Living the life of a tech transfer professional can be a lot like that of an entrepreneur. It’s exciting and impactful, but lonely at times in relating what we do to everyday folk, especially those closest to us. So, in order to approach this impasse from a different angle and to better relate myself to others, I’ve started to imagine my profession from my wife’s perspective and the frustrations that she must feel in relating to my job.
It is through this exercise in empathetic introspection that I have begun to construct a survival guide that I can share with my wife in her darkest of hours:
Master the active stare: We know you don’t really care to understand what we are talking about, but just that you care enough to look like it. So, 1)Look at me, 2)Nod on occasion and maybe throw in an “ok” or “uh huh”, and 3)Go on thinking about something important to you
Break the ice: One of the most difficult things to do in this line of work is to relate our profession within a world of much easier descriptors (doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc.). When that inevitable, “So what does your wife/husband do?” ice breaker comes up, we can only imagine how difficult it is for you. So, point to the nearest gadget, Gatorade bottle, or recent medical history and position us as the person that assisted in making that available…in theory
Leverage a personal vacation: AUTM and LES tend to take us to really cool locations with top notch culture, restaurants, and attractions. If uninterrupted shopping, eating, and pool lounging by day and conversing with a spousal support group next to an open bar at night are your thing, please take advantage of us
Beat us to the beat: I like to help my wife out a bit with this one by dropping a few buzzwords of the day along with stories that she can relate to. For instance, awhile back, I related crowdfunding of her friend’s registry to its emerging use for university technology. Much to my chagrin, she pulled an article on research crowdfunding from the Sunday paper. This was news to me, and made us both feel good. I felt awesome that remembered and cared enough to spot the lead, and she got the satisfaction of one upping me at my own game
Please feel free to share these with your spouse as you strive to build your relationship and relate your profession to the real world. I will continue to share updates to these early survival tips and invite you to share your experiences in the comments section below.