Have vision, need info!

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Have vision, need info!

Postby Karen » Fri Aug 27, 1999 5:00 am

I\'m new to the group and first of all, want to thank Barbara and all of you for a place to work through some of this career stuff. Okay, briefly, here\'s the deal.. I\'m currently a statistician in a very high stress job. I\'ve known for some time now that I ended up in this career as a way to please parents, ensure \"stability\", etc. And that I\'ve been very unhappy at it. It\'s not natural for me. Several months ago I took a career transition workshop and actually had a \"vision\"--that I would be presenting ideas and information to people in creative and different ways (workshop type settings), doing my own research and surveys, and that I would be pretty independent at this. It seemed like most if not all of the participants were women, but I don\'t know how important that is. I love speaking in front of people, working with people, listening to people. I love working with metaphors and \"reclassifying\" information so others can get excited about it. I\'ve done some math teaching, but it\'s only the *teaching* aspect (getting people to realize that math isn\'t the bogeyman they think it is) that I enjoyed. My therapist suggested all I needed was some information on how this vision can come to life. My current job is getting pretty unbearable and presently I\'m just trying to accept (and stand up for the fact) that it\'s not worth my health or sanity. That\'s it. I guess I wasn\'t very brief! :-) Any ideas?
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Postby JimW » Tue Aug 31, 1999 11:21 am

Seems to me that you need to find out what it is that you like teaching/interacting/doing/talking about that other people are interested in hearing about / paying for. I’d like to suggest that you consider joining a local Toastmasters Club. It’s a club for people who want to learn public speaking, which it sounds like you can already do (but most people would rather die than speak). Sign up to become a CTM (Competent Toast Master), you get to give 10 speeches in front of the group. (And, it’s a nurturing, interesting group at that.) Toastmasters teaches eye contact. It’s a way to express sincerity, honesty, interest, etc. One of the things they sometimes gloss over is the other part of eye contact. When you are speaking, ‘you’ can use eye contact to look carefully at your audience to determine if they are just listening, or really interested. Give your 10 speeches, you get to pick the topics, and watch to see what it is that you like that really sparks interest in the audience. You can even ask, “Would you pay to hear this?” P.S. They also run a speakers bureau, providing speakers to local groups. Lots of these are mini workshop type things. It’s a way to test the waters.
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Postby peacenik » Tue Aug 31, 1999 3:28 pm

Karen, Two thoughts came to my mind regarding your post. First, do you like the idea of owning your own business (you mentioned "independent" and "your own research")? It seems you could explore either setting up a research business or being an independent consultant. I also wondered if perhaps you are interested in causes. Most every nonprofit or political organization needs someone to research their issue and use that to help educate the public through seminars, workshops, etc. I think it is interesting that you are gifted at both numerical data and communicating with people (right and left-brained) and you may be happiest at a place where you can integrate both sides. It is a rare combination these days, and that may be used to your advantage as well. Hope that's helpful.
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Postby Karen » Wed Sep 01, 1999 6:32 am

Thanks to Jim and Amber for your thoughts! First, Jim, I\'ve considered Toastmasters in the past and have gone to some meetings of that organization and although it seemed great, I\'m not terribly interested *at the moment* to sharpen my public speaking skills, but rather to sharpen my teaching and/or learn something to teach! I\'m currently taking acting classes, which I love. Don\'t know how that relates to your comment, but it does get me up in front of people and I\'m facing the challenge of being *real*. Very interesting work. Amber, I was excited about your idea of owning my own business. YES, that has been something I\'ve wanted. I will want others to work with me at some point, I am sure, as I NEED human interaction. Just doing the research part would leave out my love of teaching tho. What you said about \"causes\" seemed to trigger something in me. I\'m recovering from an eating disorder and I also care a great deal about animal welfare (pets)so any way I could help those causes would be great for me. I do know that whatever it is I share with others needs to be something I am excited about (I can be excited about alot of things, but selling THINGS or ideas I don\'t believe in would REALLY bother me). Thanks again for your thoughts and suggestions. Reading them really helps to spawn my own thoughts. I\'m open to any others!! :-) OH, one more thing, about having mathematical ability also... the ONE thing I love about being a statistician is helping non-statistical people carefully choose their research questions and design a study to answer those questions--the upfront work more than the analytical work at the end...
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Postby JimW » Wed Sep 01, 1999 2:32 pm

We have 4 people on staff under a loose definition of ‘statistician’. Almost all of their work is interfacing between people helping them decide what data to get and how to interpret it. Examples: Marketing (non-statistical people) send out promotional stuff and wants to know how well it works. The stat group devises a coding scheme and works with marketing, IT, data entry, and management to implement, project, and ‘explain’ the resulting numbers. We send out a survey and the results are tallied. Our stat group explains the results, does comparisons to previous years and tells us what we need to work on – ‘how’ to work on it, and what it really means. Our stat group researches and prepares demographic and psychographic profiles of our customers and explains to marketing what the segments look like and how to reach them. We are an association. Our stat group reports directly to our chief operating officer (who uses their insights to ’modify’ (kick butt) operations throughout the whole association.) I would guess that all of the animal rights associations are structured similarly. Consider contacting the COO or equivalent and ask them how they are doing the above, or tell them what you want to do. Our COO is ALWAYS hungry for information and insight. We spend big bucks annually with Burgess-Levin (not sure on spelling) which is a company set up in Baltimore MD, that does nothing but the above kind of work. (lots of ‘customer presentation work’, their head guy is really good but some of his underlings could use some pizzazz) So if you have good stage presence, you’re in. Most of these presentations are in the board room to big wigs who want (demand) good presentations. We also have a foundation (separate charity organization) that is always trying to figure out how to use demographic data, and creates their own statistical report product on the industry. Let me know if you want to know more.
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Postby Jacque » Wed Sep 01, 1999 3:53 pm

Karen, welcome! I'm almost embarrassed to post after Jim's lucid thoughts, but: Couple of random brainstorms for you: Are you interested in the process of learning itself? Teaching learning (research) skills in a fun and exciting way would be a tremendous public service. "Why finding stuff out is cool!" as opposed to "Card Catalog 101 ZZZZzzzzz...." You know, learning for the sport of it. Also, there's a crying need for better popular eductation on the topic of statistics -- most people haven't a clue what the statistical jargon on hears on the nightly news means, or what the implications are, especially for things like public policy. To hook into your animal welfare interest, for example, it would be useful to have clear, well-presented public information available about what kinds of information is gathered in medical research, why animal studies are important, and when they're not, and a solid understanding of statistics would serve as a good foundation for that. One application might be going around as a guest lecturer to medical schools and medical research institutions. ------------------ Jacque
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Postby PeterH » Sun Sep 05, 1999 12:48 am

Karen, How do you feel about this range of ideas? ------------------ phornhar@atctraining.com.au
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Postby Karen » Tue Sep 07, 1999 4:16 am

Hi all, I've been quiet the last few days because of deadlines at my current job. Both Jim and Jacque gave me more to think about. I don't know if I would enjoy marketing statistics or not. I do have an interest in surveys but probably less from a marketing perspective than a sociological (????) perspective. At this point, I'm not really clear on how I feel about the idea of teaching/promoting statistics to the general public. I do think that my background will help me assimilate information and communicate it better. Teaching is such a KEY part of this dream, as is learning. But it seems the subject matter is also very, very important to me. Thanks to all for your comments. I've really looked forward to reading your ideas. Hopefully *I* will have more lucid thoughts later... Karen
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Postby Karen » Tue Sep 28, 1999 10:51 am

It's been a long time since I've written and I keep searching for the "right" thing for me. I'm not getting anywhere, it seems. I'm still taking my acting classes and I'm learning a lot. Right now, though, I'm feeling very *resentful* of my current job. I make *excellent* money as a statistician but I resent those who love the job and do well at it (not that I'm bad at it but I have no passion for it). The politics drive me nuts (but wouldn't they in any field?) and on my best days, it's "just a job". I'm writing again because I'm wondering if this mood (which is something I'm becoming more and more aware of--probably been there a long time) is something someone else can relate to. If you can see something in what I'm writing, please let me know. Someone mentioned to me this weekend that I just need to make a leap of faith and try something different, but I have NO idea what!! Thanks for listening... Karen
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Postby Holly » Tue Sep 28, 1999 6:57 pm

Karen, first I commiserate with you. Second, I have a suggestion. 1. For several years, I'd been increasingly unhappy with my work as an instructional designer in a major company. I, too, hated the politics that kept me from working with the people I needed to work with and from using the most appropriate methods. Then there were the people, directors, who were out to control everyone more than get results. And I felt isolated when I wasn't working with subject matter experts, instructors, or vendors. Unfortunately, when it was time to write, that was weeks at a time. I had and have a vision of facilitating small groups of people in discovering and developing themselves using various exercises, like Barbaras, and also writing and drawing. I've done this in small ways, a group here or there. Content for facilitating groups and teaching is tough because I'm interested in a lot of esoteric areas and not in a disciplined way. I use writing and art for peronal expression and exploration, for example, not in a technical way. So I understand how hard it is to decide what to teach. I became a content-free educator. Now I want to specialize. 2. Suggestion: You said animal welfare is an important cause for you. How about volunteering at your local zoo or park and lead or help lead tours and teach people about the animals. Or work with an animal rescue agency and perhaps speak for it in the community. If you could do something like this, you could feel some satisfaction and maybe connect to something new. Doing something worthwhile outside of worked helped me take pressure off myself and reduce my tendancy to identify with a job that didn't fit and stressed me. Finding a new direction takes time. Holly
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Postby BarbaraSher » Tue Sep 28, 1999 8:32 pm

Very good suggestions here! I think it's clear that you should be on the lecture circuit, and that you want to be, and you'd be good at it. I think you should find out what you *want* to teach people -- and I don't think it has to be connected with any of your stated skills if that doesn't turn you on. But don't throw out the idea of being a speaker. Just ask yourself "Who do I want to help?" and I think you'll discover what you want to teach.
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Postby Karen » Wed Sep 29, 1999 7:48 am

Many thanks to both Holly and Barbara! Holly, it helps to hear someone who is in a similar "boat". Sounds like you're handling it very well and have a great attitude about it. I wish you the best on your own path! I will keep looking for your posts... Barbara, I was intrigued by your question "who do you want to help?" and my first thought was, "I'm pretty selfish--do I want to help anyone?" and realized i DO want to help--that's a big part of what's missing in my life right now. I'm wondering if I have some sort of block to helping others. I know I'm pretty picky about what I volunteer for. (cop out? i don't know.) Anyhoo, the thoughts I have at this point is that those I want to help are probably (don't know for sure) women, NOT children, and it would involve encouraging or inspiring people. Heck, I don't know. Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I just love this bulletin board! Karen
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Postby Karen » Thu Sep 30, 1999 7:53 am

I have an update of sorts... Yesterday, after I wrote to the BB, I asked myself if I still really did want to teach/present stuff. It\'s been a long time since I\'ve done much of it and I wondered if I was deluding myself. Well, I have made it known at work that I enjoy that sort of thing and I got \"volunteered\" to present what we do (at this company) to some biostatistics students. It was just a 10 minute presentation, but let me tell you, all doubts passed as soon as I got up in front of them. I LOVED it! I was in my element! Could I answer all their questions? Of course not, but it doesn\'t bother me so much. It\'s not that I have to KNOW all the answers, it\'s that I get to present this stuff and communicate to this group of people. It\'s about taking something that is as dry as a saltine in the desert and making it a lively! Even the professor who brought them told me \"it\'s obvious you\'re a natural communicator, but what advice would you give these students who isolate themselves?\" And it reminded me that after my master\'s defense (I presented statistical results of a readership survey and answered questions from my committee--very stressful), my advisor said (after *2* long years of mathematics graduate school), \"Have you considered public relations as a career?\" So what do I do? I spend my time trying to make myself want to be \"attentive to detail\" and super-analytical. No wonder I\'m frustrated! Anyway, the experience was validation for me. I still don\'t know who I want to help. How does one figure that out? Is there such an exercise in one of Barbara\'s books? Thanks for letting me vent! :-) Karen
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Postby Holly » Thu Sep 30, 1999 8:59 am

Karen, there is a big list of people and causes to work for in Richard Bolles' book, "What Color is Your Parachute." The list is in the section on your favorite fields, The People List. Maybe this list and its descriptions will spark something for you. Holly
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Postby PhyllisMufson » Fri Oct 01, 1999 6:38 pm

Hi Karen -- I met a woman who works as a trainer, educator, public speaker whose area of expertise might be of interest to you. She teaches technical people to communicate better to non-technical people: to make their 'dry as saltines' topics come alive. She teaches how to make effective technical presentations, public speaking and train the trainer classes. Her topics aren't unusual but it's all geared to the particular needs of technical people. (She used to be one and therefore has a lot of credibility.) I thought this might spark some ideas.
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