Team and Client Testimonials

I've had the privilege of working with some great team members and clients. Many of them have said some great things about me, so I thought I'd share. Here's a collection of my favorite testimonials and recommendations.
Gurmeet Kaur
Vice President, Experience Design, Capital One
Author, Empathy & Arrogance: The Paradox of Digital Products

It was a pleasure to be introduced by Ralston at the Summer 2021 All Hands. It can be hard to make connections during a virtual meeting when you are new to a team. Ralston took some of my thoughts and ran with them. He came up with the idea of the "fireside" talk. He dug into my work and personal life and pulled me into an engaged conversation that helped the team see me in a human form.
I think, at heart, Ralston is a storyteller who loves to make connections. I would love future opportunities to work with him and see how he can bring his storytelling into my world of design.
Kathrine Becker
Narrative Strategist and Writer, Capital One

Ralston's thought-partnership was invaluable. He helped me think through the job description for the role I have today! It was so exciting to see his Mural board on story strategy and how he practices his craft. Not only could I see that he is skilled at shaping communications, it was clear that he could articulate his abilities to other non-communications specialists in an accessible way.
My only wish is that we have the opportunity to work together more often. I trust the thoughtfulness of Ralston's approach, and would be a willing collaborator any time.
Cynthia Puryear
Head of Executive Communications, Experience Design, Capital One

I’ve thoroughly appreciated every opportunity to collaborate and brainstorm with Ralston. He excels at the competencies of communication, influence, judgment, being results Focus, and teamwork. 
Ralston is a great thought partner for strategic communications and for capturing the tone and essence of a message. I’ve drafted numerous messages with success, however, when drafting a very critical message for the full Experience Design (XD) org, I was challenged with how to approach conveying the content in the most effective and impactful way. After a couple of rewrites, I asked Ralston to review. He was so thoughtful and insightful. He proposed a different approach for the message that I had not thought of. His fresh eyes and fresh perspective were critical in capturing the right tone.
Ralston is also a forward thinker who brings depth to communications in a way that others cannot. His exploration and ideas about how the XD imperatives and objectives fit in with other Capital One foundational principles were so deep and analytical in thought. He provided assessments and refined the language and structure to help connect all of the dots across the mission and imperatives. That model is still a point of reference today, and Ralston’s insight helps push us to a much deeper level of understanding, specifically in relation to showing how we true back to XD imperatives. 
I also appreciate Ralston’s desire to voluntarily lead the Open Reel video program roll-out. He advocated for XD to be included in the adoption of the platform happening across the company. He was the first to raise his hand to learn Open Reel on behalf of XD. His willingness to understand a new technical video tool, and take a leadership role for the XD roll out is admirable. 
Ralston’s expertise and ability to deeply analyze communications had made him an irreplaceable thought partner. He embodies “teamwork,” welcomes any opportunity to lean in and always adds value. The added benefit and bonus was getting to know Ralston better as an XD comms peer.
Maggie Anderson
Lead Content Strategist, Experience Strategy, Capital One

I consider Ralston's ability to step back from the immediate, short-term task and ask the bigger questions to be indispensable. For example, I remember one meeting where he asked "Where are we making room for stories?" His question and the discussion it prompted led to the creation of a storytelling sub-group for broader strategic thinking about storytelling in Experience Design.

I also appreciate that Ralston does what he says he will, and that if he needs to miss a meeting he will slack with a summary of where things are with him. Super valuable teamwork qualities!
Ralston is a thoughtful, calming, and kind presence in any meeting, and I think that energy is also something I really value as a leader of large groups.
Daniel Filler
Sr. Director, Experience Design, Capital One

Ralston has always been a wonderful partner. He’s empathetic, listens deeply, and is extremely thoughtful and generative – often taking ideas in different, but still relevant and distinct directions. This ability, in turn, causes those who work with Ralston (including myself) to consider approaches previously not considered – ideas, previously not thought of. 
When my team was coming together, I often lamented Consumer Bank Experience Design’s lack of a foundational broader journey or ecosystem map – something that would guide how our teams organize and our partners' understanding of where their work fits into the broader journey. Ralston was one of the first individuals I scheduled time with to float my initial thinking. 
Per usual, Ralston thought deeply about the outcomes I was trying to push and began to ideate on how the initial draft map could be improved upon – thinking through each journey stage and moment, including the triggers that move customers between them. 
The result, while not identical not Ralston’s ideation, was an improved-upon map that now forms the basis for how my team is structured and how our Product partners now understand the integration between several of our business teams.
Andi Valentin
Communications and Storytelling, Capital One

Prior to the integration of our two, large design teams, I was a comms and events team of one. As you can imagine, this left little time for me to have big sky thoughts and dreams, or really think through a broader strategy. A lot of my approach was logistics heavy, because there was so much to get done in little time with low capacity. Once Ralston joined, that changed TREMENDOUSLY. 
Ralston has challenged me to take a step back from the quickness that is logistics, and to really think about the meaningful purpose behind why we do things the way we do. This, in turn, has led the entire team to rethink our communications channels and vehicles, and whether or not we are really bringing the most value to our team. 
Ralston's thought partnership led me to speak up about a recurring, weekly comm and how I thought it was no longer serving its original purpose to provide leadership accessibility to our team of almost 200 designers. 
In summary, Ralston's thoughtfulness and storytelling mastery has ensured that we are writing our communications and planning our events 100% with the people in mind, rather than creating output just to create output.
Amanda Paswaters
Admin Support Assistant III, Capital One

Ralston inspires me every single time I interact with him, whether that's working on a project together, or just slack messaging about our days. 
I appreciate his wisdom and the unique perspective he brings to every conversation. I find Ralston's design process knowledge invaluable. Like when we worked on a New Hire Onboarding Email project. After our initial meeting, Ralston wrote a creative brief that so neatly and concisely laid out exactly what we were going for with the effort. It really helped us focus in on accomplishing our objective for the new hire communication experience.
For our Q2 All Hands event, Ralston and I partnered on the introduction of our new VP Gurmeet Kaur to our team of almost 200 designers. The process of curating the conversation with him was delightful. Ralston has incredible tact and unique perspective. He has a way of teasing the best out of those around him by asking unexpected questions, and digging deeper into topics that end up exposing really interesting things. A skill that was so perfectly utilized when shaping the experience for Gurmeet! 
I learn something new, and truly feel like a better professional and person by simply knowing Ralston a watching how he works. He has always been very proactive in sharing his thoughts and wisdom with me, something I'm so grateful for. I look forward to working with Ralston more than I do now. He's truly an invaluable teammate.
Julia Larrabee
Manager, Experience Strategy, Capital One

What thoughtfulness! Ralston deeply considers audience, purpose, experience, risks, and style as he crafts his stories. In an environment where we're often moving really really fast with a lot of moving pieces, Ralston's vision helps bring everything together to create meaning. It is such a joy to work with him and to think deeply together.
Jennifer Granger
Principal Associate, Risk Operations, Capital One

Ralston demonstrates several examples of competencies well executed. Both Ralston's written and verbal communications are exceptional. He provided several compelling creative directions and the meaning behind them. He shared different perspectives, communicating the value of each with zest. 
Ralston is also a team player. He understood the importance of the work my team brings  to Capital One and was mutually compelled to deliver solutions in the time we needed.
Ralston also excels at influence, clearly explaining different creative iterations of his work helping my team decide upon the best choice.
I had an awesome experience working with Ralston. He asked if we could initially meet so he could understand the genesis behind the desire to elevate our team's internal reputation. He was interested in how the work we perform would be integrated into the design concept we were partnering to create. He was mentally searching for the types of visuals that could create a memorable and succinct impression. 
Ralston was a true professional. He performs as a consultant from the concept brief to the strategy of the whole process. He's very skilled and is driven to deliver the highest results. His commitment to quality and integrity are evident.
Matthew Gillette
Community Organizer and Co-Founder, Restore Alexandria

Ralston has been very professional and easy to work with. Not only did I end up with a great brand identity, I came away with a lot of knowledge about brand design. 
I appreciate Ralston's thoughtful questions and how he walked us through the design process. I would highly recommend him.
John G Durden IV
John G Durden IV
President and Lead Strategist, Red One Corporation

The job that I hired Ralston and his brand consultancy, Thinkory, to perform was supposed to be simple. I had an idea for a brand for my business. I didn’t have the technical know-how to create the mark fully, so I consulted Ralston.

He was supposed to not only create the mark, but also define several of my brand’s attributes. So we sat and talked for a bit about my business before he got started. I shared many things – about the company, the product, the target market, the ideal user, what I wanted this tool to accomplish for them. We parted, and he was confident that he understood what I needed.

What he delivered was not what was expected. At all. Before we met, he warned me, “It’s not what we talked about, but I feel that it was the right thing to do.” Admittedly, that comment made me a little nervous. But I hoped for the best.

We met. He began his presentation, which was, in and of itself, a work of art. He carried me through the things that we’d spoken about – the traits, the characteristics that the Clothier Connect brand should embody, as well as a few other details. Then there was the mark. I must say – he gave me so much more than I imagined!

His “understanding” of what I needed and wanted is a serious understatement. What he delivered seemed like it was born of an examination of my subconscious mind. He incorporated things into that mark that I had no idea I wanted. What I requested of him was shallow in comparison to all of the depth, full body, and meaning that he epitomized through my brand. It reflects elements that are core to my heart and soul, to who I am as a person. It was, in a word, perfection.

Every time I now look at the mark that he created, I am invigorated by it. It enlivens passion and excitement for the product that I’m creating and all the good that it will do for my clients. It is, in a sense, a beacon of inspiration for everything that I hope to accomplish.

But isn’t that what a brand is supposed to be?
Andy Pisciotti
Lead Creative, National Community Church

Ralston is a pleasure to work with! He is friendly, professional, and most importantly, humble. He listens well and cares about the end product, because after all, it's his product too. I'd definitely recommend him, and look forward to working with him again.
Jamillah Rahmaad, MPA
Founder, Soukle and JR PR

After in-depth conversations, a name, a brandmark, key messaging and a formula for the future was built for my company. 
Ralston and Thinkory did an excellent job of guiding me through the brand crafting process and pushing out my brightest ideas. The vision we captured for my brand was cohesively aligned within every brand expression we designed for my company. Everything was perfect and just made sense. I highly recommend working with Ralston and Thinkory!
Zaina Ajakie 
Chief Project Manager, Red Tree Labs

I have the pleasure of working with Ralston through Thinkory regularly. Ralston has been invaluable as a resource, not only for UI/UX design but for the creativity he brings to the table in understanding a client’s needs. While he is an excellent Web designer, his strongest suit is seeing opportunity for improvement or creation of brand strategy and identity management. 

Ralston is a humble, yet confident, designer. He leaves his ego at the door and delves into the work completely from the client’s perspective. It is quite something to watch him work his magic in eliciting what the wants and needs are and presenting a product that is often great from the first go round. He takes feedback well, understanding where the client is coming from and integrates that feedback in a way that best serves their needs and self-identity. 

Ralston sees every challenge as an opportunity and sets about tackling it with thought and care. While he looks to satisfy the client’s desires, he is also expert at guiding the client in best practices and interacts with them in a positive, uncritical manner. 

He has a talent for satisfying the most demanding client and yet is able to maintain a cheerful attitude that help build solid relationships and even connections. As such, he is a joy to work with. 
Clayton Curtis
SEO Manager, Cox Media Group

I worked with Ralston Vaz at Instawares and can't recommend him highly enough. He was a creative guy with an especially large skill set in regards to design. He helped me with the front-end design/coding of your buying guides and was instrumental in helping us meet our deadline. I wouldn't hesitate for a second to hire Ralston for design work.
Carlos Preston
Co-Founder, Soul Athletics

Ralston was and still remains to be an intricate part of my ministry, Soul Athletics, Inc. We are a non profit ministry designed to teach and illustrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ through recreational fitness and games for elementary and middle school aged children. 
The quality that I remember most about Ralston was the fact that he took time out to get to know what we were all about. Our mission and vision is important to him and used this valuable information to create our brand identity—which we love and has benefited our ministry tremendously. 
Through countless meetings we were able to establish a relationship that helped the business side of things seem second nature. He is responsible for the success we have had as a ministry in our community by his philosophy of getting an in-depth analysis of exactly of what our ministry is all about. 
Beyond the initial establishment of our brand identity, we still seek Ralston's advisement for the advancement of Soul Athletics, Inc. in the future. Needless to say I highly recommend Ralston for any company, small business startup, or anyone needing to establish and advance their brand.
Jon Rueckner
Lead UX Designer, NTSB.gov

I worked along side Ralston at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and it was a true pleasure. He is excellent at researching and discovering opportunities to make complicated experiences simple. 
Ralston has a strong design aesthetic and a good eye for detail. He has a desire to stay current with technology, market trends and patterns. As a team player, Ralston is a great addition, but also thrives in solo environments. 
Overall, I am highly impressed by Ralston's dedication in all disciplines and his communication abilities. I would love another chance to work together with him in the future.
Vince McDonough
PR Manager, AT&T

I worked with Ralston from 2007 to 2012 when we were employed by AT&T Yellow Pages. I wrote articles for our intranet site, Interconnections, and he did all of the related postings and design work. In fact, he worked closely with IT to launch the site itself, which was not an easy task: The site had to serve all of our employees, including many who worked behind different firewalls at companies we had acquired. As the two primary Interconnections managers, we averaged 25 combined stories, briefs, photos and captions per week -- always on tight deadline. The articles and artwork engaged readers with the latest company/industry news, sales success stories, personal achievements and community involvement. The site also invited employee comments, which we addressed promptly.

Today, if I owned a business and wanted to launch or change a brand and/or website, I would welcome Ralston's design ideas from the start. When we'd first meet to discuss the project, I'd know to build in several hours because he would want full details on what I offered, how I was doing it now and what I wanted to achieve, short- and long-term. He'd ask question after question. He'd then take my raw information, give it considerable branding and marketing thought and make sure I had an equal amount of time for him to present his work in full. I know his concepts would address my business needs and include creativity that was completely off my radar of possibilities. The cornerstone of his design recommendations would be the long-term branding crucial for my success. Whether a single logo or a multipage website, it would reflect Ralston's deep passion for his work and his belief that communication and design should always express, not just inform. 

When we worked together, Ralston's skills also enabled him to be incredibly fast and efficient to support our deadline-oriented news site. However, despite the frequent "need for speed," especially on our Thursday publication day -- when we also issued a newsletter of links to that week's articles -- Ralston often went above and beyond with website designs and treatments that drew kudos from our boss and top executives inside and outside of our Yellow Pages department. His work simply stood out and made each Interconnections component pop.

Again, if I were a business owner in need of top branding/website brainstorming, ideas and concepts, I'd make sure my bids/quotes included one from Ralston.