Stephen Egts

 

Capitol Communicator is running a series of profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this “up close and personal” profile, we feature Stephen Egts, creative director for the Society for Science & the Public. Photography for this series is by Cade Martin; wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson and Janice Kinigopoulos for THE Artist Agency.

Stephen, please provide us a short bio.

I am currently the creative director for the Society for Science & the Public (SSP). I manage the branding and strategy for the Society, as well as for their programs and editorial initiatives. I am also closely involved with the creation and production of SSP’s bi-weekly publication, Science News. Prior to SSP, I spent many years cultivating skills from different disciplines—from film to advertising. Over the years, I’ve developed a soft spot for public health organizations and building awareness campaigns.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

During the past two years, I’ve been taking French at the Alliance Francaise, which has taken up a significant amount of my personal time. As for professional groups, I’ve participated and worked with many, including Women in Film and Video of Washington, D.C. and ACM Siggraph: Washington D.C. Chapter.

Two years ago, I co-founded an informal group of artists that meet weekly to discuss their work and goals.  We’ve named it the Starbucks School of Animation, since we meet at the Dupont Circle Starbucks. I wanted to speak to other artists regularly to critique work, discuss contract negotiations, and build goals for personal work. The group has been a success and we have acquired individuals with all types of artistic backgrounds outside of animation. Most recently, one of our co-founders, Heather Larkin, joined Blue Sky. It’s been an extremely rewarding experience.

What are the things you are most proud of?

I’m most proud of the fact that I was able to build a strong career with an art degree.

Who are your personal role models?

My personal role models are my friends. I’ve been able to learn a lot from them professionally and personally over the years.

Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?

A dear friend, Elaine Carpenter, helped me when I started working for myself years ago. She coached me on how to develop a “web of influence.” For days, she had me collect the names and contact info of every person I’d come into contact with professionally, starting with college. This was a significant undertaking since it preceded LinkedIn.

After the list was created, Elaine had me separate the names from closest friend to most-distant acquaintances. My goal was to make contact with at least two people via phone per day and schedule at least one lunch per week.

The most important part of Elaine’s coaching was having me understand the importance of listening. She explained that it was more about listening to their needs and less about selling my own services. From listening to their needs, I would be able to help connect them to others in my network. Achieving this would grow and strengthen my web connections—leading all threads back to me.

Her thoughtful strategy paid off with time and effort. I can’t thank her enough for those nuggets of wisdom.

What professional advice do you have for others?

Surround yourself with the best and brightest talent. Feel confident in the strengths you bring to your team, and don’t be afraid to let other people shine. Creating a winning product starts with a winning team.

What advice do you have on what’s appropriate attire for your organization?

Gosh. I’m the wrong one to ask. When I was younger, many dress-code policies were adopted because of me. For the most part, clothes don’t make the person. As I’ve gotten older, I learned that impressions and perception matter. So when it counts, wearing a well-made button-down shirt from Thomas Pink can make a difference.

Where do you  buy most of the clothes you wear to the office?

Our office is very casual but, in addition to Thomas Pink, I purchase clothes from Uniqlo, Benetton, Shanghai Tang and the wonderfully age-inappropriate Forever 21.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I’m a big believer in sharing knowledge. Whether it’s mentoring a coworker, creating a meet-up, writing a blog or teaching a class, freely giving away your knowledge only strengthens relationships and your community. A professional pitfall is when people hoard information in order to create dominance, importance, and security—which ultimately results in isolation and eventual irrelevance. This is why I’m a huge proponent of open source and its community. Sharing only creates broadened ideas and opportunities.

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