Meet Brent Blonkvist, Chief Of Staff

Meet Brent Blonkvist, Chief Of Staff

We're highlighting noteworthy employees that drive Odyssey's growth.

One thing that makes our staff so successful is shared vision. It’s a harmonious experience where individual interests align with company missions. This drives consistent innovation, feedback, and growth.

By definition, shared vision requires collaboration, especially across departments. So, for our second employee spotlight, we spoke with Brent Blonkvist, Odyssey’s Chief of Staff.

Brent’s ties to Odyssey have always been strong. As a student at UNC, he connected with Odyssey through his executive involvement with the Interfraternity Council. When Odyssey expanded across school networks as a print publication in 2011, Brent built, led, and scaled UNC's local editorial and sales teams. Even after graduation, Brent played a part in launching new communities of Odyssey at UT Austin and Texas Tech. “I was still leveraging my network,” he said, “to help build Odyssey because it was fun.”

After graduating from the Kenan-Flagler Business School, Brent started his career at HSBC, the largest international bank in Asia, covering their Asian multinational inbound business. His undergraduate studies in Hong Kong and Greece inspired his desire to learn international commerce firsthand, particularly with respect to Asia, in order to stay competitive in the ever-increasing globally connected economy.

Brent’s tenure at HSBC offered him great opportunities to build business. He helped build the first China Multinational Inbound Desk, and then went on to help build an 'Oil & Gas Structured Finance and Advisory' business across the Americas. Despite the decline of the oil and gas markets in 2014, his team closed 19 deals— i.e. $50 million in income— over the first year alone.

“All the while,” Brent said, “Evan and I reconnected when Odyssey’s New York office opened. We literally bumped into each other on an elevator in the city. Two years later, we began discussing what it might look like to work together. Within a few months, I was working for a growth company.”

“Investing in technology companies myself,” he added, “knowing how a large company operates, understanding the connectivity required to have a global footprint, and seeing that Odyssey had experienced success and would likely expand one day… [it was] a no-brainer decision.”

Since March of this year, Brent’s contributions to our company have been impactful and all-encompassing. To speak to this, he gave some insight on our culture, growth, and direction as we continue to scale.


What is our biggest opportunity at Odyssey?

“The opportunity to truly scale a company. Few companies can do it successfully, and even fewer companies successfully raise institutional capital. To be able to take those dollars and invest them in a way that allows you to expand and create a revenue stream that enables your company to grow organically, scale domestically, and then internationally— that’s unbelievable.”

As Chief of Staff, what is your role?

“I’m building strategic partnerships that help expedite our user growth and increase engagement on our platform. I work to enhance our traffic and monetization efforts in order to better position Odyssey to truly transform the industry.

I have the vision and dream of taking us international. To take Odyssey everywhere, so that we can democratize the creation of content and its consumption around the world. Everyone will have the opportunity to share what’s going on in their community. One destination for people to consume all content that’s relevant to them; real perspective around issues they care about on a 360-degree topic sphere.”


Tell me about the people at Odyssey.

“Here at Odyssey, people are building their future. That’s pretty cool and powerful. I love the unspoken rules around punctuality and being prepared. I absolutely love the way in which we align vision and mission— I just think it’s so meaningful.

I think every person has a vision, but they’re only here because of the shared vision between themselves and the company. I love how the company has short, digestible missions that can be accomplished over a period of time. I love how we celebrate individuals and award them upon achieving their missions, instead of hoping their good performance will be remembered and recognized at the end of the year.

You can really be yourself at Odyssey. You can do what you love. Figuring out how to integrate into this type of culture was fun, especially with respect to attire. My existing ‘work’ wardrobe was suits, shirts, and ties. Before my first day, I had to talk to Evan about it. I’m pretty sure I asked, ‘Do I need new clothes, or can I rock a suit?’”

Want to learn more about our internal team? Check out our recent post featuring Lauri Baker, Odyssey’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Cover Image Credit: Odyssey

44 Lyrics For When You Need An Instagram Caption

Your caption is just as important as the filter.
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Choosing the caption for your Instagram can be almost as challenging as deciding on a filter. So, if you’re ready to post that Insta, but don’t know what to say, here are 44 lyrics for when you need an Instagram caption.

1. “Be young, be dope, be proud.” - Lana Del Rey, "American"

2. “I can’t really see another squad tryna cross us.” - Drake, "No Tellin’"

3. “Darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.” - Taylor Swift, "Blank Space"

4. “I’m throwin' shade like it’s sunny.” - Nicki Minaj, "Want Some More"

5. “I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist.” - Sia, "Chandelier"

6. “Find me where the wild things are.” - Alessia Cara, "Wild Things"

7. “If I was you, I'd wanna be me too.” - Meghan Trainor, "Me Too"

8. “Sweet like candy to my soul, sweet you rock and sweet you roll.” - Dave Matthews Band, "Crash Into Me"

9. “I swear this life is like the sweetest thing I’ve ever known.” - Drake, "Over"

10. “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.” - Lee Ann Womack, "I Hope You Dance"

11. “But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing’s changed at all? - Bastille, "Pompeii"

12. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” - John Lennon, "Imagine"

13. “You can’t choose what stays and what fades away.” - Florence + The Machine, "No Light, No Light"

14. “She acts like summer and walks like rain.” - Train, "Drops of Jupiter

15. “She’s a good girl, loves her mama. Loves Jesus, and America too.” - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Free Fallin’"

16. “Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones.” - Coldplay, "Fix You"

17. “Say you’ll remember me.” - Taylor Swift, "Wildest Dreams"

18. I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart.” - Sia, "Elastic Heart"

19. “Give me the beat boys and free my soul.” - Uncle Kracker, "Drift Away"

20. “One of these days the clocks will stop, and time won’t mean a thing.” - Foo Fighters, "These Days"

21. “Sunshine mixed with a little hurricane.” - Brad Paisley, Perfect Storm

22. “You are the piece of me I wish I didn’t need.” Zedd feat. The Foxes, "Clarity"

23. “Her mind is Tiffany twisted, she’s got the Mercedes bends.” - The Eagles, "Hotel California"

24. “Life imitates art.” - Lana Del Rey, "Gods And Monsters"

25. “Nobody said it was easy, no one said it would be this hard.” - Coldplay, "The Scientist"

26. “You’re gonna keep my soul, it was yours to have long ago.” - State Radio, "Keepsake"

27. “Celebrate we will ‘cause life is short but sweet for certain.” - Dave Matthews Band, "Two Step"

28. “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” - Florence + The Machine, "Shake it Out"

29. “There are many things I’d like to say to you but I don’t know how.” - Oasis, "Wonderwall"

30. “You say you want a revolution, well you know we all wanna change the world.” - The Beatles, "Revolution"

31. “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.” Billy Currington, "People Are Crazy"

32. “Well my heart is gold, and my hands are cold.” - Halsey, "Gasoline"

33. “I don’t want to be heard, I want to be listened to.” - Twenty One Pilots, "Forest"

34. “Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” - Mumford and Sons, "Awake My Soul"

35. “I think I need a sunrise, I’m tired of the sunset.” - Augustana, "Boston"

36. “All of these lines across my face tell you the story of who I am.” - Brandi Carlile, "The Story"

37. ‘Ready or not, here I come. Where you at? The night is young.” - Bridgit Mendler, "Ready or Not"

38. “In the land of Gods and Monsters, I was an angel.” - Lana Del Rey, "Gods And Monsters"

39. “Turns out not where, but who you’re with that really matters.” - Dave Matthews Band, "Best Of What’s Around"

40. “Know yourself, know your worth.” - Drake, "0 to 100"

41. “I’m little but I’m coming for the crown.” - Lorde, "Still Sane"

42. “Didn’t they tell you I was a savage?” - Rihanna, "Needed Me"

43. “Hands in the air like we don’t care.” - Miley Cyrus, "We Can’t Stop"

44. “I’ma keep running because a winner don’t quit on themselves.” - Beyonce, "Freedom"

Cover Image Credit: https://pixabay.com

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I'm 22 And I Still Don't Have My Driver's License, But It Doesn't Bother Me

Although sometimes it's inconvenient not to have one, it's not a major concern to me.

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When you turn 16, the one thing you can't wait to do is get your license so you can finally have your first taste of freedom and no longer need your parents to drive you around anywhere.

When I was 16, I had no intentions of getting my license because I had no interest in driving.

I'm 22 now and I still don't have my license. Although sometimes it's inconvenient not to have one, it's not a major concern to me.

Before you ask yourself why I still don't have it, you should know that me not having my license is not entirely a personal decision.

It's part me not trusting myself and part having a disability.

I have cerebral palsy, and if you don't know what that is, it's a disorder of the cerebellum that affects things such as balance, coordination, muscle movements and reaction times.

Having a fast reaction time and strong leg muscles are something that you need in order to drive a car. You've always got to watch for that one crazy driver who blows through the red light and constantly press down on the pedal, because how else would the car move?

Don't get me wrong. I do have my permit. I got it shortly after my eighteenth birthday and taking the test four, yes, four, times. I've been behind the wheel a few times on residential streets in my town, so I know the basics of driving a car, but it's hard for me.

I use my left foot to control both the gas and the break because the cerebral palsy is in the right half of my body. This is unfortunate for me because you need your right foot to drive. I'm not sure how I learned, but I found that using my left foot is a lot easier for me.

But, I learned pretty quickly that you can't do that when taking the actual driving test.

I haven't been behind the wheel of a car in quite a while because, truthfully, I've been busy. When I'm not at work, I'm at school, when I'm not at school, I'm at work.

I'm at school sometimes more than 12 hours a day because of homework and my internship and I work on the weekends at the same place my dad works at, so we ride together.

My mom drops me off at school in the morning before she goes to work and picks me up in the evening and my friends drive to all the concerts we attend.

I don't make that much at work, and my internship is paid but I don't get a lot from there, and I have student loans, a credit card and medical bills and my credit isn't that great yet, so I don't really have any money to buy a car.

Why have a license if I don't have the funds to purchase a car at the moment?

Sure, if I absolutely need a ride somewhere and my parents aren't home, it's a little difficult finding one if all my friends are busy, but that's about the only trouble it gives me.

I'm pretty much a homebody and I only have a few close friends that I enjoy hanging out with, and during the school year, I'm hardly ever home during the day anyway.

It gets a little annoying when my friends, family, co-workers and sometimes professors ask me when I'm going to get my license, but I try to explain it in the nicest way possible.

Without using my disability as the primary excuse, I let them know that I'm just not ready to drive nor do I have any way to purchase a car.

Maybe in the future, when I'm out of school and I have my finances under control, I will work on getting a car AND THEN my license.

I am aware and fully understand that the day will come when my parents won't be here to give me a ride anymore, but everyone else needs to understand that driving is a personal decision and not everyone is ready to do so at the age of 16.

And that's perfectly okay.

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