Why Rapid Evolution?
I decided to name my consulting firm Rapid Evolution while rafting California’s Wild and Scenic Tuolumne River, outside of Yosemite National Park. After an exhilarating day of running miles of technical rapids, drops and chutes, I ended up relaxing along the river at our campsite just above Class V Clavey Falls, mesmerized by the scenery and the water tumbling over the rocks. The water’s surface color constantly changed depending on the quantity of air bubbles trapped in the flowing water, the path the water took as it accelerated around the obstacles in its way, and the surrounding light. The needed evolution was rapid, flexible, and visible. Those are the results I aim to bring to my clients, and I realized that the name Rapid Evolution embodied my vision for this business. That I reached the decision while surrounded by spectacular wilderness beauty, and found a name that also reflects my early and ongoing love of science, is an added bonus.
What’s With All The Pelicans?
For the first 21 years of my life, I never realized that I hadn’t seen a pelican outside of a zoo. I was lucky enough to live in Europe for a few years during elementary school when my mechanical engineer father worked for Rolls Royce, and my parents introduced my brother and me to skiing in the Swiss Alps. Thus began my lifelong love of the mountains and skiing. But for most of my childhood, I lived in our nation’s flat heartland, and was a typical Indiana basketball gym rat, spending hours perfecting my jump shot with my teammates. Soon enough, the mountains called me away from Indiana to the University of Colorado at Boulder where I majored in chemical engineering (and minored in skiing).
I accepted an offer from Procter & Gamble’s Kansas City Soap Plant after graduation. While a great opportunity, it meant I moved to a (flat) place where I knew no one for the chance to supervise the production of surfactant on falling film reactors, as one of only a few junior women managers in a manufacturing plant where all of the senior leaders were men. Lonely and more than a little overwhelmed, I escaped on vacation that winter to visit college friends working in the Silicon Valley. It was my first trip to California, but as soon as I explored San Francisco, I knew it wouldn’t be my last, and that someday I would build my life here. A friend took me to Santa Cruz for brunch, and when we wandered out onto the wharf, I saw my first-ever Brown Pelican out in the wild, perched on a piling. While pelicans are now quite common in many parts of the United States, for this Midwesterner, it was the most exotic bird I had ever seen, and I was transfixed. It was a magical moment that I can visualize today as clearly as if it happened yesterday. At that moment, the pelican symbolized the possibilities in life that were within my reach, and encouraged me to believe in myself and trust my dreams.
And then the pelican pumped its wings, and after significant effort, lifted off in flight. I had never seen a bird with such an enormous wingspan, and it soared as if a thoroughly modern, yet still ancient, pterodactyl. Since that day I have been drawn to pelicans, and consider them to be akin to a Native American animal totem or “spirit bird” in my life. I never fail to be filled with wonder and joy when I see a pelican. They make me laugh with their lumbering flops into the water when fishing (calling it a “dive” would be an overstatement), while their take-offs and landings are a triumph of physics over form. Pelicans reinforce to me that with effort and focus, dreams can take flight.
As for the pelican photos on Rapid Evolution’s web site? You’ve probably guessed, I collect pelicans.
What symbolizes your dreams?
– Nan Joesten