Our latest Geek of the Week, Beth Goza, is a creative force — the type of person who can jump into any project, figure it out as she goes along, and share what she’s learned after she’s done.
Apart from building a MakerBot and knitting and sewing and soldering a wide variety of nerdy projects, she’s also learned a thing or two about working at Microsoft, currently working on her third tour of duty at the Redmond company. She shares her thoughts on that, her popular Ignite presentations, and many other topics in her answers to our questionnaire below.
Job, hobby and/or other geeky pursuit: Sr. Manager, Social Media & Community for Windows Phone is my day job, by night I’m someone with a love of books, movies, knitting, gaming, gadgets, robots, art, music, science, conversation, good coffee, travel, animals, nature, technology, good television, meeting people, trying new things, failing, trying again, making things with my hands, learning a new skill or craft, shopping, writing, painting, laughing, dancing and things I have even yet to discover.
Coolest thing about what you do: With a nod to one of my heroes, Doc Searls, markets are conversations, and I’ve had the great privilege to be a part of the ongoing conversations about mobile technologies for over ten years. The coolest thing about what I do is being at the epicenter of a technology that can actually change lives, bringing information and communication to people where before there might have been none. That said, lofty ideals aside, it’s also pretty cool that I get my hands on all the hot phones.
What does it mean to you to be a geek? It’s about having a deep knowledge and passion for the subjects that excite me. Although being geek is most commonly associated with technical interests, I think anyone can be a geek about pretty much anything. My top geek outs are: Star Wars, board/video/pen&paper gaming, crafting and film.
Craziest/greatest things you’ve ever knitted, sewed or soldered? For knitting it’s a tie between my Super Hero goggles (pictured below being modeled by M.C. Frontalot), the iconic Princess Leia buns, or Sack Boy (which I sold for charity at Gnomedex in 2009). For soldering it’s definitely my MakerBot, possibly one of the hardest projects I’ve ever taken on.
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life: Don’t Panic. ™ Douglas Adams
You’re on your third tour of duty at Microsoft, right? Any tips for survival at the company? Prior to working at Microsoft, I was teaching High School English, so my first 7 years at the company was my only corporate experience. Leaving Microsoft and getting experience with both start-up environments (Linden Lab, Zumobi) and other large companies (T-mobile), was one of the best things I could have done. It taught me that the great things at Microsoft are unique to Microsoft, and that the things that frustrate me at Microsoft are pretty much the same no matter where I work. As far as survival at Microsoft, it’s easy; find your mentors, learn to work across groups, dive into your technology, and find the closest Connector route to your house.
You’re a veteran Ignite Seattle presenter. What have you learned from the experience? I’ve learned that the organizers of Ignite Seattle (Brady, Randy, et. al) have built a wonderful, supportive community of people who celebrate passion and creativity. I love seeing the talks, each being so different and so unique to the presenter. I also learned it can be incredibly cathartic to share with 700+ people one of the hardest (but best) lessons of my life.
Mac, Windows or Linux? I’ve been an equal opportunity geek over the years, but right now I’m at 100% Windows.
Kirk, Picard, Janeway or Sisko? I’m all about Picard. Everyone has “their captain” just like everyone has their episode of Star Wars (Empire Strikes Back for me), their favorite Dr. (Tenant – although Smith is growing on me), and their favorite console (Turbo Graphix).
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Time Machine (in Tardis Blue of course)
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … Kozmo.com back from the dead pool of pre-bubble burst startups. One DVD rental: $4, a bottle of Odwalla Strawberry C Monster: $1, sack of sugar free cough drops: $3.99, the ability to get these delivered when I’m stuck at home with a cold: Priceless.
I once waited in line for … Funny enough; I think my next Ignite proposal will be “The Art of Standing in Line” because I’ve done it so many times for so many things. Notable lines in recent years include Comic-Con 2011, Zhu Zhu Pets (for my nieces, I swear!), the first of any product with an “i” at the beginning (pod, phone, pad), and my latest line standing was in September for the Missoni madness at Target.
Your geek role models: I’m absolutely in love with people who cross their geeky streams, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the geek crafting community. Crafters of note are Bonnie Burton, author of “The Star Wars Craft book”, Ansley Bleu who runs her Bleu Arts shop on Etsy, and the dynamic duo of Amy Sjoberg & Stephanie Watanabe of Nerdventions.
Greatest Game In History: Video – Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic; Board Game – Anything from Flying Frog Productions (Last Night on Earth, Fortune and Glory); Greatest Game in History ever – Dungeons and Dragons (that’s where it all started).
Best Gadget Ever: Sony Aibo/Sony QRIO. I once had all four Aibo models and was incredibly sad to see Sony shut down their AI development work.
First computer: IBM 5150 in ’81 (Dad is a geek too)
Favorite app: Netflix
Favorite hangout: Card Kingdom in Ballard, it’s like living in a Gamer’s Paradise.
Favorite cause: American Cancer Society
Most important technology of 2011: This is a hard one for me to answer; because of course I’m incredibly proud of the Windows Phone 7.5 release, so for me personally that is the most important technology of 2011. On a global scale, I feel like the advancement and adoption of HTML 5 has been important to help with wider adoption of rich media across the web.
Most important technology of 2015: Wuffie: Let’s make it happen people.
Words of advice for your fellow geeks: Don’t forget your towel. ™ Douglas Adams (I definitely worship at the altar of HGTTG)
Geek of the Week is a regular feature profiling the characters of the Pacific Northwest technology community. See the Geek of the Week archive for more.
Does someone you know deserve this distinguished honor? Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Geek of the Week photography by Annie Laurie Malarkey, email@example.com.]