Welcome to Part 3 of our National Geography Awareness Week Story Series in partnership with the National Geographic Society!  We're celebrating this special week by highlighting five innovative young professionals and students who are blazing their own paths in geography.  We'll post a new interview every day this week, so check back often.  On Friday, we'll bring all of our new friends together in a virtual panel discussion.

Mike Colosimo, Marina del Rey, California

Meet Mike Colosimo, 31 year-old Co-Founder & CEO of thrdPlace.com.  Mike creatively combined his passion for urban planning and business, and mashed them together with geography to start a company.  ThrdPlace* is a platform that enables companies to organize and mobile resources around community projects and tell better stories about the great work they are doing.  

* Urban theory states that we all exist in three places: home, work and community (the third place).  
Learn about Mike's Geo Journey in a 5 minute clip.

Claim to Fame:

  • Co-created a business based on a conversation with friends about the inability for people to take initiative to build their own communities.
  • Became an Esri Business Partner, exhibited at the Esri International User Conference and was an invited keynote speaker at the Esri Locate Event in Los Angeles.

Geo Shout Out:

"Geography provides an additional layer of relevance.  Maps are a great way to show what is important in people’s lives in a compelling format.  Our customers often ask for lists because that’s what they are used to seeing.  We have to challenge them to think spatially.  We do this by showing them how much easier it is to make decisions when information is presented with geographic context."

Silly Snafu:

"We try to do a bike ride or a walk as a company every day to help us think more creatively.  A lot of times we don’t have enough bikes, so we end up towing skateboards behind bikes.  We’ve had a couple of really bad crashes on our lunch time adventures.  Some people come back a little black and blue.  We just laugh it off and get back to work."

Zig Zags:

"My career has been all over the place.  I did my undergrad degree in mechanical engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy.  I worked there for 3 years as a business manager and did an internship over the summer at the Pentagon.  Then I moved to Los Angeles, where I completed an MBA and worked as a management consultant.  After I graduated, I moved into urban planning and consulting.  I left in 2011 to focus on building my own business."

Advice Byte:

"The best way to get started in a geography career is to just start! Pick something that you get excited about.  If you have 10 ideas that sound awesome, throw a dart at that board and start someplace.  Then, be completely open to everything that comes across your plate.  I still don’t know what I’m going to do, and I’m almost 32.  I feel like everyday another opportunity redirects my career path in new and interesting directions that I didn't see coming."  

Jumping Out:

"Doing anything on your own is not easy.  There will be people who will think your ideas are crazy.  You have to take it in context and realize it is just one person’s opinion. Even negative comments can help.  They challenge you to make a better plan.  Passion and energy are contagious.  Keep going and you’ll connect with the right people to support you."

Stay in Touch:

Linked In: www.linkedin.com/pub/mike-colosimo/1/621/909

Twitter: @thrdplace and @ColosimoMJ

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ThrdPlace

Website: http://thrdplace.com


Munch on More Stories in this Series:

Part 1
Reed Tomlinson
geo business starter
Part 2
Lauren Herwehe
globetrotter & geo student
Part 4
Sam Zuhlke
geo educator

Written by Rachel Kornak, GISP, Creative Director & Editor of GeoPivot Magazine.  This story series is brought to you by National Geographic Education in celebration of 2013 National Geography Awareness Week and the 125th birthday of the National Geographic Society. Check out their blog for more exciting geography stories.  Special thanks to Justine Kendall, the Geography Awareness Week Program Coordinator for making this story series possible.


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