A couple weeks ago a mutual friend introduced me to Clay, who generously spent some time birding with us. In the field, his acuity and birding experience combined to be a fascinating combination. Our conversation spanned across many avian-related topics while driving back roads looking for Lark Sparrow.  His birding skills aside, what struck me most was how he was a great man with great wisdom to share.

It's taken me a few days to settle down after getting off the road and settled into my new dishwashing job. (I've gotta keep gas in the car, to get to the next birder/bird!) During this time I've listened to my recorded interviews with "Mr. Swarovski" multiple times, trying to unpack the insight he has offered through our conversations. I decided to to share his story about how he turned his passion for birds and photography into a career with one of the best optics companies out there- Swarovski Optik. 

I worked in a camera store after I got out of college. I led tours, did talks, birded around, and banded hawks in the Fall and the Spring. [later on] I was working at an outdoors store, and we became a Swarovski account. In 1999 they were coming out with the EL binocular, which was the first binocular designed by them for birders. They looked around the board room table and said, ‘we don’t have any birders here! They went out looking for a bird watcher and they found me. Right place, right time. That was 16 years ago, and I’m still doing it and still loving every minute of it.