So where in the world are you located?
I was born and raised in Northern Illinois. I have since spent time living in a few locations across out country like: San Diego, CA; Steamboat Springs, CO and Breckenridge, CO. I am currently back in Northern Illinois about 15 miles from where I grew up.
How did you hear about the Hero job?
The saying is true, that often the best things in life happen when you are not looking for it. So this is a fun story.... I was working on building up my wedding photography business, so I decided to take a trip to the famous WPPI Event in Las Vegas, NV. I was hoping to learn all the latest and greatest things in the world of photography.
Little did I know, my world was about to change. I was at WPPI sitting in a class when my phone rings. Surprisingly it is Steve Mills from SmugMug. Yeah that's right, a phone call from SmugMug! At that point I knew something was up. I go on to find out that a customer of mine has had his two 30"x40" MetalPrints damaged in transit, not once but several times. This customer of mine had ordered one of these with his first order and the second as a surprise for his new wife. This call from Steve was to get permission to release another image for use as they wanted to make this right and offered up a 3rd print to satisfy my customer. Mind you, I had talked to this customer once while at WPPI regarding a copyright release so he could get a few prints locally, and he never once mentioned that $1400 dollars of his prints kept showing up damaged.
To say the least I was mazed that my customer was taken care of so well that they never even mentioned this issue to me even when we spoke. I was in awe of how me, the little guy, was treated like a VIP and my customer even better.
When I got home, I sent out an email about how awesome that experience was and mentioned how it would be a honor to work for a company with that kind of passion for their work and customers. Not long after that, I got an email from Barb asking if it is was true that I would want to be a Hero. From there, the rest is history. :D
You've got an amazing second website (Smugocity) dedicated to SmugMug customization tricks. How did that start?
The back story: I had several examples sites, tips and tricks stored in several places for our Legacy SmugMug to help everyone out. These were scattered about and were not easily found by everyone unless they knew where to look. As the New SmugMug approached, I was thinking how I could make all this information easier to find. One day while searching a popular travel site an Idea struck me. Why not make a site that is easy to search and locate information that is out of the mainstream help topics, specifically customizations? So the project got underway.
Smugocity is a work in progress and new information gets added to this as new ideas, topics or requests come up. This has turned out to be a great resource for everyone. The hope is that people can use these ideas to make their site just that much better and now they have a starting point if they are not a coding expert. It is often easiest to see an idea then try to implement it yourself; that is how I learned all the things I now know today.This was the idea behind Smugocity. It's not only about the code or how to do it, but to be able to see what it would do to your site.
Do requests from customers inspire you to come up with new customizations?
Customizations make a site completely yours, and to me, nothing is better then setting yourself apart from the next guy. The customizations that I have created come from all over the map. Some come from thinking of what is possible, maybe what could be possible, requests from our users, topics on DGrin, common email requests or even seeing a feature on another website somewhere else. Some of the best customization come from trying to push the limits of what is possible. These can take a few minutes to figure out, while some pester me for days until that "a-ha!" moment occurs.
The best part about all of these customizations is that now most are available on Smugocity so every SmugMugger can give these a spin if they choose to tackle some customizations of their own.
If there was one thing you wish customers knew, what would it be?
One thing that I wish customers knew is that all of us Support Heroes, including myself, have likely been in their shoes at one point. With that said, we can often closely relate to the problem at hand and we handle every questions as though it was us asking it ourselves. Remember, you'll always catch more bees with honey.
What does Stano do when he's not coding or answering help tickets?
In that little bit of extra time I have, I like to get out and explore. I love taking road trips and exploring places I have never been. I have been several places that are off the grid, so to say. It's great to get out and away form emails, computers, cell phones, Facebook and all these things that have so much control over our daily lives. Going to these places where none of these things would work even if you brought them with, gives you a feeling you can not achieve any other way. These special places are few and far between in our developed world. But, if you ever make it there, you can experience the Real World for just a little while.
I also like to kayak and mountain bike when I get a chance. These are my two pastimes in warmer parts of the year. Once the snow flies, its time to fire up the sled. Snowmobiling offers a release and a mind clearing experience. So if it is winter, and I am not working, I would be riding for sure.
I seem to have to modify everything that touches my hands. I have built up several snowmobiles, trucks and cars over the years. There is always a project going on at my house. Even my garage has been modified to facilitate all of these projects and hobbies. The garage is heated, has a bar, in-wall surround sound and built in air for the air tools. Its not uncommon to find friends, family or myself working on a truck, sled or dirt bike in the garage at any given time.
Before we go, is there any other Stano trivia we should (or shouldn't!) know about?
I raced downhill skiing for Colorado Mountain Collage.
I was a firefighter/EMT for several years.
I was on a search and rescue team when I lived in the Breckenridge area.
I was a CNC machinist at one point.
I managed a branch of a national lawn care chain.
I have owned a few businesses.
I have designed several websites.
I am wedding photographer, too.