Kate Gace Walton has lived and worked on Bainbridge Island (a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle) for the last five years. Before that, she lived in Hong Kong, where she served as an executive trainer and crisis communications specialist for Ogilvy Public Relations. In this capacity, she travelled throughout Asia conducting hundreds of training sessions focused on crisis management, media handling, and general communications skills. Kate has a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Upon returning to the States in late 2008, Kate decided to make a major career switch. Crisis management—which defies scheduling and laughs in the face of ‘work-life balance’—seemed wholly incompatible with having young children. And, truth be told, Kate had also become somewhat dissatisfied with the work itself.
But the problem was this: she had no idea what to do next! So, for no other reason than to sort through the noise in her own head, Kate wrote an essay. Called “Random Acts of Business,” it was a frank exploration of her career to date: how she had fallen into it and what she had come to find lacking.
By clarifying what was most important to her, that essay helped steer Kate towards a new job (serving as CEO of Steyer Associates, a full-service agency focused on producing technical documentation, marketing materials, and other content for a wide range of clients). But, just as significantly, that essay also inspired dozens of others to write essays of their own. Realizing the value of a forum for frank talk about work, Kate created a website, Work Stew, where she published these essays and facilitated (via Facebook and Twitter) a lively conversation around them. Three years later, Work Stew features essays and interviews from more than 120 individual contributors, and new voices are added regularly. The site has been profiled by Seattle’s NPR station, and Kate’s inaugural essay was recently picked up by The Huffington Post.
These days, Kate happily burns the candle at both ends: building a business by day, and stirring ‘the Stew’ by night. As the curator of Work Stew, she loves prompting people to tell their stories; she views the process of helping people to shape and share those stories as a distinct privilege; and she finds great comfort in joining with others to tackle that most universal—and pressing—of questions, namely: what is that we should do with our lives?