Culture Creators: An Interview with Matt Heerema

One of my favorite ongoing blog series is LifeHackers' How I Work. Simple questions about how people in a variety of workplaces get stuff done. As I read more and more of these, I kept thinking about wondering about creative people I know and what their answers might be. That got me thinking. Why not host an interview series at my own blog with Christians who are working with excellence, who I admire, and who do creative stuff? I was concerned about getting enough people to host a meaningful series, but the yeses kept rolling in. So here we are.

Who is Matt Heerema: Matt Heerema lives in Ames, Iowa and is a bi-vocational pastor and Web agency director, husband, father of four daughters, musician, and massive geek.  He serves with a team of six pastors at Stonebrook Church where he helps oversee corporate worship ministries (he can’t bring himself to say worship pastor, all pastors are worship pastors . . . ) and theological training. He owns and directs Mere Agency, and is very excited about their recent launch of MereChurch: effective Web sites for small churches and ministries. Matt is also working on a Master’s of Theology Degree through the Antioch School for Church Planting and Leadership Development. He posts occasionally on his blog at Find him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the other places.

Mathew B. Sims: What kind of computer do you use?

Matt Heerema: 15” MacBook Pro Retina, Mid 2012 (2.6 GHz i7, 8GB RAM), usually with a 27” Thunderbolt display and Microsoft Sculpt keyboard and mouse.

MBS: What kind of mobile device?

MH: iPhone 6. I really have tried Android devices, and have no idea how anyone actually is able to use those things. You guys must be geniuses or something.

MBS: One word to describe your workspace?

MH: MereHQ—Streamlined.

Home Study—Cozy

MBS: What music do you listen to while working?

MH: Honestly rarely listen to music. It fills my head when I’m doing communication-type work (which is the bulk of my work.)  When I do turn on audio its either an audiobook (usually fiction), podcast (A mix of This American Life, and various tech, web, politics, and theology stuff), or if music: Coldplayish, Radioheady, U2ness. (I just heard a collective yawn from your readers.)

MBS: Does being musician help in your work as a designer?

MH: I think the correct answer I’m supposed to give is that living in several different artistic mediums is beneficial. But to be honest, I’m more of a technician on both of those fronts than an artist, if that makes any sense. I’m not as “artsy” as one might expect from a 15 year music minister and designer… :)

MBS: What’s your best creativity hack?

MH: Read broadly. Steal cool ideas that haven’t been stolen as often. When you’re completely stuck, pray and take a nap. That time is better used resting than spinning your wheels.

MBS: What are you currently reading?

MH: I’m one of those guys that has eight books going at all times. Right now the main topics are Faith Work and Economics (including relief/development type stuff), Small business books, and Romans commentaries (preparing for a series in the fall.)  A few titles: Intertwingled (on information architecture), Flourshing Faith, Cashflow Quadrant, and Show Them Jesus [Mathew: Loved Show Them Jesus].

MBS: Would you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?

MH: Introvert who loves being around people (and gets totally exhausted by it).

MBS: What tools are invaluable for you?

MH: iPhone, Macbook with Evernote, Dot Grid Book, Pilot Precise V5 RT Pen, Fenix PD32

MBS: What’s the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had?

MH: Not a joke, home french pressed beans that were grown, picked, and roasted by my aunt’s mother (a Zoptec indian) in a mountain village outside of Oaxaca, Mexico, and sent to me along with some cinnamon from her cinnamon tree . . . that coffee had soul.

MBS: What makes a good website in one sentence?

MH: Design that serves an expertly crafted information architecture derived from research-based principle, and user studies, and not personal opinions, anecdotes, or hunches.

MBS: Besides your computer or phone, is there another gadget you use daily?

MH: My Fenix PD32 Flashlight. It’s my Phial of Galadriel, Earendil’s Light (nerd alert!). I love having bright light in dark places.

MBS: What is one thing you see on websites that make you cringe?

MH: Most of the time, the labels and categorization of a site’s main navigation makes me cringe.

MBS: How much do you sleep on average?

MH: Around 8 hours a night. Nothing exciting there. Sleep is a constant humbling factor from God for me. I feel physically like I need more, and emotionally like I should take less (to do more things!). I have to trust His design and providence for the amount of hours in a day.