Keith Rosema calls his job “probably one of the most diverse opportunities anywhere.”
As the head of the technology group at Seattle-based and Paul Allen-founded Vulcan Inc., Rosema has his attention on any number of properties and priorities at any given time.
“We do everything from looking at technology investment deals to protecting endangered wildlife to developing custom media products to inventing performance improvement products for the Seahawks,” Rosema said.
As the executive director of innovation, Rosema has been with Vulcan for just over two years. His resume also boasts stints at Intellectual Ventures as director of research, and he was one of the five original employees at Blue Origin, the space venture headed up by Jeff Bezos.
We caught up with Rosema for this installment of Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Current location: “Seattle, International District and Georgetown, too.”
Computer types: “Macbook Air and Lenovo Inspire, both on the same desk.”
Mobile devices: “iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy 5, iPad Pro.”
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: “I select products that work really well, and I have low tolerance for UI that gets in my way or apps that feel like they are manipulating me for money. Apps I use all the time are: Foreflight, Alaska Airlines, Things, Pocket Informant, Methow Valley Trails Association, and TouchTerm. Other tools that I use steadily include: Google Keep, Mekentosj Papers, and Scrivener. Acrobat Pro can be a secret weapon at times.”
Describe your workspace: Why does it work for you? “My workspace is our whole office. I’m not tightly associated with my desk, which is mostly a zone for impromptu meetings and debates. I don’t like it when I get assigned to an office. I can work almost anywhere.”
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? “Get home on time and remember to bring chocolate sometimes.”
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? “I’m actually not good at social networks. I joined LinkedIn way back when it was a beta but I only use it professionally. I signed up for Facebook way early too, but got kicked off shortly thereafter for experimenting with SQL injection.”
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? “Oh wow, I’m too embarrassed to say. I like emails I can answer right away. Emails that block on some dependency for more than 24 hours are at risk of getting buried.”
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? “It looks like 47 right now. I like short meetings and meetings that combine to get several things done. I appreciate people who are efficient meet-ers.”
How do you run meetings? “A person who I respect very much once told me: ‘Before going into a meeting, I insist on knowing what I need to get out of it, and as soon as I have that, I leave.’ I want to know that everyone in my meetings is involved and contributing. When someone seems like they might be disconnecting, I’m probably going to start asking them questions.”
Everyday work uniform? “Jeans and button-down shirt. It’s good that a strong fashion sense isn’t a requirement for my job.”
How do you make time for family? “My wife and I both really enjoy being active, so we do something together almost every day. Running, cycling, climbing, swimming or just going to the gym — it’s a great way to spend focused time together.”
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? “Exercise really helps me manage daily stress. On many weekends, I’m out of Seattle somewhere, usually taking advantage of the great environment we live in.”
What are you listening to? “It’s been a little while since something really caught my attention. We’re working on a local artist project right now called Upstream and I’m looking forward to discovering something new. ”
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? “I do read Google News a lot. Also The Scientist, Business Insider, Aviation Week, IEEE Spectrum and the American Chemical Society’s Chemical and Engineering News (which is consistently more awesome than I would ever expect).”
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “On my e-reader, I just started ‘Machines of Loving Grace,’ which has been on my reading list for a while. My dark secret is that when I can’t sleep, my comfort comes in rereading my favorite math texts, so on my nightstand is Billingsley’s ‘Probability and Measure.'”
Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? “I used to sleep very little but now I find that trying to keep consistent hours works for me. If not, I’ll find some math to think about.”
Where do you get your best ideas? “The best ideas I’ve seen have come from shared misunderstandings. By that, I mean that people sometimes are discussing a problem when one person mistakes a suggestion as something different than it is and starts to riff on it. Pretty soon everyone is off running in a new direction. That’s the best.”
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? “I always admire people who can distill the important, deep questions out of a storm of information. I’ve seen great examples of this skill in Jeff Bezos, astronomer Julianne Dalcanton and a number of my colleagues. I’m always trying to do better at that.”