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Meet the Vagabond Barista

With his infectious laugh and signature messy bun, Will Shurtz is hard not to notice -- and impossible to forget. He's the kind of person who walks into a room of 100 strangers and leaves with 100 new friends. As the owner and founder of Vagabond Barista, a traveling brew bar that elevates the coffee experience through a blend of craft, care and human connection, Will regularly does exactly that. [Click here to see him in action.] Will and I first met after he made a visit to Brains on Fire to host a brew bar for our team. Five minutes into our initial chat I was pretty much rendered speechless by the profound wisdom, humanity and business acumen pouring forth from an entrepreneur barely over the legal drinking age. In the months since, I've become a loud and proud Will advocate. And I'm not alone in that sentiment. Whenever Will's name comes up, you quickly discover that everyone has a Will story. This is one such story from a mutual friend...

"With everything and everyone, Will is like a child who is tasting cake for the first time. Fascinated, curious, delighted, excited, and totally unaffected by the jaded, cynical, adult world around him. He bought some espresso cups from me a couple of years ago, and it was like he thought they were the best things he'd ever seen or touched. I've known only one other person like that my whole life. The first time I noticed it in my other friend was when, in high school, he sat down at a science lab table with the dorkiest, dandruff-flaking, acne-faced person in school...and engaged in real conversation with him. He listened and asked questions, and was genuinely interested in what this kid, who most of us didn't even know existed, had to say. I think about that day often. I believe these people are just born with a kind of super love for others, and inherently value human interaction over everything else."

I was recently invited to serve as a mentor to entrepreneurial makers at Greenville's Makers Summit. One of the bright spots of my morning was watching people waiting in the Vagabond Barista line. As they made their way toward the front, you could see a physical and spiritual transformation take place -- like their whole being got lighter and happier. They were simply enjoying be cared for in the moment. I've never seen anything like it, and I left that encounter committed to making a stronger effort to be more open-hearted in the way I live, love and interact with others in my own life. Will inspired me to give other people that gift however I can.

I can't help but wonder what would happen if we all made an effort to be more open-hearted in our personal and professional lives. What would business look like if we stopped looking at our jobs as the work we do and started looking at what we do as the daily gift we give? 

Meet a Community Manager: Victoria Hammond


Welcome to Meet a Community Manager Mondays! Today WriteHuman is kicking off what will become a recurring weekly series. The interviewees may go by many different titles (Community Manager, Social Manager, Commander of Awesome), but at the core, they're the people working behind-the-scenes and driving social engagement for some of the greatest brands around. 

I had the pleasure of working with Vicky (that's Vicky-with-a-Y) during our tenure at Brains on Fire. Fueled by a steady stream of coffee, an unstoppable drive to find a better way and an affection for the fastest dogs around, getting Vicky to slow down for a little Q&A was no small task. But somehow I managed to do it. And here's what she had to say.

Happy reading!


Who are you? It's me...Mario! Okay, no. It's me...Vicky Hammond.

Job Title Commander of Awesome

Where do you do it? Waldschmidt Partners International

What has been your most memorable moment as a community manager? I was  lucky enough to be on a team representing the actual community in which I live. It was awesome to hear, on a daily basis, how residents and visitors alike loved the place I had adopted as my hometown.

My most memorable moment kicked off on my first day on the job and ended nine months later. (No, it was not a baby, but we did end up gaining a human when all was said and done.)

We received a tweet from a man who lived in Boston and was visiting for work. He  fell in love with our city over the course of his trip and announced that he was planning to move here one day. We kept in touch via Twitter, and were the first to hear he was moving down after accepting a new job in town. During his house hunting trip, we scouted out where he was staying and left him a "surprise and delight" welcome gift from his new hometown.

It was amazing to see how our conversations had come to life and created a true ambassador for the destination.

What was the hardest thing you have had to handle as a community manager? Any time there is a national tragedy, like Newtown or Boston Marathon, there is this rush to say something. There are times when you have something to add to the conversation--and others when silence acts as your best response.

In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about community management? 1. You play on Twitter all day. 2. Community management is something that should get delegated to the intern.

The efforts of community management, just like any of the other departments within a brand, are tied to larger goals for the organization. There are well thought out strategic plans and metrics tied to show KPIs and the ROI of your efforts. If you want to trust your budget line items to the intern, that is an option. But your intern is not the one who is going to have to demonstrate that you spent your money wisely and are effectively working toward whatever goals are set for the year.

What are the top 3 personality traits a good community manager needs to have? Curiousity. You have to dig under rocks and get your hands dirty to find those who are doing what you want to see out in the world. This is not as simple as typing in a hashtag or waiting for them to sprinkle you into the conversation. Sometimes those people are already out there talking about your product/service/experience and you have no idea. You have to DIG. If you are curious, you find the journey thrilling and exciting. You love finding an advocate under a rock somewhere, and you keep looking to find more of them.

Personable. As community manager, you find  that you become a welcome mat to a wide range of questions, issues and problems. I have had to field finance, marketing, sales, customer service and general questions across the board. You have to be patient and welcoming to anybody who comes into the community and navigate the same way you would like to be treated. I know I do not have every answer, but I know exactly who I can reach out to in order to get it.

Adaptability. The greatest laid plans may fall flat. A good community manager needs to be able to react and respond proactively,adjusting to the needs and wants of a community.

What are the top 3 skills a good community manager brings to the table? Proactive Analytical Multi-Tasking

What has community management taught you about people in general?

A smile and some kind words will go along way. Also, "thank you" is probably the best set of words any community manager can add to their vocabulary.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first got into community management?

 When you add people into the mix, nothing goes according to plan, but you will be surprised and delighted every single day by what you see.

Community Management is …tough work! But also a ton of fun.

Community Management is not …social media.

In your opinion, what brands (besides your own, of course) are doing social really well? I am in love with Songza. I make no qualms about expressing that love and probably tweet a playlist every couple of days. They (and their CEO) always respond in a great way.

What are three tools that make your job easier? (Yes. I want you to share your secret weapons.) I am a fan of Sprout Social, Simply Measured and Google Analytics.

What one thing would you like to tell the world about community management? One size does not fit all. You should have a consistent message, but how it is delivered should not be the same across all of your channels (web, social, offline, etc). The audience in each of those venues is different and engages in their own way.

What is the biggest change you have seen in community management over the course of your career? BOTS! Automation can be great and  free up your time to listen. I schedule tweets and regularly-scheduled content, but can't stand it when people have an automatic reaction (auto-retweet, auto-DM) that is not initiated by a human. Engagement is not automation. An auto0response  in real-time is not the same as  a real response received a little bit later from a human.

Current clients aside, what is one community you would love to work with and why? I love greyhounds and am the proud mama of two rescues. I would spend all day talking to other greyhounds owners or interested  parties. If there were a greyhound bus filled with greyhounds, I would be onboard now.

If you could only have one social network, which one would it be? Instagram. I, like so many people, am getting lazier about how I digest content. I enjoy browsing slice of life quickly and beautifully.

What is your favorite part about your job? Making people smile.

As a CM/SM, there is an expectation that you be constantly plugged in. How do you find work/life balance? Mandated unplugging. Yes, there is an expectation to check in, but I am not a real-time responder, nor is that the expectation that should be set. I will do a quick touch base every few hours outside of normal business hours to make sure nothing huge has gone down.

What one piece of advice would you give a young person who aspires to work in SM? It is NOT playing on social all day. Just because you have used social networks does not make you an expert. There is a big difference between being entertaining to your friends/personal network and representing the voice of a brand.

How do you spark conversations with your community? What kinds of things work? What have you found not to work? Do not be salesy. Yes, there is an expectation that you are ultimately driving sales. However, I do not recommend jutting yourself into a conversation leading with a sales pitch. That is gross.

I come at starting a conversation as if I were at a party myself. How would I start a conversation with someone? Would you want to talk to somebody who immediately comes up with a business card? No. For me, what works is asking questions and responding in a meaningful way. After a few interactions, if it is appropriate, then a solution can become a natural part of the conversation.

If you had to distil all your CM/SM wisdom down into one guiding principle, what would it be? Say thank you. Reward the behavior you seek. You want people to share? Say thanks when they do. Simple as that. You will see it happen again.


Three industry blogs you read regularly? HBR, Fast Company and WriteHuman.

3 non-industry blogs you read regularly? This is embarrassing, but I am OBSESSED with How I Met Your Mother. As a result, I am plugged into a bunch of random blogs and forums related to the show.

What do you do fo fun? Clemson Tigers football!

When you were little what did you think you were going to be when you grew up? An astronaut or a princess. So...