Name: Colin Cummins
Position: Head Copywriter
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
Well, back in college I had a wide variety of interests. I was really into political science, activism, and story-telling. So, after one semester of pre-med classes (my whole family works in medicine), I changed my major so that I could study both Journalism and Political Science.
After college, I was pretty set on going to graduate school for creative writing. So, I managed a coffee shop for a year while working on my writing. After a prolonged case of writer’s block, I took an entry-level job at Angie’s List. That lasted about six months before I left to come to CAIRS, where I could exercise my writing skills. It was a perfect fit.
Take us through an average workday for you.
I wake up at 6:15 am every morning and listen to a podcast while showering and shaving. Usually, it’s the Ringer NFL show or NYT’s The Daily. Then, at 7 am, I wake my wife up, wake the dog up and start the coffee pot. From April to October, I leave around 830am and bike to work. (Sometimes earlier if I want to stop at my favorite coffee shop - Provider - on the way.) If it’s winter, then my Uber drops me off right at 9 am.
The first hour of my day is usually spent replying to email questions and setting up my work schedule for the day. I’ve always responded well to rewards, so I give myself tasks throughout the day and with each completion, I award myself 10 minutes of reading. (I’m a news junkie). So, from about 10:30 am to 5 pm, I’m going through tasks (editing profiles, writing marketing copy, putting out fires, etc) and taking four or five 10-minute breaks to read articles.
What is your workspace setup like? Do you have a picture? It’s okay if it’s a little messy!
I love my workspace. I have my own office at our Creative Center in Indianapolis. It’s furnished with really basic IKEA furniture - which I love! I do all of my work on my Mac Pro and 27’ monitor. My desk is very messy and usually has multiple coffee cups on it. As for pictures, I have three Matisse prints on the walls and a picture of my wife.
What is your best time-saving hack? Or just life hack, in general?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m all about tasks and rewards. I’ve been doing that since college. Back then, I was a smoker. So, I’d reward myself one cigarette per page written. Now, since I've quit that nasty habit, I simply give myself time to read an article and it’s just as pleasurable. My whole task-reward thing saves me lots of time because it cuts out my procrastination.
What apps or software do you rely upon on a daily basis?
I love G-Suite, especially docs. It’s basic, I know, but it gets the job done. I also rely on Wunderlist to track my tasks. It’s super easy to use and the design is simple. For reading, I use Flipboard on my phone. I’ve been using it for five years now and cannot fathom getting the news any other way. I also use Grammarly, which I have a love/hate relationship with, but it works!
Who are the people on your team who help you get things done? How do you rely on them?
I rely mostly on Kim Noeth, Gina Crotts and Mark Hurt.
Kim is pretty much the manager at Parentfinder, so she really helps me out with problem solving and putting out fires.
Gina is our other copywriter, so her and I work hand-in-hand everyday with editing.
And Mark Hurt, our design team leader, he’s the magic behind the whole operation. He handles the most stressful, highest volume portion of our production. I rely on him to help me out when we need timelines expedited or need to make changes to books in a short amount of time. Plus, he makes me laugh every single day and that’s invaluable to me.
How do you recharge outside of work?
I consume media. I’m addicted to storytelling and media in all forms. I listen to podcasts (mostly political, technology or NFL related), devour news articles and watch lots of television (True Detective, right now!) and movies (I'm a big fan of directors Richard Linklater and Terrance Malick).
I also love riding my bike around town. Indianapolis is a great city for this. From April to October, I ride my bike everywhere I go.
And finally, playing with my dog. We adopted Yoshi in 2016, and man has it changed my life for the better. Just getting down on the floor and playing fetch with him for twenty minutes can totally flip my mood.
Are you working on any side projects right now? Do you have any other passions that you pursue outside of work?
I like to tell people that I’ve been working on my novel, but that’s a lie. I shelved it a year ago and haven’t looked back. It was just frustrating. But I am working on a podcast with my friend, Vince. It’s an NFL podcast that explains the game of football, as well as the lost stories and philosophies behind it.
What are you currently reading? (Or listening to? If you’re into podcasts)
I just finished Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? By Alyssa Mastromonaco. It was a really fun story about her time working in the Obama White House.
Before that, I read Fear by Bob Woodward. It was a terrifying, inside story of the Trump White House that was brought to life by Woodward’s masterful storytelling. I devoured that book.
As for podcasts, I’m in the middle of The Drop Out. It’s the Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos story. I’m also always listening to Intelligence Matters with Michael Morel, Reply All by Gimlet and How I Built This with Guy Raz. Plus all my NFL podcasts.
What is the best single piece of advice someone has ever given you and why?
Back in high school, I sort of realized that teachers will give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you give something a good try. I still keep this in mind today. No matter what I’m doing, even if I’m out of my league, I know that if I really give it a good try and use everything I’ve learned, I can’t be upset with the outcome because I gave it my all. That helps me sleep at night.