Where did you grow up?
I was born in Santa Rosa, California. My dad was in the Coast Guard and was stationed there. Both of my parents are from the Pacific Northwest, and when I was one year old, we moved to a small community in north Seattle called Lake Forest Park. I lived on the northern edge of Lake Washington until I made the short move to the University of Washington in Seattle proper. So even though I was born in California, I consider myself a Northwesterner through and through.
What were you doing before you joined Blueprint?
I started at Microsoft when I was 18 years old, and I worked as a contractor for 11 years through a company called Echo Services Inc. supporting the Microsoft Corporate Library. I think I was the fifth employee at the company, and by the time I left in 2004, I was managing a team of 47 people. I started off with MSN doing business development, then I moved into different roles around Microsoft — it always seemed like I had guardian angels looking out for me as I kept landing on my feet in all these different spots.
How did you learn about Blueprint?
Actually, I introduced the three founders to each other. In 1992 I met this super shy guy, Kyle Wagner, while I was working at Microsoft’s Corporate Library. Me, not being so shy, would not leave Kyle alone, and we’ve been friends ever since. In 1994, when I was at UW, I met this young, brash guy, Ryan Neal. Ryan and I became good buddies, so I introduced Ryan and Kyle to each other. The third co-founder was Jessie Perbix, who I went to high school with.
Bill in the office, working on the next big thing.
What made you want to join Blueprint?
One year into Blueprint’s existence, I visited the guys at their office in a tiny little office park. At the time things were going great at Microsoft, but Ryan and Kyle kept trying to encourage me to take a leap of faith and join Blueprint. Nothing went sour at Microsoft, I could have had a great career there, but when I turned 40, I just had an itch to see if I could do something else. I had these great entrepreneurs that kept trying to convince me to join them, and I wanted to try something new. I decided to take the leap in July of 2017. I never looked back either, it’s been great. I had a great 25-year run at Microsoft, and one of the great things about my role at Blueprint is that I have the opportunity to work with many of the people I worked with at Microsoft and support them in the work that they’re doing. I stay very connected to them and the Microsoft DNA will always be a big part of me.
Work hard, play harder! Bill on vacation with his wife and children in Costa Rica.
What do you do outside of work?
Sports! I grew up backpacking and hiking a bunch in the Cascade Mountains with my family. Team sports are also big for me. I love watching all the Seattle teams ― most of all my beloved UW Huskies.
What is the best live sporting event you’ve watched?
Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS (American League Division Series) between the Mariners and the Yankees. I was there with my dad and it was the first time the Mariners ever made it to the playoffs. My whole life they had been terrible. The Mariners fell into a 0-2 hole in the series and then won 3 in a row in the Kingdome to propel them to the ALCS (American League Championship Series). The call by Dave Niehaus of Edgar’s double to plate Joey Cora and Ken Griffey Jr. still gives me goosebumps to this day.
What is your favorite Blueprint Core Value and why?
Being accountable is my favorite because it says a lot about the individual and how they operate. I’m a dad, and I’m trying to teach my kids how to do things right and accountability is obviously going to be a huge influence on their future success. Being accountable is crucial, and I appreciate that at Blueprint, we see it that way. I believe it’s one of the reasons I’ve been able to bring so much business to Blueprint. If you’re authentic and able to admit when you don’t know the right answer, it resonates with other people. So being accountable to yourself and others is very important.
What keeps you at Blueprint?
The people and the breadth of conversations I get to have across so many different businesses and verticals.
Who’s had the biggest influence in your life?
I’ve had many amazing mentors. I have to start with my parents, they’ve meant the world to me. What I’ve appreciated even more through all the strife in the world today is that they raised me to be an empathetic person. I love people, care about people and I think that, more than anything, is what drives me as an individual. Again, what I love about Blueprint is the human connection and without my parents instilling that in me, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Professionally speaking, Cory Van Arsdale has always been a mentor to me. I met Cory playing basketball at the PRO Club where we spent most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays doing a lunch run for 17 years. When I went to law school, he really took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. He really took a chance on me. I was this kid he liked, but I didn’t have any business development experience. He trusted what he knew of me as a basketball player and a human being and gave me that opportunity. It was a huge deal to me.
What is your approach to mentorship as you’ve grown in your career?
I have mentored several people, and I like to keep it simple and focus on the core of what I think resonates ― leadership, respect, integrity and trust. I stay away from the technical things and the “I would do it this way” type of coaching.