Friday, December 14, 2012

Thank You! and you and you and you!

Third topic: Thank your mentor.

Just as I have a multitude of turning points, I have many folks who have served as mentors at one point or another. A few of the people who have helped shape the path in my arts admin career, in no particular order:

  • Paul Frellick: I've worked with Paul longer than I have with anyone else. Ever. He's been incredibly patient with me more times than I can count. Many of my mistakes led to major administrative changes at the theater (silver lining, right?) and he saw enough potential in me to keep bringing me back for more work. He's been quietly supportive about my personal and career growth. 
  • Elizabeth Dell-Jones: I'm going waaayy back now, but Ms. Dell-Jones was my art teacher my senior year in high school, and she was one of the first adults to allow me--encourage, in fact--to take the lead on a project and turn an idea (for a student-made literary magazine) into reality. Her belief in me as a leader charged my self-confidence. 
  • Liz Droessler: Liz can't help but serve as a mentor to young people: for her day job, she works with teachers and students county-wide. She's probably single-handidly responsible for more arts careers than just about anyone else. She's been a resource and angel and a calming voice of reason and support when I needed it most. 
  • Ramona Baker: new to the lineup, I've only known Ramona for a year and a half now. I cannot imagine my future without her patience, her skill at listening and asking the right questions, and her enveloping hugs. "What would Ramona say?" is a question I ask myself a lot these days.

I realized today that I'm at a point where I need the accountability of a mentorship. I've learned A LOT over this past year, and I want to make sure I practice and master some of these new skills. Having a mentor will help me put a follow-up plan into place and make 2013 the Year of Doing. I have a few people in mind. We'll see what happens.

Who do you consider your mentors?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

ESTJ's Unite! Together, by next week, with our calendars.

Second topic: your Myers-Briggs personality type and impact on career

It came as no surprise to anyone the day I found out I was an ESTJ. Extrovert. Sensing. Thinking. Judging. 

From Wikipedia's entry:

  • E – Extraversion preferred to introversion: ESTJs often feel motivated by their interaction with people. They tend to enjoy a wide circle of acquaintances, and they gain energy in social situations (whereas introverts expend energy).[6]
  • S – Sensing preferred to intuition: ESTJs tend to be more concrete than abstract. They focus their attention on the details rather than the big picture, and on immediate realities rather than future possibilities.[7]
  • T – Thinking preferred to feeling: ESTJs tend to value objective criteria above personal preference. When making decisions, they generally give more weight to logic than to social considerations.[8]
  • J – Judgment preferred to perception: ESTJs tend to plan their activities and make decisions early. They derive a sense of control through predictability.

The MB scores are based on preferences, things you do or like based on choices repeated throughout your life. You can have a heavy preference in one area or have little preference overall and face each situation differently. I am an extreme E and J, scoring on the far end for both of these attributes. My S and T preferences, though, are closer to the middle; I could easily be classified an NF depending on the questions. 

Being an ESTJ has been a boon in my career, from my college days of journalism to retail management to my current arts administration position.

Extrovert: I adore being around people (remind me to tell you the story of being house-bound one winter due to an ice storm) and having a full house at the theater makes me giddy with energy. Talking to prospective audience members, engaging donors about their desires, and building relationships with my actors, designers, and directors are some of the most fulfilling parts of my job. 

Sensing: One of those areas where I vacillate between the two, and, honestly, sometimes it's draining, because, combined, it leads to perfectionism and an almost constant "I'll do it myself" attitude. Project management--be it designing a show, planning a fundraising campaign, or stewarding donors--is fun for me. I like making lists and checking off items when they're finished. But I also enjoy connecting the puzzle pieces to see a bigger picture and to break a dream out into the steps needed to make it reality. 

Thinking: The other area where I can go either way. I do tend to make decisions based more on logic, but I also try to keep in mind other's preferences, when applicable. Learning how to use various decision-making and logic-model tools has been fun when approaching long-term planning or fundraising issues. But I tend to listen to my instinct when it comes to individuals, especially when those decisions concern those closest to me. 

Judgment: I am a J, through and through. "Spontaneous" to me means "planned a week ahead". "ASAP" is a four-letter word in my book. I like to think I'm mature enough to roll with the punches, but I work at my best when I have a plan, goal, and deadline. Writing budgets, planning development appeals, and doing group projects all go smoother for me with more time. 

I love arts administration and design because they allow me to play to all my strengths. What's your Myers-Briggs Type? Are you playing to your preferences? 

Monday, December 10, 2012

You could go left. Or you could go right.

Now that the semester is (almost) over and final papers are (mostly) done and I have (a tad) more free time, I thought I'd tackle NaBloPoMo: National Blog Post Month. Yes, I realize that it technically happened in November, but that month turned into an insanely jam-packed time for me and trying to fit in a daily post into everything else was just not going to happen. My hat is off to those who did, and do, on a regular basis.

I'm also grateful that Rosetta Thurman linked to the BlogHer list of writing prompts for NaBloPoMo. While I could blather for thirty days on my own, this list provides boundaries for me within which to write. And, as my  professor Greg Lucas likes to point out at every opportunity, boundaries make for a better story.

Sewing for a production, c. 1930s / by Sam Hood

On to the first topic: Share your professional "aha moment".

My goodness, which one? Would you like me to work backwards or forwards? Do you have a few days and lots of coffee? How about I bullet point some, in no particular order:
  • deciding arts administration was the career for me, after running a small theater for three years and wearing all the administrative hats;
  • seeing "Falsettos" at the local community theater and having my world turned upside down through live theater and knowing I wanted to share that feeling with others;
  • stepping out of corporate retail management and into nonprofit arts administration in order to be a mother;
  • writing my women-in-theater manifesto, meeting Sylvia who shared my views on supporting local women in the field, and producing -dash-, which brought the conversation about local quality opportunities for women in theater out into the open;
  • applying to graduate school for a degree in arts administration and delightfully discovering a deeper joy in my chosen field.
Some of these moments are culminations, other are beginning points for work still-to-be-done. A couple of them have rather dramatic background stories. But they're all a-ha moments for me, that is, specific turning points on the path that brought me here today.

Can you look back at your path and see the turns? What were your deciding moments?