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ABOUT NEIL


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ABOUT NEIL


My name is Neil Chudgar.

I help people TALK ABOUT BIG IDEAS.

My work helps people and organizations speak truthfully and compassionately about the big, important ideas that are hard to talk about.

Health care and health policy are particular areas of professional focus these days. But my work has been helpful to clients in fields from journalism and software development to manufacturing and digital commerce. 

Previously, I was a teacher and scholar of English literature, specializing in early modern cultures. I received my doctorate from the University of Chicago, where I taught in the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities and in the College. 

I came to Minnesota to serve on the English faculty at Macalester College in Saint Paul, where I taught courses about literature, philosophy, and ecological thought.

Most days you can find me working alongside a few dozen friendly co-workers in a shared office on the old trading floor of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. I go home to Northeast Minneapolis, where I live with Vera, a black cat; Mel, an orange cat; and my husband Paddy, a calico man. 

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Why I work


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 big idea for a new way to manufacture 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. But the factory didn’t succeed.

My father didn’t understand where his big idea fit into the competitive landscape. He got distracted by frivolous projects. Worst of all, he didn’t know how to communicate the enormous value of the work he was doing to the people who needed to understand.

All the time, I meet people like my father: people with big ideas and the skills and courage they need 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 you big idea fits into the wider world, to stay focused on the work that matters most, and to speak powerfully and honestly to the people you care about. 

If you have big ideas, I want to help. 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 only need big ideas when they have questions only a big idea will answer.

Learning only happens when it has to happen—only when people feel truly alarmed or intrigued, curious or perplexed. To get your big idea across, 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 can help you frame the questions that open minds and hearts to learning.


2. I GET WHY THIS IS TOUGH.

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

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Sometimes people suppose that communication should be as effortless for you and me as purring is for kittens. But in fact, communicating is a very difficult thing to do — especially when you’re trying to express ideas that are new, complex or challenging. Teaching people to communicate big ideas is what I do for a living.

Over the years, I’ve helped all kinds of people set their biggest ideas free — journalists, social workers, CEOs, and many hundreds of college students — in media from stump speeches to pitch 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:

  1. Tell me the question that your idea can answer.

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

  3. Tell me why you care.


3. I’m strange (in a helpful way).

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People tend to work with others who share similar ways of thinking. Working with minds like your own lets you get work done efficiently, 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 trauma healing, dark ecology, adhesives, and health policy (among other things). Thanks to this strange assortment of knowledge and knowhow, there’s no idea so big or weird that I can’t help you express it.