Inside Orbit with Ben Steinbuhler
We’re starting a series of blog posts, cleverly called “Inside Orbit”, to introduce some of the extremely talented humans behind the scenes. We”ll be sharing some tips and tricks we use on a daily basis to (hopefully) make your life a little easier.
Ben Steinbuhler is one of our brilliant, technical, and witty Project Managers whom I like to refer to as Stein-o-mite! Let’s get to know Ben shall we?
Where are you from?
Titusville, Pennsylvania. Home of the world’s first oil well.
What made you decide to become a PM?
I always wanted to be a programmer and focused on learning as much web and database stuff I could. Then I realized about halfway through grad school that I was better at talking about these things than doing them. So I shifted my career focus to project management.
What brought you to Orbit?
I like to say that I fell ass-backwards into this job. A friend at my former office knew I was looking for a new job and mentioned her husband consulted with Orbit and they had an opening. When I saw it was four blocks from home I shot Andy an email with my resume. I came out on a “practice interview” but he sold me on the business. By the time I left I knew I wanted to work here. I landed the perfect job for me by accident.
Tell me about a favorite project you worked on and why?
The McGill-Queens University Press project stands out. It has a little bit of everything; ecommerce, integration, custom shipping, tax requirements, multiple currencies, some cool extra features, and great content. Shellie nailed the design to make the front end every bit as sophisticated as the back. Orbit creates functional art and in this case everything came together.
Can you share at least one tool or trick that makes your life easier as a PM?
Positivity. The client and the project team are on the same side and want the same result. If something comes up or a presentation doesn’t go well, putting a positive spin on it with a “let’s figure this out together” attitude builds trust and keeps the greater goal in perspective. Works most of the time.
What industry blogs or sites do you read religiously?
You know, I don’t really follow any. I skim through the Tech headlines on CNN and a lot of stuff gets forwarded to me or shows up on Facebook. I learn more by doing.
I have a couple personal projects I work on. One is a guitar chord and scale website I’m currently building because I think all the ones out there now are no good. Another is my sister’s custom wedding shoe business (though she did most of it herself, I just helped with the form).
If I see a feature somewhere else I’ll spend some time on Stack Overflow or SitePoint figuring out how they did it. I like to try out new things here which I can then bring into client projects.
Who’s your hero? Why?
Hmmm. The last time I thought of someone as a hero was a long time ago, and it was probably someone stupid like Bobby Bonilla (1990 stats: .280 / 120 / 32). I do admire people who have invented and created things that weren’t there before. That can range from Howard Hughes and Thomas Edison to the average person working on a novel or doing an album with their friends.
What’s one tip that you can give a client about redesigning a website?
Less is more.
Your logo is probably big enough, and these small details you’re sweating will only be noticed by you. Don’t let your project get bogged down in extra features and unnecessary revisions as it only delays the launch of the new-and-improved website. Ask yourself if these requests and features will result in an offsetting return on the investment in the future. If the answer is no, don’t let it get it in the way.
What motivates or inspires you?
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
I was a varsity skier in college. I don’t purposely not talk about it but I was surprised last winter when one of my closest friends had no idea.
How many cups of coffee do you consume in a day?
I try to keep it to about two per week. I like the taste of coffee but don’t crave it, so I’m trying to avoid forming the habit.
What’s your favorite nickname and how did you get it?
Wine Cooler – it’s the only thing that rhymes with Steinbuhler. About once every five years someone will offer me a wine cooler and, boy, that’s my time to shine.
Editors note: I’m pretty sure he meant to say “Stein-o-mite” here.
If you could see any band (past or present) who would it be?
I’d love to see the Grateful Dead around 1972, post-American Beauty and Workingman’s with the original lineup more or less intact. Also, Guns n Roses around 1991, right after Use Your Illusion dropped (and way before the Spaghetti Incident and Chinese Democracy).
For my money those are the best two bands in American rock. If you can figure out a way to get them on the same bill, that’d be great.
What beer do you currently have in your fridge at home?
Miller Lite, though you’ll find some craft stuff that my fancy friends brought over.
What do you like to geek out on?
You mean “cool” out on? I love to program.
Nights where I don’t have plans I’ll open up the computer, put on a movie I’ve seen 20 times in the background, and just roll on trying things out. It’s funny because I’ll spend my entire day stressing out building websites, then go home and relax by building websites. You can’t see me but I’m shrugging my shoulders right now.