By Kevin S Lin
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This is a podcast about people. Every week, we have an in depth conversation with a person of interest. We'll talk about how they got here, what they're up to and what motivates them. The goals are to highlight people, share their narratives and dive into what they do.
||Clean12: Feeding Ghosts with Tessa Hulls||Tessa Hulls is an artist/writer/adventurer whose work spans a multitude of genres and whose travels have taken her across all 7 continents, much of it on bike. She is the daughter of two first generation immigrants and is currently working on a graphic novel about her grandmother titled "Feeding Ghosts". Tessa describes herself as a compulsive genre hopper who has worked in some capacity as an illustrator, cartoonist, editor, interviewer, writer, performer, chef, muralist, conductor of social experiments, painter, teacher, and researcher. She is fascinated by the concept of home. Outside of working on her graphic novel, Tessa is also focused on public speaking about little known women at the turn of the century and social activism. In today's episode, we talk about Tessa's current project and its origin, we talk about Calvin and Hobbes and being either totally engaged in or out of work, and we talk about the feelings that come with home and solitude. Quote I'm completely convinced that serendipity is a muscle that gets stronger the more you exercise it… I just like to sling myself out in the universe and see what happens. – Tessa Hulls Notes history and start into genre hopping Feeding Ghosts and origin of Tessa's current project reading habits Calvin and Hobbes a day in the life combining work and hobbies while avoiding burnout cooking professionally lifestyle and trade-offs concept of home solitude and what it means artists residency coddiewompe: "to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination" feminism and activism getting to know America by biking across it Closing inspiration overwhelming canon of women in the 20th century doing things that they shouldn't have been able to do surprising fact professional cook and how it started with rugby, whisky and pie principles piece by Jim Dodge: "They can do whatever you cannot stop them from doing. You can do whatever you can pull off and still live with yourself" closing notes: lookout for Guided by Ghosts, Tessa's upcoming project to be exhibited in Santa Cruz, which weaves together her current family history with the Chinese history of Santa Cruz Links Feeding Ghosts Rage Becomes Her 2019 PEN Northwest Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency Tessa's Piece on Bike Travel and Feminism Coddiewomple Tessa's Talks This Is Home Project Couchsurfing Jim Dodge Guided by Ghosts Contact Home Page Instagram Mailing List Feeding Ghosts Notebook||2/15/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||Clean11: Building a Successful White Label Technology Platform After a Decade of Pivots With Mark Michael and Daniel Rust||Mark Michael (CEO) and Daniel Rust (CTO) are the co-founders of DevHub, a white label technology platform that powers some of the world's most recognizable brands. Companies license DevHub technology to create sites /landing pages pages at scale. Companies also use DevHub as the repository for their experience data. Mark and Daniel first met in high school and have been working together as business partners ever since. At DevHub, Mark handles business and marketing whereas Daniel defines its technical road-map and vision. According to Mark, Daniel is the closer and the person that comes in to seal the deal. In today's episode, we talk candidly about Mark and Daniel's history, the early days of DevHub and how the two founders deal with conflict, and DevHub today and where the founders hope to take it. Notes mark and daniel's history and doing startups together story of Devhub, its founding, pivots and the dark nights of the soul Devhub today and what it does customer outreach in white label business mistakes and lessons learned decision making process between two founders hiring at Devhub trends in company branding Devhub future direction Closing Questions inspiration mark building a company (devhub) travelling daniel acceleration of new technologies surprising fact mark how hard we're actually working almost every sing le day get up every day at 4:30 to work out how often I hang out with my parents (at least 4-5 times a week) daniel super focused but at the same time always ready to be interrupted closing abilities parties principles mark: if you know you're right and good looking, go for it (aka just do it) daniel: having a basic understanding of things before speaking about them closing notes lookout for Devhub and where it's going Links White label product DevHub website Contacts DevHub Instagram: @devhubcom Twitter: @devhub LinkedIn DevHub Careers Mark Michael Instagram: @gliderceo Twitter: @gliderceo YouTube Daniel Rust Instagram: @dlrust Twitter: @dlrust||1/31/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||Clean10: Getting Off the Couch with Mike Grabham||Mike Grabham is a serial entrepreneur who has founded six companies over the past twenty five years. He currently consults would be founders who are interested in launching either software or hardware based products and services. Mike is also the founder of "Package Guard", a company based around a patented product that protects items left out after delivery. In addition to all this, Mike also runs a non-profit with his wife called "Survive the Streets" which helps the homeless in Seattle. Every year, they organize an annual event on thanksgiving where they give away duffel bags filled with coats, fleece jackets and other equipment to help people stay save and warm over the winter months. When not engaged in the aforementioned activities, Mike is an active member of Seattle's start up community. He currently serves as chapter director for Startup Grind, the world's largest independent community for founders, in both Seattle and Bellevue. In today's episode, we talk about Mike's history and the lessons and challenges absorbed from founding six startups, Mike's most common advice to founders and Mike's philosophy of getting off the couch and why that can make all the difference. Notes brief history of Mike's career Mike's start to entrepreneurship mistakes and lessons learned consulting and decision to do it most common advice for startups how to reach customers and what questions to ask figuring out the price for something that's never been sold characteristics of good startup founders startup grind and what has changed doing a startup in Seattle vs the bay area survive the streets and helping the homeless comments on having a public email address setting goals Closing Questions inspiration: homeless lady that came up and told the story of how an organization like "Survive the Streets" helped them get off the street and thanked Mike for his service surprising fact despite drawing energy from crowds, Mike likes spending time by himself and will sometimes put on headphones to avoid conversation principles: helping others closing notes: story of package guard, Mike's current for profit company, came about because someone stole bag of coats delivered to his house which was meant for his non-profit Links Dropbox Launch and the minimal viable video Startup Grind - Seattle Startup Grind - Organization Donate to Survive the Streets Sarah Smith Package Guard Contact and Details Mike's website Mike Crunchbase||12/3/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||Clean9: Telling Stories with Paul Currington||Paul Currington runs the Fresh Ground Stories(FGS) meetup in Seattle. If you're not familiar with FGS, its a meetup that comes together ones a month to share personal stories (based off "The Moth"). Every month, there's a theme and people tell stories based on that theme. Anyone can go up on stage and tell a story, provided that they are true, personal and under 8 minutes. I've gone to a couple of these events and have always been struck at how raw some of these stories can get. I also told two stories at FGS and found the audience there to be overwhelmingly supportive and kind hearted. I've been wanting to talk to Paul ever since I started this podcast because I think the work that he does, both in telling his stories and enabling others to tell theirs, is incredibly important and has touched the lives of many people, myself included. Paul has a history in stand-up comedy and has done that for over a decade before switching over to storytelling. He was drawn to the format because he found it to be a richer medium in which to tell stories that were not just black and white. Paul is a man of many stories and a lot of them center around the theme of mental health and depression (themes which we will cover in today's podcast). In today's episode we'll talk about FGS, storytelling and why you might want to share your own story, we'll talk about the dark nights of the soul and how Paul got through some of the lowest moments of his life and what he's learned, and we'll talk about Paul's principles, how faith is a choice and how turning something into a story can be the start of being able to live with it. Notes fresh ground stories (FGS), what it is and how Paul got involved with it how FGS brings out really personal stories from people storytelling vs stand-up and how pro-life and pro-choice people can be moved by the same story Paul's first memories of depression what happened on December 2012 and life afterwards AA and the 12 step program for depression why Paul doesn't monetize FGS how Paul started talking about depression publicly, starting with a conversation with his son advice on talking to a significant other about depression advice for people who want to help people with depression Closing Questions inspiration: an African American musician who got a clansman to burn his robes through empathy surprising fact: Paul is a fan of boxing (life is punching you in the face every day and it's how you deal with it) principles: faith is a choice if you can turn something into a story, then it's the start of being able to live with it closing notes: try telling one (safe) person something thats scary and see what that feels like Links Fresh Ground Stories The Moth Couchsurfing National Crisis Hotline AA Muhammad Ali Danieli Cormier Teddy Atlas||11/19/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||Clean8: Not Living on Automatic with HB Siegel||H.B. Siegel is Prime Minister of Ideas at Amazon and also one of a very select group of people who have been at Amazon now for almost two decades. In that time, H.B. has been the Director of Media Technologies, the CTO of IMDB (an Amazon subsidiary), and helped launch the "search inside the book" feature for Kindle. H.B. graduated with degrees in computer science and electrical engineering with a focus in computer graphics. Prior to Amazon, H.B. worked in a series of animation related companies including Wavefront, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and Pixar. At Wavefront, H.B. helped developed Maya, a premier 3D animation platform used to create animations for games and films that is still widely used today. At ILM, H.B. worked on the special effects for now iconic film series such as "Star Wars" and "Men In Black". In today's conversation we'll talk about pranks and not living live on automatic, we'll discuss H.B's career and what he's learned, and we'll talk about investing in ideas versus people (and techniques for telling apart the good from the bad). Notes cocktail party introductions star wars and industrial light and magic pranks and not living life on automatic the department of ideas catalyst and the university of washington investing in ideas and people trends in film making and animation early work at wavefront and developing Maya experience from nearly two decades at amazon peccy removing inefficiencies werewolves unexpected productions and improv Links Companies Industrial Light and Magic IMDB Wavefront Pixar Amazon Film Series Star Wars Men in Black Books What Technology Wants The Phantom Toolbooth Calvin and Hobbes Other The Uncanny Valley Catalyst Program The Dutch Reach Maya Werewolf Peccy Unexpected Productions: Nonprofit Improv Theater located at Pike Place Market, next to the gum wall GISHWHES: Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World has Ever Seen Jay Hitt UP Christmas Show H.B. IMDB Page||11/12/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||Clean7: Running the Distance with Evan Williams||Evan Williams is a man of many miles and talents. He has degrees in both physics and biomechanical engineering and for his day job, Evan works as a design engineer at MSR (Mounstain Safety Research), a firm which designs and manufactures high performance gear for the outdoors. The outdoors is also where you'll most likely find Evan, though good luck pinning him down as he dashes past you at five minute mile pace. When it comes to racing, Evan is just shy of elite, which means he's about as fast as you can be without doing running as a full time job. His PR (personal record) for a marathon is 2:28:15 (~5:40min/mile for 26 miles). We cover a lot of ground in today's talk. We go over all things running including training, meal plans, race day rituals, and racing strategies. We will talk about equipment, different sorts of footwear, why Evan runs in crocs and differences between a midfoot and a heel strike. We also talk about depression, experiences with it and how running has helped. The topic of mental health, especially depression, is something that is very near and dear to me because of both personal experiences and seeing people close to me go through it. Unfortunately, there's still a lot of stigma attached to this topic and it's not something that is easy to talk about publicly. Therefore I really appreciate Evan's openness to talk to me about it and hope that this might be helpful to those out there that are going through similar experiences. As always, thanks for listening and if you want to leave feedback or nominate folks to the show, please send emails to feedback(at)folkstories.org. If you want to follow the show and get access to extended interviews and updates on guests, you can subscribe to my mailing list here Notes training and racing routines why middle school is the worst swimming, ultimate and the return to running injury prevention when training race training, nutrition, rituals and strategy running shoes heel strike vs midfoot strike running in crocs running through depression running under 2:40 and making it to 30 what's next Links Jon Hopkins Open Eye Signal Emil Zátopek Pickle Juice for Running Cramps Vibrams Heel strive vs Mid Foot Strike Crocs Evan's 5 mile run in Columbia City Flying Lion Brewing Chuckanut 50k||11/5/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||Clean6: Hands on Learning with Sarah Smith||Sometimes I have days when I wake up and think of everything wrong with the world (this is fun - I encourage you to try it sometime). Sometimes, this can feel overwhelming with all the problems going on - climate change, nuclear weapon proliferation, extreme social inequality, etc. Sometimes, it's hard to know where to start. And as a consequence, I do nothing about any of it. This is why I'm glad that there are people like Sarah Smith out in the world who look at these issues and actually do something about them. Sarah Smith is the Executive Director at Sawhorse Revolution, a non-profit that teaches carpentry skills to high school students and organizes them to build structures for and around the community. Examples of past projects include a 42-foot-long bridge, tiny houses for the homeless and an 18-foot octagonal platform wrapped around an old Douglas fir 30-feet above ground level (otherwise known as a very big tree house). Sarah graduated in 2008 with an English degree right into the 2008 financial recession. Due to the difficulties finding a job at that time, Sarah used the time to learn some hands on skills such as sowing, cooking and carpentry. It was through her experiences participating in a carpentry camp in Arlington that eventually turned into the Sawhorse Revolution. At Sawhorse, Sarah and the organization empower students to fix problems they see in the world through carpentry. While this might not be the solution to homelessness, it helps address the problems in one's own community and serves as a call to action for the rest of us. In today's episode, we talk about taking the time to discover what you're good at, the mission of the Sawhorse Revolution and the programs that they offer, and doing social good with the means at your disposal. Finally, a little house keeping - Folk Stories will take a two-week hiatus as I will be in China for two weeks of personal travels. As always, thanks for listening and if you want to leave feedback or nominate folks to the show, please send emails to feedback(at)folkstories.org. If you want to follow the show and get access to extended interviews and updates on guests, you can subscribe to my mailing list here Notes how Sarah got started building tiny houses origins of the Sawhorse Revolution journey of self exploration after college building tree houses and other awesome structures lessons and takeaways from the Sawhorse Revolution different Sawhorse programs and projects tiny houses and what they are day to day operations of a non-profit future plans for the Sawhorse Links Sawhorse Revolution Sawhorse Revolution Indiegogo Video Sawhorse Revolution Buildings the "Impossible City" in Nickelsville Buffy the Vampire Slayer Mona the Vampire Donate to the Sawhorse Revolution Sawhorse Revolution Gingerbread Barn-Raiser (fundraiser) Book Recommendations Sarah kindly offered to use her awesome English prowess to do book recommendations. Email her with topics you're interested in to get a lead on your next book(s) at firstname.lastname@example.org||10/15/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||Clean5: Love, Math and Design with Janet Galore||My guest today is Janet Galore, Creative Director of Amazon's Retail Experience Concept Lab. The Concept Lab is a department that looks 3-5 years ahead and explores potential retail experiences that could be possible in that time. Janet is all about working at the intersection of emergent technologies and design and her past gigs include being an executive producer at Zombie VR Studios where they made the first VR exclusive computer game called Locus and as Speech Director of Microsoft's Advanced Strategies and Research where she worked on long term strategy for the company. In 2015, Janet and her husband bought "The Grocery", a historic building in the Beacon Hill district of Seattle that started its life as a grocery store in 1929. They have turned the space into a creative space where they regularly host events, exhibits and performances (I first met Janet at one of these events). Today, we talk about Janet's path into technology and design, we talk about the creative process and what it means to evaluate art and we talk about The Grocery and why staying small can be awesome. Thanks for listening and if you want to leave feedback or nominate folks to the show, please send emails to feedback(at)folkstories.org Notes history and interest in mathematics early work in tech the life of a creative director at Amazon showing your work in design notes on managing creatives learning from mistakes evaluating art in context the grocery: past, present and future managing panic Links Euler's Identity Gödel's incompleteness theorems Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid Locus The Yes Men Arts Corps The Grocery Studios Mechatronics Art Exhibition @ The Grocery Getting Better by Being Wrong: My Conversation with Poker Pro Annie Duke Annie Duke: Thinking in Bets White Fragility Contact Janet Galore's Blog Janet's Instagram||10/8/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||Clean4: Celebrating the Century with Hallie Kupperman||Before introducing today's guest, I like to setup a bit of context. Within the last two years, I wanted to get out of my regular circles and do something that didn't involve technology (for people unfamiliar, my day job is a software engineer at Amazon). I ended up picking up salsa dancing - little did I know that this decision would lead to some of the most significant relationships that I have today. Most of these encounters took place within the Century Ballroom, an incredible dance studio in the heart of Capitol Hill Seattle. Hallie Kupperman is the owner of the Century Ballroom and the Tin Table Restaurant adjacent to the ballroom. She's created an incredible community at the Century which is something I and many others here are incredibly grateful for. Hallie moved to Seattle over two decades ago and learned to swing dance after arrival. She started teaching swing to the LGBT community not soon after which soon expanded into teaching all forms of dances when she signed the lease on the Century Ballroom. Hallie has been managing and teaching at the Century Ballroom for over two decades and has overcome many hurdles in the interim, including a dramatic rent increase after the building was sold to a new developer that drove out all other tenants and a steep dance tax levied by Washington. With the Century Ballroom, Hallie has created not just a great dance hall but an incredible community, one that comes together in times of hardship. Examples include events such as "Dance Your Pants off for Lorraine", a fundraiser held for fellow dancer Lorraine which raised money for her cancer treatment and another fundraiser held in 2013 that raised over $90,000 to help keep century afloat after the dance tax. Thanks for listening and if you want to leave feedback or nominate folks to the show, please send emails to feedback(at)folkstories.org Notes Hallie's swinging start to dancing origins of century ballroom perseverance through hard times mission and community a day in the life of Hallie everyone can learn to dance future plans for century ballroom Hallie's suits experiences of being a female lead Links The Century Ballroom TimberLine Spirits What Color Is Your Parachute? Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person Animal, Vegetable, Miracle||10/1/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||Clean3: Taking No Shortcuts with Colm MacCárthaigh||Colm MacCárthaigh is a Principal Software Engineer at Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS provides on demand cloud computing services to individuals, companies and governments around the world. If you're a customer of AWS, Colm has probably had a hand in the services you use - his past projects include Route53, Cloudfront and Elastic Load Balancer. If you like open source software, Colm was heavily involved in the original Apache HTTP Server and more recently was the driving force behind the release of s2n, a popular open source C99 implementation of the TLS/SSL protocol. If you're a fan of Irish folk music, Colm is part of several bands of such sorts and plays both in Seattle and on the road. If you're concerned about privacy and human rights, Colm is the founding director of Digital Rights Ireland and remains active on issues concerning privacy and immigration. I could go on but I think suffice to say, Colm is a man of many talents and interests. I'm super excited to have Colm on the show, not just because he's a great person to have a conversation with but also because he was my very first guest in my internal podcast at Amazon. Colm was kind enough to talk to me some two years ago then and is repeating that kindness once again by coming on to Folk Stories. A note that this talk does get slightly technical in a few places (what happens when two engineers talk about engineering) but I would consider the majority of this talk to be accessible regardless of your technical background. There are also show notes for everything we talked about if you want to find out more. In today's episode, we talk about what its like to be a principal software engineer at Amazon, why Colm went back to school despite having a good job and solid technical skills and matters of music and activism. Thanks for listening and if you want to leave feedback or nominate folks to the show, please send emails to feedback(at)folkstories.org Notes a day in the life of a principal software engineer blockchain and being unburdened from the man prioritizing projects and themes in past work going back to school: motivation and learnings thoughts on dev ops thoughts on engineering and healthy team dynamics juggling writing code with principal responsibilities activism and digital rights Irish folk music and finding inspiration Links Some tech projects Colm has been involved in Amazon CloudFront: Highly programmable, secure content delivery network (CDN) Elastic Load Balancer: Scalable load balancing for L4 and L7 applications Amazon Route 53: Highly Available DNS as a service Apache HTTP Server Project: the most popular web server on the internet since 1996 s2n: s2n is a C99 implementation of the TLS/SSL protocols that is designed to be simple, small, fast, and with security as a priority Links to technical concepts discussed Blockchain: open distributed ledger that can record transactions between multiple parties Dev Ops Introduction to Computer Networking: self paced Stanford class on computer networking Cryptography: practice and study of techniques for secure communications Regions and Availability Zones: Concepts relating to how AWS places and isolates its services Everything else Travel Ban: executive order issued by Donald Trump that limits immigration from a number of Muslim-majority countries Digital Rights Ireland: dedicated to defending Civil, Human and Legal rights in a digital age Tulip Mania Prince: American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer and filmmaker Contact Colm's Twitter: @colmmacc||9/24/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||Clean2: Just Playing with Jay Hitt||Jay Hitt is a cast member and Managing Director of the Unexpected Productions (UP) Theater. UP is Seattle's longest running Improv Theater and Jay has been there for two of the plus three decades that its been around. Jay studied theater in college and got interested in improv through an early fascination with ninjas. At UP, Jay's helped see the theater through multiple expansions, renovations and new shows. One of the show that Jay kickstarted and also hosts is the "Duo Comedy Showcase", an open mic where both budding new improvisers and long time vets can try new material in front of a life audience. I first met Jay while performing in Duos which recently just celebrated its 10 year anniversary - twice. Today's episode is mostly improvised. We talk a lot about improvisation, what it is and isn't, how to get started and common misconceptions. We'll dive into Jay's day job as the managing director of UP and the challenges of being both a performer and a manager. We'll also talk about Jay's specific style of improv and the sort of qualities he looks for in upcoming improvisers. If you want to leave feedback or nominate folks to the show, please send emails to feedback(at)folkstories.org Notes Jay's start with improv (it involves ninjas) advice to people who don't think they can do improv (hint: they can) history of Unexpected Productions and improv around Seattle what Jay looks for in improv shows standup comedy and what carries over misonceptions about improv the day to day of a managing director diving into different physical improv styles Links UP Theater: Seattle's Longest Running Improv Theater UP Classes Duos night at UP: Seattle's only Improv Open Mic Laban Movement Analysis: method and language for describing, visualizing, interpreting and documenting human movement Little Bitches: An Improvised Teen Girl Movie: new UP show based on Mean Girls BlacKkKlansman: Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white surrogate, who eventually becomes head of the local branch. Singing in the Rain: A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound.||9/17/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||Clean1: Directing the Narrative with Johan Liedgren||Johan Liedgren is an award winning film director, consultant and investor/advisor/CEO of over 15 ventures||9/10/2018||Free||View in iTunes|