fact that she... I lost her when I was very young. So she died when I was 13. And she was sick for a very long time. But from the time I was a small child I guess, from first grade through seventh grade, she did whatever she could to pass on the things that she believed in. And one of the things she believed in was staying true to who you are. So when she would see something in me or my siblings that we took notice in or had passion for, she paid attention to that and nurtured it. And entertained it. And allowed us to explore that. And she was a very creative person, so that was just by proxy. Growing up with a creative person who does things differently, that rubs off on you.

Yeah. I guess my childhood was a very creative childhood, because I was raised by this creative weirdo. So I didn't know any other way. And it's very formative that time too, when you're a kid. So that was the foundation of the house that was built, I guess. That is my mind and ways of doing things. And because she died when I was so young, that really accelerated this creative development in a strange way. It felt like it was going through bootcamp on steroids, if you will. Because, she was desperate to pass on all these things that she had learned. Because, she knew she was dying. So it definitely made for a more intense childhood in some ways, but it was very magical too. I learned a lot from her.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. It's a powerful story for sure. And I think that... I even read that you are currently in the process of developing a TV series based on your childhood and your mother, primarily. I would love to know a little bit more about that, and how that story is being translated into what you're creating.

Azsa West: Yeah. That's a good question. To be honest, I've been writing this story for many, many years. And I think when you lose a person, the way you feel about it changes over time. Especially when you lose them as a child. I definitely went through periods where I felt angry, I felt sad. Depressed. Or I felt relief. Or I felt inspired even. Or I felt like it was a bit of a joke. I don't know if you know what it feels like to lose someone, or if you've lost a parent before. But it is a very strange journey to go on, emotionally.

And I guess... I've written so many iterations of this idea that I've had, based on this upbringing that centers around my mom dying. And in parallel, me also finding out that I'm gay at the same time. The latest iteration now is that it's more episodic, and meant to be more like a dark humor approach. I guess, that's inspired by my own personal taste. But also, my mom. My mom was a very hilarious person, with a dark sense of humor. So I feel like I've arrived at this healthy middle ground with it, where I'm not using it to process my feelings. Because, it happened so long ago. So now, I can look at it more objectively. And I think that's important too.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. I mean, it sounds like such an incredible story.

Azsa West: Yeah.

Nate Watkin: So multilayered. And of course, it's your true story of your life. I mean, really sounds like an incredible project. So I'd be very interested to learn more about that, or see it when it comes out.

Azsa West: Thank you. Yeah. I don't know when it'll come out. I think I'm just... I think this will be the thing that I'll probably be the most proud of, out of everything I've ever made. So I'm just taking my time with it.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. And so moving on, as you grew up, from what I've researched, it sounds like you didn't do too well in traditional school. Would love to know more about that. And why you think that traditional school wasn't for you.

Azsa West: Yeah. You've really done your homework. Yeah. So I've probably dropped out of three to four different colleges. To be fair, I did try. I did really well in high school for some reason. But when it got to college, I struggled with hypothetical situations. So you're picking a major, you're picking a career. And then you have all these people putting you in these hypothetical situations, with these fake presentations and these fake projects. And it didn't feel challenging enough to me. And I lost interests. And I struggled to stay committed to those things. And kept changing my mind as a result of that, or getting distracted by other things.

And in the end, where that left me was learning a little bit about a lot of different things. And I guess maybe in a weird way, that worked out for me. Because what I realized was, that's essentially handy for what I do now. Having a background in film, photography, design, communication, fashion. All these things, helps me with where I am now. Whereas if maybe I would've pursued just one of those paths, I wouldn't be where I am. So I do consider it a blessing now. At the time, I was like... I felt cursed and lost. And confused. But in a weird way, I think all those choices or bad choices that I made, led me to where I am here.

Nate Watkin: Yeah.

Azsa West: Yeah.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. I ask because I feel like I had a similar experience, honestly. When I was... Especially in going through college. Because, I dropped out as well. Would finish my degree years later, but I dropped out to start a production company. Which was my first company.

Azsa West: That's cool.

Nate Watkin: And I think I can relate to that, of the hypotheticals. Because it was like, I just wanted to go do it in real life. I wanted to just go create a business, and just get started. I guess that was my sense, was I just couldn't wait to get started. Did you feel some sense of that as well?

Azsa West: No. Actually, it was the opposite. I was struggling to know what I wanted. And it actually... There was a teacher, his name's Gary Cox. I'll give him a little shout out. And I met him in art school. And I remember the day he asked me to stay after class, and he asked to look through my sketchbook. I used to carry these sketchbooks around. And I would create these visual universes. And collages, and lists. It looked crazy. But I would just observe things, and write them down. Or tape them into my book or whatever, in this very bizarre way. I don't know. I guess, it was... It was more personal for me, at the time. But he took notice of me doing this in class, and he called me up after class. And I thought that I was going to get in trouble. But he said the opposite to me. And he is like, let me look at your book.

And he flipped through it. And he is like, I don't think you belong in school. I can see by the way your brain works, that you need to be doing something else. And I was like, well what do you have in mind? And he's like well, there's an ad agency across the street called Wieden+Kennedy. And there's a school there, that I think you should apply to. And he's like, it's more of an experiment. Because, it's not really a school. It's basically an ad agency, within an agency. Where you learn by actually doing things. And that's how I found out about it. And then, the rest is history.

The application process was pretty mysterious, and confusing. And intense. But I was surprised in the end, to hear that I had made it. And I remember going to the dean of the school and telling him I was quitting to go to Wieden. And he was like, good luck. You're not... He's like, the likelihood of getting hired there is unlikely.

And I remember when he said that to me, I said to him... I don't know. Something really snarky. Along the lines of well, okay. Well, I can't wait to prove you wrong then.

Nate Watkin: Yeah.

Azsa West: I feel like I was lost for a really, really, really long time. And it took people like that to, point out the things that were obvious to them. Because... I don't know. They had more experience. Or they saw talent in myself, that I didn't even know about or understand. And were able to help direct and guide, and articulate those things for me.

And so, I feel like I was really able to find my focus because of that. And I'm really glad that I did. Maybe... Who knows what would've happened if I didn't meet Gary. But it really unlocked something.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. That's pretty serendipitous. I think that's... It's almost the white rabbit. Just tells you about this mysterious school. Which of course, was the Wieden+Kennedy 12. Which you I believe, describe as a cult disguised as an experimental school. But tell us more about that. What was the experience like? And how did it go?

Azsa West: I think it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my entire life. And that was the point. It was engineered by this amazing individual called Jelly Helm. The point of it was to be harder than working at Wieden. And the goal wasn't necessarily to try to find people to work at Wieden. It was genuinely an experiment to take people from non-advertising backgrounds, to see if they could do advertising on the Wieden level. And I believe that, that connects back to Dan Wieden. And his philosophy of how you get to great work is by connecting with an audience, in a genuine and in an emotional way. So I think the answer to them was well, let's find people who connect with people like people. Not like businessy people.

So the application process was very simple. It was, tell us something about yourself. And it has to fit within this eight and a half by 11 sized envelope.

And I took it quite literally. I told them... I don't know how old I was at the time. Maybe 21 or 22, or something. I think I told them 22 things about myself. One sentence, for every year. And I drew a picture, or something. And they were meant to accept 12 people out of the thousands of people that had applied, or something crazy. And I remember they called me. And they're like, you're the 13th person. If someone drops out, you've got it. And my family thought it was a pyramid scheme. And they thought it was total bullshit. And they didn't believe me. They're like, what is this weird school you're applying to? You've dropped out of college. What are you doing? They thought I was completely crazy. But when I had found out I had gotten in, there was no going back. And it was really unclear what it was.

It genuinely was an experiment. And we had to go into it very open. I think that Jelly... I think he had that in mind when he picked these people. He wanted people who were genuinely open-minded people, who would be open to going along for the ride. It's hard to explain what it was. There were some rules. It was a very... It was open-minded, yes. But there were some pretty hardcore rules that weren't normal. And the program was 13 months long. And I think in a way, these weird rules helped weed out certain kinds of people. The first rule was everyone gets credit for everything, no matter what. And so, you were forced to collaborate with 12 different kinds of people.

Another rule was, you weren't allowed to have a job during this time. You had to do this full time, no matter what. There are other rules too, like you're not allowed to sleep with anyone that works in the agency. Yeah. Definitely, it was a bizarre and unconventional experience. But it was very formative in terms of how I approach things, and how I get to ideas and stuff.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. It reminds me a bit of the Thiel Fellowship. Are you familiar with the Thiel Fellowship?

Azsa West: No. What's that?

Nate Watkin: So it's Peter Thiel. Obviously, famous tech investor. But he started this fellowship where he would pick college age students, and give them a $100 000 to drop out of college and just work on their idea. And it's to date, produced many billions and billions of dollars.

I mean, the founder of Figma that just sold for 20 billion, was a Thiel fellow. So I'm curious, looking back at your group, obviously you've gone on to have amazing success. Do you think there was something about that group of people, if you look at your peers, that they've all gone on to do great things in this industry?

Azsa West: Yeah. I do. I think that they all have. And they're some of my favorite people. And I think they are some of the people who have for whatever reason, done the best at Wieden. And gone on to do amazing things outside of Wieden too. But I think there was this nice balance of having no ego, but having a very strong point of view at the same time. Or this exceptional level of talent, but this ability to be collaborative. So there is all these polarizing elements within these people. And I think that's what makes that place magical.

Nate Watkin: Yeah.

Azsa West: It isn't about the fame, it isn't about taking credit for things. It's about trying to get to the best idea that you can. And doing whatever you can, in terms of what you need to do to get to great work, is all that matters. But the pandemic, that changed the culture of that place. And I think people are realizing too, that your mental health is important. Having a work-life balance is important. And so how do you make sure that the quality of your ideas and how they come to life is amazing, but that you're also continuing to take care of yourself too, and not burn yourself out?

Nate Watkin: So you go on from the 12, and eventually end up working on and off Wieden+Kennedy for about 15 years. Obviously, big news passing of Dan Wieden, who's just a legend in this industry. And has impacted so many people. What's your best story of working with Dan, or with the team at Wieden+Kennedy over those years?

Azsa West: Oh, there's so many stories. Actually, someone randomly... Doug. This guy, Doug Sweeney. He just tagged me in a story the other day on LinkedIn. But this is the one that stands out the most. When I first started it at Wieden Portland, we were pitching the Levi's account. And at the time, I was a junior art director. And I was part of this group internally at Wieden, that they called the five. Because, there was five of us. It was myself, Julia [inaudible 00:17:04], Julia [inaudible 00:17:05], Mike [inaudible 00:17:07], Rudy Adler. And then, there were a couple other people that would swap in and out. This boy, Matthew Carey and David [inaudible 00:17:13]. But we were one of the teams working on this pitch. And then there was another team as well, working on it. And I remember we really, really, really wanted to prove ourselves. And so we went up to the sixth floor, where Dan's office was. Not because his office was up there, but because it was the only wall in the agency that was open, where we could put all of our ideas up.

And we just took over the sixth floor. And I remember the day we had the review, and we went through all of the work. And hearing that our idea was picked. And then the day we went to present it, he let us present it to the people at the highest level at Levi's. Because, he really believed in us. And believed in our work. But it was interesting to hear this from the client's point of view, that posted this on LinkedIn. Even he could see it. And he didn't even know our process very well, but he was very impressed by the fact that Dan was willing to let these junior creatives who had never done anything before, run this entire pitch. And present the ideas to them, at the highest level. Because for him it was just about, I just want to put the best ideas in front of people.

I don't care who writes them, or where they come from. Or how they do it. I just want it to be the best. And I think that's a good metaphor for that place. You never felt like anyone was above you. You always felt like people were there to support you, and nurture you. And help you to bring your wildest dreams to life.

And that was Dan. He was always helping from behind. He was never a heavy hand. But he was there to say the right thing, to make you feel as though you had come up with it on your own. Or to give you the confidence to put it out there. And I think that he created an environment that allowed that magic to happen. He would always say, this is your place. Do with it what you will. Use it how you want to. Sometimes people took that too far. I remember people would draw dicks on the elevator. And you would get an email from him every once in a while being like, stop drawing penises in the elevator.

Or there was a kid who, he had nowhere for his pet tortoise to live. And I remember looking out the window one day, and Dan had let him keep his pet tortoise on his balcony. Yeah. It was a really magical time, having him there.

Nate Watkin: Yeah.

Azsa West: It's really cool to see how much he's impacted other people's lives.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Definitely.

Azsa West: Yeah. I'll never forget that. It stays with you. And I don't know, I literally grew up there. I spent probably my entire career there, with the exception of one year at CAA. And worked in four different offices within that network. And even though they were all very different from each other, the one thing they had in common was... You never felt like you had to stay in a lane, or that there were certain rules that you had to follow when you worked there. It really felt like each place was your place to do what you wanted, within that space.

Nate Watkin: Yeah.

Azsa West: Yeah.

Nate Watkin: And speaking on that, working in the four different offices, it seems like you creatively are significantly influenced by global travel. Why would you say that is one of your inspirations?

Azsa West: I think I get bored very easily. I don't know. Maybe I have ADD or something. Yeah. I think I am inspired by my environment. And I have a complicated background as well. And my wife also does. She's half Japanese, half Scandinavian. And I'm Native American, and Mexican. And British on my father's side. We have a son, he's half Brazilian. His father's from Vitoria, Brazil. And his husband is French. So... I don't know. I've always been drawn to people who like to travel. And who have a different way of doing things, I guess.

I don't know what the clean, perfect answer is. Maybe it's my background. My complicated background. But I am drawn to people who have complicated backgrounds. My family is complicated, so that could be...

Nate Watkin: Yeah. And so you're now executive creative director at Anomaly, in the Berlin office. What brought you to Berlin? Was it the job specifically, or you just decided you're going to move to Berlin?

Azsa West: There was a number of reasons that brought us here. It all started I guess, when... At the beginning of the pandemic. When I was finding myself feeling I guess, my time was better spent helping people. And helping to shape an environment that was more nurturing, and supportive. Don't get me wrong, I loved being a creative director. And I felt like I was doing a good job there. But for whatever reason, I felt being pulled in this other direction to help create space. And want to help people create the best work of their lives. So when the opportunity came up to do something like this, it seemed like the right thing to do. And we were in Portland for three and a half years, and it felt like the right time to try a new adventure.

My son also has family here, like I mentioned. One of his fathers is French. And they had this plan to move back to Paris. I think they're going to move to Portugal now, eventually. But it all felt serendipitous. There was something about moving here that felt right. What do I love about Berlin?

Nate Watkin: Yeah. What draws you to Berlin? I mean, what do you love about Berlin?

Azsa West: What do I love about Berlin?

Nate Watkin: And I'm asking because I was just there for the first time, and it was an amazing city. So interested to hear your perspective.

Azsa West: I guess it's like, if... For me, it's about where I was coming from. And I don't know if this is a Berlin thing, so much as it's more of a European lifestyle thing. But I love the history here. I love the architecture here. I love the little gold stones on the streets, that pay homage to the Jewish people. I love that they don't hide their history. I think there's something incredible about that. And being a Native American person, I wish there was more visibility around that in America.

I love that it's a melting pot here. And there's a socialist attitude. There's a scrappiness and a grittiness to Berlin. There's some parts of it, that remind me of New York from the '80s. But it's a funny place. It's like no place I've been to before. I love that I can walk, and get a cup of coffee from my house. Coming from Portland, it's the complete opposite. We were literally living in a forest. And I had to drive to get a coffee. I love that we can take the train, and go to wherever. Copenhagen, Munich so easily. For me, one of the things I do love about Berlin is the creative energy here. It feels very new and exciting, still. Even though there's all this history, it always feels as though it's constantly reinventing itself. And you can step out your door, and there's always something exciting on to do or see. Or take in.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. It's really unique city. Really, really amazing. And so in terms of your work shifting into what you do professionally and also as passion, everybody I think, regards you as a true artist. And I think that, that's something that everybody in advertising wants to be considered. An artist. But you really are an artist. You've had actual galleries for artwork. You've had shows where you've hosted your artwork at galleries. You also are a director, filmmaker. Would love to know how you think of yourself. And how you separate art from commerce, in terms of your passions and what you do.

Azsa West: I think one of the reasons why I've done okay is because, I only did things the way that I knew how to do them. I came into this job very naive, having no experience. I remember one of the first presentations I went to at Wieden, I had an internal check in with Alberto Ponte. Who was a creative director on Nike, at the time. And I had water colored everything. Because, I didn't know that you weren't supposed to do that. You know what I mean? I showed up to the meeting, having water colored my ideas. And I just continued naively, doing things my own way. Because no one had said, don't do that. Do it this way. And maybe that was a Wieden thing or an Alberto thing, or whatever it was. But when you're socialized to believe that you can do things your own way, you just keep doing them your own way.

When you're starting out, it's much more emotional and personal. When people don't buy your ideas or they change things, it feels really, really bad. Because, you're having to approach things from this very intimate, personal part of your brain. Creativity, it's a very intimate thing. Expressing yourself.

But then you also have to be able to take a step back, and let people critique the shit out of it. And then all the while, protect the parts that are good. Or find solutions when problems occur. So it's a really strange job, that demands different kinds of skill sets that you learn over time. And over time, you learn to separate those things. But the one thing I don't learn is how to compromise on the artfulness of it. Because, that's all I know how to do. And if somebody doesn't want that, then they shouldn't hire me.

Nate Watkin: Yeah.

Azsa West: Or I'm the wrong person for the job. I don't think we should pretend to be other people. Because one, I would be bad at it. I've tried before, to be someone else in a professional setting. And it doesn't work.

Nate Watkin: And so, tell me a little bit about your filmmaking career now. Just recently, you were signed as a director with Where The Buffalo Roam. So obviously, making waves in terms of the directing side of things. How long have you been behind the camera, and interested in that side of creativity?

Azsa West: Yes. I mean, I've always been interested in it. And I think when you do this job, especially as an art director, in a way, it's like going to film school. Because, you're on all these sets. And you're a part of the process for most of it. But when you're on the other side, on the production side of it, there's more steps that you are responsible for. This part of me always wanted to know more. Or wanted to be a part of more. And I had heard several times before from various directors that I had worked with, that were like, hey. We've noticed that the way you give feedback or the way that you're thinking, is like a director. Have you ever tried exploring that? And there were two director friends of mine. I guess, it gave me the confidence to be able to pursue that. Or even the opportunities too.

I had a friend, her name's Paola Morabito. She's a filmmaker from Australia. And I was able to partner with her on a couple things, and get into it that way. There was even a Nike client that I worked with in Shanghai, that asked me. She's like, would you ever consider just directing this commercial for this one project we had? Because of the way that I was thinking, and approaching it. Again, another theme of someone pointing out something that, hey. I think you could be good at this. Have you thought of it? Or would you try it? Yeah. I wonder if people hadn't pointed that out, who knows what I would've done or not. But that was how I got into it, was by people pointing it out. And giving me the chance.

And from there, you just dive in and develop your own ideas. I started with music videos, and some internal Nike stuff. And after that, I started taking on more.

Nate Watkin: Nice.

Azsa West: Yeah.

Nate Watkin: And Anomaly itself, has such an interesting model. I mean, they've created their own products and IP. They launched the cannabis company Dosist, as an example. What's unique about working at Anomaly?

Azsa West: I mean, the name says it all. Not to be obvious or cliche, but I think that was the intention. Was to not fit in within the industry. And to provide a different solution, or approach to things. And that even applies to the way we hire here, and the way that we work.

It is an inherently more collaborative process. And the lines do get blurry. And I say this to everyone that we hire. I'm like, look. I'm going to be honest with you. This place is not for everyone. But it is for a certain kind of person. And that certain kind of person can do very well here, if they are comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I think coming from Wieden, it was a little bit different in that way. Where at W+K, it was a little bit more siloed in the terms that we worked. Which can be good too. As an art director, you're responsible for that thing. Or a strategist is responsible for strategy. But here, it is... The lines do get a little more blurry. And again, that connects back to this idea that an answer can come from anywhere. And it's all of our responsibility to rally around that problem, and try to solve it the best way that we can.

Nate Watkin: And now as an executive creative director, you're obviously top of the food chain. Probably a lot of your role, if I had to guess, is managing other creatives. And managing teams. How is that transition from somebody like yourself, that really is an artist that needs to create and gets bored easily, to now be shifting into more of a role where you're managing other people, and responsible for their success?

Azsa West: I like it. Because I think, you have to think about the people as the art. From... I don't know. It gives me pleasure to see the people that we have here succeeding, and doing awesome things. But like I said earlier in the conversation, there was something about... Whatever was happening during the pandemic, unlocked this shift in me. I also think it's important to have an outlet outside of work creatively. You need that outlet where you can express yourself fully, without having to compromise.

Nate Watkin: And what would you say that outlet is?

Azsa West: For me, I guess making films and making arts. Making pottery, playing music. Yeah. There's tons of outlets.

Nate Watkin: Going back into your influences, what would you say is the most influential film you've ever seen, or book you've ever read? Or artist who's influenced you?

Azsa West: Oh my gosh. That's a big question. I don't even know how to answer that. I would have to think about that.

Nate Watkin: How about these days? What are you reading? What are you watching?

Azsa West: I'm actually watching some pretty embarrassing stuff. But aren't we all? British crime stories, to bad reality TV. I'm excited about the new season of White Lotus. I think that's going to be incredible. What else? Oh, I mean... The thing about me, is I'll watch anything. I'm curious about everything.

For me, there isn't one source of inspiration. I find inspiration everywhere.

Nate Watkin: So aside from art and work, what is something that you're incredibly passionate about?

Azsa West: I guess... I don't know. For me, this is personal. Because, I think everyone starts somewhere. But not all of us come into this on the same level. It's not an equal playing field. So for me, equity, diversity, inclusion. All of these things are very important to me. And helping to develop creatives. That's very important to me. Especially younger creatives, who have less experience. Or who come from underrepresented backgrounds. I would say, that's an area I thrive in and feel super passionate about. And I think it's, in a weird way, I feel like it's my duty to give that back. Because, I don't know where I would be if I didn't have that. There were so many amazing people who helped me along the way, who continue to help me to this day. I think it's important to have mentors, even at this level. You're always going to need someone to bounce something off of.

So I try to give that to people. That's something I try to do here, and wherever I've been. Is spend that one on one time with people, and listen to them. Or give advice. I just spoke to an art director last night, that I used to work with at Wieden. Who's somewhere else now. But we still maintain that relationship, and we still check in on each other. And I'm still very close to Susan Hoffman, for example, who... She was the first person who hired me at Wieden. Yeah. Again, I think that mentorship is something I'm very passionate about.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. So important. So wrapping up, last question, I ask this to everyone, but what advice would you give to your 20 year old self? I suppose this would be about the time you get this white rabbit invitation to join the W+K 12. But looking back in that time in your life, what would you tell your young self?

Azsa West: What would I tell my young self? To have more fun, and to not worry. I spent so much of my twenties worrying how the story would end, or where this would all go. And to the point where, I was wanting to be in my thirties. I had grown up with so much shit. So much responsibility I guess, that I would've tried to give myself more permission to have fun and fuck up more. At least, in my personal life. Yeah. If I could go back in time, I would definitely try to do that.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Oh, great advice for any stage in life.

Azsa West: Yeah.

Nate Watkin: So I hope that you're doing that these days.

Azsa West: Thank you.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Really great to talk. Thank you so much for joining us.

Azsa West: Thank you for having me. It was my pleasure.