TheBridge profile: Melissa Blaustein
Name: Melissa Blaustein
Current city: Sausalito, CA
Current job: Founder and CEO, Allied for Startups
Past job: Digital Strategy Intern at the Obama White House, Digital Director at Gabby Giffords for Congress 2010
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Blue Bottle Coffee at the Ferry Building
Q. Describe one way how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your new job: Working in a swing congressional district on a campaign taught me how to communicate to completely different groups of people whom I all needed to convince to vote for my candidate. The best way to do that was always to find some common ground. Lobbying MEPs and working with government isn’t so different. There is always somewhere you can find something you both agree on, and that’s essential in helping me push forward the voice and needs of startups in policy.
Q. Job advice in three words? Hire great people
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech? Allied for Startups’ mission is to make the voice of startups heard in politics and government. We consensus build with startup associations across more than 24 countries and 4 continents on what issues matter to startups and how to shape them. Issues like copyright, privacy, data flows and startup visas to name a few. Then, we give startups a seat at the table in those policy discussions by taking their perspective to leaders in governments around the world.
Q: What is your morning routine? I get up at 5:15 almost every morning and check my email. A lot of my work is with the EU and with a 9 hour time difference I need to get an early start. I’m a marathon swimmer so I have to get in as much training as I can in the mornings before work. With no time to make coffee, I grab a pre made cold brew and rush to my car to make it to the Redwood High School pool for masters swimming at 545. After masters practice, I head to the South End Rowing Club at aquatic park in San Francisco for a cold water acclimation swim in the bay. By around 8 I am checking emails and on the phone with my Brussels office to catch up on the day’s activities on the other side of the world. I'm also running for City Council here in Sausalito so I make time for a morning check in with my campaign manager and make sure I'm on top of all of my meetings for the day.
Q. Who is a living person you admire? Haley Van Dyck, Co-founder of the United States Digital Service. I had the honor of growing up with Haley and have looked up to her ever since our high school leadership class. It’s been inspiring to see what she’s been able to achieve building USDS and to follow her continued success.
Q. What is the best advice you’ve received? Go work on a campaign! Both my old boss at the White House, Macon Phillips, and my politics professor at Cal, Dan Schnur, told me that it was the best way to learn as much as possible and get ahead in my career. I’d recommend it to any young, aspiring politico looking to get started in making a difference in the world.