Our latest Geek of the Week, Stephen Meyles, spent a good chunk of his career as an educator at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, before finding a new home and career at Seattle-based Appature Inc. That experience gives him a unique perspective and an appreciation for the fast-paced technology industry. Not to mention a deep devotion to the Vancouver Canucks.
Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire … and an unexpected appearance by a unicorn.
Name: Stephen Meyles
Job, hobby and/or other geeky pursuit: I work at Appature Inc. as a technical program manager. We provide a surprisingly simple relationship marketing solution tailored to the healthcare industry. My focus is on ensuring that our application infrastructure smoothly supports our various accounts and service partners.
Coolest thing about what you do: I love the daily challenge and adventure of being in a startup environment and building something new. In a former life, I was an academic — the contrast between that static environment and the dynamic get-things-done environment I now live in is exhilarating. Add, the fact that we positively impact the quality and efficiency of the healthcare ecosystem (and thus people’s lives), it’s easy to be excited about coming to the office every day.
What does it mean to you to be a geek? For me, it’s the ability to unabashedly immerse yourself in something, be it in areas such as technology, sports, academics or financial markets. I did my MBA a little while ago, where it’s all about breadth, being succinct and reducing problems down to the essentials. However, I don’t think it fully stuck with me. Being the geek that I am, I want to understand how everything works even as impossible as that may sound. For example, I remember having a dinner conversation with friends where we ended up discussing why glue is sticky. To me, it was fascinating.
Geekiest thing(s) you’ve ever done, built, or worn: I built a predictive model for a class a couple years ago that outperformed my professor’s version. He was and remains a true data geek, so that definitely set me apart as a king amongst geeks for a period of time. Also, I have archived GPS data points from my many years of traveling, which I guess is pretty geeky too.
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life: Get to the office early. I like to get in a couple hours ahead of the rest of the office. That gives me high-productivity time to concentrate and work
Mac, Windows or Linux? Linux is my first and true love, but I’m married to Windows in my daily life.
Kirk, Picard, Janeway or Sisko? Picard; agelessly refined.
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? I don’t know. A transporter would make it easier to follow my Vancouver Canucks on a full road trip, but a time machine would be nice to be able to travel far enough forward in the future to see them win the Stanley Cup.
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … Hire people more talented and creative than myself – this is key to success.
I once waited in line for … A 4 a.m. bus to go see the dawn flight of the condors in the Colca Canyon, Peru. Nobody bothered informing us that the line was a mere formality — when the bus arrived, the line dissolved into a rushing mob cramming haphazardly into the bus. We were able to squeeze onto the bus but were wedged against a door, which didn’t seem entirely sure it wanted to stay closed.
Your geek role models (And why?): James Burke, from the TV series, “Connections” and the film, “The Day the Universe Changed.” He was taking depth of knowledge, mixing it with humor, great story telling and underlying themes way before the likes of Malcolm Gladwell and TED talks. Making important ideas accessible to broad audiences the way he did and does is important.
Greatest Game In History: My gaming days are quite a ways in the past. NHL 95 on the PC took a year of my life back in the day. Nowadays, I’m more pre-occupied with real hockey and when my Vancouver Canucks are finally going to win it all.
First computer: TRS-80 Model I. I had an eccentric uncle who bought it and then couldn’t figure out how to use it and so he left it at my house. I found a book on BASIC programming somewhere which started it all. It had a set of 2×3 blocks for graphics programming which gave everything you created a nice monotone mosaic-like pixelation.
Current phone: (rooted) Motorola Droid – Go Android!
Favorite hangout: Surprisingly (to me), the gym. It’s good for the body and soul to disconnect from the rest of the world for at least a couple hours every day. At the gym I can put my cell phone (and email) away in the locker, hop on the treadmill and just run. That detachment actually helps me to think through the big picture on a lot of things. Of course, I’ve still got my Kindle with me too — it’s a great chance to catch up on my reading.
Favorite cause: I was a Big Brother before. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is an organization that has such a positive impact on the lives of the young boys and girls.
Most important technology of 2011: Is it too shameless a plug to say Appature Nexus? We were named 1 of 5 “Cool Vendors in Life Science 2011” by Gartner – an awesome achievement and I love what we’re building.
Most important technology of 2015: I wish I knew! I’d be buying a stake in it right now. I do suspect it will have the words mobile, cloud and synergy :).
Words of advice for your fellow geeks: I’m not sure it’s the geeks that need advice. The rest of the world should learn not to take itself so seriously.
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.]