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Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm a Swooper: Defining My Brilliant Career

Despite my recent "Stay at Home Mom" status, I keep ending up at business networking events. I went to PubTalk Thursday, and listened to Judy Shasek's great pitch for Footgaming, and a run down on Integra Telecom's move into the Central Oregon market.

On Friday, I got a last minute ticket (thanks to Cassondra at TBD Advertising!) to hear Scott Bedbury speak at AdFed. I'm doing some work for a non-profit Scott's involved with, and it was nice to meet him in person, and chat with other creative marketing types.

So, of course, people ask me what I do and who I'm with. That's a hard question for me to answer. I'm sort of with everyone. Or, maybe I'm just a roving networker.

I'm still networking for ELS with a focus on corporate event strategy, but their sweet spot is usually larger tech companies. And I'm still involved in several tech groups in town, and Twitter groups and blogger groups and cupcake groups and artists social scope seems to be all over the map.

I think I'm niche-less.

It seems that I drive around town looking for random lectures and presentations and sneak in the back and I'm not sure why. I like to talk to engineers, CIOs, CEOs, artists, marketing gurus, programmers, cupcake bakery owners, geeks, writers, runners, walkers, Chopper manufacturers, social workers, Pilates instructors, moms, dads, teachers ultra Adventure Racers, bankers, lawyers, inventors, reporters, actors, movie makers, and dog trainers. And my neighbors.

They fascinate me. All of them.

I guess I'm a professional dabbler. I like to work with and "juggle" several companies and non-profits at once, and dip my toes into many ponds and streams, just to get a feel for them.

As soon as I get my feet wet, I figure out where the little streams can connect to the ponds. Then I take a stick and draw the lines that connect the streams and ponds. Then I grab a shovel, and move the earth until all the water flows together and eventually ends up at the ocean.

Last year I finally realized that what I like most about this kind of work is the beginning part, and maybe I should just be a swooper. That's my name for someone who swoops in, fires things up, figures out big pictures, then hands it over to plodders for the long haul.

The plodders are methodical. The Plodders use phrases like "slow down, what's the rush?" Plodders sometimes drive me nuts, and I know I can exasperate a good plodder in an instant, but good companies need Swoopers and Plodders. I appreciate plodders, and the good ones appreciate me. I'm married to a plodder, actually.

I also know that I'm an all-or-nothing type and I have to be careful not to say yes to every shiny thing I spot from the air, or all the balls I'm juggling will drop and land in the mud, create a dam, and interrupt the flow to the ocean. Being in charge of the kids again forces me to choose my balls carefully. Full time mommy-hood forces me to do some plodding.

My business friends are trying subtle tactics to get me to start swooping for them again. They say "What are you doing these days? How things are with the kids? The puppy? You must be bored stiff with not working. You're way too extroverted to be a stay at home mom for long."

Of course some of them don't have children and don't understand how exhausting the full time mom thing gets and how I just switched some of my professional energy to volunteering instead. As a volunteer, I can do bits and pieces of fun things that tug at my heart.
Being with the kids full time is just as exhausting, emotionally, as Swooping for a pay check. It's not the actual packing lunches and driving kids to swim team and keeping track of homework and being an emotional anchor for other young people's heartache and angst. It's all this plus the juggling, and the plodding that gets to me.

Kids need Swoopers and Plodders to help them through the turbulence of their youthful angst, I think. Spending more time in their worlds and focusing on them seems to be helping me pay attention to everyone's long term visions, and helps me figure out which streams I'm most interested in.

Here's to Swooping and Plodding, finding shiny things, and flowing towards deep blue oceans.


Michael said...

Every mother is a working mother.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you are destined for politics ... by the time you run I think you'll know everybody, and you must be getting a lot of name recognition around town. I still think you look like Sarah Palin.

Anon. Kathy