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What’s on My Desk: Nate Garvis, Co-Founder of Studio/E

Toys on the desk of this leadership expert say as much about you as they do about him, but the Grateful Dead souvenirs are all Garvis.

What’s on My Desk: Nate Garvis, Co-Founder of Studio/E
The desk of Studio/E co-founder Nate Garvis. (Photo by Studio/E)

His desk may look modest and utilitarian, but don’t be fooled—Nate Garvis is evaluating anyone who comes near his color blocks.

Garvis helps leaders from all different walks of life take bigger leaps in new directions. “I live to build strong communities,” says Garvis, who spent 18 years at Target Corporation as vice president of government affairs before founding Studio/E, which provides leadership exploration and ideation for individuals and organizations.

We visited Garvis at the sunny, open offices of Studio/E in an historic building on the edge of downtown Minneapolis.


Drinking glass:  The Grateful Dead glass is from my youngest daughter (Violet, age 16). I’ve been to plenty of Dead shows in the past. Music is a big deal to me—it’s the cheapest way to redecorate a room and I’m very intentional about using music in our programming.  

Nameplate:  The “Talented MotherF*cker” name plate is a gift from my wife. She also gave one to my co-founder, Tom Wiese.  

Magazines:  There’s usually a Smithsonian Magazine on my desk. I’m a history geek and I love the intersection of science, history, and society. I’m a huge RadioLab fan podcast-wise for the very same reason.  

Color blocks:  The color blocks (which help people understand their style, strengths and behavior) are from Insights Discovery.  There are lots of personality assessment tools out there but we like this tool because it’s so damn easy to remember and identify in other people.  It’s a great additional literacy of how we all march to our own tunes.


View from your desk?  I’m super lucky in that I get to go to a clubhouse every day. I look out onto 12th Street and our place is full of windows and natural light. We’re in an old building so there’s lots of great exposed brick. 

What’s your daily workflow like?  It’s incredibly dynamic; very hard to pin it down to a routine. I’m usually meeting with existing or prospective members. I do a lot of ideating with members, whether that’s about what they’re facing individually or as an organization. Tom and I also spend time creating new content and tools and I always carve out spaces to learning new things.

Can you work at a messy desk?  My desk is usually neat”ish”. I don’t do well with piles but I don’t like a perfect, antiseptic look either.  

How much work do you do at your desk?  It’s not my most productive location. I’m better when I’m in front of people and talking about ideas and possibilities.

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