Work, Play, and Work That’s Play
Back in college, a friend named Yotam coined the term “Idea Midwife” to describe me. It’s perhaps the best title anybody has ever given me. Back then, Yotam and I were spending entire nights at an all-night diner working on our math assignments, but also indulging many long unbridled discussions of the ideas we were exploring at the University of Chicago. He was double-majoring in math and philosophy, and I was completing a self-designed interdisciplinary humanities degree focused on the relationship between religion and politics. The conversations were rich, weaving through Kant and Gauss and Lao Tzu but also OKCupid and YES and Perfect Strangers. Many ideas were birthed.
Since then, I have done work toward a master’s degree in education, been a consultant, worked at a health tech firm, and completed my MBA in health care management at Wharton. As I’ve pursued a fairly traditional career path in business, I’ve continued to fill the role of Idea Midwife as play with friends along the way.
Hustle, Meet Side-Hustle
My “day job” is focused on innovation in healthcare. I’m currently helping a startup in Chicago build a quantitative model for the value of addressing social determinants of health. It’s fun analytical work (I love data), and the opportunity for impact in a phenomenally important and troublingly broken industry is extremely motivating.
Since our nights of coffee and Kant, Yotam has worked in sales operations, then as a massage therapist, and then attended rabbinical school, before spending the last few years focused on leadership development and transformational coaching. In the last year, he and I have started working together more and more, and he is ushering me toward turning that play that I love doing into what I’ve started calling my “side-hustle.”
I coach, facilitate, and do public speaking about diversity and inclusion, creativity, leadership, and moving ideas into action. This creative work takes a number of different forms, and the key to all of them is taking complex emotionally-entrenched issues and creating actionable ways forward built on empathy and value. It has included
- one-on-one coaching work, especially helping young entrepreneurs overcome hurdles and charter a plan of execution
- helping organizations build Employee Resource Groups for racial and ethnic diversity, gender parity, and LGBT inclusion
- building and facilitating leadership development programs that help participants define their own meanings of “success”
- conducting group trainings on how to be more creative or how to build a trans-inclusive work culture.
I love taking apart thorny issues, finding the values on which all the stakeholders can agree to define shared objectives, and finding a path toward those ideals. This work is deeply collaborative, which feeds my extreme extroversion, and gives me exposure to a beautiful range of people and perspectives, which feeds my curiosity.
There are ways that my two sides have started to overlap, but I’m far from certain exactly how this will all play out. Will this work stay a side-hustle, or get promoted to full-out hustle? Is it a separate and parallel path to my healthcare work? Will those two paths merge? Will one have to lose so that the other can win? Who knows! I’m excited to keep exploring.
This blog will serve as a chronicle of that exploration, of sorts. I’ll share my thoughts around specific issues as I work through them. I’ll also talk about my own experience as a queer woman balancing a somewhat traditional professional path with more creative independent pursuits. I look forward to learning from my own work as I go, and my goal is that you will find it interesting, energizing, and that I’ll inspire you to find and pursue the work that is also your play.
Hit Me Up
If you ever have questions, comments, or reactions, I want to hear them all! Have a topic you’d like to hear my thoughts on? Have an idea you’d like to kick around with me? Have a suggestion on something I should read/experience/learn to do my work better? Please don’t hesitate to contact me!