Member Profile: Kevin Owyang

Kevin Owyang has been a fixture at Office Nomads for years now and we couldn’t be happier about it. We’re so pleased to introduce you to this delightful member of our coworking community here on Capitol Hill! Without further ado, meet Kevin:

What are you passionate about?

My dog Harley, adventure, and risk. I performed under Leonard Bernstein, ran a financial trading floor with $3 Billion in revenue, heli-snowboarded the Chugach range of Alaska, graduated from MIT, performed with members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and was commissioned to create a documentary for a Smithsonian Affiliate.

That’s quite a spread of experiences! What brought you to Seattle?

I was coming out here for a client, an early stage manufacturing company that was eventually sold. They were making trucks more environmentally friendly. At the same time I was looking for a change – I wanted to move back into the city. One thing led to another and here I am!

What are you working on right now?

I’m directing some commercial videos for Amazon Webs Services (AWS). It’s cool because I get to help engineers break out of their mould and imagine the future of computing in ways that impact everyday people. It’s been great to see them receptive to the creative video storytelling process. I get to practice my art for a living.

How did you get into film?

About 3 or 4 years ago I wasn’t in video or film. But one day an Office Nomads member – Chris Hammersley – was making a film for SIFF. He sent out an email asking if people wanted to help and I thought it sounded like fun. And that’s how I got started in video and film! Basically, Office Nomads helped me find a new career I love, when I had no idea this is where my calling would lie.

What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?

My faith. That’s not to say I’m a goody-goody or that I look down on others who don’t share my faith. But it’s faith the helps me know that should I fail, if I’m destined to fail, as long as I have a relationship with God, everything’s ok. And that’s freeing for me.

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You can check out Kevin’s website to keep tabs on what he’s up to, or to contact him about a project. Big thanks as always to Marti Rhea for taking photos of our members to share with you all!

Cultivating Useful Connections


Networking

This is the first in a series entitled “Nomadic

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Encounters” – stories of cool projects seeded, germinated, and cultivated through encounters at Office Nomads.

When you get asked to a networking event, do you think “Cool! Free wine, cheese, and interesting new people!” or “Oh no! Cheesy people whining and trying to sell me things!”? That’s the dilemma Office Nomads faced – we know our members love to connect and create useful projects, but should we call it networking? “Networking” short-changes the real connections that happen within our community, and so instead we’d like to introduce you the first of many stories of “Nomadic Encounters.”

One project happening now is a member-driven idea called The Numad Program (it is an evolution of the Nomad-in-Residence Program if you remember that one). We selected one individual who was embarking on a professional transition, gave them a discounted resident membership, and most importantly collected a team of members who were interested in volunteering their time to help the “Numad” gain traction in their transition during a three-month period.

Our first Numad is Mandy Egle, a grammar and pronunciation coach for non-native English speakers. While Mandy is an expert possessing magical knowledge that unlocks the secret of saying “my car” differently from “mike are” – one that works fantastically whether your brain was wired listening to conversations in Bangladesh, Senegal, or Buenos Aires – she lacked the technical and business skills to upgrade her website, pronuncian.com, into the best tool for learning.

“I’m forging ahead but I don’t know what I’m doing,” said Mandy. With the help of other Nomads like intellectual property attorney Mike Morita, designer and engineer Trevor Smith, financial analyst Javier Soto, game developer Pat Kemp, and myself, Mandy is creating a project plan to achieve her dream, a site “that learners can really interact with and learn from in a profound way.” One that includes gamification so learning is more engaging for students.

“As a teacher, I have a list of students’ excuses for why they aren’t advancing,” Mandy told us. From this she has been able to develop a number of tools and podcasts to help them practice more effectively when she can’t be there.

And while pronuncian.com has been around since 2007, and now gets 70,000 visits per month, she wants to make that system more useful and available to students that live nowhere near Seattle. “We called it Project Morocco, because our vision was to enable Mustafa in Marrakesh to be able to speak as well as Cho in Seattle.”

What’s the goal? To double the usefulness of her site, to better help students around the world develop American English fluency so they can tap higher paying jobs, and to be virtually available 24/7/365 so she and her family can spend more time sailing their 37-foot cat-sloop named Rosie around the Salish Sea and Pacific Ocean.

Over the next few months, Mandy will meet with her team and develop a plan to make her transition happen. And I’ll be writing about it here; so stay in touch!

Kevin Owyang is a member of Office Nomads and Digital Strategist for Game-Changers. When not developing new strategies to amplify social entrepreneurs across new media, he can be found making independent films or hanging with his dog on Capitol Hill.