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Who Ruffles My Professional Feathers?

Stephanie Spalding

For someone who is employed by an arts organization and considers herself an arts advocate, I sure question my ability to think creatively.

Am I thinking outside of the proverbial box? Do I read enough blogs and take in enough industry research to resourcefully solve problems and suggest new projects or strategies?

In an effort to address this issue — I am taking a cue from the inspiring presentation of Oliver Uberti, design editor for National Geographic, who I had the pleasure of listening to during the National Arts Marketing Project Conference.

It was time to geek out and make a chart.

I needed to take an inventory of something sort of concrete, sort of reflective and personal and sort of plain fun. And he seemed to have gained insights into an alcoholic beverage consumption chart, so why not?

Question: Who feeds my inspiration and what qualities do they possess?

Goal: By creating a grid to chart out who challenges me and what type of “thinkers” my challengers are, I will better understand where to look for insight and maybe even where I am lacking.

  • X Axis: # of big ideas and/or hair brained schemes and/or heated debates engaged in within a month
  • Y Axis: the left to right brain spectrum (Note: The original chart’s Y Axis was a spectrum of dominant skills sets/careers. Though intriguing about who I surround myself with and who ruffles my professional feathers — I ended up remaking the chart a few times before deciding to go a simpler route and just charting individuals’ “left to right brained-ness.”)
  • Plot Points: a selection of family, friends, and co-workers

According to my chart, my right-brained peers are most likely to be my challengers. Right brains = professional feather rufflers.

  • Conjecture: Talking about work with my husband may not be such a bad thing considering the level of “challenging discussions” we have.

I also noticed the family members I listed challenge me the least.

  • Conjecture: I have big, bold, and intelligent family. I need to go to that well more often because I know I have challengers there. I am just not spending enough quality time with those folks.

My last general assessment is that this was an amusing, geeky way to reflect on a personal question.

I challenge you to chart something out next time you need to compare, reflect, hypothesize, or just geek out.

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