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Learning To Walk Amongst The Giants – Practical Lessons Learned From My Relationship With Gene Fritsche



I shared a privilege with several classmates, knowing Gene Fritsche for a period spanning decades. As a young and impressionable CSUN geology major from 1973 through 1976, I spent copious amounts of time with Gene Fritsche, in both the classroom and the field. We shared many hours together during my “training period” while learning structural geology, field mapping and sedimentology. And later in life, there were multiple opportunities to interact with Gene at conferences and on field trips, revisiting the earlier wisdom bestowed upon many of us. The lessons learned many years ago, and reinforced during subsequent interactions, helped shape both my personal life and professional career.

Practical lessons are discussed under three general headings: technical and geological, personal and professional, and translating lessons learned into success. Primary points for these categories are listed below.

Lessons Learned

Technical and Geological

  • Vegetation as a mapping tool
  • Detailed geologic features tell a story
  • Translating field observations into teaching moments
  • Multiple working hypotheses
  • Thinking in multi-dimensional time and space
  • Developing geologic models internally consistent with all available data
  • Quality technical work products
  • Recognizing poison oak in winter without leaves
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    Personal and Professional

  • Ethics, integrity and character
  • Perseverance
  • Reaching beyond your comfort level
  • Building self-confidence
  • Communication skills – written and verbal
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    Translating Lessons Learned into Future Success

  • Professional career
  • Geologist – quality technical work products for various industries: oil and gas, groundwater hydrology/water supply, impact and risk assessment (consulting)
  • Manager – dealing with people and situations
  • Business person – meeting client expectations (budget, schedule, quality, integrity)
  • Environmental consultant – written reports
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  • Leadership
  • Staff and personnel
  • Project teams
  • Business development efforts
  • Leading by example
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    Gene Fritsche was a giant in the field of geology. But more important, as a person, he was a humble giant in life! The lessons I learned from Gene translated directly and indirectly into professional and personal success. Gene led by example, treating everyone with respect. This mirrored a lesson my father also instilled, that everyone one was equally important. Everyone from mail room staff high level executives at major corporations deserved the same respect. Applying these lessons, meetings with anyone became comfortable and friendly conversations. Therefore, walking along an outcrop with Gene Fritsche, a humble giant himself, prepared me to walk amongst people who were corporate giants.