Member Profile: A beard worth a thousand words…
Hi! I’m Evan Wilson. I’m a young entrepreneur spending my summer as an intern at Indy Hall. Meeting new people is something I love to do — and in my time here, I’ve gotten to meet so many creative people who always have exciting stories to tell. After hearing so many amazing things from the Indy Hall community, I realized that I want to document the people of Indy Hall and their stories.
To me, the beauty of Indy Hall is that I can sit down and chat with anybody here about anything. I want to give you an up close and personal look at those conversations.
This week I got the chance to sit down with Neil Bardhan to chat about his life, Indy Hall, and some of his answers to some out of the box questions. In his work life, Neil does science communication and messaging, but in his spare time he is a huge foodie who performs comedy.
When I started the #PeopleOfIndyHall series, Neil kept coming up as a person I had to talk to (according to other Indy Hallers). I wanted to know why he was such a popular suggestion, so I asked him about his background:
“I have a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science with a focus in Psycho linguistics. I’ve had a long standing interest in how people package information for each other, taking into account who their audience is, or not knowing who their audience is and trying to make it general.
I was a research scientist for a while and along the way I thought: ‘Cool, I’ll always be interested in language and the mind, but at the same time I really enjoyed being around my colleagues and re-packaging their work.’
Whether it be live tweeting a talk or if it is aiding connections between colleagues and getting them to speak the same language about very different work.”
Neil, or should I say Dr. Neil, uses his knowledge of language to help people deliver the right message to their audience. He told me how he combines his love of theater and his passion for language in his work life:
“Some of my work revolves around working with a storytelling organization here in town called First Person Arts doing event production and managing their audio and video archive. They host storytelling events where everyday people talk about their own experiences — it’s about connecting with people about what they’re into. I love it.
Locally I work for Philly Improv Theater where I work as the PR coordinator and I also perform there.”
Early in our conversation Neil mentioned he enjoyed helping his colleagues connect and communicate when he was still a research scientist and I was glad to hear that he is still passionate about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and continues to make an impact in that community with the other work that he does:
“I also work with a company in Boston called improvscience that teaches improvisation to STEM professionals to help them connect with each other through teamwork, communication skills, and the performing arts. I help teach for them and do some PR and Social Media work.
Connecting with all of this is an interest in helping STEM professionals think about how they present their work. That help can come in the form of slide design, how to be present in the room with people that you are connecting with, and some of it is about designing the story of your talk, for example.”
Neil’s work was compelling because it’s obvious to me that STEM professionals have important work, but their ability to communicate what that work is effectively is vital to the impact of it, and Neil’s helping them do that.
Before our conversation ended, Neil wanted to talk about what makes Indy Hall special to him and why he kept coming back:
“People remembering my experiences, expertise, and interests is part of what makes this place special to me. They make the effort to loop me into the conversations that I would find interesting — sometimes that’s over Slack and sometimes it’s an in person introduction.
I wish I had a better word for it, but there’s just a web of knowledge here. Sometimes great things happen and you’ll have an amazing conversation. People look out for each other and everybody just has others’ interests in mind, which is huge.”
I agree with Neil: the level of interest people have at Indy Hall about your experiences and interests is what makes it special. As an entrepreneur, connections and advice are essential for my success and Neil accurately expresses how getting help from others works here at Indy Hall:
“You can ask for advice on a small problem you’re having and get an answer in minutes through Slack, or set up a full meeting with someone who you know is an expert at something, and everything in between. That’s that web of knowledge I was talking about.”
It was really cool to sit down with Neil, because it is clear to me that his work is not just a job for him — everything he does ties to what he is actually passionate about. That passion for one’s craft is something that I’ve seen a lot at Indy Hall, and for a 17 year old entrepreneur, it’s inspiring to interact with people who love what they do everyday.