Our new Director of Client Services, Tad Kozak, has been working in the learning industry for a decade, and in every position imaginable. Formerly one of our clients, he personally helped to vet Exceed for his own organization and is familiar with the software, as well as the daily wins and frustrations involved with administering end users. Before Intellum, Tad lead the learning department at Cricket Wireless in a variety of roles, studied foreign language education, and taught Spanish to middle schoolers (...quickly deciding he preferred teaching adults over angsty teens). A Georgia Bulldog and avid football fan, Tad also loves bbq, podcasts, and jamming out on his banjo with his wife and two kids. Read on to find out more about the man you’ll soon come to know as our client relationship guru!
You have worked in every area of eLearning, providing you with a really unique perspective when working with Intellum clients. How has your past experience helped shape your work with clients?
I am truly passionate about learning! I've been a student, a trainer, an instuctional designer, a training strategy manager, and I've held various leadership positions in learning organizations. This has not only given me really good insight into the real issues that our clients deal with every day, but it has also enabled me to have a real sense of empathy for those issues. I know first hand what a large role our tool plays in many learning organizations, and how important it is that it supports the end users in the best way possible. I'm extremely mindful of that during every interaction I have here at work. That knowledge and empathy is the foundation of every decision I make here at Intellum.
Tad, you are a huge BBQ fan/pitmaster... What is your secret for the perfect BBQ, and what unique tricks have you learned from tasting BBQ all over the United States?
Secrets are closely guarded in the BBQ world, but here's one I'll share...put shredded pineapple in your coleslaw. If you drain it really well, and use it somewhat sparingly, it adds the perfect amount of sweetness. When it comes to a good plate of BBQ, the supporting cast is every bit as important as the star of the show. So many BBQ restaurants come and go because they only focus on the meat. I have had some amazing sides during my journeys...wood fired okra, sweet potato fluff, home made chow chow, and of course, hundreds of variations on cole slaw and potato salad.
What is the strangest experience you've ever had while feasting during your foodie adventures?
One of my favorite food related memories is eating at a BBQ "restaurant" in Huntsville, AL. This guy took his Buick transmission shop, and converted it into a BBQ and Blues club. There's no menu, there are no regular business hours, and there are no signs on the building. You just show up and hope he feels like cooking that day. This guy has been cooking BBQ his entire life, and it shows. He checks the temperature of the grill with his hand, he mixes the sauce ingredients without measuring, and he made one mean plate of food. I learned more from a 30 minute conversation with him than I ever thought possible.
If your life were a podcast, what would the title be and who would narrate?
It would be called "Curious Incidents" and it would be narrated by Henry Rollins. One of my favorite books is "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon. It's about a boy that tries to make sense out of series of random events. I tend to find myself in that situation often, typically by my own doing. On top of being a magnet for randomness, I have two crazy kids that keep life interesting. I chose Henry Rollins because I've always liked his spoken word and stand up comedy, but mostly because of the chapter that he narrated in World War Z.
What is your spirit animal?
Goats - specifically, fainting goats. In the early 90's, back when people forwarded funny videos through e-mail instead of posting them on social media, I would occasionally receive this video of a herd of fainting goats reacting to a red umbrella. No matter how many times I watched it, it always cracked me up. Since that time, goats have somehow always intersected my life in really interesting and random ways. I'm pretty sure I'll have pet goats at some point in my life.