Sunday, June 30, 2013

Addie the Artist

The St. Louis Art Museum was busy making preparations for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting to welcome visitors to the new East Building. June 29, 2013 was a beautiful, sunny day in Forest Park. The East parking lot in front of the museum was turned into a fair and exhibit space with exhibitors from cultural institutions, live music and food trucks.
Laumeier Sculpture Park was among the exhibitors offering visitors, and their kids, activities and information. Clara Coleman, the Laumeier’s Curator of Interpretation was on the spot early to set up a space that would prove popular with kids (and adults too). “Create your own sculpture,” came the challenge. Soon the booth was staffed with enthusiastic docent volunteers. Dana Turkovic, Curator of Exhibitions was on hand as traffic to the booth began to build and shared details of the PATCH curatorial program that is engaging poets, artist and fans.
The Laumeier space offered a limited array of materials for aspiring artists to take on the sculpture challenge: cardboard pieces, popsicle sticks, colored paper, clothing pattern paper, paper straws, and glue paste. Tools were limited to scissors, string and hole punches. The activity allowed for self taught lessons with enthusiastic support from staffers showing a natural affinity for any form of artistic expression.
Creations were left to dry as Clara carefully applied masking tape to avoid calamity with each gusty breeze. Kids and their parents could be overheard. Parents and guardians are testing the limits of coaching creativity as kids balance independence with occasional sense of helplessness. It is a journey of discovery. What makes an artist anyway? The question doesn’t have a short answer but may be exemplified in one young aspiring artist.

“My name. Its Addie,” offers one young artist as she comes back to the Laumeier booth to collect her masterpiece.

“You are a natural talent Addie,” offers a docent volunteer.

 “Well thanks. I write too. My mom says if I keep going, one day I could be published.”

“That is great Addie. Stay with it. You have the heart of an artist. I hope one day you might be a famous artist or writer and I will read about you.”

“That’s Addie. A-D-D-I-E. Addie McDowell.”

Addie McDowell cradled her sculpture, smiled and followed her mother into the crowd. 

Note: Photos above of Addie's contemporaries who visited the Laumeier Sculpture Park exhibit space that sunny Saturday to celebrate the opening of the St. Louis Art Museum East Building.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Perry to Marry

We saw Perry at his right-of-passage on the bema one day.
He was tall, straight and the apple of his father’s eye
“My, he is handsome,” I heard someone say.
His mother was full of joy and about to cry,   
Grandma showed no sign of emotion;
She is thinking through her stoic preparations.
Remembering how they laughed by the ocean.
The future looks bright, but not without trepidations.
We live, dream and time does pass.
Big leaguers enter an all-star break.
The world changes. We hardly notice, just how fast.
Something is brewing.  Plan, mill, mash, make.
Hopes and dreams are difficult to reach.
But with Autumn comes a breath of fresh air,
Together join forces, we beseech;   
Be an unbeatable team with a championship flair.

Winners always have a better chance.
But seasons they come and they go.
Wishes and prayers for your lovely romance;
Prepare to win, blossom and grow.  
Another milestone is a certainty.
Each goal achieved is unique;
Another step on your journey.
Study, learn, coach and teach.
Your faces in the crowd, with each season, each Fall
Anyone can see how precious, how free.
Play hard, smile, prevail for us all.
One union for the ages - you deserve and can be. 
This New Jersey day in June,
Tears, cheers, emotions will vary.
May the light shine on you for many a moon,
Oh dearest Autumn and Perry.

Perry and Autumn – Sorry I could not be with you on your wedding day, June 28, 2013. I trust Lynn, Lindsey/Chris, Ben/Allison will represent me fairly. Sending regrets and nothing but best wishes. Life is a journey. Be grateful for every precious moment. Face the world together and you will win in the grand scheme of things. We are all so very happy for you. - Wes Morgan (Uncle Eyeball).     

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

So I'm Thinking Some More

I had an interview with Boeing. That’s a big company in the aerospace, aviation and defense business. I was satisfied to make it to the next round after the phone interview with Bruce and Tim who would ostensibly be colleagues if I can navigate the selection process for the Communications Specialist 4 position of which I appear to a qualified candidate.

This round has me appearing at building 100 on the Boeing campus for  a structured panel interview with Bruce, Tim and two others (Brent and Henry I think).  The format was remarkably similar to another interview I had this week. There were ten questions preceded by a carefully worded script.
Describe a situation where you proposed an integrated marketing communications program. How did you do this and what were the results?

Describe a situation where you applied metrics to a program to measure success. What were the results?
Describe a situation where you noticed something that needed to change and how you make that adjustment. What were the results?

I’m paraphrasing, of course, since I didn’t have a chance to record the questions.

As I asked around a bit I got this plausible explanation.  The interviewers took turns asking precisely worded questions because they were looking for behavioral examples of my approach. Once more, they were likely grading the completeness of my answers. My friend Mark, a sales trainer and consultant, suggests that those questions were likely graded based more on formula than on a judgment of quality. Mark says that they were looking for situation, action and results – with those three pieces present in the answer you get a star. It seemed to match the behavior I observed of those interviewers.
As always, I hate the vagaries of a process that assesses my qualifications based on some puzzle, formula or scorecard. But at the same time I can see a company the size of Boeing has to follow a process in its hiring practices or be vulnerable to litigation.

Funny, they added an 11th question. What do you think of the value of branding? I am a brand advocate and a firm believer in creating standards that need to be adhered to. However, I felt compelled to point out that all brands evolve. So in a sort of Darwinian fashion you need to make allowances for updates and applications to new situations. “Look at Pepsi, for example. There was a time when changing graphics on a 12 oz can was unthinkable, now seasonal changes are commonplace. And their logo has changed pretty dramatically in the last 5-10 years

The call comes on my cell phone the very next day. “Hello Wes, this is Brett from Boeing calling to thank you for interviewing with us. We enjoyed meeting you and we enjoyed the answers you gave us to our ten questions but we’ve decided to proceed with two other candidates. We hope you will stay in touch and feel free to apply again as other jobs are posted on our web site.”

So it goes.

Monday, June 10, 2013

So I’m thinking.

I’m in an interview for the position of substitute teacher at the Special School District (SSD). I fancy the idea of “giving something back” in the form of education, wisdom, whatever. I realize as I’m talking through my background that I am a candidate that is probably not typical. The interviewer has 15 required questions. They are preceded by a script. (I get it. You want to be fair and thorough in a process like this. I have already satisfied a number of requirements: provide references, transcripts, fingerprints, on-line assessment test etc. Now the one-on-one interview is part of the process. Not a final step but a necessary one.)

“Why are you interested in teaching?”
“If a student doesn’t want to complete a required assignment in class, how would you deal with that situation?”

“If a student wants to know why they must learn something, how do you respond to that question, why?”
“Tell me about your teaching approach.”

These are not the questions verbatim, but I think they capture the flavor of the interview with Peggy at the headquarters of the SSD in Town & Country. She took some notes, apologizing in advance for being a slow writer. I’m sympathetic to the note taker and am, I think, short and efficient with my answers. The whole thing, including the bit about my background at the end of the exchange only lasted about 22 minutes. (I don’t know if that is a good thing or not.) Peggy is doing her job for the Human Resources department. She was engaged enough in the conversation to share with me that her daughter was in market research (COO at Hatch).
I enjoyed the brief discussion, even if it was a bit contrived. It is always a little unnatural to be sitting across the table from a person fishing for answers to record. I answered honestly. Interestingly, I started to think about teaching (even as a substitute) as a unique opportunity. I’m not crazy enough to suppose that my impact will be profound as that of a dedicated teacher. I am a student of human nature. I believe people deserve a chance to learn. I know each person processes information differently and learns at different pace. I can do this.

So I’m thinking. This is a completely different career path for me to pursue. I offer experience and a perspective on the value of learning. I just might be a solid utility player in this system. I don’t know yet. Maybe I will find out.
“Someone will contact you if/when we think there is a fit.”

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Nixon Resigns!

Nixon  left the White House on August 9, 1974, to avoid certain impeachment. It had become clear that Nixon had ordered senior aides to cover up the Watergate break in of Democratic national headquarters.