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The NTEN team is growing. We’re thrilled to tell you that Thomas Negron has joined NTEN as our Communications Director! Thomas brings years of experience with him, but I asked the questions you really want answers to.
What was your first job?
Does selling things door-to-door in elementary school count? I was a champion seller. It didn’t matter what it was. Candy, wrapping paper, greeting cards … if the school gave it to me I could sell it. The secret was to work the odds by hitting more houses than anyone else. In retrospect, it seems a bit odd that a ten-year-old would wave his mother goodbye and then disappear for hours to visit strangers’ houses a mile away, but hey, that was the 80s.
My first job-job was bagging groceries when I was fourteen. I loved it and worked my way up to head bagger, then cashier, and finally, customer service where I also did the daily books. Again, the 80s. But I learned a lot about working with people, dealing with pressure, and running a successful business. And to this day I silently judge bad bagging when I grocery shop.
Favorite Olympic sport?
Ooh, this is a tough one for me. I was never into the sports. You could imagine how out of place I felt growing up in South Florida. Sometimes it seemed I was the only person not obsessed with the Miami Dolphins. Our local McDonald’s was decorated entirely in aqua and orange. Football was inescapable which is why you could wake me in the middle of the night demanding I sing the Dolphins’ fight song and I can do it.
You love to travel. Any travel tips from your globetrotting to share?
My husband and I just returned from two weeks in Scandinavia. It amazes me how different it is to travel now versus when I first visited Europe in the 90s. Back then I navigated using a laminated map and had traveler’s checks tucked away in a money belt. On this trip, my phone guided us to our destinations and I used my watch to pay for everything.
Scandanavia is pushing hard to be cashless, but even visiting a museum has changed. They all had free Wi-Fi so you could listen to their audio guides on your phone. So my suggestion is to get the tech ready before you go. Download the app of any museum you’ll visit so you’ll have it handy. Add your hotel’s address to a calendar invite so your phone knows when and where to direct you once you arrive. And add the confirmations as PDF attachments. I didn’t print a single thing for this trip. If you’re visiting someplace without Wi-Fi or celluar then this won’t work for you, but for most cities, I bet it will make your travels easier.
What would be your walk-on song?
The Dolphins’ fight song.
Just kidding! I’ve played master of ceremonies a lot in my career and I’ve jokingly referred to it as shifting into game show host mode. So I’ll say my walk-on music is the Price Is Right theme song.
Don’t you feel happier just listening to it and imagining you’re spinning the Big Wheel?
In an alternate universe where you did not work at NTEN (or in the nonprofit sector at all), what would you do?
Hm. I was that kid who liked to create their own newspaper. I like to think I was a budding investigative journalist, but the truth is I probably loved Harriet the Spy too much. But even in an alternate universe, I’m too lazy to be a spy. So I’ll go with a newspaper columnist, but not for anything that requires me to stay on top of current events. I would turn out a column every couple of weeks where I wrote about things like my appreciation of a well-made sandwich and why movies aren’t as good as they used to be. Eventually, my columns would be collected in a best-selling book and I would be celebrated as an American treasure.