The holidays are a special and busy time for all of us. Decision fatigue can creep in when coordinating travel, preparing to host friends and family, and deciding who to disappoint on Christmas day -- your parents or inlaws. To compound your yuletide stress, you have to find the perfect gift for Tay Stevenson, our Managing Director, who turns 30 today.
It was a leap of faith for me deciding to join Generation Atomic in the early days of the organization. A year of navigating the start-up scene in Southern California and working the 2016 presidential campaign cycle had me eager for adventure and work with the potential to improve the world. After a month of working remotely, I flew across the country to the ANS Student conference to meet the band of strangers with whom I had only a digital relationship. I cringed as I checked into what I thought was MY discount motel room only to discover that it was THE discount motel room -- for five people.
A week later I found myself questioning my judgement again as I was informed that we would not be able to cover my first paycheck -- due to me in 6 hours. I left the room to collect my thoughts and plot my revenge. By the time I had returned with a tire iron and a bad attitude, Taylor had finished a call with a donor who had agreed to fund our payroll. “I told you: we’re not missing payroll,” said Taylor confidently. I call moments like these “scrambles” and value people who can execute during them.
Even with the uncomfortable hotels and personal financial risks, I knew I had a rare opportunity to work with leaders who would not take “no” for an answer. I followed the gang to the famously overpopulated duplex in Sandusky, Ohio where I watched Taylor motivate a team of relative strangers to not only accomplish our mission, but to do so with an 8:1 human to toilet ratio and a smile on their faces.
Fast forward to early October -- Taylor and I are walking into the Department of Energy to give policy recommendations to the United States Secretary of Energy, a relationship which had been established through Tay’s persistent and optimistic outreach which I had deemed too ambitious months before. “I wouldn’t want to do it alone” he said as he booked my ticket to Washington DC to join the round-table.
Fast forward again to late October -- Taylor pushes me onto the stage in place of himself 30 minutes before a presentation we had compiled for the ANS Winter Meeting. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. You know your subject matter and the audience is only some of the smartest nuclear engineers in the world.”
Fast forward (2x speed) to November -- Nuclear had been told “no” by the United Nations, local authorities, and the German public at COP23. I’m trudging through the rain and cold in Germany with Taylor and Ben Heard, debating the viability of D-Day style water landing to evade security at a major UN event. I didn’t even think twice, we were not taking “no” for an answer. We had a great, unsanctioned side event called “A Seat at the Table” and delivered our message effectively at other official events.
Taylor's never-say-never attitude and genuine respect for the staff have permeated our organization’s bloodstream like the cholesterol that will permeate yours over the holiday season.
If you appreciate the attitude that this man has brought to nuclear advocacy, you should consider a birthday gift for him. What do you get a man who has everything, including a talented staff and an aesthetically pleasing co-founder? My suggestion would be to donate to Generation Atomic’s year end fundraising campaign: “Atomic Winter.” (Tech Guy Sam’s Life HacksTM: December birthday’s present an opportunity to tastefully wrap your birthday and Christmas gifts into one while claiming credit for both.)
We accomplished so much in 2017. If you think nuclear needs a little more “never say never”, please consider contributing for 2018.
Everyone’s favorite GenA elf,