5 Questions with Patrick Finan

We wanted to know more about our speaker Patrick Finan so we asked him five questions about himself and his speech for TEDxBuffalo:

Tell us what you’re going to talk about at TEDxBuffalo, in five sentences or less.

I’m going to talk about how successful businesses today operate completely differently than the business of the past that built Buffalo over the last century. I’ll explain my philosophy about building a “small house with nice things” and why it’s the way that businesses of today and the future should operate.  These ideas can be applied to any organization, personal or professional, for profit or not-for-profit.

What do you hope those in the audience, and those watching online, come away with after your talk?

I hope that the audience will walk away charged with energy and ideas to make the organizations that they’re involved with stronger, better and more successful (and not just in the financial aspect). I hope that they too believe that the methods and practices of organizations in the past aren’t the key to a successful and sustainable future, especially in a city like Buffalo.

Tell us a bit about yourself–where you come from, and what you do.

I grew up in East Aurora but went to school in Buffalo. When I left Buffalo for the Savannah College of Art and Design I, like most 18 year olds, vowed never to return. But I came back and you know how the story goes. Now I love living in Buffalo.

In 2007 I started a publication called Block Club Magazine and over the last few years we’ve grown and diversified our products and services. Today Block Club is divided into three parts: Block Club Magazine, Block Club Creative–our design and marketing services studio, and City Dining Cards–known locally for Buffalo Dining Cards and now in 5 additional markets from Boston to Phoenix.

I’m a big foodie and traveler. Food, travel and communities, and creative business pursuits are what I’m most passionate about. The lines are always blurred between what’s business and what’s pleasure and that’s the way I like it.

Who do you admire or look up to?

I’ve always admired people who challenge the status quo and people who are creative thinkers, people who are always moving things forward. I have a soft spot for people who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and put everything on the line for what they’re passionate about.

I’d love to be inside Steve Jobs’ head for a week or two. I am absolutely enamored by his ability to see opportunity where others see only the mediocre. His ability to improve upon what’s accepted as satisfactory and make it revolutionary is incredible. His ability to change entire industries with a single, intelligent product is something I aspire to do someday as well.

What are some of your favorite web sites, books, movies, music that you’ve discovered recently?

Honestly, I’ve been watching a lot of TED talks recently and those are always good for learning something new. I just read Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeir Hansson and Start With Why by Simon Sinek, and the approach in both books is refreshing for business. My sister and co-workers are always sending me really interesting posts from a variety of blogs and sites. If all else fails, every morning I at least glance at the following sites (in this order): NPR, Google News, NY Times, Buffalo News, Buffalo Rising, Business First, MacRumors, Venture Beat, Facebook, PerezHilton.
(Wanna Check out more about Patrick Finan? You can see his Bio here or check out his website.)

5 Questions with Remy DeCausemaker

We wanted to know more about our speaker Remy DeCausemaker so he asked him five questions about himself and his speech for TEDxBuffalo:

Tell us what you’re going to talk about at TEDxBuffalo, in five sentences or less.

As the theme is “No Permission Necessary,” I will be talking to the audience about hacking–in the old-school, noble sense–and what kinds of tools we can build with all the publicly available government data. I will speak to the evolution of the CIVX project, its adoption by the FOSS@RIT program, and its current and anticipated feature-sets. In doing so, I will briefly give some history on our lab, its research, and the Free/Open-Source Software (FOSS) Movement.

What do you hope those in the audience, and those watching online, come away with after your talk?

I want the audience to get the sense that political data is getting more accessible everyday. I want them to know people care, how much they care, and the amazing tools that they are building for the future of political discourse and public engagement. I want them to come away from the talk with web sites and resources they can use to stay abreast of political data, and a desire to utilize, contribute to, and improve those tools. I also want politicians and other public officials and employees to know that transparency and Open Data is not about scandal-mongering or mudslinging, but an opportunity for informed constituency relations.

I also want people to know there is a center of gravity for this kind of development right in their backyard (Rochester), and there are plenty of ways to get involved with our lab.

Tell us a bit about yourself–where you come from, and what you do.

I’m from a small town half-way between Rochester and Syracuse called Port Bay on the coast of Lake Ontario. We have one stop-light in town, and almost more livestock than people. I’m more activist than hacker, but for me the two are inseparable for natives of the digital realm. As a canvasser, I have knocked on doors from Buffalo to Albany and many places in between–to reduce pollution, increase recycling, and promote sustainable energy. I have been a lobbyist and legislative researcher in our State Capitol focusing on campaign finance and government reform. I spent about a year as a campaign volunteer at the Software Freedom Law Center in Manhattan, where I got to work under one of the Free Software Movement’s foremost Legal Luminaries, Eben Moglen. With his support, and the support of his staff, I was able to take my experience as a community organizer and combine it with my passion for Free/Opensource Software in the context of politics and Open Data.

After co-founding CIVX, I was asked to join the Alumni Fellowship Program at RIT’s Center for Student Innovation. About a year and a half later, I was hired as a full-time Research Associate through the Lab for Technological Literacy to oversee the FOSS@RIT campaign. My job now is to connect our staff, faculty, and students with the Free/Open-Source Software Community, and visa-versa. I blog. I write code. I architect and implement high-impact low-cost campaigns.

Who do you admire or look up to?

Eben Moglen, Stephen Jacobs, Lawrence Lessig, Hal Abelson, Ben Franklin, Carl Malamud, Luke Macken, John Resig, and my Dad.

What are some of your favorite web sites, books, movies, music that you’ve discovered recently?

Books: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.
Music: Wu-Tang Clan, Prince, Soulive.
(Wanna Check out more about Remy DeCausemaker? You can see his Bio here or check out his website)

DREAM BIG and WIN two tickets to TEDxBuffalo!

Dream big.

We would like to hear about the idea that you think could change the world. What would you give a TED talk about?

Write a few sentences and email them to tricia@tedxbuffalo.com to enter!

Deadline: Friday, September 23, 2011
Prize: Two tickets to the October 11, 2011 TEDxBuffalo: No Permission Necessary event at Canisius College Montante Cultural Center