A Day in the Life: Tiffany Knudtson
At Verica for: almost a year
Ed Note: This is an ongoing series about what a day in the life of various Verica folks looks like. In this post, we chat with Tiffany, a marketing specialist. Tiffany is the heart and brains behind Verica’s design and branding, and she wields her wit and savvy writing skills on all our social media channels daily.
What brought you to Verica?
I’ve been friends with James [Wickett] and his wife for a while and he asked me if I would be interested in the role. I worked with James at one of my previous jobs around 10 years or so ago, so I knew that I liked working with him and that he was a really good guy. I was able to trust that what he said about Verica was legit. He said the people here were smart and caring, and that it wasn’t a culture that beat you down. There are a lot of those types of cultures in workplaces today, but Verica is a place that you could feel like you’re being built up. I really like that. It’s a great place to work. I was saying the other day that even if I were to win the lottery, I’d still want to work here.
What are you working on today?
This morning I met with the team that we are partnering with, GOTO conferences for GOTOpia Chaos Engineering Day 2021, which is a European event. We still need a couple of speakers, and we have to line up all the little details for the event. It’s a lot of cat herding.
We have a virtual booth there so I made a video that will play when the virtual people walk up to our booth. I regularly get to learn new things here and I love that. I’d never made a pro video using Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects until a few months ago. I’m about to put together a Typeform for our book giveaway at the event as well. I posted some things on social media—that’s an everyday thing. I scheduled the Chaos Community Broadcast recording for today and got the video when it was done, the Zoom video, and I uploaded that.
I’m also trying to take some time every day to learn, and brush up on my marketing skills, so I’m doing some LinkedIn learning courses. This afternoon, I am going to meet with my team to set this quarter’s marketing goals, which I’m excited about, to get something down on paper that we can start executing against.
I went to school to be a graphic designer. I originally wanted to be an artist, a painter. You have to be exceptional to make money at that, though, and I’m not an exceptional painter. But graphic design is art. I realized I could do something that I enjoy while making money at it. I really do love print design—that was my first love—but I got into web design and love that, too. Since working in the news industry, infographic design has become a specialty of mine and something I really enjoy. I also think it’s important—making information clear and accessible, easy to read and comprehend, is helpful to people.
In these fast-moving times, I feel I can contribute something by breaking down information into visuals that are easily understood. I’ve always liked to break down the copy, too. A lot of times I’ll get huge long paragraphs of explanation and I enjoy making it digestible. So I get to break down and repackage information and design it visually to make it more digestible for people–I love being able to do both.
Are you a Texas native?
I’m from East Texas, which is why I went to Stephen F. Austin University (SFA), because it was close to home and it was affordable. What really helped me was I actually was able to get a job at a newspaper, first in Lufkin and then in Nacogdoches—I transferred to Nacogdoches once I started college there. But it was an actual design position, so I was learning in real life. And now, I can’t believe that they actually hired me. I didn’t even have much experience at all but I’m glad they saw my potential.
When I was working at the Lufkin paper, I was an advertising assistant. I designed by drawing things out on paper. But then the production team, they couldn’t always create in print what I wanted to design—I didn’t know about stock images back then and thought they could make whatever I wanted. But I made friends with the graphic designer at the paper, and he taught me a lot about the programs designers use and what is good and bad for newspaper print design. So I started designing differently—picking out stock images—and thinking about how I could put things on paper so that the production team could implement them in print. When I wanted to transfer to the graphic design role at the sister company in Nacogdoches, they actually let me do it! I was lucky to get real life design experience while going through the program and getting my degree.
What do you do when you’re stuck on a problem?
I usually take a step back and go do something else. Or ask someone for advice, or both. If it’s a copy problem, and I’m having trouble coming up with some copy or the way to word something, I like to work on a design project instead, and listen to some music. If it’s a design problem I’m stuck on, I usually go and look up some design inspiration online. I found this site today that is all about design inspiration called Muzli. They curate trendy, design things and color palettes and the like. So that was kind of cool to find today for when I need inspiration.
What music do you listen to when you work?
I often listen to stuff like Adele. Kind of a mellow sound. Like Michael Bublé. Sometimes I listen to pop music because that’s what I grew up on. Backstreet Boys, nSYNC, Justin Timberlake, his solo stuff. Only when I’m doing visual things. If I’m writing I can’t listen to music at all or I won’t get anything done.
What’s your favorite takeout food from Austin?
One of my favorites is called Iron Fish. They make this sushi burrito and it’s got tempura shrimp with guacamole, it’s in a rice wrap. It has some crab in it too, and cucumber and a wasabi vinaigrette. It’s delicious and not too spicy. I used to like spicy food, but ever since I had children, I can’t take it.
Cats or dogs?
I just don’t like cats. They’re mean and creepy. And actually, I am slightly allergic. If I pet them and I touch my eyes, it’s bad. I mean, I have met some nice cats, but I prefer dogs.
What do you like to do outside work?
I hang out with my kids [2 and 5 years] and my husband, and play games. My kids are really into being chased right now. And hide and seek, which is not really hiding and seeking. They’re just hiding in the same places (usually under a blanket), and they’re not interested in finding us. It’s pretty sweet and funny. I’ll miss this age when it’s gone.
We play board games with Zoey (5) on Friday nights, which is our family game night. But we haven’t found a favorite yet. There is a game like Clue that is for younger kids that we want to try, it’s called Outfoxed. Sometimes she doesn’t have the attention to focus on games. Really it’s about chips and chocolate milk with our game night. She’s way more into the chips and the chocolate milk than the actual game. I guess because we don’t let her have those that much. So chips and chocolate milk it is!
Courtney Nash is a researcher focused on system safety and failures in complex sociotechnical systems. An erstwhile cognitive neuroscientist, she has always been fascinated by how people learn, and the ways memory influences how they solve problems. Over the past two decades, she’s held a variety of editorial, program management, research, and management roles at Holloway, Fastly, O’Reilly Media, Microsoft, and Amazon. She lives in the mountains where she skis, rides bikes, and herds dogs and kids.