Chatting with a Geologist

Chicago's Shoreline with clear blue skies
Chicago’s Shoreline with clear blue skies

When was the last time you had an hour long conversation with a geologist? For me, it was this morning as I was flying from Miami to Chicago. I took a window seat in the back of the plane. The guy next to me was complaining under his breath about the discomforts of flying and how the experience is disguised as a service when in reality it resembles cattle herding more than anything else. His perspective caught my attention as I had just finished tweeting about how pleased I was with American Airlines’ evident service improvements … at least the attempt. The guy went on to tell me he would much rather drive and be in control of his experience while enjoying the landscape. Appreciation for landscape is something I can relate to, so I took the conversation down that path since he seemed clearly distressed about take off.

After take off, Jim asked what I do for a living. I gave him a short description of my job and then went on to explain why I am so passionate about marketing; his response: “oh, you are one of those who try to push products down our throats with cute taglines.” Although that’s not exactly what I do (no cute taglines in my industry), I smiled and explained that I am in the business of bridging gaps. “I take the knowledge and expertise of people and businesses and present them in ways that customers can understand and can relate to. I create an environment where conversations can take place. Conversations create opportunities for both businesses and customers.”

Jim asked for a few examples and by the end of our five minutes on marketing he concluded: “well, you are passionate about this stuff, I think I understand it a little better. I wouldn’t know how to explain what I do in words others can understand” … he was right.

Jim is a geologist based out of Kansas. He is working independently on a project that he failed to explain in simple words. I nodded to keep the conversation going and interjected a few times with “oh, that’s pretty cool.” I explained my knowledge of geology is rather limited but I am very curious about the subject, therefore I watch lots of documentaries. His eyes lit up when he realized I wanted to know more and went on to talk about sink holes, continental shells, tectonic plates, caves, rock formations, ocean currents, and even asteroids. He pointed things through the window and gave me theories about their existence.

We talked about the shape of the earth two hundred million years from now, the effects that the speed of rotation and ocean currents may have on land masses, and of course global warming. There is nothing more engaging and captivating than passion, I concluded as Jim went on about the usefulness of a gravimeter.

I also learned that Jim was a stay home dad for fifteen years and raised five children (four girls and one boy), while his wife grew through the corporate ladder. He was proud to tell me he can prepare five different breakfasts under thirty minutes and makes pancakes like no one else. He then spotted an empty window seat and I suggested he went for it as we had clear skies and he would be able to see a lot of cool stuff, a different perspective of the landscape. Jim followed my advice.

Jim took the window to enjoy the landscape, and I stayed at my window to rest my head and think about passion and engagement … I love what I do: my job is to bridge gaps.


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