Ultimate regret: I never did purchase a pantsuit or a briefcase. (Sorry Hillary!)
I'll see if I can swing a pitcure of the office staff on Monday.
Despite all the rumors, I don't actually just sit around in my office all day taking naps on the thoughtfully provided couch (can you tell I'm still excited about the office?). No no, I type furiously fast and keep open more tabs than Peter Shulman (didn't think it was humanly possibly - but computers are pretty darn impressive - and not human, so I guess that makes sense). I've spent the last week continuing my research, and delving deeper into the realm of property development. Taking the outline of topics that I created last week, I tried to flesh out topics and to further expand my knowledge.
Below I've attached a PDF of my last presentation for Brad.
I am now trying to install a gallery wall in my room. See picture gallery for an example. This specific project isn’t going so well seeing that I am an art snob and will only buy original pieces that cost a fortune (if anybody has any abstract artwork or block prints they’d like to sell me, please let me know! Warning: do not be offended if I’m too snobby for them/if I am impossible to please). I gave up trying to buy an original abstract piece today and decided to painted my own piece instead. Think the documentary "My Kid Could Paint That!" but with a 17/almost 18 year old. Less cute and more starving artist. This is not really a solution to my problem of finding art because I'm already insanely critical of art overall, which makes me even more critical of my own (victory number this is not a victory somebody please help me) (I have been researching gallery walls all week) (I still don’t have one) (help) (how am I going to be able to live in a dorm after this internship) (I am going to stop typing right now and find more artwork that I will probably not buy because it will be too expensive) (See you on the flipside… hopefully)
I had a very busy second week working with GLIDER. Between juggling the two projects I've had to work on that I described in my last blog post, Eli was in and out meeting with investors, on the phone with potential business clients, etc. (he even added over two more hours to his work day.) Meanwhile, Justin and Cameron are as busy as I've ever seen them. So I'm glad to be of any sort of help, and I'm learning a lot observing Eli managing this company.
The first project I worked on was helping Eli research and compile a list of businesses with over 100 employees that have been seeded by venture firms that Eli is connected with. I had to find out the names of their CEO, COO, VP of Sales, VP of BD, and their sales operations managers are (which wasn't easy, the information on linkedin often differed with the information on databases like crunchbase and on the company websites.) I think that next week either Eli or I will be reaching out to some of these people to try to pitch GLIDER to them so they can use it in their actual businesses, as an alternative to having to manage their contracts and sign deals the way they currently do.
The second project I've been working on has been helping Justin with content for his blog, The Future Of Work (http://futureofwork.glider.com/). The blog is meant to be a stand-alone project that discusses how "smart enterprise" tools are disrupting enterprise as usual. The premise is that, today, because of how seamless and successful consumer tools like Facebook and Twitter are, workers expect the same quality of performance from the tools they have to use at work. Often times, the IT departments of their work give workers tools that they'd prefer to substitute for technology they are more familiar with, so when workers bring in their own technology to be more efficient to work (BYOD = bring your own device), the IT departments and CIOs can be the last to know. Services like GLIDER that are making work much easier and far more efficient are disrupting entire industries. I spent the majority of last week working on a blog post that discussed this (it'll get published next week), with links to various articles and a big shout out to one of my all time favorite comedies, Office Space. I also helped on a running series called "The Business Setup" that showcases the different technologies that modern businesses use to be more efficient, like Github or Hipchat. I've learned a lot of interesting things by managing this blog, like the "Flesch-Kinkaid Readability Test," which uses a formula that involves ratios between words in a sentence and syllables in a word throughout the text to indicate how comprehensive and difficult the reading is. For example, on a 1-100 scale, a blog post should score above a 50 (fairly easy to read or skim). The text in blog posts can't be like text from Dickens or in Heart of Darkness, which would probably score close to 0, if not in the negatives.
Next week should be a little less busy. Besides the senior/first grade trip to the zoo, the GLIDER team is going down to San Francisco for another tech conference that would introduce them to more VCs and angel investors called "Under the Radar," so I'll be working from home those days. We also move into the new office in the Pearl next week, which I'm excited about (more food options for lunch), so I suppose I'm helping Eli move furniture on Monday.
A quick anecdote about the week: on the second floor of my building, there's a modeling agency and I always see the two women who scout potential models walking out of the building at the same time as me whenever I'm on my lunch break. So they invite me into their office one day after work to have my picture taken and meet their boss, and when I come in to see the open casting call, I literally see some of the cutest girls ever, who aren't even that much older than me. So I come in, everyone's all smiles, I'm making nice conversation with this blond girl on the couch waiting to have my picture taken, when they tell me that I'm too short. (Really hurt my pride with that one.) It's not like I've ever felt any desire to model, but I feel like it would be funny to have girls see my face going into an Abercrombie. Knowing me, the whole thing would be very ironic. Anyway, this story has made for some funny jokes in the GLIDER office, and hopefully I get into more funny encounters in the new building in the Pearl.
Here's a video featuring GLIDER from the Wall Street Journal: http://live.wsj.com/video/what-does-it-take-to-be-the-next-hot-start-up/B800F8EB-BBAC-4262-A09C-8B9F7316F78F.html#!B800F8EB-BBAC-4262-A09C-8B9F7316F78F
Here's an article about GLIDER from Tech Crunch about GLIDER's launch at Disrupt in NY: http://techcrunch.com/2013/04/29/glider-launches-at-disrupt-ny-with-saas-that-automates-approving-and-signing-contracts-adds-intelligence-to-deal-flow/
In the picture below, Eli is writing something up on the whiteboard and Cameron looks super engaged.
"There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in pludering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry"
If you reader, were to ever find yourself in a life or death situation where your very survival depended on the pure wit and intellect of either a Turkey or Chicken, Don't get cute, pick the chicken. This is just one of the countless pearls of wisdom I have gathered in my first four days working at La Finquita Del Buho, a CSA organic farm in Hillsboro.
My mentors, wife and husband Lyn and Juvencio have run La Finquita Del Buho (Little Farm of the Owl) since 2000. The farm follows the CSA or Community Shared Agriculture model, meaning people within their community buy shares of the farm in exchange for regular shares of the harvest. Currently La Finquita Del Buho has over 65 members and they continue to grow. The CSA is an interesting model of farming, one with many benefits. For one, the virtue of having consistent members means the demand will always be predictable, allowing for maximum efficiency. However the noticeable drawback is that the farm has to always meet a certain number for their output to satisfy their customer base. This pressure forces Juvencio and Lyn to work extremely hard and efficiently, an act which I have seen plenty of this week.
I arrived at the farm on Monday Morning around 8:00. Pulling up the winding gravel driveway I was greeted by the seemingly always cheerful face of Juvencio, the farm’s co-owner. The best way to describe my co-mentor is that he’s a man’s man. He’s the type of guy who has an unrelenting energy that never succumbs to weariness. He’ll do about any job, no matter the difficulty, and always with the same steady endurance. When he’s not head down in work, we’ll shoot the breeze and talk about life. He has made for a great mentor these past few days, and I’m fortunate to learn from him. Anyways descriptions aside, Juvencio and I first drove to see his new pigs. We fed them cow milk and grain, both of which were quickly demolished by the animals. We next turned to harvesting Bok Choy and Chinese Broccoli, which was quite a fun task. The rest of the day and by extension the rest of the week (Farming is certainly a repetitive job) saw me watering, seeding, harvesting, transplanting, among other things. A noticeable highlight came when we installed a new pipe system for a bed of recently planted crops. The pipes are fairly easy to install, and they make life much easier, as they eliminate the need to hand water plants, which is as Juvencio puts it, “A full time job”. Working my way back to the cryptic title of this post ( There is a method to the insanity) , on Thursday Lyn and I drove to pick up 17 week old Turkey chicks, that she plans to raise for Thanksgiving. She told me that Turkeys are extremely fragile, and that out of the 17 she expects to raise less than half of them to full maturity. Upon getting them out of the box I understood why. Lyn and I spent upwards of twenty minutes training the Turkeys to drink water. This basically consisted of picking up the chicks and dipping their beaks in water. Without us, I’m sure they would have died right beside the water dispenser.
On Saturday I met Lyn and her partner Polly at the Saturday Market in Beaverton at 5:30 in the morning. Lyn and Polly have sold plants at the market for years now. When I arrived to the market, various merchants were frenetically setting up their booths. With the help of Lyn’s son Diego, we quickly set our booth up with little issue. We (Rightfully) expected a huge turnout because it was the opening day of the market. I manned the cash register for the day, and I saw hundreds of faces. I had no idea that plants could be so popular. Needless to say the booth saw a lot of business.
Before they became their current job, most politicians started off as lawyers or executives. But what about the people who started off as doctors?
I am starting my second week of working at MandateMedia, a small Portland-based company that conducts research on how technology can be better used to assist political campaigns. That sounds counterintuitive- when somebody says political campaigns to me, I think of knocking on doors, speeches, and debates. Since when is technology important?
It turns out that, in the 21st century, technology can be extremely useful. Facebook and Twitter are cost-effective ways of reaching large groups of people. More importantly, they give ordinary people an outlet to voice their opinions and organize, meaning almost anyone can participate in the political process now. MandateMedia spends a lot of resources on learning about how to write the best Tweets or Facebook posts. For instance, I have learned that the best Facebook posts are posted in the late afternoon on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, contain a photo, and start off with an incendiary sentence. There is actually a great deal of social science involved in message delivery, and when political power is on the line, people will want to find ways to optimize their messages.
MandateMedia also sends the mass emails that almost all political campaigns rely on nowadays. If you have ever signed up to receive emails from a campaign in Oregon, then you have likely received one of MandateMedia’s emails. About half of MandateMedia’s clients are from Oregon: big names like Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden, Peter DeFazio, and Sam Adams. The other half is national clients, such as the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
There are five “real” employees at the office. We work in a small space in the basement of a house. Kari is the lead guy, and he brings a lifetime of experience to the company. Kari has spent most of his life in politics. He managed his first major campaign when he was a student the University of Southern California, successfully managing the campaign of his roommate to become student body president. He also happened to have a side interest in technology developed when he worked several summers at Intel as a high school student. The other employees- Carrie, Meaghan, Suvi, and Ben work on managing the advertising and social media uses of campaigns, fundraising, and political strategy. The workplace is pretty laid-back, and the team feels like a family. Everyone has an interest in politics, so there is constant debate about major issues such as red light cameras.
This has been a really cool opportunity for me, because it combines my two primary interests in computer science and political science. My work so far has actually been in computer science. I have been working on a program that reads the statistics for different mailing groups of the mass emails that campaigns send out. These emails are sent to various groups, such as “environmentalists” or “abortion activists.” I am writing this program in a programming language called Python. My job is to record and analyze the statistics of response rates of different groups to different emails. Things have been going pretty well so far, as I have a basic version of the program done already. However, it will clearly take a few weeks to finish this project. Fortunately, on Friday I managed to find a bug in the email server code that was slowing my program down. I wrote to the company that manages that code, and they have responded and rewritten their coding!
Of course, the coolest part of this experience for me has been being around people with so much real-world political experience. Kari told me a neat story on Friday about John Kitzhaber. Kari was at a governor’s debate in 2010 at Oregon State University between Kitzhaber and Bill Bradbury. It was a pretty uneventful debate, there were maybe 30 people there, and nobody was really killing it in the debate. There was a homeless man with a long beard and wearing rags sitting in the back. Suddenly, the homeless man started coughing up blood. One person in the crowd saw him, and shouted “is there a doctor in the house?”
While Bradbury was still delivering one of his statements, Kitzhaber looks up, without even changing his own facial expression, and starts running. He runs up to the man, kneels down, and starts pumping his chest. He directs somebody to call 911 and asks for a wet towel. At that moment, Bradbury knew he was not going to be governor.
I am looking forward to the next few weeks here. It has been fun so far, and I am sure I will have more great stories to tell.
"All the elements of business: market research, strategic PR, profit and loss - I'll have that report to you on monday!"
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Pyramid Communications is a strategic communications firm that works strictly with non-profit organizations and charity foundations. I am shadowing on a new project with United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, but some of their other clients include: KEXP 90.3FM, Northwest Evaluation Association, Northwest Health Foundation, Sierra Club, Seattle Foundation, and many, many more. A lot of the clients are from Seattle since that is where the firm is originally based. Besides Seattle and Portland, they also have an office in San Francisco. Pyramid focuses on five pillars: education, conservation, native, health and wellbeing, and culture. To sum up their work their stated cause is to: “We integrate strategy and creative services with our fluency in arts and culture, conservation, education, health, and issues facing tribes and Native communities. We help organizations nourish communities with sustainable food systems, foster early learning opportunities today for a stronger workforce tomorrow, and invigorate local economies by supporting small business.”
While I'm at Pyramid, I will be working on three different projects. One of my projects (and I think the most interesting) is shadowing the Portland team as they work with United Way of the Columbia-Willamette. This is not the first time they have worked with United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, but this is a new project that is based around fundraising. (I’m not actually sure if I'm allowed to talk about it, so I will leave it vague). The second of my three projects is to interview employees of Pyramid to get them excited to start blogging. Here is the overview of the project that I wrote in the project brief: “The project is to interview a selected group of Pyramid employees, hopefully a person from each branch of the company. The challenge is to build excitement and identify opportunities for staff engagement with the blog. Pyramid wants its employees to contribute to Pyramid’s blog in order to demonstrate the distinctive nature of the firm, and to display their in-house expertise and experience. The goal of this project is twofold: firstly, for Koby to speak with people that are involved in every aspect of a projects completion, and secondly to hit upon themes that employees can blog about later.” The third mini-project I will be working on is looking at other firms in order to get a firmer grasp of how Pyramid is different from the rest.
Pyramid is very different from other PR/advertising firms around. First of all as I mentioned they work specifically with non-profits. As Sarah (one of my co-workers) put it: We make the world a better place through strategic communications.” When I was talking with Tripp (the head of the Portland firm, and the man I contacted to get the internship) he said that there is a very intentional environment at Pyramid. He encourages his employees to ask questions because it helps them think as a team, and when a wider base of knowledge is used, they produce greater results. When you walk into the office, this environment is very evident: there are no cubicles or dividers and there is a seating area for casual meetings. It is very evident that everyone that works there does so because they really believe in a cause to strengthen our community.
My dream job is to be the General Manager of the New York Yankees. I once read an article that interviewed many MLB GMs about their advice for becoming a GM. One of the most prevalent reccomendations mentioned was to intern with a Minor League Baseball team, and after my first week with the Hillsboro Hops, I completely understand why.
On a Major League Baseball team, you have 100+ people working in the front office covering everything from marketing to ticket sales to athletic facilities. However, on a Class A (the lowest level) Minor League Baseball team like the Hillsboro Hops, all of those tasks are handled by about 5 people who all work in one office. I share an office with three other people, who handle ticketing, marketing, promotional events, and countless other things. The small size allows me to experience every facet of running a professional baseball team.
At one point during my senior project, there was a moment when I looked around and every single person in the office (including myself) had a live Major League Baseball game going on his or her computer. I immediately knew I had chosen the right place to spend this month. I work in a temporary office space off of Cornell Road in Hillsboro that the Hillsboro Hops front office staff is working in until they move into offices at the new stadium. On my first day, the Hops' General Manager (and my mentor), K.L. Wombacher, drove me out to the stadium and we watched as cushions were put on seats and beautiful artificial turf was rolled out in the outfield. The new stadium will be completed on June 10th, a week before opening day.
I attended a meeting on Monday with the Hillsboro Parks and Rec department. We discussed stadium logistics such as parking, but I also got a glimpse into parts of baseball I had never thought of before. I saw a schedule of things that need to happen on game days, that ressembled ones that I have seen before on high school teams. Items including "batting practice begins" and "bring out L-screens" hold a lot of familiarity to me as a baseball player.
So far, the work that I have done has been pretty mindless grunt work. I've created huge spreadsheets filled with the contact information of every single person to buy Hops tickets so far. I labled and organized boxes containing all of the Hillsboro Hops merchandise (if you want a hat, come into the office and I can get you set up). It's not glamorous work, but someone's gotta do it. Plus, to be perfectly honest, it doesn't bug me one bit. I love the atmosphere here. I love this idea that I'm going to be part of the beginning of this team. I love that I'm a part of bringing professional baseball back to the Portland Metro area for the first time since those dastardly Timbers executives squeezed out all of the childhood joy that PGE park brought me, and replaced it with the terribly-named Jeld-Wen field.
The last piece of information that I have to share is the fear-inducing news that I was given on Friday: if the team has not hired someone to be the official mascot by opening day, it'll be me prancing out there in a giant Hop costume..
I am working at Foodchain Films for the next month. You can check out their work here! I am really excited to be working along side Brad Goldthwaite who is the executive producer and owner of Foodchain Films.
I will be working with Kari Chistholm for a small, Portland-based company called Mandate Media. Mandate Media conducts research on how technology, especially communications technology, can be used to win political campaigns.