Meet Howie K, Senior Community Director for Yelp Albuquerque. Howie has been rockin’ the ABQ community for 7+ years, starting from ground zero as the OG Community Manager in New Mexico. Not only is Howie a leader on the Yelp CM team, but he’s also a famous face around Albuquerque (have you seen him on the news?), so let’s dig a little deeper to find out what makes this tenured teammate so damn special.
Why do you love being part of the Yelp team?
The greatest satisfaction I get from this role is witnessing small businesses grow and thrive thanks — often in large part — to the efforts of our company and community to support them. And then there’s all of the other perks: working remotely, creating my own schedule, scarfing down horrendous amounts of delightful calories, meeting tremendous people, and having unforgettable experiences in my metro. It’s sort of like parenting Albuquerque, encouraging the city to grow bigger, better, and endlessly cooler.
What were you doing professionally before Yelp?
I just mentioned parenting, that’s the core of my background, actually. After college I worked in management for a couple of not-so-interesting companies, but during the recession I was the stay-home daddy of our kiddo, Iris. While there were plenty of resources for mothers, I couldn’t find a community for me, so I launched a Meetup group for dads, and within months we had about 50 guys signed up. Each week we’d take our kids to museums, parks and businesses around the city, and we’d connect, share victories and struggles. When I came across the opportunity with Yelp I thought, hey, I’m already a community manager, this sounds like a perfect fit. Seven years later, I’m still bringing people together, celebrating commonalities, and creating memorable experiences.
What is a typical day like for you in the CM role?
I’m basically 50/50 extrovert/introvert, I get energy from conversations with other people, and I also refuel on my own, so my home is an ideal office. My only constant: the gym. Erryday, erryday, erryday.
Extrovert days: Aside from event planning, meetings, lunch with valuable community members, and media opportunities, I honestly love to bum rush a new business. Bum rush? Pretty much. There’s always a new spot around town that everyone’s talking about, so I’ll walk in during a slow period, and introduce myself to the owner. Within about 30 minutes, virtually every time, I’ll have that owner completely on board with our support mission, we’ve found a way to work together, and on my way home I’m feeling empowered and impactful — it’s a great way to finish a long day’s work.
Introvert days: At least half of the time I’m at home, laptop literally on my lap, reaching out to passionate Yelpers, clearing out endless emails, penning reviews of my experiences, planning the next big thing. I listen to KEXP out of Seattle, my dog Bowie hangs on the couch, and I just don’t stop. I’ve worked in an office environment before, but never again; I’m incredibly focussed and productive in my own abode, and yeah, I don’t mind the lack of a dress code, either.
What are some common misconceptions about being a Yelp Community Manager and the role itself?
It may appear glamorous, but event planning, marketing and community building is intense work. Yes, this is a full time job with benefits. No, Yelp does not pay my lunch bill. Yes, I throw a lot of parties, but as the party planner, I rarely have a chance to actually party. There’s a downside to event planning: everyone else gets to have a good time. At most festivals and big events, I’m so busy running the show, I can’t actually enjoy the Here and Now.
The lesser-known joys of the job: Getting to know great chefs, restaurateurs, civic leaders and business owners. Really getting to know them, getting a first bite of a new dish, meeting their families, understanding an industry from the inside out.
How often do you collaborate, travel to and spend time with your fellow CM’s?
Here in Albuquerque I have a solid team of Community Coordinators, Tiffani and Gabriela, to collaborate with. As far as my larger team goes, New Mexico is a remote state, I’m in a remote location, so most of the time I’m meeting with them via video conferences. Yelp hires inspiring, engaged personalities, I’ve always deeply enjoyed working with these people, and at least a couple of times every year we get together to work, play and (finally) enjoy the Here and Now.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Albuquerque? What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
If you’ve visited this city, you know exactly what I’m talking about: Culture. Culture is what you eat and drink, the stories people tell, ancestry, art, heritage. I didn’t get very much culture growing up in the midwest, but over the last 20 years I’ve basked in it, erryday.
The other huge advantage to living in Albuquerque is our backyard. In every direction there’s so much to explore: mountains and rivers, a white sand desert, Anasazi sites, incredible Pueblos, great hiking, skiing and snowboarding. So when I’m not in the office, I’m usually far, far away from it.
Current favorite local businesses?
Early on I got connected to the South Valley Economic Development Center (SVEDC) and in one way or another, this nonprofit and entrepreneurial hub continues to be a resource for our outreach efforts, year after year. Our Yelp Helps events have been incredibly rewarding, particularly with PB&J, a nonprofit that contributes wonderful services to our city, including something that’s near and dear to me: teaching dads how to be engaged and loving role models. Finally, I’ve definitely enjoyed our ongoing activities with RMHC-NM, from fundraising to guest chef visits, every opportunity to work with the local branch has been exceptionally rewarding.
Follow Howie’s adventures on Yelp! And if you are interested in applying to be a Yelp Community Manager, check out the open positions on the Yelp Careers page.