Rick Turoczy 5 February 2008
Lover of language and connector of dots
Rick Turoczy has worked in Portland high-tech marketing communications roles for more than a dozen years, focusing on making the obtuse and arcane seem—well—simple. His corporate-side stints have included work for companies like MedicaLogic, ProSight, and Digimarc.
But he has spent some time on the other side of the desk, as well. And, has run his own consulting gig, Return, since 2006.
Rick began programming on a “cutting edge” TRS-80 in 1979 and has continued to feed a relentless addiction to technology, ever since. Close friends, in fact, have often heard him utter, “I coded the coolest Pac-Man game in BASIC this one time…”
In high school, Rick was lucky enough to get into desktop publishing on this wacky new platform called the “Apple Macintosh”. (But he may have actually logged more hours playing “Dark Castle.”) He was a heavy VAX/VMS, TELNET, and PINE user in college. And one of the first owners of the Apple Macintosh LCIII, affectionately dubbed “the pizza box.” He bought his first URL, hypocritical.com, nearly a decade ago.
Rick graduated from Whitman College in 1993 with a BA in English that included a heavy focus on often-inebriated Catholic southern authors—with a minor in inebriated authors from all over the world.
He lives in southwest Portland (Garden Home area) with his wife, Multnomah County children’s librarian Erica Moore, and his two sons, Miles and Eames.
What are you up to?
I’ve always got a few side projects going. But the one of which I’m most proud, currently, is Silicon Florist, a blog that covers the small startups, blogs, and events here in Portland and the Silicon Forest.
By and large, these folks don’t generally get the recognition that they deserve. So, I try to shed a little light on what they’re doing. And I hope to give other folks—whether they live in Portland or not—an idea of the sheer volume of activity happening here in town. There really is a bunch of cool stuff happening right here in our own backyard.
And that’s what’s so invigorating about writing the Silicon Florist. I get to talk to these people about what they’re doing. Not what they do for a living. But what they do on the side because they’re passionate about it. Because they believe in what they’re doing and the problems they’re solving. And what they not-so-secretly hope may be their chance to get to do something they love while earning a living at the same time.
What are you into?
Pretty much every facet of my life consists of being an editor. Whether that’s professionally or personally. Being a parent or being a consultant. Helping clients simplify their copy or making my own stuff a little more clear.
I don’t really produce things. I try to help people make the things they produce better. Or easier. Or more simple to understand.
As such, I’m really into helping people connect the dots.
You see, aside from writing and editing, I’m a complete generalist. That means I know enough to get myself in trouble. So, to prevent that from happening, I really work to help people make the connections that they themselves may not be able to make.
I may not know how to do what you need done, but I’m fairly sure that I’ve got a number of resources who do exactly what you need done. And if I can connect the dots—edit the relationships—so that everybody gets exactly what they need? I’m a happy camper.
What do you like most about Portland?
Portland was really the first town to which I moved simply because I wanted to live here. And I’ve never regretted that decision.
I’ve seen a couple of other folks post about the “Goldilocks” facet of this town, and I think that’s dead-on.
Portland’s not too big. And not too small. Not too metropolitan. And not too rural.
It’s just a great town.
But the tech scene? Oh my. Anything but in-between. The tech scene around here is huge. And really, really interesting. If you’re a geek. And I am.
That’s on a professional bent. Personally? I like the access Portland affords everyone. I mean, I may to not actually go to the coast as much as I would like. But I could if I wanted to go. At a moment’s notice.
Same with the mountain. Or the desert. Or traveling. Or for a beer. Or whatever.
And I could likely convince a bunch of people to tag along. Just like that.
And that? That’s just cool. Brilliant people, great town. And friendly to boot.
Do you feel like working in Portland gives you opportunities you wouldn’t have elsewhere?
I think everyone here in town thinks they’ve found a secret. And they really want to keep it secret. But they can’t help but brag about what they’ve found.
And I’m respectful of that dynamic. I realize that Portland—right now—has some opportunities that won’t be around for long.
Right now, I feel like I have the opportunity to meet with amazing people. To participate in amazing events. And to help shape the way that our community embraces what is happening.
But it’s not always going to be a small pond.
And I think, as professionals, we owe it to ourselves to tightly weave that fabric together while we can. So that we don’t lose out on the opportunity we have here.
That’s part of Portland’s current culture. We’re tightly knit. Especially in the roles I tend to fulfill.
If I don’t know someone in marketing communications, I know someone who knows them. Or who has worked with them. Or hired them.
It’s a really, really small town in that regard. Practically every gig I’ve had in Portland, corporate or consulting, has been the result of someone recommending me.
I think that has given me the opportunity to do some really exciting things which would have been much more difficult to land in a different town or culture.
Besides your purported “geek cred,” name three personal things that made you the person you are today.
1. I spent a good chunk of my grade-school years in Stuttgart, Germany. During that time, I was fortunate enough to spend a great deal of time traveling through Europe and Northern Africa.
And those travels, at that age, taught me a great deal of humility. When you get to meet so many different types of people, you quickly come to the realization that you’re not the center of the universe and things are much bigger than you.
2. I am, at heart, a dumb jock. I’ve played soccer for more than 30 years. I wrestled throughout junior high and high school. And I fell in love with lacrosse in college.
And those experiences taught me that, no matter how special your role and no matter how good you are at performing it, you can’t make it alone.
3. I had dreams of being a doctor, a lawyer, and an author. Until I actually spent time in those people’s shoes.
And spending time with those folks and working for those folks taught me that it’s very little about glitz and glamour and very much about hard work. And, again, humility. You’re never there because of you. You’re there because of them. And I always try to keep that in mind.