In today’s show, Meghan gets to know Casey DeGroot, our VP of Innovation and Technology. Casey talks about where he grew up (in a place not unlike the Sopranos), working at an Italian deli and his current role as the chief technologist for our enterprise.
Read the transcript:
Welcome, Casey. We’ve got the VP of Innovation and Technology sitting with us here today. Casey, can you tell us a little bit more about what the VP of Innovation and Technology means?
Yeah. So our group there’s three main sections. So the first one is the help desk. So that’s working with everybody. All the 250 employees in the two buildings helping to keep to computers running, fix issues, all the TVs, and all that kind of stuff. The second part is the network consulting group or members. So that’s helping members with everything from one off requests like, I have a virus and I need some help cleaning it up, to everything to we’ll come on site and do a full build out and help to do an assessment and figure out what kind of changes need to happen.
Got it. So that’s the fee for service component of IT. And then the third one?
The third one is the project management and software development group. Managing and building out new features for Pulse and e-patient and also CEO as well.
Gotcha. So you have a ton of responsibilities. What does a typical day look like? We talked about this a little bit, I think, earlier this morning. But you come into work– you told me that you’re a little bit of a late riser. You come into work at about 9 o’clock, right? Lucky guy. What’s your commute like? Do you have a long commute? Is that why you come in late or you just–
Yeah. I live in Southwest Portland, so it’s about 40 minutes from here. And I dropped my daughter off at school. So I drop her off every morning. So that’s a big part of the reason why–
Makes sense. So you do the school drop off, you get here at 9 o’clock, then your day starts. First order of the day. What do you do? You have some black coffee. I know that.
Yeah, a lot of coffee. A lot of caffeine. So every morning our software and project management group has a– we call it a stand up meeting. So what that means is every person will say what they did yesterday and what they’re going to do today, and then if there’s any roadblocks or issues that are coming up for them. So the idea is that as a team we can collectively know what things are going on and then help each other or remove any roadblocks so that you don’t go days and days struggling on the same issue. Somebody else was like, oh, you should have just done this or that.
Sure. You have the team support. You bring that kind of stuff to the forefront and have a conversation about it and triage it together as a team.
Yeah, the idea is to try to do some of the– it’s a different software development process. It’s come up in the last 5 to 10 years. It’s called Agile, and it’s about trying to deliver things in shorter chunks and being more responsive to how things change within the business.
Sure. Make sense. OK, so you come in, it’s 9 o’clock, you have your stand up meeting, and then, are you in lots of the individual meetings throughout the day or are you sitting behind your computer working on a project? Or does it depend on what you’re in the middle of, what you’re doing on that particular day?
I’m mostly in meetings so I’m working with a lot of different people. So I’m working with internal people here. Different departments. I’m working with a lot of vendors. So we work with a lot of different vendors to help pull together all the different things we do. Meeting with individual team members for one-on-one meetings or just project updates. Stuff like that. And then also, doing calls with members and talking about specific things that come up.
Have you always been a guy that’s interested in technology and focused on computers or is that something that is fairly new within your career?
Yeah, I think it’s been a long time. So ever since I was a little kid, I was always been interested in computers. Going back to when I was seven or eight years old and I used to do summer classes, and we would mess around on these old computers called TRS-80. It was like a Radio Shack computer. An early one.
What did you like about that? Do you remember– is that something that you can put into words? What was so fun about working with computers?
I think it was just sort of like a representational possibility of making things better. I think that’s what it meant to me. I just saw that possibility. I don’t think I realized that at the time, but it also seemed cool that there was an ability to control this thing and understand how it works and it was new.
I think the fact that it was new and constantly changing and maybe getting so much attention that that adds an additional component of excitement.
Yeah. And it was changing for a long time. And then, I think when I got a little older I still stayed really interested in it but I think as I got into my late teens– this was like the late ’80s, early ’90s. It wasn’t really progressing as much. It was kind of more of the same so I lost interest a little bit. When I went to college and I got more interested in literature and languages and stuff like that.
So you told me a little bit about this. I happen to know a little bit about you from past conversations when we talked a little bit about your really early childhood and where you grew up and the career path that you took to get you here where you are today. Can we talk a little bit about that? Where you grew up in the world and what your early childhood experience was like? You shared that you liked computers when you’re seven or eight. Tell us a little bit about where you were born and what your early childhood was like.
Well, I’m from New Jersey, just outside of New York City. It’s kind of like an urban, suburban area, like if you ever saw The Sopranos.
How many people in your family?
I have a sister and my parents.
Older or younger sister?
I have a younger sister.
What’s her name?
Her name is Alison. So my first job was working for my grandfather’s construction company, so I was probably like 11 years old. I would go in on a Saturday, and it was like a painting, a renovation company, working on industrial and commercial lots. So the good news was there really wasn’t a lot of damage you could do as an 11-year-old.
So were you doing clean up, that kind of stuff? Like cleaning up job sites?
Yeah, clean up, and I could even do painting because pretty much anything you do to a factory is going to be improved.
It’s going to be an improvement over what it currently looks like.
Yeah, especially the factories that we worked at.
So you did that, and then you were– how old did you tell me? You were 11 years old when you did that. So what about–
11, 12, 13. So on the weekends I would go in and hang out with them for the day and work on the job site. Cleaning up. Stuff like that.
What about the first job that you had where you weren’t working for a family member? Something that you found on your own and paved your own way into that position. What would that be?
So my first real job was working at an Italian deli.
I like this.
It’s called Giannella’s. So it was a bakery and delicatessen so it would– all different kinds of sandwiches, especially like Italian styles, New Jersey’s is–
Is that something that’s grilled? I shouldn’t maybe know this but–
No, you would never grill– it’s always a cold sandwich. Every single sandwich there is cold.
Yeah, I don’t think they did any hot sandwiches.
What about soup? Was there any soup?
Nope, no soup.
No soup. Any dessert?
I don’t think there was. Actually, in the bakery I’m sure there was.
Oh, yeah. That makes sense. So were you–
It was really breads and– it was more breads and meat. It was a lunch place.
So was it a place where you were just coming to buy a sandwich and eat the sandwich there or take it with you, or would you come there and perhaps get a selection of meats to take home and have in your refrigerator for the rest of the week?
Yeah, you would come and you’d buy– you wouldn’t eat there. It was a very narrow layout, and there’s a bakery. They had a large bakery in a different city and they would ship the breads in every morning. The breads were really good.
Did it smell really good in there?
It did. They didn’t bake it there unfortunately, but they had really nice, really high quality bread.
OK. How old were you when you were doing that job?
I started when I was 14.
Were you making the sandwiches or were you busing tables?
You’re not allowed to touch the slicer until you’re like 16 or 18 years old.
Did you want to?
No. I had no desire to touch the slicer.
So you were totally complacent with just being– what did you do?
I checked people out.
You checked– so you worked cash register?
Cash register. Sold breads, throw them in a bag.
OK, so you did that until you were how old?
I did that for a year or two. One thing I remember was I would– I remember one time I would just ask everyone if they wanted a bag. I really just wouldn’t think about it. It’d just be like a habit. And this one lady came in. She bought like 30 different items, all on counter, and I’m like, would you like a bag? It was a typical New Jersey attitude. She’s like, what do you think? So yeah, that was a yes.
So let’s talk about college years. Where did you go to school?
So first chance I could get I got as far away from New Jersey as I could.
Because you didn’t like New Jersey or you were just ready for a change or what?
I was ready for a change. New Jersey wasn’t my favorite. So I went to college in Indiana. So it’s called Earlham College. It’s a really small school.
It was about 900, 1,000 students.
What brought you there? How did you know this school existed and what was compelling about that?
I think I found it in a book. I think there was a book. It was called something like, colleges that change lives.
And your parents were supportive of that? You were 18 years old and you were like, I found this school on a book that you’ve never heard of and this is where I’m going.
I was trying to go further. I was trying to go to Reed College in Portland but that was too far.
It was too far. And so this is a safe enough distance that your parents could support that? OK, keep going. So you get accepted into this school, and then what do you major in?
So I majored in English and I also did Greek and Latin.
Interesting. Really interesting. And so all four years that was your major? That was the major you graduated in?
Yup. Four years straight through. Graduated. I got really interested in literature and languages, stuff like that, which is kind of funny because it’s like, when you get out of school with a liberal arts degree, it’s not at all even remotely useful in a–
Well, what would you typically do? Go to grad school and or go to law school? What do you do usually with a degree like that?
Yeah, I’d say most of my friends went– a lot of them went to law school, a lot of them went to grad school. I had a lot of friends who did Biology and stuff like that, so a lot of them would go on to– a lot of them became teachers. A lot of things like that. Not that many went into business like I did, but for me I find that now it’s super useful to be able to read and write and communicate and understand human motivation inside of books, especially really good books, you can learn a lot of things.
What’s your favorite book?
My favorite book? I really like Kurt Vonnegut. I reread him recently and realized I don’t like him as much as I used to.
Oh, what changed?
I don’t know. It just doesn’t speak to me the same way as it did when I was younger. I was just thinking about– I also like Shakespeare a lot too. The stories are really great, and the more times you hear them they actually better they get.
Are you an avid reader? Do you constantly have a book, or are you the type of person who you’re more inclined to be reading articles at this point in your career and you’re not in the middle of a hardcover, tangible book?
No, I like books like– I do audiobooks. So what I really like to do– I’ll run long distance and I’ll listen to the audiobook.
Oh, that’s a good idea.
It’s really, really relaxing, and the ideas just go right into your brain as you’re moving. It’s really cool.
Because you’re completely focused. So do you run on a treadmill while you’re running?
No, outside. We live in a woodsy neighborhood so there’s a lot of trails and stuff.
Lots of hills?
Mhm. Lot of hills.
Very nice. How long is a typical run?
Maybe about five miles, I guess.
Good for you. Have you run yet today?
Will you? It’s hot.
Maybe. Nice and sunny out.
Yeah, you did mention earlier that you like the warm weather. Your favorite temperature is 83, which I think is really interesting. One other thing that I wanted to ask you about, which I thought was really interesting and I want to hear what your R3 is based upon– you majored in English literature and Greek. Greek what?
Greek language. But then you focused more on IT and innovation and that makes me very curious about what your R3 is. Can you talk to me a little bit about that?
So my R3 is like an analyzer driver. So more analyzer I think, but I have a little bit of the other ones too. But I think definitely analyzer is where I go to first as far as like my core strength and what drives me, and also if there’s a problem I think that’s where I go first. Trying to figure out what is really going on. Not an emotional response first and not let me make everybody feel good response. My first response is really trying to understand what the problem is.
So how does someone like you deal with an emotional person? If you are in a conversation or maybe even a conflict with someone and you perceive that they’re getting emotional, how does that make you feel and what do you do?
So I think what I try to do is understand where people are coming from. So I do think one of the best management tool that I’ve learned being here is that personal, professional, and financial goals. If you really use that and you really talk to people and you understand what motivates them, it’s so powerful because then you really know where someone’s coming from and you know what they want and what is driving them. Why are they here? Why are they working with you? What is it that that’s causing them to be here and what’s really important to them because it’s not the same for every person. You learn that quickly when you start really having honest and open conversations with people about what are your real goals. And then you get to it and you might make an assumption, and chances are your assumption is wrong.
Oh, yeah. I’ve definitely been there. So we talked you through– I sort of went off course and I apologize, but we talked through you going to a small school in Indiana, graduating, and then your first job. When you graduate do you stay in Indiana–
–or do you– No? You’re done by that time. You’re like–
It’s a really small, dying rust belt town. It’s a kind of place–
No. It’s a really small town.
What’s the closest city or airport or– how do you get–
It’s about equal distance between Dayton and Indianapolis. They’re each about an hour apart.
So you graduate, you’re done with school, and you want to go someplace. What happens next?
So one kind of interesting job was during college. I had a lot of jobs during college too, so one of them was I was an RA for my dorm, and I was a tutor in Greek and Latin, and when I was at home I would work at a check cashing place in Newark. So that was kind of a fun job too. It was definitely a great business learning experience too.
Wasn’t it good for people watching too? I can imagine that you would see a lot of interesting stuff in a business like that.
Yeah, it was definitely a learning experience. It was in a really tough neighborhood so if I wasn’t immediately getting into my car right afterwards one of the guys with the guns would have to wait with me because I didn’t have a gun. So they would actually wait for you. That’s the kind of neighborhood it was. It was the kind of place that you walk in and there’s one foot inch glass and you slide your paperwork underneath so you can’t stick a gun underneath.
So did anything interesting ever happen in there?
Oh, yeah. All the time.
OK, tell us the most interesting thing that ever happened in there. Something that has to do with a gun.
OK. Well, I remember one time there was a guy that had written a bad check and he had come back in and he had a fake disguise on. So the guys that were there were trying to keep him in and wait for the cops to come. And he was trying to get out but the doors were locked, so he started kicking the doors and pounding on the doors. The funny thing was he ended up doing so much damage. He ended up doing like $10,000 worth of damage, and then it ended up being a $1,000 check. So after that they changed the policy. If someone really wants to get out we just open the doors and let them out.
Yeah, I think that seems a lot safer rather than trying to capture someone on your own.
And having them destroy the lobby in the meantime.
How did you get that job?
The check cashing place was owned by a friend of the family.
OK, so that makes sense. So let’s go back to graduate– you brought this up when I was asking about what happened after college. Did you go back into the check cashing place after school, or what made you think of that when I was asking about graduation from college?
Yeah, because that was something I did in between. But after I graduated, my first full time job was as a book editor. It was like–
So this was the first job that you used your degree for.
Used my degree and did full time. This was my first career job. So it was a book editor.
Where was this? Where were you living?
It was in New Jersey.
This was in New– so you went back to New Jersey.
Went back to New Jersey.
Even though you didn’t like New Jersey, you went back because it was home and it was a place to go when you were done with this small town and there weren’t jobs there?
Yeah, I stayed with my parents for a few months looking for a job and then I found something, and then I moved out and found a small apartment there and then started working for this place.
And so what did you do at this place?
So it was a– they were technical books. They were DNA replication manuals for biochemical geneticists who were making some kind of experiment– you can see I know a lot about this stuff. They were making some kind of experiments to reduce more DNA from small amounts. And basically these things were like cookbooks that have ingredients to do the recipes, and then a list of the steps that you do.
And so you were responsible for making sure that the recipe was correct and that there were no typos or miss steps in the way that the book was published? Is that correct?
More about typos and making sure that it matches a style guide. But yeah, it really didn’t have anything to say about the actual science that was going on inside of it.
I guess you probably didn’t have the knowledge base to be correcting any of that.
Was that a fun job because that sounds not fun to me?
No, the work itself was incredibly tedious, and I didn’t really enjoy not working with people at all because it’s basically sit in a chair for eight hours and don’t talk to anyone. But what I did like was I had a really great boss, so that was a cool experience, working with him.
What was so great about the boss?
He was a young guy. He was really warm, really caring, and he really cared about– it was like this kind of work wasn’t his ultimate passion. He really wanted to be editing fiction books, but he was like, this is what I’m doing and I’m going to put 100% into it and I’m going to make this successful and I’m going to be passionate about it. And you could just tell that came through, that degree of caring.
Would you be able to find that guy now? Would you be able to look him up now?
Oh, yeah. Yeah, he’s still a book editor.
Is he your Facebook friend?
I haven’t talked to him in a while. I should look him up. I’ll send him this podcast.
Yeah, you should. I think he’d probably be flattered. What’s his first and last name?
We’ll see if we can get this in front of him. So you’re working with John Eagleson, that job ends, so then what happens next? When do you move because we’re in Vancouver, Washington? Right now you live in Portland. So how did you move to the west coast? Was Portland your first stop or did you move to some other city on the west coast? How did you migrate out here?
So I always wanted to live in San Francisco. So when I was a kid my aunt moved out to the west coast. She was the–
Kind of like a homebase out here for you?
Yeah, she and I were very close. She was also a computer person. She was a trailblazer female sales executives. Every sales meeting she would go to in very male dominated industry. She’d be the only woman there and she really set a lot of trends, opening doors. She was a really cool lady. She wanted to get out of New Jersey too so in the mid ’80s she moved to San Jose, and then, I actually came with her. So I drive cross country with her.
Oh, you went together? What kind of car did you drive?
I think it was some kind of hatchback thing, which was really uncomfortable.
Did you put everything that you owned in your car? Because I’ve done that cross country drive to from the Midwest out to Portland, and I drove a 1989 Mazda 626. And I remember I put everything I owned, or everything I could fit, which became everything I could own because I gave everything else away. So I was curious if it was that type of situation where you were one of those cars where it was so obvious from the road that you were making a move.
Yup. Same deal. It was a 1990 Honda Accord packed to the gills. Every square inch.
So you moved out and lived with your aunt. What’s her name?
Her name was Denise.
Denise. So you and Denise get a place together?
Oh, no, no. I just stayed at her house for a few– she’d been living there for about five years. Actually, 10 years.
So you live with Aunt Denise, and that goes well? Because sometimes when you move in with family that can be a little weird. But that was all OK?
Yeah, she’s real cool so I just stayed with her for a few weeks. I found an apartment in San Francisco.
By yourself or did you have friends out there?
So I moved with a friend of mine from college. Mike my roommate.
So you and Mike find a place together, and then you find a job, presumably?
Yeah, so I found a job at Gap, the clothing company–at the corporate headquarters. So I was doing network set up, network security, stuff like that.
This was like ’96, ’97.
So would you say that– what percentage of your wardrobe was from Gap at this time?
Beginning zero. Ending 100%
So do you still have some of those clothing items?
I think I just got rid of the last thing I had.
Do you still shop at Gap?
Not at all.
Not at all. So you do this Gap job, and that was a good job? You enjoyed that?
Yeah. The work itself was kind of tedious but the company was great to work for, especially at the end. It was a really fun place. It was growing fast.
What did you like? What’s fun to you? If there’s a fun work environment, what are some qualities of a fun work environment in your mind?
It’s growing, there’s a good energy, there’s a good culture, people care, people are engaged. There’s management team that’s focused on fostering those sort of qualities too. I think all those things were true when I was there.
So you stay there for how long? How long are you a Gap employee?
I was there for about three or four years.
Three or four years. And then what happens? Well, wait. You’re married.
So at some point a woman comes into the picture. Tell us about that.
So actually it happens after I leave the Gap. So I went to work for a startup company. It was the first online printing company. Kind of like Vistaprint. Something like that. So that was actually the first one, so it was kind of fun because we were inventing all these new ways of doing things. So a lot of stuff only had been around for a few years. Shopping carts were new, accounts were new–
Does this company still exist today?
It does. I think it does. I think the brand still exists. It’s been sold and folded into a couple other companies.
So you start working for a startup, and that’s fun because you like building things. And how long do you do this for, and how many people work for the startup when you start?
So when I started I think there was like 20 or 30 people, and then it actually went through a full boom and bust cycle. So it got up to like 300 or 400 people–and in about 2 and 1/2 years it actually went public. And then things started to decline. It was right after the big dot com crash in 2000. Things started to fall apart because we had about 300 employees with about $3 million in revenue, so those numbers weren’t so great.
Yeah, I can see that. And so, is that what led to you leaving the company or what– during that period you were like–
Yeah, so I think I left and I went to another startup that was doing eBay– making sales tools for eBay. So I left right as it was on the downward slope.
That energy that you had liked so much was gone.
Yeah, we were down to 40 or 50 people again.
Really demoralizing, I think, when you’ve seen a company go through its heyday and then it’s not any longer–and then trying to– it’s never going to be the place that it was before and so it always seems like you’re working in this shell of a company that you remember and it’s very depressing. I’ve had somewhat of a similar experience. But that didn’t deter you from going to another startup.
So you do that and you mentioned that the second startup had something to do with eBay. You were producing sales tools for eBay.
Yeah, eBay’s changed but it was about 10 or 15 years ago eBay used to be a lot harder to use. You had to figure out how to do image hosting. If you took a digital picture of something, they didn’t make it very easy so you’d have to go and get a hosting account and upload an image and figure out how to crop it and–do the lighting. It took them a really long time to make all those tools easy. So what we did was plug-in on top of it and then also automate the process of doing listings. So if you were a bigger company and you wanted to post hundreds of similar listings every day for something that you sell on eBay, that also would be a manual process. You’d have to pay someone to sit there and type and copy and paste all day, so we had these automated tools that would push out listings really, really fast.
Gotcha. So from there–
So from there– so I left– actually that company also had a similar boom and bust cycle, and then–
But the second time it probably wasn’t as scary because you’ve been through it once?
It wasn’t as scary. And also, it was right around the time of 9/11 so there was a big drop off in listings and activity, and then also, a lot of that funding had run out for that company as well. They were also not make a lot of money. So after that I left, and then actually had a eBay selling business.
Your own business?
Yeah. I was selling eBay. I would go to dot com bankruptcies. I would buy out lots of computer equipment, office equipment, software, and I would sell individually on eBay using some of the skills I learned.
I want to hear much more about that. So how did you recognize the need for that? how did you know that there was this market for these– talk to me about that.
I think was like 2002, 2001 there was all these high profile bankruptcies of big companies like Webvan and all these other dot com companies, and they were really giving away all of this stuff that they had bought at auctions. So I just started going to them and seeing there was a really big opportunity. And I knew with eBay and a lot of other tools out there that it would be easier to resell them. I think the best one I ever went to was– remember this show Nash Bridges?
I don’t think so.
It was a show with Don Johnson and Cheech Marin. It was in San Francisco, and they auctioned off all the props for the show. It was a huge, huge warehouse because the show ran for a long time. And we went to that and I ended up buying hundreds and hundreds of boxes of prop books and all this other prop materials and all this kind of stuff, and I spent months listing that stuff. That was a good one. I ended up filling up my apartment in the San Francisco–from floor to ceiling with all this junk.
What did Mike think about that?
He wasn’t so happy about that.
Yeah, I can see how that would be kind of annoying. But good for you. that was very like innovative for you to be recognizing that you could make money off of doing that type of thing and then finding the right channels to push it out.
Yeah, it was fun.
So you did a couple of startups and then when did you– how did you find your way to us over here in the– how did you come to Portland?
So I met my wife when we were– I was at the printing startup. She was a waitress at a restaurant that we we’re having our IPO party at, so we met there.
She was waiting on your table and you were just like, I really like this woman?
Yeah, so we end up talking afterwards. And there was a bar across the street and a lot of the employees went over there, a lot of the staff from the restaurant went over there, and we started talking. Got her number.
That’s a good story. And obviously that worked. So you and Cheryl are together and you become an item and you’re comfortable enough making a move together. How long are you together before you move?
Let’s see. So I should take a step back. So then after the eBay business and then– after I sold through all that stuff, Cheryl and I did a– we got married, and then we did a long trip. We did about a six months trip part way around the world. We were going to go all the way around the world but we started in the South Pacific and then we went to Fiji, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore. And then, my wife’s mom got sick and then we came back early, but it was still five, six month.
We were going to finish up and then go up through Asia and then come across Russia on the Siberian Express.
Maybe a different time you can. Yeah, maybe at retirement or maybe a sabbatical once we find some type of way to implement that program here. That’ll be our next podcast.
So you and Cheryl are married and what brings you here?
So we came back and then I worked for another e-commerce company. A little more established one that was doing catalog retailing. So I did that for about four years in California, and then during the meantime my wife got her teaching degree. And then I think we wanted a change from– we liked California but I think we wanted a change of lifestyle so we started looking at Portland. We came up here and visited a few times. And it just so happened that the woman who is our department head for the catalog company that I was working for– I was working in e-commerce and I was in the marketing group. And she left to come to be the president of another catalog company that’s here in Portland. So she let me know that that was an opportunity, so I came up here.
And then, what brought you to Audigy? You’ve been with Audigy for almost four years now, right?
Coming up on four years.
So Audigy was a different place four years ago. How many employees would you say?
I don’t know. Maybe like around 100 or so. Many 80. Something like that.
So how did you land here?
I worked with Maggie Carter. So she came here first and she recruited me to come over here. So she said, you should check this out. There’s some interesting things happening here. Of course I was like, hearing aids? I don’t know anything about hearing aids. It seems kind of interesting. But I just had a feeling that there was something different here. There was a good energy, and I just knew I would learn things and I knew that I would learn things that I wanted to know in my career. Just had an intuitive sense that it was a right move.
So what was your first job title here?
So it was Director of Project Management.
And how did you– so you started as the Director of Project Management, which I would imagine is doing a component of what your team is currently responsible for.
Yeah, so my first project was the earliest version of Pulse.
Gotcha. And then, obviously we liked you and you are now–
Let me stay around.
Yes. So Casey, is you had to do something other than what you’re doing right now and you had to make that decision right now– so you can’t say, I need to think about this. If you had to change careers within the next 30 seconds and it was going to be permanent, what would you do?
I kind of like what I’m doing a lot.
That wasn’t the question though. You’ve got to change careers. You have to do a complete 180.
I’m a dog trainer.
Do have a dog?
His name is Bula.
Bula. Interesting name. Tell me about Bula.
He’s 12. He’s a lab. He’s pretty happy, pretty easygoing, pretty low key. He’s emotionally calm but super fun and excited. Good dog.
A chocolate lab. I grew up with a white lab, which was really more of a yellow lab. But I have a 12-year-old dog at home also. Her name is Maya. She’s not calm at all. She’s a mixed breed but she’s mixed mostly with a Great Dane and we got her from the Humane Society. And when Nathan and I got her 12 years ago we were like, we want a dog that will be under 40 pounds. And we get sent home when this thing that never stopped growing.
How big is it now?
She’s 106 pounds. So she’s a really big dog, and that’s really big for a dog that old. And obviously we love her and the older she gets the sadder it is because we know we won’t have that much more time left with her but yeah, we probably won’t get another dog this large again. So Bula. Where does the name come from?
It means hello in Fijian.
Did you learn that on your trip?
We did learn that on our trip, and it’s very appropriate because he is exuberantly friendly. He’s kind of like– I think if he was a person he’d be a big, friendly frat guy. Just drunk and happy all the time.
So you would seriously be a dog trainer or was that just sort of like–
No, I would seriously– I really enjoy that. If I wasn’t doing something with web software I’d genuinely enjoy that and that’s really what I’m passionate about.
Dog training or just animals?
No, I mean, if I’m not doing web software and stuff, which is what I am really passionate about. If I can’t do that– you won’t let me do that.
Yeah, I won’t let you do that.
Then yeah, I really do like working with animals and working with people to work better with animals. That’s really what a dog trainer does is– it’s kind of easy to train dogs. It’s hard to train people to train dogs. It’s a little more challenging.
Are you talking about dogs who would help people? Why can’t the appropriate term– like a leader dog or like a– what is the other term? Like if you need a–
Oh, like a seeing eye dog?
Service dog. Is that what you mean?
No, I mean more like the dog whisperer kind of stuff. Working with people who have dogs, especially if they have a problem dog and they can’t establish a relationship with the dog. So helping them to understand how the dog is motivated and also helping them to communicate better with the dog and have a better relationship with the dog.
Well, Casey, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today. I mean, this is actually the second time that we’ve had the pleasure of sitting down together due to the technical difficulties at 9 o’clock this morning. One thing I did want to ask you. Because this podcast is really about connecting people, introducing people to each other that their paths might not typically cross at work and giving them some insight into who their coworkers are. Not just in terms of what their job responsibilities are but a little bit deeper look at who these people are. Is there anybody on the staff that you would feel particularly interested in hearing an interview like this with?
I think you should talk to Rashmi Murthy.
I would love to do that. Thank you very much.