#Gravi-Member Spotlight: Derek Brooks

Hey there! Happy Thursday! This week's #Gravi-Member Spotlight features Derek Brooks aka Broox! Broox is a dedicated desk member at our Downtown location and can be spotted at concerts, traveling the world, or doing extreme-ish sports!

Derek is from Port Byron, Illinois making his way to Mount Vernon, Iowa to attend Cornell College. After graduation in 2003 Derek moved to Des Moines, Iowa for work where he has resided ever since. Derek is happily married to his college girlfriend and together they have a fur baby Garth Brooks (pictured below). 

Derek has had many jobs throughout his life - some a little funky and some not. After graduation, Derek got into the corporate development environment but soon discovered that it was a bit boring for him. He then dabbled in the startup business world, serving as a Software Engineer until he had the opportunity to serve as the Lead Engineer of Voter Contact and Protection at Obama for America, powering President Obama's 2012 campaign. Derek currently works as a Software Engineer for Venmo (by way of PayPal). His primary duty is working on products that allow people to use their Venmo balance to pay for products and services IRL (in real life).

Derek originally came to Gravitate Coworking to get out of the house but stays for the people. In his words, "It helps me get out of the house and meet other badasses in the community." He definitely isn't wrong!

When I asked Derek what his favorite spot in Des Moines was, he had a tough time answering this. Not because he couldn't think of one, but because he couldn't think of JUST one. A few he listed off are:

- Fong's Pizza
- Gravitate - DUH!
- Black Sheep - for a little partying
- Flying Mango - for their BBQ
- Library Cafe - for their weekend breakfast
- Des Moines Bike Trails

So if you get anything from that response it's that Des Moines has some pretty sweet places and you should totally move here! (subtle plug)

Here are a few fun facts about the OG party animal, Derek Brooks:

Nerdiest thing you do in your spare time: Automating my home!
Go-to happy hour drink: A good pale ale! Derek is a homebrewer and craft beer enthusiast!
Biggest guilty pleasure: Driving like an asshole and listening to terrible music! 
Go-to midnight snack: String cheese!
Go-to karaoke song: Pledge of Allegiance by Lee Greenwood!
Favorite concert: Too many to list! Head over to https://derek.broox.com/shows to have a look!

To wrap this up, Derek's advice to future entrepreneurs is this: "Be transparent. Take notes at every meeting and make those notes available to everyone you work with. Also, do everything you can to get out of your bubble. Foster diversity in every sense."

Thanks for taking the time to get to know our awesome #Gravi-Member, Derek Brooks! If you'd like to know more check out his website: https://derek.broox.com/ - he is a Software Engineer so you know it's impressive! Have a great weekend! #graviout



#Gravi-Member Spotlight: Ella Vasquez

Happy second week of July! Wow, time sure does fly! For this week's #Gravi-Member Spotlight Gravitate would like to feature their first Community Intern, Ella Vasquez. Ella is a Twin Cities native who came to Des Moines in 2014 to attend college at Drake University. It was also Ella's 22nd birthday on Wednesday, so HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY ELLA!

This May she graduated with a degree in Marketing and stumbled into our office looking for work. She desired a workplace where she could use her marketing talents to make a positive impact as well as be granted the ability to wear many hats to gain as much experience as possible before starting her career.

Ella can be found at both our Valley Junction and Downtown locations wiping down tables, making coffee, creating local marketing materials and most importantly, ensuring these spotlights are completed and posted each week! Wondering who the face behind these blog posts was? Well you're looking at her! 

Ella came to Gravitate because of the free beer, but stays because of the environment. "There has yet to be a time where I have come into work cranky, nor had any run-ins with anyone else who is cranky. Everyone comes to work on their own time, gets there work done and leaves. Of course there is socializing involved, it's a coworking space for crying-out-loud, but because of the relaxed vibes none of our members ever seem agitated or stressed, which is a blessing to be around!"

Ella's ideal first 'big girl job' would be to work in the events department for ITA Group in West Des Moines. She envisions working on a team where collaboration is vital and a positive work culture is present. 

Let's run through a few quick facts about Ella!

Ella's go-to happy hour drink is Vodka Redbull if it has been a long day, or Peace Tree's Blonde Fatale if she is looking to wind down for the night. She discovered Blonde Fatale this summer and has been obsessed ever since. According to her it is a very versatile beer that is right for all situations. 

She is passionate about being the best version of herself, and helping others do the same. "It is so easy to get down on yourself, feel lost, unworthy, or alone. It is always my mission to lift myself out of those slumps and help other's do the same. Life is too short to be unhappy!"

The nerdiest thing Ella does in her free time is paint canvases of her favorite places; one has been done on Gray's Lake already which is her favorite place in Des Moines and an area she enjoys spending much of her free time. 

Her go-to midnight snack is any fruity candy - particularly Mike and Ikes, Sour Skittles, or Sour Patch Kids. 

Ella could max out her credit card on wall art, funky furniture and jumpsuits! 

She has been fortunate enough to attend many great concerts in her short 22 years of life, but her favorites have been Jay-Z: Magna Carter World Tour, Drake: Summer Sixteen Tour, and The Chainsmokers: Memories Do Not Open Tour.

As a closer, Ella would like to share a piece of advice to those looking to start their professional careers. "Find a mentor, go after opportunities that you may be hesitant about and listen to your gut. All three pieces of this have come into play throughout my entire life. Finding someone who listens, understands and answers your questions makes going through new stages in life 10x more bearable. Throw yourself into that room full of people you don't know. It will be more rewarding than you ever thought possible - trust me. Lastly, your gut can never steer you wrong. If you have a strong feeling that you should do something, or shouldn't do something - listen. Those that listen to their gut and act on it have truly mastered the idea behind "staying true to yourself."

Thanks for sticking around to read about our #gravintern Ella Vasquez. Enjoy the rest of your birthday celebrations Ella and save a slice of cake for us! See you next week! #graviout



#Gravi-Member Spotlight: Edgar Ortiz

Happy belated 4th of July everyone! I hope your day was spent getting lit with fireworks and plenty of adult beverages! For this week's #Gravi-Member Spotlight we are featuring Edgar Ortiz, a Local Veteran's Employment Representative for Iowa Workforce Development. Being a veteran himself, Edgar finds joy in helping those that need employment find a second chance. Edgar also helps companies understand how to hire and work with veterans, as well as those who made mistakes in their life, but are still viable employees. Thank you for your past service and present fight to help make the world a better place Edgar!

Edgar was born and raised in Puerto Rico, but according to him was pulled up to Iowa by his wife. Edgar claims he still hates the cold to which my response was, "who doesn't!?"

Our office space, vibes, cool plants and bright windows aren't always the reason our members enjoy working here. In fact, this is a circumstance where our community provided the value! Edgar enjoys his time at Gravitate because of two in particular gravi-members, Kyle and Dan. "SEO Experts are the best!! Kyle and Dan. Their drive, their commitment and how they want to help have a better community is what I love. I want to work around people like them." 

Edgar dreams to one day be full-time at Gravitate accompanied by his staffing agency to help local companies fulfill their talent acquisition needs. Let's make that dream happen!

Here are a few answers to some of the fun questions we asked Edgar!

The nerdiest thing Edgar does in his spare time is quote Sheldon Cooper.

His favorite place in Des Moines is Downtown!

Edgar's go-to drink during happy hour is Jameson and Coke- we have a whiskey man on our hands!

His guilty pleasure is chocolate, making a great segue way into the question, "what is your go-to midnight snack?" In which he responded M&M's! Yum!

To continue the pattern of go-to's, Edgar's go-to karaoke song is Living on a Prayer by Journey. Solid choice!

The best concert he has ever attended was Van Halen! He didn't get to meet Eddy, but it was still an experience he will never forget!

When asked who Edgar would like to swap places with for a day he responded with Kyle Steele. Kyle works for SEO Experts and has a huge heart and tons passion for what he believes in. Kyle is someone Edgar definitely admires and enjoys working around. 

Edgar's advice to any young professional or entrepreneur is this. "Get a mentor. Don't do it alone. This thing is frickin' hard, but don't quit!!"

As a shameless plug, if you have a need for great talent call Edgar at 515-442-4554!

As always, thanks for reading this week's #Gravi-Member Spotlight! I hope those 4th of July festivities spill over into the weekend! Stay safe and have fun! #graviout


#Gravi-Member Spotlight: Terrence Thames

Happy Thursday friends and fans! It's THAT day of the week, time for a new #Gravi-Member Spotlight! Gravitate is excited to introduce Terrence Thames, owner and creative director at Cocoa Creative Agency. Terrence has tons of experience with videography, production and creative services, making him one of our go-to members for creative advice!

Terrence moved to Iowa from the south side of Chicago when he was 9 years old. His mother decided that in order for her son to prosper she would send him to live with his 18 year old cousin in Iowa who would then raise him until he went off to college at Kirkwood Community College. Terrence claims that decision made by his mother and cousin completely changed the trajectory of his life and for that he is extremely thankful.

Terrence is happily married to a supermodel where they both work to raise their three children ages 7, 8, and 9. 

During Terrence's free time he enjoys listening to gospel rap and playing the drums, a secret talent of his. His Dungeon and Dragon's name is Thamus Maximus and unlike many of our members Terrence is not a huge drinker, so his go-to drink during happy hour would have to be ginger ale!

Terrence has a team of interns working alongside him this summer who are "rocking it." Everything that Terrence does is done with purpose and passion, something Gravitate members have the ability to see every day. 

Aside from his work, Terrence finds passion in minority entrepreneurship, supplier diversity, and economic opportunities for marginalized communities. He also finds the ideas behind wealth building and economic mobility extremely fascinating and hopes to play a larger role in the growth of those ideas someday. 

Terrence came to Gravitate for the flexibility and affordability of the space, but has stayed for 3 years due to the community. When asked which Gravi-Member Terrence would like to switch places with for a day, he responded with Geoff Wood. You have already been introduced to our infamous space captain, so it isn't a surprise that was his answer. In Terrence's words: "Geoff Wood - A very smart person, but I would love to learn about all of decisions that go into running his businesses. I am also planning to start my own incubator one day, so I would like to get a "day in the life of" experience in doing something similar."

As we wrap up this #Gravi-Member Spotlight I will leave you with a piece of entrepreneurial advice from Terrence. 

"Don't let anyone or anything limit what you want to do or how you want to grow your business. Cocoa's experience in growth also includes growing outside of what Des Moines (and Iowa) has to offer. Contrary to popular opinion, Iowa is NOT the best place for entrepreneurs, especially if you are a women entrepreneur or a minority entrepreneur. Statistically Iowa is actually the state worst in the nation for minority entrepreneurs and this is not changing anytime soon. Be the best at what you do, be authentic and be smart about how you go about growing."

See you next week! Stay cool and dry! #Graviout

#Gravi-Member Spotlight: Kyle J. Lewis

For this week's #Gravi-Member Spotlight we will be diving into the captivating life of Kyle Lewis, Gravitate's Valley Junction Community Manager. As Community Manager, Kyle's duties include, but are definitely not limited to: 1. ensuring the coffee is always stocked 2. the community fridge is clean 3. there is a full keg on reserve and 4. that our members NEVER want to go home! 

While Gravitate is Kyle's main gig, he also keeps himself busy by owning the premiere cloth diaper service in the state of Iowa with his wife, Lindsey. To stop your brain from heading to...poop, this does not mean that he washes loads of dirty diapers - they leave that to the experts! Babydale Diaper Service acts to remove the barriers of entry to expectant parents that are interested in using cloth diapers, but don't want to go through the hassle of researching the various shapes, styles, sizes, etc. Checkout their website -  www.BabydaleDiaperService.com to learn more! 

Thought Kyle was done there? Wrong! He can also be found occasionally slinging beer at Valley Junction's Fox Brewing Company, hosting the Facebook Live show sweeping the nation, "Food Fight Friday's," serving on the organizing team for Des Moines' chapter of 1 Million Cups, and taking care of his 3 year old son Vandyn. You could say he is a busy guy...

Kyle describes his initial experience with Gravitate as "his gateway drug to a new way of working." At the time he had been working in a corporate banking position, but the seldom hours he came into our coworking space during open coworking events quite literally ruined the corporate world for him - in the best way possible! He remembers being surrounded by super friendly people who were ALWAYS excited to come into work, which at the time was a completely foreign concept. The creative buzz that came from the space was intoxicating and he craved more! Kyle knew he needed to be a part of the growing community that was Gravitate, even having enough guts to hold a private meeting with our founder Geoff Wood to gush about his love for the space and desire to be involved in the bigger picture. Fast forward 3 years and Kyle is Community Manager! What a story!

"Working for Gravitate has never felt like a job. I constantly tell people how lucky I am to have this gig. The work is rewarding and fun, my team is amazing and our members are truly some of the greatest people you could ever meet. I fell in love with coworking because of the Gravitate community and now it is my pleasure to make sure others have that same experience."

Oof, we got soft there for a minute. Wipe those tears and let's get back to the fun stuff!

This year Kyle began brewing his own beer claiming it's tons of fun, but is also extremely precise. It has definitely had its issues, but according to Kyle everything has been palatable which we can all agree is a win!

Kyle's favorite spot in Des Moines is the Des Moines trail system. He and his wife are avid cyclists and have fallen in love with the beautiful wildlife, lush greenery, and dense forests that make you forget you're in the city! Kyle's advice is this: "The trail system is a treasure! Get out there and enjoy it!"

If Kyle's life doesn't make you want to get out there and start up your own company, get out of that corporate job you hate so much, brew your own beer, or hit the trail system than I'm not sure what will! Thanks for reading and as always, see you next week! #Graviout