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

17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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Using 'Tradition' As An Excuse For Blood Feuds Is Not Okay

Respecting culture should not include the allowance of massacre.

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Bloods feuds are different from your typical family argument. They generally occur in the Northeast or Central region of Albania and can take many people's lives.

A blood feud begins when a person takes another one's life in the midst of an argument or disagreement. When this happens they are not settled by a civil court or lifetime in prison; they are settled by using murder as revenge over an over again.

If not prevented, the two families in conflict will go back in forth taking someone's life from the family that wished to spite them, just to even the score.

Eventually, families run out of men to use in these blood feuds, and to make sure that the conflict is resolved, the women begin to dress up and act as males so they too can go out and kill each other. This practice has historical significance in their culture and should always be taught and remembered, but that does not justify allowing the practice to continue.

Sure it's insignificant, that I, as a female living in a developed country, would find this practice barbaric and want to stop it. But it's important to take a closer look at the families and realize how much they struggle and desperately need this to end to allow them to live.

Just in Albania's Shkodra region alone, there are estimated to be 68 families unable to leave their house in fear of what awaits them. People are unable to continue what would normally be a successful life if they are dragged into a fight that's not their own, by tradition alone.

In class today, my professor discussed his high school years, most of which were spent in Albania. He was exposed to, and friends, with many of the people trapped in this nightmare.

One in particular, he told us, would drive down in a van with tinted windows to a different city every day to carry out his life where no one knew him. He would work with them, hang out and play soccer, and drive home every day. This continued for months, until one day he stopped showing up, and eventually, my professor discovered he had been killed by the family that his family was in combat with.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event, and it is still happening while the rest of Albania develops around it. People want help to solve this issue and truly need it...

In this issue, awareness is key and can allow humanity around the world to step in an attempt to prevent this from continuing. If this goal is achieved, imagine the renewed life that the people trapped in this tradition would be able to discover.

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