Getting to Know Colleen, Van Dalen CEO

Intro to CVD, CEO at Van Dalen

Colleen Van Dalen went from the role of a tech writer at a data center provider to owner of a tech marketing content business. She’s a lifelong writer with a unique specialization in all things IT and security (info, network, cyber).

We had a Q&A session to about life as a tech marketer, advice for her younger self, and her dog Brutus.

What do you love most about applying what you do as a content marketer?

Two things. One, it’s really hard to find someone who does what I do and has expertise in this area. I think it’s cool to help people understand a difficult industry, to make something complicated simple. Two, writing is my biggest passion. It’s what I do in my free time and it’s awesome to be able to practice my craft for a majority of my day and get paid for it.

Oh yeah, and the people. I’ve made so many crazy amazing friends in this industry and they’re always schooling me – love that.

Morpheus & Death at Wizard World Cleveland, 2018

What’s the craziest or most obscure content project you’ve worked on?

I did work for an embedded analytics software company once. I think everyone gets excited about the implications of big data, but when you get into the mechanics of the solutions that help you analyze and visualize that data, it can be a little monotonous (sorry!). So, this company was running a campaign to explain how their software worked, but through crazy creative eBooks. I got the opportunity to work on wild, out-of-the-box stories for this project. Even though I’m a mega creative person at heart, it was actually hard for me because it’s just not how I usually talk about technology.

What’s your greatest accomplishment so far in your career?

Starting a cash-flow positive business within the first year of launch and doubling revenue every year since inception.

What advice would you give to a younger you?

Patience and time are critical assets. I always find myself asking what am I NOT doing? or how do I get better, quicker? Always trying to break things down into a formula. Learning and growth are not linear, though, you can’t just apply a step-by-step guide to what you do, you have to keep at things and let the process unfold. This will always be a challenge of mine, I guess because it’s in my nature to be afraid that I’m not trying hard enough.

Surfing baby waves on Waikiki

What is one of the biggest challenges of what you do?

Every time I get a new project, it’s a blank slate. I’m fortunate to know enough about IT and security such that I usually have familiarity with the subject matter of most projects. But still, if you’re writing, you start over every time.

Also, I don’t prefer to be in any kind of spotlight, it’s uncomfortable for me. I’m working on getting more comfortable with that since it comes with the territory of owning a business. I guess historically, one of the things I loved about what I do was contributing to success from behind the curtain.

How did Brutus come to have such a special place in your brand?

I think Brutus becoming part of the brand was a natural evolution. I rescued him just a few days after I left my job to start this business; or, he rescued me, as they say. That was a really challenging time in my life and I needed a friend, so, he sort of grew with the company. He became my partner in crime, and since I work remote, I have the unique fortune of always being with him.  

I’m constantly giving everyone updates on my dog, sending pictures of my dog. People love him! Some of my clients in D.C. have even had the chance to meet him since he comes with me everywhere. I can’t see the Van Dalen brand without Brutus as its heart.