Daniel Mintz

February 21, 2007

Daniel Mintz is support director for the independent political advocacy group MoveOn.org. He is 24 years old and lives in Santa Barbara, California. This interview was conducted on February 19, 2007.

IMinterview: hey dan
Daniel: hey Emily
IMinterview: so political advocates: good or evil?
Daniel: wow, that’s a loaded question.
IMinterview: absolutely, starting out strong. gut reaction?
Daniel: Obviously mixed. There are tons of evil things about political advocates, but they’re not by definition evil and obviously I think the kind I do is good (well, mostly good)
IMinterview: what’s your title?
Daniel: I’m the Support Director
IMinterview: which means…
Daniel: it means that, at the moment, my #1 responsibility is coordinating all of MoveOn’s technical and member support. But I have a pretty wide-ranging portfolio. I get to pinch hit a lot
IMinterview: do you like pinch hitting?
Daniel: I love it
IMinterview: what’s an example of a recent project where you had to step in? something that wouldn’t be in your usual job description
Daniel: We just had a Virtual March on Washington against escalation in
Iraq, where we delivered hundreds of thousands of petition signatures to members of Congress and made hundreds of thousands of calls to their offices
IMinterview: wow, and what role did you play in that?
Daniel: one component of the march was MoveOn members calling other MoveOn members to encourage them to participate. In a sort of last minute decision, I bottom lined that part
IMinterview: bottom lined meaning?
Daniel: I had overall responsibility for that part of the project. the pinch hitting ends up being way more than 50% of my job
IMinterview: so your job description actually starts to not quite resemble your day to day work
Daniel: not even close. it’s just that support is entirely my realm, and it’s how I came into the organization, so it’s my title.
IMinterview: is that partially due to the size of the organization?
Daniel: yeah, I think that having such a small staff means a lot of pinch hitting, though I’m probably the biggest utility player
IMinterview: ok, let’s backtrack then. how’d you end up support director?
Daniel: well, I started doing tech support as a volunteer in June of ’04 stuck around and made my way up through the ranks up through the ’04 election
IMinterview: and then…from volunteer to employee?
Daniel: that didn’t happen for awhile. I became the volunteer manager, where I was in charge of the Support Team and that lasted a while longer. then, after Katrina, I came on as a contractor on MoveOn’s Hurricane Housing project then went back to being a volunteer. came on as a part-time contractor in February of ’06 became a full-time contractor through the ’06 elections and am now trying to transition back to being a part-time contractor so I can finish my masters, before becoming a full-time staff member in June
IMinterview: so how many hours does a full time contractor work?
Daniel: a full-time contractor, before an election, works about 100-110 hours per week, apparently, or at least I did
IMinterview: i’m not sure i was aware there were that many hours in a week
Daniel: nor was I
IMinterview: well you found them and simultaneously were working on your masters, which is in the same realm?
Daniel: well, I was simultaneously “supposed” to be working on my masters and no, it’s in a totally different realm electronic music. go figure
IMinterview: so how do you do your job?
Daniel: how do you mean? like, what’s a day in the life?
IMinterview: yeah, exactly. minus what you eat for lunch
Daniel: Well, it varies significantly depending on what I’m working on, but since MoveOn is totally virtual, my “office” looks a lot like my apartment. I climb out of bed, sit down at my computer, change my IM status from Away to Active, and I’m at the office
IMinterview: in pjs or do you get dressed first?
Daniel: well, if I wore pjs, I’d be in pjs, but usually boxers.
IMinterview: you’re painting a picture. so the green light on the computer switches on and…
Daniel: nah, the computer stays on all night, I just shake the mouse
IMinterview: specificity is a virtue
Daniel: my morning routine usually involves looking at support tickets that have been escalated
IMinterview: in layman’s terms what’s a support ticket?
Daniel: in other words, questions which the volunteers who I manage couldn’t answer. when you write to tech support, you get a ticket # so we can track the conversation
IMinterview: oh ok, so you’re their tech liaison
Daniel: well, MoveOn has an amazing staff of software developers. I’m definitely not one of them. But I’m one of the people who helps our members interact with the stuff they build.
IMinterview: so then how do you communicate with the staff?
Daniel: mostly by IM. But phone and email too. IM is definitely the dominant mode of communication.
IMinterview: ah, so this isn’t exactly a new medium
Daniel: nope. I live my life on IM.
IMinterview: do you like telecommuting?
Daniel: I was just contemplating this question as I figure out what I’m going to do about my living situation when I move back east come June. I mean, regardless, I’ll be telecommuting. and yes, I love it most of the time.
IMinterview: and the other times?
Daniel: There are definitely times when you wish you were just face-to-face. There’s definitely the danger of not getting enough human contact. I succumbed to that during the campaign last year. That was bad. It made me sad.
IMinterview: what happened then?
Daniel: Oh, I went 48 hours without seeing anyone except the UPS guy. That wasn’t a good idea.
IMinterview: geez, did you ever start talking to the computer?
Daniel: Actually, that sort of got me in trouble.When I’m working, I tend to yell an expletive when something goes wrong, even if it’s minor. It’s really not a big deal. But for the last week before the election, the whole team convened in Seattle and all of my sudden my outbursts were a bit disconcerting to the people around me.
IMinterview: because suddenly they were real-life expletives instead of just curses in caps?
Daniel: well, I would never curse to them over IM, it was just out loud to myself. I have a big “BE NICE” post-it on my monitor to keep me from cursing over IM
IMinterview: very smart. it must have been nice though to finally be with the people who you work with so closely. how many times have you actually met your co-workers face to face?
Daniel: most of them 3 times. Some who I’m close with (and some who live in
California) more times I’m seeing them all in a week, actually
IMinterview: was there much celebration after the congressional elections?
Daniel: we had a very fun night, yeah. And then woke up to news that Rumsfeld was fired. So it was a good couple of days.
IMinterview: quite a high
Daniel: Unfortunately, winning just means there’s more work to be done.
IMinterview: so your job is highly untraditional, and probably a bit grueling for the feint of heart
Daniel: definitely not for everyone. But I was lucky enough to ease into it little by little.
IMinterview: what do you think are the personality traits that bring you back to the computer every day?
Daniel: I love what I get to do so that helps
IMinterview: most days are rewarding?
Daniel: I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about it in those terms, but yeah, it’s more rewarding and more challenging than any other job I’ve had.
IMinterview: that sounds like a huge seller
Daniel: yeah. I’ve been very lucky to get to do it.
IMinterview: any final words before you get back to work-ims?
Daniel: I love that I was able to get my foot in the door and then just constantly work to make myself indispensable. it’s a much better way to find a job you like than just taking the plunge and hoping you’ll land the job you want and have your talents recognized right off.
IMinterview: it sounds like you learned and nurtured your talents as you worked there
Daniel: absolutely.
IMinterview: ok, great. appreciate all the info
Daniel: nice chatting with you
IMinterview: you too, thanks a lot
Daniel: bye
IMinterview: bye

Lauren Schnipper

September 21, 2006

Lauren Schnipper is a 27 year-old actress living in New York City. The interview took place on September 19, 2006.
3:14 PM
IMInterview: Hi Lauren!
LS: Hi Michelle, how are you?
IMInterview: Good. So . . . acting: good or evil?
LS: acting: good AND evil.
LS: shall i explain?
IMInterview: please.
LS: good, because if it weren’t than 3 seconds in this business and you’d be out (evil here we come), good because at the end of the day when i’m performing it’s when i’m happiest.
LS: of course if during that performance everyone was in hysterics then it can be evil
LS: it’s evil because as soon as you decide to move on and do something more stable it sucks you back in
LS: and it’s never the money or fame that sucks you back in, but the promise
IMInterview: is it a disease?
LS: i dont think of it as a disease. maybe because a disease is only a negative in my mind. it’s definitely a passion and you can decide to follow it or not
LS: a disease you dont have that much choice. i think there’s a choice with acting
IMInterview: why do so many people want to be actors?
3:25 PM
LS: a lot of people probably do because they want to be famous i imagine. but i actually dont know any actors in which that is the case.
LS: everyone i know who is an actor is doing it because it’s what they always wanted to do and i guess they just didnt really see themselves doing anything else.
LS: but thats in nyc, maybe in LA the fame thing holds up more.
LS: not that the nyc actors would mind the fame.
IMInterview: what else would you do?
LS: i hate that question because it makes me have to spend time and energy thinking about what else i would do when i could have spent that time and energy focusing on what im doing now which is acting.
IMInterview: ok
LS: not that i dont get asked it a lot and do at times think about it.
LS: apologies for the harshness
IMInterview: another question-
LS: mkay
IMInterview: are the top paid actors talented? should they be making all that $$$?
LS: i think most top actors got there because yes at some time or another they had talent. alot of times they are misused and get lazy with (dare i say it) craft. but in the end you ‘ve gotta be smart and have some chops to get to the top.
LS: should they get that much money?
LS: probably not.
LS: especially compared to people like teachers and doctors that are doing a lot more for society, but i’d take it.
IMInterview: who’s good? who’s overrated?
LS: who’s good? oy.
LS: um.
3:30 PM
LS: ok i just saw the new zack braff movie last night.
IMInterview: the last kiss
LS: i think he’s good. a tad over rated in my mind, but i appreciate what he does.
LS: maya rudolph on snl. i thinks she’s amazing and horribly underused.
IMInterview: who are you jealous of?
LS: i would LOVE debra messing’s life
LS: the whole nine.
LS: i guess you could say i was jealous of her.
IMInterview: would you rather do movies? tv? theater? infomercials?
LS: infomercials for the prestige and cash and theatre to keep me grounded.
LS: im kidding, jeesh.
LS: no no. i would love to be on a sitcom and then do the occasional movie that i thought was brilliant.
IMInterview: who would be your ideal love interest . . .
LS: john cusack anytime any place
IMInterview: haha
LS: he’s so amazing and he’s tall. and not too pretty. and funny. love love love.
IMInterview: who else would you like to work with?
LS: woody allen
LS: sofia copola.
LS: james burrows
LS: sean hayes
IMInterview: what do they teach you in acting class?
3:35 PM
LS: mainly how to tell the truth through imaginary circumstances.
IMInterview: go on . .
LS: the trick is to make those imaginary circumstances your own and that’s where the different methods come into play.
IMInterview: are you a “method” actor?
LS: i’ve studied method and it’s in my “backpack” of tricks, but it’s not my main thing. i prefer imagination.
IMInterview: for you, what’s so great about acting?
LS: two things, connecting with the audience and or connecting with your scene partner
IMInterview: and what’s the worst thing about it?
LS: the constant obstacles that prevent you from getting the chance to make those connections, ie. the business
3:40 PM
IMInterview: who in your life would be surprised to hear you thank them in your oscar speech?
LS: probably sunshine sally demming, one of my first acting teachers at camp
LS: i haven’t seen her in over ten years.
IMInterview: thanks so much for the interview and good luck with the acting
LS: no problem, any time…i clearly like talking about myself.
IMInterview: it must come with the territory . . .
LS: just a littl

Alex F.

September 21, 2006

Alex is a 29 year-old third-year law student at a law school in the south. The interview was conducted on September 19, 2006.
10:17 PM
IMInterview: hi
AF: hi
IMInterview: ready?
AF: ready
IMInterview: lawyers: good or evil?
AF: on the whole good
IMInterview: what inspired you to go to law school?
AF: I knew that I always wanted to be a lawyer, but after a succession of jobs i knew that it would be the only way that I would be able to have a job that was interesting
IMInterview: why didn’t you start off in law school?
AF: I was burnt out from studying in college and felt that the time wasn’t right-I needed more time to understand what type of law i wanted to practice
IMInterview: what type of law is that?
AF: i initially thought i would practice labor law but now i probably will be involved with real estate transactions or with land use/zoning
IMInterview: how will your perspective of law have changed by the time you graduate?
AF: when you first go to law school you think that the law is basically about finding a relevant law written down somewhere and learning it and then reciting it to clients, but it’s really way more complex
IMInterview: how so?
AF: there might be different statutes or the courts may not have even dealt with this issue-so as a lawyer you have to try to figure out what is the purpose behind a law and how it applies or doesn’t apply to your client
AF: or what laws are analogous to the situation in which your client is facing
IMInterview: what is the best reason to go to law school?
AF: the best way to answer that is by saying what are the wrong reasons: ego, parents forcing you to go, waiting for a better job market,
AF: in order for you to get past the first year
AF: you are really going to have to want it in your gut
IMInterview: is the first year much different than other years?
AF: absolutely
AF: the first year is totally different than the 2nd or 3rd years
IMInterview: harder?
AF: the 1st year is basically the school doing everything it can to try to make you crazy and quit
IMInterview: haha why?
AF: multiple reasons 1) no one knows what an exam is like-so you don’t know how to prepare for it 2) the curve forces everybody to study all the time-and creates competition between classmates 3) the work load is intense-i took a total of 1 day of from august 18 to december 18 of my first semester
AF: off
IMInterview: how is it structured differently from college?
AF: college has multiple tests, quizes, papers before the final exam so you can troubleshoot along the way-law school is 1 final which your whole grade relies upon
IMInterview: sound intense . . .
AF: law school exams are tricky bec. they require that you not only understand the material
AF: but also to be able to apply it to new situations
AF: whereas, college exams are much simpler and you can get by using route memorization
IMInterview: what are the other students like?
AF: what do you mean?
IMInterview: how’s the atmosphere?
AF: everybody always says this but its true–law school is basically like high school
IMInterview: more so than like college?
AF: absolutely-everyone knows everything about each other-its a very small environment – and you spend your whole first year together in the same classes
IMInterview: is that good or bad?
AF: its good in that for the rest of your life you will always know and trust those who you went through the experience with and you have grown to be friends with
AF: its bad if you have behaved in a manner that puts people off or if you don’t play well with others, people will always, and I STRESS this, always, remember
IMInterview: what would the other students be doing if they weren’t going to be lawyers?
AF: my guess is that you would have some professors, some investment bankers (for those who could do math), english teachers, Public relations, diplomats, basically anything
IMInterview: what would you be doing?
AF: I would have wound up being a real estate investor
IMInterview: are there too many lawyers?
AF: i am not in the job market yet so I have no real experience to speak of-but I think yes there are too many
IMInterview: but not too many good ones?
AF: The lawyers that I have met through my summer internships have been amazingly talented–everyday in law school I am continually impressed with how very smart my classmates are…so I think in terms of quality there are a lot of great lawyers
IMInterview: and you will hopefully be one of them. thanks for the interview!
AF: thank you

Emily Heyward

September 15, 2006

Emily Heyward is a 26 year-old strategic planner at a large global ad agency. The IM conversation took place on September 6th, 2006 at 5:31 PM
EH: Hi
EH: hi
IMInterview: so . . . advertising: good or evil?
EH: hahahaha
EH: well– i think about this a lot, obviously
IMInterview: right
EH: and it’s a question that is much bigger than advertising
EH: because w/out advertising, there couldn’t be capitalism
EH: so the question is really, capitalism good or evil
IMInterview: ha ha I was just typing that
EH: which i’m not sure we have time to answer today hahahaha
EH: that being said
EH: i think there is a fundamental difference between people who think consumers need to be protected, and people who think consumers are smart, savvy, in control of the choices they make
EH: i tend to fall into the latter camp
EH: the more i’ve traveled around the country and spoken to people, the more i realize they are not sheep
EH: being controlled by the big evil advertisers
IMInterview: hmm . . . what about young consumers?
EH: how young? kids?
IMInterview: yeah
EH: i def. think we should have measures to shield kids from advertising
EH: i would be VERY reluctant to work on a kid-targeted brand
EH: unless it was like, vegetables haha
IMInterview: would you be reluctant to work on a brand that was harmful to adults, like cigarettes?
EH: yes
EH: i would never work on cigarettes
EH: and not bc i think adults don’t make their own decisions
IMInterview: how do feel about people that do that?
EH: i don’t think they are doing anything wrong–i don’t think advertisers are convincing people to smoke
EH: the reason i personally wouldn’t do it
EH: is bc i feel i need to BELIEVE in the product i’m advertising
EH: i need to feel good about it, think it helps people’s lives
EH: feel it’s a worthwhile product
EH: in order to do my job well
EH: and i don’t feel that way about cigarettes
IMInterview: do you think your way of thinking is common in this field?
EH: hmmm…
EH: well, to be honest, i think it’s the minority that stops to think at all
EH: in any field
IMInterview: other than cigarettes, what’s the hardest thing to advertise?
EH: well, i’ve gotten into debates about this w/ people at my agency
EH: but i have issues w/ prescription drug advertising
EH: however, i have spoken to people whom i really respect
EH: who work on prescription drugs
IMInterview: what are your thoughts on that?
EH: my thoughts are that there shouldn’t be direct-to-consumer advertising
EH: but i don’t really know enough about it to make a cohesive argument
EH: and i spoke to someone whom i respect
EH: who was saying that it really puts the power in the hands of the consumer
EH: etc etc
EH: it’s a tough one
IMInterview: how?
EH: that consumers are taking more and more control of their health
EH: that the doctors are no longer the gatekeepers
EH: i don’t know though
EH: from my small pool of knowledge i am extremely suspicious of drug companies
IMInterview: what about other products that people don’t necessarily need?
EH: see, for me that’s a silly one
EH: what does anyone really NEED
EH: that goes back to capitalism good or evil
5:40 PM
EH: i dont have a problem w/ brands enriching people’s lives
EH: i think it’s up to people to find true meaning outside consumerism
EH: it’s not up to advertisers to patronize them
IMInterview: do you think there’s virtue in someone buying a can of coke and being happy bc they have a sentimental attachment to that brand?
EH: not if that’s the only place they get a happy feeling
EH: but that’s not coke’s responsibility
EH: that’s the person’s responsibility
IMInterview: what are your favorite campaigns?
EH: haha i actually love the current coke campaign that’s running in movie theaters
EH: makes me happy and fulfilled
IMInterview: ha ha
EH: hahahah
IMInterview: I hoe that’s not the only thing . . .
EH: and VW always does a good job…
EH: love levis
IMInterview: who’s your dream client/product?
EH: i would love to work on a tourism campaign
EH: like for a country
EH: but i’d settle for a hotel chain
IMInterview: that sounds great . . .
EH: i think it would be fascinating
EH: especially to brand a country that no one thinks about right now
IMInterview: what makes for a good campaign?
EH: the best campaigns, i think, are based on real consumer truths
EH: something genuine
EH: not what the marketer WISHES people thought
EH: but what they actually think and feel
EH: and then of course there are the ones that just look f*cking cool
EH: and sometimes that’s okay too…
IMInterview: how difficult is it to achieve?
EH: it’s pretty difficult because there are so many factors from start to finish
EH: too many cooks
EH: that thing
EH: and it takes courage
IMInterview: what goes into it that we don’t see?
EH: ohmygod it’s SUUUUUCH a long process
EH: depends on the client but there are so many approvals, so many people who need to see it and okay it and add their mark
IMInterview: is that why there are so many bad ads?
EH: the biggest reason there are so many bad ads is caution
EH: on the part of the client, usually
IMInterview: they don’t want to take a chance and offend someone
EH: more like, they dont want to take a chance and do something new
EH: that isn’t PROVEN
IMInterview: why?
EH: bc they are usually not being judged on creativity
EH: and they want numbers that back up their decisions
EH: there’s also the fact that if you are too close to your product
EH: you think the consumer is going to care about every little detail
IMInterview: so bad ads still sell products?
EH: yes, often they do
EH: often bad ads just generate enough awareness vs. the other guy
EH: that you’re fine
IMInterview: very interesting
IMInterview: what kind of people work in advertising?
EH: i like them (for the most part!)
EH: they tend to be young in spirit
EH: people who want the safety of a corporate job but also want a creative environment
EH: work hard, play hard types
IMInterview: if they weren’t doing advertising, what would they be doing?
EH: probably depends on which side of advertising they are on
EH: i think a lot of the creatives would be artists
EH: or designers
EH: or writers
EH: whereas the account guys, the “suits”, would work for companies

IMInterview: what would you be doing?
EH: what would i be doing……………………
EH: other than driving a boat in jamaica?
IMInterview: ha ha ha
IMInterview: do you need a co-driver?
EH: own a store in the w. village
EH: hahahaha yes, i need someone to spot the waterskiiers
EH: thumbs up means faster, k?
IMInterview: k.
IMInterview: could you do this forever?
EH: no
EH: but
EH: i will prob stay w/in related fields
EH: i don’t have a 10 year goal
IMInterview: do all ad people get burnt out?
EH: yes, i think they do
IMInterview: why?
EH: because it’s the same fights over and over
EH: and it’s hard to be in a service industry
IMInterview: do any clients ever say, here’s my check, do your worst . . .
EH: hahahahhaha that sounds amazing
5:50 PM
EH: sometimes, but i’ve only heard about it
EH: never seen it myself
IMInterview: here’s hoping . . .
EH: and the REALLY cool advertising
EH: is often done internally, BY the client
EH: like target has their own creative dept.
EH: and nike has had the same guys working on it FOREVER
EH: they’re almost like clients
IMInterview: why is there more freedom internally?
EH: it’s not that there is more freedom, but i think there’s more of a sense of we are all on the same team
EH: there is more trust
EH: sometimes lack of trust btwn agency and client ruins the work
EH: different goals
EH: etc
IMInterview: but isn’t it in the agencies best interest to do good work?
EH: yes, of course, and the best agencies will equate good work with good sales results
IMInterview: right
EH: but agencies also want to win awards
EH: and be recognized
IMInterview: creative awards?
EH: yes
IMInterview: got it
IMInterview: what’s your favorite part of your job?
EH: these are good questions!
IMInterview: thanks!
EH: my fav part is thinking about people and what it is they truly want
IMInterview: what do we want???
EH: hahahahahah to be happy, thru the buying of consumer goods
EH: j/k
IMInterview: lol
EH: you (people) are very complicated
EH: you want a lot
EH: hahahaha
IMInterview: I’ll let you get back to figuring out what we want, but thanks for taking the time to do this!
EH: anytime, it was fun!
EH: goodnite!
IMInterview: good night!