Our Work Heroes

We’re a complicated bunch. The Stoked team comes from all over the place, we all have different backgrounds and we all bring different strengths to the team. We have widely varying interests, vices and priorities. It’s a little bit like the Captain Planet of Design Consultancies…with our powers combined, we’re hard to stop.

So, we wondered, what would a collection of our work heroes look like all put together? Who are the people the team, as a collective, value and look up to? Why? Well, here it is a version of the answer. You’ll see they come from all over the place, making all kinds of things in the world, but they have commonalities as well…and those are what mean a lot to us.

Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace

— Anna Love-Mickelson

I’ll admit, I admire a lot of people. It is much easier to see the grace in someone else than it is to see it in yourself. I could come up with a list 100 names long when it comes to “heros” in one category or another. However, there aren’t many people who hold as many of these attributes at the same time as Andy Puddicombe.

Here are just a few:

Andy allowed his professional life to meander from sports medicine to becoming a Buddhist monk to circus arts. He forged his own path. 
Andy made it easy to do something hard. Even the oldest banks and the U.S. government are using meditation as a means of evolving their culture.
Andy found something he believed in, tested it then scaled it to the world.
Andy’s ego takes a back burner. He often attributes the success of Headspace to the involvement of his co-founder, Rich Pierson.
Andy didn’t shy away from finding ways to accurately measure something as soft as the effects of mindfulness.
He did all of this while at the same time, balancing the complexities of life with cancer.

What a way to not only approach work, but life in general.

Devin Carty

— Barbara Patchen

I’ve selected a local hero because I am most inspired by the people closest to me. Devin Carty was my boss for less than a year, but those 11 months in 2012 still impact me today. Devin has the characteristics of many great leaders; he’s brilliant, fair, supportive, encouraging, an incredible storyteller, and he possesses an unparalleled dedication to his work. Devin has been so inspiring to me primarily for his fearlessness.

Devin went for things most people would be intimidated to even think about. Before he was 30, he was a scientist, a consultant, a learning executive and then a marketing executive. Devin never stops evolving; he breaks the rules and it does it in style. Not only is he a positive example that anything is possible, but he also finds a way to make every person he interacts with feel like they are capable of the same. I’m so grateful to have learned from his mentorship, been propelled by his positivity, and inspired by his courage and passion.

Yvonne Chouinard

Yvonne Chouinard & Ian Mckye

— Parker Gates

Yvonne founded the clothing outdoor brand Patagonia. From everything I’ve read, he never wanted to be a businessman, but in order to live the life he wanted to live, he decided to go into business to sell the climbing equipment he made.

Over the years, he and his teams have started the corporate responsibility revolution, claiming that if you’re in business, you’re doing harm to the environment and that you should own that and do something about it. Patagonia has been a radical example of cleaning up your mess and finding solutions to the environmental crisis.

Ian Mckye was a bit different, yet similar in some ways. Ian was the frontman for a hardcore band back in the 80’s called Minor Threat. At that time, they started what became the straight edge movement. Straight edge kids chose not to drink or smoke or have promiscuous sex. All in the name of not destroying your life, or the lives of others.

But what I always loved about Ian was that his most famous bands, Minor Threat and Fugazi, still played all-ages shows and never charged more than $5. They had this integrity around making sure that shows and the scenes they took place in were all about the kids and access. Not about making money off ticket prices or sales of alcohol. They stayed intentionally poor for many years so that they could offer fantastic punk shows to anyone that wanted to come.

It should also be noted that Ian owns Dischord Records which has a vast catalog of fantastic punk bands spanning over 30 years. From stories I’ve heard, he’s been offered hefty sums for his label, but again, he’s always maintained ownership that he can ensure access to good music for anyone that wants it!

Clark Kensinger

— Brent Taylor

My friend Clark is in his first year of a transplant surgical fellowship. I have only seen the rigor and demand it takes to become a transplant surgeon from a very distant spot in the sidelines. Mere survival in that environment is heroic. He has sacrificed more than I am comfortable even thinking about in pursuit of a singular focus where he does and will, no big deal, literally save lives every day he can. But he is heroic to me in spite of that (what I consider) broken “I suffered through it so you will too” competitive ego-centric culture, not because of it. Last year, he won an award for best surgical teaching resident in the country, and his wife had to prod him to share because he was embarrassed to tell us. Here he is competing and thriving in a world of the highest of achievers constantly pounding their chests trying to out-accomplish one another in a never ending insular ego battle, and he has managed to maintain his humility. He successfully balances graciously conforming to a culture that demands you neglect basically everything except your professional endeavor and maintaining a sense of self and personal values. Oh yeah, and he saves peoples lives.

Bruce Springsteen

— Jacob Jones

So, admittedly, I’m a massive Springsteen fan. His music has changed my life at times, shaped my thinking at others and provided more memories than I count between those I’m close with. But that’s not why I would consider him a hero of any sort.

I admire him because over a nearly fifty year career, he has dedicated himself to constantly evolving, changing and discovering new ways to express the stories inside his head. His work is a comprehensive view of the American experience and what it’s like to be young, to grow up and to continue to seek faith in humanity. He’s one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, yet you never read about him checking into rehab for the 19th time or having some public breakdown. He’s solid. He’s dedicated to his craft and the fame just seems to be a fun side effect.

He’s one of those artists who would have written those hundreds of songs even if it never paid and he never left Freehold New Jersey. He doesn’t seem to have a choice. So, he followed his dreams early and we’re all better for it. Long live the Boss.

Tina Roth Eisenberg

— Kristin Schleihs

I’m pretty sure Tina Roth Eisenberg’s goal in life is to spread as much love in the world as badass design, which makes her one of my work heroes. Tina, aka @swissmiss, is a Brooklyn-based entrepreneur and designer. She’s the genius behind not only CreativeMornings, but Tattly temporary tattoos (they’re dope) and Friends Work Here.

I learned about Tina back in late 2013 when my friend Alicia asked me to help her start a chapter of CreativeMornings in Nashville. If unfamiliar, CM is a monthly, free breakfast lecture series for the creative community. Tina started it back in 2008 in her Brooklyn co-working space to fill a need she had. She wanted to bring her group of friends together on a Friday morning so they could enjoy a coffee and inspire each other. From those first few meet ups in Brooklyn, eventually others wanted to bring this concept of human connection, collaboration and inspiration to their cities, thus chapters began forming and CreativeMornings was a real deal thing. It really is quite magical. After 10 years, there are over 180 chapters globally, all volunteer-based. And I’m coming up on celebrating my 50th event here with the Nashville crew.

What I’ve learned from watching Tina create these amazing companies and events is always remember to add a little sprinkle of love into each project or piece you create. It can be a fine detail, but maybe quite impactful for someone on the receiving end. I am a firm believer in the power of paper hearts and high fives, just ask my co workers and CM teammates.