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creativity

Pickling, a random forest, elastic stories, and the importance of stretching your mind

When we started talking about pickling, a random forest, and elastic stories at work, it wasn’t a conversation about life off-the-grid; it was about writing code. My brain was stretched, expanded, and twisted over the next 2 hours as I furiously scribbled notes and googled terms I didn’t know so as not to disrupt the flow of the conversation. When it was all over, I felt like I’d taken a ride on the Kingda Ka rollercoaster at Great Adventure. Where were my land legs safely rooted in the world of design thinking, ROI, and NPV analysis?

This kind of experience, as confusing as it may be, is so critical for business and product people because we have to understand the underlying work that brings our ideas and decisions to life. Programmers are wizards of the humblest order. I marvel at what they do, and when I say that out loud, they say anyone could do what they do. That’s simply not true; they are talented beyond words.

This is exactly the world I love—drop me off in a foreign land where I don’t speak the language, and give me a deadline and a limited budget that I have to use to get back home to the world of designing something that delights a customer. And that’s exactly where I am right now. Home is on the horizon, and until I get there, I’m going to enjoy the journey and learn, learn, learn.

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About Christa Avampato

I make a living in business and I make a life as a writer, artist, and yogi. I use my business and storytelling skills to build a better world. My first novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, will be published in the Fall of 2017 by Thumbkin Prints, a children's and YA imprint of Possibilities Publishing Co. My creative career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, and financial services. In every experience, I have used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, program, and events to help people live happier, healthier lives. A recovering multi-tasker, I am a proud alum of UPenn (BA) and the Darden School at UVA (MBA). When not in front of my Mac, I’m on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I am proud to New York City my home, and I've been called the happiest New Yorker by friends and strangers alike. They're right. Follow my adventures on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christanyc and Instagram at https://instagram.com/christarosenyc.

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I'd love to know what you think of this post! Please leave a reply and I'll get back to you in a jiffy! ~ CRA

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To be a writer is to first be a listener and observer. I often go somewhere—a coffeeshop, a museum, a store—and just tune into the conversations of others. I don’t take out my phone or notebook. I don’t have any purpose other than to listen to what people say, how they say it, and then how people respond to them.

I tried this experiment recently at the @metmuseum. I went to their Astor Chinese Garden Court and sat there for a while as people wandered in and out. It’s a bright and peaceful place in the museum. Good for clearing the mind and opening up the ears.

It was fascinating to see such a diverse set of people come into the space and have a similar experience, of peace and contentment and happiness. It reminded me how hurried and cluttered our lives can become. And it made me more conscious of the power of places that give us time to just be. The expression of “wow” on everyone’s face when they entered the garden made me smile.

As we edge toward 2018 and the cold weather takes us indoors for a few months, I’m looking forward to more of these listening and observing activities. We have so much to learn from each other.

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