Thoughtworker Spotlight: Chris Russo
December 2, 2022
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
Endless, boundless, limitless; words to describe Chris Russo’s creativity. As our Content Marketing Manager, he proves every single day that the pen is mightier than the sword. He has inspired so many Connectors to share their voice and perspectives through our content, that we even created a secret-not-so-secret society for everyone he’s collaborated with known as the 4P (you’ll have to join the team to find out what it stands for!). Besides being a very avid reader, Chris enjoys spending time with his two boys and partner going on hikes, exploring new towns, and cooking up a storm in their kitchen trying new culinary styles.
Now, can you guess what his favourite product is? He always carries it with him and *hint hint* we might have already explicitly mentioned it in this post. And in true dedication to his craft, we know Chris will inform us of the stark differences of the three words to describe his creativity, and probably suggest some more eloquent ones (this is why he is amazing at his role). Can you guess what three words our go-to storyteller would use to describe himself? Check out his Connector Spotlight to find out!
Tell us a bit about the projects you’re working on?
As long as Connectors (now a part of Thoughtworks) keep delighting customers and driving extraordinary impact through their work, I’ll always be up to something. Without going into too much depth, I’m responsible for building out and executing a rather robust content calendar.
Articles, video clips, SlideShares, presentation decks, e-guides, whitepapers – you name it. I just recently finished collaborating on a case study detailing our work with one of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers, which was basically an academic lesson in how to build 0→1 products successfully. I don’t think a day has gone by where I genuinely haven’t been astonished by the work my colleagues are capable of.
What’s the most interesting challenge about the project?
One of the things I like most about what I do is the variety. I’m constantly working with subject matter experts in product, design, research, development, and more. Covering such a wide range of domains requires a baseline knowledge of them in order to help determine the best format, language and tone to communicate and bring the ideas to the market.
Where did you work before Connected?
Before I was a creative, I worked in account services which taught me two very valuable lessons. First, I didn’t want to work in account services. Second, and arguably more important, it gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for the customer, what they wanted and how to communicate with them. Armed with this new insight, I embarked on a career as a creative mercenary, working across CPG, automotive, healthcare, cannabis, and digital products.
And if you wanted to go a little bit further back, I spent the better part of a decade managing DJs and hosting parties from Toronto to Montreal and Miami to Madrid.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career to date?
If you’re not proud or satisfied with what you’re doing every day, at least to some extent, you should probably be looking for a new gig. And that belief really led to my transition from accounts to creative work. Writing has always been a passion of mine but something I never really considered a viable career, at least, until faced with the alternative. Then it was a lot of persistence and getting super creative in my approach to getting clients, especially at the start. Some of these attempts worked really well, while others are now funny stories I can tell at parties.
Do you have a mantra you live by?
“It’s better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.”
What do you love to do outside of work?
As the father of two boys, 3 months and 3 years respectively, I spend about 90% of my time thinking about when I get to lie down again. I learned early that the fastest way to get a toddler’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable, so I try to keep them (and myself) busy.
That being said, we like to push the limits of how long the kids can tolerate the backseat of the car (249 km and counting!) on our way to exploring small towns, hiking in the woods, or just enjoying some local festivals and activities. Our family loves food, so whenever possible, we try to get the kids involved in cooking and baking and have made a point to try and expose them to as many different culinary styles as possible.
When we’re lucky enough to find a sitter, Erin (my better half) and I enjoy dining out at your less kid-friendly restaurants and going to see a show. However, most nights after the kids are asleep, you’ll find me either reading, writing or painting.
A while back, I also developed a love for long-distance running – something about headphones in your ears and getting lost in the movement. These days I still get to run, except usually it’s shorter distances, possibly on my knees or hunched over, and usually trying to prevent something from breaking.
If you were stuck on a deserted island, what album, movie, and book would you take with you?
Album – This would be a very genre-specific answer for me, but my go-to would be The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Cover to cover, a great album that you can’t help but bob your head to.
Describe yourself in three words.
Creative, curious, and collaborative.
And finally, what’s your favourite product and why?
This is a very contextual question, but lately, I’ve got to say it’s my Kindle. I read a lot, and while I’ve always had one, I recently got a new one after my youngest was born. Holding a big heavy book and a sleeping baby isn’t easy, but the Kindle makes any book from a 2000-page medical reference book to a 25-page novella weigh no more than 170 grams. And the backlight allows me to read regardless of the hour (something I’m not always sure of) without disturbing anyone else who may be lying about.
Also, I ALWAYS have a pen on me (usually a few), and something that I’ve got endless use out of and has proven damn near indestructible is my Kaweco Liliput ballpoint pen. Small, but not small enough you can’t write with it, and it’s machined from a single piece of steel, so despite countless trips through the washing machine, falls off the table, and once, buried in the garden out front of my aunt Francis’, it still does what it’s supposed to do perfectly.
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