About Charlie Gilkey
If a mad scientist were to do a freaky Friday experiment and cross an entrepreneur, Army officer, and philosopher, I'd be what popped out of the tube. I'd probably then help him figure out how to do it better. I'm weird that way.
Some people have a hard time understanding who I am because I seem to be a mixture of contradictory traits. I'm philosophical yet pragmatic; compassionate yet disciplined; creative yet analytical; driven yet laid back; happy but calm. These complexities come through in the content I share, so if it throws you off, you wouldn't be the first to wonder what's going on.
I'm out to help people thrive by using their creativity and energy in ways that help themselves, those around them, and the world at large. While that seems fairly ambitious, the way we do this is by continually making small steps in the right direction - at a certain point, we look up and the thousand miles are behind us. We build a better future step by step and day by day, and it turns out that it's possible to enjoy the building of that future in the present.
Who we are today is largely influenced by where we've come from, so you might be curious to know a little bit more about where I'm coming from.
Before I got into writing, thinking, coaching, and teaching about meaningful action back in 2007, I was teaching philosophy at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, while I was completing my Ph.D. (in Philosophy) while simultaneously managing a career as a logistics officer in the Army National Guard. I'm happily married to a loving, beautiful, and brilliant woman – Angela, in case you see me refer to her in posts - so I was doing the best I could to be the husband, friend, and lover that she deserved. And then there was our house that we were remodeling...
On top of all that, I'm an incorrigible polymath and tinkerer. I'm constantly learning new things and trying new or better ways to put information and tools together. My complicated, layered life was just an extension of my quest to learn and experience a bunch of new things.
Given that I learn by researching, experimenting, writing, teaching, and sharing, I decided to start helping other people become better at managing a whole bunch of stuff at once. While in the short term, I made my situation worse - after all, starting a blog/business on top of everything was just making another thing to do - in the long term, I figured out how to make my life easier and much more meaningful. It turns out that many of those same techniques and orientations will help you, too.
Fast-forward nearly a decade and I'm still at it. I'm still slowly working toward finishing my dissertation and I haven't been in the Guard since 2010, though it still is a core part of the way I understand the world. At the macro scale, I love what I do and spend each day doing what I love; it's a blessing to have all of my random geekery seen and to be able to use it in a way that helps people play their own best game. I spend a lot of time advising people as they build better teams and ventures worth being in, which is the best puzzle I've ever found.
That's who I am and what I do, broadly speaking. My what I'm doing now page shows my current projects.
I hope you'll hang out for a while and that I'll get to meet you sometime. And if you'd like to know more about the incredible team behind Productive Flourishing, click here.
In no particular order with no particular relevance:
- My philosophical specialties are ethics and social/political philosophy. I've also done a lot of reading in American pragmatism, process thought, existentialism, classical philosophy, and Taoist philosophy. (I did mention I'm a polymath, didn't I?)
- I was a joint force logistics coordinator in the Army National Guard and exited as a Captain. As my career progressed, I spent more time making sure the Air Force and Army were on the same sheet of operational music. But, of course, that's like conducting two symphonies at once. Ah, the good ole days.
- I deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in '04--'05. I was a transportation platoon leader for part of the tour and a plans officer for the other part. It was one of the best and worst times of my life.
- I have a problem when it comes to books and reading. I read 5--15 books a month and buy too many. My book shelf needs to grow 10" a month. Most of the books are non-fiction, and digital reading just doesn't do it for me. Yet.
- I love matrices, analytics, flow charts, and diagrams. I'm one of those people who have to limit the amount of time I look at stats or organize data because it'll displace my doing the things that create the stats and data.
- I love tabletop and role-playing games. On the nerds-vs.-normal spectrum, I pass as a normal unless other game nerds are around, in which case I start failing my charisma checks.
- I'm a self-taught singer-songwriter who plays acoustic guitar. My style is like a combination of Jack Johnson, Amos Lee, David Gray, Mat Kearney, Michael Franti, and Jason Mraz - with some Lupe Fiasco, Smashing Pumpkin, and Radiohead thrown in.
- I grew up in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I'm multi-racial, in case you're trying to figure that out.
- I was a cheerleader in high school. Were it not for pictures on Facebook, I might not have told you.
- I attended the United States Military Academy at West Point but decided it wasn't for me. I had scholarships on hold and slid into undergraduate studies without missing much of a beat.
- I'm an Eagle Scout, but I'm no longer involved with the BSA due to personal disagreement with their exclusivist policies and since the ruling to end their ban on gay Scout leaders, I've been carving out the time to get involved again.
- I learned a lot of practical craft skills from my father, who was a general craftsman. I learned the hard way that just because I can build stuff doesn't mean I should.
- I hate running, as much as I wish I loved it.
- I keep things relatively clean and ordered because I get overwhelmed by big messes to clean up.
- I avoid doing collections, roll-ups, and mentions because I always forget somebody important to me or can't pick everyone. And I'm ridiculously bad at picking one favorite anything. Except for Angela, who's definitely my favorite person.
- Strengths from Strengths Finder: Strategic, Relator, Connectedness, Individualization, and Learner. Enneagram 9w8. ENTP, but pretty mid-line on all of them.
- I'm very conscious of spaces and relationships - tangible or intangible. It can be a blessing and a curse.
- I laugh a lot and my sense of humor can range from slapstick to academically dry. Sometimes this comes through in my writing, but I think people find me more jovial and entertaining in person. The context that makes humor work is so hard to convey in writing.
- I have a hard time asking for help. It's a flaw that I've gotten much better about over the last few years, but I could still use some a lot of work there.
- We have three two cats. Like most cat stewards, I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how I can love them but hate having them at the same time.
- I live in Portland, Oregon, which happens to be a vortex of awesome. For the record, it was cool before I got here.
- Due to a football injury, I can't move the last knuckle on my right ring finger because that finger has a screw in it fusing those joints. It sometimes gets hung in doors and makes it much harder to climb ropes without using my feet.
- I've been in life-threatening situations more times than I'd like to count. I get more scared thinking about them than I was during them.
- I'd like for Seth Godin, Merlin Mann, and Jack Johnson to know who I am. As far as I can tell, they don't. Update: Seth Godin does now!
- I've always gotten along better with people 5--20 years older than me than with people my own age.
- I'm an old soul. At least, that's what people tell me.
- I have a really good memory about some things. I often remember passages and facts from books I read 15 years ago.
- I love art and artists more than I love having art. Art and artists aren't just limited to the black beret type, either.