San Francisco, USA
Who is this guy?
TL;DR: Passion, creativity, and empowerment are my strong suits. With 6+ years of experience in content creation, concept strategy and development, and program management, I am an expert communicator who strives to make an impact by helping companies find creative ways to connect to their audiences.
But that's just the beginning. There's a lot more to me than meets the eye.
I taught storytelling for a living.
Of the myriad ideas I tried to impart to my students in those years, one was probably my favorite: Language matters. Storytelling is all about language and structure. The best storytellers make specific rhetorical and syntactical choices to draw their audiences in and convince them to keep reading. It's about understanding your audience as well as your story.
Effectively demonstrating the power of a well-crafted story often required more than just verbal instruction; I needed some kick-ass examples. Every piece of content I created had to be jam-packed with purpose and demonstrate an effective (and creative) command of the English language.
So, I started hammering out great, thematic content with rhetorical flexibility—generating compelling copy for a variety of mediums and audiences, emphasizing structure and purpose whenever I could. I was creating mentor texts out of personal narratives, restaurant reviews, technical instructions, and product descriptions. And I was good at it. Really good.
As my presentations, mission statements, mentor texts, and video projects made their way around my district, other colleagues and administrators began to seek me out for help when creating purpose-centered content that better connected with their intended audiences. I became a sort of content guru, if you will.
Content creation and concept development are my biggest passions. Storytelling is my sweet spot. I love strategizing ways to connect a concept or brand with a specific audience. Don't believe me? Take a gander at my Masters thesis.
A "limitless" capacity for problem-solving.
I am a huge fan of the The West Wing. No, really. I own the entire series on DVD and don't even have a DVD player—that says something.
What I love about that series is the way it showcases problem-solving. Every episode, every character arc, focuses on solving some kind of problem. Utilizing genius, insight, humor, and empathy, the characters—civil servants bent on making the world a better place—spend each episode working together to fix or build something. They stay late at the office and come in early. They argue. They collaborate. They succeed. They fail. And all of this makes for incredible, pull-on-the-heartstrings-of-hopeless-dreamers television.
I'm a natural problem-solver. I live for opportunities which encourage divergent thinking and allow for genuine collaboration—working together to build something new and exciting completely from scratch. Need a late night pizza and beer brainstorming session? I'm in. I'll bring the pizza.
Teaching started out that way for me: late nights and weekends spent in the classroom building curricula and improving instruction, but that creation slowly became overpowered by bureaucratic disconnect and an overwhelming lack of support and accountability. I knew that if I wanted to solve problems and truly make a difference, I would have to look outside the classroom.
And that's where I am now. Bell schedules won't dictate my work. I want to work my ass off and take risks. I want to build with creative people in a fast-paced environment where change, innovation, and inquiry keep us on our toes. I want to solve problems and, to borrow the words of President Bartlett, my capacity is limitless.
Wherever you keep your ketchup, let's be friends.
Last year, Reply All, one of my favorite podcasts, did a story on the role diversity plays in our lives, particularly focusing on diversity in professional environments. The first act of the episode discusses the relationship between positive outcomes and diverse grouping using the analogy of ketchup.
Here's how it goes: Wherever you keep your ketchup (in the cupboard, in the refrigerator) determines what you would use as a substitute should you ever run out. People who keep their ketchup in the refrigerator, will substitute with mustard or relish—the items sitting next to ketchup in the fridge. People who keep their ketchup in the cupboard might substitute with malt vinegar or maybe sriracha.
What does this mean for the working world? Well, it seems that when people from diverse backgrounds (cupboard vs. fridge ketchup) are on a team, the diversity of their experiences informs the way each of them approaches a challenge. This, in turn, positively impacts outcomes and results. Plus, you have access to a whole lot of ketchup if your personal supply ever runs out. Win-win.
Every relationship I make informs my own understanding of who I am. I love working with people whose opinions and ways of thinking are different from my own. I thrive when working on small, highly collaborative teams centered around a singular mission. I just love working with people. And people love working with me:
One of the biggest challenges of teaching was striving on a daily basis to convince 180+ diverse, reluctant teenagers that my class was worth a damn. I was successful at this only because of the effort I made to understand my students, to personally invest in them as friends and colleagues. I'm empathetic by nature. I get people. I understand how to connect with them. Even if it sometimes means bribing them with baked goods.
Okay, cool. But so what?I know, I know. Even with all of that amazing, professional expertise, I'm probably still just another drop in a bucket of well-qualified individuals dying for a chance to join your team. So what if I have lots of diverse content creation experience? So what if I'm an expert problem-solver? So what if I'm a strong believer in collaboration? So what?
Just wait—hear me out.
Let me out of this box!
Admittedly, the transition from the classroom to the business world has had its challenges—the education and business worlds work at different paces; they run on completely different kinds of fuel.
But when I made the very difficult decision to leave the classroom, I knew it wouldn't be easy. I knew that people would look at my classroom and nonprofit experience and probably write it off.
Because, let's be honest, everyone has experience with education. And when those experiences of dispassionate teachers and rote memorization inform one's perception, education does not look good. And you know what? Sometimes, those perceptions are accurate. But, then again, sometimes they aren't.
In the classroom, it's impossible for teachers to control every variable. With thirty-six students per class, it was good day if I managed to look each student in the eye, let alone if I made sure they all understood how to properly SOAPSTone a nonfiction text. I quickly realized that my job was to find a way to facilitate learning, not to force it. Thirty-six students meant thirty-six unique learning styles, thirty-six unique paths to success. Together, we would lay the foundation, but they needed to continue building on their own.
When I found the courage to embrace a teacher-supported and student-centered educational environment, the students flourished. When I gave them the tools and an opportunity to start building on their own, great things happened.
Now, I too am looking for an opportunity.
Whatever formal business experience I lack, I make up for with a insatiable drive and thirst for knowledge. I am excited about the learning and communication processes. Taking risks energizes me. Anything I do not understand immediately becomes a passion, a new problem to solve.
Sure, I talk about teaching a lot because it's been the most recent central focus of my life. But, I am much more than just a teacher, I just need an opportunity to demonstrate that.
Let's make a difference together.
Everything I do—personally or professionally—revolves around this question. Forever seeking opportunities to grow and improve, I long to make an impact on the world around me.
In the classroom, this meant thinking critically about relevance and purpose, rebuilding units, and revamping content. It meant sacrificing time from my personal life to better know and understand my audience and my product.
In my personal life, it means lots of reading, analyzing, and discussing current events. It means intentionality in my relationships--seeking out opportunities (happy hours, coffee dates, family dinners) to further invest in my community and to better understand the people who surround me. It means impromptu bread deliveries and unstructured couch time.
For me, the initial appeal of teaching was the idea of positively impacting the lives of a bunch of students on a daily basis. Now, as I seek out new opportunities beyond the classroom, impact and change are at the center of my search. All I want to do is make a difference.
This is probably why I tear up every time I listen to "We are the World".
It doesn't stop there.
When working closely on a small team, people have a tendency to come out of their shells, for better or worse. Just so you know all of the goodness you'll get out of me as a member of your team, let me round out the full picture for you:
I'm an amateur Renaissance man.
Without proper support, people and ideas get lost in massive companies. Small teams are where it's at—when everyone plays their part and works their butts off, great stuff happens.
Let's work hard to find solutions to a wide variety of problems—simultaneously. That kind of diverse, creative thinking is where the best ideas come from.
Working with the best creative minds, shaping the future and making a social impact in the process? It doesn't get much better than that.
Anything easy isn't worth doing. Hard work pays off. Insert other "get 'er done" platitude here.