The best part of working at Yahoo! was getting to be part of a huge group of some super smart people – the new geek chic one might say. It could be an intense enviroment and it takes many moving parts to make it happen every day. The benefit? Other people who could expand your own imagination.
My first crush was on the Bo Duke aka John Schneider (still looking good my friend), giving blondes a special place in my heart. At Yahoo!, I noticed this tall, blonde guy – @vangorkomm who made astute comments in meetings, then being the life of the party the rest of the time and said to myself ‘I gotta be friends with that guy!’ Last year @vangorkomm’s easy-going nature and good grooming landed him as the face of “funemployment.”
1) As an advocate of ‘funemployment’ what activities do you suggest for the newly unemployed? Do you have golden rules ie once you get sorted?
First, I suggest putting together your resumé and applying to a dozen or so jobs online. Next, forget about your resumé and the dozen or so jobs for which you just applied and refocus for a few weeks minimum. At least once a week try something you’ve NEVER done before. Anything. For example, I recently fired a handgun for the first time, took a Spanish class, learned to surf, and hiked up a mountain in Brazil.
The rest depends on other factors such as being single or a homeowner. Either way, try to travel outside of the country. There are PLENTY of inexpensive places to travel that will provide you with a new perspective on your life and your profession. Challenge yourself & have an adventure. Take the time to step back, analyze where you are at in your life and think about where you’d like to be.
Most importantly: Don’t sit at home! BE SOCIAL. There are numerous networking events in Los Angeles, so get out there and introduce yourself to a bunch of strangers. Remember when I told you to put your resumé together and apply for a dozen jobs? You will not get any of those jobs. But sending it out made you feel a whole lot better, didn’t it? 🙂 Now get out there! Meet people! Most of the events are free and you have nothing to lose. Break down barriers, walk up to strangers and introduce yourself. You never know who you might meet and what opportunities might present themselves.
The fun factor went up a bit as the whole thing started to grow and grow, but it was also all a bit embarrassing. While I was enjoying some time off and being lazy on the beach, I realize many other people were struggling to find work, support their families and keep their homes. However there were a few perks from the experience: I received three job offers and two dates! 🙂
California is definitely a great place to be unemployed. Luckily I was laid off right before the summer, so I spent a portion of every single day on the beach. I can’t imagine what I would do with my days if I was back home in Iowa this time of year. I love being outdoors and have enjoyed being even more active and exploring some new areas of SoCal.
(ed. note: California has the 5th highest unemployment rate at 12.1- it is fun and full of actors and sunshine. Mike’s home state of Iowa has the 4th lowest rate at 6.6% but it’s so cold.)
3) How has your passion for technology been reignited by a break from the every day stress of the daily grind?
Very good question. Technology has always been my passion, but I grew very restless with the web world because it just wasn’t evolving at a pace that excited me. Stepping back, I was definitely able to pinpoint what I liked and disliked about my job at Yahoo! and my career in general. I’ve never been one to work on something unless I’m incredibly passionate about it (many times to a fault), so I started focusing on the things in my life that excite me, and new areas of technology in which I wanted to dive deeper. Some of the new mobile experiences have definitely reignited some of that passion.
Right now I’m really enjoying digging in on some new experiences using augmented reality, GPS-based gaming and virtual goods. Everyone knows I’m a big Apple fanboy, so of course I’m having a blast brainstorming & creating some new user experiences for the iPad. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve encountered such a blank slate of endless opportunities and the opportunity to create brand-spanking-new user experiences and set some standards in a new space. Most importantly I want to continue to be challenged, learn something new every day, and have FUN doing it.
4) What’s next for you?
Well, after this interview I’ll probably compile some code, go for a run on the beach and then catch up on last week’s American Idol. 🙂
But seriously, you’ll be hearing a lot more from me about this in the next 30 days. It involves some renewed entrepreneurial spirit around much of what I mentioned above, and I am incredibly excited.
The best thing I can say about Iowans is how incredibly selfless they are. Every time I go back to visit, I’m always amazed at how many Iowans I meet whose occupations & lives are built around others, not themselves. Their purposes in life are to help others succeed, to support their friends, family & communities. For most, their lives don’t revolve around what car they drive or their status in the community. But I think my favorite aspect of Iowans is how incredibly socially & technologically progressive they are, all while maintaining this level of selflessness. It’s an impressive balance and one for which I continually strive.
Also, we love corn. Holy crap corn is good.