MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: DIRK PETERSEN

Studio IX: Hey, Dirk!

Dirk Petersen: Hey!

Studio IX: So let's start with the basics. Tell us who you are

Dirk Petersen: I'm Dirk Petersen.

Studio IX: And what is it you do?

Dirk Petersen:  I am building a network of Fortune 500 companies around the theme of people analytics.

Studio IX: And what exactly is people analytics?

Dirk Petersen:  It's basically data that you have about your people in your company and the analytics you do to help make the company run more efficiently and hopefully make their lives better and make their work more interesting.

Studio IX: What do you enjoy most about the work?

Dirk Petersen: Meeting and helping smart people in very interesting companies. Our clients include Facebook, other tech companies, such as Vertex and VM Ware, consumer products firms such as Johnson & Johnson and Unilever, and other Fortune 500 companies. Working and meeting those people and helping them think through some of those frontier issues, because it's a really new field, a new area.

Studio IX : How did you get into it? How did you arrive at this point?

Dirk Petersen: About a year and a half ago I was still at the World Bank. I was living in Charlottesville but working in Washington, D.C.. I started thinking about this topic of digital and digitalization’s impact on HR. I reached out to Volker Jacobs whom I’d met at CEB, which is a large publicly traded company in DC (bought by Gartner six months ago).

We started talking about the topic. He was running CEB's business in Germany, Austria and Switzerland at the time. As we started talking about it, we were like you know, this is a really interesting topic, maybe we should do something together. So the two of us decided that yeah, we're going to do something together on that. He would focus on Europe and I would work in the US.

Out of that initial idea our company Insight222 grew that now has its headquarters in London, and offices in Hamburg, San Francisco, and here in Charlottesville. We’re 7 people, soon to be 8, and have 25 clients. I first worked at home, and then I thought maybe a co-working space would be interesting. I looked online, found Studio iX, came by, and the rest is history.

Studio IX: A two-part question for you: What are you passionate about and does this play a part in the work that you do?

Dirk Petersen: That's a really deep question. I think what I figured out that I'm passionate about is to facilitate. I love facilitating in two ways. One, I love to facilitate knowledge and through that help companies get smarter, better, and solve business problems through HR analytics. And I love doing it in person, by being in front of a group and help them get smarter on a topic.  

Studio IX: What's an aspect of your work that might surprise people to know?

Dirk Petersen:  Oh, goodness.

Studio IX:  Or maybe, what's surprising to you?

Dirk Petersen: Surprising to me is how new this field of HR Analytics still is. We've had information about employees for many years. There has been data about people for many, many years, but it's only now in the last three or four years that we've developed tools that actually allow us to get a much more granular insight into employees and their experiences at work.

For example, what we can do now is we can look at employee's emails and employee's calendars and aggregate that and use it to understand how people actually work together in a company, who may be working on similar things, and don’t even know it. We can use it connect them. That's something that I think would probably surprise most people to hear that that's it’s A, possible, and B, not just creepy, but actually could be used for a positive impact.

Studio IX: Right. Is there a memorable story or anything from your work that stands out? A memory?

Dirk Petersen: Yeah, actually last week. We were in a meeting with a group of our clients and prospective clients in Charlotte ... We have meetings in regions and we brought together a group in Charlotte, in a co-working space there. As we were talking, what became clear is that when you think about how people are measured in terms of productivity it's very much still like 20th century. Managers still think that if they see someone at their desk for eight, nine, 10 hours that it’s a sign of ‘working hard’, being productive. And we throw as much email at them as possible, see how much they can manage, and that’s how we think about productivity.

Dirk Petersen: That's very much how we used to do manufacturing in the old days: run every machine at 100% and your factory must be doing well. What happened in manufacturing was Toyota: they basically said let’s not focus on us, let’s focus on the customer. Organize your manufacturing around what the customer needs, so rather than pushing product through the factory, you should pull it out of the factory. If you pull it, it's not about having every machine run at 100% capacity. It's about turning the machine on when you need it and getting the order quickly through the factory.

Dirk Petersen: So if you translate it ... And that was kind of an a-ha moment for all of us... you translate it to people's work: instead of measuring their productivity by how many emails they can respond to, measure it by how fast you get solutions to customer/business problems. If you start measuring it that way, then you can start organizing the entire workflow of individuals around that goal, and that then leads you to say: “do we really need to have a thousand emails a day hitting somebody's inbox? Maybe we shouldn't have to reply all.”

Dirk Petersen: “Maybe we should focus consciously on how do we reduce the volume of emails, of social media, stuff that hits people in a day, so that they can get focused work done quickly.” That's something that's brand new and I'm just starting to think about it and maybe write an article on it.

Studio IX: Yeah, that's exciting!

Dirk Petersen: Thanks. And there are tools now. You can measure now how quickly do people respond to emails and you can develop tools that are a pretty easy jump from where we are now to how fast people get to solutions through their day-to-day work.

Studio IX: Yeah. That's just so cool to see that evolution.

Dirk Petersen: Let's hope it happens.

Studio IX: When I ran an organization I was constantly inundated with email and it burned up so much of my time, 

Dirk Petersen: Yeah, and it leads to delays, right? People don't answer you because they can't find your email. You don't answer people because you've got six other things that you think you need to do. It leads to bad choices: I’ll answer the thing I can answer quickly, rather the more important thing that takes a little bit more time.

Studio IX: Where do you see yourself and the industry headed in the next five to 10 years?

Dirk Petersen: I think ... I don't think of ourselves as an industry specifically. I think of us as function specific. So where I see HR heading in the next five to 10 years is a more toward the fundamental rethink of what the role of HR is, based on analytics.

Dirk Petersen: One of the conversations on this topic was in Chicago last week where somebody said, "If HR doesn't focus on analytics and gives it away, passes people analytics into a central function, then we are putting an expiration date on HR."  

Dirk Petersen: That means in the future you'll have two kinds of organizations, one that has analytics embedded in every decision, an HR function that is data driven, and then you've got another type of HR function where there's no data analytics, then HR is basically just an admin. In that latter scenario it’s all about automation, driving cost down, and people who work there are going to be just miserable automatons. That kind of shows you my bias of where I want to see HR: with analytics at the center.

Studio IX: What do you enjoy most about working here at Studio iX?

Dirk Petersen: I enjoy the environment. There's a bunch of aspects about it that I really like. One is that over time even though there is no formal introduction to people, you can't help but get to know others... Because you see each other every day, you kind of start feeling they look familiar, so you start talking. That, in conjunction with the monthly events where you have an opportunity to talk to people, it's nice because you get to know people and you get to learn about folks that have a very different career and skill set, different business that they work on, and it enriches your own thinking, gives you another perspective.

Dirk Petersen: I also love the fact that we have a very good coffee shop that not only has decent prices for their coffees (now), and that kind of creates a sense of just casualness that makes it more enjoyable to come in in the morning. I like the fact that we have music playing in the background. That it feels casual and comfortable. I think those are the key things. Yeah.

Studio IX: Thanks, Dirk!

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: JENNIFER BYRNE

Studio IX: Hey, Jennifer!

Jennifer Byrne:  Hey!.

Studio IX: So tell us what is you do?

Jennifer Byrne: I'm a photographer.

Studio IX: What kind exactly?

Jennifer Byrne: Well, I shoot all kinds of images. I help businesses around Charlottesville. I help local families, private clients, commercial clients, all kinds of folks.

Studio IX: Cool.

Studio IX: How did you get into that field of work?

Jennifer Byrne: I started photography in high school. I went to Western in the 90s, so I actually took wet process darkroom classes.

Studio IX: Western?

Jennifer Byrne: Western Albemarle High School.

Studio IX: Oh, okay.

Jennifer Byrne: Yeah. I'm native as they come, born and raised in Charlottesville.

Jennifer Byrne: I think that my last year of high school, they probably only continued wet process another four years, but that's where I started.

Studio IX: Were you doing the school paper, and yearbook, and that kind of stuff?

Jennifer Byrne: No. I was just very obsessed with photography. I spent as much time as I could there. Then I went to school at Mary Washington, and that's what I majored in, photography. At that time, everything was still wet process. Today, everything is digital, for the most part. Not that I don't still have all that analog equipment.

Studio IX: So you do what you love.

Jennifer Byrne: I do what I love.

Studio IX: Yeah?

Jennifer Byrne: Yeah. I really love it. That's why it doesn't feel like work.

Studio IX: What do you love about it?

Jennifer Byrne: I think what I love about it is that I have a huge amount of sensitivity, and it's hard to use that as a skill in life, because it can be a difficult thing when you're that sensitive a person, but it translates really well to visual art. It's kind of my superpower.  

Studio IX: Yeah. I certainly relate, as an artist.

Jennifer Byrne: Yeah.

Studio IX: I think that relates, but it's just asking what you're passionate about within it, and in general. When you say "sensitivity," is that a connection with people? Is it a connection with subject matter? Is it a way to engage with the world?

Jennifer Byrne: Well, I think as an artist, we look for inspiration from something. It's not easy to be an artist or a creative, even, in this world, because it's hard to find a use for it.

Studio IX: Yeah.

Jennifer Byrne: I think if you can find a way to funnel it into something, it can be really, really effective. Just the way that I see light, and the way I see people, and the way I relate to people, I can combine all of that using photography. I teach a lot. I have a bunch of students, and they're sort of all over the place, and hopefully I'll build an online portal or some way to connect with more of them. In the future, but right now I meet with them in person.

 It's not just about teaching them Photoshop or Lightroom, or any sort of equipment that they have. I mean, all of that is there, but it's developmental education. A lot of times my students will start in one place, and then within a year, they're showing, they're selling work, they have all this self-confidence. It's amazing what art can do for you.

Studio IX: Yeah.

Jennifer Byrne: Yeah. It's pretty cool.

Studio IX: Do you have a good story you can share?

Jennifer Byrne: Oh gosh. Well, what's funny is that I'm actually a very shy person, I have three children, my youngest is seven, my oldest, 13, and a 10-year-old. And then also trying to incorporate myself and my work in there somehow. I live in a pretty rural area, I was getting up really early to care for the children for over ten years after staying at home with my son for two years, and then I started managing the studio for another photographer in Ivy, so I had this really long commute.

I started realizing I was seeing a lot of stuff that other people weren't seeing, like the sunrise in the morning. That actually wasn't the kind of photography I was doing, but it became a way to connect with people. It was what people were responding to. I started a Facebook page where I was posting the sunrise and sunset that I was seeing and it slowly grew to forty five thousand fans,  which is a really big group of people to talk with so It's funny that I'm actually a very shy person, and I have this large audience I try to manage.

Studio IX: Well, that sounds to be the way for a lot of artists, because I think a lot of us are introverts, and we have a very solitary side of ourselves, and that anyone in radio or visual arts, writers, - because we're all people that kind of sit behind something and are able to convey what we see in the world through that medium.

Jennifer Byrne: Right. Well, I always have thought if I could write, or do anything else, I wouldn't be a photographer. I mean, it's not something that you really choose. It just is, you know?

Studio IX: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jennifer Byrne: Yeah.

Studio IX: Is there an aspect of what you do that might surprise people, that they don't think about?

Jennifer Byrne: I wish I had a way to explain to emerging photographers that when you come out of college, you have all these hopes to break out in this well defined niche. What you have to realize is that that's really a self-focused narrative, and if you can expand it and not say, "Well, I'm never going to shoot weddings. I'll never shoot families. I'll never shoot landscape, because I have this very creative style." You're cutting yourself off, and so it is actually possible to incorporate all those things, and still have your own style, and also work with the community.

Studio IX: Yeah.

Jennifer Byrne: You know?

Studio IX: Yeah.

Jennifer Byrne: But I do get a kick out of thinking about when I first left school, and how driven I was to just print, and I didn't care if anybody else liked it. It was for me. I'm glad that I was able to sort of turn that around and see how I can communicate it differently.

Studio IX: Do you have a sense of where you'll be in five, 10 years? Does it feel like the industry itself is changing a lot, as far as photography?

Jennifer Byrne: Yeah. I mean, I think when I worked for the other studio in Ivy, the gentleman I was working with was a photojournalist, so he traveled a lot. He was also a analog photographer, and he was really the edge of the conversion to digital. Watching him go through that process and sort of being the person that helped him transition from analog. I saw a lot of people panicking, thinking, "Everybody's got an iPhone. Everybody has a DSLR. We're not investing in photographers anymore, because we can literally buy the camera for cheaper." But I think things have turned, and folks are starting to realize that it's not the tools that make the carpenter.

Studio IX: Yeah.

Jennifer Byrne: I see a lot of potential there, and I hope that in 10 years, I'll be able to really use what I've created, which is visual storytelling, and have –

(Interviewer sneezes)

Studio IX: Excuse me.

Jennifer Byrne: Look at you. You're still getting over being sick?

Studio IX: No. That's just dust and light. A photographer's joy.

(Laughter)

Studio IX: Is there a particular subject that you're interested in shooting that you haven't explored as deeply as you'd like to?

Jennifer Byrne: Well, I think my enthusiasm for great pictures is hard to rein in. I have no problem getting up at 3:00 AM to get up on Skyline Drive by myself. I'm actually not a big hiker or very tough person, but I will literally do anything for a great photograph. I think that's kind of infectious, because now my students do it too, and I think that's part of what they love, is that it becomes sort of a lifestyle. If you're looking for pictures all the time, your life is more like an adventure.

Studio IX: What do you like about working here at Studio IX?

Jennifer Byrne: I love Studio IX. A couple of years ago, I could get away with working on the front end of my business, two or three mornings a week, then slowly it became more and more encompassing. The more product sales that I do, and the more things that I get involved with, the more time I need, I feel like Studio IX is perfect for me, because it's so quiet, and it's so beautifully made, and everyone here seems to sort of understand that attitude of taking seriously what you're doing, but also doing it together, which is nice.

Studio IX: Thanks, Jen.

Jennifer Byrne: Thank you.

 

 

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: REID FOSTER

 Reid Foster

Reid Foster

Interviewer:                           This is not painful at all. In fact, it's quite fun.

Reid Foster:                           Cool.

Interviewer:                           So, just to start, who are you?

Reid:                                      Reid Foster.

Interviewer:                           And what do you do?

Reid:                                      I manage Reggae bands, and I manage a company called Rootfire that produces some music festivals, runs a nonprofit record label, and operates a media business     with various different elements to it.

Interviewer:                           Cool.

Reid:                                      Yeah.

Interviewer:                           And it's all based here?

Reid:                                      I'm based here. The parent company's actually in Oakland, so I work remotely here.

Interviewer:                          How did you get started in the field?

Reid:                                     I've played music all my life, violin and piano when I was younger, and then got interested in drumming as a teenager. Started working in a drum store, in a drum shop. A place called Skip's Music in Sacramento. This guy asked me if I wanted to be the drummer in his band. I was like, "Well, I've got to figure out how to play drums, but sure."

                                              That eventually led to, somewhere around 20 years old, I found myself playing with this new band. I was the dude with the checkbook and a calendar, and I was the guy who just started picking up the phone and calling every bar in town, and being like, "What does it take to play at your venue?" That just kind of continued, and I pursued my rockstar dreams for about eight years of sleeping on couches and going through a couple of different vans on tour. After doing that for so long for my own band, I realized that it was not going ... I wasn't going to be the rockstar that I thought that I might be-

Interviewer:                           It wasn't the Jeff Tweedy story.

Reid:                                      It wasn't the Jeff Tweedy story, yeah. So, I went on a little bit of a walkabout, to try and figure out who the hell I was, and I found myself sitting in the jungle in Costa Rica, still talking about bands and shows that I wanted to book. That was kind of the, yeah, like ... this is probably what I'm doing. Before that, many years before that, there was an epiphany, a similar epiphany, sitting in an accounting class at community college.

                                                I had been really on the fence about ... I had always been kind of like a halfway into it type of student, and I had been really on the fence about whether or not to transfer on to a four year school and get my bachelor's degree or not. At the beginning of that semester, I had decided, yep, hunker down, get it done with. And then about halfway through that semester, I, at the end of this accounting class one day, I realized that I had spent the entire time making a list of things that I needed to do for my band as soon as I got out of school. That was kind of the first big, "Don't waste your parents' money. This is what you're doing," and I think I was like 22 at the time. 

Interviewer:                             Wow. Well, that's a good segue. I was going to ask what you're most passionate about, and if that plays a part in what you do? It sounds like it does.

Reid:                                       Yeah. I think there's kind of no two ways around it, it's just like I'm passionate about music and the business of music. I stay up at night, thinking about it. For better or worse, you know?

Interviewer:                           What specifically?

Reid:                                      Well, part of the nature of the industry is just that there's kind of like a never-ending list of things that, if you did this, maybe this would be better, or if you do this, then this. So, there's kind of like ... There's kind of just this never-ending mental to-do list, and sometimes it's hard to draw the balance between do it now while it's fresh in my brain versus, dude, chill, you know?

                                              But, outside of that, my passion is friends, like building relationships, and that's so interwoven in the music industry, and I think really any industry. So, yeah, I'm passionate about people and the way people respond to things, and dissecting that and trying to do a better job of communicating and sharing things that I'm excited about. I go on and on and on about stuff that I like. People tell me to shut up half the time.

Interviewer:                           Well, you don't have to shut up here. Can you share a story, being out on the road, or just that is memorable, that stands out to you?

Reid:                                      Well, I can say that ... I've been on the road for the better part of like 15 years, and without question, the most insane experiences of my life have almost all been tied back to being on a tour. It's like highs, and the extreme highs and extreme lows. You're playing people's weddings and seeing that special moment, then literally going to jail. There's that also.

                                               But, there is one kind of like, not acute specific situation, but just kind of like a bigger story around being on the road in recent years, is just going through the door of sobriety with one of the band members in particular has been a really powerful life experience.

Interviewer:                           Yeah, I bet.

Reid:                                      You know, just seeing somebody's transformation through that, and starting at like, "Oh my God, this guy's going to die. This is bad," you know, to having him recognize that and do something about it, and come out of rehab and just be this amazing person that had been underneath the surface all along. I was getting to know him in a different way for the first time, and it's just like wow. And then being on tour, there's kind of a very protective shepherd type of hat to wear when you're tour managing, and it's like doing an entire tour and having no alcohol backstage. That's a big deal, you know?

Interviewer:                           Yeah.

Reid:                                      It was a challenge for me too 'cause I like to drink, but it's ... There are relationships that build over time on tour, and, similarly, there are just kind of these satellite relationships that you have, 'cause like I stayed on that person's couch in 2007, and every time I go back through Portland, Oregon, they come to the show and bring cookies or something, you know? So, there are really special relationships that build through the process of touring.

Interviewer:                           So you have a family around the country.

Reid:                                      Totally.

Interviewer:                           Yeah.

Reid:                                      Totally. It's like, "Hey, we're going to Dallas. I've got to make sure I contact these people." "Oh, we're going to be in Madison, Wisconsin," or like Orlando, San Diego. It's just like, at some point, I had to start putting people's names and phone number with the city first.

Interviewer:                           Yeah.

Reid:                                      So, I'd be like, "Oh, Denver. These eight people, I said that I would let them know next time I'm through." Then, of course, it becomes a process of stretching yourself too thin and learning how to not do that when you go on tour, and not feel bad when you can't sit down and have lunch with every single person. But, you know, that's just kind of the nature of being on tour also. It's like you've got all these really cool people who have had some special significance, and maybe you get to see them pretty often if you keep touring, but there comes a point where the touring is just too much to stay on top of all the other work that I've got to do. The band members don't necessarily need to be like coordinating all the different stuff, so there comes a point where touring is just ... If you've got anything else going on, touring is like hugely challenging.

Interviewer:                           And are you in a point of transition right now? 

Reid:                                      I've fully transitioned.

Interviewer:                           Yeah.

Reid:                                      Thank God.

Interviewer:                           From being on the road all the time to being..

Interviewer:                           Being home.

Reid:                                      Yeah, choosing the shows that I want to be at.

Interviewer:                           Yeah.

Reid:                                      For the most part, you know? I still have a lot of travel because I work remotely and the main office is in Oakland, and then we have a festival in Florida, and one in Seattle, and one in Boston, and one in Monterey, California. So, there's still a lot going on. But then there are like really special shows, like The Movement playing at Red Rocks for the first time. It's like I'm traveling for that one.

Reid:                                      You know?

Interviewer:                           Yeah

Reid:                                      So, yeah, there's still travel, but I've ... finally, finally been able to find somebody to take that off my plate.

Interviewer:                           That's awesome.

Reid:                                      Yeah.

Interviewer:                           Where would you ultimately like to be in 5 to 10 years? What would your dream seat be? And I guess the second question that dovetails to that is does it feel like the industry is changing dramatically?

Reid:                                       It definitely feels like the industry is changing dramatically. But, sometimes I actually think that the most dramatic changes have already happened in the music industry. You know, like Napster happened in the 90s, and Spotify came somewhere around 2009/2010, and now we're into 2018 and the biggest changes in the industry have to do with recorded music, I think. Those have kind of ... People seem to have gotten with the program.

                                               But, you know, where I would like to be in five years is continuing to do what I do, and have a staff of people that can help me scale it. It's like I'm in this ... 2017 was a year of pretty significant change for me professional, with the founder and owner of the company leaving and asking me to take the reins on it, and being, "Oh my God." At the same time, I got off the road. In theory, my plate was a little less full, but then it just got ... There's like all of this new territory that I've never tried, and, more than ever, I've realized that if I wanted to continue being responsible for the things I'm responsible for, I can't be the guy who does it all.

                                              For so long, I had to be the guy that did it all. It's like I had to learn how to use Photoshop 'cause we needed an album cover, or I had to learn HTML 'cause we needed a website. I couldn't afford to pay anybody to do it. So, it's been really interesting to try and break those patterns and focus my energy on trying to figure out how to build a team to do these things. So, in five years, I hope that I can have a couple of people that work with me full-time, and we can continue doing what we do and do it better, and build some bands to be able to support themselves, and maybe even put a little money in the bank while I do it.

Interviewer:                           Yeah.

Reid:                                      And, furthermore, continue to build the genre that I ... You know, I work in the genre of modern Reggae music, and it's a pretty niche genre, but I think that if I do it right, and if I learn to leverage the resources that are there, and create opportunities that maybe need to be created rather than just presenting themselves, I think there's a real chance that we can fundamentally change the landscape of this corner of the industry that we live in. So, yeah, I want to keep doing what I do, and try and do it more and better.

Interviewer:                            Yeah. 

Reid:                                       Yeah.

Interviewer:                            You've been with us here at Studio IX for a while.

Reid:                                       Yeah.

Interviewer:                            Yeah, so you and Seth were here. What is it about just being here?

Reid:                                       Well ...

Interviewer:                            And you can say it's dirt cheap and I like the coffee. (laughter)

Reid:                                      Those are true. But, no, I was thinking more about kind of the context for how I got here. Seth and I had an office in the Pink Warehouse, and I loved it. It was like, "Oh my God, we have an office. I can go into the office now. It feels so professional." Then I was on tour for like half of the year, and I remember Seth calling me at some point on some tour, and being like, "Hey, man. I don't know, man, the office, it's just really uninspiring when I'm the only person here. Somebody downstairs is smoking cigarettes and it's really stinky. There's this new place that opened up called Studio IX, and I wanted to see what you would think about us moving out of the office and moving into Studio IX." I was just like, "I love the office though." But it was I loved having somewhere to go.

Interviewer:                           Yeah.

Reid:                                      'Cause I had spent so many years working out of my kitchen, or in bed, or whatever, like trying to ... Kind of the freelancer's classic struggle of like, "Oh my God. Home, work, how do I separate the two?" But, as soon as we ... Seth was the one paying the bills. It was very kind and generous of him to ask me if I would go along for it, but it was like of course.

Interviewer:                           Yeah.

Reid:                                      But, as soon as we got here, I remember just instantly being like, "Oh, this is way cooler than our office, actually, because there's more people. There's energy, there are friendly people at the desk, there's coffee out front." There's just a kind of air of creativity and productivity, and specifically the fact that I don't have a dedicated desk here. It's like that means that I can't leave Post-it notes and clutter and a mug or whatever. It's like I walk into a clean slate every day, and that's been really huge.

Interviewer:                           I've never thought about that, yeah.

Reid:                                      Yeah. I mean, ... I tend to be a creature of habit and sit in the same spot for months, and just today, somebody had their phone plugged in where ... I was like, "Oh, okay. Well, I guess I'll sit some ..." So, there's just kind of like a natural, organic way of keeping it a little bit fresh.

Interviewer:                           That's it.

Reid:                                      Awesome.

Interviewer:                           Thank you

 

Member Spotlight: Kevin Zeithaml & Jessie Brooks

Studio IX: So let’s start at the beginning. Who are you guys?

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Kevin Zeithaml

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Jessie Brooks

KZ: Kevin Zeithaml.

JB: And Jessie Brooks.

Studio IX: And what do you do?

KZ: We work for a gentleman named Roger Dean Huffstetler, who is running for Congress in 5th District here. Jessie and I have been working for him now for the better part of a year, trying to get him elected next year.

JB: Kevin is the Campaign Manager and I am the Finance Director.

KZ:  He raises the money that I then get to spend. It's a great relationship. (laughter)

Studio IX: How did the two of you guys get started in this field?

KZ: I was in high school when Obama ran the first time and a friend of mine that was two years ahead of me convinced me to go make phone calls for him one day after school. And I haven't stopped since.

JB: I was working at a non-profit and met the former Mayor of Portland. He was the only person there who had a political background. We had a couple of conversations about his career in politics, what working on campaigns was like, and he connected me with a few people who worked in campaigns and politics in Oregon. I ended up on a statewide ballot measure. It was a crazy experience. I have been doing it ever since. The thing I appreciate about being on a campaign is the scale, being part of something so large I think is really interesting to me.

KZ:  Agreed.

JB:  Also the level of commitment you have to have, and just the amount of autonomy and responsibility you’re given. Other than maybe the startup world, I don't think it's super common to get those types of opportunities.

KZ: There's an incredible amount of trust placed in people in their mid-20’s. I agree with Jessie that you don't see it in a lot of other fields...I think a better way to put it for me is that I have been given responsibility at a much younger age than if I was in the private sector.

JB: Yeah definitely. And it’s a special kind of responsibility, related to people and community...and I think that sort of ties into the other reason I like working in campaigns and politics: purpose. You don't have to look very far to see purpose. You feel it every day. I think that is something that I always struggled to find outside of politics.

KZ:  Especially in today's climate. We're working for a Democrat and in today's climate, it helps because there's a lot of people that like to complain about the state of politics and about the state of our country, and it’s nice to actually do something about it.

JB: Yeah definitely.

KZ: Not that this is the only way to do something about it there are hundreds of ways thousands of ways.

Studio IX: Yeah that's a pretty direct one.

JB:  I feel as far as passion, the competition is a huge element for me. To get motivated by that competition. There are a number of comparisons you can make to athletics in politics, including the team that you have, the people with you, and the experience you get to share with them.

KZ: This is our first opportunity to actually build our own team. We've been brought into teams before but this is our first time building one.

Studio IX:  So it is kind of like cycling in that you have to build a team and then you might lose a stage but you win the race there's pain there's adrenaline everything is involved in it.

KZ:  Yeah there's lots of good analogies to make. The other exciting thing about this that sort of goes back to the adrenaline or the competition thing, is that I can wake up tomorrow and I have no idea what the headline or the breaking news of that day is going to be. But we have to acknowledge it, decide whether we’re going to respond to it, and do so very quickly. You wake up every day and you roll the dice on a lot of things.

JB: For sure and that's the other thing is the stakes of your decisions. You work on Wall Street, right, that's competitive, you can say the stakes are high but really at the end of the day what do people lose other than they lose money.

KZ:  Which to be fair for some people that's high stakes.

JB: Sure but the thing that I really feel motivated by in politics is there is a lot more at stake than just money. Policy, humanity, really big and you can say philosophical issues that are at stake and you get to fight for and talk about.

KZ:  And with that it's really easy to get an overinflated sense of self sometimes. We have to find ways to check our ego and bring it back down, it's very...I've worked with people that either come in with the wrong attitude or do it for too long and get something very much like a savior complex. If that happens then you don't last long.

JB:  Yeah and I think the one thing you really want to avoid is believing that you're more important than the issue at hand or more important than the person you're working for. Those are the two really dangerous complexes. Everybody has a role to play and it isn't about which is more important it's about the mission at hand and how you can get there.

Studio IX:  So what is it about Charlottesville? What drew you here?

KZ: Well for me it's just a lot easier because I've been here for twenty years. So I moved here when I was young, went to school here, went to college here, went off the beaten path a bit with college. I left Charlottesville for two years, left UVA for two years to go work on campaigns around the country, and actually just came back here in January to finally graduate.

JB: Yeah definitely. For me Charlottesville is really my first serious big move outside of the Pacific Northwest. When I left Oregon. Charlottesville is a really special place. I think the people, the natural beauty, it’s all really special. I don't know how to put my finger on it but you can sort of step in and out of different things. A lot of doors are open for you here.

JB: And I think Studio X is a contemplative place. I firmly believe that your built environment and the structural aesthetics around you, do actually have consequences on your experience. Going back to an office park, working in a nondescript bland generic environment, I think there are consequences for that. I think it's great how Studio X places a priority on what your environment look like and how do people move around in it. 

2017: Year in Review

2017: Year in Review

Over the course of 2017 the Studio IX community engaged in 365 days of living purposefully and in community. The members, encouraged and supported by the steady hand of Manager | Curator, Greg Antrim Kelly, have been instrumental in bringing the world into their space and contributing to our society in countless ways through their extraordinary work, art, and other forms of conversation.

Read More

Member Spotlight: Annelise Lynch

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I build things, I debug things, I fix things, and I really like it. It allows me to be technical, but also customer facing at the same time. 

Greg Kelly: Hi, Annelise.
Annelise Lynch: Hi.
GK: All right, so for posterity’s sake, can you tell us your full name?
AL: Annelise Lynch.
GK: And what it is you do for work?
AL: I'm a Success Engineer with Parse.ly
GK: Oh. That's what I'm supposed to tell people at the party. How'd you get started in that field?
AL: I kinda ... I don't really know how to answer that, how'd I get started with ...
GK: Oh wait, wait, wait, back up. What does that mean, what is a Success Engineer? Just talk about what you actually do.
AL: What do I do? I have a hard time describing this. Parse.ly is a content analytics platform, our customers are large publishers and digital media companies. I sit in between our Success Team, which is our account managers, and our back end team. So my job resolves around data and data engineering. I build things, I debug things, I fix things, and I really like it. It allows me to be technical, but also customer facing at the same time. So I get to use both sides of my brain.
GK: Did you like the definition I used when I introduced you?
AL: What did you say?
GK: I said I have no idea what you do, but I know what you do helps people a great deal and you're good at it.
AL: Haha, that was fine. 
 

GK: Cool. What are you passionate about, and specifically in regards to what drives the work that you do? Or, are they connected?
AL: I am passionate about building efficient systems. In my life, or in work. So, I think that's how I kind of fell into the data field, and data engineering is how to efficiently and correctly build sustainable data models, and data warehouses, and reporting structures to help businesses and people to make informed decisions.
GK: Who are some of the clients you work for?
AL: Some of our customers are Huffington Post, and Arstechnica and NBC and Conde Nast.
GK: Mudhouse Coffee Roasters is totally separate?
AL: Yeah. Mudhouse Coffee Roasters is my freelance passion project. I worked as a barista as an undergraduate and helped open up the Crozet store. Recently, I've been working with Mudhouse Coffee Roasters to get them and their analytics up to speed so that they can measure, engagement and conversions for their online store. Working with them to be competitive with other specialty coffee roasters.
AL: And I also am just passionate about that industry, and I want to know more about it and John and Lynelle are just wonderful people to be around, I like to absorb as much of their energy and knowledge as possible.
GK: Yeah. They were the first people I worked with when I moved here.
AL: Same.
 

GK: I know, or happen to know, that travel is a big part of your life, lifestyle. I'm just curious, first of all just talk about why you love it. There's probably obvious things. But does it play into what you do at all? Or, does what you do play into it?
AL: I'm gonna start off with this. I like my job because it's a fantastic company. My team is amazing, and I love everybody that I work with.
GK: Are they based here?
AL: No, they're based in New York.
GK: In New York, okay.
AL: But the CTO, Andrew Montalenti, works out of Studio IX sometimes.
GK: Okay.
AL: Where was I? Oh, and that my job allows me to be fully remote. All the engineers can be fully remote. I like to travel because I am a person that likes their routine, and can fall into routines and habits really easily. So, part of the reason I started traveling was because it makes me step out of those comforts. If I'm only in a city for one to two months I can make a routine, then I have to break it when I leave. I either leave because my visa expires, or because I want to.

I like exploring different cultures and different ways of life in different cities. When I was living in Lisbon my schedule definitely shifted back to the Lisbon way of life, which is waking up late and staying up late. But then when I was in Berlin it was the opposite. So, I did solo, 12 month working and traveling journey last year. Then next year I'll be doing it through a program with about 60 other people.
GK: That's not credit, or anything like that. It's just really structured to take you guys certain places, and do certain things?
AL: It just takes away a lot of the things that were consuming much of my time, which was finding an apartment and a co-working space and flights.
GK: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
AL: Yeah.
GK: Cool.
AL: It's like built in adventure buddies.
GK: Yeah. Awesome.
AL: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

I like to travel because I am a person that likes their routine, and can fall into routines and habits really easily. So, part of the reason I started traveling was because it makes me step out of those comforts.

GK: Can you talk a little bit about Charlottesville, why you make it your home base, or your sort of base camp? What you love about it?
AL: I love Charlottesville.
GK: Yeah.
AL: It's mostly my home because this is where my mom and my sister are right now. But, it was also home before my mom moved to Charlottesville.
GK: Where'd you grow up?
AL: Ashland Virginia.
AL: Little podunk town.
GK: What brought you to Charlottesville?
AL: UVA. I came here for undergrad, and then stayed for a bit before venturing off to DC, and Chicago.
 

GK: So you’ve  been a member at Studio X off and on for quite a while?
AL: Yeah, about a year and a half off and on.
GK: What about being here, what draws you here then?
AL: To IX?  I really like the space. I find it really easy to concentrate. I like the people, I like the location. I love being close to downtown. Yeah, it's just easy. I don't really have to worry about anything.
GK: Yeah?
AL: Yeah.
GK: Thanks, Annelise.