Employee Spotlight: Greg Buss, Account ManagerAugust 31, 2017
With his background in politics, marketing and digital communications, Greg Buss brings a unique perspective to client work. A native Portlander, Greg started his career in Los Angeles at the office of then-Congressman Xavier Becerra after graduating from Occidental College with a B.A. in diplomacy and world affairs, and Spanish literature. Before joining Gard as an account manager, Greg worked in the marketing department of a global law firm, and as a senior strategist at a digital consultancy working with political campaigns and advocacy organizations.
Greg, what exactly do you do? Describe a typical day at work.
Working in communications, no day is truly typical. But each day involves focusing in on a problem that a client is trying to solve. That might mean researching or brainstorming or just thinking – and always writing. Once we’ve identified a strategy and a plan, my job as the account manager is to follow through. In the morning, I might be on the phone with a client reviewing next quarter’s media buy. By afternoon, I’m researching a municipal permitting issue. By the time I leave, I’ve drafted an op-ed. Every hour of every day is different and that’s something I enjoy about the work.
What’s the most surprising thing about your work?
There are always interesting surprises in this type of work. That’s especially true of clients dealing with a crisis. We’re often hired to help clients get through a risky situation fraught with unknowns and plenty of plot twists. The magic of a good communications strategy is that it guides you through the tough spots and the unexpected twists and turns.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your work?
Moving a client from “I don’t know where to begin” to a clear path forward is immensely rewarding. Most people understand their situation quite well from their own perspective, but sometimes struggle to articulate it to others. I enjoy that process of stepping into someone else’s shoes, then the shoes of their audience, and finding a way to get the point across with grace and authenticity. To me, the fact that you can solve problems using language and art is just cool. It’s fun being a part of it.
Of all your past experiences, whether personal, educational, or professional, what’s influenced you the best for what you do now?
I think living abroad and learning a second language have influenced how I work in a big way. When I lived in Spain for a summer in high school, I noticed that I had to think much harder about what exactly I wanted to say. I had to listen more carefully and pay attention to nonverbal cues. It was an inescapable fact at every moment that I had to pay closer attention to language in every way.
In our native environment we can get by speaking carelessly or listening without really paying attention. In a second language or a foreign country, you just can’t do that. I think that really translates into our work here at Gard, where we’re helping clients drill down on what they want to say and how best to say it.
What’s your favorite activity in your free time?
I love to cook. For the past ten years or so I’ve made a batch of pizza dough from scratch every month, and use it to make a pizza every week. I just decided I wanted to get really good at it, so I started this practice and never stopped. It’s like any other skill, in which you make incremental progress and then one day you realize you can do it in your sleep. Recipes like that are also like a piece of writing – a lot of struggle early on and a lot of revisions, until it feels like a spontaneous, natural improvisation.
What are you reading right now? What’s the next book on your reading list?
I’m between memoirs at the moment. I just finished Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and I’m starting J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. Both books describe an American experience that is pretty different from my own. In terms of fiction, I recently went through a Roberto Bolaño phase and have been enjoying some other emerging Latin American authors like Juan Gabriel Vásquez.