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June Employee Spotlight: Paul Losensky
RNL Web Designer Paul Losensky is someone who I knew would be entertaining to interview. Because he’s a part of the marketing department, I’ve worked with him on a few projects and have a group meeting involving him every week. And let me tell you, he knows how to get people talking and how to crack a joke.
Along with his clean and impeccable design work, he’s simply a fun guy to be around, whether it’s by asking how everyone’s weekends went or by volunteering to try out a super creepy “buy a girlfriend” site we found. His laid back personality and solid eye for design combine to make for the kind of coworker we all want: the one that kicks ass at what he does but is also the life of the party.
I’m not alone in these thoughts. Check out what our boss, Megan Garden, thinks of Paul:
I knew some of these pranks would come to light in our interview, and so I couldn’t wait to steal a bit of his time for some good old fashioned nonsense. It’s worth noting that the first thing Paul did when we met up was sprawl out on the couch as if I were his therapist, and he remained this way for the entirety of the interview.
Amy: You should totally lie down for this whole interview. I bet some real deep thoughts will come out.
Paul: They might.
Amy: Great. We’ll start simple. One of the things I noticed on your bio is that you’re one of the only people here, I believe, that was actually born and raised in KC.
Paul: Yes ma’am. Born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas.
Amy: Let’s say someone is coming to Kansas City for the weekend. They want to get the best tour of the city, and you’re the one planning the itinerary. What’s on the agenda?
Paul: That’s a good one. Let’s see: If they’re coming in on a Friday night, I would probably start and take them out to eat. Where that would be? I don’t know. Barbecue? If they wanted it. These are tough.
Amy: Take your time.
Paul: Okay, no pressure. I feel like I would take them to Port Fonda. That’s my new joint right now, in Westport. From there I’d probably take them to Manifesto, in the Crossroads, underneath the Hotel Reiger. It’s a pretty cool cocktail bar. And then, I don’t know, wherever their little hearts desired. If it’s a Saturday night, I’d probably try to take them to a Sporting game. That’d be fun.
Amy: Okay, cool. So you’d take them to Port Fonda, Manifesto, and a Sporting game. Would you still take them to barbecue somewhere?
Amy: Where’s your favorite barbecue place?
Paul: Rosedale Barbeque, down off of Southwest Boulevard.
Amy: Sounds like a good weekend.
Paul: The best weekend, Amy.
Amy: The best weekend, sorry. Your bio also says that you were a doodler. How often are we talking here?
Paul: Geez. I think it started when I was four or five. I drew just a standard house with a roof, a front door, and two windows. And then my dad drew it three dimensionally for me and it blew my mind. From there I started drawing nonstop. I drew on the walls as a kid once or twice. After I got into trouble multiple times, I figured out that if I asked permission I could do stuff without getting in trouble. So I asked if I could draw on my wall. I wanted to do a mural of a window, even though there were windows in my room. They told me to go ahead and I just started from there on out.
Amy: How’d it turn out?
Paul: I never finished it. It’s like a lot of my projects: I never finish them. Except at work, I always finish them. My boss is reading this probably.
Amy: Were there any other cool projects you took on in your free time as a kid?
Paul: I was really obsessed with drawing animals and Fred Flintstone. I got a “how to draw” book of animals and then I saw some type of magazine article tutorial (before the internet was really popular) of how to draw Fred Flintstone. So I drew him quite a bit. Quite the combination.
Amy: Yeah, not dinosaurs with Fred Flintstone?
Amy: So you reached a turning point when you realized you could get paid for doodling.
Paul: Yes ma’am.
Amy: What was that turning point?
Paul: That turning point was in college, I think. I actually wanted to become a pastry chef. My dad’s a chef and I got really obsessed with desserts and how you can create art out of food. You see me eat peanut M&M’s quite often.
Amy: That could be cool. Do some cool designs and things.
Paul: Yeah, it kinda balances back and forth the artistic side and the food part of it. Yeah, I wanted to be a pastry chef, and my dad said, “You don’t want to stand on your feet eight hours a day. When you’re a pastry chef, you have to go in at 2 or 3 a.m. to start baking. It’s a long day.” So I figured I’d become an artist. I decided I’d just do my own art and try to get paid for that. And then I realized that artists are typically poor and they don’t make a lot of money, and they don’t eat unless their art sells. That’s when I figured I should probably go into something that would actually pay me to do what I love. That’s when I figured out that graphic design would probably be the best bet for me. I haven’t looked back since.
Amy: Nice. How have your skills in graphic design changed or evolved over the last couple years?
Paul: They’ve definitely matured quite a bit from when I first started out. I like to make people laugh, so when I first started out, everything I did was targeted toward making people laugh, whether it was a funny ad design or just making an inappropriate picture of a coworker with a beard on it. Not hinting at anybody.
Amy: Nope, of course not.
Paul: I learned in college that every one of my classmates was competition. Not only friends, but competition, because once you graduated they were all competing for the same jobs as you. So eventually I figured out I had to do not only all the projects that everyone else was doing at a higher caliber, but go beyond the typical project and do additional projects that would set me apart from the other designers. But I feel like my design has progressed quite a bit and matured. I think more about the target audience, how the end user will use the website, yada yada yada, and stuff.
Amy: And stuff. Good! You’ve been at RNL since August. Almost a year! What are some skills and projects that you’ve got your sights set on while you’re here?
Paul: Well, currently, my project manager, Beth Donnelly, and my boss, Megan Garden, have allowed me to jump into the coding aspects of our company with the current project I’m working on. It has not only been an exciting opportunity, but also a huge learning opportunity. Sidenote: I feel like the developers are extremely nervous because I might break the entire system. But fear not, I do know some code. Nailed it.
Amy: Wow, good. That was a sales pitch voice and everything. You can keep that voice for this next question: What have been some of your favorite memories at RNL so far?
Paul: I’ve got quite a few. One: The first time I set foot in the office for an interview. I met you –
Amy: Yeah! And I was super awkward.
Paul: Yes. But you gave me a cup of water, which was lovely. And then in my interview, I had to bring in mock-ups of just a typical web layout of a storage company. I had printed them off on larger sized paper. I brought them in and Dan was just blown away by it apparently. I don’t know why. He asked me, “How much does it cost to print this off?” It was only $5 or $10.
He pulls out his wallet at the end of the interview, gives me $10 before I even got hired. I said, no, I can’t take this. But he said, “No, take it, because you paid to print those off.” I went home and I bought beer with that money and drank the beer. So RNL paid me to drink beer before I even started working here. That’s fun. Another favorite memory is the American Royal barbecue. The first company outing I went to. It was a good eye opener to see how well our company can mesh together and have fun, and not only work hard together but play hard together as well. That was a good one.
Amy: And you made the logos for that event with the shirts and the cups.
Paul: I did! And then my favorite memory thus far has been the prank wars that have been happening.
Amy: Yes! I was going to ask you about that actually. Prank wars between you and Natasha.
Paul: Yes. Natasha and I not only got hired on at the same time and became best friends (a smidge of sarcasm), but we also became enemies at some point. I don’t know how, but we have.
Amy: Yeah, what started the pranks?
Paul: The pranks all started when Natasha decided to put post-it notes on my computer, my desk, and my computer screen. So I told her that I would get her back. Then she got me again by putting a shirtless Ryan Gosling background on my computer, abs exposed. I figured it was time to get her back, and I spent way too long on a photo of her, turning her into a Russian/Imperial commander with a beard. A beautiful beard, at that, which is still sitting in our office to this day.
Amy: Mhmm. Much to her dismay.
Paul: Yes, much to her dismay.
Amy: And it has been nicknamed “Mantasha.”
Paul: Yes, Mantasha. Natasha really enjoys seeing it every day.
Amy: So I wanted to know… What? How? Just… How did you come up with that? How did you find the guy? What inspired this epic prank?
Paul: There’s an artist that takes celebrities and turns them into historic figures, puts beards on them, and throws them into military uniforms. The idea came pretty quickly. But I knew that it had to be, 1: extremely strange, and 2: extremely big and large enough for everybody to see in the office. It went extremely well because we went to a coffee and design event that Friday morning. So everybody in the office was here before Natasha even got to see it.
Amy: And her reaction was wonderful. What do you have lined up next? Because she got you back after that.
Paul: Yeah, apparently there were multiple people involved in wrapping my desk in saran wrap. One, I have to figure out who was involved, and two, how I can get them all back without them knowing it was me. So yes, there will be payback. Quote me! “There will be payback.”
Amy: I’ll make that a blockquote and everything.
Paul: They drew first blood. #Rambo
Amy: How’s Francesca?
Paul: You son of a bitch. [laughs] Yes. Francesca was my short-lived online girlfriend through invisiblegirlfriend.com, which allows you to create a fake girlfriend. They send you fake texts, voicemails, and whatnot. Her full name was Francesca Mosby.
Amy: Mmm. Those go well together.
Paul: She was a brunette. I think she was 24? We are no longer dating because I never submitted my credit card information for the text messages and voicemails.
Amy: So in another way, you also never began dating.
Paul: Yep. It was one of those, you know, walk-bys in the mall. You make eye contact, and you’re like, “She’s really beautiful.” But I didn’t make the effort to go talk to her. The flame burnt out.
Amy: Because you didn’t enter your credit card information.
Paul: That’s love, you know: Here today, gone tomorrow.
Amy: Speaking of nonsense, in the marketing meeting on Monday I asked if they had any questions for you and there was only one. It was a good one: You’re home alone in Risky Business. What song do you dance to? And can you demonstrate?
Paul: I don’t know if we have enough room in here. I think I’d have to go with Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll. That’s in the movie, so I don’t know if I could top that.
Amy: Aw man! You can’t just go with the song that’s in the movie!
Paul: Okay, I’m willing to think. Oooh. It would be… I’ve got to play it for the full effect. Hot Blooded by Foreigner.
Amy: This would be a good one to air guitar to. That’s a good one. So we’ll have some time for you to go downstairs and film it.
Paul: Yeah! You should do it in slow mo.
Amy: You can edit it with your film skills.
Amy: You’re also working on a children’s book about “the Chicken Finger Queen.”
Paul: I am.
Amy: How’s that going?
Paul: It’s going a lot like the other projects of mine: I haven’t finished.
Amy: Have you met with Michelle Obama yet?
Paul: I haven’t. I should probably hurry up before they’re out of office. It’s going. The idea is there. I have the illustrations for it, and we can throw those in there.
Amy: Oh yeah, let’s do it! So what’s the idea behind it?
Paul: Well, backlog on it: What kid doesn’t like chicken fingers? I still like chicken fingers. Do you?
Amy: Of course!
Paul: So the idea was based on the fact that every kid likes chicken fingers and this whole obesity epidemic that’s going on in the nation. This girl is sitting on the bus, and her friend tells her the legend of this kid that ate 50 chicken fingers at lunch one day. He had to get the six that you get with your lunch tray, and then he went back for extras, went back for extras, went back for extras, went back for extras (you have to throw that all in there). And then he became the chicken finger king. So this girl says, “Well, I can do that.”
At lunch she orders all the chicken fingers she can and becomes the chicken finger queen. When you become the chicken finger king or queen, you get unlimited chicken fingers wherever you go. So she eats them everywhere: at home, at friends’ houses, and then she gets sick because she’s only eating chicken fingers. She’s not getting fruits and veggies. Duh. She goes to the doctor and it evolves from there.
Amy: It sounds very smart.
Paul: I don’t know how to finish it though. I’m taking suggestions.
Amy: Hmm. I can ponder on that. I look forward to it being published. Your first published work. Does it have a title?
Paul: I think “The Legend of the Chicken Finger Queen” or “The Saga of the Chicken Finger Queen.”
Amy: Oooh. That’s a good idea. And it has a healthy message, so parents will like it too.
Paul: Yeah. You can eat chicken fingers, but in moderation.
Amy: And also eat veggies.
Paul: Yeah, eat fruits and veggies, too.
Amy: Everyone can agree on that. I like it. I like that a lot, actually. I want to see the illustrations for it.
Paul: I know. I’ll have to go home and tweak my illustrations a bit.
Amy: You’re going to be an easy spotlight to have pictures for, because we can pull stuff from your portfolio and design projects and whatever you want to show off. It can be a plug for your artwork.
Paul: Yeah, if only my website were up.
Amy: Well, backtracking a little bit. Before we got into the Mantasha nonsense, I was going to ask bout the things you do outdoors. You hike in the summer and you snowboard in the winter. What’s the coolest trick you can do on your snowboard? Even if it’s just standing on the snowboard and not falling over.
Paul: I can… jump with it attached to my feet. I would say, as far as levels go, there’s level one through five for snowboards, and I am a solid two. I can get on and off the ski lifts with no problem without falling. I can carve in the snow. I can go up for a jump and go right over it and go down a hill without catching any air. And I don’t wear a helmet, so chicks dig that.
Amy: They’ll super dig it when you’re not wearing it and you crash your face into something.
Paul: Chicks dig scars, glory last forever.
Amy: Those were the questions I had for you. Is there anything that you just really wanted to share with the world that I didn’t ask you that you want me to ask you now?
Paul: I love working at RNL. I love everybody that works at RNL. I feel like everybody’s doing a stellar job. And everybody deserves a summer bonus.
Amy: Another blockquote from Paul Losensky. Great, I’ll definitely add that in.
Paul: That’s just what I heard from Dan Miller. Just going off what I heard.
Amy: Sweet. So I’m going to accurately quote you misquoting him.
Paul: And. And! Fridays should be initiated to half days, and after our Friday lunches, everybody is allowed to go to the pool and hang out.
Oh! And I’m also really good at picking things up with my feet. Strange skill. From playing soccer all these years of my life, I’ve gotten really good with my feet and my legs. I actually texted “See ya in a bit” with my big toe one day.
Amy: To whom?
Paul: One of my buddies.
Amy: Does he know that you did that?
Paul: No. You’re the first person I’ve told.
Amy: Wait. Hang on, hang on, hang on. Let me paint the scene here: You’re just at home, hanging out, and you’re like, “Can I do this?”
Paul: Yeah! I was laying on the couch. My phone was charging, and I just bent over and done.
Amy: And you’re admitting it now for the first time in your interview.
Paul: Yeah, I figure it’s a good little background.
Amy: Wow, well, I’ll send this interview to you and you can edit it with your big toes or your fingers or whatever.
Paul: Sounds like a plan.