Mike Capsambelis at an Awesome Pittsburgh party.
Mike Capsambelis with Talia Piazza at an Awesome Pittsburgh party.
Mike Capsambelis with Talia Piazza at an Awesome Pittsburgh party.

Mike is a product manager at Google Pittsburgh and a member of the company’s Community Affairs team, giving him the opportunity to support the local nonprofit and small business communities. He is also a co-founder and trustee of Awesome Pittsburgh—a micro-grant organization that awards $1,000 each month with no strings attached to the person or organization with the best idea for bringing more awesomeness to Pittsburgh—and on the advisory boards of The Forbes Funds and its UpPrize program.

Monday, June 29

It’s summertime and the living’s easy for my three kids, who will most likely be knee deep in Legos as I head off to work. Before going into the office though, I’m meeting a friend and fellow Awesome Pittsburgh trustee for coffee at The Coffee Tree Roasters. A couple of years ago, I discovered that it’s possible to talk with other humans before 9 a.m., so now I start a lot of my days at an East End coffee shop like Zeke’s or Voluto, brainstorming about new projects or just catching up with Pittsburghers who inspire me. I always bump into people who are getting things done in the entrepreneurial and nonprofit communities while there—it’s like celebrity spotting at Spago in Hollywood, but with bigger stars like Nina Barbuto, Janera Solomon and Bill Generett.

Tuesday, June 30

I’m looking forward to meeting with students from Homewood Children’s Village’s Bridge to College program, who are visiting Google for the morning. I always go into these visits hoping to impart some nugget of wisdom, but I’m the one who invariably comes out inspired. Of course, it’s then back to my day job which, as other product managers will recognize, consists primarily of meetings, hastily dashed emails, meetings and emails discussing the most recent meeting. I’ll sneak away in between all of these meetings to take advantage of all the local food Google keeps stocked in our microkitchens: Commonplace coffee, Naturi yogurt and (if I get there in time) Leona’s heavenly ice cream sandwiches.

Wednesday, July 1

For the third straight year, Google is participating in the Thrival Music + Innovation Festival taking place in September. I’m meeting with the brilliant Dr. Rasu Shrestha, President of UPMC’s Technology Development Center, our housemate in Bakery Square, to talk about how we can collaborate for the event. I have a light meeting day after that, since a lot of people took the week off, so I’ll take my laptop to a quiet space in the office and try to get some productive work done. Since we get Thursday and Friday off for the holidays, I’ll cajole some colleagues to leave at 5 for happy hour at Harvard & Highland, The Livermore or Social to kick off the long weekend.

Thursday, July 2

With a couple of days off, I’ll make a list of projects to get done around the house, then spend most of the day playing with the aforementioned Legos or taking the kids to North Park to enjoy nature, attempt some kayaking and visit OTB at the Boathouse. This cafe fills me with nostalgia for the many “off-site strategy meetings” I had with MAYA Viz co-workers at the OTB Bicycle Cafe on the South Side years ago. In fact, Matt Gaston and I hatched the plan for Awesome Pittsburgh here in 2011.

Mike Capsambelis at an Awesome Pittsburgh party.

In the evening, it’s off to the East Liberty branch of the Carnegie Library for another week of CUE Pittsburgh, a program that’s getting entrepreneurs in Homewood, Larimer and Garfield online and connected with one another. This has been a wonderful collaboration with the Library, Urban Innovation21, the City of Pittsburgh, the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship and many other organizations committed to inclusive entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh. We’re in the final weeks and looking forward to launching 12 new websites at the end of July.

Friday, July 3

Realizing that I went the whole week without exercising, I’ll go for a three- or four-mile run through the woods at Hartwood Acres. I’m a terrible, plodding runner and really don’t enjoy it all, but I like getting outside and clearing my mind. After I run, I have to write down all the fragments of ideas that popped up in between the grunting and wheezing, some of which might turn into new projects someday and some of which will seem really silly a few days later (a stage musical consisting entirely of TV theme songs?!). My wife Marla and I carved out time today for vacation shopping, an annual tradition we and the kids look forward to every year, even though it mostly just involves buying bulk-size snacks and a new pair of cheap sunglasses (which never survive the summer). In the evening, we’re trekking across two rivers and through a tunnel (yes, Pittsburgh, it can be done!) for a pool party and cookout with my high school friends and their families (shout out to the Burrell High School Class of 1990). I’m grateful that I’m still close with friends I’ve had since elementary school. They keep me grounded when getting featured in NEXTpittsburgh starts going to my head.

Saturday, July 4

Just as all Pittsburghers are required by law to use Heinz ketchup exclusively and know the words to at least one Donnie Iris song, it’s a must that we take in a Zambelli fireworks display on Independence Day. We’ll head downtown this year for the big one, and I’m hoping to get there early enough to stop by the DreamOn Festival in Market Square for some live music and ice cream from Dream Cream Ice Cream, a good friend to Awesome Pittsburgh. Thanks to the Supreme Court, we all have an additional reason to celebrate freedom today!

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...