Where are they now? Nathan Ardaiz, EMTM 2011-2013
March, 18 2021
Where are they now?
EMTM Alumni go in different directions after they graduate. In the blog series "Where are they now?" EMTM Alumni share their career development stories.
In this first post of the series, Nathan Ardaiz from generation 2011-2013 shares his 5 key learnings pre- and post-EMTM.
This is Nathan, from the 2011-2013 cohort.
I am a facilitator. I help groups move from A to B. I support groups to do their best thinking together. I guide groups through learning and design process. I train groups.
I love what I do, and I’m deeply grateful for where I’m at in life.
In fact, I’ve even worked with two EMTM cohorts (2018-20 & 2019-21) – memorable and enlightening experiences : ).
I’ve also been running my own business for several years now – Almost Any How (you can see more at almostanyhow.com).
I want to share 5 things that have led me to what I do now, and that I believe will help you to think about yourself and your own journey:
1/ My career development started while in EMTM. I used my research and reading time to focus on topics that I was drawn to – psychology, human behaviour, design and design research. I integrated those into my master’s thesis and the people I met and worked with while writing. I was opportunistic and strategic in a way.
What skills/ capacity do you want to start developing today? Why not start a business while you’re in EMTM?
2/ I followed my intuition. I was drawn to facilitation and facilitation training through people I met when I returned to San Francisco after my third semester at EMTM. I also met and sought out people who were working in research, design and facilitation. I offered to work for cheap/ free, I turned down work I didn’t think was for me (despite being good money), and I continued to find education opportunities and experiences that built the skill set I knew I wanted. For example, I did a fellowship for a year in social entrepreneurship.
What are your core values? And who and what do you notice coming into your life - what are they offering? What are you offering them?
3/ I listened to and integrated feedback (feedback can be love). A dear friend from EMTM once told me that I wasn’t a very good listener. I took responsibility for my skills, and how I wanted to relate to the world. Training as a facilitator was the main way I was able to address that shortcoming, and then practice, practice, practice.
Who have you sought feedback from recently? Who can share with you what you do well and what you can improve on?
4/ I took risks and exposed myself. I applied for (and continue to bid for) jobs that were/ are outside of my experience and skill set. Most of which I didn’t get, some of which I did. I got in front of groups and led discussions, workshops and meetings – sometimes I ‘didn’t do a good job’, but most of the time I learned, improved and became more resilient. I said ‘no’ to things that weren’t aligned with my values and my ‘path’, jobs, projects, people, etc. (I also said yes to a lot of things that weren’t aligned, and did/ do my best to learn).
What scares you? What are the potential consequences of trying? What are the potential payoffs/ upside?
5/ I have stayed curious, open and humble. I can almost always see multiple sides to a discussion, as that is one of my key roles as a facilitator. Subjectivity and context is a key principle of the cosmos. This is also a key skill of leadership, I believe – being able to hold all the perspectives of your team while keeping the vision and values at the heart of the conversation. Actually, that is the essence of democracy! I can change my mind and course almost instantly when I know I’m wrong, especially when it’s in the interest of the wider group. That is a built skill, it takes practice and awareness. When you can do that, you can truly collaborate, lead and connect with those around you on a very deep level.
How do you know you’re wrong? What does it feel, sound and look like? How do you feel saying, ‘I don’t know’, or ‘I was wrong’?
I hope that’s been at all helpful. If you’d like to learn more about facilitation, I recommend this talk by Adam Kahane – “Power and Love”.
With warmth and best wishes.
Written by Nathan Ardaiz, Alumni of EMTM Generation 2011-2013