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Why I work


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Why I work


A brief story about socks

My father, Ashvin Jayantilal Chudgar, working on a machine called an “Amy knitter” at Keystone Hosiery.

My father, Ashvin Jayantilal Chudgar, working on a machine called an “Amy knitter” at Keystone Hosiery.

My father had a brilliant idea: he invented a new technique for manufacturing socks. After decades of patient waiting, he opened a tiny factory and filled it with talented craftspeople and antique textile machinery. Those people and machines made the best socks you can imagine—I think they might have been the best in the world. Yet the factory did not succeed. 

My father didn’t understand where his brilliant idea fit into the competitive landscape, he got distracted by less important projects, and he couldn’t figure out how to communicate the enormous value of the work he was doing to the people who needed to understand.  The factory went out of business.

All the time, I meet people like my father: people with brilliant ideas and the skills and grit to make them real. Maybe you are such a person yourself. I was too young to help my father, but I can help you.  If we work together, I’ll give you the tools you need to understand how your ideas fit into the wider world, to stay focused on the work that matters most, and to speak powerfully to the people you care about. 

What ideas do you need to communicate? We can figure out how together. Let’s go sell some socks.

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How I work


How I work


THREE WAYS I CAN HELP


1. I’ll help you ask the right questions.

People don’t think a new thought just because you tell them to. People think a new thought because they have a question that only a new thought thought can answer.

Learning only happens when it has to happen—only when people feel truly alarmed or intrigued, curious or perplexed. To convey a new and powerful idea, you don’t need “messaging”—you need a way to make people ask the question that your idea can answer. After many years of teaching new ideas to everyone from grad students to lobbyists, I know how to lead people to ask the questions they didn’t know they had


2. I GET WHY THIS IS TOUGH.

Communicating isn’t hard because you’re doing something wrong. Communicating is hard because it’s hard.

Sometimes people suppose that communication should be as effortless for you and me as purring is for kittens. But actually, communicating is a very difficult thing to do — especially when you’re trying to express ideas that are complicated, troublesome or exceptionally interesting. I specialize in helping people overcome the challenges that interfere with their communication.

Over the years, I’ve helped all kinds of people set their most important ideas free — journalists, social workers, CEOs, and many hundreds of college students — in media from websites to slide decks to white papers. The skills I’ve developed along the way are powerful, flexible, and humane.  

If you are having some trouble communicating an idea that matters to you, here’s a series of nudges that might help:

  • Tell me the question that your idea can answer.

  • Tell me the story of how you came to ask that question.

  • Tell me why you care.


3. I’m strange (in a helpful way).

For understandable reasons, people tend to work with others who share similar ways of thinking. Working with minds like your own lets you get work done quickly, but it can also keep you trapped in common patterns of thought. When a problem has you stumped, an infusion of cognitive diversity can help you break through it. That’s where I can help.

My résumé is full of unusual knowledge and odd ways of thinking. Over the years I’ve learned and taught about philosophy, languages, literary criticism, poetics, political theory, cultural history, and more philosophy. More recently, I’ve learned about deep ecology, educational psychology, web development, marketing, how to run a startup, and health policy (among other things). Thanks to this strange assortment of knowledge and knowhow, I have powerful resources for solving difficult problems in unexpected ways.