Thursday, May 31, 2007

A (not so) Quick Sketch Biography of Goldie Katsu

I've been thinking about Chris Brogan's DIY Autobiography Kit, well, since he published it on his blog. I thought I'd join in and write up my Quick (or maybe not so quick) Sketch Biography, so here it goes.

The thing most people know me for is… my smile and my willingness to listen.; alternatively, my ability to get groups of diverse people to work towards a common goal; alternatively, the ability to help people understand viewpoints that are different than their own; or perhaps all of the above.

Depending on the circle I may be known (in addition to the above) for:

  • work for the community
  • computer security knowledge,
  • ability to help them with their computer problems
  • ability to make things work
  • knowledge of Judaism both practical and mystical

The people I associate the most with are…people who want to change the world. This is a broader spectrum of people than one might think at first. Sure it would include movers and shakers who start disruptive movements, but it also includes people who work in education because it makes a difference, or people who are involved in charity works to help improve people's lives, or even people who just want to make their piece of the world a little better.

People who have influenced my life are… my mom and dad. They are both teachers and are incredible listeners and they make huge difference in the lives that they touch.

Another person who is a big influence in my life is the Lubavitcher Rebbe - this influence is in more areas than you might think. Certainly his work to spread Judaism to Jews touched me as I became a baalat teshuva (someone who took on Jewish observance, rather than being raised with it.) But even more so his style of teaching and his view of the world has influenced mine profoundly.

His teaching style is one of looking at something, asking penetrating questions, coming up with answers, seeing the flaws in the answer, and then coming up with stronger answers. If you read any of his sichot (talks) or maimorim (lectures) you will see this pattern again and again. This has influenced my teaching style and also the way I approach my work.

I'll talk about two specific aspects of the Rebbe's view of the world. The first is not accepting limits. So many people have stories of going to the Rebbe and telling him their "great accomplishment" and the Rebbe would say to them "That is a great start". I tend to live my life with the attitude of anything can be done. If I think of a project or idea that inspires me I will go for it and find a way to make it work.
The other aspect of the Rebbe's view of the world is his ability to see value in everyone in the sense that everyone has worth and contribution to give to this world. It is easy to write off people, it is much harder to uplift people, yet the latter is a characteristic of the Rebbe, and one that I attempt to emulate.

One challenge I took on and overcame was…learning how to promote myself. I think this is really the biggest challenge for me. I am very good at doing, and being there for others, but I will often let others take credit for my work. While this isn't bad in all cases there are downsides to this - beyond self interest. If you have something to contribute and you don't let others know about it the value of your ability to contribute is limited to the projects you seek out. When you learn to promote yourself people can (and will) come to you to ask for that special skill you can contribute. Learning to say "I did that" "I can do this" required a shift in perspective to not feel like heel when I said it. Although I can say "I over came this", I'm still learning how to promote myself and let others know what I can contribute.

My early years, before you probably got to know me were…turbulent and chaotic. Ok maybe not quite that, but before I met my husband I had lots of passion and ideas but little faith in myself and little focused direction. I was involved in lots of things: motorcycling, movie making, Rennaisance Faire, posting on news groups, costuming, folk dancing, ballroom dancing, playing clarinet, playing flute, going to geek parties through out the south bay area, bicycling, etc. etc. Lots of great stuff, but I would flit from one to the next never certain of committing to any one thing, or being fully present.

My husband, in addition to helping me see myself has given me the support to help me grow. He is the first person who really believed in me and was not afraid/threatened by my successes but spurred me on to do more. I didn't list him as an influence, as he isn't an influence in my life but a part of my life.

You might not know this, but…I tend to be verbose when writing...oh wait you probably know that already :-) But seriously, I am leaving out some details of my life and accomplishments that might be interesting to you, leaving those to share in a person to person interaction. I'm goldiekatsu on gmail, twitter, flickr, jaiku, etc. (And Goldie Katsu in Second Life. It is true, Katsu is not my real last name, but I'll answer it to it.)

I’m passionate about…people and ideas. I love all of the new technologies, but I tend to view them just as tools. The importance of these technologies to me are how they affect people and help spread ideas. More on that in another post.

In the next year or two, I hope to…have fun and laugh more. Of course, given the above that means being busy with people and ideas.


Chris Brogan said...

So were you kind of a flower girl earthy crunchy type? The clarinet and motorcycle made for a neat contrast.

I really loved reading this. You're an infinitely fascinating person, especially for your prior chaos. I'm glad you took the time to write this down. It was great to read. : )

Goldie Katsu said...

I was definitely a flower girl earthy crunchy type. Of course, I still buy organic ;-). One of the reasons I chose UC Santa Cruz as my college was because it still had the "'60's Activist Feel" even though it was around 1986, unlike the other colleges that I perceived as more apathetic.

I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. Thanks for coming up with the idea of writing it.