Interview: How to go from Chemistry PhD to Artistic Tribe Leader with Graham Wright
Graham Wright is the organizer of Opus Affair, who has about 5,000 members in his organization. Opus Affair, which is a social group for people interested in the arts, just had its sixth anniversary in May.
Below is a summary of our interview:
From Maya Angelou – “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Graham was born and grew up in South Carolina throughout high school and college. As a kid, he was a science nerd and he picked up trombone because he was a big music lover. His undergrad degrees are in Chemistry and French. moved up to Boston area in 2000 to start a Graduate degree in Chemistry at MIT. When he learned he wasn’t cut out in the research lab in the experiments, Graham was clearly not in the right place and made the tough decision to drop out of his graduate program and entered the Pharmacy industry. He spent his days talking with other scientists to attend events, so it was a lot of work that he liked. He learned a lot about conference organization work, but auditioning for operas on the side. Graham took the dive to quit the day job and do nothing but sing for three years. It was during that time that he developed the concept for Opus Affair.
A Low Point
Graham knew that when you tell people you’re dropping out of MIT, they will think maybe that’s not a good decision was a smaller low point. One of his toughest low points came when he was working in the conference trade show world was leaving a big company to help start up a nonprofit conference company. For a while, he was the only employee.
The moment he received an invitation by someone whom he just met to his own event and Graham was the organizer. He knew he was on the right track there when there were others who knew about his events. It’s not just a bunch of his friends coming out to support him; they have something good going on.
Graham’s work now
The Opus Affair is a social group for people interested in the arts. Whether the arts is a hobby or a its a profession to the attendees and members, it’s an organization to come together to share interests through food and drink. For several years it was a volunteer organization, and then it grew to a part time basis. But he is coming up with opportunities to work with events for the Gardner Museum, Museum of Fine Arts and the Boston Ballet.
What’s exciting Graham now
Graham and Opus Affair is opening a new branch in Miami and launched it a few weeks ago, so to see a few other cities interested in the program in the arts is very exciting.
Book Graham Recommends:Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business
Carving out certain blocks of time doing creative work before he starts answering and responding. And in the midst of that, some aimless wandering time to brainstorm and think.
His undergraduate voice teacher, Bruce, who told Graham in a conversation about the arts that he knew Graham had it in him to do the arts, but he had to find it out himself.
Basecamp is a great app for project management.
What’s Your Purpose:
Graham felt that throughout the thread of the narrative of this crazy life of his it is finding little pockets of community.
Where to follow Graham
Graham’s words was always have your eyes open for opportunity.