Patriot Software Employee Spotlight: Tony
July 26, 2016
It’s like I’m playing a chess game against Google. I’m not going to win, but it’s awesome to get to play with the best.
Today we’re talking to Tony Mastri, a member of Patriot’s marketing team. Tony is a Kent State grad with a degree in Marketing. He grew up here in good ol’ Canton, Ohio, but lives in Stow, Ohio, where he has access to the parks and trails. Tony specializes in Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, and has a passion for exercise and delicious pastries.
Spotlight on Tony
Tony, you once told me that you went on a donut diet, and, currently you are eating a donut?
I did, but this is not part of the diet.
Can you tell me about this donut diet?
It was a period of about two months, two or three years ago. The plan was to get as fat as I possibly could, and then lift as much as I possibly could. It worked. I did get fat, and I did get strong—especially in my legs, which was pretty great until I had to start losing the extra weight…
I’m not sure I understand this. I feel like you could have eaten a lot of anything else and made this plan work?
That’s true—*takes bite of donut*—but, at the time, donuts were readily available. Plus, they are delicious.
You say “readily available.” Were you working at a donut company?
No, I was in college at the time, and I had a meal plan. Yes, there were other options for me to spend my meal points on—but there were also donuts. Other options … donuts. Other options … donuts—*takes bite of donut.*
I see. Where were you on campus?
Kent State University.
What was your major?
At that time, it was computer science.
You say “at that time.” Did you not end up in computer science?
No, I did three years of math education, then switched to computer science for one year. However, after my first semester of computer science, I had a bit of a burnout experience. I really pushed myself hard in high school, and tried to push myself hard early in college. After that first semester of computer science, I really felt it all catch up with me. I started to feel a little checked out, unsure about what I was doing and where I was going. My software developer motivation had come to a halt before it ever took off.
And—*takes bite of donut*—when you’re feeling like that, donuts start to look awfully comforting.
So what happened next?
I sorted some things out, looked for something with more creative freedom and fewer constraints, and switched to marketing. It has a lot of the elements that the other classes had. It’s interactive and strategic, and I enjoyed it. It turned college into a five-year plan for me, but I finished college in something I enjoyed, all while getting to keep my math minor.
So, what I’m getting from this is, you had three years of college learning under your belt when you decided that it would be smart to subsist on donuts only, whilst lifting as much weight as possible?
Whoa, I said computer science, math, and marketing. I did not say nutrition.
Fair enough. So you had time, access, and a lack of social accountability all conspiring to lead you down the glazed and cream-filled road of a donut diet.
Exactly.—*takes bite of donut*
So what do you like about being here at Patriot Software?
Well, aside from the fact that there are always donuts here. I mean, seriously, there is like a box per person here. Well, maybe not a box, but at least a donut per person here everyday. It’s a donut-lover’s dream.
Beyond that, I get to solve creative problems every day. It’s not like we all crowd around the whiteboard, but, my boss essentially says, “Here are the best practices on this process. Take them and use them to improve the company any way you see fit.” That’s a pretty amazing opportunity, when you think about it. I get to run tests all day on new methods for improving our SEO and online marketing potential, and I get to check the results daily to see how we’re doing. It’s uncharted terrain for me, and I get to make a playbook of best practices for all of the integrated marketing avenues we have been exploring. It’s like I’m playing a chess game against Google. I’m not going to win, but it’s awesome to get to play with the best. You don’t get to come in and do something like that at very many [work] places.
How has Patriot helped you play against the best?
They give me the ability to go and chase down answers. I mean, in college, you have the chance to learn but you don’t have the chance to go do as often. I think that’s what college is missing—the ability to go and do things yourself. Businesses talk about how hands-on they are and how they give people opportunities to do things, but at Patriot it’s not just glorified culture talk. We really do.
Where are you from originally?
I went to school at Glenoak High School, so I grew up about 25 minutes from here, in North Canton.
What do you do for fun when you’re not here, playing chess with Google?
I try to workout about four days a week, which I find very enjoyable. I just recently moved to Stow, so I’ll be a lot closer to the trails in Cuyahoga Valley. When the weather is nice, that’s where I try to end up after work hours.
Do you think you’ll always do this (SEO), or would you go back into the more computer-science-focused jobs later?
I think that in five years, search engine optimization will be a far cry from what it is today. So, I don’t think I’ll have the option to always do this. That’s the beauty of it; it’s hard for a job to get stale when it is constantly evolving.
That being said, there are a lot of technical aspects of being an SEO specialist that I am still exploring. The developers and IT guys answer a lot of questions for me. They are awesome to work with and are true experts at what they do. Over time, I hope to pick up some of that technical acumen and integrate the strategic part of my job with a more technical skill set.
How many donuts have you eaten this week, and be honest.
Four. I have about four donuts a week now. And that’s the truth!
Thanks, Tony, this was fascinating!