Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wax on, wax off

Most of my life I have been known as a "visionary type," or "abstract thinker." Generally, these have not been compliments. My graduate school advisor called me his "philosopher student" one time, which I still insist on interpreting as a good thing. A few years ago, one of the directors at our company asked me to come into a software requirements meeting he was holding and "do some of that crazy-talking you do."

I realize now that I am a rank amateur. My boss is internationally famous for visionary thinking, and uses  words like "aspirational," "transformational," and "entangle," often in the same sentence. We've been working on a grant proposal for the past few weeks, but he's been busy with other things, so I've been doing most of the writing. Reading through it this morning, I realized it sounds awfully pedestrian. I was very tempted to send a message asking him to run through it and add some of that crazy-talking.


  1. Teachers regularly viewed me as a burden. I often misinterpret things, or perhaps I interpret them too well. I'm not sure which it is.

    My boss is also famous, but that's more for his determination and general affability. I've learned more about business by watching his conversations with our donors than I ever thought relevant. His skills are mind-blowing.

  2. I understand your point here, and I know this opinion won't mean much because I'm considerably younger and less of a "visionary type" than both of you.

    But knowing both of you personally, I prefer your crazy-talking to his crazy-talking. He's great, massively intelligent, and truly a visionary, something he also inspires in others (much to their chagrin at times :-p). But you inspire people in a totally different way. (And you are also great and massively intelligent - and I mean that.) The two of you are actually remarkably complementary, and I love seeing (and continuing to hear about) the group dynamic with you two as the heads. Sometimes I think it's the only way that group functions. :)

    It's all about perspective. And I'm absolutely certain that it doesn't sound nearly as pedestrian as you think it does.

  3. i have literally evaluated hundreds of proposals during the course of my career. there is an art to capturing that which is innovative, without sounding like hallucinatory bullshit.

    my guess is that a few words or phrases up front, or in the summary, may be all that is needed to fluff it up a bit...

    and you'd have the additional bonus of referring to your boss as a "Proposal Fluffer"...

  4. @Rassles: understanding is not typically the responsibility of the listener, though teachers often like to think it is.

    @Jane: Thanks. Complementary is good, but not always comfortable.

    @daisyfae: I will never forget the phrase "hallucinatory bullshit." Thanks for that. It came to mind a number of times over the last 48 hours.