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Mary Delmege

Mary Delmege


Mary Delmege works with courts and community organizations as a Mediator in Southern California. She recently retired as Director for nine US Commercial Service offices in Southern California and Hawaii.

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Mary Delmege, Mediator

Mary Delmege has worked closely with Commercial Service offices throughout the world. Ms. Delmege's organization offered counseling, market research, matchmaking services and coordination of overseas trade shows and missions.

Her background includes a variety of management and advisory positions for the US Commerce Department, including Senior Advisor to the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee. In that role she was instrumental in developing the National Export Strategy based on feedback from focus groups, interviews and surveys of small and mid-sized exporters.

Ms. Delmege began her Commercial Service career as a Foreign Service Officer in Mexico City, where she directed market research and outreach activities.

Contact Mary at mfdelmege@cox.net

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Jack of all Trades, Master of None?

I was waiting in line for a cup of coffee a few months ago, watching people and casually listening to the conversation between two women. They were catching up, having run into each other at the coffee shop. These women appeared to be mid to late thirties or early forty year olds. Fit, stylishly casual. The first one said that she had been thinking of the other one because she recalled that she taught surfing and was thinking of signing her son up for lessons. The surfing teacher said, “sure, give me a call” and pulled out a business card. Here’s where the story gets interesting: she said “This is the card for my interior design business, but the phone number and e-mail are the same...” As they spoke more, it came out that not only did she teach surfing and operate an interior design business, but she also worked sometimes as a personal trainer. Her friend, similarly, had several apparently unrelated occupations going.

I started to wonder if maybe this is a trend. More and more people I meet seem to have multiple occupations. The old getting-to-know-you questions of “What do you do?” no longer has a simple short answer. I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with that particular question, because it seems to require a short, single answer. And the person asking the question then gets to file your name next to “accountant” or “artist” or “nurse”. It seems to reduce your identity to a single occupation. These days, my answer is that I’m a mediator, a teacher, a researcher, a potter and a grove manager. (Some of these occupations come with a paycheck, others don’t.)

So now, with unemployment at an alarming high level and the economy generally in the doldrums, many of us are looking for ways to earn a living or supplement a diminished retirement account. One answer may be to do multiple things based on diverse skills or talents that we already have. Rather than going back to school to learn a new trade, take an inventory of your current skills and interests and begin to imagine who might want to trade some of those skills for money or barter for other things that you are currently spending money for.

While this approach certainly presents challenges in terms of managing your time and marketing yourself to potential clients, it has a marvelous, unexpected side benefit. The side benefit is that you will begin to find new connections and new ways of looking at things. As an example, as I was doing some research about fruits in conjunction with my grove, I came across an article about bananas that succinctly describes the concept and history of the “banana republics” in Central and South America. I’ll use that article for a course that I’ll be teaching this Spring on Doing Business In Latin America. It will give the students a look at this historical phenomenon and provide them with an unexpected perspective. The cross pollination of ideas between different occupations can provide startling insights that you just don’t have when you spend all day surrounded by people and tasks that are all related to a single occupation.

Tags: Mary Delmege Office & Work New Attitudes

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  Mary Delmege: Jack of all Trades, Master of None?
More and more people I meet seem to have multiple occupations. The old getting-to-know-you questions of “What do you do?” no longer has a simple short answer.

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