Learning How to Meet People Where They’re At with Michael Sherron

One of the whack-a-mole topics of conversation that recurs periodically on social media is this whole notion of the side hustle. Do you take one of your hobbies that you’re really good at and then turn it into something you make money off of? Or do you protect that hobby at all costs from the imperatives of capitalism, and instead turn to it as an escape from whatever your daily grind may be?

While of course there are plenty of arguments for and against both of those options, I feel like a big part of what I’m trying to do with this podcast is shining a light on people who take a sort of third route, where it’s a little more difficult to dismiss these major parts of people’s lives as “just” a hobby, even if it’s not something they make any money from or gain any significant notoriety for. I think there are way more interesting, and way less reductive, ways to think about the specific things that people commit their time and attention and energy to.

Which is why I’m so excited to be able to introduce you all today to my good friend Michael Sherron.

(You can stream our chat via the embed here, on Anchor, or pretty much anywhere else you source your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, and Google Podcasts.)

Although there are any number of things he and I could have spent an hour talking about, I specifically wanted him to talk about the process of becoming a docent at the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona.

He’s currently an apprentice docent from the class of 2018 and now leads tours there for adults and school groups. In his day job, he’s an engineering manager building large scale cloud hosting solutions for the enterprise. 

Mike is one of the most remarkable people I know, in terms of his sheer capacity to tackle incredibly ambitious projects simply for the joy of learning how to do them. That deep focus and insatiable curiosity is definitely at the heart of what led him to commit the past two years to studying really intensely in order to start giving tours at the Phoenix Art Museum. 

In addition to talking about what the program was like, in the last twenty or so minutes of our chat, Mike guides me through a deeper look at two paintings from the Phoenix Art Museum’s collection, Lew Davis’s The Rebel and Frida Kahlo’s The Suicide of Dorothy Hale.


Michael’s Instagram

The Phoenix Art Museum

The Phoenix Art Museum’s docent program

The National Docent Symposium Council

The Titan Missile Museum

The Legends of Speed exhibit will be on display at the Phoenix Art Museum through March 15, 2020.

The Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam Through Time & Place exhibit was on display at the Phoenix Art Museum January 15, 2019, through May 27, 2019.

The Heard Museum

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

Howard Terpning’s Offerings to the Little People (Offrendas a los enanitos)

The exhibition India: Fashion’s Muse will open at the Phoenix Art Museum on February 29, 2020, and will be on display until June 21, 2020.

The exhibition at the Getty Museum was called Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911-2011, and it was on display June 26, 2018, through October 21, 2018.

The exhibition Ragnar Kjartansson: Scandinavian Pain & Other Myths was on display at the Phoenix Art Museum from November 3, 2018, through April 14, 2019. You can see a clip of The Visitors on YouTube.

The Rebel (Elizabeth Ruskin) by Lew Davis
El suicidio de Dorothy Hale (The Suicide of Dorothy Hale) by Frida Kahlo

The Tower from the Rider Waite Smith deck

The “Falling Man” photograph was taken by Associated Press photographer Richard Drew. You can read more about the photograph in this Esquire piece by Tom Junod.