You-Shaped:
What We Can Do
For and With Each Other

I like to think of the work that Vergant does as a pro-social brand builder…and that I do because I can't not…as You-Shaped.

Whether it is helping a company to make its mark or helping a person to find their calling, this work consists of several strong and interwoven threads.

The central thread is the crafting of processes, products and programs that reflect, embrace and emanate from an authentic, profound and powerful place.

The primary process is one of distilling down to essence and building out from there.

The results are almost always:

• Clear and articulated goals
• Strong and built-in values
• Unique value propositions
• Heightened visibility
• Measurable differences and returns
• Vibrant, alive and evolving people, places, companies.

In business, this goes beyond creating and marketing brands. It includes building brands whose values and souls shine through; brands that stay true to their visions and live up to their missions; that serve key stakeholders in ways that they care about and need most; that generate their intended results (i.e. products produced and distributed; campaigns strategized and waged; differences and/or dollars made); and that contribute to society in meaningful and measurable ways.

In life, this means understanding and being your best, most essential self -- a self that is reflected, celebrated and deepened in the ways you live, learn, work and play.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been doing such You-Shaped work for self and others…and for entities ranging from major corporations to prison populations.

What follows are a few personal examples of You-Shaped learning and work.

For every good reason, I hope that they’ll help inform and inspire ways in which we can work, create and contribute together!

Warmly and looking forward,

Wendy Dubit
WonderWorks
5405 Tuckerman Lane, #319
North Bethesda, MD 20852
301.530.0684 * fax 301.530.5869
917/334-6925 @ Vergant and on Cell
wendy@vergant.com * www.WonderWorks.com

You-Shaped Learning and Work: In Every Sense!

Each of us learns differently. And ideally, we will be learning for all of our lives. Perhaps the most essential things we can learn are how we learn best and how to love learning.

For example, while some folks have a photographic memory, I am more olfactory oriented. From my earliest days, I delighted in and could identify and catalogue a wild array of aromas.

Implicitly, from as far back as childhood, I linked my sense of smell to my love of learning. If my mind tired during studies, I might peel a tangerine, sit nearer a lilac bush or linden tree. By high school, I used this technique more explicitly, and began blending in color and music for optimal learning and sensory experiences. Not only did I consciously use scent, sight and sound to heighten interest, understanding and memory….But I probably had far more fun than fellow students at test time -- with concepts and their applications linked to and triggered by shades and scents of pine, strands of Vivaldi and Chopin, and so on. What I lacked in photographic memory, I could usually compensate for by using all my senses, including my senses of curiosity, wonder, awe, humor, association, etc.

By college, I found a legitimate way around the drinking age by being profuse, poetic and surprisingly accurate in my descriptions of wine. And it was no accident that my first post-college career including running Friends of Wine magazine and its Les Amis du Vin tasting society….Or that I would later work with Martha Stewart to extend the encyclopedic ways of winetasting to such subjects as apples and eggs, and with Pantone to extend their vast knowledge of color to consumers. Throughout, I was able to hone and cross-pollinate my own senses and preferences while helping others to understand, celebrate, articulate and elevate theirs.

I call this practice BrainSearchery, and will be building it out in all sorts of exciting ways in the coming days.

You-Shaped Learning and Work: Making it Real

While I proved adept at harnessing each and every sense to learning and work, I also longed to learn and work in ways that were relevant, far-reaching, real and fun.

In third grade, when assigned a science report, I asked if our class could write science articles instead. Why? Because articles seemed real. Scientists and journalists wrote articles. When Mrs. Breckstein pointed out that there were no magazines that published the science articles of third graders, we started one. And even if it was only read by parents, peers and the occasional strong-armed sibling, the process of researching and writing for our own publication rendered all of our experiments, findings and presentations important, impactful and real.

Later, I would write for, run, start and consult to magazines. (See here for details.) I would use journalism and business skills as a ticket to learn, create and contribute in ways that impassioned me, served others and grew all of us. In one of the creations and contributions I am proudest of, I pioneered a teaching method that found me starting magazines and businesses with each of the so-called “learning disabled” students I tutored.

Believing that all of their learning channels could be stimulated and strengthened by coupling their skills (strong or weak) with their greatest interests, we set off on an adventure that deepens to this day. A student that might hate math could love pizza (itself an artful instructor of measurements and multiplication). A child who resisted English could nonetheless be lured to "run a magazine" about heroes, and, in that capacity, to assign, edit, interview and write. I knew I had taught them well when they realized they were teaching me. (For an example, please visit In Truth, We Teach Each Other.)

A stint in family entertainment drove the lessons home in a mass-er market way: If we wanted Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen to sing and act straight from the heart, their songs, films and shows should reflect what they cared about and wanted to learn most: Being twins, becoming detectives, swimming with dolphins, exploring the Wild West. In the back of limousines, before and after appearances, we penned songs, plotted programs, created products, had fun. It counted towards their education and contributed to their careers. But most of all, it was learning and work as a reflection of who they were and wanted to be.

As an example of how strands of self, learning, meaning and work can be bought together, I am pleased to point you to The Producers’ Project. The Producers’ Project (TPP) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation dedicated to increasing the effectiveness, relevance and reach of education by putting powerful tools of learning, leadership, expression and production into the hands of students and teachers.

Since June 2002, TPP has worked with New York City Department of Education (NYC DoE) students and staff -- in school, after school and via summer and weekend intensives -- to produce academically aligned, artistically expressive and issue-oriented documentaries. Now these documentaries are going into distribution, TPP is creating original properties for television, and learning and lives are being changed.

We are about to embark on groundbreaking work with the students and schools of Rikers Island, including the production of public service announcements and documentaries, the launch of viewing libraries and screening programs, and the development of a job training and placement program. This work stands to encourage students to stay in school, and to reduce the recidivism of those who haven’t…all while creating vibrant programming for distribution in schools and to the public.

I’ll keep you posted on progress!

Most importantly, I’d love to hear about your experiences and aspirations. And I’d adore exploring what we can make happen together.

Warmly and looking forward,

wendy@vergant.com

 

   VERGANT: AN IMPACT FROM EVERY ACT   
THE RENEWABLES: THINKABLE IS DOABLE THE SENSES BUREAU THE PRODUCERS' PROJECT: A NEW LENS ON LEARNING
WONDERWORKS PRODUCTIONS UNDERWOMAN AND MORE!
  WENDY@VERGANT.COM 301.530.0684
fax 301.530.5869