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Visionaries For Travel Managers

Posted by Tom Ruesink
Tom Ruesink
Tom Ruesink is a consultant, master of gamification, and friend of Cornerstone. Tom always brings something in...
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on Tuesday, 03 July 2012
in In Your Corner

Electric Football Board

The first blog post needs to capture our hearts and minds, right?  I’m a data guy, what chance do I have of that?! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Tom Ruesink and have worked and consulted with the good folks at Cornerstone since October, 2010.  I am based in Minnesota, am 45 years old, and actually have an electric football board in the office that I lease (yes, that old game…so many creative people have nerf hoops, that’s so passé).  I spent my college years at Winona State University and headed up the statewide student government my junior year (which was my first and last trip into politics) and did a very fun internship at Turner Broadcasting when CNN was cutting its teeth (5th year).  Was there the summer they moved into CNN Center.  Yes, I got on TV, but it was only viewing my backside dancing as an extra in a Celebrate Superstation TBS commercial.

I guess I would classify myself as a grizzled industry veteran as my first foray in this space was helping expand the CWT Solutions Group from just a few of us to what it is today.  Steve would call me the “mad scientist”- I just wanted to create deliverables and analytic models that were actually used and made this crazy industry a bit more digestible and sane.

For a first blog entry, the core of why I come to work each day in corporate travel can be summed up in two different quotes/examples.  The first was the Oscar acceptance speech by Steven Soderbergh, “I want to thank anyone who spends part of their day creating. I don’t care if it’s a book, a film, a painting, a dance, a piece of theater, a piece of music. Anybody who spends part of their day sharing their experience with us. I think the world would be unlivable without art.”  Warped as it may sound, I view travel deliverables as art and data as my palette.  That data can tell so many stories and how do we make it more interesting, more simple, more digestible, more visual?

The second thing that has stuck with me recently is a study that in a research study by Dreyfus for the US Army they described the various stages of mastery of any “system” (whether it be travel data, the tax code, movie production, etc).  The progression is: Novice - Problem Solver – Expert – Master.  There’s a few people, though, who are classified as “Visionaries”.  It isn’t that these people are beyond “Master” in their knowledge.  It is that these people internalize the problem and make it their own and therefore want to come up with solutions.  

I’ve been sometimes called a visionary because I’m the guy who often will create the new offering, new design, etc.  I shrugged it off, because there are a lot of people smarter than me in this industry doing some very cool things and having some very intricate discussions.  Now, I think I’m ready to embrace it just a bit.  Not out of ego, but out of internalization as I do go home and put myself in that travel manager’s shoes, internalize it, feel what they feel when they’re faced with crummy data or needing to provide a one pager that actually tells a story and is actionable.  Our industry has erred on the side of presenting a whole bunch of data back and thinking we’re done…in my eyes we’re just getting started!

Tom Ruesink is a consultant, master of gamification, and friend of Cornerstone. Tom always brings something insightful to the table.

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