We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Richardson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Growing up in a working-class area of Toronto, I always looked to higher education as a way to ensure financial safety and security. I was very fortunate to receive funding to complete my PhD in Media Studies. And right after graduation, I took a job teaching Communication Studies at Young Harris College, north of Atlanta. I loved working with students and doing research, but I realized after getting tenure in my early 30s, that rather than feeling “safe”, I felt stuck. When a new provost started to cut away at my compensation, despite my “security” as a tenured professor, I realized it was time for a change. It was scary to say goodbye to that kind of predictable environment and enter the private sector. But I’m so happy I did. As an instructional designer, I work with lots of talented people to create courses for professionals. It’s provided so much more opportunity for learning and growth than I ever expected. I’m glad I took that “risk” of walking away from what I considered a safe place to pursue more dynamic and innovative work. It’s taught me that sometimes “safety” can be a trap. And despite the risk, breaking free from that mindset can provide rich opportunities. Especially in today’s rapidly changing economy, I think a lot of safe options are really traps we need to watch out for.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a senior instructional designer at Pragmatic Institute and the Data Incubator. It’s surprising how creative and fun a job like this can be. Every day, I connect skills I acquired as a journalist, a popular culture scholar, and a web developer as I help people create engaging materials and insightful content for their courses. As an instructional designer, I can do interviews, graphic design, web development, and creative writing. And I tend to do a few of those things each day before lunch. It demonstrates that there are probably more exciting professional options out there than you would first imagine. I never even knew there was such a thing as an instructional designer until shortly before I became one–even though I was doing most of those practices for years. Now I wouldn’t want to be anything else because it’s the perfect marriage of the skills and abilities I’ve loved and trained for–even if I didn’t realize it at first.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Many of my friends will visit from Canada, and the first thing I’d do is bring them to a great southern food restaurant like Mary Mac’s Tea Room or the Colonnade. We’d see Piedmont Park for a great scenic walk and visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park to consider the rich history of the region. If there’s time I love the High Museum, which isn’t too overwhelming and makes for a great visit. I might end the day with some bourbon tasting at Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium to end off the night.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There is a growing community of Instructional Designers out there. Many people came from other professions and are happy to help others succeed. Devlin Peck is a great connector in that respect. There are other sources, like the Association for Talent Development, that can provide rich information on the industry and best practices. I think the most important point is to remember you’re not alone. Find your tribe.
Bat-Chris and Rupert is drawn by the amazing Dom Sharpe – https://www.domsharpe.com/about