What is your elevator pitch when someone asks, “What do you do for a living?”

The ocean is our client. I run Upwell, a non-profit social media PR agency. Our team characterizes the conversations about issues online, including marine conservation. We do analysis to gain insight, ultimately to help fellow do-gooders win in a competitive attention environment. Also, we do it because we love sharks.

Describe the path that led you to this career.

What, so you can avoid such a circuitous and rocky path? I’ve been pursuing the craft of creating social spaces for deep conversations through restaurant tables, grocery aisles, dinner parties, libraries, schools, direct action in the streets, museums, agencies, underground galleries, public parks, nonprofits, social media, foundations, conferences and cocktail parties since I was 14. We can do a better job of talking about what we care about, and technology can help. My advice for career success? Ignore having a career and relentlessly pursue your curiosity. Your LinkedIn profile will look a mess, and you’ll dread this question. But you’ll have a happy heart.

What are the elements of a successful workplace?

Sunlight! Simply that plus filling the workplace with brilliant, compassionate people who savor complexity and laugh at their own jokes.

What is the one piece of technology you cannot live without?

The tech object that I’m hopelessly tethered to is my iPhone. In a recent experiment to level up my privacy and security understanding, I travelled to Canada without it.  I missed its camera, ubiquitous email and Twitter, the ability to look up flight schedules when I missed my plane, and GPS everywhere. I was disappointed at how much I longed for my left behind device that week.

What are you reading?

I’m reading Neil Gaiman’s the Ocean at the End of The Lane, Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Traditions from Around the World, and (consults Kindle app) an impressive volume of science fiction.

If you could, what advice would you give your 20-something self?

Learn how to run your own business, sooner rather than later. It’ll set you free.

If you could do anything and know you couldn’t fail, what would you do?

This is an awesomely hard question. I’ve failed a ton, and am charmed that failure is now fashionable to admit. I think I’d push farther into trying to write, draw and document our way into hearing each other better. Listening fascinates me.  

At Double Forte’s San Francisco office, the conference rooms are named Rock and Roll, Motown, Hip Hop, Mambo, Jazz and Disco. Which name best describes you and why?

I’d be dancing in whichever conference room The Detroit Cobras are in.

What’s in your Netflix queue?

Little Women. It’s my holiday tradition to curl up and sink into the snowy fantasy of Louisa May Alcott’s snug family of March sisters.

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