Matt Hislop isn’t just Bond Collective’s longest-standing General Manager and April’s Employee of the Month, he’s also a Brooklyn resident and former radio DJ who's been perfecting his St. Louis Competition Style Ribs! Fellow General Manager Julia Kropf sat down to get to know more about Matt and what his experience has been working at Bond Collective Gowanus.
JK: Tell me about your background and what your journey was like to get to NYC.
MH: I was born in Long Island, NY in Suffolk County, and when I was 12 my family moved to South Florida just outside of Fort Lauderdale. I went to college at Florida State University, and while I was there, I did a lot of working and volunteering with the student union. I wanted to make friends, so right away I volunteered with the music venue on campus, because I’m passionate about music and learned how to make friends in high school by connecting through music. I managed events and did promotions, which was my first experience with hospitality and operations. That experience also led to a radio announcing gig on campus.
JK: What was the radio announcing gig like?
MH: I started with a 2-6am shift one night a week and ended up doing that for two semesters. It was a nice, quiet time and I got to listen to and experiment with all sorts of different music, and do what I wanted to do. Once I got more daytime shifts, I mostly hosted a specialty soul show called The Saturday Night Fish Fry, but I also hosted some reggae and experimental shows. I hosted a few shows with local bands, and once I got to have my friend’s band play in the studio and interview them afterwards.
JK: What’s your favorite music genre?
MH: I like found sounds or reissues. I like hearing music people may have forgotten that has been rediscovered, which includes so many different genres. My favorite labels are Numero Group, based in Chicago, and Soul Jazz Records, based in London. They find forgotten music, write a story about it, and reissue it. I love finding new music, and it’s a really fun way to do that by keeping the spirit of old music alive.
JK: Well the team always enjoys when you provide new playlists for us to listen to! Tell us how you went from working in music and hospitality in Florida to working at Bond in NYC.
MH: After college I lived in Miami and one of my first big breaks was working for Ritz-Carlton in South Beach. I started as a pool concierge, then worked in the stewarding department at Key Biscayne. I ended up in New York with a sales and events assistant position at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square. I wanted to transition into management, so I ended up working overnight shifts in the housekeeping department, which led to a similar overnight management position at The New York EDITION in Madison Square Park. Coworking seemed neat to me, so afterwards I transitioned into that. The office hours were definitely a factor as well.
JK: And those are definitely skills that come in handy as a General Manager with Bond, too! Tell us your favorite thing about working at Bond.
MH: I enjoy the fact that it’s a newer company and my ideas as a member of the community team are valued. One of my other favorite parts is forming long-term relationships with members. I get to watch teams grow and learn about their businesses. It’s a huge change from hotels because guests are here today and gone tomorrow, so it’s fleeting. With Bond it’s different because there are members who have been here since we opened, and I’ve had the opportunity to develop and nurture long-term relationships. I love to see a company come in looking for a small 2-person office and then two years later they’re still with us with a 50-person roster. It’s also a testament to how great the staff is here at Gowanus, like our porter Miriam and our maintenance worker Israel. It’s easier to succeed when you have outstanding staff to help make it happen. We’re really fulfilling our mission of helping companies grow, and it makes me feel like we’re doing something right.
JK: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from working at Bond?
MH: How to take more initiative. I’ve realized I’m empowered to do more than I thought I could.
JK: What is your favorite spot in your location?
MH: It’s gotta be the roof deck. I’ve seen some amazing sunsets out there and I find it to be really peaceful. I’ve had a lot of great moments where I’m doing my final walk-through and I step out there and the whole sky is on fire with oranges and pinks and yellows. I like showing that place off.
JK: Have you taken up any new quarantine hobbies?
MH: I’ve picked up barbecuing, specifically St. Louis Competition Style Ribs, which are my specialty. I also got into home brewing in 5-gallon batches.
JK: What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
MH: I like to check the NY Times app to see what’s going on in the world.
JK: What’s your favorite coffee shop and go-to order?
MH: I’m actually a big fan of grinding and making my own coffee. At Bond Gowanus we just started using Partners Coffee, and I’ve enjoyed brewing theirs. I make it with a little milk and one sugar.
JK: What’s your favorite lunch spot?
MH: Giardini’s Pizza. It’s a neighborhood slice joint around the corner that has just straight-up, regular New York pizza. There might be better in the neighborhood, but it’s my go-to and I’ve never been disappointed. I know everybody there.
JK: What’s an app you can’t live without?
MH: Spotify! I use it every single day and I’ve got like 1,000 playlists. I love that app.
JK: How do you unwind after a long day of work?
MH: I like to take my dog for a walk as soon as I get home, which helps me clear my head.
JK: Tell me about your dog. Has he/she ever been a Bond Collective Pet of the Month?
MH: I met my dog 7 years ago when I met my wife. He was 3 or 4 when I met him, and it was the first time I had ever had a smaller dog that wasn’t a big labrador. He’s a 20lb sheltie named Willie Nelson who barks a lot. I was skeptical at first, but now he’s my heart and my little angel baby. Bond Collective Flatiron had the honor and distinction of having him as their Pet of the Month, but he’s my personal Pet of the Month forever. My wife is still his favorite, though.
JK: Early or late?
MH: Definitely early. I wake up at 7am every day whether I want to or not. One of my favorite early-morning activities of all time is to take Willie Nelson out to off-leash hours at Prospect Park before 9am. There are dozens of dogs and everyone is in a great mood. You’ll never see more New Yorkers in one spot in a better mood than at off-leash hours. On Saturdays there’s also a farmer’s market at Grand Army Plaza. I’ve run into members out with their dogs there, too!
JK: What inspires you?
MH: The fact that you can be better today than you were yesterday, and there’s always another opportunity for tomorrow.
JK: Name a social media account that everyone should be following.
MH: @inzane_johnny on Instagram, which is run by John Olsen who used to be the front man for the band Wolf Eyes. The page is just obscure indie rock references and is my favorite thing.
JK: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
MH: My dad always told me, “Don’t live your entire life in one day.” I have a tendency to overthink sometimes and get ahead of myself, and that advice helps me take a step back and get a new perspective.
JK: If you could squeeze one more activity into your day, what would it be?
MH: I wish I had more time to cook a proper home-cooked meal for my wife.
JK: So you like cooking?
MH: Yea, it’s my jam! I never knew how to cook until college when a friend got me a job as a short-order cook for Aramark. I didn’t have any training - they just told me to follow directions and figure it out, so I did! The experience demystified cooking for me.
JK: If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
MH: Black. It’s not flashy, but you can’t do much without it. It’s the most pragmatic and reliable crayon of all.
JK: Who is your biggest cheerleader?
MH: Definitely my wife. She’s the one that alway has my back.
JK: What’s your favorite book?
MH: One book that really captivated me was by Robert Fisk called The Great War for Civilisation. He was a journalist that went throughout the Middle East and shared a lot of human and personal stories that changed my perspective on a lot of things when I read it in college.
JK: Name 3 people (dead or alive) you would invite to a dinner party.
MH: David Bowie, Teddy Roosevelt, and Prince.
JK: Anything else you’d like to share about yourself, or any message you’d like to share with your fans?
MH: Be kind to each other!