Behind the Screen: Spike at OpenOakland

At GovLoop, we’re always looking for tips and tricks to enhance productivity at the office. However, time management and career learning and development don’t have to be as dry and boring as they sound.

For inspiration, we’re reaching out to GovLoop audience members, asking them to give us a run-down of their daily habits and tips to make work-life a bit more pleasantly productive. For our first installment of this new series, “Behind the Screen,” we reached out to former Featured Blogger Steve “Spike” Spiker of OpenOakland and Urban Strategies Council.


Basic info:
• Organization: OpenOakland – a civic innovation organization that brings together coders, designers, data geeks, journalists, and city staff to collaborate on solutions to improve how our local government serves all citizens of Oakland.
• Location: Oakland, CA
• One word that best describes how you work: Spatial.

What mobile apps can’t you live without? Evernote, Spotify, Wunderlist, Expensify, Pocket.

What desktop software/tools can’t you live without? QGIS, GitHub, Excel, Gmail.

What does your workplace look like? I have one large, beautiful cherry wood desk obtained when a neighboring organization closed (deal!) with two large monitors connected to a fast workstation for map creation and data crunching. I have a 2013 MacBook Pro 13” for coding, writing and design work and a desk riser that I slap on top of my desk and converts it to a standing desk to keep my back healthier (I do this once daily). I do most of my reading and lots of writing on the Mac as the screen is nicer and I can move around to write in different locations and when traveling. My walls are covered with my photography (

What is your best time-saving shortcut? Ditch your desktop. Get gmail.

What’s your favorite non-electronic device/gadget for work? Large chart paper and post-its. For most website design and presentations I have to go analog and write up pieces, highlights, flows in real ink. I get blocks all the time trying to do that digitally, so I write it out on paper or post-its and design that way, going to the computer only when I have the whole idea clear.

What’s your favorite way to take a break during the day? Make coffee in a French press.

What’s your favorite de-stress activity in the middle of the day? You can do this? When I bring lunch I find it hard to disconnect. Going out to lunch with colleagues is a great de-stresser.

What do you listen to while you work? I have an ever-growing playlist on Spotify, but I can’t write and listen at the same time.

What do you listen to while you commute? Daft Punk, The Roots, Ozomatli are great for getting motivated and pumped up, mostly on the BART or on my bike.

What is your favorite news source? NPR, does that mean I’m getting old? And Twitter.

What is your favorite federal news source? Vice or Vox, and NPR.

Whom do you admire in the government? Eric Holder, while not always agreeing with him, I greatly respect his work, his values and his commitment. And Joy Bonaguro is a great example of someone taking over a previously edgy, innovative role and making it work wonderfully as a regular government job.

What are you currently reading? Gardens of Democracy by Eric Liu & Nick Hanauer, He Is There and He Is Not Silent by Francis Schaeffer and Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

What’s one word your coworkers would use to describe you? Prolific.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? Listen more.

What do you enjoy most about your job? Variety, impact.

Do you think you have some awesome work tips and productivity ideas that you want to share with the GovLoop community in this feature? Email [email protected] to set up an interview!

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply