Welcome to our Meet the 50 Team series, where we give you the lowdown on how the people at 50onRed get stuff done. This time we’re sitting down with Business Analyst David Leek!
You studied radio, television, and film production in college. How did you end up in the tech industry?
My journey into the tech industry started long before I went to college. I had my very own Windows 95 PC at age 8. At the time, my school didn’t even have computers. I spent all of my free time on PC games and message boards as a kid. You had a good childhood if you remember AOL Instant Messenger, BadAssBuddy, and Space Cadet 3D Pinball. Or Minesweeper, for all you nerds (It’s okay. I can say that word because my best friend is a nerd.).
I spent most of my teenage and adult life creating websites, managing forums, and building online communities. Even today, I dedicate a lot of my time outside the office to my online projects (Oh, there are so many projects. More on all of them later.).
As for how I ended up here at 50onRed, it was a twist of fate with a plot too long for a simple blog post. It involves dentist appointments, a summer of self discovery, rejected job applications, motherly gossip, winning the Stephen Gill Aspiring Entrepreneur Award, being in the right place at the right time, and knowing the right people.
I’m sure being a freelance business consultant for national IT companies, nonprofits, eCommerce websites, music studios, and parkour gyms during my entire college career also helped me land my job here.
While your title is technically ‘Business Analyst’, you wear many hats here, such as QA Tester, Research Specialist, and Strategic Planner, plus you manage our entire offshore QA team! What are your primary duties, and what’s your typical workday like?
Business Analyst is an underrated, and often under appreciated, role in the workplace. It’s commonly listed as an entry-level position, or simply used as a filler title for generic positions in an organization. Yet, Business Analysts are the corporate workhorses. When a new project comes down the pipeline, we’re the ones that do the legwork, the research, the data entry, and the spreadsheet-making.
Business Analysts are awesome.*
*Totally biased opinion.
We have to wear a lot of hats to be effective, especially in a fast paced company like 50onRed. We also have to be adaptable to an ever-changing environment. If you’re doing your job right, you’ll end up with a lot of hats and a lot of responsibility.
Almost all of my responsibilities are ones I volunteered for, or fought for because I didn’t want to have a typical workday. I need variety.
Not a single day is the same for me. Monday might be spent fulfilling requests from our Sales or Distribution teams. Tuesday, on crisis management when one of our products mysteriously stops working. Wednesday, QAing all the products that were built on Monday. Thursday, doing competitive research. Friday, writing the instructions for a new test we want our offshore QA team to run over the weekend. But most days, I face a hectic combination of each.
What must-have tools do you use to get the job done?
Slack, Google Docs, Jing, and Skype are invaluable. How else am I going to send messages to employees across the office? Get up and walk over to their desk? Yeah right.
DomainTools, Compete Pro, CrossBrowserTesting, IFTTT and SimilarWeb are my go-to tools for research and automation. I can’t live without the utility these tools provide for someone like me. Throw in WhatRunsWhere and you have an affiliate marketer’s dream suite of research tools.
Notepad++, FileSeek, and yEd are my supplementary tools. Notepad++ is for the little bit of programming I do. FileSeek is a great file search tool that can search contents inside files. And yEd helps me make awesome diagrams, some of which have over 1400 nodes and 1500 connections.
Visualized research of “Toolbars”
However, the most important tool I use is music. I’m constantly plugged in to Spotify, Last.fm, or Digitally Imported Radio. Without music, I doubt I’d be as effective in my position. It really helps me get in the zone and knock my work out of the park.
Congrats on winning employee of the month twice in one year! What do you think makes for a valuable employee here?
I think going beyond what you are told to do is what makes a valuable employee. If you’re told B- is good enough, turn in A+ work anyway.
Just showing up to work, waiting to be told what to do, putting in your time, then going home doesn’t make a great employee. That mentality is an early warning sign of “not-my-job syndrome”, an epidemic that’s been sweeping across America’s workforce for years now.
The vaccine against not-my-job syndrome is passion. Passion for the work you do goes a long way toward being recognized by your employer and coworkers.
I’ll be honest: I’m not super passionate about quality assurance, split testing, or competitive research. However, I am passionate about what our company does, what we offer, and what we’re building for the future. And I see a bright future for 50onRed. I can only hope that, through my efforts, I can help make it even brighter.
You mentioned that you applied for a job at 50onRed once before landing this job. What did you do differently to seal the deal the second time around, and what advice would you give people on the job hunt?
One piece of advice I will give to those on the job hunt is to leverage your weak ties–those contacts and connections outside of your close circle of friends and family. Those are the people who know a guy, who will put in a good word, and who will change your life.
The first time I applied, I didn’t have a referral. The only difference the second time around was my referral from an employee who, at the time, had only been working for 50onRed for three months. His good word helped get me to the interview phase when my resume alone did not.
Your personal network is your strongest ally when searching for a job. And I’m not talking your LinkedIn Network. I’m talking about your real network of personal connections. Reach out.
In your spare time, you’re also a freelance DJ, music producer, and audio engineer delving into everything from trance to dubstep to hardstyle and house, which is an eclectic range of subgenres. How did you get first get into electronic music? Who is your musical inspiration?
Music is my true passion in life. I have to blame my parents for that one. My mom sang in a rock band, and my dad is a Hi-Fi audio enthusiast. They introduced me to every type of music they could, and when I first heard the sound of Jean Michel Jarre’s synthesizers, I was hooked on electronic music for life. I was addicted to the sound and needed to find more. Eventually, the natural progression was to start making it myself. The sonic possibilities of electronic music are infinite. That notion still excites me to this very minute.
I draw inspiration from everywhere and everyone. It would be unfair for me to list off a few producers and musicians when my real list of influencers is in the thousands. And if you think my own music is eclectic, you should see the range of music I listen to on a daily basis. According to my last.fm scrobbles, I’ve listened to an average of 54 different songs a day during my career here at 50onRed.
Currently, since I spend 50% of my day either at work or commuting here, my fellow employees are a big influence on my music. A few of them are even responsible for igniting the flame under a decent amount of my work in the last two years.
You also operate the world’s #1 online radio station of Electro Swing music. Can you tell us a bit about this?
Electro Swing on Digitally Imported Radio. That’s my baby. I feel like such a proud parent when I talk about it. I’ll do my best not to go on about it for too long. We all have other things to do today, like listen to the best Electro Swing music available on DI.fm!
Essentially, I just pick and upload the songs and mixes to play on the channel. Digitally Imported handles everything else. But being an effective channel director requires being plugged into everything going on in the genre you’re directing. It’s a volunteer position, and I love every minute of it. I’m so grateful to have been given this opportunity to share my love of Electro Swing with the entire world.
Aside from your music hobby, you train Parkour and Wing Chun. What drew you to those activities?
Both activities found me when I wasn’t even looking for them. Getting out of class one day in college, I saw a small group of people exercising outside in a way I’ve never seen before. I asked what they were doing and they said, “Parkour! It’s awesome. You wanna join?” So I said, “Sure. Why not?”.
Wing Chun found me when a friend I hadn’t talked to in years called me out of the blue one day and asked if I wanted to train in this martial art he’s been learning. “Which martial art?” I asked. He told me, “Wing Chun.”, to which I replied, “Never heard of it. Sure. See ya tomorrow morning!”
I’ve been training in both ever since.
Parkour gives me freedom, and Wing Chun gives me discipline. Not to mention, both are excellent workouts. They’re great alternatives for those who don’t play sports and hate going to the gym. I recommend them to anyone willing to leave their comfort zone and try something new.
What’s your motive behind participating in the “1 Second Everyday” project?
Well, for those that don’t know about 1 Second Everyday, it’s an idea by Cesar Kuriyama where participants record one second of video every day for as long as they can or want. Most people do the project for a year. Then, at the end of the year, you watch the video. That’s it. What you get out of it is a completely personal and unique experience to you.
For me, it helps me remember almost everything I’ve done–sometimes even down to the smallest of details. I can watch the video, and from that one second clip, remember that day like it happened yesterday.
I’ve been recording one second of video every day for more than two years now. I watch the video, and I can see the progression of my life thus far from an almost external perspective. It sounds cheesy, but it’s almost like an out-of-body experience in time travel. I really enjoy this project and hope to continue recording my one seconds until my very last day.
This Q&A probably covers about half of the cool stuff you do for fun. What other activities or hobbies do you love to do?
Are you ready for this? I do way too many things!
So, I already mentioned listening to music, DJing, Parkour, Wing Chun, and the 1 Second Everyday project. Here we go.
I also love *takes deep breath* kayaking, mastering audio, studying Japanese, social media, drawing, repairing electronics, beatboxing, vlogging, indoor rock climbing, sound design, online community management, hiking, Dungeons & Dragons, community service, PC games, studying Russian, piano, soccer, photography, live-looping, designing websites, darts, playing roulette, building LEGOs, dancing, programming, writing, video editing, harmonica, marketing, card throwing, watching anime, fedora collecting, and gemology.
I strive to do at least one of those activities a day. They make me happy. And that’s all that matters, right? Doing what makes you happy.
I enjoyed doing this interview. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Thank you for your time.
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