Strengths and opportunities
I am thankful for the many opportunities and professional responsibilities I have enjoyed at Western Michigan University. When I began working full-time in 2000 I had many strong technical skills in multimedia and web development. My supervisor was a gifted, kind, and wonderful mentor who helped me to grow throughout the several years I worked with him. In 2005 I changed offices and began my first management job. I had some training to prepare me prior to starting the new job — but I learned a lot about working with and for others. There were many things I did not expect to learn or experience — but I grew and gained project management experience, enhanced my large scale planning abilities, worked with process mapping, and more. Roughly one and a half years later I started in my current job working with some of the most amazing leaders who are responsible for running key parts of the University. There are some days, when I look at the people sitting around the table at meetings, and I wonder…how did I get here? When caught in the moment it is easy to forget all of the experiences and opportunities that make us who we are.
What am I working on today?
I am going to generally talk about things I am currently working on and am interested in. There is overlap into the Instructional Designer, Training Manager, and Instructor roles. Rather than trying to weave the language of the book into my life, I am going to focus on the language and terms I am comfortable with.
I am interested in the following things:
- project planning
- Being able to do this makes impossible things achievable. By having the ability to slowly chip away at a bigger problem, to break it into smaller pieces, to utilize the strengths of multiple people rather than working as an individual — these things are project management.
- Using the idea from the computer industry: cheaper, better, faster. There is always something new. Today we laugh at what we did in the past. In the future, the present will seem just as primitive. Getting better at process improvement is always a good investment — it helps you innovate and move towards the future.
- With so much to do, knowing how to get things done is golden. Do I need to say anything more?
- If you can’t tell a story, explain value, engage listeners, and do it quickly — then you will never be able to achieve your full potential.
- Wonderkids can do a lot on their own. Collaboration and networks will help you to become an unparalleled guru. Play with the other kids — you will be able to build a bigger fort or control a larger mountain than ever before.
- Halo 3 made 170 million the first day it went on sale. If you don’t see the impact of games on our culture, communication, and learning processes, then you aren’t paying attention.
- Keeping it all a secret only hurts you. Tell everyone what you are up to, get others interested, share so that others who want to learn and reach the level you are at have a path to follow.
- Never stop learning. Think about advanced degrees. Just because you are great doesn’t mean a thing to strangers. Letters after your name will give you the credibility to open the door, get the big grants, and to do new stuff you never dreamed of.
- The pen is mightier than the sword, no? Write well, clearly, concisely, and simply.
- I love visual communication and color. I may never be Monet, Warhol, or Ansel — but maybe I will be Michael VanPutten.
- Playing the guitar helps me to think and makes me feel good. Singing, smiling, and laughing are a great way to get everyone to open up.
- I want at least one thing in my life to last longer than my life.
- Doing something for others is as motivating, if not moreso, than all of the recognition in the world. Some friends tell me this is kind of what having children is like.
- If I die, and my tombstone says “He went to work”, I will slap myself in the afterlife.
- No person is an island. I have gotten to where I am by interacting with others. The more people I meet, the more I learn and experience. This, is a good thing.
Pursing activities that support the above items, outcomes, etc. will make me a more complete professional and individual. There are a lot of things I want to do. There is a lot of time left to do them.
I am presently very happy with my job and place in the world. I hope to enjoy the ride as long as possible. Someday, I may be asked to step up to take on another role, work with others, accomplish other tasks. For me, the amazing thing is that I have come this far without a specific objective. Desire to learn and collaborate, to grow, to have fun and do neat stuff has brought me to where I am. When I was growing up, my father said “You get a lot for just showing up.” In many respects that has been my life. I was there, I said yes to opportunities, I worked really hard to develop and learn, I evolved and started the cycle all over again.