First off where are you from?
I grew up in Peekskill, N.Y., but I went to school at the University of Alabama. That was 24 years ago now, so I’ve been in the South for the majority of my life, the majority of that time spent working my way to New Orleans.
What was the path that brought you to Revelry?
Like many of my coworkers, I took a winding path to Revelry. This is actually my third career. I graduated college with a journalism degree and I was a newspaper page designer for the majority of my professional life.
After being laid off in 2012, I was the founding brewer at a brewery in Fairhope, Alabama. It was an amazing experience, but the desire to move to New Orleans was too strong, and we packed up the family and moved here in 2016. I ended up working back at a newspaper. And again, finding myself in that same spot of like, this is untenable; this isn’t going to last; the hours suck and there’s no future in it. And I just don’t like what I’m doing. So I quit before they could lay me off again and enrolled in Operation Spark, a coding boot camp that delt me one of the toughest six-month stretches of my life. It was there that I discover that my time as a newspaper page designer was what I like to call the “UI UX of my parent’s generation”.
My goal was to guide people through the newspaper in a way that made sense. Now I get to do that with apps, and I feel like it’s just been like the perfect transition.
What are your favorite places to eat in New Orleans?
If it’s just me and the wife Brigtsen’s in the Riverbend, hands down. There’s nothing like sitting in that living room, soaking up the atmosphere and devouring the gumbo. Otherwise, we love that wings and daiquiris Bourree, which is also in the Riverbend.
What could you get on your soapbox and talk about for hours?
Bullet Journaling, and how it changed my life. it’s essentially a personal organizer that’s designed any way you want it to be. So it’s a blank notebook where I can put down stuff that I can cross off my list at the end of the day. It added a layer of accountability into my life where, if I write it down, I’m more likely to do it, you know?
What was the best part of Operation Spark?
The best part was when it came together.
There was this constant feeling of “I don’t know what I’m learning. I don’t feel like anything sticking, you know, like this is just, I don’t even know what I’m doing. This is a bad idea. I need to quit.” They would say stick with it, stick with it, just stick with it.
There was just one week towards the end of the middle, I guess, where it really did like just start jelling altogether and all of a sudden things make sense.
This is how the backend is, this is what this is doing, and this is what this is doing. It was like the pictures that you stare at the mall, you know, and if you cross your eyes the right way, you get to see the 3-D Magic Eye picture of the medieval castle or sailboat, or butterfly or whatever that one is. It was like that like I’d been staring at it and staring at it, thinking never going to see this thing. And then finally I’m like, there it is.
So that was my favorite part was like, was truly feeling like I was incapable at 40 years old to do this, you know, and on the verge of feeling like a total failure, and then all of a sudden it is like, Oh, you know, and I’m like, all right, cool. Now it all clicks and you’re running with it all and putting things together and making things happen.
Who inspires you and why?
I’d say it’s a combination of my kid and my dad. My dad passed away two years ago, and that was kind of at the point where I was in my career where I’m like, this is a dead-end. I’m 40 years old. I’m too late to change paths. I’m going to be stuck doing newspaper design for the rest of my life until they kicked me out again.
My Dad was pretty well-known in my hometown. He was the editor of the newspaper when I was a kid, but he had changed careers, transitioning to public relations when I was just a kid. And I realized at his funeral, as these people from his second career were coming up to me and saying how big of an influence he was on them and how great of a teacher he was. That made me realize he didn’t start that career until he was 44, and I was 39 at the time. I was already giving up. Now that I know my dad could do it, I can do it? So that was a big inspiration to take the plunge and say, I can reinvent myself at the stage of my life, that I don’t have to define who I was earlier on and follow this pre-prescribed notion. I can change.
Then, in doing that, it inspired me to kind of give that same example to my five-year-old, to show him that, one day when he’s at my funeral, I want people from Revelry to be there to say Dan was a really committed teacher. He taught me a lot and he inspired me to try harder and to be a better person. You know, if I can, if that can happen, I will feel like I’ve succeeded on both fronts.
What is your favorite productivity hack?
My favorite productivity hack, I think comes from the “Atomic Habits” book. Find a habit that you want to take on and make it easy to do, make it convenient. So for example, I started walking at Audubon Park and it’s like 1.9 miles around the loop. It takes me 30 minutes. Just something that I can do when I take my kid to school, I make sure that on the way home I pass on it and park, and if I’m passing out of the park, it’s too hard for me not to stop. So it’s like, that’s, you know, make it easy to do, you know, make it, make it something that, that, that you don’t have to go out of your way to incorporate into your life. And it makes it that much easier to incorporate. That’s probably my biggest productivity hack.
Where do you get UX inspiration from?
Life. I hope that it doesn’t sound like a real cliche answer, but we are surrounded by UI UX everywhere in life. So I’m inspired by the stuff that I don’t notice. I’m inspired when I can use an app and I am able to do what I want to do on it without ever thinking about it without doing, by just going through it without ever saying, why would I need to do this?
The most inspiring stuff is just stuff that’s invisible. It means somebody did such a good job that I didn’t even notice their work. And that’s a weird spot to be in where you want your work to be so good that no one notices it. That’s the best UI UX is when I can accomplish this singular task that I am setting out to do without ever questioning why I’m doing anything along the way. And that’s, that’s where the inspiration comes from. The easiest things in life are the things you don’t even realize that you’re doing. And that means somebody probably put a ton of thought into it.
What is Your Favorite Mardi Gras Parade?
Orpheus. They’ve got some of my favorite floats, and I always look forward to catching a musician doubloon from them.
Jazz Fest or Mardi Gras?
I got a five-year-old, so I’ve got to go with Mardi Gras right now. I mean I love both, but yeah. I going to go with Mardi Gras, but that’s a tough question. It’s a really tough question.
What’s Your Favorite Thing about New Orleans?
That I can walk out my door dressed like a five-year-old and no one thinks twice about it. I can put on a banana costume for absolutely no reason whatsoever and go walking around and, you know, people will be like, “Hey, it looks like a cool day in your world,” you know? It just kind of encapsulates the city.