About Jon and this blog

Hi. My name is Jon Friesch. That’s me to the left. (I’m actually standing upright, it was the camera that was angled.)

It actually took me quite awhile to find a picture of me to post here. I hadn’t really ever thought of it, but since it’s my camera, I’m far more likely to be the one shooting the picture. (Now, if you were looking for a picture of my daughter, I’d have the opposite problem… which one to choose.)

Anyway, welcome to my website. It’s a throwback to the original vanity websites that were filling the Internet prior to all the do-it-yourself blog sites that have since popped up (which are essentially the same thing under a different name).

The main page of this site should give you some insight into what I think about things, generally speaking. But as far as where I’m coming from and the filter through which I interpret events go, here’s a bit about myself (in no particular order):

Personally, I’m a voracious study of music. I don’t consider myself a fan in the traditional sense. Music is so dynamic and such an amazing confluence of logic and emotion that I could spend hours simultaneously appreciating and analyzing it. My tastes are drawn to Gogol Bordello, Joe Jackson, Ben Folds, Ozric Tentacles, David Byrne, Vince Guaraldi, the Dudley Moore Trio, the Jazz Butcher and a few thousand other bands that probably sound similar.

My childhood was spent reading Charlie Brown, Marvel Comics and as many of the Choose Your Own Adventure series as I could cram in. I would attribute my sense of humor to Charlie Brown and Monty Python and my sense of duty and justice to Spider-man.

A few years ago, I made my wife’s obsession with Martha Stewart pay off when I decided to take a new issue of Everyday Food every week and make at least one thing from it. I did this for 52 weeks and really never stopped. Now, I consider myself a fair cook who’s finally able to be relatively creative without a recipe.

I’ve always been into sports – participating as much as appreciating. Growing up in Wisconsin, it’s fairly predictable that I’m a Packers fan (I consider myself more of a cerebral fan than a cheesehead wearing one… although I certainly appreciate them as “my people.”) When I was younger, baseball was my passion. I’m the kind of fan that appreciates and enjoys a 1-0 score than a high scoring affair. It’s the strategy of games that I love the most.

But when I’m on the field participating, Ultimate Frisbee is my favorite sport. It’s a great combination of strategy, athleticism and exciting plays. Although, I think God intended for it to be a 5-on-5 game, not 7-on-7, which is why I started MAUL (Madison’s Alternative Ultimate League) in Madison and appealed to the like-minded to join in the faster-paced and more exciting game. The league lasted for 10 years… until I left Madison for Seattle (I have a long history of willing things to happen).

One of my favorite things is making and seizing opportunities to do things. Traditional things like sky-diving, spending a year abroad, and meeting famous people make my list, but I’m more interested in keeping track of some of the more offbeat stuff.

For example, when I was working with the St. Louis Cardinals, I brought down the Major League Baseball computer network (unintentionally) trying to find out if Paul Molitor made the All-Star team that year. In 2009, I was flown to Seattle to interview with RealNetworks, the first time I was ever flown anywhere for an interview. And in 2001, I drove from Madison to Minneapolis to see David Byrne live. He showed up three hours late, and I had to get back for work. So I convinced the guy at the door to let me in for the soundcheck.

It turned out that on that tour, Byrne was bringing in local string musicians to play along, so he would play the entire concert in soundcheck before letting anyone in. I was able to stay to see the entire show, on the main floor… standing there alone. It was fantastic.

As I said, I like to create opportunities, and when I want something, I work to make it happen. If you’ve ever gotten an unsolicited note from me on LinkedIn regarding a job, you probably know what I mean.

They say the best work is when you can make money following your passions. My greatest passion is studying people and communicating with them in a way that they are willing to listen to, consider and act on. This is why I’ve always wanted to take on the challenge of running a political campaign – something I was finally able to accomplish in the fall of 2011 when I ran Jeff Johnson’s campaign for Lake Forest Park City Council. He’d never run before, and we were challenging a group of incumbents. We won 51%-49% in a race they all said we couldn’t win. It was one of the more meaningful events of my life.

Otherwise, I love marketing – especially the area in which brand and creative development converge. Brand marketing is far more effective when a company and the people in it are willing to live the brand. Unfortunately, those companies are hard to come by, and I’ve only worked for one – PC World Magazine, who for ten years foresaw the ubiquitous nature of computers and always new that the PC-proficient managers would inevitably understand the machines as well as the IT guys.

In general, my mind falls squarely in the middle of research analyst and creative thinker. Many researchers can accumulate data and many creative directors can come up with a great idea, but few can come up with a great creative approach that adheres to and pushes forward a research and data-driven strategy. That’s one of my best things. It’s simply storytelling.

The other professional passion of mine is people management. Great managers understand how to identify a mission, articulate it to those around them in a way that gets them excited and then clears the obstacles so others can do their jobs and accomplish it. That’s my favorite thing.

Too many managers fail because they don’t confront issues. My marketing department at Capital Newspapers used to be afraid to tell me things because they knew I would get on the phone or walk over to someone’s office and solve it immediately. But they always appreciated that about me. My current department was similar. Now they seem to tell me everything, and we’re better for it.

It’s probably my love of management that leads me to enjoy coaching my daughter’s basketball and track team so much. Coaching children of various ages is actually great training for leading a business team, and I think I’ve become a better manager because of it. You learn a lot about how to get people to focus, listen and try harder. You also learn how to lose people and what doesn’t generally work. It’s a great place for trial and error (kind of like life, itself).

As I mentioned, this blog is an ongoing compendium of ideas that intrigue me, observations that must be made or even recollections I don’t want to be lost.

I understand the Internet. I realize that if I put it out there, it can be read by anyone. I’m sure I’ll lose a few job opportunities because of it. But I might just earn a few, as well. As I’ve said before, if someone reads this and doesn’t hire me because of it, then I wouldn’t have wanted to work with them, anyway.

Thank you for making the time. I hope you find it worth it.

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