Hello, this is James Gray and thanks for stopping by this site. I am a data and artificial intelligence (AI) strategist and part-time writer. My ideas emanate from a deep fusion of strategy, product and data science philosophy. I originally started this blog in 2008 to capture ideas of a journey and passion I never intended.
The “.io” of jamesgray.io is symbolic of the inputs and outputs of the mental model by which we view and react to the world around us.
As a leader at Microsoft, I had the responsibility of developing talent within my organization and managing my career as well. I was searching for a cookbook and ideas that could guide highly talented professionals through a process to develop and manage a personalized career strategy. Standalone references and ideas existed within Microsoft and externally by nothing that brought these together into a holistic process. I saw a need to not only create a framework for strategically managing your career but also craft one that integrated into one’s your broader life. This was the motivation to author a model in 2008 that would help team members take control of their career direction.
I saw people unhappy in their roles and conflicted on how to create a direction for themselves. I saw managers challenged to develop the talent required to accelerate the business. There was an inefficiency in the market between supply (employees) and demand (manager). There was a lack of information that formed my hypothesis.
If people could find themselves at a personal level and define what job they wanted and where they were going, this would empower employees. If managers could articulate the needs of the organization and actively engage employees in a strategic career process, then a match would be made between business need and personal aspirations.
I found myself leading workshops, speaking at events and mentoring fellow colleagues all across Microsoft. It was something that took on a life of its own and going places I never intended. Since I was not in HR, my views were unfiltered and my content based on the complete set of personas we live beyond the workplace. Fellow colleagues valued its authenticity and a strategic method to organizing the complexity of managing a career.
I found I had a skill of connecting with people and inspiring them to change pursue their passions. That included saving a woman’s life, helping people make transitions inside the company and acting as a sounding board. I quickly learned that there was nothing I was going to do in life that would be more impactful than this.
Network effects were created by managers coaching team members and people helping others shape their career direction. The act of helping people created a dynamic of those people feeling confident to help others.
I was grateful for the opportunity to practice applying these concepts and best practices over many years with hundreds of colleagues at Microsoft.
My Target Audience
Any person that has a passion to strategically pursue a career and life journey with purpose as their best self.
What Was Missing for My Target Audience?
During my years at Microsoft I was working with some of the smartest people on the planet but yet something was missing. Many had never been trained to manage their career strategically or how to go about making a change. Some did not know who they were or what they wanted after years a grinding in their career. People wanted a process – something they could follow and answer questions that blocked their mindset.
Feedback confirmed that the key value proposition was how these concepts were “connected” into holistic model with practical examples to create career plans, enable job transitions and gain knowledge through extended networks. Probing questions challenged their mind and assumptions. The intended outcome was to architect a path in life and guide daily decisions that aligned with realizing that path. The framework and process brought people deep into their subconscious to come to terms with who they were and where they wanted to go.
The other missing link was a safe place and community to hit the pause button on our life and practice these concepts. There are a lot of great ideas for managing career and life strategy but if you don’t not develop the self-discipline to architect change it will not happen. This requires a break from your typical day or week. I served as a host to create an environment for exploration and helping others challenge the status quo.
The framework provided a connected method, while the workshops and interactions provided a human connection to facilitate change.
Time is a finite resource – it’s our ability to process knowledge and optimize decisions that dictates the life we live. None of us have the time to synthesize good ideas and organize them for greater meaning. The aspiration for this site is to share my ideas and those of others to shaping the strategic lens we view day-to-day life.
It’s my belief that sharing knowledge and helping others benefit from your experiences to live a better life is a responsibility we all have. It’s one of life’s greatest gifts you will receive.
My value proposition is to help people find and activate the best version of themselves. The process below outlines how I deliver on that.
- Knowledge – I write about ideas and experiences that capture methods to shape mental models about how we see ourselves and engage with the world around us. My primary focus is career strategy, although my scope has extended to other strategies for living a successful and fulfilling life. I also read a lot books, blogs and content from amazing writers. These ideas are then organized and referenced to one of the seven concepts of my conceptual model. I do the hard work of writing and organizing content that is relevant to reshaping your journey.
- Self-Awareness – I share content on this site, consult 1:1 and also host workshops from my home in Austin, TX to help people find their best self through readings, exercises and reflection. My passion is getting people to push the pause button and take stock where they are. Although there is a plentiful source of self-help ideas out there, it’s this first step that is critical to deeply internalizing what these ideas mean to you. This will set the foundation for consciously outlining how you will allocate your time and go about making decisions moving forward.
- Courage – Through self-awareness and tools that I provide, I help people adjust their mental model to gain the courage they need to take action. This is where your break through the activation energy to pursue your goals and desires.
- Action – This is the hard work you do to activate and realize your best self. Ideas and reflection are good, but action is essential. Most people never get to this point because they did not architect a personal strategy and have the mindset to change.
- Support & Accountability – I provide a community of support and accountability through personal engagement and online collaboration tools to support your journey.
Many years ago I set a visualize goal to capture the essence of my quest. I am on a journey to fill California Memorial Stadium with 63,000 people who I have connected with and shared the concepts of the conceptual model I authored. See past stops on my quest and my progress toward achieving this goal.
The question I often received at Microsoft was “when is the book going to be published”? A few people even offered to help me write it. Yes, many of the sections are drafted and that is goal I want to achieve in the near future. In the meantime, there is still a lot to learn and share.
Feedback from Others
See my event page where it captures photos and accolades from people I have been lucky to work and share ideas with.
See Linkedin for my complete professional profile.
Master of Information and Data Science
School of Information
University of California, Berkeley
Master of Business Administration
Haas School of Business
University of California, Berkeley
Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering
Unless otherwise noted the ideas and content of this website are the copyright and ownership of James Gray.
The content, views and opinions on this website are those of James Gray and do not necessarily state or reflect those of his current or past employers.