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Customer profile: David Hawkins, Dogwood Pet Hospital

When he’s not whitewater rafting or managing a team of 7 in Gresham, Oregon, David Hawkins is tirelessly sharing Cornerstone tips and advice online on forums like Cornerstone Users Unite. How’d he learn so much—and where does he find the time to share it? What’s the one piece of advice he has for other users—and for the Cornerstone team?

David, what's your favorite ice-breaker question when you’re getting to know someone?

I like “what's your favorite activity to do outside of work?" We identify too strongly with "Oh, what do you do?" "I'm an accountant." That's not what I want to know.

So what do you like to do outside of work?

Rafting or snowboarding, depending on the season.

What about rafting makes it your thing?

Once you're in the water, you have no cell reception from there on. You're completely not connected to the rest of the world, and you can only go as fast as the river goes.

How deep do your roots in Gresham, Oregon, run?

My dad went to Purdue University, got his DVM and was headed to Australia, but my mom wouldn't let him go any further than Gresham. He started the practice, and I grew up in it, literally. I remember childcare was in a cage (with crayons, etc.) and I remember the day I figured out how to get out of that cage.

Was going into vet med always your plan?

No. It was great part-time work through school, but when I went to the University of Oregon I started out in engineering because electrical engineering was really hot—until I found out I hated the classes, took a business class and really enjoyed that instead. But then I graduated in December of ‘90, which the Wall Street Journal later pronounced to be the worst time in history to have graduated with a college degree and try to find a job. At that point I decided to work at the practice and take the business management pressure off of my dad.

You’re a dad yourself?

I'm married, I've got two teenage boys. For years I had five cats but now I have no cats because my wife did her 25-year stint with her allergies. So we have two dogs instead. Jessie is a 50-pound German Shepherd mix, and Zoe is a little Chihuahua mix who's 11 pounds.

When was the last time one of your dogs made you laugh?

Watching Zoe try to jump onto the couch and missing.

If you didn't have to be at work today, what would you be doing?

Considering I had 30,000 pounds of gravel dropped in my driveway this morning, I think I'd be shoveling gravel. We had half our backyard dug up for hardscaping.

What's your superpower?

The ability to look at a situation and figure out what needs to be done. I'm applying that now with drainage and retaining walls in the backyard. I also do it with home improvement, auto repair, and computer problems.

Is that how you’ve learned so much about Cornerstone? You answer questions so quickly on Facebook it’s as if you’re poised over the keyboard just waiting for questions to come in.

I learn by doing. Most of the time on Facebook when someone throws a question out there, I just pop over to Cornerstone and figure it out. I've tinkered with computers for enough years that I got some sense of how it's constructed. And I understand that it's alpha numeric sorting versus alpha sorting versus numeric sorting and what implications that has when you're trying to find something.

What's one piece of advice that you'd give to a Cornerstone user who wants to deepen their skills?

Attend user group meetings if they're in your area or if they're at a conference you go to. And get onto the Facebook group.

If you were face to face with Cornerstone product owner Jennifer Rumery, what's one question you’d want to ask her?

How can we modernize the look and feel of Cornerstone more quickly?

Last question: If people want to ask you questions directly, is it ok if they tag you on Facebook?

Sure, absolutely.

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