Within the span of her first two responses during our introductory Q&A, which you can read below, Erin Ollila goes from Lizzie Borden to dwarves to Cambodian food to Ducky from The Land Before Time to backyard recreational sports.
That’s not unlike any casual conversation with Erin. It starts with an innocent “Good morning, Erin, how are you?,” pinballs all over the place, and the next thing you know, you can still hear her voice trailing off down the hallway behind you as you walk outside to your car to head home.
When we’re not around, she talks to Napa the Dog. When Napa’s out with us and nobody’s around, she talks to the security camera. She talks in her sleep. She talks to ATM machines and those annoying videos on gas station pumps. She talks to her food. She got married last weekend, and her vows were written on an On the Road-length scroll trailing behind her as she made her way to the altar. They were longer than her train, and their safe passage down the aisle required the assistance of several adorable children who strained under their weight. It reportedly took her a full five and a half hours to read them. This was reported by her, because everyone else had already left for the reception.
So, Erin is a bit of a chatterbox. Which is great, because she’s interesting, smart, warm, and engaging. She’s probably the nicest person in the building, too. And, most importantly, she’s a fantastic writer, researcher, and editor – truly top of the line. She’s a joy to work with, and we’re so lucky to have her.
Here’s a little more about Erin, in her own words. Suffice it to say, this is … abridged.
BuzzFarmers: Where are you from?
Erin Ollila: I grew up in Fall River, Mass., where Lizzie Borden (supposedly) gave her father 40 “whacks,” but really, where’s the proof? It’s also the hometown of other local legends (besides myself) such as Emeril Lagasse and Hank the Angry Dwarf. My favorite thing about Fall River is the food. You can find yellow-box chow mein, Lebanese Meat Pies, chouriço, khmer bee bong, and many other authentic dishes right around the corner.
BF: What were you like as a child?
EO: The best example I can give you is Ducky from the Land Before Time. We have the exact same energetic, excitable, over-talkative personality, and I’m quite proud of that. I’m told I sang myself to sleep before I could even talk. Happy-go-lucky and apparently quite naive, I was also easily manipulated by my brothers into agreeing to championship Wiffle Ball games in return for their playing Barbies with me for a mere 10 minutes.
BF: Who are your heroes?
EO: My parents: My mom is a nurse, and my father, a psychologist. They raised my siblings and me to treat others with respect and dignity. They were excellent parents and are now even better grandparents. If I could be even 25% as great of a parent as they were, I would consider it a success.
BF: Describe your education.
EO: I have an MFA in creative writing (nonfiction) from Fairfield University, and a BA in English and Communications from Rhode Island College. After answering my father’s “What did you learn today?” question throughout my childhood, I’ve come to consider myself a student of life, and try to absorb as much as I can from the world around me.
BF: Describe your work experience.
EO: I’m an overachiever with 12 years’ experience in Human Resources in the nonprofit setting. Throughout that time, I also worked as a psychiatric case manager for eight years, and a floral/event coordinator for about 16 years (and counting). Most recently, I co-founded a literary journal with a graduate-school colleague, and we’re enjoying watching our baby grow up.
BF: Why did you want to work at BuzzFarmers?
EO: I thoroughly cyber-stalked Amanda, Pat, and BuzzFarmers before deciding to apply, and everything I learned about Amanda and Pat just made me like them more. I wanted to be their real-life friend! Plus, BuzzFarmers presented itself as a place I knew that I would both learn an immense amount, and also have a lot to offer to the team and to the clients. Getting the job and tackling the work so far has been a dream come true.
BF: What are your goals here?
EO: I plan on getting to know my clients needs and doing everything possible to make sure I can meet and exceed their expectations.
BF: What are your hobbies?
EO: I love to spend time with my family and friends. I try to live an experiential life, while at the same time documenting both our mundane and exciting activities. My favorite possessions are home videos my parents took of my siblings and me when we were young (there are a lot!), so I want to be able to give my kids that same look back in time, too. So, basically, I take a lot of iPhone photos, save scraps of paper such as admission tickets and other random oddities, and combine them into a scrapbook for each year of our lives.
BF: What’s your favorite TV show and why?
EO: In all honesty, I watch most of my shows via Netflix or Amazon Prime (I’m hooked on Hell on Wheels, Walking Dead, and Orange Is the New Black). There is just something so satisfying about taking in a whole series in a few weeks or a month. The worst part is having to wait for a new season to release! Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are my favorite shows that are still on air. I grew up watching both my with grandmother, who lived with my family. I’m always ready to solve a puzzle or answer in the form of a question.
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BF: What kind of music do you listen to when you’re working on something or exercising?
EO: I appreciate a good mixtape while working. I could switch among classical, jazz, R&B, and country all day. I like to listen listen to angry hip-hop when I work out and show tunes – or just super-singable songs – when I’m on the treadmill. I’ll admit that I both rap and sing while getting my physical activity, as I pretend I’m performing in a concert. I regularly remind myself not to break into song in the office, though I’ve taken to singing “Bless You” after people sneeze, and they don’t seem to mind – so far!
BF: Tell me a quick story that encapsulates what kind of person you are.
EO: During my first graduate school residency, I won the Trueblood Award. Named after one of the early students in the program, the award goes to members of the incoming class who are most unabashedly themselves. I can’t imagine winning anything better in my life.
BF: Favorite dish you’ve ever had at a restaurant? Describe the dish and tell us the restaurant.
EO: Really? You want me to choose just one dish? This is impossible to answer, so I’ll give you the first three that come to mind: 1) Beef Satay at Thai Taste Too in Dartmouth, Mass.; 2) Crab Dip at the Taphouse in Ghent, Norfolk, Va.; and 3) Pho at Apsara in Fall River, Mass., before it changed owners.
BF: Are you a mountain person or water person?
EO: I really enjoy the water. I never realized how far people had to drive to get to a pond or a lake or a beach as I grew up on the east coast, so I try to appreciate it as much as I can now.
BF: What’s your favorite feature of yourself?
EO: I almost always wake up in a good mood, regardless of what’s happening in life. It’s a blessing.
BF: Name the first five things you’d do if you won $5 million.
EO: Hug my husband and child. Jump up and down. Sit down. Cry. Not tell anyone else. Wait, were you asking me what I’d spend the money on? Oh, that’s easy. I’d pay off my student loans, buy a reasonable house with a huge yard, send my parents on a well-deserved vacation, bank enough for my child’s education, and deposit the rest and watch it grow!
BF: How tall are you?
EO: 5’1” and proud of every inch! My 8-year-old is quickly catching up to me at 4’5”, and it’s totally freaking me out. Children should be smaller than their parents!
BF: Website you visit most often?
EO: Google helps me find my way.
BF: What are you reading right now?
EO: Old diaries.
BF: Who do you like better, Pat or Amanda, and why?
EO: This is easy. Napa is my favorite.
BF: What’s your favorite form of transportation? Get as specific as you’d like.
EO: Teleportation. That’s about as specific as I would like to get.
BF: Favorite game?
EO: I love board games, especially when more than two people are playing. I also love playing baseball with my boys, but only when they follow the rules and don’t make them up while we play!