A toast to 2017

Editor’s note: Asana recently held its annual company holiday party where co-founder Justin Rosenstein gave a toast to celebrate the year. This is an edited transcript of his remarks.

Thank you so much for coming. It’s such an honor to be here with so many people I love, and so many people they love. I’d actually like to start by thanking the plus-ones: You are the people who love and support us. Without you, this would not be possible. Thank you so much.

And how wonderful to meet so many of you under such unique and special circumstances. You might think I’m referring to the quirky circus theme of tonight’s party, but I actually mean the special circumstances of being here as humans, at this moment in history. We live on a rare planet. As far as we can see into the galaxy, we have still found no other forms of life. Yet, somehow, we are here on this rich green blue orb. We, the result of billions of years of evolution, find ourselves as these little avatars that can move around, that can think, and feel, and will and do. How strange! And how special.

Special for many reasons, including that each of us has the ability to imagine. And we then have the ability to turn our imaginations into reality through effort. We call this process—the process of turning imagination into reality—“work.” What a gift for humans! And what a privilege that we, as Asanas, have: to be able to help other people to turn their imaginations into reality. Because when people work together, what we can imagine and what we can create, is limitless.

Working together is how we create opportunity for all people—like at customer Akilah Institute, Rwanda’s only college for women, which enables young women to achieve economic independence and obtain leadership roles.

Working together is how we will bring beauty into each other’s lives—from customers British National Gallery, or SFMOMA, or World Press Photo — projects that share art with people all over the world.

Working together is how we care for our neighbors near and far—like customer Meals on Wheels, who uses Asana to more efficiently and thoroughly pull together ideas from team members. Or the Stanford Peace Innovation Lab, a global community designing frameworks and innovation processes for technologies that measurably improve world peace.

Working together is how we help build businesses for good—like Kapor Capital, using Asana to help manage its investments in startups whose success in business generates positive social impact.

Working together is how we protect those who cannot protect themselves. The CEO of the Whale and Dolphin Conservatory said that “there are more whales and dolphins alive today thanks to working more efficiently with Asana.”

And, working together is how we cure disease and increase quality of life. I recently had the privilege of meeting a leader at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. She came up to me with literal tears in her eyes, saying said she wanted to thank us because she believes humanity will eradicate AIDS faster because of the productivity gains Asana gives the organization.


I know that not every customer we have is curing AIDS. But every customer is able to work together with less effort. And all of them are helping us build a platform to enable teams all over world do great things more efficiently, effectively, and collaboratively.

It’s been five years since Asana launched. We’re still at the very beginning of our journey, but we have had one hell of a year. In 2017…

Outside of Asana, though, 2017 has been a year of harsh realities. The tech industry has lost its halo as abuses of power have been brought to light across industries. I am so proud that we stand for a better way to work together. As technology addictiveness becomes a rising mental health concern, we stand for mindful product design. As hostile workplace scandals fill the news, our employee resource groups have helped make Asana recognized as one of the best places in the world to work for women, and for everyone. As political discourse devolves, we are blessed with the chance to inspire with the loving, compassionate culture that we have cultivated.

Asana is far from perfect, but we genuinely care about our work and how we work together, and that’s what I’d like to celebrate with you tonight: working together, with love.

I’d like to end with the words of poet Khalil Gibran:

What is it to work with love?
It is to weave cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to write code with pragmatic craftsmanship,
even as if your beloved were about to be on-call.
Always have you been told
that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But when you work with love,
you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream.
Work is love, made visible.

Now if you’ll join me in raising a glass: Here’s to a great 2017, and a greater 2018. I love you. Thank you.

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