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I am Steve Tippins, and This is How I Work

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Steve Tippins. Steve has worked for insurance companies and banks and done consulting for numerous firms, both for profit and not-for-profit. He has been a professor in various forms for 30 years. His true passion lies in helping people achieve their goals.
In graduate school, at Florida State University, he was the only student in a new degree program. All of his classes were one-on-one. He is well aware of the lonely journey of a PhD student. After graduate school he worked at Indiana State University for one year then 10 years at Howard University followed by 9 years at Roosevelt University and 6 years at the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse. He also worked for Walden University for the last 15 years and spent 4 years on the graduate faculty at NorthCentral University. He has broad experience at both traditional and online schools. He has been granted tenure twice and promoted several times. Holds a Professor Emeritus position at Howard University. Been a Department Chair and served on many search committees and promotion and tenure committees. Steve has published over 50 times in academic journals and presented at many conferences. He has written one book that was translated into Japanese. He has Chaired over 80 dissertation committees. With these accomplishments his biggest joy is in working one-on-one with individuals at He enjoys helping people define their goals both related to school and after school and setting up programs and plans to help them get there.

Current Job: Owner/Coach at and Contributing Faculty at Walden University
Current Location: Eugene, OR
Current mobile device: Iphone 6
Current computer: Macbook – I don’t like it as I prefer to be hardwired to the internet yet there is only one port for connecting. There are after market devices that accept the internet connection and the power adapter but they tend to break easily

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
I currently teach online and coach doctoral students and recent PhD graduates about their careers. Five years ago we had the chance to move to Costa Rica so I resigned from my job at the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse. After 3 years of Costa Rican life (we really enjoyed it) my wife decided to get a graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy so we moved to Eugene. I miss the classroom but I love working with my coaching clients and helping them reach their goals.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
The Microsoft suite of programs, my website, and coaching management software (I am just installing this and hope that it really works out). The internet provides everything else that I need at this point.

What does your workspace setup look like?
My workspace is anywhere that I open my laptop. Most days I sit on the couch at home but have been known to work from a tent at a campground, in a coffee shop, or even in my car.

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
Keep at it! Knowledge grows in incremental steps and our work gets done in small pieces. If you get discouraged take a moment to see how far you have come instead of looking at how far you have to go.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
I am a big list maker and and calendar user. Everyday I look at what needs to be accomplished today, this week, and this month. I am a plodder, I like to get a little bit done every day instead of waiting until the last minute. I also like to be finished a few days before a deadline and let whatever it is sit for a day before I submit anything. That gives my mind a day to let it sit there and see if anything else arises.

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?
I am pretty much a Luddite, I find that my computer and phone are enough.

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?

I have been successful taking complicated topics and making them easy for students to understand. As a researcher I figured out a long time ago the review is an outlet for just about anything and not to take the comments of reviewers personally. This has helped me move forward if an article gets rejected.

What do you listen to when you work?

I like Folk music and sometimes Classical or Rock. If I need to be creatively inspired the tight harmonies of the Indigo Girls always seem to help me.

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?

I make sure that I read every night before I go to sleep. My wife and I have been reading to each other before we go to sleep for over 20 years. I find it helps us connect and sleep. On my own I am currently reading Decolonizing Wealth by Edgar Villanueva and a biography of Winston Churchill.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?
I am basically an introvert but in some situations have extrovert tendencies (usually not work related). I like to let ideas come to me so I need time alone to let this happen. I have come up with many ideas while running, biking, or wandering around. I find that I need to give myself space and then ideas/solutions come.

What’s your sleep routine like?
I like to be in bed by 10:00 pm every night (many nights earlier) and am up by 5:30 am.

What’s your work routine like?
I like to start work by 7:00 am and finish up by 2:00 pm if possible. I do set aside time for phone calls throughout the day.

What’s the best advice you ever received?
“Take a moment to listen to your inner voice – you really know what you want”

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