Investment in SelfDuring the morning break at the Santa Fe Symposium (SFS) yesterday, I made an investment in myself. I went out by the pool, took my shirt off and sat in the sun for a full half-hour. Hard to give up the networking, every moment here is an opportunity to meet a new, or reunite with an old friend. And SFS is populated by many of the most important people in the jewelry industry.
But the best investment can be elusive. And for me it is rarely about the money, or contacts or what many people would recognize as “opportunity”. I’ve come to recognize that an investment can mean many other things.
Here’s an example. When I first began coming to SFS 12 years ago it became customary for me to take an early-morning walk down to the Rio Grande River. It’s just over a mile from the hotel and at an early hour, as the sun comes up, a very pleasant walk. Part of that walk proceeds west from Rio Grande Blvd. along Central Avenue, old Route 66. That half-mile stretch from Rio Grande Blvd. to the river has several operating old-time Route 66 hotels. I became intrigued by one that was abandoned the first time I made that walk. It is called El Vado and is an adobe-type construction that, at least in my imagination, must have had a colorful history. I visualized buying that dilapidated property and restoring it to a vibrant bit of history with a contemporary, hip, spin.
Well, it is a good dream, and I have held on to it for all the years I’ve been coming down here, wondering what it would be like. Just what would it take to bring back to functionality and how cool could I make it? Of course, my real love is designing and manufacturing custom jewelry so I knew that El Vado would remain a dream for me. But I have built an “investment” in that property that will never go away! And on today’s walk I find that someone is making my El Vado dream come true for themselves. I’m ecstatic!
I knew I was never going to restore that property but every year that I walked down past it I feared I would see it leveled, or worse, a cracker-box hotel replacing my beloved El Vado. That’s a classic emotional investment that I’m happy to retain. And I can’t wait to come stay one day, drink a craft beer sitting by the pool that, under different circumstances, might have been mine.
Investment in Others
Now, most people should probably never really consider jewelry to be a monetary investment. But one can make a different kind of investment with well-made jewelry! The emotional investment that we all have in the relationships and special events in our lives are often memorialized in personal jewelry.
I love being a part of that! Contact me today to begin your project. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, the investment will be in the people you love, and the things that are important to you. Like sitting in the sun, or having a dream…
And although I’ve spoken at many events, and 5 times already at this upcoming event, I always have a little stage fright. Fear is good. Keeps you on your toes. When I was rock climbing more frequently, getting good enough to lead a 5.8 crack pitch with traditional technique, placing my own protection as I went, I was often asked, “Aren’t you afraid?” Hell yes I was. And that fear kept me safe, I truly believe that. Unbridled fear is dangerous, of course. Paralyzing. And it can easily become a deadly spiral if you are high on the rock wall and get locked up, too afraid to move, as you gradually lose the strength to stay where you are.
In fact, the most serious injury I’ve yet sustained in rock climbing was from trying too hard not to fall. When I realized I was going to fall, I should have just let go, trusting my gear. But no, I held on beyond the ability of my shoulder to keep it together and consequently suffered a little rotator cuff pain for the best part of a year as it healed up. The eventual fall didn’t harm me at all, as the protection I had placed served in just the way it was intended.
Fear as Safety
Fear, in healthy context, keeps you honest and safe. Fear compelled me to meticulously place my gear that day on the rock. And the result of that fear was an uncomplicated fall once I let go. One from which I could easily recover and continue the climb. My acknowledged fear of public speaking makes me pick topics that interest me, do appropriate research, and compose thoughtfully. And then practice. I rarely run through my whole presentation BTW, because I want my delivery to be spontaneous. My practice involves going through sections that fit together, and then practicing the transitions between them.
So next Sunday when I present my paper, I’ll step up to the podium and begin my speech. And then I’ll step away from the podium to let myself take over and own the presentation. If I stumble during part of it, the protection I’ve built into it, by thoughtful creation and practice, will allow me to recover and continue.
Biorhythms be Damned as Gary Speaks
Well probably. But the chart shows me to be on an emotional high about 6 days after the presentation, just when the feedback will start setting in.
Designing and making thoughtful jewelry is my first love. But I am growing to appreciate the opportunity to learn that comes from putting myself out there as a writer and speaker.
In 2 weeks from today I leave for St. Louis, the first leg in my journey to present my latest paper for the Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology (SFS). I’m leaving a couple days early to visit with my sister and family who happen to live in St. Louis and then will rendezvous with the rest of the speakers slated to present at the SFS. The 3-day junket prior to symposium is designed as one of the most important networking events in the jewelry industry. After 3 days of socializing and sightseeing together, the entire contingent of speakers and SFS staff are moved to Albuquerque, NM where the symposium is held each year. This will mark the 31st annual event, and will be my 6th presentation.
It is both an honor and very humbling experience to be involved with this event, a gathering of up to 200 of the most influential designers, manufactures, and suppliers within this ancient and fascinating industry. The Symposium was organized by the founder, Eddie Bell, to be a repository, the only existing archive, for detailed, well-researched investigations into metallurgy, design and manufacturing techniques. This international group of independent individuals can be contentious, hence the social junket prior to the actual event. This allows for friendships to form and builds tolerance among holders of disparate views. During the Q&A session following one of my more controversial papers regarding tarnish resistant silver alloys, people were standing up and yelling at each other across the room.
I’m Lucky……in that Mr. Bell seems have allowed me to present somewhat unorthodox topics. In 2010 my paper had the longest imaginable title…”Paradigm Shift in Jewelry Manufacturing and Market Structure: An Examination of Contemporary Small Shop Jewelry Production – Design to Manufacture to Retail” wherein I drew parallels between the then current state of the jewelry industry and the fall and eventual rise of independent breweries here in the USA. That was a fun paper to write!
And Gary writes again…my paper this year is titled, “Finding a Voice: The Challenge of Design in the Evolving Computer-Aided Design Era”. I’m excited to share this as both personal essay and critical commentary on the integration of CAD-CAM into the jewelry industry. It is composed of a bit of personal history and observation, and commentary about how the jewelry industry has integrated CAD-CAM into design and manufacturing. Frankly, as an industry, we could be utilizing these useful tools more productively.
To see how I use CAD-CAM in my processes, check out my website, Gary Dawson Designs! Hope to hear from you soon.