Curator Q&A: Matthew Robinson

Matthew_Robinson Name: Matthew Robinson Title: Producer Joined Curator: July 2011 Go-to Happy Hour Drink: “Something with Scotch” (I’m a fan of letting the bartender get creative. So far I’ve never been disappointed).

What's the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Two and a half years ago, my wife and I spent just over three weeks backpacking through Europe. It was, by all measures, the adventure of a lifetime. We stayed with locals along the way, some of whom we already knew, but most we met when we arrived in a new city. Thanks to these new forged friendships, we got to experience the local culture of each city in a way no guidebook could ever help you do. Pubs on Portobello road without a tourist in sight, beer gardens in actual gardens in Munich where no one spoke English (not because they couldn’t speak it mind you, but because they didn’t have to) and traditional, home cooked meals in the style of whatever country we happened to be in at the time. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy traditional sights as much as the next person and still visited some of the requisite destinations – Musée d'Orsay, the Houses of Parliament, Prague Castle, etc. – but our best memories from Europe are of the times spent just sitting in a café or pub talking to a local, riding bicycles out away from the crowds and getting to know our hosts.

We made an impromptu overnight stop in the tiny town of St. Goar on the Rhine River. Pro tip: build in time in your vacation schedule to do and go wherever you want.

 

What did you learn from your first job? I grew up on farm, so my first jobs were bucking hay, stretching fence and feeding animals. I was fortunate to have a boss that was both kind and brutally honest. He gave me a piece of advice that I still think about today and often pass along to graduates. “Matthew,” he told me, “No matter what kind of work you’re doing, your job is always the same; make my job easier.” It’s pretty brilliant advice when you think about it. Your boss has an objective in mind, and if you can help achieve that goal while making his or her life easier along they way, you become a valuable member of the team. I’ve taken his advice with me to every subsequent job I’ve had since then and tried to live by it as best I can.

What's been your favorite work or project related moment this year? Last summer, I had the opportunity to help lead a two-week event in Dallas, Texas involving a mobile coffee shop, a small fleet of support vehicles and a half dozen staff members. The events themselves were a blast, despite it being over 100 degrees the entire time and working about 17 hours a day, but the best part of the whole experience was getting there. The trailer we used was in Columbia, South Carolina and needed to be modified at a shop in St. Louis, Missouri. This meant that instead of a 4 hour flight to Dallas from Seattle, I had a 5,000 mile tour of America via planes, trains and automobiles, most of which I spent with a 16’ trailer in tow. It was grueling. It was exhausting. It was amazing.

My trusty steed.

 

How do you stay up to date on changes/news in the industry? They say as you get older that time keeps moving faster. As it turns out, that’s completely true. Finding time to read (outside of my nightstand and bus commute books – generally history or biography) can be a real challenge. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of tools to help stay informed on just about any topic you like. Feedly is my go-to reader that keeps me in the loop on marketing, business, tech and creative, not to mention topics that I personally like to follow like politics, travel and Buzzfeed GIFs. My advice is to organize your Feedly by topic, and put your top 10 sites in their own category for those days when you only have time to skim a few top headlines. If you’re not familiar with Feedly, check out this brief overview of it and a few other choice productivity apps.

What tools do you need to get you through your day? Like so many other people in this industry, I have a lot to get done in a day and rarely enough hours get it all done. Juggling a dozen projects with scores of dependent subtasks, rapidly approaching due-dates and a grip of vendors, contractors and suppliers can be downright overwhelming. Checklists and reminders are great, but for me, I need something a bit more robust. Here are my top three get-er-done tools that I can’t live without.

Asana: I use this checklist to keep all of my to-dos organized by project, and to collaborate with Shawn on creative. It allows me to organize everything on my list into specific tasks and subtasks, assign owners and due dates, and even set up reoccurring tasks for all of my daily/weekly to-dos.

SmartSheet: Whether creating an estimate, timetable or work-back schedule, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better tool than SmartSheet. You can create date-specific tasks with dependencies and budget numbers against each to keep two of the most important parts of any project, (time and money) in order. It’s a paid service, but worth every cent.

Evernote: The best decision I made in 2013 was to fully adopt Evernote for all of my notes. Whether it’s web research, meeting notes or an idea for a campaign, everything goes in Evernote in a client specific, digital notebook. This allows me to find everything in seconds through Evernote’s search tool. It can even recognize and find text within photos, including handwritten notes, which makes finding a business card as easy as typing the person’s first name.