Dan Siroker, former CEO and current Co-Founder & Executive Chairman of Optimizely
'3 Decades of Dan' was created in honor of Dan's 30th Birthday
I had the pleasure of working with Dan as his executive assistant for just over a year when he was in the role of CEO of the company he co-founded. My role at Optimizely was my first leap back into the startup space (they were formerly called "dotcoms") in over a decade. It was in my EA role at Optimizely that I said goodbye to my PC and fell in love with a Mac. It is where I learned to appreciate rewards and responsibilities of being part of a startup community, and it was where I gained a full understanding of what the term "hyper-growth tech startup" really means, and it is where I came to terms with the very real fact that not all CEOs have offices... or even want them!
I think '3 Decades of Dan' is one of the best examples of my obsession with miniatures details gone off the rails, and the only thing that was better than painstakingly finding a way to get "all the things" that are Dan into this small acrylic case, was his reaction to it. It was truly awesome!
Research for this project included making mental notes when I observed things about Dan, (i.e. - his favorite foods, beverages, and books), bribing my Optimizely teammates that had known Dan for a while with coffee walks, and finding ways to bring up and ask Dan about the things that he most enjoyed during our 1:1s.
One of the things I love about miniatures is that no matter what the item, no matter how detailed, unique or unusual... if I can't make it, I am able to find someone that can. I have never gone without an item just because I was without the time or the skill to make it. The wonderfully tiny and completely to scale Optimizely mug below was a custom order (as well as many of the paper items in this scene) are by Roxanne Fern of Baking in Miniature (on Etsy).
This thoroughly Dan miniature includes some very special pieces -
The box of Wired magazines is as identical as I could get it to the life-size box we received at the office... and above it, the magazine is open to the great feature story about Optimizely!
The highly-detailed coffee box sits on top of a table that we actually had in the office that served the same purpose. It was relatively easy to make and the materials were less than $5.
I couldn't resist the 'Kittens for Dummies' book, and in spite of all the birthday cake, this scene wouldn't have been complete without a box of chocolates!
Dan's signature blue NIKE's were also a must... and the cases of Diet Coke were a non-negotiable as well.
The beautiful, incredibly realistic looking birthday cake was a custom order created by Annette Boring of Ginger's Little House (on Etsy). Photos don't do it justice!
On several occasions, Dan and I spoke about our shared passion for working on projects and building things, and at one point there was even talk of building a wood workshop in the basement of the new space we were moving to. I once toyed with the idea of ordering him a large miter saw but then I thought better of it when the plans for the lower level of our new space didn't include a workshop; still, I absolutely had to include a tiny version of the saw and the box that it would have been delivered in, in this project!
'3 Decades of Dan' appeared in a 2014 episode of 'TechCrunch Cribs'.
(The miniature appears about 1.35 minutes into the 8.04 minute segment.)
The things I enjoyed most about working with Dan were without a doubt his boundless curiosity and his unwavering optimism. Although he combined the words "optimize" and 'wisely" to create the company name, I know that there's a whopping dose of Dan's unparalleled optimism in Optimizely's DNA.
The pace of an average day at Optimizely was mind-numbingly fast and it sometimes shook me to my core. Dan's patience and support, and the support of a remarkable team kept me in the game, even when I seriously considered giving up.
The biggest learning for me was that in an industry that was completely new to me, I simply wasn't going to be amazing at everything I did... and that this was ok as long as I could accept it and continue to challenge myself and keep getting better. I had an unforgettable time growing at Optimizely!