Saturday, September 23, 2017

Spotlight on CEE Presenter: Joseph Reimels

Creativity in a Black Hole and Surprises at Every Turn

A Conversation with Joseph Reimels

By Janet Stormes

Joseph Reimels is an expert risk taker, collaborator and a successful salesman.  He credits his career and personal success to his dyslexia and the Creativity Studies graduate program at Buffalo State.  Joseph will be presenting a talk at the 2017 CEE-Conference and if my conversation with him is any indication, he will challenge and inspire the audience.
I had the opportunity to chat with Joseph and our conversation was far-reaching, inspiring, and full of surprises.  He attended Niagara University as an undergraduate where he majored in political science and minored in theater.  He received his Master’s degree in Creativity Studies from Buffalo State in 1997.
After earning his Master’s degree, he worked for a New York state senator and then began working in sales in New York City.  In 2008 (at the height of the economic recession), he decided to make a career jump to retail finance as an independent contractor.  He spent the first two years of his new career on the road, including six months when he was essentially homeless and working from his car, before he landed his first national client.  Now he has 3,200 clients and works with hundreds of sales people to help them develop their sales skills.
I asked Joseph how he managed to persevere for those difficult years and give himself the time to succeed.  He said that he learned persistence from living with dyslexia, and optimism, confidence, and the skills to tackle challenges from the Creativity Studies graduate program.  He described dyslexia as looking at a black hole and creativity as the light that enabled him to work himself out of the black hole by understanding his strengths and what he wanted to do with his life.  He believes that the creative studies graduate program is an untapped resource for many other people with dyslexia.
Joseph said that given his background, he values collaboration and embraces the strengths in other people.  In a competitive field like retail sales, he is unique because while he is successful in sales, he loves collaborating with others.  He uses creative problem solving techniques in each of his meetings to ensure there are no hidden agendas with his clients.  He believes his clients and sales team find his approach refreshing.
I wanted to interview Joseph because his bio on the CEE conference website mentioned “his belief in applying creative solutions to traditional outdated business practices”.  I wondered about his approach because I am interested in the same issue.  During my conversation with Joseph, we talked about how to successfully introduce new and unfamiliar ideas to individuals working in traditional professions.  He explained that because of his dyslexia, he is very good at reading others and empathizing with them.  This has proved to be valuable in sales and when teaching or convincing others to embrace new ideas.
Joseph said that when he creates development tools (he prefers “development” to the word “training”), he focuses on making a clear concise presentation that demonstrates the benefits of the new approach or product.  He tries to get others excited and inspired by his vision.  Joseph’s theater experience taught him that an actor must be clear, perform consistently every night, and be fully committed to his or her role to engender a rapport with the audience.  He uses this same approach when selling new products or introducing new ideas.
Joseph’s career is in retail sales and finance and he loves theater and politics.  I worked in federal budgeting and have been a lifelong teacher, dancer and choreographer.  We bonded over our similarly wide-ranging interests and our belief that this diversity provides us with a unique and beneficial perspective in our professional work. 
He believes that to be an effective teacher or facilitator, we each need to create an individual approach based on what we are passionate about and experienced in.  Just as he found connections between his dyslexia, creativity, theater, politics and sales, he encouraged me to find the connections between my background as a dancer, federal budgeteer and what I learn in the Creativity Studies graduate program as I develop the approaches/tools I use for teaching and facilitating. 
Our conversation covered creativity, dyslexia, retail sales and financing, politics, theater, dance, and ways to develop an individual’s professional skills – as I said it was challenging, inspiring, and filled with surprising turns.  I look forward to Joseph’s talk and learning more about his unique perspective on creativity.

Janet K. Stormes is a first year student in the Creativity Studies graduate program.  She worked in the federal government for 23 years before retiring from the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations in 2016 and now teaches Appropriations Law and the Federal Budget Process.  Janet is also the co-founder of the Alexandria, VA-based modern dance company, Choreographers Collaboration Project. For 35 years, Janet has taught dance, choreography, and improvisation.  She has a B.A., Dance from the University of California, Irvine, and a Master, Public Administration and an M.A., International Relations from the University of Washington

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