TheBridge profile: William Kowalski
Name: William Kowalski
Current city: Denver, CO
Current job: Chief Operating Officer, Atomos Space
Past job: Financial Advisor, The Millstone Evans Group of Raymond James & Associates
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Union Station in Denver.
Q. Describe how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your current job. Financial advising taught me how to ask good questions and that planning is all about the process--not the plan that comes out of it. I enjoy thinking through a problem and uncovering potential issues; or, as my co-founder, Vanessa Clark, says after having read Great by Choice: I’m productively paranoid. Vanessa is the visionary pushing forward and pitching our company, so together, we have a good balance.
Q. Job advice in three words? Never stop learning.
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech / innovation and regulation? From company formation, Vanessa and I knew that regulation was one of the biggest unknowns for our eventual vision. How do you define safe operations when approaching other satellites on orbit? How do we safely cross between orbits and active satellites repeatedly? The rapidly changing space economy has opened new areas of logistical challenges, and we wanted to help write “the rules of the road” as early as possible. We began traveling to DC and speaking with agencies and industry groups when we began designing our system because we knew that in a heavily regulated environment like space, the best technical solution wasn’t worth anything if we were not licensed to use it the way that it was designed.
Q. What can innovators learn from policymakers? How to think through potential unintended consequences.
Q. What can policymakers learn from innovators? Paralysis by analysis doesn’t help anyone other than make the analyzer feel smart.
Q. Favorite book/podcast/long-form article you recommend? The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives. Randomness influences so much, and the more we understand that, the better we can navigate uncertainty.
Q. What's one piece of advice you are still trying to master? Time blocking. I’m always trying to get better at focused work.
Q. Living person you admire? My wife and CEO, Vanessa Clark.
Q. Favorite app? There are a lot of great apps that I use, but if I had to pick one: Pocket. It’s the only way to push off articles I find during the week until the weekend when I have the time to read them.
Q. Morning routine? Scan for critical emails and read the news before getting out of bed and heading to the gym. Then Vanessa and I will talk through the plans of the day with coffee at the kitchen counter.
Q. How often do you work from home? As infrequently as possible as I’m terribly unproductive at home.
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