Mind at Work: Analyst Kaelyn Malkoski

Whenever possible, we like to sit down with one of our creative minds at VSA to find out what inspires them. In a world where there’s constantly pressure to “produce, produce, produce,” it’s important to stop and reflect on the special people, places and things that actually drive our creativity.

Today, VSA Analyst Kaelyn Malkoski sheds light on the four things that inspire her and help her do what she does.

1. Poetry

There’s something so irresistibly delicious about words. I’m absolutely obsessed with them, maybe even more than Robert Pirosh was.

As a writer and strategist, communication lies at the core of a heliocentric world where Word is Sun, and therefore, King. It is of utmost importance that I ceaselessly devour words, arrange and rearrange them, and articulate them to until I can most succinctly convey a desired message.

I’m especially fascinated by poetry—I think it has to do with the unbridled possibility in the juxtaposition of words I love. My all-time forite poem is one by Maya Angelou, and it hangs above my bedside table. It says, “Precious jewel / you glow, you shine, / reflecting all the good / things in the world. / Just look at yourself.”

2. Frédéric Chopin

When I was younger, I was a classically trained pianist. (Hence why I am such an aggressive typist!) My favorite composer was—and still is—Chopin; I particularly loved playing “Fantasie Impromptu (Op. 66)” because it’s super intense and fast and when I’d play it, I’d pretty much blackout, come to and think, “whoa.” I swear sometimes when I’m stressed at work, my brain goes into auto drive and I think in classical piano melodies, usually “Fantasie” over and over and over again. On the flip side, when I’m relaxed and about to fall asleep at night, sometimes I’ll hear the ever-calming “Nocturne No. 2 In E Flat Op. 9 No. 2.”

Thinking in notes—whether voluntary or subconscious—helps me stay focused, negating my tendency to dwell on the stressors in my life.

3. The Butterfly Effect

(No, not the Ashton Kutcher movie!) As a part of Edward Lorenz’s chaos theory—in layman’s terms—the butterfly effect acknowledges the implications something in the present, however small, may have on one’s future. For me, it’s a constant reminder to live presently and live fully.

I attribute me being at VSA to the butterfly effect: it just so happened one Saturday morning in mid-June my alarm didn’t go off so I couldn’t make it to lunch with a friend. So instead, I went with my roommate to get a drink at the J. Parker, where I tapped a stranger’s shoulder to ask him about the sliders he was eating. Our conversation quickly moved from cheeseburgers to career aspirations, and this man mentioned his company was expanding. He gave me his email address—through which I proceeded to stalk him and the company’s recruiters—and, five weeks later, ultimately convinced an associate partner to hire me.

That man was Steve Ryan. The company was VSA. The rest is history, all because my alarm didn’t go off on June 7, 2014.

4. The Power of Parody

I’m innately ornery and have the humor of a teenage boy. Over time, from principals’ offices to detentions to getting looks for having laughing attacks in all the wrong places, I’ve learned that there’s not always a time and a place for my humor. I see parody as a compromise and—more importantly—a fantastic way to communicate.

At work, if I’m not busy strategizing, I’m most likely consuming the content on The Onion and Clickhole, (The Onion’s parody of Buzzfeed). If you’ve never heard of Clickhole, start with the bugle story. And more recently, I discovered “Millennials of New York,” a laugh-out-loud parody of the well-loved “Humans of New York” blog. It’s strangely addicting.

I find parody to be not only a useful communication tool but also an inspiration because it depicts humor in the most mundane of things. Anyone can make parody out of anything, and there is such effervescent power in that.