Mark Story: The ‘Geek 2 Chic’ Interview
Post by: Mark Drapeau (Washington, DC).
This is the fourth in a series of interviews for a series we’re calling Geek 2 Chic, which is a personal style, a social movement, and a new event series all in one. The first Geek 2 Chic fashion show is powered by Microsoft and will take place at Bloomingdales in Chevy Chase, MD on October 13th. We’ll be raising money for the Heart of America Foundation, which makes libraries the heart of communities around the country and promotes literacy.
Today, our Geek 2 Chic interview is with Mark Story, the Director of New Media for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. He’s a credit to a new breed of “experimental” public servants, not afraid to venture into some ambigious areas of technology like social media.
My note: The views expressed in this interview are mine and mine alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Securities and Exchange Commission, its Chairman and Commissioners, nor my colleagues. So there.
What is your current position, and what work do you do as part of that?
I am the Director of New Media at the Securities and Exchange Commission, based at their headquarters in Washington, DC. I develop strategies and tactics for the use of social media to help the Commission protect investors and maintain fair and orderly markets. I’ve launched three Twitter accounts, a YouTube channel, a mobile site, an email response program and a micro site, Investor.gov.
What kinds of limits do you have on your work / communications as a government employee that people int he private sector don’t? What might a corporate communications person learn from your experience?
Since the SEC mandates what public companies can say, what they can say and when they can say it, we are extremely cautious about the information we put out. As such, we have an internal approval process which ensures that we say the right things while protecting citizen privacy.
How did you first become interested in technology? When and how did you become interested in Web 2.0 technologies?
My interest in technology goes back to the early 90s when I was Marketing Director for a tech firm. I saw the amazing things that technology could do (which now seems primitive). Remember, AOL was all the rage back then.
I got interested in Web 2.0 when it became more about conversation with people rather than a top-down, one to many approach. It was fascinating to think about communication evolving to conversations among people. And letting go.
What has most transformed your thinking about technology in the last couple of years?
I think that the most interesting component has been the fact that, as communicators, we no longer control how people feel about our organizations and our issues. We may be able to slightly direct some people’s opinions and be part of the debate, but the conversations that really matter are peer-to-peer in trust networks.
What does the next year or two look like for how technology and innovation will affect how government communicates with citizens, and vice versa?
The government needs to decentralize information and truly embrace Gov 2.0. We have tremendous amounts of information that is useful to citizens and we need to find ways to enable people to (a) have unfettered access to this information and (b) make it easy for people to share the content among themselves and comment in ways that helps improve government. This is commonly called “Government 2.0” these days.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I love being a dad. I do a lot with my children like sports, dance and other things. Even helping with homework is fun because it is time with my amazing children. And when I am not being a dad, I am living and dying with the Boston Red Sox. (Mostly dying.)
What were you doing five years ago?
I was a senior vice president with Fleishman-Hillard, running their social media project management practice group.
What career and life advice would you give someone with similar interests to yours who’s 25 years old?
The best advice I could give is to thine own self be true. If you want to live in another city or country, do it. Choose a career path that you truly love and the money will follow. And when you are 50, you will have a lifetime of wonderful memories already.
What do you (1) read, (2) watch, (3) dream?
I read mystery novels. They are a great way to disconnect. I don’t watch a ton of TV, but my favorite shows are Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and The Office.
Finally, how would you describe your personal style?
I am intense. I like to work hard, play hard and hopefully love intensely. I don’t really have an “off” button.
Mark Story will be modeling at the first Geek 2 Chic fashion show to benefit the Heart of America Foundation at Bloomingdales in Chevy Chase, MD on Oct. 13th. Get your tickets here!