The Happy Cog team is composed of many different people with unique backgrounds, experiences, and skills. In this “Getting to Know” series of blog posts, we hope to let our readers get to know our very talented team as well as we do. From what they do outside of their day jobs to their tastes in music to what inspires them, these posts offer a little glimpse into the lives and personalities of our amazing team.
Meet Gary Gertz: Digital Project Manager – Dungeon Master, Music Aficionado, Nerd
Q: Hey Gary! Where are you from and where are you currently located? What do you love most about where you reside?
A: I grew up in Ozone Park, Queens on the border of Brooklyn, a very “family-friendly” area. My next door neighbor was a numbers runner and my sister went to high school with Victoria Gotti. Now I live in a mythical place called “Central Jersey” which many people claim doesn’t exist. Manalapan is a nice town with good schools and parks. I love being reasonably close to the beach, 20 minutes away, and not far from some pretty cool spots in NJ, Red Bank, Asbury Park, Princeton, & New Brunswick (to name a few). At the start of the plague (pandemic) my wife and I moved into a house with our grown children, my son-in-law and grandson. And while living with this lovely group can be fun, it can prove challenging at times (like when someone eats someone else’s Phish Food from the freezer).
Q: What led you to Happy Cog? What were you doing before you joined us?
A: Prior to joining Happy Cog, I worked at a small agency of 6 people where I met Oka. When I left, Oka mentioned this company where she knew one of the founders (Matt). I submitted my resume and the rest is history!
In many ways, I hope the things we create working here can spark inspiration in others.
Q: What are you currently reading and watching?
A: Oh boy! I read and watch many many things, and I love to share!
My favorite book so far this year is “The House in the Cerulean Sea”. This is a beautiful and touching story about a social worker whose job it is to monitor government sanctioned orphanages where they send “Magical Youth” to be cared for.
A close second would be “The First Law Series”. This is epic swords and sorcery with some really interesting character development. Case-in-point: Sandan Glocker is a crippled inquisitor who spent years being tortured after being captured in a battle and now spends his days extracting truth from prisoners and plotting how to survive the political machinations that happen all around him.
As for watching – SciFi, Fantasy, Horror, and competition shows fill my screen time. Netflix’s Lost In Space is my current watch with 2 episodes left! I am also eagerly awaiting The Expanse final season. When I need something without plot, The Great British Baking Show, Blown Away (Glass Blowing competition) or Survivor can provide distraction. And, when I want some mindless entertainment, I turn to Letterkenny, What We Do in the Shadows, and the IT Crowd (“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”).
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self and why?
A: As corny as it sounds, I would sit myself down and lecture myself until I really internalized this aphorism: “Seek first to understand, then be understood.” So much of life is about communication, and misunderstanding someone’s meaning or intent leads to difficulty and suffering. Always ask questions, especially when you think they are dumb questions. Always make sure you agree on basic terms. Actively listen with the intent to understand and make sure the other person feels that intent too.
Q: Name three items on your bucket list.
A: Learn to Surf, Visit Iceland, Fly in a Wingsuit (squirrel suit)
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
A: My latest obsession is Dungeons & Dragons. I play in 2 different campaigns and DM a third. I am part of an online community on Discord of about 60 players/DMs and we live in a virtual world based in New Zealand, fighting monsters and beasts that threaten the countryside. My main character there is a level 20 Hexblade Warlock who runs a dive bar, and drinks too much.
Q: Where do you find inspiration from, both personally and professionally?
A: Music, art, crafting! It always amazes me how human beings can create things of beauty, elegance, and complexity, either by themselves or in groups. It gives me hope. It makes me proud to be a human. In many ways, I hope the things we create working here can spark inspiration in others.
Q: What’s your favorite aspect about being a project manager?
A: I really enjoy people, and being a PM lets me exercise all of my people skills with customers and coworkers. What we create instills a sense of pride and is very satisfying. I love the problem solving aspects of what we do, and try to remember to bring empathy as I try to manage expectations on all sides.
What we create instills a sense of pride and is very satisfying. I love the problem solving aspects of what we do, and try to remember to bring empathy as I try to manage expectations on all sides.
Q: If the Internet didn’t exist, what would you be doing instead?
A: My first career was as a Stagehand. I worked off Broadway, had a gig at the Metropolitan Opera House, wired the lightboard at the Roxy Roller Disco, and worked backstage at Studio 54. If I had managed to get into the union I probably would still be there today.