The view from Washington DC

This morning I flew out of Reagan National Airport. I always marvel as I look out over the nation’s capital from a plane window, thinking about the history of this place. On the 4th of July my family and I enjoyed watching the fireworks display from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which face the Washington Monument. Today, I had a great view of the National Mall, all the way to the Capitol Building.

Since taking a job with Gallup last September, my first job in 22 years with a company where I wasn’t a founder, I’ve been taking the metro to DC almost every day. Getting the family settled took a few months, and just now am I beginning to feel really comfortable in and around DC. Lately I’ve been attending a lot of high-tech networking events, including a BigDataDC event last night in Vienna. I’ve been to two Data Scientist gatherings at George Washington University. And I’m looking forward to attending a lot more coding, venture capital, entrepreneurship, and political events in the coming months. Between Meetup and EventBrite I can find good events every week.

There were 7 speakers last night at the BigDataDC event, hosted by AddThis. (AddThis is a social sharing and analytics tool used by 14 million web sites. They process 3.5 billion transactions per day. They talked about their Hyrda tool, which they plan to open source soon.) One speaker discussed a sales and marketing tool he is building with about 10 open source and API components–and it’s exactly the same problem I’m working on for Gallup.

DC is not Silicon Valley, but it probably ranks in the top 5 communities in the U.S. for high tech innovation, and definitely in the number one or number two spot for a bunch of categories related to the military and national security, including Cybersecurity. Last night one of the speakers who has been in IT for 44 years discussed the Einstein 3 system from the Department of Homeland Security which reportedly will do deep-packet inspection of all internet communications in the United States. I’m not a fan of the surveillance state. It’s very troubling to me.

(Here’s an article about it from April: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2013/042413-dhs-deep-packet-inspection-269078.html)

When I lived in Silicon Valley in 1999-2000 I attended technology and marketing conferences and events constantly, at Stanford, in San Francisco and San Jose. I am just now starting to do the same here in DC. When building Ancestry.com and other startups, I always felt that the greatest value I added was from what I learned by networking and reading, and from new ideas and tools that I could bring in and experiment with. I loved finding more efficient ways to do things, discover best practices, and implement systems that could scale.

Because of Gallup, where I’m the evangelist for StrengthsFinder, I realize now that I’m wired to constantly learn, innovate, and strategize. That’s what gives me energy and it’s what I’m best at. My Top 6 strengths are: Learner, Input, Ideation, Intellection, Strategic and Analytical.

Gallup is a great place for me to be. It’s a mission-driven company filled with really smart people who want to have a positive impact on clients and on the world. Gallup conducts research all over the world. We talk with millions of people in 160+ countries every year. From our call centers in Nebraska and through our researchers on the ground all over the world, we have a view from Washington DC about how people are thinking and feeling about key issues everywhere that isn’t skewed because we’re inside the Beltway. Our view is informed by what people are telling us worldwide about what they’re biggest problems and opportunities are.

The advice Gallup can provide to business clients and to leaders in government, education, and faith worldwide does not come from theories or pet ideas–it comes from data and testing and research and measurement. Our scientists are brilliant, our data set is massive and unique, and our company has great leadership. I feel really honored to be a part of Gallup at this very interesting time in world history and in Gallup’s history. I hope I can make positive contributions with my entrepreneurial approach, my technology and marketing skills, and the new things I’m learning about big data and data science.

This view I now have from Washington DC is unlike any other view I’ve ever had, and I’m quite enjoying it.

(Posted from my Chromebook Pixel using GoGoInFlight, thanks to Google I/O)