Hobbies are a big part of a Coloradan’s lifestyle. From hiking to homebrewing, we take “work hard, play hard” pretty seriously, and it shows — work-life balance is a key reason so many people in tech choose to set up shop (or settle down) in the Centennial State.
While many of us have a lot of the same hobbies, some members of Colorado’s startup community take a more unique approach to how they spend their free time. We caught up with them to learn about their hobbies and how their work relates:
Josh Wyse, Lead Product Engineer
“I am a pretty big trail runner who has been running trail ultramarathons for the past few years. I have currently run trail 50Ks and 50 milers. I run with a group of trail runners out of Boulder called the Rocky Mountain Runners who are always pushing to go farther, coming up with stupid ideas to link up peaks and trails across long distances. I have also paced friends in 100 mile races and other endurance events, including a friend who attempted Nolan's 14 two weekends ago, which is a link up of fourteen 14ers — roughly 100 miles and 45,000 ft of climbing. As a software engineer, it is easy to feel pent up sitting at your computer all day. I love being able to get out early in the morning or after work on the trails and summit something to help clear my mind from work. It is extremely refreshing, and oftentimes I find this stepping away from my computer allows me to come back with a fresh approach to whatever problem I'm trying to solve.”
Kristie Hunziker, Director of People Ops
Hobby: 3-Day Eventing (Equestrian sport)
“Been competing since I was 10 years old. Love the partnership that must exist between horse and rider to be successful and of course the adrenaline rush of galloping and jumping! I enjoy activities where I can learn something new, challenge myself, and continuously improve. This directly translates into my position at Cloud Elements.”
Tyler McNally, International Development Advisor
“I play the ancient national sports of Ireland called Hurling and Gaelic Football. Both are team field sports — barbaric, full contact, fast-paced and brutal requiring a ton of dexterity and finesse. The local club is called the Denver Gaels and we have won multiple national championships as a club. Hurling is like an aerial combination of field hockey, lacrosse, hockey and baseball played with a three-foot ash stick and ball similar to a baseball that travels at incredible speed and distance. Gaelic football is like full-tackle soccer with hands similar to Australian rules football. Letting out a ton of aggression on the field is a great stress reliever, not to mention the benefits of high-intensity exercise and the value of camaraderie in team sports.”
Aaron Duke, VP of Product
“My unusual hobby is speaking at weddings. Not unusual enough? Well, if you invite me to your wedding, I'm going to give a speech. I won't ramble, I promise, I'll be very prepared. It will be 45 to 60 seconds of some of the funniest stuff you've never heard wrapped up in a heartfelt bowtie of "Wow, who is that guy?" If you have the +1 available, try me and I'll bring the house down. Public speaking practice, for free, in a lovely setting, with people you know and don't know, helps me crush that board meeting.”
Sheryl Gregory, Configuration Developer
“My hobby is nail art. Gradients, stencils, decals, marbling — you name it and I've tried it! I try to do my nails at least once a week (because it takes several hours) and I've been practicing for about three years. I wouldn't say my hobby impacts my work, but working as a dev takes its toll on your nails! They get awfully beat up while I work so that's another reason to do them weekly.”
Paula Schutte, Manager of Insurance Coordination
“My husband and I like to sing — we are pretty good at it and have done it from shower to show for most of our lives. Combined, that's about 50 years experience. He and I both have won contests — me on a local radio station for front row tickets to Fleetwood Mac and he won dinner for four to a restaurant in Boulder. It allows us both to continue to network and look for ways to impact the community on a greater level by volunteering at fundraisers, raising money at Open Mic nights for local charities etc., something we as a company are also passionate about.”
Kristin Turner, Regional Alliance Manager
“I am a volunteer therapy dog handler with my Colorado rescue dog Molly. She is five years old from Rocky Mountain Puppy Rescue. We volunteer and visit Avista hospital to bring smiles to sick patients twice a month. Return Path is all about work-life balance and volunteering. Although my volunteer work isn't directly related to Return Path's work it makes me appreciate what my family and I have and to not take life or work too seriously. You never know what another person is going through. Always spread kindness and smiles wherever you go.”
Amber O'Hearn, Data Scientist
"I eat and advocate a carnivorous, plant-free diet — I've eaten essentially no plants for almost 7 years. I currently write and speak about the science behind this and related diets: evolutionarily-based diets, and very low carbohydrate diets. For example, last month I gave a talk at the Ancestral Health Symposium about the relationship between human brain evolution, and weaning infants onto animal foods. It is incredibly rewarding to share what I have learned, especially when I get feedback from others whom I've helped. I want to write books on these topics, so I can reach a wider audience and help more people. I had a debilitating mood disorder for over a decade, which completely resolved through applying what I have learned about diet. It's questionable whether I would be able to work at all had I not discovered this."
Lindsay Berry, Product Designer
"For the past six years I have been practicing and teaching modern calligraphy and typography. The artist in me would always draw out letters, words and phrases so when I was introduced to traditional calligraphy with nibs and ink, I fell in love. Since then I have started a small side business designing and calligraphing wedding invitations and paper goods for events as well as teaching calligraphy workshops for other people who love the art too and would like to learn. I work in front of a computer screen 99.9 percent of my day. Physically drawing out my to-do list and doodling letters while I'm brainstorming has become my creative release and brings my mind back into a creative space. Concentrating on the way letters are formed has made me into such a detail-oriented designer. It has taught me hierarchy, balance, color and form, and I am not afraid to choose unique or bold fonts when I am designing for websites and software when it is appropriate."
Charlie Coglianese, Founder, CEO and Chief Data Wizard
Hobby: Acro yoga
“I've been practicing for three years now ever since my wife, who's a yoga teacher, got into it. Acro yoga is a form of partner yoga where you're lifting each other up using your feet, hands, hips, backs, or any other part of your body somebody creative comes up with. It's a great way to focus all your energy and attention on your partner, learn to communicate and usually to fall over from laughing so hard. Plus getting flipped upside down is a great way to get out of your comfort zone! It's a time when I get creative and don't take myself too seriously. Getting flipped upside down has a way of opening you up to new ideas which at another time you might reject as too crazy. Also, experiencing the unpleasantness of being a beginner at something is a great way to build empathy for learners — something that's especially valuable given our work in education.”
David Weiss, Senior Java Application Engineer
"I have been a Go player for 40 years and have been running a Go club for kids and teens for over 12 years at the Boulder Public Library. I have taught well over a thousand kids to play during that time, with at least seven kids surpassing me in ability. Go teaches many things like determination, planning and patience. It also teaches humility when you lose to a seven-year-old who was born 30 years after you started playing the game. Go is similar to software development in that there is an interaction between the small and large scale of the activity, managing the interaction between the two, and finding the most useful thing to do, rather than getting bogged down in the weeds.”
Jeremy Long, Sales Development Rep
“I am a Kansas City BBQ Society-certified BBQ Judge. I go to BBQ competitions around Colorado and even the World Series of BBQ and help to determine the champions and best of the best in BBQ. BBQ has been a passion and hobby since I was a kid and my dad got his first bullet smoker. My family is a family of BBQ judges and we cater and cook BBQ in our spare time. BBQ is a way of life and I love it. I love connecting with people and opening a conversation with BBQ. It always raises interest and gets people talking. I am always happy to steer coworkers to the nearest place to get a great bite to eat.“
Eric Serota, Sales Development Representative
“I am an avid SCUBA diver who has been certified as a diver since the age of 12 and an Advanced certified diver since the age of 16. I started diving with my entire family, but now it is just me and my pops. I've been able to travel to exotic places like the Galapagos Islands, Indonesia, Truk Lagoon, Palau, Thailand, Honduras, Cayman Islands, Tahiti, Saba and many more. While diving I have seen many exotic animals — from pygmy seahorses the size of one’s little finger nail, to whale sharks the size of a public bus — swam along schools of hundreds of sharks, seen manta rays with 30 foot wing spans, and, on my most recent trip, had a two-inch sharp nose puffer snuggle up on my hand. Being able to take some time off of the grind never hurts, and having the ability to unwind in exotic places typically with nice beaches isn't bad either. Some people think of SCUBA as an extreme or thrill seeking sport, while I see it as much more zen and relaxing and allows me to feel one with nature. Luckily snapLogic supports its employee's passions.”
Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Photos via featured individuals.