Jeff the Great Participates in GPIE

I recently signed up to participate in the Great Portland Interview Experiment which was brought to the Rose city and is being managed by Chris O'Rourke. I was interviewed by one of my new best online friends, Ramona White. She asked me some fun questions and then posted the interview over on her blog. With her permission I have re-posted the interview below. Make sure to check out Ramona's blog MouthFeel for a daily dose of poetry and other great writing.

Without further to do, enjoy!

-Jeff the Great

What is one thing about you most of us don’t already know?

Besides the fact that I fell off a 60 foot cliff and survived or that I have witnessed a murder? I think most people would be surprised to know that I was a volunteer junior high youth group director for three years. The church I was attending had its entire youth staff resign in one summer so I called and said “hey, let me know if you need anyone to stuff envelopes.” I received a return call a few days later from a guy at the church who said something to the effect of “thanks for your offer to stuff envelopes, how would you like to be the junior high youth guy until we hire someone?” Next thing I know, I added the title of Jr High Youth Director to my resume and did that for three years in addition to my job at Nike. I finally resigned right before my wedding; I figured I should dedicate all my time to my new wife.

You seem to share the love of bacon common in the PDX tech community. Have you always loved bacon or did it develop through your associations in this group?

I’m what they call a “large man” and thus it’s a requirement for me to eat bacon as often as possible. Hey, you don’t get a body like this without working at it! If you asked my parents, I think they’d probably say that when I was a kid, restaurants hide the bacon when I walked in for Sunday brunch.

Do you consider yourself a geek?

Wow, I don’t know! I mean it’s cool to be a geek now, right? I do consider myself a geek but not a computer geek. I am a geek because I am writing a white paper on an economic theory I developed years ago and can’t get it out of my mind. I am a geek because to me, fun is developing a complex analysis of the thousands of mutual funds available at my online brokerage. And that’s just Saturday, wait till I tell you about Sunday!

Why do you think techy people are so fond of sporks?

Sporks are to techies as the swiss army knife is to MacGuyver. On a related note, I have some tiny plastic forks that have a hinge on the handle so that you can fold them in half. They fit in a wallet, how cool!

What is your favorite beverage while you’re working?

Coffee! I drink it like crazy. I switched to a coffee mug instead of a Styrofoam cup so that it appears like I care about the environment. I probably have 6-8 mugs of coffee before lunch. Then after lunch, I’ll throw back another 1 or 2 mugs. Around 3pm I usually need more but I have been trying to do decaf at that point.

Do you listen to music or podcasts while you’re working and if so what?

I do occasionally. My favorite source of music is Pandora Radio. Not sure how I discovered it, maybe through TechCrunch.com, but once I tried it out I was hooked. I have three stations setup. The first and most frequently listened to is seeded with Counting Crows, Augustana, The Killers, Blues Traveler, and Keane. Then sometimes I feel a little funky and I switch to a light rap station. Then, when the day has totally gone to shit, I bust out the old skool rap station which is seeded with 2Pac, Eazy-E, Biggie and Mase.

“Me and Bobby McGee”- the Janis Joplin or the Kris Kristofferson?

Bobby McWho? Don’t tell anyone this, but I have never heard either version of that song until I googled ‘em just now. However, I don’t think Janis Joplin has ever been used to describe me in any way, so I’ll say Kris Kristofferson.

How did you end up launching CitySpeek and where do you hope it will go?

CitySpeek isn’t the first project that I have developed with my business partner, Jeremiah. It is however the highest of quality and our first with a shot at being a major player. Jeremiah has an incredibly creative mind and almost two years ago now he invited me to work with him on a project. Three web sites later we have CitySpeek. The idea came from our new and shared love for micro-blogging (or micro-messaging as I prefer to say). We noticed two things: First, micro-messaging was going beyond the early adopter techie crowd and into the mainstream. Second, we saw a frustration from users as they tried to group themselves by interest and share media with their networks. Our initial idea was a site with sub-domains for each major US city but it eventually warped into what we have now: a micro-messaging site for the rest of the internet. Integrated pics and video, interest groups, message categories, message mapping and Flickr integration (the first of many social network tie-ins). A common misconception is that we are going after Twitter users and that is just not true. Twitter is great but it’s not for everyone. CitySpeek was made for the average internet users and we are marketing to groups. Church groups, softball teams, coworkers, alumni associates, etc. Of course we wouldn’t complain if a twitter user switched to CitySpeek as their primary messaging service, but we understand if they don’t.

What question do you wish I had asked you and what’s the answer?

I don’t know, there’s no one question I was hoping for. I love my wife and can always brag about her. I’ve been consuming books like bacon lately so that’s always fun. This was a blast and your questions were great! Thanks for the opportunity and your time Ramona, it’s been great to meet you through the GPIE!

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