When I walked into Terakeet three years ago, I knew I had an exciting journey ahead of me filled with new opportunities and challenges. What I didn’t know was that I’d soon meet someone that would continue to help me grow both personally and professionally, a brother from another mother if you will, and that individual was Brett Butler.
For those who don’t know the man behind the beard, Brett received his MBA from Clarkson and worked as a research analyst before joining the team in 2014 (presumably his undergrad was in sarcasm). He has worked across multiple departments in different business units here. To say he’s an invaluable member of this company would likely be an understatement. Invention, integrity, entrepreneurship, you name the core value and he possesses that quality. However, what truly makes Brett stand out is his unwavering willingness to drop everything he’s doing just to help those around him.
I was lucky enough to sit down with the legend himself to discuss how his past work experiences and fatherhood have shaped his day-to-day life in the office. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Mr. Brett Butler.
You worked as an analyst prior to joining the Terakeet team. What’s something you’ve learned from your previous positions you’ve found helpful in your current role?
Over the past 10 years, I’ve learned to love data, to document processes, and that you can almost always dig deeper. A professor of mine in business school encouraged me to “ask why no fewer than 4 times,” which I found really impactful. As a general rule of thumb, as an analyst, it’s important to find and address the problem, rather than treat the symptoms. Additionally, I find that the way you organize data matters, both during your analysis and the process of reporting on the findings. You can probably attest to this, Krissy, but I can be slightly neurotic when it comes to data structure, management, and even formatting the simplest of data tables.
You began working in our broader strategy department before transitioning to working on a separate, industry-specific business unit. What has been your greatest challenge throughout this transition and what have you found to be the most valuable lesson learned in the process?
In general, each transition I’ve tackled in all of my roles (here and otherwise) has had their share of challenges, but these are the most opportune times to step back and learn something new about yourself and the business you’re in. I’ve been lucky enough to have 3-5 inflection points since coming to Terakeet, and making a conscious effort to remain patient and adaptable has been the most valuable takeaway for me personally.
It’s no secret that you have two of the cutest sons out there (I assume they get it from their mom’s side). How has fatherhood translated into your work life? What do you think you have learned that you apply to your day-to-day projects?
Don’t assume Krissy, you know better… but you’re right, they get it from their mother.
Becoming a parent has been one of the most transformative experiences in my life. There’s no shortage of changes that you undergo throughout the process. Two of the most obvious areas of evolution for me have been patience and prioritization of tasks. Both at home and in the office, there’s never a dull moment and the list of to-dos is constantly growing. Patience and a realization that free time is a thing of the past (and seemingly distant future) really helps to keep you moving forward with what matters. With that being said, you must learn to prioritize tasks to make sure everything works out as seamlessly as possible. Feeding the kids when they’re hungry is far more important than getting the Kilimanjaro-sized pile of laundry folded, but they both need to get done before your head hits the pillow. It’s exhausting at first, but it becomes the new normal. Then you have a second kid. Rinse and repeat.
There are actually similarities between running/monitoring a website and parenting if you squint hard enough. There’s fun and there are challenges. Sometimes you get $#&! on your hands, sometimes you get frustrated, and sometimes you love your site to a fault. All-in-all, you’re really invested in seeing it succeed and you’ll do whatever it takes to make it there. It’s an iterative process of admitting mistakes you’ve made in the past, learning from them, and improving the decisions you make today and in the future.
You are easily one of the funniest people I know and to say you’re the king of witty one-liners would probably be an understatement. What helps you remain positive and light-hearted in the office each day?
I cry myself to sleep every night, so I don’t really have a choice during the day but to be light-hearted. *Grins* Kidding aside, humor has always been ingrained in me, thanks to my immediate and extended family. It’s cliche, but life truly is too short to be straight-faced and serious all of the time. Now that I have kids of my own, I hope they’re able to learn how important laughter can be in their lives.
Alright, now onto a few easier questions. From one numbers person to another, I have to know. What’s your preference, Excel or Gsheets, and why?
My day-to-day has become Google Sheets for it’s flexibility and collaborative capabilities. Some built-in functions within Sheets (that don’t exist in Excel) make my life so much easier in day-to-day data organization and manipulation.
But, situationally, if I’m working on a large data set that doesn’t jive well with Google Sheets’ cell limit, or a project that doesn’t need to be constantly shared with others, I’ll choose Excel. I’ve also created a number of VBA macros to handle repetitive tasks that I haven’t yet had the time to convert.
One might describe you as a big kid at heart, what’s your favorite game to play with your boys and what will they be for Halloween this year?
Dominic, my oldest, is a big fan of playing Candy Land. Not so much for the game, but for the Sour Patch Kids we let him eat while playing. My youngest, Brooks, is such a happy kid that he’s truly content doing anything. But one of his favorite “games” is to watch his brother pop bubble wrap. There’s something about the popping noises that makes him laugh hysterically.
As for Halloween, Dom is really excited to be a ghost and Brooks is going to dress up as the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
For anyone who spends 75% of their day wearing headphones, what are your top 3 songs to get you motivated to crush work? Nickelback is not an acceptable answer.
Honestly, I don’t really have “go-to” songs to crush work. I’m a big fan of Spotify radio and typically I’ll pick a genre to listen to depending on the to-do list for a given day. Top 3 stations (in no particular order): 80s, folk, and country.
Which of our 5 Core Values (Sustainable Value, Integrity, Invention, Entrepreneurship or Rapid Response) do you identify with most and why?
Tough to pick just one, but I would have to give the nod to Invention. Over the years, some of the most intrinsically fulfilling projects I have been a part of at Terakeet have required an inventive and creative approach to find a solution. It might sound strange, but I enjoy taking on a problem, a heap of messy data and some coffee and locking myself in a windowless room until I have at least one solution (even if it’s not the best). I find that having one solution to the problem gets the creative juices going, then allowing for improvements and modifications to then be made after the fact. I’ll repeat and iterate until we’ve found a solution that best fits the situation.