My day job is being an interventionist.
I know a little about a lot of things, I’ve worked in a lot of areas and I’m a good generalist—my background and personality allow me to make connections others might not see. What I’d describe as my “superpower” is my ability to read people and situations—to identify the possibility or opportunity others don’t see.
I’ve worked in marketing, ecommerce, graphic design and software. I know a lot about the tech capabilities of audio/visual equipment; I’m a singer and a vocal coach. I’m an avid reader and consumer of information.
Most of the time I do advisory work: I really get a charge out of helping people get unstuck and seeing opportunity. The back of my business card sums up my role, “I help solve meaningful, measurable problems for organizations that change the world.”
That blurb is my filter for which projects I take on—it’s what keeps me sane. Unless you’re focused on the right things, it’s easy to get lost in meaningless projects.
I learned this lesson from other smart people like Warren Buffett. He said that a biz opportunity is like a lost position on a dance card. There are only so many things you’ll be able to invest your energy in over the course of your life, so you need to learn to say “no.”
My most memorable caffeine is my “Coffee with Humans” podcast, which I started in April 2020. As COVID hit, and we were already physically isolated, instead of going down the road of further disconnection, I decided to put myself out there even though I don’t like being in the limelight. I put out a message on LinkedIn that I was committing to 52 coffee chats this year—my only rule is that there couldn’t be any sales calls.
At this point, I’ve had 150 chats. I started by doing synopsis videos but those were so much work and my dreams were outpacing my time. I shut it down for a couple months and went to a new model where my coffee chats are live. These last 45 minutes and I purposefully do no research—I go into these cold.
It’s good for me to be in this space. I don’t like being in the limelight and initially my fear of exposing myself and being judged for it held me back. But stepping into my fear and making these connections has stopped me from feeling hopeless.
My current caffeine of choice is either coffee made using a Moka pot or a pour over.
My favorite place for caffeine when I used to go out was a Starbucks with noise-cancelling headphones and my computer. Because I’m an introvert, being out among people can wear me out. But the headphones allowed me to be among people without being overwhelmed.
The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Bill Gates.
One reason is because I’m a nerd and appreciate his nerd-ery.
I also have great appreciation for his foundation (the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and what he’s accomplished philanthropically—that’s something to aspire to. I appreciate the scientific nature of their efforts and their big bets on solving meaningful, measurable problems—that’s huge. They’ve taken on big, world-changing things because they can. I have so much respect for that, and a little bit of envy.
Bill also provides a lesson in resilience. He’s been in the public eye for so long and has handled that with such grace and steadiness—I’m sure it’s not easy.
World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: My answer to that question has certainly changed throughout my life.
Given the place I’m at today, I’d say one thing I’d like to solve for myself is not holding myself back out of fear. Fear can be a driving force for and against things. I know there have been times I’ve delayed doing things I should do—things I would counsel others to do—because of fear. That hasn’t served me well. We need to continually learn and allow others to counsel us. What if each of us asked ourselves the question, “What are you afraid of right now?” and tried to address that? Caroline McHugh said most of us don’t take up nearly the space the universe intended for us. What would happen if we did?