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

8 Things To Do For Fun Instead Of Getting Drunk

Do some of that work you've been procrastinating on, or maybe pray.
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Nowadays it seems like all anyone ever wants to do is go out, party, and get drunk. Which is perfectly fine, if you truly find pure enjoyment in that. I think a lot of people use it as a source of fulfillment when it is not fulfilling you in any way.

If anything, it is going to make you feel emptier than anything else will in this world.

I am not saying to never ever have a drink or party because those are both normal things to do, but I think it needs to be seen as something done in moderation, not every weekend. Don't you just get tired of it anyway? With that here are eight things to do for fun that don't require any alcohol.

1. Read a book

Now I know this doesn't sound like the most exciting thing ever, but it is honestly so relaxing to just be able to sit and read. Reading books also allows you to throw yourself into a different world from a little bit and escape whatever may not be ideal in yours.

2. Go bowling

This is one of my FAVORITE things to do. It is so underrated and underappreciated. Bowling is such an easy way to catch up with some friends, and have a little friendly competition at the same time. It is something that everyone can do and enjoy, so it should be an easy sell to your friends.

3. Write

I know this is something else that does not appeal to a lot of people, but I promise it is something that can be very convicting. Sometimes you have thoughts going through your mind that are weighing you down, so you need to get all of those things down on to paper and free your mind to be filled with happier thoughts.

4. Take some pictures

Want to build up that Instagram following? Grab your super high-quality iPhone and go for a walk and take some pictures of anything that sticks out to you. It doesn't have to be something that everyone will love, it needs to be something that has meaning to you. Everyone else's opinion does not matter at all.

5. Go to an escape room

I personally have not gotten around to doing this yet (college keeps you really busy, okay), but I have heard GREAT things about them. Get together with a group of your smartest and most intuitive friends and see if you can escape in under an hour. This can also be used as a great bonding experience for teams or clubs.

6. Do some of that work you've been procrastinating on

We all know it's true. There are reading assignments from two weeks ago you still haven't even turned the page too. How about that paper due tomorrow you haven't started yet? You definitely do not need to be going out when you have work piling up by the minute. Also, stop telling yourself you will get it all done this weekend because you probably won't. Don't live your life in an area of constantly being behind. If we live our lives in an area of little urgency we have more opportunities to live a spontaneous life.

7. Watch some Netflix/have a night in

Sometimes you just need time to unwind from the week and Netflix is the best answer for that unless you want to watch One Tree Hill or How I Met Your Mother, then switch over to Hulu real quick. Either way, the point is your body needs rest, so give it that. And it will help you feel more prepared for the upcoming week.

8. Spend time with the Lord

I personally think this is the most important one on this list. The Lord is truly the only person who can give us complete fulfillment in our lives. He is the one who has a plan for us, and He is the one who knows what is best for us. We were created in His image, so why should we live any other kind of life? Read the Bible and above all else, pray. Pray for that void to be filled, and God will put something in your life that will.

I cannot speak from a drunk experience because partying and getting drunk is something that has truly never appealed to me. I am speaking from the perspective of someone who has seen many friends searching for fulfillment in those unnecessary things and just getting more hurt in the end. If it isn't making you happy then please find something that does. There are so many more things out there than just partying, go out and find them.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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If College Majors Were The Shots You Take At The Bar After An Exam

Shots are highly integrated into the college life.
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Attention one and all: college sucks.

We invest so much time in studying, crying, having mental breakdowns and panic attacks, and then repeat.

But most of all, we drink. Like a lot.

If you're 21, you can't wait for Friday to roll around so you can flock to the nearest bar, so you can haphazardly drink your sorrows away and spend the last dollar in your pocket.

If you're not 21, you hope that someone can score you a fifth of Burnettes, and get wasted playing waterfall in your freshman dorm. Shots feel as if they're an inevitable drink that you consume at one point or another.

I asked a ton of people to pick one shot that would describe their majors, and here's what we came up with.

1. Communications-- Liquid Marijuana Shot

Contents Include: Captain Morgan, Blue Curacao, Malibu, Melon Liqueur, Pineapple Juice, and a splash of Sour Mix.

Why?

It seems easy at first, but then gets harder as you go.

2. Neuroscience-- Four Horsemen

Contents Include: Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Johnnie Walker, and Jose Cuervo.

Why?

You think you're good, and then all of a sudden, you're dying.

3. Health Science-- Lemon Drop

Contents Include: Vodka, Lemon, Sugar

Why?

You think one is enough but then you realize it's useless until you get more.

4. Engineering-- Straight Whisky Shots

Why?

The program is hard and you need something just as hard to make up for what you're learning.

5. Social Work-- Mind Eraser

Contents Include: Vodka, Kahlua, 7-up.

Why?

Just like the name says, sometimes you need to forget the difficult things you saw that day.

6. Political Science-- Passed Out On The Bathroom Floor

Contents Include: Bacardi Rum 151, Jose Cuervo Gold, Jager, Peppermint Schnapps.

Why?

We talk and theorize about the state of our political culture so much, that sometimes we too (and we do this often) drink so much we pass out on the bathroom floor.


Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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