Tag Archives: professional

Richard Ladd – Professional Eclectic, SMSD

As a noun, Merriam-Webster defines eclectic as “one who uses a method or approach that is composed of elements drawn from various sources.” I think this describes me pretty well. So well, in fact, I once printed up business cards introducing me (see the title of this post) as Richard Ladd – Professional Eclectic, SMSD. I used different fonts for each letter of the title, chosen to stress their difference yet not such that they appeared garish or disjointed. At least, that was my intent. I have no idea if I succeeded because I never really passed any of them out. It was a silly conceit of mine.

I added the SMSD embellishment very purposefully. Although I have two advanced degrees I’m reasonably proud of having earned, I seldom place their initials after my name. However, I intended the business card to be somewhat of a joke and, coupled with some minor discomfort in holding myself out as being a true eclectic, I thought to broaden it and thereby soften the harshness of what I worried might be too heady a self-endorsement. One could easily imply calling oneself an eclectic might be a backhanded way of suggesting one was a polymath.

Merriam-Webster defines dilettante as “a person whose interest in an art or in an area of knowledge is not very deep or serious.” Although I have long had a keen interest in many different fields of study, I am not sure that interest is deep enough for me to really be a person with eclectic interests or tastes, not necessarily a true eclectic. SMSD, therefore, stands for “Some May Say Dilettante.” I considered it a sort of backhanded disclaimer, a way of acknowledging I just might not be very good at my eclecticism.

A recent example from an attempt to recreate a former business card

A recent example from an attempt to recreate a former business card

What caused me to think of this? I was looking at my desk, which I had actually cleaned off not too long ago. It is once again cluttered, as it almost always is. It reminded me that I’ve always been interested in many things and easily distracted as well, and it finally hit me that I will likely never be “organized”.

It’s not limited to what I read and study either. When I was living in Playa del Rey and my family’s business was in Vernon (East L.A.) I often tried different routes to go back and forth. I get bored really easy with doing the same thing the same way, over and over. When I worked at Rocketdyne for over two decades, I often drove different routes to get to work and, even more importantly, I often tried new ways of doing things; always looking for a better way to get my work done.

I once worked with a guy who insisted he was far too busy to take time to learn something new. It was his goto response when I suggested he take 10 – 15 minutes to learn a couple of keyboard shortcuts or learn about a macro command that would save time in the future. I’m always amazed by people who have no curiosity and see learning as a chore or something that impedes their ability to get their work done. That attitude is the epitome of the saying “pennywise and pound foolish”, IMO. It’s also the antithesis of being able to see systems or what is frequently referred to as Systems Thinking.

Hmmm. It seems my propensity for wandering has happened with this post as well. I think my main point was a recognition that one needn’t be “organized” or to see it as the be all and end all of being an effective person. Some of us just aren’t built that way, yet we manage to do quite well overall. Yeah. That’s the ticket.



I Like to Mix and Match

A couple of Muses

One of these has got to be my Muse!?!

Yeah. I know. I missed posting the other day. I spent a lot of time creating and writing the first post for a new blog I created for a client. Have you tried to create an engaging and useful blog site for a Dry Cleaners? I believe I can (and have begun to) do it, but it ain’t a walk in the park, if you get my drift. Besides that, my muse decided to take a little vacation. I’ve been talking to it a lot lately, trying to convince him/her to stick around for extended periods of time, but I don’t always seem to get through to her/him.

Anyway, I suggested I would write a bit about why I’ve made the – perhaps – dangerous choice to mix my personal blogging in with my professional blogging. Actually, though I haven’t as yet done so, I plan on mixing in political blogging and, come to think of it, I’ve pretty much tipped my hand when it comes to religion . . . though I may yet have some surprises in store.

I have elsewhere discussed my purpose for starting this particular blog and why I named it Systems Savvy. I’m not exactly circling around to what my original intention was, as my plan is a bit broader than what I originally set out to do. What I am doing, however, is not only recognizing the systemic nature of the physical world, or that of the economy, society, and the entities that form bonds that keep things going, but also of my own life; me as a system and me as a system embedded in larger, more complex systems.

What I’m getting at is I am not defined by any one aspect of my life. I have diplomas to signify my completion of particular courses of study, but my education has been continuous and diverse. You can’t define me with a couple of initials at the end of my name. Neither can I be defined by any of the numerous positions I’ve held over the years at literally dozens of companies, some of which I either owned or was a partner in.

I have some pretty well-defined political and religious beliefs. Some might call me opinionated . . . but they’re clearly assholes :). Regardless, none of my “beliefs” or opinions are set in concrete. I like to think I am both intellectually curious and doctrinally malleable. I strive to be scientific in all that I do and in all my thinking about what makes the world go ’round.

Me and my alter ego

Me and my evil twin

I have a personal logo I designed, at the suggestion of Ross Dawson, that seeks to represent my philosophy to some extent. It consists of a pair of head-shots of me – one positive, the other negative – juxtaposed on top of the yin yang symbol. This represents my understanding* of the dialectic; the tension and resolution of opposite tendencies in the world and in human relationships.

All to say . . . I have presented myself as a compartmentalized, semi-one-dimensional person for most of my life. This is what was asked of me and what I gave in the belief it was necessary to survive and thrive. I still believe it worked fairly well for me and probably does for most people in today’s political and social climate. I have no intention of continuing along those lines. I’m still struggling for the right voices to use to present my stories, but I am bound and determined to present what I believe my life has been about and the direction I intend for it to take in the time I have remaining.

Two days ago marked the second anniversary of my retirement from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. I’ve been reconciling myself with the reality that life wasn’t going to proceed along the path I had expected for an awful lot of years; learning to deal with the changing circumstances. I’ve been on this path for a while and expect to constantly refine – and redefine – it as time goes by. I have my moments of despair, primarily over wondering if I’m going to be able to replace the income I lost as a result of my retirement but, for the most part, I’m having a ball.

Stay tuned if you’re interested. I do want to be read. However, a large part of my impetus for doing this is my desire to leave a trail for my children to follow in understanding their father and why he did what he did. Having become a first-time, adoptive father at the age of 55 (and again at 59), I have no illusion that I’ll live long into my children’s adult lives. This is just in case I don’t get to have the conversations with them I’d like to.

* On 17 May 2012 I changed the word “knowledge” to “understanding” with respect to the concept of “the dialectic”. I did this as, in accordance with Professor Russell Ackoff‘s “spectrum of learning“, I wished to convey the thought not merely that I have knowledge of the existence of the dialectic, but I believe I have a reasonably well-developed understanding of how it works in the world as well. Whether I have the wisdom yet to apply that understanding well . . . remains to be seen.

What’s In A Friendship?

I remember the day I realized my Facebook friends consisted of old and new friends, colleagues, and family. My initial reaction was one of horror and despair. The horror was in realizing being myself with one set of “friends” might not be as well understood, or as welcome, by those who were in another set of my “friends.” I was paralyzed, but only momentarily.

Since then I’ve come to accept (or should I say I’ve come to realize my “friends” must accept) the diversity of relationships and viewpoints we all have. Perhaps it is partly because I am not at the beginning of my career, but much closer to the end, and – therefore – I have little need to worry about impressing an HR department. My professional experience is long and varied, running the gamut from very small (2-3 employees) businesses to large (100K plus employees), multi-national corporations. My accomplishments stand on their own and, besides, my main interest is in small business now.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t wish to offend anybody, but I really don’t want to worry too much about somebody not agreeing with or liking what I have to say. If you are a friend of mine, it means I find something valuable in what you have to offer. If we all thought alike, how would we learn anything . . . ever?

So, please forgive me if I offend. My political and religious views are far from mainstream, but I’ve arrived at them through many years of thought, study, and introspection. I am probably far more aware of the intricacies of mainstream thought than others are aware of those I adhere to, yet I have lived quite comfortably with them. I hope you’ll do the same for me. Can’t we all just get along? =;^D

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