James’ Top Skills

 

I’m naturally inclined to solve problems. I leverage my imagination to come up with complex solutions that often seem obvious after the fact. The more I read and observe reality, the more complex my thinking becomes. Since thinking is my dominant trait I tend to read obsessively about all sorts of things and I’m observant of many seemingly insignificant details of reality. I’ve learned a lot about philosophy and technology, which have inspired me to create Artsci and Geomtiree. Artsci is alleviating the pain of nerds who have yearned for aesthetic t-shirts, hence the slogan “Put your nerd on.” Geomitree is an educational solution that will help people learn how to make/customize a multitude of objects with or without a 3D printer. The first online course is in production: How to Create Custom(izable) Monopoly Boards.

The logos that I’ve created for these brands involve the artistic use of my problem solving skills. Art and Science are often thought of as antithetical, and so the problem here was coming up with a logo that was able to be both artsy and scientific. The Artsci logo takes a regular paint palette- which looks artsy- but features planets instead of paints. I leveraged the spherical similarities of planets and dots of paint to solve the problem of integrating seemingly opposite subjects into an astronomical palette. This perceptual integration of a paint palette and the planets of our solar system synergize to form the corollary conceptual integration of Art and Science, Artsci.

There were still some problems with the logo. The cursive in the original was supposed to be artsy, and the colored planets were supposed to be scientific. However, the lettering made it hard to read and the colored planets/sun made the logo overly flamboyant. I solved these problems by simplifying the font and making the logo only two colors- blue and green- the colors of our planet. I also built in an artsy Easter egg. At first glance the logo looks all blue. However, if you pay attention to the paint brush you’ll notice that it has green paint on it which was used to paint our planet- which is Earth (unless you’re a Martian).

The original brand idea for my educational 3D printing site was “Geome3D”- an attempt to combine ‘Geometry’ with ‘3D’. However, after pondering about this for about a week I started to realize that this brand name had a problem. It’s difficult to make a connection between ‘geometry’ and ‘3D’ in ‘Geome3D’ because the perceptual integration of the two concepts is so rough.

One morning I was thinking deeply about this problem on a walk through the forest and then had flash of inspiration- the solution had suddenly occurred to me. I had felt a need to have ‘3D’ in the name- but I could integrate ‘3D’ spatially into the logo rather than linguistically into the brand name. That’s when I concocted the new logo in my mind, featuring a necker cube and a tree (linguistic and spatial), ‘geomitree’. It’s precisely the unconventional spelling that enables the integration of the spatial elements X, Y, and Z into perceptual branches on the ‘t’, meaning that ‘geomitree’ has a hybrid meaning- it’s a brand and an imaginary species of tree. The inventiveness of the new logo aims to inspire more people to invent with 3D printers.

I’ve also had to be a problem solver in my sales roles selling knives, internet and shoes. When I sold CUTCO cutlery I had to clue into the kind of kitchen and home that the prospect had, then I had to scent out the biggest problems they might be having with their cutlery. Should I focus on the warranty or on the tech? I had to envision the solutions to the prospect’s problems extemporaneously. This type of problem solving carried over to my job selling Comcast Business as well as my current job selling shoes. With Comcast Business (and in some sense all sales positions) the main problem was objections, and the solutions I came up with were in the form of rebuttals.

Selling shoes at the mall is a bit different. For instance, I often have to solve the problem of coming out of the stock room empty handed. I can’t do that, even if the customer’s requested shoe size isn’t in stock. Instead, I analyze the customer’s needs (which can be either implicit or explicit) and find a shoe in their size that matches the criteria of their request. I’ve had to resolve this problem many times, and the funny thing is that the customer often ends up with shoes that are even more appropriate for their use than their original request.

Whether it’s solving a marketing problem or a customer’s problem, I’m always thinking outside the shoebox in order to create effective solutions.

Speaking about my solutions or ideas comes in a close second. I’ve tended be a confident public speaker from the time I started giving Power Point presentations in middle school. I remember having to sit through 10 monotonous presentations of my classmates reading word for word while I was waiting impatiently to present. Then, when it came to be my turn, it was as if I were an alarm clock waking the class up from deep sleep. My fellow students were alarmed by my intensity of speaking, which was due to my clarity of thought.

Since high school, my roles in various sales positions have enhanced my ability to communicate persuasively. I learned that getting teachers to give me good grades is one thing; getting somebody to pay me is another. The first real sales gig that I got was with Vector Marketing selling CUTCO knives, just after graduating high school. Lots of my friends thought it was a scam since you had to set up appointments in order to make money. I knew better. It wasn’t a pyramid scheme like people thought, because the focus was on selling the CUTCO to end-use customers, not on recruiting people to buy the product monthly. Within my first weekend I had cold-called 100’s of numbers and had given a dozen cutlery presentations. I ended up selling $3000 worth of CUTCO cutlery to my first few customers, winning myself a $1,200 ‘Homemaker Set’. I quickly caught on to the elements of the pitch that people really cared about, like the scissors that cut pennies in half, and over the next couple of months I worked part time to sell a total of $10,000 worth of cutlery, earning myself about $3000.

My next speaking job was selling Comcast Business door-door with Detroit Business Consulting. This job was cut-throat. At Vector, I had a base-pay to back me up in case I didn’t sell anything. With this job, if I didn’t sell anything I didn’t make anything. The goal was to setup as many small businesses in my ‘territory’ with 3-year Comcast Business (mainly internet) contracts. I aimed to pitch at least 50 businesses per day, but pitched over 100 businesses some days. As I moved from territory to territory I started to pitch people of all different shapes, sizes, and colors. I became more in tune with the nuances in the gatekeepers’ and decision makers’ body language and tone of voice. I learned how to figure out who really wasn’t going to buy and who was just saying they weren’t going to buy. I walked away from this job with the ability to talk to strangers with cool and collected confidence.

My latest sales job is my current one, selling shoes with The Walking Company at the Briarwood Mall here in Ann Arbor. It’s a very multicultural place, and I’ve found that I’ve become very in tune to the differences in various cultures of my customers. In some ways this job has taught me similar things that the Comcast job did, but this time the customers are coming to me- which makes it a bit different. The fact that the customers are even in the store in the first place means that they’re potentially interested in buying- all I’m there for is to educate them on the product (primarily Abeo shoes and orthotics) and help them buy.   Sometimes the customer cares about support in the shoe, sometimes not. Sometimes the customer cares about the price of the shoe, sometimes not. Over the past 9 months I’ve significantly polished (with shoe polish) my ability to read body language and gauge buyer type.

In high school it seemed I wasn’t that great at writing. I didn’t want to write about what the teachers and superintendents wanted me to write about. However, over the past few years I’ve developed my writing skills and plan on writing both nonfiction and fiction books, starting with The Spectrum of Wisdom and Philoshoephy respectively. In addition to these upcoming works, I have written many blog posts which you can read here. Although the quality of content isn’t equal among each piece, my blog will provide you with an array of my work on a wide-variety of topics.

One particular aspect of writing that I’m proud of is my ability to communicate complex ideas in a simple manner.

For instance, in The Synergy of Objectivist and Darwinian Aesthetics  (which was translated into Portuguese and will be published on Objetivismo) I provide the reader with a complex yet succinct thesis:

“these art theoreticians (Dennis Dutton and Ayn Rand) have analogous paradigms: one is promoting the reverse-engineering of a species’ tastes to understand why we view similar sights in nature as beautiful, one is promoting the reverse-engineering of an individual’s emotional reactions to art so as to discover their ethical framework.”

The meaning here is easily seen: both of these philosophers promote aesthetic reverse-engineering- one of the species, the other of the individual. The example of “similar sights in nature” invokes the reader to think “oh yeah, I guess pretty much every sane person I’ve ever met does enjoy a beautiful sunset”. The example “ethical framework” invokes the reader to reflect on the way in which their values correspond to the art which they consume. I have set this sentence up so that the theme of this essay, an analogy between biological evolution and ethical evolution, is easily deduced: cross-culturally shared aesthetic tastes are to natural selection as individual tastes are to an individuals’ evolving values.

Part of the reason I write well is due to the fact that I read a tremendous amount of both non-fiction and fiction. This fuels my thinking, which fuels my writing. If you wish to see some of the books that I’m most inspired by, checkout my Recommended Reading page (where you can view even more examples of my writing).

I’m currently reading both The Art of Fiction and The Art of Nonfiction  by Ayn Rand so that I can better construct outlines and write more confidently. I’m also taking a fiction Masterclass by novelist James Patterson that includes an online community to share my work with. Soon I will upload the outlines of both my fiction and nonfiction books that I plan to publish by the time I’ve completed Praxis. If you you’re a lover of wisdom then you’ll love my book The Spectrum of Wisdom. Since loving wisdom makes you a philosopher you’ll have to love Philoshoephy:

“Philoshoepy is a philosophical fiction novel that takes place in a shoe store where the shoes creep out of their boxes at night and hold the personality of the last person who tried them on. At the beginning of our story, most of the shoes are either getting into drunken arguments over drinks (of shoe polish) or hiding in their box because they see no point in coming out.

One day, a new pershoenality enters the mix and creates organized philoshoephical debates about topics like free will vs. determinism that the other shoes slowly but shoerly start to attend. After these debates are finished the dreams of the respective personalities are finished, and the people who tried those shoes on wake up and begin to check their premises, as their philosophies begin to head in a more truthful direction.”

Philoshoephy will not be a long novel, but eventually I want to write massive philosophical fiction novels and make them into movies. Until then, I plan on solving problems with my novel ideas wherever my skills may take me!

 

 

 

 

 

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