OPTIZMO Team Summit 2022
Lake Travis, we’re back!
Team Summit 2022 Agenda and Info
We had such a blast on Lake Travis in 2021 that we couldn’t resist coming back for part deux in 2022! So, get ready to spend a weekend in, on, and around Lake Travis. Check out all the info below for the Who, What, Where, and When for our time in Austin. Most importantly, plan to live and breathe our Team Summit motto for 2022 – Tropic Like It’s Hot!
Everyone will be staying at the Lakeway Resort and Spa this year. It’s a fantastic location, overlooking Lake Travis. There are plenty of amenities, including multiple pools, a swim up bar, several restaurants and indoor bars, a full-service spa, and numerous amazing views of the lake and local wildlife. Don’t be surprised if you see deer hanging out just below your balcony. The Lakeway will be our home base for the weekend, but we’ll also be venturing out.
Lakeway Resort and Spa
101 Lakeway Drive
Lakeway, TX 78734
Itinerary – What, Where, and When?
Friday, August 26
- Team & Partners arrive in Austin throughout the day
- 7:30pm Kickoff Dinner @ Steiner Ranch Steakhouse
- 10:00pm? After dinner nightcap @ Lakeway Resort Back Porch Lobby Bar
Saturday, August 27
- 11:30am Pool Day @ The Reserve on Lake Travis (Shuttle pickup at the Lakeway at 11:00am)
- 6:00pm? Dinner and Drinks @ Captain Pete’s Boathouse
- 11:00pm? Nightcap for the diehards @ Lakeway Resort Back Porch Lobby Bar
Sunday, August 28
Monday, August 29
- Travel Day – a tired and happy crew head home!
Key Items to Bring
If you haven’t noticed, temperatures this spring and summer have been a bit on the extreme side (like 110+). Maybe not quite like the team discovered in Dubai in 2021 (near 120), but still a bit like walking on the surface of the sun. We will be spending a lot of time at the pool, on the lake, and generally catching rays. So, pack accordingly!
- Sunscreen – lots of it!
- Sandals or flops
- Swimsuits and other pool wear
Bios, Pics, and Icebreaker Questions!
While many of us have known each other for years, we also have a few new folks attending the Summit this year, so we created this section of pics and bios for everyone. If you’re looking for a topic to start a convo with someone new or you just want to hear a story you may not have heard before, check out everyone’s icebreaker question.
Khris & Mary Anne
Khris Thayer – CEO
I am Khris, or at least that’s what everyone keeps calling me. I had very little to do with the spelling of my name, as I was quite young then. My birth date is 7-7-77, which makes me old, but not as old as Dave and Tom. Bet you can’t guess my lucky number?
I co-founded OPTIZMO with Grant in late 2008/early 2009. Before OPTIZMO, I had a diverse range of entrepreneurial and corporate endeavors, from Pawn Shops and Brokerage Firms in both Insurance and Finance to Venture Capital for Patent Research and Telecom Sales and M&A. Some of these endeavors were quite successful, others…not so much. OPTIZMO is, thankfully, going great so far and I’m still putting forth my best effort NOT to f*ck that up for all of us!
I am very passionate about music, watersports, boats, and cars. A bit of a gypsy soul and hedonistic at heart, although the wanderlust has been kept at bay since living on Lake Travis (Austin, TX), where May May, Rivers, Kai, and I spend most of our free-time.
- My drink of choice is an Old Fashioned and I love a good bourbon, but on lake days, Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka or Dripping Springs Vodka are my “go-to”.
- I met both Grant and Dave in California circa 2006, where shortly after (circa 2008) Grant relocated back to Australia (with his wife, Jessica) and I relocated back to Texas, we started a think-tank, called Esoteric Banter (of which I credit much of the foundational elements, relationship building, and motivation needed to launch OPTIZMO with Grant.)
- During my time in CA, I also befriended a telecom customer of mine, named Becky (who later returned to living in Charleston, SC. Becky had also become friends with Grant, Jessica, and Dave at that time). Her wedding in Charleston is where I first met Jake and Brian’s wife (then girlfriend), Laura and her family. Brian would later become part of the OPTIZMO family through Jake.
- For much longer than most people realize or can fathom, OPTIZMO was operated by only 4 team members: Grant, Jake, Dave, and Myself supporting hundreds of clients from SMB to Fortune 500 Brands and Agencies.
- I once worked for UnsubCentral (formerly, a large competitor of ours and the “then” leaders in Suppression List Management and Email Compliance) for exactly 72 days, presenting them with the business plan, scope documentation, and re-architectural spec proposal that Grant and I would later use to launch OPTIZMO.
- In 2009, 1 of my closest Industry Friends and Strategic Partners, Matt Frary (Founder of ROI Rocket & Smarter Chaos) sat in his Audi TT just outside the Red Room in Denver, CO and promised to help each other grow our businesses and always keep our ears to the ground and watch each other’s back while we had a few bigger players in the space gunning for us. We always lived up to that promise and 8 years later (2017), Matt recommended I reach out to a friend of his, named Tom Wozniak (Tom was only 58 at the time) and that is how Tom ended up joining the fam.
I strongly believe that personal relationships play an integral role in strengthening business relationships and OPTIZMO’s culture has, by design, embraced that philosophy (both, internally with team members and externally with customers/end-users).
Icebreaker – Ask Khris about the time he was kidnapped during a SXSW after-party. DO NOT ask Dave or Jake about anything to do with Khris, as it would be all lies and Khris will “deny deny deny” all but the good stuff. (They’ve been friends too long and you’ll never know what to believe. They work really hard at trying to maintain each other’s street-cred and sense of mystery.).
Mary Ann Thayer
My name is Mary Ann, but friends call me May or May May. I am a former Affiliate Marketing Industry veteran (or victim, depending on how you look at it), who’s Uncle (Cort St. Paul) co-founded HitPath with Sam Prokop. Sam and Cort invested in my start-up company (a mobile tailgating app) fresh out of college at the University of Alabama (RMFT!!!) before tricking me into becoming a performance marketing alum, working in sales and support for HitPath’s Affiliate Tracking Software. Fun fact- Alabama has won 18 national championships and Clemson has won…3 (sorry Jake). Being in the industry for several years led me to becoming friends with the OPTIZMO team, specifically Khris and Jake. If you had told me 6 years ago that Khris and I would be married and have two beautiful girls AND that Jake would be the Best Man at our wedding, I would have laughed and said, “no way!!” Here I am now, often pinching myself to see if all of this is real. But enough with all the mushy gushy stuff.
I spend most of my time with our 2 beautiful baby girls (Rivers and Kai), our 3 bougie junkyard dogs (Roux, Lyric, and Poet), and trying to keep Khris sane (whether or not he was ever sane prior to our relationship is still unconfirmed). I enjoy the outdoors, am an avid runner, and prior to being a full-time momma, I enjoyed pet photography (or pawtography), which I hope to get back to someday soon. I am a lover of music and have a wide, eclectic variety of musical tastes from growing up in New Orleans. I’m also a big foodie, which is also a result of being from New Orleans.
Icebreaker – Ask May May about auto theft and about Jake chasing Khris chasing May May in a cab, through the French Quarter.
Jake Dearstyne – CRO
Born and raised New Yorker (upstate!) turned adopted Southerner. Charleston is home for now, but will be moving back to the mountains at some point. Spend most of my free time listening to music in the kitchen while trying out new recipes, or out and about with friends at live shows and breweries. Big fan of good food (pretty much any Asian flavor including Indian are my faves), beer (a nice crisp lager is my Summertime go-to), going to the gym, kickboxing, dogs, hummingbirds, blue/purple flowers, Clemson Football, Yankee Baseball, The Office, nice people, and a dark, cool room to sleep in.
Icebreaker – I prefer Breathsavers. (very droll Jake, very droll)
Brian Culp – Director of Sales and Client Services
Where to begin…Brian entered the world from Scottsdale, AZ, and has been living in Charleston, SC for the past 12 years. Unlike his wife, Brian could live at the beach and aspires of being the next Kelly Slater. Unfortunately, due to his technique and lack of grace while surfing…this will never happen.
When Brian is not making our customers feel like a million bucks or trying to close the next deal, you can find him providing non-nurturing advice to his kids, Lucy and Wesley, or telling tall tales with a drink in hand surrounded by friends (or anyone that will listen).
Icebreaker – Ask Brian about his “nature boy” experience.
David & Brandi
David Prickett – Senior Director – Sales Engineering & Account Management
Having worked with OPTIZMO for the past 11 years, David has enjoyed growing with the company from its start. He has over 27 years of business development experience in the recycling, coaching and real estate industries. He has also owned, operated, and funded several of his own businesses.
David invests his free time managing a 45-acre Nature Preserve / building & teaching off-grid energy production and sustainable water recycling. He is also a passionate cryptocurrency/ blockchain investor and advocate. What David has come to believe is that living the adventure is so much more important than working all the time and just talking about living the adventure.
Fun Fact: David is literally a life saver. On his first day at his first job out of college, it was a company picnic. As he sat at a picnic table with a big group of his new co-workers, the guy across the table started choking. No one else at the table moved. David calmly walked around the table, executed the Heimlich Maneuver and got the guy breathing again. Now that’s how you make a first impression at your new job. Why none of the other co-workers wanted to help is an open question to this day.
Icebreaker: At last year’s annual Optizmo Team Retreat, we were visited by one of Hollywood’s elite (and native of Texas). Ask David how he arranged for this to happen. Or did he?
In the meantime, serves as an Election Judge and volunteers on the Poll Workers Advisory Board for Bexar County. She lives in San Antonio with David and her dog-son, Waskom.
Icebreaker – Ask Brandi why they call her “Rumplefootskin”?.
Natalie Fairist – Executive Assistant to the CEO & Administrative Director
Natalie joined OPTIZMO in 2022 and fairly quickly jumped in with both feet by joining Khris, Jake, Brian, Tom, and Jon in Toronto for Affiliate Grand Slam. Fortunately, she appreciates highbrow humor of the 13-year-old boy variety – which this team has honed to a fine art. A perfect day for Nat at OPTIZMO definitely involves being on the phone with various ADP reps for several hours, while fielding questions about prescription coverage from her favorite OPTIZMO team member (she knows who I’m talking about). When she’s not wrangling benefits and other vendors, she tries to generally keep things organized with the crew (i.e. trying to herd cats).
Before becoming a part of the OPTIZMO crew Nat spent many years working in the food & bev industry. She did everything from managing multiple restaurants to bartending and working music festivals. When it was time for a change, she decided that something quiet, sedate, and utterly routine would make sense. Clearly she couldn’t find that, so she instead found a home with OPTIZMO.
Outside of work, Nat takes care of a variety of household pets. Check out her Icebreaker if you want to learn more about one particular avian member of the menagerie.
Icebreaker – Ask Nat what it’s like to have a pet emu.
Stay tuned for a bio!
Gina & Markus
Gina Spano – Client Services Manager
First and foremost, I’m an amazing mom to 3 incredible kids. Just ask my daughter Shelby, she’ll tell you. My prepubescent son Anthony, may have a slightly different opinion right now. And the youngest, Gino, still thinks I’m pretty cool, so I’ll take two out of three for today.
I was born and raised in Colorado and grew up on a farm. My grandparents owned the land and definitely worked harder than everybody else. In the greenhouse, in the field, in the barn, or the kitchen, we were expected to put in a solid day’s work. At the time, I didn’t realize I was working. I watched the sunrise as I rode on the fender of the tractor into the fields. I filled up bushels with beans and broccoli. I loved to water the plants, and sing, and dance through the rows of luscious greenery. The greenhouses were always filled with music and laughter, the fields with families, and chatter. Some in English, some Italian, and a lot in Spanish. And from my grandfather, a strange combination of all three. But we were a family. All of us. Working and living side by side, day and night.
In my pursuit to be crowned Miss teen Colorado, I asked a local furniture store to sponsor me in the pageant. He agreed under the condition that I work a summer job for him, and he would match my paychecks for my sponsorship. Let’s just say, he was not prepared for the work ethic that had been instilled in me at this young age and was quite impressed. I continued working for him for over a decade and was the youngest person ever appointed to a management position in the company. Jake Jabs was more than just a boss, he was an incredible mentor and father figure as well. While I flourished as head show floor designer and accessory buyer for the largest furniture store in the state, he still encouraged me to continue my education and fuel my love for learning. I continued working full-time while I attended metro state college of Denver, where my focus was business management and business law. My experiences at American Furniture were beyond what you could even imagine.
In the early 2000s, by a downright crazy sequence of events, (a whole story for another time) I was offered a job in a new and interesting world of online advertising and marketing. I was intrigued and immediately went to work selling American flags, decks of cards with America’s most wanted Iraqis, and penis enlargement pills. Yeah, you read that right. And this was the beginning of my decade of adventures with Scott Richter, aka the “Spam King”. In the early years, I was selling and inboxing 100 million emails a day and partying with clients like Joe Francis. Scott’s company (OptInRealBig.com) and other ‘high volume email deployers’ were among the reasons that the CAN-SPAM act was passed in 2003. In the next few years came some high profile lawsuits. First Microsoft and NY AG Elliott Spitzer, then later My space. Interesting times, to be sure. Over the decade, the industry evolved and so did we. With a crazy rev share concept, we started what would be among the first CPA Affiliate Networks (CPA Empire), which later rebranded to become affiliate.com. After about 10 years, we’d had a good run together, but the time had come to move on.
For the next decade, I worked with a company formulating and manufacturing a line of diet pills, energy drinks, and moonshine, and finally broke through the barrier of the TTB to create the first line of carbonated flavored alcohol drinks. What everyone knows today as Hard Seltzers. After a WE TV series, a crippling legal battle with Jack Daniels, and the owner’s health failing, sadly that company came to an end. I stayed connected with the online space over the years by moving products on auto re-bills and such, but wasn’t as focused on it for years.
And then there came OPTIZMO! The timing was perfect and I couldn’t be more grateful to Tom (who I worked with at affiliate.com) for introducing me to you all. Looking back I see a clear pattern. One of teamwork and a bond built on loyalty. For as long as I can remember, work and family were one and the same. I’ve always lived this way, and am now proud to be the newest member of the OPTIZMO family. I look forward to growing and celebrating together for at least the next decade! Maybe two this time. 🙂
Fun fact: I have bottle-fed more lion and tiger cubs than human babies.
Favorite Hobbies: Roller skating and paddle boarding
Icebreaker – Ask me what makes me crave a daily dose of radon exposure. .
Hello, my name is Markus Miller, and Gina and I have been together for 16 years. We have two crazy boys that are 9 and 12 respectively. They are amazing athletes and always seem to keep us on our toes. I’ve been a professional truck driver for a little over a decade now. I grew up around the industry and finally decided to get into it myself. I love the responsibility of driving an 18-wheeler, and I enjoy seeing something new out my office window everyday.
I’ve played 22 years of Semi-Pro football, and was inducted into the Minor League Football Hall Of Fame in 2021, and the Colorado Semi-Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2022. I had a couple of different professional tryouts that never really panned out. For the better part of the last 20 years I was a competitive powerlifter. Although I was never able to put my full focus into it because I was splitting time with my football career and my work life, I did pretty well and definitely enjoyed myself. In the little spare time I have, I enjoy watching our children grow and mature as young men and young athletes. I enjoy coaching football, and I still lift weights. I also enjoy a good game of Madden whenever time allows.
Icebreaker – I love talking about anything, so as an icebreaker feel free to ask me whatever you would like.
Tom & Schlena
Tom Wozniak – Head of Marketing
I joined the OPTIZMO team in 2017 and head up all of the company’s marketing and communications and also oversee content and ad ops for FigJam Publishing. I grew up outside of Chicago and am a lifelong Cubs, Bears, and Bulls fan. If being a fan of losing teams for most of your life builds character then I am overflowing with character. I moved to Denver in 1995, leaving behind the wonderful midwest winters for the sunny skies and thin air of the Rockies. I joined my first dot com a few years later (MatchLogic) and have spent the last 20+ years in and around digital and affiliate marketing and ad tech, when I wasn’t mountain biking, snowboarding, hiking, and whitewater rafting, among other required Colorado activities (like eating green chili – it’s a serious thing here). I have a Master’s degree in English but the only diploma hanging on my office wall is the one I earned from Bartending College. I married my much better half, Schlena, in 2006 in Golden, CO. We have two grown up (and out of the house!) kids at 25 and 26 years old. The newest addition to the family is a now 5-month old Bernese Mountain Dog puppy named Oliver. In my spare time, I love to read, take on whatever new landscaping project Schlena comes up with, and have also been known to work out occasionally (if every morning at 5:30am is occasionally). My signature drink is the Moscow Mule, except when I’m in Vegas, when it becomes a Vodka Red Bull… and Mexico, when it becomes a margarita… or Austin, when it might be a Ruby and Sprite. Hmmm. Maybe my signature drink is actually just geographically based?
Random Life Highlights – I helped the Des Moines police department search for a bomb at a Presidential speech in the 1980s, once heckled Barry Bonds so well from the bleachers that he turned around and laughed with me, worked concert security for legendary bands like Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Aerosmith, Guns and Roses, Whitesnake, Barry Manilow (he was such an ass), both Neils (Young and Diamond), among many others. I write left-handed (poorly if you’ve ever seen my handwriting), but throw a baseball right-handed, which makes me either somewhat ambidextrous or just confused.
Icebreaker – Ask Tom about the only concert where he got into an altercation with a fan. It won’t be one you would expect.
Schlena grew up bouncing between Colorado and Iowa, and wisely decided to make her adult home in CO. She has been a Realtor since 2004, getting her license in time to experience the real estate crash of 2008 and became one of Colorado’s most successful short-sale agents. Tom and Schlena actually met when they happened to sit next to each other in a real estate class. She is also an interior design expert (she literally has a ‘design room’ in her house) who has helped plenty of real estate clients, friends, and family design and decorate their homes. She and Tom have purchased and renovated 7 homes over the years, turning most of them into rentals or eventual flips. They finally started taking on more of the renovation projects themselves in 2020, learning on the fly how to completely gut and replace a kitchen themselves. She is also very handy with a nail gun and enjoys refinishing furniture when the right piece shows up on Facebook Marketplace (there’s probably one in progress in our garage right now). In her spare time she loves reading urban fantasy novels (Tom calls them vampire romance novels), pilates, kickboxing, Zumba, and Krav Maga classes, and scuba diving somewhere tropical. Cozumel is her favorite diving location, although Belize and Fiji were also amazing. Her bucket list includes diving with great white sharks at Isla Guadalupe (which we hope to accomplish in the next year).
Random Life Highlights – Schlena wouldn’t describe herself as a thrill-seeker, but she has been skydiving, climbed a 14er, is a certified scuba diver, has rafted class V rapids, taken handgun and ‘surviving deadly force’ classes. She is a way more accurate shot with a pistol than Tom. At any given time, she might have blonde, brown, or red hair. She isn’t much of a drinker, but when she gets in the mood, it generally involves shots. She loves animals and the only thing keeping her from keeping chickens and goats in the backyard are some pesky HOA rules.
Icebreaker – Ask Schlena??? Working on it!
Jonathan & Serena
Jonathan Salas – Creative Director of Visual Marketing
Born and raised on the Texas Gulf Coast, Jonathan’s social awkwardness comes from 15 years of homeschooling. After spending 7 years in Nashville TN working as a studio musician and touring, the draw of the Texas humidity, giant mosquitoes and murky beaches became too much and Jonathan moved back to his hometown and got married to Serena at the age of 27. Jonathan then began working in the Oil and Gas industry as a media creator. After recording Khris’ band FallenAsh for the first time in 2016, Jonathan eventually talked Khris into hiring him as the official videographer for OPTIZMO in 2020. Jonathan quickly learned trips to Vegas and Dubai are much cooler than trips to Midland, TX.
Icebreaker – Ask Jon about the time he chased down a burglar in Houston.
Born in Sweeny, TX. Serena Salas works full-time at the Matagorda Dialysis Unit as an administrative professional where she’s been for 17 years. She has one amazing guardian Angel, Amelia Grace a beautiful little boy (River Rey 2.5) and will soon be welcoming a new baby girl to the family! But her biggest accomplishment is putting up with Jonathan for 9 years. Serena began buying and renovating homes with Jonathan in 2019 and hopes to continue this in the future. Serena enjoys spending time with family, traveling and being a mother to her amazing littles..
Icebreaker – Ask Serena about the time she lost her rental car in France.
Anissa Reyes – Ad Ops/Marketing Coordinator
As my title states, my name is Anissa Reyes and I am the ~new~ Marketing Coordinator for OPTIZMO reporting to the one and only, Tom. I have been around for quite some time now. Starting as a babysitter for Khris and May. Fun fact to boost the resume, I helped May attempt to potty train Kai this past summer. Another fun fact that’s not so good for the resume, I once accidentally contaminated the Thayer household with strep. I am a recent graduate of The University of Texas at Austin where I studied Journalism, shotgunning and the complexity of sixth street. Dirty, lots of fake ID’s; West, once you turn 21 but not after you graduate; East, the new hotspot with cool, trendy bars and speakeasies.
Jokes aside, I am excited to begin my journey with OPTIZMO. After a year of interning with the company and creating content for AtHomeDaily, I know I am working with the best leaders in the industry and cannot wait to soak in everyone’s wisdom and experience. This is a great opportunity and I am excited to help the AtHomeDaily site and FigJam publishing grow.
While I am no longer studying/practicing traditional journalism, I am still a journalist at heart and love talking about some of the stories and experiences I have had in the field so ask me questions about it! You can also ask me about my recent backpacking trip around Europe.
I look forward to meeting and chatting with everyone during the retreat!
Icebreaker – Ask Anissa about her favorite cult?
Lake Safety and Etiquette
While most of our water time will be spent at the pool, we may hop on Khris’ boat (Southern Comforts) to get from one place to another more easily than taking a shuttle bus. If so, we’ll have a pretty big crew on the boat, making proper safety and boat etiquette important. Below are some basic rules of the road… er water to follow if we’re on the boat. There might or might not be a quiz later, so pay attention.
Think of Southern Comforts as Khris and May’s second home or possibly their third child and follow each of these rules when onboard.
- Naked Feet ONLY (shoes can leave scuff marks). So, pop off the footwear before hopping onboard.
- Dry off before entering the main cabin/interior of the boat (treat it like a house).
- BOAT BATHROOM is for PEEING ONLY! While we don’t expect to spend a lot of time on the boat, if nature calls while we’re in transit, please feel free to use the boat bathroom for #1 only. There will be restrooms at any location we’ll be before going onboard, so plan accordingly.
- PLEASE DO NOT GO #2 IN THE BOAT BATHROOM and DO NOT FLUSH ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE PROVIDED “BOAT TANK SAFE” TOILET PAPER!!! NO FOREIGN OBJECTS SUCH AS WET WIPES, TAMPONS, TRASH, KLEENEX, PAPER TOWELS, BEER BOTTLES, WET CLOTHES, SMALL CHILDREN OR ANIMALS, ETC. – THOSE ITEMS WILL CLOG AND BREAK THE TOILET IN THE BOAT, MAKING KHRIS VERY UNHAPPY.
- Unlike Home Depot Toilets, a boat toilet will cost about $5k – $8k to replace.
Swimming Around and Hanging Out on the Docks:
We don’t anticipate much if any swimming around the boat docks, but just in case…
- Electricity is the biggest risk when swimming near any boat dock.
- IF you were to feel a shock, you SWIM AWAY from the dock, NOT TOWARD the dock (electrical current in water lessens the further from the source that you are)
- Call out for help or a floatation device if needed (DO NOT be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help or ask for a lake noodle, floatie, etc. – It’s the exact same as saying, “HEY, THROW ME A BEER!”)
- We will have electrical current detectors in the water. If the alarm goes off, remember to SWIM AWAY, NOT TOWARD.
- The dock tiles will hurt bare feet (Don’t forget your flops/sandals if taking a walk down the docks).
- DO NOT board anyone’s boat without permission. Boats are under the same protections as private property and THIS IS TEXAS (if you get our meaning).
- Be friendly, cool, and courteous to all marina tenants/guests.
See everyone in Austin!