TheBridge profile: Joseph Okpaku
Q. Describe how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your current job: Being a criminal trial attorney straight out of law school really teaches you to think quickly on your feet, to be comfortable with public speaking, and to boil down laws and facts into their most important components that support a persuasive argument. It has been foundational for all my political and policy work since.
Q. Job advice in three words? Do whatcha love :)
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between innovation and policy making? We are taking great pains to engage at the local level, which has become a bit rare in tech policy. Companies and industries tend to seek statewide preemptive legislation, and often with good reason, but that often results in cities getting left out of policy decisions that greatly impact them. We're taking a different approach--going directly to the cities where we operate.
Q. What can innovators learn from policymakers? Even if the specific applications of certain laws or regulations may not make sense in an innovative context, there usually is a legitimate underlying purpose to those laws. Figure out what that is and how to address it in a way that makes sense for the innovative industry, and you'll go a long way.
Q. What can policymakers learn from innovators? The success or failure of innovative companies too often hinges on the speed of government. Too many good ideas that would have benefited all of us have crashed against the rocks of governmental inertia. There's a reason that companies feel that they have to beg for forgiveness instead of ask for permission. Make asking for permission a more attractive alternative.
Q. Favorite book/podcast/long-form article you recommend? White Noise by Don DeLillo.
Q. Most underrated virtue in an employee? Grammar.
Q. If you had to live in another city, which would it be? Panama City.
Q. Embarrassing work moment? Calling an employee “Tim Gunn” by mistake during an all hands.
Q. Last time you were completely unplugged? In Southeast Asia between my last job and my current job.
Q. How often do you work from home? Twice a month.
Click below to join TheBridge community and, among other resources, receive our bi-weekly updates with featured profiles.