Friday, July 7, 2017

Week #1 - Cultivating Relationships

In the next few weeks, I'll be documenting my search for my next adventure(s). In business, we often have weekly updates due. Since I'm on my own right now, this blog will be a proxy for emailing management with highlights from the week. You, my readers, are now my managers!

Weekly tally:

  • 3 face to face meetings with new potential partners
  • Newsletter sent to 212 people (sign up to the right)
  • 1 networking call
  • 1 volunteer event - Dress For Success
  • Accelerate Biotech and Digital Health Meet up
  • Resume updated
  • Presentation draft for potential sub-contract work
  • Filed for unemployment (blah, but necessary)
  • Zero sewing (next week for sure)
Being unemployed isn't easy, but it can be an opportunity. A time to connect with colleagues from the past and a reason to reach out and meet new people and learn about new projects. I'm not so much "unemployed" as I am a free agent, able to pursue multiple opportunities. 

Last July, I received a call from a recruiter for a likely temp to perm position with the wearables team at Intel. Whoo! My thesis work 10+ years ago was in wearables and finally I'd be able to work in this field. It's a slowly growing space and I live in what is still a relatively small town. Although they found me via LinkedIn, it was a team I knew well and had been talking to the manager on and off for a year or so about the group (yes, cultivating relationships has been my thing all along). It was worth the risk to try something new. All of our work was on new devices and my focus was on the New Balance Run IQ watch and augmented reality glasses for enterprise (think of hands free screens for warehouse workers). It was a new space for me and I soaked up information enjoying a multi-phased research approach from contextual interviews to human factors work. 


Fast forward to November and layoffs, the FTE researchers were all let go, but we contractors were spared. I did another few months of work, but slowly the project was grinding to a halt. Alas, the project was cancelled, and with it my contract. 


However... I'm excited to have the time to relax (it is summer after all) and think about my next steps. I'm having some amazing conversations and talking to interesting people, so I am going to capture some notes here to share, for whomever finds this interesting, helpful or just something to pass the time during your commute. It's so interesting to be open, to be in a place where I don't have a vision of what I must do, but rather following the path of what feels like a good collaboration and interesting work. My vision for the future is a few months of project work and then landing an inspiring FTE position. 


So, week #1 started out great with a 4 day weekend relaxing with my husband and exploring all the fun Portland provides in the summer (Blues Fest was fantastic). Wednesday, it was back to work. 


Since I knew this was coming, I had some meetings set up for informational interviews and possible projects. I met with a partner from a local agency, Uncorked Studios, who is doing what seems to be very grounded, interesting and human centered work creating products at the intersection of physical and digital. By the way, for those of you on your own networking path, I had no real connections to him, but was really interested in their work. I reached out, and he reached back. Easy peasy. 


I'm quite enamoured of their work and hope I get to work with them at some point. We talked a bit about networking groups, and the man I met with told me about this very cool concept of creating a party where you invite 5 people, they invite 5 people and you can go on as large as you'd like the gathering to be. Imagine how cool a room full of 5 very interesting people and their very interesting friends would be! Someone I know should do this (and invite me). 


Later this week, I had the chance to talk with a local health care company and discuss a potential project. Time to wrack the old memory for information about the work I did at Cambia with personas, journey maps, and learning what people want from their health care provider. Could be another great partnership. 


Both meetings will likely lead to other meetings with additional team members to continue exploring how we might work together. 


As my employment has waned, my ability to volunteer has increased. I've just gotten involved with Dress For Success, an organization that "empower(s) women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life." It's humbling and inspiring to be there at this moment. I've seen women who didn't necessarily have the resources I was given but who have worked to overcome hardships and make a living and a life. One woman even talked about her day job and her side work creating an apparel business. We are clearly more alike than different. 


Speaking of which, I've also been spending more time sewing and putting together a small business of my own designing scarves and coats out of polar fleece. I LOVE that I can make something in an afternoon. Eventually, I will be selling product. I may even have a business name...but that will be revealed as I'm ready. Right now, I just enjoy sitting at my machine and creating. 


And I love my network. I put together a newsletter this week, something I've found to be successful in the past, as a way to both stay connected and share a curated list of things happening in research and design. I've gotten wonderful responses, potential opportunities, and people who, even with the glut of emails these days, appreciated the information in their inbox. I'm filled with gratitude for my colleagues, many of whom I am lucky enough to be able to call "friend." 


So whether your are gainfully and happily employed or seeking a new adventure, I encourage you to reach out to just one new person next week. What can you learn? What can you share? Cultivate those relationships. They feed our body, our soul and sometimes even our wallets! 

Until next week---

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