April 2023 Spotlight
Pro Bowler, Sneakerhead, Startup Aficiando, Senior Strategist…these are a few of the qualities from our team member spotlight for the month of April! Jonathan Sasse has been on the team for over seven years!
Tell us a bit about yourself, Jonathan!
So what drew you to Metova?
Jonathan: Ooh, I’ve been working with Metova for a long time. We started working with Metova at one of my music startups, Slacker Radio. And we hired the team in around 2008 to build the very first music app for a smartphone. We did it for the Blackberry. Ever since then, it’s been kind of a wild ride. We worked with Metova as a client, and then after I left Slacker Radio, I joined forces again with some of my former folks from Slacker that were serious and I worked as a consultant to try and help that relationship along the way as much as possible. And then Josh and I decided that we wanted to go even further. So next thing you know, we’re trying to acquire it from the previous owners. So, over the last 15 years, it’s been quite an adventure from my side on the Metova brand.
What’s the most unique part about working here?
Jonathan: You have no idea what’s gonna happen in your day, on any day. There’s no way to plan for it. I like that, you know. I tend to work better when I’ve gotta make quick decisions – gotta work on a bunch of different things. There are very few calm, boring days at Metova, and that’s actually something I really thrive on. All I’ve ever done are startups, and I think that’s probably the reason for it.
Is there a particular project that’s been your favorite while working here at Metova?
Jonathan: I would say any of the ones I’m involved in, I really enjoy. I think the fact that I’ve had to become an expert on irritable bowel disease and forklifts and nurse staffing – I mean you name it, we’ve run a very interesting gambit. From a dude who’s spent his first 15 years doing nothing but digital music to all the various projects I work on now, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but they’re very interesting. That’s for sure.
How would you describe your team?
Jonathan: Well, I consider my team the whole company. We are a team. I don’t remember where I first heard it. Somebody high up in the business world said, always hire people smarter than yourself if you wanna be successful. And I’ve always found that to be true. The last thing you want is a bunch of people you know on your team telling you that everything you do is right. I have a tremendous amount of respect for every person in our organization, every person on our team. Everyone has their own expertise. And because of that, every time I’m in a meeting with new people or on a new project or whatever it might be, I’m learning something. To me, that’s the best – not only working with diverse clients, but we have an incredible team that has a remarkable amount of experience and expertise and I learn every single day from every one of them.
What is it about you that most people don’t know?
Jonathan: Well, I bet there are a lot of things people don’t know about me. Especially with how we’re remote and the pandemic and everything else. And we’ve had a lot of new folks on the team. So, I mean, there might be people listening right now who don’t know who I am at all. But probably one of the things that still surprises people is that I don’t drink alcohol. Never have. I’ve been to some wild parties. I’ve been in some wild industries. I’ve been around some amazing people. I’ve been out with Snoop Dogg at two in the morning. I don’t drink. I don’t touch alcohol in any way. I’ve always had to live my life pretending in some ways. I’m the guy who walks around with the energy drink and ice cubes and looking like I’ve got a cocktail all night. Everyone’s wondering why I haven’t blacked out by four in the morning. But yeah, I’m not an alcohol guy. It still surprises people when I’m at dinners and things when I order my Coke Zero.
I see some shoes in the background. Are you a shoe collector?
Jonathan: I’m a pretty big shoe head. The one thing about my shoes is I wear them. I’ll say that knowing that actually just looking in the video right now, I’ve probably got two or three pairs in those cases that haven’t been worn yet, but only cuz it’s winter and the weather’s terrible. So there are a few that still got some StockX tags on them, but I’m a big brand, Jordan guy. You know, I grew up a basketball fan in the eighties and nineties, that’s when I started loving basketball. And so as a Portland Trailblazers fan, I was watching Clyde and MJ tear it up for nearly a decade. The shoes are Jordan Nike’s. The school I went to for high school is Beaverton High School, which is where Nike is based. So yeah, I’m Nike fan through and through, and I got some fun Jordan’s in my collection. But I do wear ’em all. I don’t know how many pairs I even have. I probably have 50 or 60 pairs of Jordan’s maybe, and I’m on a quest to wear all of them, but there are still a few I haven’t put on yet.
If you could choose anybody in the world to be your mentor, who would it be and why?
Jonathan: I mean, there are a lot of awesome people. I’ve had some great mentors in my life. I think anybody who’s found success in their career knows it’s not all about drive and capability. Luck and the people around you could drive you just as much as anything. So, yeah, I’ve had some great ones. I think philosophically, and this, you know, this doesn’t necessarily resonate probably for everyone, but man, I would love to spend a good solid month with Barack Obama. Help me be a more patient person, and help me rise above conflict when there are things going on. There’s some really impressive stuff that I’ve seen from him in the face of tremendous conflict. And I think that’s where we can all get, whether you’re a fan of his or not. Conflict resolution’s tough. And I think when you’re faced with trying to unite different parties that have very opposite views, anything you can do to help bring people together is a skill, and it’s something I’ve always really tried to hone in on in my own career.
Do you have a pet?
Jonathan: I do. I’ve had some really interesting pets. My only current pet I have right now is a giant Schnauzer named Lindy. She’s about a hundred pounds of nearly pure bear. Normally she’s living right here at my feet. It just happens to be the time of the day she’s actually out in the backyard. But, yeah, she’s a beast. And I’m sure a lot of people have seen her if you follow Metova Pets at all, you’ve seen pictures of my dog and there are times when she looks like she’s some kind of giant monster, but she’s a big teddy bear.
What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?
Jonathan: I’m actually an incredible bowler and most people probably don’t know that. I bowled league in college. I’ve never thrown a perfect game though, so I guess I can’t say I’m an incredible bowler, but I’ve thrown a 299 three times and you know, that’s pretty frustrating when you get your 11 strikes in a row and you just can’t quite get the last one. The worst I ever did is I bowled a 291, which basically is all strikes and then one pin, so I totally choked the first time I had a shot at it. I feel like Covid is almost totally ruined bowling. Sticking your fingers in dirty holes is just something you’re told not to do. So like I feel like it’s less cool even somehow than it was when I was doing it, but man, I love bowling.
Are there any podcasts that you’ve seen recently or any that you recommend on watching?
Jonathan: Yeah, I’m a big sports fan. As much as I love to try and improve my knowledge and some of my thinking around the work that we all do, sometimes it’s hard for me to like plug into business podcasts after spending all day working or all week working and you know, I like to distract myself with stuff. So I’m a big podcast person. I love the Bill Simmons podcast. For people that are sports fans, it’s good. I also have a favorite movie one called ReWatchable, that’s also a Bill Simmons Ringer one. I’m a massive movie fan. It’s just one of those things. I’ve got stuff on my walls that’s movie stuff. I got stuff all over the house that’s movie stuff. So the ReWatchable podcast is super fun because they basically just rehash all the movies I love and it’s a great distraction for sure.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done before?
Jonathan: I’m actually a little bit risk-averse in so many ways. I mean, the craziest thing I’ve ever done probably is I went right outta college, right into a startup, and I did nothing but startup for almost till now. I mean we really operate as a startup today at Metova. I’ve never worked at a big company. I’ve only taken these massive risks at startups. I’ll say that in the last round of funding that we raised when I was at Slacker Radio, we had to go out and try and convince another set of VCs to give us 25 million. And when we closed that, it really felt like it was the craziest thing I’d done. Like, how did we just pull that off? And it felt really wild. So, Yeah, my craziness tends to be more on like, you know, trying to achieve something great when you probably have low odds of doing it. Much more than jumping out of an airplane or doing something ridiculous that you might die. I almost never do things where I might die. When I’m faced with a decision, and one of the outcomes is that you might die, that’s just not my bag. Like I totally love everybody who’s like, “Yeah, I’ll jump out of a helicopter on a snowboard, that sounds really cool.” To me, the best case scenario is you land that and have a nice few-minute ride down the mountain. The opposite is you land on a rock and you’re in horrible pain until you just die there. So, I run everything through that lens. If the outcome is an agonizing death, I almost always pass.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Jonathan: I’ll never forget this. I was in Las Vegas at one of the various shows. It was probably a consumer electronic show, because I did that show for like 20 years in a row. I was out with the team from ABC News. We had just signed a deal at Slacker Radio. We’re gonna be the first provider of injected news content into a music subscription service. It had never been done before. And so we were all like, “we’re gonna celebrate this. This is great.” And I ordered a bone-in Tomahawk Ribeye steak that was a 48 ouncer huge. And I knocked that. That bone looked like it had been found in the Sahara like five years later. Just a white chalky bone. Like there was not a piece of that steak that did not get eaten, and it was incredible.
What’s your favorite video game or board game and why?
Jonathan: Going back to the things people don’t know about you, when I started my career, I worked at a company called Diamond Multimedia. It was fresh outta college and we made video cards for gaming. And really, we were the best and we were one of the first that did only that. So a big part of my job was just spent playing OpenGL video games to test the video cards. So I have a fondness in my heart for the old. In fact, GL Quake was one of the first like truly amazing first-person shooters I ever saw. I’ll always remember that as being one of the coolest things. And we had the first version of that game. First hardware that could play it. We got to play it before any person outside of the industry ever got a chance to even see it. And it was awesome. When it comes to board games, there’s a game called Stratigo that I don’t even know if people still played anymore. When I was a kid we used to play that like crazy and it’s like the funnest game.
Do you cook?
Jonathan: I do. I love cooking. I’m a pasta guy, so I have a white pasta dish that I make. I use bow Thai pasta. I use Italian sausage and lots of fresh herbs. And I use like a four-cheese white sauce blend that I make and it’s my favorite. I can eat that like every day. I don’t, or I would be in bad shape, but my family loves it. But I like all kinds of pasta. I have a bunch of pastas I make, and I also love breakfast stuff. I make mean french toast. I make great omelets. I really enjoy sometimes just trying to find things in the fridge, freezer, and pantry that I can make something really awesome with. I really, really enjoy cooking and my wife who is half Colombian and half Japanese, also is a phenomenal cook. And so we kind of trade-off on who’s doing dinners or breakfast. But yeah, I’m a big foodie. I love to eat but also really, really love to cook.
Pineapple pizza, yay or nay.
Jonathan: I’m all for it, man. I don’t understand the hate for pineapple on pizza at all. I mean, without question, my favorite pizza is pepperoni pizza. The little cups curled up. A little bit of burnt around the edge. Hot oil in the middle. That’s all I need on my pizza. But I will not hate on pineapple on a pizza. I think grilled pineapple on a teriyaki burger is amazing. And if you wanna throw some grilled pineapple on my pizza I’m in. I’m all about it.
If you could get a new skill in 10 minutes, what would it be?
Jonathan: Oh, playing an instrument for sure. I spent my whole life in the music business. I can’t play anything on an instrument. I have a guitar back here. I have a piano over here. I have a great passion for music. I love to put headphones on and play an electric guitar, but I am terrible at it. If I sit at a piano, I can entertain myself for hours, but I can’t entertain anybody else. So I would love it if I could somehow just overnight wake up in the morning and play any instrument really well, I would take that in a second for sure.
What skill do you think everyone should learn?
Jonathan: I don’t know how to frame this as a skill, but diplomacy is an interesting skill for people to have. Because it involves listening and compromise, it’s a really, really important skill in business and in life as well. The ability to find common ground and resolve something quickly without having to escalate into conflict, It’s hard. The more times you get put in that situation, the better you get at it. Or worse, you might get really bad at it if you’re constantly in conflict and you’re not good at that. But being able to get outta those gracefully is a tremendous skill. It’s gotten me very far in my career, being able to navigate out of really challenging situations where everybody involved feels like it worked out.
Thank you for your time, Jonathan! We appreciate all the work that you do.