This week Marjorie Winther is in the hot seat! I met Marjorie years ago through networking and a few friends in the training and development field, and she’s been providing me with best practices, and laughs, ever since!
Tell us about a cool project you are currently working on.
It’s hard to pick just one. At work my favorite project is teaching a program I designed called “Boots to Suits” for people who get promoted from the street crews into management. I spend 5 days with the group, balanced between working on leadership skills and pulling in experts to teach segments on employment law and other practical matters. We talk a lot about positivity and reframing. We get very close over the course of the program. There is a lot of learning and also a lot of laughter and lot of sharing stories.
Outside of work, I have been competing in story slams through first person arts. Each slam has a theme, and you write a 5 minute true story on the theme. Twice a year all the slam winners compete in a grand slam. I won the first one I did. The theme was Burned. I wrote about my first year teaching when I accidentally set a little boy on fire. But the story is about more than that; it’s really about what to do when you don’t know what to do, how to handle situations that you are not prepared for. (If you want to see it, go to https://www.firstpersonarts.org/tag/summer-grand-slam/)
What I love about the stories, is I free write and then rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. By about the fourth draft I figure out what the story is about. I always try to find a theme that is larger than me. I used to do stand up, so my stories always have jokes in them—I am addicted to that feeling of hearing an audience laugh hard. It washes over me like love and acceptance. But what I like about writing and telling stories more than stand up is that I feel I can go deeper. I’m not constrained to setup/punch. I can develop a story and let the funny part lead to something.
Through my first person networks I have been invited to do stories at various venues. I recently did a show called “Risk!” that was part of the Free Library Author’s Events. There is a moment in the story where I realize my marriage is over and I am on my own—and my favorite line is: “I thought I would be alone forever, because I know I am not all that. But apparently, I am all this.”
The audience broke into wild applause. I felt great because I think I touched something we all feel. The need to dispute that “not good enough” message that we all have.
How would you describe yourself? What words would you use? What is your brand?
Oh boy. Can I steal your theme and describe myself as “becoming?”
No? Okay. Warm. Adventurous. Authentic. Silly. I manage to carve out a niche for myself professionally but commit to being authentic and taking risks. What that means at work is creating experiential activities in the classroom that might be seen as goofy but doing them anyway, if there is a point to them. Like the rubber chicken throwing activities to teach small team/large team processing.
What are you passionate about? What type of work makes you jump out of bed in the morning and/or stay up late at night?
See answer one. Writing stories and thinking about what my experiences have taught me about life. At work, it’s helping people be more positive about their working relationships. Helping people get out of the right/wrong box and shift perspective.
What is your source of inspiration? What drives you forward?
I seem to be driven by a need for attention. But also, the real desire to help people connect across boundaries, whether racial or gender or just union/management. What do we have in common and how can we have a richer experience of life by knowing each other.
How do you see yourself evolving, or "becoming", in the next year? In the next 3 years?
I would like to keep writing and see where it takes me. I have some dreams but I am too superstitious to put them in writing. And, I don’t know. Maybe fall in love. I’m also working on my fitness goals. I have lost a lot of weight in the two years since my marriage broke up. I want to continue down that path and start doing more physical activity. I just signed up for a rowing the Schuylkill class that I am excited about.
Thanks for your insights, Marjorie!
To contact Marjorie directly, please email her at: email@example.com.
Are you becoming, or do you know someone who is becoming? I am always looking for the next becoming interview!