Mind at Work: Associate Director of Strategy Nancy Maloney

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, Associate Director of Strategy Nancy Maloney sheds light on the four things that inspire her and help her do what she does.

1. Water – deepening my connection to nature

Spending time on the water (most often Lake Michigan) offers ways to see the city from different angles and in different lights. It inspires me to do the same for business challenges I’m working to solve. Water has a calming effect on me, but it also reminds me that everything is fluid – constantly moving and changing. Whether I’m sailing on it, swimming in it or biking alongside it, the lake’s vastness always puts my life into perspective.  

2. Travel – cultivating a deeper connection with the world

Travel is unquestionably my favorite source of inspiration. Exploring other countries and cultures exposes me to different ways of thinking and living – reminding me that my way is never the only way and is not necessarily the best way. My favorite place (so far) is Buenos Aires, which has an incredible confluence of cultures at play in its architecture, its people and pulsing through the streets in each of its vibrant neighborhoods.

3. Triathlons – creating a deeper connection between mind and body

Everything looks different a few miles in. Training and competing in triathlons clears my mind and leaves me feeling powerful and positive—like I can achieve anything. If I’m struggling to crack something at work, the best cure is often getting out the door and doing something physically challenging. Recovering from a recent injury has helped me understand just how much I rely on this particular tool, so I can’t wait to get back into training.

4. Volunteering – building connections with others

Being active in the Chicago community is an opportunity and a reminder to embrace the humanity in life and in work. My awareness and empathy grow as I meet new people, finding common ground plus learning about – and from – our different experiences. This helps prevent my world from shrinking into a microcosm of people with backgrounds, paths and perspectives similar to my own.