Getting To Know You: Brad Kuenn
In this edition of the Vertical Measures employee interview series, I speak with Brad Kuenn about link building, Batman, art and the NBA player he most emulated growing up.
Michael Schwartz: What do you do here at Vertical Measures?
Brad Kuenn: On a day-to-day basis I provide support to our senior staff and project managers in the areas of online research, blog posts, content editing, link building and research for content development. I also have the very important responsibility of placing the newest Sports Illustrated on your desk once a week. This is vital to Vertical Measures; if Michael doesn’t have the newest updates in sports, our whole operation is in jeopardy.
MS: Every week at our link building meetings we give our link building tip of the week. Give the readers your favorite link building tip.
BK: My number one tip is to be as personable as possible towards your link building efforts. In the current times, the internet is flooded by spam and bots. Most spam filters will block any emails or requests if they hold too many URLs, certain keywords, or phrases. Formatting the way you contact websites is an obvious tactic, but perfecting it can be a game changer. I have the best luck gaining responses by keeping the emails short, and to the point. I try my best to make it known that I am in fact a REAL person, and what my intentions are for the webmaster. Administrators tend to look past an email if it contains too long of a message. They may intend to read it at some point, but we’ve all been there; you mark it as important, or flag the email, a few days go by and before you know it the email is at the bottom of the list. I use emails like an “attention grabber” in an essay: Gain the target’s attention with something that benefits them, or something they may find interesting that’s short to read. Trying out different email formats can be extremely beneficial. When you find one that works, stick with it, and you should notice a steady rise in your number of responses.
MS: When you first started working here, you turned your office into the Bat Cave. Tell us about your Batman fandom.
BK: My original office was dubbed ‘The Cave’ before I started working at Vertical Measures. When I realized I was the only employee in the large, empty workspace, I decided I needed to make it my own. With the help of some Batman memorabilia, and a friendly sign, coworkers around VM quickly renamed the space to “The BatCave.” I have liked Batman since I can remember; I have always been intrigued by the villains in the Batman comics. I think Batman is a rarity, where the fans can find the vast amount of villains more captivating than the actual superhero. In my opinion, the depth of the characters and the stories behind them is unmatched, with many subtle points that mirror the real life breakdown of social order. I love the different styles each illustrator has brought to the Batman series, from Richard Sprang to Jerry Robinson; each brought their own look and creativity to the characters. And who isn’t a fan of the recent Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy?
MS: As the tallest person in the office, I hear you were quite the ballplayer when you were younger. Which NBA player would you compare your game to and why?
BK: Being from Phoenix, I was always compared to Dan Majerle growing up. I have always had a pretty decent shot, and I took pride in good hustle and defense. When I was a lengthy, fast, and agile 16-year-old, I was able to play above the rim; that’s when the comparisons to Tayshaun Prince and Tracy McGrady began. One of my most humbling basketball moments was playing against Jerryd Bayless (who now plays for the Toronto Raptors) when I was about 15. The talent and drive that people have on the professional stage is unbelievable. After getting “windmill dunked” on numerous times in one game by his traveling All-Star team, I started to notice the separation in talent level. I decided to not pursue basketball and moved into the arts, which has since become a much more rewarding and less physically damaging lifestyle.
MS: I understand you are quite the artist, like your suitemate Dan. What are some of your favorite drawings?
BK: I lean towards the extreme realism style of artwork. I love portraits that have a dark sense of reality, a dramatic interpretation of anything involving real, daily life. I am obsessed with the beauty of things that happen every day, and go unnoticed. I find it fascinating when someone can capture a photograph, or piece of artwork that encapsulates a complete story; something that takes more than one view to fully grasp. In my mind, great artwork brings out raw emotion from people; something that truly moves people. While traveling last year, I visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I was amazed at how many “works of art” felt very monotonous to me. Even the famous works from Van Gogh seemed rather repetitive. But eventually, after walking through the halls of the enormous museum, I would come across something that would stop me in my tracks, make me want to drop to my knees and just wonder, “How?” Some of the artwork from somewhat unknown artists was more powerful and inspiring than any piece from the world’s “best known” minds. That type of sensation gives me my drive and motivation to become better at everything I pursue. You don’t have to be known worldwide, you don’t have to be on the cover of magazines, and you don’t have to be a part of Oprah’s Book Club; you just need to step up to the plate and try.
MS: I’m always amazed at how much prettier your spreadsheets look than mine although we do the exact same thing. What’s the key to your organizational success?
BK: Well first of all, your spreadsheets give me nightmares. I suppose keeping everything organized and neat is just how I operate. When I was younger and in school, I would rewrite a complete paper if it wasn’t formatted just the way I liked it. I would even write my scratch notes over and over until it looked organized enough to give to Barack Obama. Obviously, you can’t accomplish too much in a timely manner with that type of mentality. I’ve since gotten better at leaving things original, even if there is a crossed out word, or spelling error. But at work, I have created numerous templates and spreadsheets that are extremely organized, and error free. I keep notes on everything, and I rarely throw away anything that might be used later for future reference. I keep end of the month reports organized and filed away in my desk, so for the upcoming months, I can go back and get ideas from my previous strategies and leads. I always search for easier ways to go about things in the future. It may take a little while longer for me to get going, but once everything is set up and optimized, I cruise ahead and have a very easy time keeping things in order.
MS: What’s your greatest motivation?
BK: My motivation is leaving the world a better place, not at the end of my life, but every day; to be a good person, and to help others. I have lived a life beyond my years, I have seen and done many things, and one thing I have learned is that you can’t sit back and let life happen to you. You have to go out and be the person you want to be, finding out what’s important to you, and running with it. Along with my close friend Dakota Gartner, we have strived to push local music, artwork, and productive activities more into the mainstream, and encourage people to start doing what they love. He has recently been working in Santa Barbara’s music scene, and I still continue helping with Art Expos and Art Walks here in Phoenix. We enjoy bringing the positive out of people, especially when people don’t know what they have at their fingertips. With a world that seems increasingly violent and negative, more people need to understand that life doesn’t need to be about power, money, and material belongings. My goal is to help anyone I encounter realize the true beauty in this life: Do what you love; love what you do – easy as that.
MS: What’s the most creative way you’ve ever gotten a link?
BK: To be honest, I am more of a raw research type of guy. I start from the basic keyword research and branch out from there. I like to keep things straightforward, and as mentioned before with my link building tip, being quick to get to the point has really helped me in my link building efforts. I search for quality sites as much as possible. Anyone in SEO knows the frustrations of getting responses back in a timely fashion, especially toward crunch time; you need to get the links. I have been successful in setting up sponsorship arrangements for various webmasters and administrators in exchange for future leads. A link builder always needs to look one step ahead. Getting to know each administrator is extremely useful; putting myself into the circle of various webmasters helps me keep fresh leads, and new opportunities.
MS: What do you like about working for Vertical Measures?
BK: I love the coworkers. I walk into the office every morning and get greeted nicely by everyone. I love when Ardala brings in her amazing baked goods. I love our office parties and the small things that we try to do that make the workplace much more enjoyable. VM employees take satisfaction in providing clients with the highest quality of work. Everyone is extremely driven, and they work incredibly hard to complete tasks the correct way. Doing things the right way seems to be a dying trend around the world these days, so it’s comforting to know that I am going to work surrounded by great people, doing great work. I enjoy everyone’s unique personality here at Vertical Measures. Nobody is quite the same, and everyone has great characteristics that make it a joy to work with them. We have an awesome crew, and we are all excited about the work we are doing here. Every day brings in a new challenge, and nothing seems repetitive and boring. SEO is open ended, there are many different talents and strategies that can be used to get the job done, and I think our team has the perfect mixture of sheer brains, creativity, and innovative ideas to bring our clients the best quality work that can be delivered.
About Michael Schwartz
Michael Schwartz is an Internet marketing strategist at Vertical Measures as well as an accomplished reporter, blogger and editor. He covers the link building beat. +Michael Schwartz