Thanks for joining us on WhatcomWorkflow, Ray! Tell us what you do for a living.
I have two and a half jobs. I am the Founding Director of Skookum Kids, a Bellingham-based non-profit that is focused on repairing the foster care system. That’s the role most people know me for, but my background isn’t in non-profit work. I’m a marketer by trade and training, so I also work for a business services firm called Lineage Media & Solutions. And as the cherry on top, I also run the website BellinghamWins.com.
Plus, I’m a husband, father, foster parent, and a deacon at my church. Phew! Who signed me up for all this stuff?
How long have you been with Skookum Kids?
Skookum got started early in 2014, so almost 3 years in that role. I do a lot of work, but Skookum Kids uses all of my capabilities and passion like no other project I’ve ever been on. I think it has the potential to revolutionize the child welfare system in our community, and what makes it really exciting to me is that everyone, EVERYONE can get involved somehow. In many ways, Skookum is Bellingham’s attempt to address our foster care crisis, and I just happen to be the guy who gave it a name and sends the thank you notes.
So what’s a unique word or phrase that describes how you work?
I like to describe myself as a high-octane human.
Tell us about your desktop computer.
Asus Zenbook UX303UB 13.3 inch with an i7 and 12 GB RAM. It’s tough and travels well.
I have 2 identical workstations—one at my house and one in the Skookum Kids office. At both, I plug the Zenbook into a docking station and use a pair of 27″ displays, a Cyber Acoustics 18W sound system, and a Logitech MK710 Mouse & Keyboard.
What software applications do you use to get your work done?
I think about productivity tools like hiking boots—weight matters most. You need enough support to keep from hurting yourself, but an ounce of weight added on your boots is like a five extra pounds in your pack. I think the same thing is true of productivity tools. I look for lightweight, stupid-simple. If I have to look at a manual, it’s too complicated. And nothing makes me angrier than unnecessary processes.
Basically my whole brain is in Evernote. If I lost it, I’d be completely helpless. I have more than 3,000 notes that hold everything from meeting notes to a half-finished novel to promotional campaign flight plans. Plus, the business card scanning tool alone is worth the price of premium in my opinion.
- Wunderlist for tasks.
- Google products for calendar, email, and music.
- Calendly to book meetings efficiently.
- Buffer for social media management.
- Mailchimp for email marketing.
- Sublime Text 3 for writing code.
- Canva to create promotional assets.
- Quickbooks for bookkeeping.
For contacts, I use a CRM built for nonprofits called VirtuousCRM. It keeps me on the same page with the rest of the Skookum Kids staff as we do our fundraising and community outreach.
How about mobile phones and/or tablets?
An iPad mini 4 and a Google Nexus 5x. Though I’m drooling over the new Google Pixel. Maybe for Christmas. 😉
So what apps on your phone can’t you live without?
Evernote again. Between BellinghamWins.con and WhatcomFosterFamilies.com, I do 5–8 in-person interviews each month. And I use Evernote to record audio at those, so I can be fully-present and ask follow-up questions and don’t have to type so fast with my thumbs.
Let’s talk music for a bit. What artists do you listen to while working, and what music sources do you use?
I love discovering new music, and I have a habit of tracking new artists that I’ve discovered (in evernote, no surprise). My favorite discoveries of the year are:
- Charlie Oxford—southern soul
- Jukebox The Ghost—astro-pop
- Judah & the Lion—folk hop n’ roll
- JGivens—thoughtful hip hop
When I really need to buckle down, I break into a genre called nerd rock—Jonathan Coulton, The Mountain Goats & Hank Green are favorites. But nobody else in my life can stand it, so I have to wear headphones.
Besides your phone and computer, what else (analog or digital) can’t you live without?
A whiteboard. The Skookum staff jokes that I can’t explain anything without a whiteboard.
An ipad stand. I’ve made YouTube videos regularly since the start of Skookum Kids. It’s one of the most effective ways that I’ve found to communicate with the folks who are invested in our mission.
A french press & burr grinder are a must. I’m a coffee diva.
Describe for us your dream workspace and technology. No budget limitations. Sky is the limit!
I’m pretty close to it now, actually. Standing desk + high quality chair (seriously, don’t cut corners on your chair), good sound, tons of screen real estate, and a computer strong enough to run anything I throw at it.
Oh, and plants. I have a coffee plant, a buddhist palm, a rubber tree, and a few others at my house.
Where is your favorite place to get work done in Whatcom County?
Tony’s in Fairhaven is my favorite spot for meetings. (Best espresso in town. When you visit, tell the baristas, Jen & Kenley, hello for me.)
What are some struggles you currently face with your technology?
Drives me nuts when ordinary system hotkeys don’t work inside a piece of software. For a long time, Ctrl + K (to create a hyperlink) wouldn’t work in the WordPress WYSIWYG. Drove me nuts every time I would execute that command and nothing happened.
Beyond that, probably feature creep. One fully mature feature is better than two half-finished ones, in my opinion.
What is your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?
Batch your work. Huge amounts of time are lost when transitioning from one task type to another, so I try to set aside large blocks of time, no less than 3 hours, to do as much of one type as possible.
And one for free, I set regular meeting times and locations for myself. It takes a lot of mental bandwidth to keep track of when I’m supposed to be where, so I try to set aside regular times and locations and do my best to put all of my meetings in those spots. Regularly having meetings at the same time/location makes me less likely to accidentally stand somebody up.
Nobody can adhere to such a system perfectly, of course. I’m somewhere between 0% and 100% effective at it.
In your opinion, what does Whatcom County need more of?
Housing density. Our greatest asset (being located between the bay and the mountains) is also our biggest threat. The shortage of supply drives prices up. You don’t even have to use or improve a house in Bellingham to see a return on your purchase of it. If we don’t change something, we run the risk of Bellingham becoming a place like Palm Springs, CA (where people work and visit, but nobody can afford to live).
I think we could benefit from a switch from a property tax to a land-use tax. Such a change would encourage property owners to maximize the use of our very limited available land, and significantly reduce the number of out-of-towners scooping up residential units in Bellingham as investments.
What are you the best in the world at? Something that no one can take your crown away from you?
Making my kid laugh.
Our biological son is 6 months old, and nobody can make him laugh like I do.
What books or magazines are you currently reading?
I try to read 50 books a year. I even publish executive summaries of the books I’ve read in a monthly email newsletter called Adventures in Reading.
My latest reads were:
- The Struggle for Sea Power: A Naval History of the American Revolution by Sam Willis—a unique take on the history of the american revolution, and more exciting that you’d think.
- Scrum: The Art of Getting Twice as much Done in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland—an oldie-but-goodie that I was due to re-read. The best part of this book are the case-studies.
- The Passenger by Lisa Lutz—a psychological thriller in the vein of Gone Girl. It’s spectacular and kept me guessing till the very end.
I subscribe to a few magazines, but my favorites are:
- The Sun, a literary magazine published in my hometown of Chapel Hill, NC
- INC Magazine, which is for privately held companies what Fortune is for public ones.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Look for the intersection of what you love to do and what the world needs. You can’t focus exclusively on one or the other, or you’ll miss the sweet spot. But if you can find the intersection between those things, you’ll never work another day in your life.
Fill in the blank: I think ____________ should be a featured professional on Whatcom Workflow.
Hans Erchinger-Davis, Executive Director of the Lighthouse Mission.
Would you like to be a featured professional on our website? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!