Sailing, Influencing Whiskey, and More: 4 DC Tech Pros Share Their (Very Cool) Favorite Hobbies


Look, we are all for celebrating the local community when its members have achieved professional success. But even we know that your time in the office, whether virtual or IRL, isn’t all you are.

Talking to technologists day in and day out clearly shows us Technically that you are all more than your LinkedIn descriptions. Outside of work, you are parents, gardeners, gastronomy enthusiasts, sportsmen and culture connoisseurs. These parts of your identity can even help you learn new skills, land a job, stay focused on the clock, or provide much-needed decompression and self-care when times get tough. After all, it’s called a work-life balance, right?

So, we asked ourselves the question: What do you all do after 5 p.m.? Do you immediately jump on Discord? A community activist? A relative again – for good measure?

Spoiler: Turns out, based on your answers, you’re all really cool.

Here’s what four local technologists and entrepreneurs had to say:

The guy with a new twist on family game night

Zaman, CEO and Assistant Professor at Georgetown University, has a few different hobbies to keep him busy during off hours. His own experience building a business (where he received tons of free advice) led him to become a major mentor in the community, participating in programs like Camp Tech with the State Departmentthe Halcyon Incubator, Aspen Digital and others. He found the mentorship to be fulfilling and said it helped him hone his skills as an entrepreneur.

But when he’s in the mood to do absolutely anything but think about the startup world, he loves games a lot. He said he usually played strategy or collaborative games with his kids (often on Saturdays; his family called it “Video Game Day” and they all played together). His house favorites include PC games like age of empires or cooperative games on the Xbox such as Overcooked and Child of Light.

Playing strategy games, he told, helps him focus on ideas and execute them quickly — a skill that can definitely be applied at work.

“Gaming allows me to completely distract myself from work and gives me a break so I can be completely absorbed in another matter,” Zaman said. “Being able to concentrate at work is important, but being able to not concentrate is also important when I’m not working. These breaks help me recharge my batteries. So when I get back to work, I’m more focused and able to move forward quickly.

Bonus round: Zaman and his wife are also great gardeners and they love hanging out in the garden, sipping tea and chatting. This year they are growing tomatoes, potatoes, jalapeños, peppers and cilantro.

Taylor Poindexter, Director of Software Engineering, Spotify

Happy Hour MVP

Poindexter first discovered whiskey at a tasting party hosted by a close friend. She walked through the door after labeling herself as “not a whiskey person”. By the time she left, however, she had not one but three different whiskeys that she liked to sip straight, and each one was different.

Noticing the difference in each really piqued her interest, she said. And after taking a crash course in how the product was distilled, she was drawn to a new interest.

“I love the complexity of whiskey and the fact that there’s always a seemingly limitless amount of knowledge to learn about it,” Poindexter said. “I love it so much that I make a whiskey presentation at each of my birthday parties in an attempt to slowly but surely indoctrinate my friends too.”

But, like many things, that social component changed after March 2020. So after getting a few nudges from friends, Poindexter created the @womanwithwhiskey instagram page, where she could continue to share her knowledge and love of whisky. The result, she said, was one of the best decisions she’s ever made – especially with the reception from the whiskey community – and she knows it will be a lifelong hobby. .

The Instagram page connected her with tons of people she would never have met otherwise. And personally, it helped others get a fuller picture of her, which she says encouraged people to want to work with her more.

“I’ve been told that some of my best qualities come through on camera, and the fact that people can see that regularly makes them more supportive,” Poindexter said. “These connections help boost my career and also bring a lot of laughter and joy into my life.”

Doing unscripted videos on her page also made presenting in front of crowds much less daunting, she said. Plus, the page is a constant reminder that consistency is key — and that sometimes there’s a lot to be gained from just starting on something and adjusting as you go.

“Sometimes I focus too much on wanting everything to be perfect before I tackle a task, but that’s not always necessary,” Poindexter said. “Start and iterate until you are happy with your product.”

Charles Simon, Founder and CEO, Future AI

The one who could take a meeting on the water

Simon is one of those lucky enough to have found their main hobby in childhood. He started as a child, having learned from his father, and sailed bigger and bigger boats throughout his life. More recently, he and his wife camped on a 58-foot boat parked in Annapolis, Maryland, which served as their home base for sailing around the world. The couple made a trip through the Arctic Northwest Passage, circumnavigating the North American continent.

Sailing is particularly intriguing to him as it is both highly physical and a huge mental game, requiring expedition planning, navigation, routing, communications, weather forecasting, maintenance and repairs alongside routine operations.

“Sailing is so varied,” he said. “On the one hand, you can have a magical, calm day with the boat moving silently. The other extreme is the exhilaration of the boat pounding through the waves and flooding you with seawater.

Long-distance sailing offers important lessons in self-reliance, he said. Sailors should know that their own skill, planning and preparation are the only things that will successfully get them to their destination – no room for impostor syndrome.

Not to mention he thinks it’s more or less the perfect way to unwind from the stressors of everyday life.

“The sailing trip gives you a great perspective,” Simon said. “You have plenty of time to think but enough mental and physical activity to get away from the stresses of work. I return from a renewed trip.

Brian Price, CEO, Kion

The boss with whom you want to invite you to dinner

Price said he always enjoyed watching cooking shows, learning new cooking techniques and preparing meals with his family from a young age. So it’s no surprise that he considers cooking one of his main hobbies outside of work. While some are just trying to get something in their stomach after a hard day’s work, he thinks cooking is a great activity that’s both educational and, if shared, a bonding experience.

“Teaching people how to build a perfect bite or the perfect pairing with wine or bourbon, or the differences between specific ingredients in a dish, is so interesting and an area where almost anyone can learn a little something” , Price said.

Creating software or technology products can take months. But cooking, Price said, is something that can be finished in an hour or two while allowing someone to appreciate the work and effort that goes into creating a dish. He said it’s a great way to tap into the other side of his brain while providing much-needed instant gratification that can take him away from the workday.

Also, food is one of the most universal things we share here on Earth, because everyone has to eat someday.

“Technology is great, but it’s not something everyone can relate to — and for some it can be very frustrating,” Price said. “But almost everyone has had this dining experience which becomes a lasting memory that can be shared and linked. It’s almost a universal topic that everyone can identify with.

Have a hobby you’d like to share? Talk to us at [email protected]



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