My Top Three Skills (and my one great habit)

January 16, 2018


1. Value Communication 


I have a knack for helping people understand the value in things that I consider valuable. My passions are armed with facts and my passion is contagious. 


As a movie theater attendant I used this knack to provide top-notch customer service. As patrons made their concession orders, I would use my knowledge of the theater menu to earnestly guide them away from $6.50 popcorn bags and towards $7.00 re-fillable popcorn tubs. When I looked them in the eyes and said "Honestly, its what I would do" they knew I meant it (I also provided in-depth but spoiler-free movie suggestions).


Later, as a credit union teller, I refined my value communication skills to connect people with financial services that I believed in, consistently surpassing my service referral goals. My passion for sharing knowledge that I'd found beneficial didn't just stop at my teller station. As I learned more about finances, everyone I came in contact with began to learn about the benefits of checking accounts and savings accounts, certificate interest rates, and what Roth IRA's are. 


At its core, value communication is a lifestyle for me. If I encounter something that I find helpful (movie, song, article, innovative use of sun-dried tomatoes etc.) I feel an instant need to communicate who, what, when, where, why, and how. As I've applied and refined this trait in my work, I've found it to be a powerful skill that helps to make customer service and sales feel like second-nature.


2. Eye for Design     


I've always had an appreciation for aesthetic. From a young age I've recognized the power of things that "look right". I noticed that certain books felt better to read because of the way the text flowed; I discovered the wonders of symmetry and how it gave purpose to my otherwise random systems of tidying. This appreciation, recognition, and fascination with "the science of making things look good" has driven and shaped many of the ways that I seek to create value for people, both personally and professionally. 


In my work as a worship minister with Unity Baptist Church I've had several opportunities to leverage my passion for visual appeal. By re-designing the church's website I was able to increase usability for church staff while also creating a pleasant online environment for potential visitors and members. Over the past several months my creative responsibilities have expanded to include stage decoration, sermon art, and outreach media.


As I follow my fascination with aesthetic by collecting hard skills (Illustrator, Photoshop, Screen Printing, Web Design) and learning more design principles, I work to apply what I've learned as a freelance graphic designer. I've been able to create business cards, t-shirts, wedding invitations, and book covers (among other things). Every creation tool that I work to master, and every product that I design is fueled by my dedication to improve and supported by my talent for making things look good.


3. Systemic Perspective


The world operates on systems.  Organizations and businesses operate on systems of communications, productivity, and delivery. My ability to recognize and respond to these systems' interactions has proven to be one of the greatest assets in my professional life. A skill that allows me to not just take initiative, but to take initiative efficiently and with a purpose.


Over the past year and a half, I've been learning the business of screen printing. When I first started working at the print company Shirts Like Mine I knew absolutely nothing about screen printing, but I was careful to note the systems of the business. I made a point to understand how the tasks that I was learning (screen coating, screen burning, screen taping, screen cleaning) fit into the systems of communication (marketing, in-shop customer service, design) and delivery (actual deliveries).


Instead of taking a narrow approach and focusing solely on the series of tasks put in front of me, my systemic perspective allowed me to look for ways to create value for the shop as a whole, using skills that I already possessed. In my first month I saw an opportunity to use my design skills. I pitched an idea for a t-shirt and, after receiving some interest, I designed a proof over the weekend. The proof sold my pitch and throughout the following weeks I continued to learn how to screen print while working hands-on with my own design. 


My perspective continues to be an asset in every environment that I work in, helping me to anticipate needs on a holistic level and increasing my opportunities to create value. 


My one great habit 

I have a habit of trying to reverse-engineer all of the things that I like. I'm obsessed with "how" and I'm desperate for reasons.


It's not uncommon for someone to eat something delicious and then kindly demand the recipe, but I tend to take this practice to the extreme. Every new favorite song, I examine for favorite specifics (Melody? Vocals? Dynamic? Combination?). Every new favorite product or service, I need to know how it got here. I've been known to scour my favorite stories moment-by-moment, hoping to understand how they resonate with me and how I might capture those elements for myself. 


It is this habit that is, at least partially, responsible for the development of the skills listed above. Communicating value comes easy when you're in the habit of finding out exactly why you find things valuable. An eye for design may or may not be inherited, but it is definitely trained and calibrated by looking closely at attractive things and asking questions. And, a systemic perspective is born of my ethic to "Work with others, as I would have others work with me" and my simple conclusion that I love when I work with others who have that same perspective. 



























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