Who is IT NZ: Andrew Cushen

I used to work with Andrew at InternetNZ. I was there before he was. When he joined , someone who knew us both said “you two will either get on like a house on fire or completely hate each other.” I like to think we got on. He’s got a wicked sense of humour and a vast array of weird shirts.

Who is IT NZ is a feature of What is IT NZ that we talked about in an earlier post. We’ll meet you for coffee, ask you a version of the Proust Questionnaire and just hang out and have a nice time. Afterwards you introduce us to someone else so the chain keeps going.

What is your business

I work for InternetNZ. We believe in a better world through a better Internet.

What’s your role?

I’m Deputy Chief Executive, so I run our issues team, which is broadly speaking our policy and projects team. And I run our operations team which is finance, events, and administration.

What is your two sentence elevator pitch?

We seek to promote the benefits and uses of the Internet and protect its potential. So we are on the side of the Internet and everything it could do for New Zealand, and helping New Zealanders think about how they can use it to make their lives and their businesses and their families better.

What’s your favourite virtue?

[Andrew argued that there were seven Godly virtues and so his choice should come from those].

There are the four classic cardinal virtues, prudence: no. Justice: no. Temperance: no. Probably not courageous either. And the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.

[Andrew talked himself out of choosing one of these].

[Andrew then tried to palm the question off on to me and asked me what I thought his best virtue was. I explained that he didn’t need to possess this virtue. It was just his favourite.]

Justice. I like things to be just. Not a terribly good answer after all that.

What do you look for in a friend?

Whatever the opposite is, of not full of yourself. Authenticity?

[I asked if he meant humble]

No. Because I don’t look for humbility. Maybe humility. The main thing I look for is an absence of being full of yourself.

What’s your dominant characteristic?

[Andrew again tried to palm this off by asking me what I thought his dominant characteristic was]

What does this even have to do with IT David?

I’d like to think it’s the humour I use. I think it’s irreverent and sometimes inappropriate.

What’s your biggest flaw?

My often inappropriate humour.

[When I pointed out that it’s not ideal to have your dominant characteristic also be your biggest flaw, Andrew rethought his answer]

I think I underestimate what I and others can actually do.

What’s your favourite occupation?

I’ve got two potential answers. Let’s see which one plays better. I quite like the idea of being a University Vice Chancellor. I have a lot of respect for what Universities do and I think that being able to run a house of learning like that would be really fantastic. It would be a really interesting job.

The other one is I haven’t yet given up on the idea of being an astronaut. And if Elon Musk has his way I want to go to Mars.

[Andrew said he’d be happy to be the person who goes to Mars on a one-way ticket].

Yeah I’d do that. We need people to approach Mars the way that the people in the 1600s approached the new world and the Americas. I am going to go and I will not come back. What a fantastic way to spend my 60s if they’d still take me.

What’s your idea of happiness?

I think that’s the wrong question. With all due respect to your process. I think that my idea of happiness is actually to be content enough with my lot in life. That’s happiness. To actually quest for more than that in terms of happiness is probably setting yourself up for something that you shouldn’t look for. A lot of people tie a lot of meaning around happiness. Your life is never going to be a never-ending fun ride of happiness and if it was a never-ending fun ride of happiness you’d be fucking bored. I’d be fucking bored. I want to be content. Contentment would be happiness.

What’s your idea of misery?

[At this point in the cafe, they were playing My Immortal by Evanescence so this might be many people’s idea of misery][Andrew however doesn’t mind Evanescence]

My idea of a horrible horrible state of affairs, is locked-in syndrome where people are trapped without any access to their senses. That would be a miserable existence.

If you weren’t you, who would you like to be?

This is the second time I’ve referred to him, but I’m obsessed with Elon Musk….but I don’t know if I’d like to be him because he seems to be a bit of a wang-dragon to be honest. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about being someone else.

[Huge pregnant pause]

I would like to be Donald Trump. To be able to have succeeded in one’s goal and be immune to feedback and hubris that is around you would be a spectacular thing to experience. Spend a day inside his head…I reckon would be incredible. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how you’re perceiving that disaster zone? “I’m just going to do this now” “Oh my god you can’t do that” “Oh my god you’re fired”…”Here’s Steve Bannon, what are we going to do today?” “Demonise these people?” “Sounds good to me!”

Wouldn’t you love to spend a day behaving like that and then to be able to exit and go “WOW”? To see what it’s like to be a monkey with a shotgun would be fascinating.

Where do you wish you could live?

[I had to cut off at the pass the idea of living on Mars]

I like the idea of living in a few different places. I’ve lived in a lot of places. What would be next on my list? To be honest, somewhere like the back-blocks of America. The Wyomings or the Montanas would be pretty interesting. Wilderness-y. Rustic-y. Frontiers-y. To be able to go to bed at night and it be really quiet and still around you…

What’s your favourite colour and flower?

My favourite colour is silver. Is that a colour? And my favourite flower…the fuchsia. I quite like fuchsias.

Who’s your favourite character in fiction?

I like Kevin Spacey’s character in the Usual Suspects [Andrew named him but I’m taking out spoilers][even though the film is over 20 years old].

What’s your favourite swear word?

Just fuck. It’s the universal word. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world if you tell someone to fuck off, they know what you mean.

If you’d like to take part in Who is IT NZ, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.

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