"I'm a creative guy," is how I've finally decided to answer the "So, what do you do?" question. Not counting my first stage roles in high school (although they were fun and, objectively, really well-done productions), I've been getting paid to be creative for almost thirty years. (if you've come to this page looking for information about clients and projects, click here, because there's a tremendous amount of filler between now and that info).
My first paying gig as a 'performer' was at one of the original Great America theme parks, in Gurnee, Illinois, in the summer of 1975 or 1976. Hired as a performer/stunt person, after a stellar audition wherein I portrayed an Italian opera singer with very, very bad balance, I played the role of Clarence K. Watts, the Electric Man, as part of a five man troupe entertaining the patrons lining up to see the circus show (hey, it might not have been Billy Shakespere, but it was four performances a day, six days a week, and we played to crowds of 1,000 people on the weekends... and at the end of the act my huge, electric blue top hat would explode...so there).
(maybe that's what happened to my hairline)
Prior to that I had been jumping out of planes for three-and-a-half years, courtesy of Uncle Sam. After the Great America adventure, I entered my second year of art/film school at Columbia College, Chicago, (a general fine arts major the year before at the Chicago Academy of fine Arts -- no, NOT the Art Institute -- and leaning toward film studies after transferring to Columbia), but eventually dropped out to be a roadie with a small but great band from San Francisco. To the rational mind, this was a decision fraught with peril and made by someone in obvious need of therapy or a good whuppin'. The band, Journey, eventually did well, formed a production company, and I worked into the mid-'80s as a concert tour video camera operator and as a stage manager for events in the Bay Area.
Throughout my touring years, I continued to work on my other creative skills as a writer and musician, eventually became a corporate scriptwriter, occasional performer, freelance video and event producer, creative director, writer, medical illustrator... you can see how the "creative guy" answer evolved. I formed my own 'creative' company, Writesite, in 1997, which continues to provide writing and design services.
My current projects include ongoing relationships with Harris-Merrill Consulting, one of the finest personal presentation skills coaching firms in Northern Califronia, and with Susan Barnes, principal of Barnes & Company Strategic Planners, an award winning public relations and communications professional. My past projects and clients include Wells Fargo, FORTUNE magazine, Motorola and Schwinn Bicycles, feature writing for NorthBay Biz magazine and commentary for National Public Radio's All Things Considered. I continue to produce events and video, occasionally perform as an actor, public speaker and musician, and provide editing and book design services. I'm an American Red Cross volunteer; a volunteer of the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, California (the country's oldest wild horse sanctuary); an adult literacy tutor; and I'm entering my fourteenth year as a hawk watcher and docent for the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, a volunteer organization which tracks the annual West Coast raptor migration from August to December.
I'm just a creative guy. Really.
Where to find Mike Harkins online
Where to buy in print
The Way to Communicate
by Mike Harkins
By explaining how to understand and use shared life-experiences; develop and use greater awareness; and with an unprecedented collection of communication and presenting insights, readers follow a path that leads to establishing effective, personal communication connections with anyone. A book that provides an enduring foundation for how to interact with, speak and present to people effectively.
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